The Long Tail approach to Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) owes much of it's concept to traditional business and economics concepts. If you were to say it another way, it is niche marketing. Like early importers and exporters, if you can find many small under served niches, you can often bolster sales, sign-ups, lead conversions, etc. while your competitors go after the obvious, the more general, often most competitive of keywords and markets.


In 2004, the idea of niche marketing was reinvigorated when the term "Long Tail" was coined by Wired.com writer Chris Anderson. Essentially if you were to examine various business models like bookselling at Amazon.com, the iTunes.com music store, etc. you would find that they have success because of their deep catalogs of both popular hits and niche items. For brick and mortar retailers there is a cost associated with shelf space, seats in a theater, etc. which often means that retailers choose to stock or carry only the most popular and mainstream movies, CDs, video games, books, etc. Online retailers like iTunes can often succeed where the brick and mortars can not because they carry a large variety of hits and niche items, while a "hit" pop music CD can sell X amount of copies in 1 month, you might have 20 "underground" niche bands that sell as much or more than the "hit" CD in the same period. Because the cost of housing the extra items has reached or closely approached zero, iTunes has the potential to make much more than a traditional music store.

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