The SUPER LONG Tail...................

Services for Real Estate Pros with ActiveRain

Jon, our fearless leader (ok, maybe not), just sent an email out to our staff here at ActiveRain letting us know that yesterday we set a new daily traffic record. We had 20% more visitors to ActiveRain in a single day than we have ever had. Whenever he sends something like this, I always jump into our analytics account and try to see if there is any reasonable explanation.

I don't think I really found a reasonable explanation, but I did stumble across an unbelievable example of the long tail at work.

For those of you that aren't familiar with the term long tail, let me explain as I would if I was talking to someone that had no idea about the long tail. I don't know who originally came up with this parallel, but I think it's really easy to understand (I know Chris Anderson coined the term Long Tail, just not sure if he was the first to use this analogy although my guess is yes).

Consider your local bookstore. They carry less than 1% of the books for sale in the world. In fact, they probably carry less than .001% of the books for sale at any one time. However, the books they do carry make up 60% (maybe even more) of the sales that take place for books in a given year. That leaves a pretty large chunk of the book market, about 40% in our example here, that are not sold by book stores. The big selling books sell tens and even hundreds of thousands of copies a year. But there is a HUGE segment of books out there, the remaining 99% of the books in fact, that make up the remaining 40% of the sales. The thing is, any one book might only sell 3 or 4 times a year. So the cumulative of all those books selling once, twice, maybe even ten times a year make up that 40% of the sales. Amazon thrives on selling on this long tail. They don't have to hold and display the inventory on shelves, so it makes sense for them to have available that book that only sells 10 times a year. They do quite well selling all kinds of merchandise in this fashion.

You can see then that the long tail is where a lot of the sales of books takes place. Something simiar happens in search results. While you may have certain key search phrases making up the majority of the searches, a vast majority of the long tail searches make up a pretty decent chunk of the overall search traffic.

So back to our Google Analytics account........One of the terms that sent a decent amount of traffic to ActiveRain the last two days was the term: '7500 tax credit' (no quotes, just that term typed in Google or some other search engine). This particular term drove 513 visitors. A secondary search of: '7500 tax credit home buyer' drove an additional 360 visitors.

So in total, those two searches drove 873 visitors the last two days. But let's look a little further down the tail, shall we?

In total, we had 1570 visits in the last two days based on a search with the term '7500' in the keyword string somewhere. The next biggest search with the term '7500' in it drove only 15 visitors. So we can pretty safely assume that everything after that term is on the long tail, no search result with the term '7500' will drive more than 15 visitors. Care to guess how many terms, other than the two most popular, were typed into a search engine using '7500' as one of the keywords? 539!!!!

538 times someone typed in a variation of keywords using the term '7500' in the last two days and landed on ActiveRain. Those 539 searches resulted in 697 visits. So the first two (2) terms accounted for 873 of the 1570 total visits or 56%, and the remaining 539 searches resulted in 697 visits or 44% of the visitors searching for '7500' something.

.3% of the search terms drove 56% of the traffic and the remaining 99.7% of the terms drove 44% of the traffic. If that's not the long tail, you will never see it!!

What kind of searches on are on that long tail? Here are the next most popular variations:

Nothing very shocking there. Just lots of different ways people think to type the same thing into a search engine and find their way to ActiveRain. It's when you get much farther down that you start to see something very interesting. There are HUNDREDS of ways someone searched and many of them match how someone would naturally asked the question if they were speaking it.

These type of search engine queries often find their way to ActiveRain because of the way they mimic natural language. Your blog posts are written using this kind of natural language so it only makes sense that the search engines would return results that match the natural language queries.

Please keep in mind, this is TWO DAYS worth of searching. I'll tell you what though, there is some accountant out there that really wishes he was getting referrals from a few ActiveRain members, because whoever is writing about this '$7500 tax credit for first time home buyers' (that's how I would have searched for it) is getting a TON of traffic.

