I have a post at SEL on the long tail of PPC that went up yesterday.
If you take the phrases in a search portfolio and order them by decreasing clicks or cost, you'll quickly see a tiny handful of terms comprise most of your clicks. Try it out. The distribution of click frequencies in a well-designed paid search phrase list approximately follows a power law.
Is the long tail right for all search advertisers?
Perhaps not. Big campaigns with tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of terms require much more care and attention than smaller campaigns of a few hundred top terms. Big campaigns offer more dark nooks for inefficiencies and errors to hide. You need good systems to generate and maintain relevant and targeted ad copy. You need advanced statistical approaches to cluster ads to compute bids intelligently (because almost every phrase in the tail lacks sufficient traffic to assess its conversion individually with any degree of statistical certainty.) In short, embracing very large term lists offers both opportunity and risk. No doubt: a small campaign executed well will out-perform a large campaign executed poorly.
Some tips (more detail on each in full post)
- Don't apply sweeping simplistic bid rules to the long tail.
- Don't use generic ad copy with title substitution.
- Don't use generic landing pages.
- Don't confuse quality with quantity.
- Don't manage campaigns of more than a few hundred phrases "by hand" using spreadsheets.
- Don't manage all phrases identically.
- Don't update bids on all terms with the same frequency.
- Don't fall back to a "just run the winners" approach.
And did you know the 21st most frequent word in Melville's Moby Dick is "whale"?