Google Analytics Short Tail/Long Tail Segmentation

by David Whitehouse
See Dave Speak SMX London

I was just pulled into a conversation with Paul and James about developing a report of some kind in Google Analytics which segments short tail (1-2 words long) and long tail traffic (3 words or more).  The advantage being you can then compare them and use it to estimate the amount of long tail gains you would get from going after a short tail keyword.

For example, say you are currently getting 1,000 visits from short tail keywords and 5,000 visits from long tail keywords, this means you are getting 500% more long tail traffic.  Now using this ratio you can estimate how much traffic you are likely to receive by going after a keyword, for instance if you target “wooden chairs” you would notice it has 5,400 searches in the UK (according to the Google AdWords Keyword Tool) and if you were to get a number 1 position you might get say 10% of this.  So you are likely to get 540 visits from that one keyword, but the long tail traffic would be five times greater than this, 2700 visits (based on the ratio above).  So a total potential 3,240 visits.

This may not seem that great, but it makes all the difference when you are considering the ROI of going after a particular keyword in an SEO Campaign.  We have noticed that the long tail / short tail ratios differ dramatically between clients – so its a bad idea to use one across industries/clients – you may also want to exclude brand searches, as if it has a strong brand this will skew the data a lot.

The Google Analytics Segments – Shared

Here is the short tail segment

Here is the long tail segment (the inverse of the short tail segment):

Update: These have been updated, based on a regular expression made by Ben Gott.

If you would prefer the regular expression, here it is (this is the short tail reg ex, exclude this to get the long tail) – it shows all one or two keyword phrases it shows all the keywords which contain 2 or more spaces:

(^[a-z0-9]+ [a-z0-9]+$|^[a-z0-9]+$)
(s|+).*(s|+)
[^s+]+(s|+)+[^s+]+(s|+)+[^s+]+

Update: Please ensure you set it to medium = organic, otherwise the long tail segment will include all other traffic unless you are in the search engine traffic report.

Enjoy!  Let me know if anyone has any other ideas about this.

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