The point? Our long tail is sending visitors every day to your blog posts based on natural language search, and 40% (or in our specific example 44%) of the searches being done out there are of this nature. So you just keep on writing solid information about your market or your area of expertise, let people get better and better at searching for exactly what they are looking for and let Google and the other search engines sort out the traffic.........much of which will end up on your blog posts on ActiveRain!!

Posted by

Bob Stewart
ActiveRain Ambassador


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Re-Blogged 1 time:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Mirela Monte 09/26/2009 09:46 PM
Real Estate Sales and Marketing
long tail

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Elizabeth Cooper-Golden
Huntsville Alabama Real Estate, (@ Homes Realty Group) - Huntsville, AL
Huntsville AL MLS

Bob,  After reading this last night, I posted my article about the $7500 tax credit....low and behold, I just returned an email from a first time home buyer that found it on AR!  I loaded it less than 12 hours ago.  I specifically asked him where he found it, since it is also on my personal website blog.  I LOVE ACTIVE RAIN!!!


Jan 27, 2009 08:55 PM #64
Shuki Haiminis - Boston, MA

Great post! Long tail keywords are definatley something that everyone should concentrate on more. Not everyone will be able to rank for the big generic RE terms they want but when they drill down and get super detailed and specific they can really go after and rank well for those terms. A bunch of those rankings can add up to a lot of traffic.

Jan 27, 2009 09:49 PM #65
Dorie Dillard
Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.346.1799 - Austin, TX
Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate

Thanks for the great post with some good solid information. Your son is adorable!!

Jan 27, 2009 11:16 PM #66
Neal Bloom
eXp Realty - Weston, FL
Realtor CRS-Weston FL Real Estate

I'm sure it will become even longer as the time passes by.

Jan 28, 2009 12:03 AM #67
Emily Lowe
The Lipman Group | Sotheby's International Realty - Nashville, TN
Nashville TN Realtor

Thanks for sharing the info Bob.  I wonder why people are searching for that $7500 tax credit.  It really isn't that great of a deal!!!  And your comment to Fred Smilek was hilarious! 

Jan 28, 2009 02:37 AM #68
Bob Stewart
ActiveRain - Seattle, WA
ActiveRain Ambassador

Lisa Hill,

You wrote: I must say, that is not the search phrase I was expecting to hear. I was expecting something much closer to the actual words "real estate". I'd be curious as to how many searches all of Active Rain gets on a regular basis, centering around the words "real estate".

Lisa, that was just one tiny example of a keyword (or in this case lots of sets of similar keywords) that got a fair number of hits in a two day time frame. In total, that represented just about 1% of the total traffic from search engines during that time. Searches during those two days with the key word 'Real Estate' were significantly higher. I was in no way suggesting that the search phrase I talked about above was the most searched term. I was simply using it to illustrate the long tail at work. Just under 10% of all search terms during that two day period used the words real estate.

I took a look at some other common terms:

  • real estate - about 10% of search traffic used that term somehow
  • Home(s) - about 10% of search traffic used that term somehow
  • Loan(s) - about 3% of search traffic used that term somehow
  • House(s) - about 4% of search traffic used that term somehow
  • Sale - about 8% of search traffic used that term somehow
  • foreclosure(s) about 3% of search traffic used that term somehow

Granted, some of this data may overlap a little. Someone could land on the site using 'Home loan something' and would count in both categories, home and loan. And I could spend more time researching and thinking up stuff to look up, but I think you get the idea. People are finding ActiveRain with keywords very relevant to real estate. Thank you Lisa, I'm sure you weren't the only one thinking something similar.


Jan 28, 2009 04:16 AM #69
Mike Russell
Mike Russell & Associates - Overland Park, KS
Overland Park Kansas Real Estate

looks like I need to re-write some seo on that page onf my website.

Jan 28, 2009 06:42 AM #70
Patricia Aulson
Realtor - Portsmouth NH Homes-Hampton NH Homes

Hey bob.....I want to know how you get your blog featured and on this list??

