Managing below the "long neck"

The “long neck” refers to the 5% of your web content responsible for 80% of your web visits. The “long tail” refers to the bulk of your web pages that get very few visits. The long tail is exemplified by e-commerce websites efficiently offering many unique low-traffic items.

There may be tens of thousands of pages in the long tail. By nature they are not important enough to be linked directly from your main page or navigational menus. These items may be too specific or numerous for global navigation, but when taken together too valuable to ignore. Ways to get users to long tail items are increasingly important to e-commerce sites like Amazon. Yet for many sites the long tail poses challenges.

Once navigational menus and links are focused on Top Tasks, routes to important long tail items may be less obvious – which makes links to Top Tasks more visible. But if an institution delivers value in the long tail it needs to be managed in different ways. Here are some ways to deal with it:

  • Archive it
    Out-of-date content frustrates users. Review and purge out-of-date content regularly.
  • Delete it
    Get rid of duplicate content and links that clutter up important pages
  • Contextualize it
    Create menus and sub-links on lower level pages that are contextualized for that task
  • Optimize it
    Help search engines find it – Search is the most effective way to find long tail items
  • Guide searchers to it
    Offer filters or facets in the search process – Offer keywords that help users refine their search. Or offer selections near your search box to show only specific subsets of items; e.g. by product, by type of numbered document, within a given price range, of a particular size, etc.
  • Exclude it
    If content does not fit a category above, or is in-progress, or is not a desirable landing page, or will create noise in search results on external search engines, keep it from being indexed by search engines – Gerry McGovern says “manage all aspects of search – getting found and NOT getting found”

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