Written by Nisha Salim
Please welcome our latest guest blogger and soon to be a contributor/co-author here on Freelance Science Writing.
Chris Anderson, the editor-in-chief of Wired Magazine, was the one who first popularized the term “long tail” which now easily rolls off the tongue of any internet marketers worth their salt.
Businesses have traditionally focused on offering “hit” products that have a large number of potential customers rather than specialized products that do not have a sufficiently big market. Brick and mortar businesses cannot afford to stock items that may interest only a select few customers due to high costs of shelf-space, manufacturing, distribution and inventory of specialized items.
But with the advent of online businesses, production, distribution and storage costs took a nosedive and customers were essentially offered infinite choice. As a result, the true shape of demand emerged – “and it turns out to be less hit-centric” than previously thought. People are attracted toward niches because they satisfy needs in a much deeper way than a one-size-fits-all product.
What does long tail have to do with science writing?
The main takeaway from the long tail concept is that economy is moving away from a small chunk of highly popular products at the head of the demand curve to a larger number of niche products in the tail.
In internet parlance, long tail keywords are those search queries that visitors use to find specific websites with highly specialized and relevant content. Long tail search phrases contain 3 or more words and can deliver highly targeted and specific results that are pertinent to the search.
Take a look at how this works in a real life search. Say you want to find the latest news or information about the storms in Saturn’s moons. Look at how three different searches – storms, “storms in Saturn” and “storms in Saturn’s moons” return progressively fewer and narrower search results. The last search query returns a result which is a direct hit on exactly the information that you are looking for.
Science articles are read by people who are specifically interested in the information conveyed by the article. Think about how many people would possibly know that Saturn has moons, or that there are storms in Saturn or would want to read more about it. Unless you are specifically looking for this information, there is very little chance that you will ever come across it.
Your articles have a better chance of being discovered if you use specific keywords that are relevant to the topic and your readers are likely to search for.
It is important to incorporate long tail keywords in science writing so that your articles may be indexed by search engines for those keywords, and they have a better shot at finding their way to people who are really interested in the topic and will derive value from it.
In the second part of the long tail series, we will see how to find appropriate long tail keywords and how to use them in articles.
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