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The long tail of digital content offers online publishers the potential to build an audience by creating content for niche interests. However, until recently, the long tail seemed like a dead end for many publishers.

Is the democratization of long tail content a false promise for the digital publishing industry? Or does the industry just need more time to adjust the business model to make niche and specialized content viable?

Though some commentators have proclaimed the death of the long tail, we are seeing signs of a rebirth of diverse and special interest content in the magazine industry.

1. Search is getting more personal

Until a few years ago, most companies and publishers tried to optimize their online content around short, specific search terms to attract search traffic from people who wanted information on that specific topic.

However, as a result of Google's 2013 Hummingbird updates to the search algorithm, Google is now better able to understand the user's specific intent with semantic search.

As more people treat Google as a person instead of as a search engine, searches feature questions in the style that people ask friends for advice: "How can I get rid of bed bugs?" or "What are the best family vacation destinations in Hawaii?"

Those longer, more detailed search terms have replaced short keyword phrases.

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image of Beth Murphy

Beth Murphy is EVP of Product and CMO for Zinio, multiplatform distribution service for digital magazines, with more than 5,500 magazines from a wide range of publishers.

LinkedIn: Beth Murphy