Digital search marketers often target very Long Tail Keywords (LTK) in the misguided belief that more-is-merrier. Nothing can be further from this, particularly when mobile devices are the dominant content access mode.
The received wisdom is that LTK, because of their very low search volume, attracts little competition. Ergo, it is believed that the search advertisement will not vie for positional prominence and hence have the entire audience for the LTK to itself, improving its click-ability. The logic, so far, is impeccable. However, the search for LTK is also very likely a highly refined search, with the searcher addressing a very specific need. In such an instance, even if the click through on the search listing occurs, the likelihood of the conversion is low, unless the listing addresses the specific query of the LTK searcher.
We observed this in a recent search campaign, where even though the click-through index dropped precipitously, by reducing the number of LTK, the actual conversions increased dramatically. The graph alongside shows this.
The number of search terms used (the blue bars) were reduced as a part of a concerted optimization exercise.
As expected, the click-throughs (the red bars) also declined.
However, notwithstanding the drop in the click-throughs, the number of conversions (the green line) improved dramatically.
And what about search on mobile devices, particularly smartphones? Our experience shows that click-through rates for LTK is about 50% higher on mobile devices, while conversion is only around 40% of the conversion on desktops.
The net impact is despite the seemingly high click-through rates with LTK, the value realized by the advertiser is poor because of the low conversions with LTK. The net result is that, even on a pay-per-click model the advertiser ends up with high wastage.
The way thus to optimize LTK is to examine the intent of each search term and use only those LTK search terms whose intent would be congruent to the advertising groups that are created for the campaign. Without such congruence, the probability of the search term converting would be very low.