Paid Search Best Practice: Build out the ‘Smart Tail’

If you are familiar at all with Paid Search, you have definitely heard of the concept of the ‘Long Tail.’  Long-Tail, in terms of keywords, are the highly targeted, low frequency terms in your account.  At ChannelAdvisor, we have found that these terms can be highly profitable and can add up to a significant chunk of advertisers Order Mix.

However, there is a right way and a wrong way to do this.  Fairly often we will onboard a new account who has been with another Paid Search vendor and see that the account has 10,000’s to 100,000’s of keywords which at first glance looks like an extremely built out account.  But as we dig deeper, we’ll see a lot of low quality ‘long tail’ type of keywords that will never get any sort of Impressions.  Agencies will often use a keyword multiplier to hastfully build out the long tail to show the client that something has been done.  But a lot of these keywords can be 5,6,7,8+ words long which will never get searched.  To prove this theory, we pulled a year’s worth of client data in our system to show performance KPI’s and group by word length.  Here’s what this analysis showed:


As you can see clearly, there is a huge drop off when you get to 5 word keywords.  Is it really worth building, launching, and creating ads for all of these other 5+ word keywords?  We don’t think so.  Our recommendation is to intelligently mine the tail for keywords that users will actually query, and this means building out quality terms that are 5 or less words long.  Anything longer is just a waste of time.

Written by andrew (dot) belsky (at)