Our company uses ClickTracks for Web Analytics. We think it's a terrific product.

ClickTracks data for each of our clients is used in the preparation of our monthly client reports. Every report contains a "Top 20 Natural Search Keywords" chart. At the bottom of each one, just above "Total", is listed "Other" where the total number of keyword searches outside of the 20 most popular terms is tabulated.

The number associated with "Other" is consistently sizeable...roughly 70-85% of the total number of visitors coming to the site from search engines using a keyword search. Many of our clients have viewed the chart with concern...considering a large "Other" total to be a negative thing.

My response is quite the opposite. In fact, in my opinion, such a high percentage is proof positive that their SEO campaign is performing well.

Let me explain: A high "Other" percentage is the visible manifestation of a website successfully optimizing for the Long Tail of Search. Danny Sullivan explains the "Long Tail" concept thusly:

"The point I was explaining in that article is that there are a large number of queries that happen far less often than the "leading" terms like "shoes" or "running shoes" at the head of the list. Most queries form the long tail that's illustrated behind the head. Tap into the tail, and you've got sizable traffic, as well as traffic that often is reported to convert better than less general terms.

When I do keyword research for a client, I invariably find a list of relevant words / phrases that will bring targeted traffic to the website if they can be included in the site text. By incorporating these new terms on the website, I am enabling the site to target "The Long Tail".

For each targeted keyword added to the existing website, the website has the potential to be ranked and found not just for the keyword added, but for the keyword added in combination with any other word / words on the same page containing the keyword. This usually amounts to an extremely large number of possible searches. By utilizing all the targeted keywords, the site's ability to be found by prospects has exponentially increased.

On B to B sites where I'm able to track conversion by keyword, "Other" terms account for a very high percentage of leads generated.

I can now offer you a couple of rules based upon my experience:

1) The more specific the search query of your visitor, the more likely you are to convert him / her.
2) The more specific the search query you are targeting, the easier it becomes to achieve a top search engine ranking.

When I show my clients that their organic search traffic has greatly increased because of the SEO effort and then show them (if possible) the increase in lead generation, they don't seem to be concerned about a high "Other" total any longer.

Many SEO's have offered suggestions on how to best capture "Long Tail" traffic (such as this one). If such explanations make your head spin, I would suggest that you just focus on integrating as many keywords as possible into your website that you discovered in your keyword research. Try to get them on your home page if possible. As time passes, study closely your web stats to see what keywords people are using to find your website...you're sure to get some ideas for additional "Long Tail" keywords here.

Discuss this article in the Small Business Ideas forum.

May 26, 2006

Todd Mintz is the Director of Internet Marketing & Information Systems for S.R. Clarke Inc., a Real Estate Development and Residential / Commercial Construction Executive Search / Recruiting Firm headquartered in Fairfax, VA with offices nationwide. He is also a Director & Founding Member of SEMpdx: Portland, Oregon's Search Engine Marketing Association.

Search Engine Guide > Todd Mintz > The Power of "Other"