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The Easy Way to Create Long Tail Content

SmartUp \ Guiding Principles \ The Easy Way to Create Long Tail Content

Before getting into how to build thousands of content pages to create a long tail, it’s worth discussing again the purposes for which we produce the content.

The first goal is to bring a lot of traffic to the site in order to create a brand, so it is very important to understand who the target audience is and what they are looking for online.

It will often be easier to bring the right audience to content that only touches on the problem you are trying to solve rather than producing a long tail for the problem itself. This kind of content greatly expands the search horizon and brings traffic to your site.

As we will see below, this strategy will sometimes attract “sub-audiences” that will bring the ideal clientele with them.

The second goal is to convey that your company is a Thought Leader at the forefront of knowledge in a specific field. That suggests the content developed in the long tail should not be ubiquitous or similar to something that already exists.

We can look at  the business strategy of companies such as TripAdvisor, GlassDoor, and Opster to see who the paying customers actually are and how the content in their long tails fits with their business strategy.

TripAdvisor produces huge amounts of content on hotels and tourist sites around the world. The site’s purpose is to attract travelers and give them broad and up-to-date information about hotels, restaurants, car rental services, tours, guides, historical sites, etc.

Site visitors do not pay to view this content – it is free and open to all.

When a user selects a hotel based on TripAdvisor recommendations, they click the “Make a reservation” button, and at that moment, they are taken to another site like Expedia or

To which third-party site is the user transferred? To the site willing to pay more for the user at any given moment.

That is, TripAdvisor uses the content of the long tail to directly and indirectly sell a product derived from the content they publish. Its paying customers (i.e., the third-party sites) are different from the user audience (i.e., the potential travelers).

GlassDoor’s strategy is a little more sophisticated and comes with a personal story.

Many years ago, when I was the CEO of ZoomInfo, the Marketing Manager came to me with bad news. She had tried to recruit a job candidate who hesitated to accept the offer of employment. He had reservations because he read bad reviews about the CEO of ZoomInfo on a site she had never heard of called GlassDoor.

Indeed, the site had 5-6 very unflattering reviews about me and the company. The opinions were anonymous, but a brief review of the dates of the posts drew a simple conclusion – each was written within about two weeks from the date certain individuals were let go from the company.

It was sweet, anonymous revenge for the dismissals, and I asked the Marketing Manager to call GlassDoor, explain our findings, and ask them to remove the material.

We were not really surprised when GlassDoor replied that for a paltry sum of a few thousand dollars a year, ZoomInfo could gain some control over the content users would see on their site. For that fee, we could, for example, write a full explanation of what the company does and why it is fun to work at the company, and we could also reply to anonymous writers about their claims.

Since finding and recruiting high-quality employees is a long, difficult, and expensive process, we had to agree to GlassDoor’s “gentle extortion,” and we paid the annual amount they demanded. In addition, the Marketing Manager requested that each of our employees go onto GlassDoor and refute the other claims by posting good reviews of the company and Ali as CEO.

Thus, overnight I became one of the most talented CEOs in Boston, with about a hundred very positive reviews that completely obscured any negative ones.

The interesting thing is that in addition to the fees paid by ZoomInfo, GlassDoor made me and the Marketing Manager empower their brand by sending all the company employees to write a positive review. There is no doubt that in the future, when those same employees look for another job, they will also use GlassDoor to read reviews of potential companies they want to work for.

This example again shows the possible flexibility in the long tail strategy. It highlights how in a smart strategy, one target audience can be activated in order to make another target audience pay money or even just pay attention to your company.

Take another example of a small company called Opster (, a company I was involved in founding. The company develops software tools for managing and maintaining a search engine called ElasticSearch, a popular open-source search engine with hundreds of thousands of users over a wide range of industries.

Opster’s target audience is highly technical DevOps people who install and maintain the ElasticSearch software. Loyal to our way, right from the start of the company, we were looking to create a long tail of content to bring those same DevOps people to the Opster website.

We wanted to find a theme from which we could easily generate several thousand pages of content relevant to the very very specific audience of DevOps people who install and maintain ElasticSearch.

After brainstorming over several weeks, someone casually mentioned that ElasticSearch produces warnings and error messages when the system encounters various problems. These error messages usually refer to the symptoms of the problems, not their source, but are an important primary tool that technicians check and conduct searches for on Google.

A brief inspection revealed that there were about 1,200 different types of messages, and we have mechanically created a separate content page for each error message. Slowly, Google began to refer to the new Opster site when users typed – or rather, copy-pasted – ElasticSearch error messages.

The quality of the content was very basic because the pages were created mechanically with no real understanding of any error message. However, we still learned something important. It turned out that about 70 error messages out of the 1,200 brought in about 80% of the users.

From this analysis, we concentrated our writing efforts and put out impressive, quality content on those 70 common messages, thereby realizing the second goal of long-tail content marketing – we positioned ourselves as experts in the field.

Opster’s name started to become synonymous with expertise in the installation, management, and maintenance of ElasticSearch systems. Today, about two and a half years after the company’s inception, Opster’s site attracts about 100,000 visitors a month and is the main source of revenue and new customers for the company.

While TripAdvisor, GlassDoor, and Opster are all very different companies, each found its niche, producing bespoke content to attract particular audiences and build brand awareness. All three have effectively utilized a long tail content strategy to drive traffic to their sites and position themselves as leaders in their fields to leverage their audiences for increased profits.

Maximizing a long tail content strategy first requires isolating the problem you wish to solve and identifying the target market for the problem’s solution. Afterward, you can start developing content that demonstrates you’re an expert in your field and drives potential customers to your site.

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