Case Study: The Long-Tail Secrets of a High-Ranking, Moneymaking Quiz

Stacey McNaught

Jul 30, 20154 min read
The Long-Tail Secrets of a High-Ranking, Moneymaking Quiz

Are there still moneymaking opportunities in long tail keywords ?

Earlier this year, we helped a travel client develop and launch an online quiz based on long-tail research. Here’s what happened.

Finding the Data

In this case, we needed to know what people might be looking for when they first research a potential holiday. Our client has great visibility for holiday-related searches, but we know these searches are often made towards the end of the booking cycle.

We also know that a holiday booking is an emotive purchase that comes with lots of research beforehand. It’s this huge pool of researchers that we wanted to tap into through long tail.

We typically find that offerings from Google’s own Keyword Tool can be pretty poor with long tail. Long tail keywords, after all, are typically lower in volume – and we see countless examples of Google suggesting no volume at all for certain searches, only to find once we’re visible for them that, actually, there are hundreds (in some cases) of searches for those keywords and their and close variants.

So we simply stopped relying on Google for long tail keyword research.

Instead, we used four other keyword suggestion sources as part of our preparation and planning for this project and others: scrapes Google Suggest data. It’s not the first tool to do this, of course. But it’s free and, most impressively, produces a visual representation of your results, making it easy to quickly see where your next potential content idea might come from.

ATP Results (Forum Search)

The key to long-tail research is that you should, by the end of it, find out what queries or concerns people might have that your products, services or content could solve. And there’s a world beyond Google!

People don’t always take to search engines to ask their questions. There are forums, other online communities, Q&A portals, existing publications and social bookmarking platforms where people may be asking questions about products and services you sell.

Getting this data from scores of different sites can be laborious, but makes it simpler.

Simply paste a list of URLs previously gathered, add a keyword, and FAQFox scrapes those pages and returns all the questions related to your keyword. This makes things much simpler.

This tool uses Google, Youtube, Bing and App Store keyword data to present ideas for keywords. The free version is probably enough information, but for those looking to plan an incredibly in-depth content strategy, there’s a premium offering too. also uncovers keywords that Google’s own tools seem to simply hide.

Our Clients' Customer Service Departments

The people answering the phone at our clients’ premises are incredibly valuable to their content campaigns.

When it comes to dealing with questions the website clearly isn’t answering, these people are at the front line.

When people call to book a holiday or with a query, that’s vital data. So we’ve made it a habit with many of our clients who have call center staff to speak to these people and find out what questions people are asking most.

There’s a level of insight there, from a human interaction, which you simply can’t get from an online tool.

We used all four of these channels in the research for our travel quiz.

Panning for the Gold

Having gathered all our keyword suggestions, we then looked closely to see which terms could be targeted.

One, above all others, immediately jumped out: Where should I go on holiday?

When we checked the traffic levels in Google’s keyword planner, we uncovered significant search activity for the term.

As an added bonus, it’s clearly a phrase loaded with potential purchasing intent – as long as we could provide a useful, informative resource for that traffic.

The Difficult Part

The challenge was how to turn early-stage researchers into fully paid-up travellers packing their bags and heading off for their next adventure.

Infographic? Blog post? Video? No!

A search for our new target phrase revealed plenty of existing content tailored to it. But the content was not amazing: think long-form, text-heavy blog posts and text-heavy quizzes with radio buttons and a pinch-and-zoom experience on mobile.

Our view was that researching your holiday should be part of the fun. And we chose to create an HTML5 interactive quiz that would function on desktop, tablet and mobile with equal efficiency. More to the point, it should be designed to steer these early stage researchers towards a final purchase.

From selecting which month they wanted to travel, through to how far they were prepared to fly, what activities interested them and what weather they were looking for, visitors were then presented with their ideal holiday destination – and a call to action linking to a relevant destination page.

This wasn’t a hard sell; it was a genuinely useful piece of content that helped shape and inform the decisions of researchers across the UK looking for their ideal getaway.

What Was the Result?

Traction. Lots of traction.

Our goals were centered around long-tail visibility. But it also worked from a social perspective by acquiring thousands of Facebook interactions, as well as generating 189 external backlinks from 14 different domains.

Soon after launch, we found ourselves in this position:

Google results

We rank incredibly well for this search term (from which competitors such as Thomas Cook are paying for AdWords traffic) and its variants.

Our content is beating competition from huge brands like TripAdvisor, Rough Guides, Travel Supermarket and The Guardian.

The quiz has generated over 20,000 visits since launch. 98% of these visitors will complete the quiz and of those who complete it, three quarters will go on to visit the recommended destination landing page or browse other destinations.

But Does It Actually Make Money?

Yes! Both through direct conversions and assisted conversions.

Here’s how we can tell.

Using Multi-Channel Funnels (part of the ‘Conversions’ tab in Google Analytics), we’ve been able to track that customers have found the quiz either through organic, social or paid search, then made a return to the site through another channel (sometimes up to three times) before eventually converting into buyers.

It’s proven to be a hugely successful piece of content that has gone well beyond simply raising our client’s profile and online visibility; it has been directly responsible for significant revenue.

So yes, there’s still money in the long tail – and plenty of it.

But only if you do your research and follow it up with genuinely valuable, useful content.

Have any of these methods worked for you before? Let us know in the comments!

Author Photo
Stacey MacNaught is search director for Tecmark, where she leads the search team and works with clients to deliver high-level campaign strategies. She is a recognised figure on the global speaking circuit, having wowed audiences in the UK, Europe and US – including at MozCon. Follow Stacey on Twitter.