Monday, 31 January 2011

It pays to have a Long Tail

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) Keywords and Long Tails
Or: why are some post more poplar than others? 
January 2011

These dank days of mid winter offer few opportunities for time afloat and with Belle still recuperating, there is little scope for indulging in my usual wintertime canal fix courtesy of the abandoned routes of the Birmingham Canal Navigations (BCN).

But I am not alone in my frustration. I see that my fellow bloggers are busy casting around for material and Easter with it's warmer weather is still a long, long way away. Halfie has been scrutinising his blog statistics and working out which words in his titles attracted the most hits, even if many of the visits last for a mere zero seconds! I see that Jim of Starcross suggests a possible title of "Sex-change soap-star in mercy dash to royal corgi " which should bring in visitors by the truckload. An interesting thought.

All this electronic introspection got me thinking and digging into the science, or should I call it the black art, of Search Engine Optimisation.  Well, one has to do something to pass the time on long dark evenings!

An inspection of the Captain Ahab stats reveals my Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows film review from 1st December 2010 as enduring popular, as is my much older post on Painting Narrowboats. So, a well searched title can create a big hitting post but perhaps the most surprising discovery is that the bulk of visitors lie in the Long Tail. Captain, I hear you cry, what in the name of all that is holy is a long tail?

Well, a bit of research has informed me that the long tail is the length of the list of words and combinations of words which have attracted hits when ranked in order popularity. In my case there seems to be strength in depth, with Captain Ahab attracting a steady stream of searchers regardless of how often I do new posts. It's sort of like having a steady demand for my back catalogue.

A bit more research into the landing pages suggest that the "reference library" effect is driven by the photography on which my blog is based. You see, whilst much of my waterways based writing has appeals to a very narrow audience, the rise of the Google image search function is the source of much traffic. I don't mind this, I love photography and if my images give pleasure to others that's fine with me. Perhaps the greatest buzz is when local Canal Societies contact me asking permission to lift them for publication in their own magazines or websites.

So maybe  it's not so much the regularity of posting which influences the hits, but more the variety of grouped keywords spread across the whole blog which delivers sustained popularity.

So allowing for all of the above, how many people do I thing follow the blog on a regular basis? Well, my best guess is no more than 50, but it's quality not quality which counts when it comes to friends. You know who you are!

So there you have it. A frank admission that Captain Ahab is endowed with a particularly impressive and well photographed Long Tail......... ; - )

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That was interesting - I always think it's a flattering mystery as to why people read the blog!

We have a lot of 1-off hits for people looking for Webasto service manuals, but the main generator of hits is Lynx the hound's diary. So much for my meticulously researched descriptive cruising posts then......:-;

Sue, nb Indigo Dream