Two Simple Formulas to Estimate Long Tail Traffic & CTRs

math formulasQuadratic Formulas. Polynomials. Algebraic equations. When I hear terms like these I’m quickly transported back to Algebra class, 10th grade with Mr. Johnson.
Like a lot of kids, maths was my most despised subject. It was difficult and I didn’t understand how the complex formulas would ever be applied in real life. In short, advanced maths seemed like a total waste of time. :D
However, now that I am older and hopefully a little bit wiser too, I find myself routinely using math to help me complete tasks like projecting long tail search traffic and determining my click-through rates (CTR) in SERPs.

Today, I apply formulas like these daily to accomplish my work. Mr. Johnson, it may have taken me awhile to come around, but you were right. Matsh is in fact, not a waste of time.

Two Simple Formulas

But just because I’ve “seen the light” and understand the value of math / statistics doesn’t mean that I’m very good at it. Fortunately, the principles I use for internet marketing are pretty simple. No advanced degree in mathematics from a fancy school required to do this stuff. As Mr. Johnson used to say, an open mind and a desire to learn is all you need to understand this stuff. I believe this to be true of the two formulas explained below.

Long-tail Traffic Formula

Phrase Match Search Volume – Exact Match Search Volume = Long Tail Traffic Potential

Let’s begin with a super simple formula that will help you estimate how much long-tail traffic you could get around your primary keyword. To find this out you’ll need to open up the Keyword Tool in Google Adwords.

After you’ve logged into the keyword tool, enter one of your desired keywords using exact match and phrase match options and click the “search” button within the tool. Then simply subtract the phrase match traffic from exact match traffic to get an estimate of how much long tail traffic exists for a keyword.

Here’s an example that will help explain. One of the phrases that I want to rank for on my website is “home business.” After plugging this term into the keyword tool I find that home business gets 246,000 phrase match searches and 14,800 exact match searches each month. After doing some basic subtraction, I discover the long tail search opportunity for this term is roughly 231,200 searches per month. That is a robust long tail and gives me good reason to start building content by blogging around the topic of home business.

Tip: If you’re not familiar with the term exact match, phrase match, or broad match, click here to learn how Google defines these words.

SERP Click-Through Rate Formula

Number of Visits for Keyword / Number of Exact Searches for Keyword = SERP CTR

To find out the number of visits for a keyword, you’ll need to open up your analytics program. If you use Google Analytics, look at your Organic keyword referrals over the last 30 days. For this example, we’ll pretend you wanted to target the phrase cute boots for women and received 20 visits from this term over the past 30 days.

For the second part of this formula, go to the keyword tool again and search cute boots for women using exact match. According to the Google Adwords Keyword tool there are 720 exact match searches on average for this term every month.

Now that we know how many visits we received over the last 30 days for this phrase using Google Analytics and understand what the total opportunity from the keyword tool each month, we only need to divide to find out what our CTR is for that keyword in the search results as shown below:

20 visits / 720 exact match monthly searches = 2.78% CTR

When it comes to internet marketing, you can apply a lot of easy formulas to discover pretty interesting and profitable information about a website. Best of all, you don’t need to be a math whiz to use them either.

16 thoughts on “Two Simple Formulas to Estimate Long Tail Traffic & CTRs”

  1. I like the formula on finding (or estimating) long tail keywords. Long key word domain are not working that much now ,thank for the formulas…will definitely try it for sure.

  2. Long key word domain are not working that much now ,,i had recently let go of my two domains that i was running for sometime

  3. long tail keywords is the reason most of the traffic comes to my blog, its very necessary to identify for which keywords our blog ranks higher and build on the same…never heard about the keywords tool…will check it out, thx brett! :)


  4. Chimezirim Odimba

    I like the formula on finding (or estimating) long tail keywords. We all know how much easier it is to start ranking for those and having an easy way to know keywords that have a good volume for such is a good thing.

  5. Thanks a ton for diluting the dread surrounding mathematics. These simple formulae have most certainly eased the complex and painstaking process to be followed otherwise.

  6. Hi Brett,

    Your first para took me back to my Maths class, still now I surprise the need of those complex formulae but your post proved me wring!
    Now I got that all these complex things are used to do more complex things!
    If I`m not wrong! What do you say?

    And I`d like to thanks for teaching me this simple formula to estimate long tail traffic.

    Can you share, how it helped you in blogging?


    1. Brett Lindenberg

      Hi Khaja – Well, in that case I hope you liked math. The way estimating longtail traffic has most helped me is to figure out how much content to develop a certain keyword being targeted.

  7. Long trail keywords are the best formula for rank your site quickly in google and these are the best techniques to prove CTR which is best for online work.

  8. i am always play with long tail keyword to get better position in google very fastly.but now i confused!!
    playing with exact keyword or playing with long tail keyword which is better?

    1. Hi Shafeeq – Sorry about the confusion on that one.

      First find the Exact Match keyword from Google Adwords. Then subtract
      the Phrase match of the same keyword. The result is your long tail keyword estimate.

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