2 Quick Tips For Better Longtail Searching

Author: Gab Goldenberg

I recently failed to find things when searching by name. I tried looking up a foreign song by its name, and a restaurant by its name, address and city (all in one query). Both those searches failed.

What did work was looking for the category of the song. It’s no secret that if your search is too specific, you want to broaden it, but sometimes it’s difficult seeing how to make something broader when you’re already searching on a general term.

To give an SEO analogy, if you wanted to read about improving registration page conversions, you might look up ‘conversion rate optimization blog’ and then dig around sites on the topic. It may take a little longer, but it’s a way to find stuff in the longtail when Google’s algorithms suck too much.

With regards to the restaurant, it seems the Google Places listing hasn’t been claimed. Presumably that’s why the query confused Google, which gave me a country-level view of its map. Obviously useless.

What did work was just looking for the address itself, which Google somehow does know. So if you’re looking for directions to a restaurant or place, type in the street address… not the name.

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  1. Yes, if there's no places page for a local query Google can sometimes fall down, but if there's no actual homepage page, I guess it can only show what it knows - often review site entries. More generally, using Boolean is quite useful for long tail and/or queries with many semantic alternatives.

    Comment by Sharif - March 23, 2011 @ 12:55pm
  2. What examples do you have in mind where Boolean searches would be useful for the long tail? I can see the semantic alternatives being helped by a few well-placed ORs also - thanks for sharing that! Is there any site I can link to as thanks for improving this page, Sharif?

    Comment by Gabriel Goldenberg - March 24, 2011 @ 11:53am
  3. Happy to contribute! To be honest I would just use a few ORs. I'm no Boolean expert but maybe newer searchers don't always know about it. To use the CRO example search you mentioned: (landing OR registration OR sales) page conversion (optimization OR optimisation) AND (blog OR tips OR guide) ... that type of thing. I don't know if the bracket usage is 100% right, but this type search works well for me. I've seen similar advice in those "how to find link sources" guides. No personal link needed yet so I've included a worthy 3rd party instead - thanks.

    Comment by Sharif - March 25, 2011 @ 10:57am
  4. Ah I see how you'd work that - excellent point, Sharif. In fact, you can quickly build out a list of queries like that by using Aaron Wall's concatenator tool which I've covered a few times already. (Local keyword list building and mass URL tagging/building).

    Comment by Gabriel Goldenberg - March 29, 2011 @ 8:48am

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