Doctors Should Look to the Long Tail to Target High-intent Consumers

long tail searchLast month, Google-owned sites attracted 187 million unique visitors — and apparently not everybody was looking for information on the election or videos of Gisele Bundchen. In fact, it may come as a surprise that fully 16% of the searches on Google.com are unique, one-of-a-kind searches that the site has never seen before. Every day.

As Baris Gultekin, director of AdWords product management, says, “User search behavior can be a moving target.”

Translation: A lot of people could be searching for products and services you provide but not seeing your website in their results because you haven’t targeted the words that correlate to their increasingly sophisticated searches.

And the trend is only likely to continue as search engines themselves get smarter and the amount of data they have access to increases exponentially. The combination means that the old bell-curve model of marketing — targeting those consumers who search for the same thing — is quickly giving way to a long-tail model in which people’s increasingly specific and nuanced searches occupy the farther end of the curve. Each specific search may be relatively small in scope but the total can add up to a huge target market.

long tail search

Source: SEO-Entrepreneur.com

If the bell curve is the 20th century, then the long tail is the Internet, says Heather Taylor of Econsultancy US. If you look at the long tail model, you’ll see that once you remove the top, let’s say, 100 popular items in your list, the long tail isn’t zero but could be tens of thousands of purchases. It’s about recognizing that and targeting a niche market to help you stand out.

Doctor Takeaways

1. Determine what people are searching for

Google offers a wealth of free tools that can help you determine what search terms to focus on. Your own site analytics will tell you what search terms deliver visitors to your site; Google Trends lets you track whether search terms are gaining or losing share, and Google Correlate, as its name suggests, lets you compare how related terms (e.g., lipo and liposuction) stack up by location and over time.

2. Market against longer-tail items to reach people with high intent

Long-tail searchers are the antithesis of looky-loos. They know exactly what they want and they want to find doctors who offer it. Using Google’s Keyword Tool, for example, it turns out the competition for “dermal fillers” is high, resulting in an estimated cost-per-click (CPC) of $4.05. The competition for “Restylane,” on the other hand is rated as low, leading to an estimated CPC of $3.04.

3. Align your content with the search terms people are looking for

Once you have a list of long-tail cosmetic-surgery search terms, start generating content that addresses them. Give the product or procedure prominence in your online ad campaigns, encourage reviews that boost engagement (and more search engine attention) and answer questions on sites like RealSelf to demonstrate your expertise when people are most interested in the subject.

About Rob Lovitt

Rob Lovitt is a longtime writer and editor who believes every good business has a great story to tell. He has written for dozens of magazines and websites, including NBCnews.com, Expedia.com and the inflight magazines of Alaska, Horizon and Frontier airlines.