Day One: The Long Tail

Tuesday, 2 August 2016

[TOP TIP: THERE IS A PICTURE OF MY CAT AT THE BOTTOM OF THIS POST.]

I'm warning you in advance, so you don't run away: this blog post contains a series of three letters that usually causes the human brain to either shut down completely or go into standby. Please try to stay conscious, I promise it's interesting. You awake? Promise? Okay. The letters are 'SEO'. Still conscious? Okay, good.

My day job requires me to spend a lot of time on Twitter, and fiddling about with websites. SEO stands for - wake up - SEO stands for 'Search Engine Optimisation' and it basically means 'get my website at the top of Google results for relevant search terms'. There's a bunch of different tricks you can use to achieve this, but there's one interesting principle that I've been thinking about lately. It's called 'the long tail'.

The idea is that optimising for common terms, like 'books', means you're competing with every other site that does stuff with books. Optimising for specific terms, like 'books by the fabulously talented author, Niall Slater, who has good hair', means you're only competing with sites who deal in handsome devils. You therefore stand a good chance of capturing the tragically small number of people searching specifically for authors with good hair - the downside being that you have to come up with lots of specific phrases to capture individuals in small numbers. Wake up, we're at the interesting bit now.

It's called the 'long tail' because these specific terms make up a big proportion of all searches, so it makes sense to go after the individuals. Raising funds has, so far, felt a lot like chasing individual readers down the street and pelting them with rocks until they give you money (which I came to Unbound to stop doing). I hope the campaign will grow some legs of its own in time. Until then, though, it seems like the best thing to do is find individual people who might like what we're doing here and tell them that we're doing it.

So far it's been working quite well! I think 10% in a day is a pretty good start, so if anyone reading is thinking about doing their own crowdfunding campaign then this is the way I suggest doing it.

Right, I'm off to email more of my old school teachers and harangue them for retweets. Don't let anyone tell you writing isn't glamorous.

This picture shows my cat enthusiastically greeting me during a rare visit home. (He doesn't care.)

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