It's me  Patricia   from the "Live Free or Die State"  NH

By the way, the points are adding on their own so I haven't ben in touch.

Thanks again


Portsmouth NH Real Estate

Jan 29, 2009 02:10 AM #71
Gina Zimmerman
North Eastern Group Realty - Fort Wayne, IN
Fort Wayne Real Estate

I love AR and am so glad that it is so prominent on google and other search engines.  You guys rock and have a long tail!

Feb 02, 2009 09:50 AM #72
Craig Rutman
Helping people in transition - Cary, NC
Raleigh, Cary, Apex area Realtor

Whatever you guys did to get the SEO rankings that AR achieves is working!

I know I speak for the 130K + people on here when I say THANK YOU ACTIVERAIN!

Feb 05, 2009 04:00 AM #73
Adam Odnert,


The long tail sure is tall, too. When entering the market, no one promises a rose garden, right? It's refreshing to see a transparent dialog about taking the analytics and making action items from them. Congratulations Activerain!


Feb 06, 2009 11:58 AM #74
Troy Erickson
Diverse Solutions Realty - Chandler, AZ
Your Chandler, Ahwatukee, and East Valley Realtor

Bob, thanks for the long explaination on the long tail.  You actually made a lot of sense on how all this works.  Now I just need to incorporate this into my blog posts somehow.

Feb 10, 2009 06:27 AM #75
Katerina Gasset
Get It Done For Me Virtual Services - Wellington, FL
Get It Done For Me Virtual Services

Bob- That is awesome for buyer agents! Of course, with us, you are preaching to the choir. You know that I truly know the value of the long tail. I ask every single person who calls us what exactly did they type into the SE to get to us.

I am too busy with our phone ringing with those who need to sell to spend time in analytics. If it works, it works. Keep doing what works.


Feb 12, 2009 09:57 AM #76
Debe Maxwell, CRS | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | (704) 491-3310 - Charlotte, NC
Charlotte Homes for Sale - Charlotte Neighborhoods

Hi Bob!  Isn't it amazing that this 'stuff' really works--I have this on my backend of my website and I can see where people visit from, etc. and the keyword searches can generally be combined to include over 1/2 of my visitors with ONE longtail...  I just have to continue to work on getting those words put together in more of my posts!

Debe in Charlotte

Feb 12, 2009 02:59 PM #77
Suzanne McLaughlin
Sabinske & Associates, Inc. (Albertville, St. Michael) - Saint Michael, MN
Sabinske & Associates, Realtor

Great explanation.  Good information for our company blog.  You are the best!  Thanks.

Feb 14, 2009 02:52 AM #78
_ _

Great Explanation!  Thanks for taking the time to put all of that together for us!

Jason Sanders

The Value Pages Group

Feb 26, 2009 02:45 AM #79
Sharon Alters
Coldwell Banker Vanguard Realty - 904-673-2308 - Fleming Island, FL
Realtor - Homes for Sale Fleming Island FL

Bob, this is a great explanation of long tail. I think I get it. Now that it's $8000 and I wrote a post about it, I'm going to go back and check it for long tail terms. Thanks!

Feb 26, 2009 03:05 PM #80
Monica Bourgeau
New Phase Business Coaching - Portland, OR
Business Coaching

Very interesting, Google works in mysterious ways. :)

Mar 08, 2009 10:07 AM #81
Gabe Sanders
Real Estate of Florida specializing in Martin County Residential Homes, Condos and Land Sales - Stuart, FL
Stuart Florida Real Estate

Thanks Bob, great information.  Now to think about how to put it into practice!

Sep 27, 2009 12:02 AM #82
Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573
Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker

Hey where's Calvin? We miss seeing him in the tutorial videos. your AR family wants to watch him grow, and see you try to teach us something while he is being Calvin..and getting in to things off camera. Bring back Calvin.

Oct 25, 2009 06:22 AM #83
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