Long tail keywords are a part of the usual strategy for top ranking. The strategy works well, and it has been proven as a successful. Here I show some details of how it really works, and how to make it even better.
I take one phrase for the purpose of demonstration:
Climbing Breithorn Zermatt
This is the title of a page from my site about mountains. I used it as a long-tail keyword for that page. It would be more appropriate to speak about key-phrase, but the terms like keyword and long-tail keyword are widespread, so I shall limit myself to the usual terminology.
This particular keyword is not very long (compare it for example with the one like ‘How to improve page rank’), but it will serve the purpose.
In the given example, I could have used ‘Breithorn’ as a keyword, but I realized there were a bit too many searches (around 350) and I felt I had less chance to get easily to the first page on Google. On the other hand, there are several mountains with the same name Breithorn (I myself have two of them described within my site), though the Breithorn (at Zermatt) which I speak about here is the most important one and well known.
[Marcello – Oboe concerto: Adagio]
Note that ‘Breithorn Zermatt’ combination is a good keyword for itself, though with far less searches, around 40. On the other hand ‘Climbing Breithorn’ is also a good keyword, with around 55 searches.
So from this example I cam make this categorization and terminology:
- keyword, which will be abbreviated as KW at some places further in the text (Breithorn),
- short-tail keyword(s), abbreviated as STKW (Breithorn Zermatt, climbing Breithorn),
- long-tail keyword, LTKW (climbing Breithorn Zermatt).
The strategy of using LTKW (but with some extras in my case here) implies the following:
a) I use LTKW as my starting formal keyword (key-phrase), and I use all the usual, well-known and proven ways to rank as high as possible.
b) But, as you have noticed, I choose such a LTKW which can be decomposed into several shorter options (STKW, KW), where each of them independently is a good keyword and may have much more searches, in particular the KW (i.e., the shortest part of my LTKW).
c) I know that every post is ranked for many keywords. If you are familiar with Google Webmaster Tool, you surely know this. You can have tens of words for which your every post and page are ranked.
d) Consequently, I know that all my keywords mentioned above will be there in the list for which my post is ranked. Of course, ideally, my LTKW will be the first on the list, the other two somewhere below.
e) In long terms I want to be well-ranked, i.e., to be (if possible) on Google first page also by my keyword (Breithorn) because it has much more searches; logical of course. This means that eventually all three of my options (LTKW, STKW, KW) should ideally be on Google page 1.
So (how) do Long Tail Keywords really work?
It works on the principle which I shall call Pull-and-Push principle (in the text below abbreviated as PP-principle). So what is it? You can visualize this if you imagine a long train (sometimes those transporting ore can be kilometers long) which has two engines, one on each side. The one in front is pulling the system, the other one on the tail is pushing.
Now, to translate this to our system consisting of LTKW, STKW and KW. The LTKW typically has more chance to get your page to some higher ranking (this is pulling component, LTKW is the pulling engine).
But this improvement in ranking for the page is general, and it will result in an increased traffic for the page in an absolute sense. So, assume now that initially the page was on the place 25 in ranking for searches by KW, and now due to the effects of LTKW, assume that it has improved its ranking, and it is on the place 24 for searches by KW.
Hence, for people searching by my KW, the page is now better ranked (although the improvement may be minor), therefore the traffic will be increased for searches by my KW. But any improvement in searches by KW again implies an increased traffic in general, and as you know, searches by KW are more numerous. So the effect will be visible although it is so low-ranked with respect to the KW searches.
It is easy to realize that these searches will further improve the ranking by pushing the page in ranking from below (the KW acts as the rear train engine). The page thus becomes even better ranked for those searching through LTKW. As you can imagine, the cycle will simply continue.
You can certainly add STKW in the picture. It is somewhere in between, it will surely help in the same manner. With respect to the LTKW, it will be pushing from behind, while with respect to KW it will be pulling the page. It will act like an extra engine added in the middle of the train.
That is how PP-principle works. All three elements LTKW, STKW, and KW will work as three engines, and there will be a constant improvement in ranking by action of all three together. Have you seen movement of a caterpillar? This is how I visualize what I have described here.
In the end, your page will be on Google page 1, ranked by searches from all three of them independently. Surely, it will get there first by searches through LTKW. But the other two will catch-up as well.
As you see, the formal starting long-tail keyword (LTKW) is not changed. It is just that the relative importance of it has changed. The role of LTKW thus reduces in time. STKW may eventually take over, but in the end it will be KW playing the main role and providing the most of the traffic.
My own example of long tail keywords in practice
I can show what was happening with my key-phrase mentioned in the beginning. My page was published on April 14th. In the table below I summarize how its position has been changing.
I started checking its ranking two weeks after I published it, and checked it several times so far by using all 4 elements.
The dates are given in the first column, and the position of the page on Google with respect to each of the elements (LTKW, STKWs, KW) are in the remaining columns.
I should stress that initially I applied all rules known to me, to have it properly ranked through searches with respect to the long-tail keyword (LTKW), and it was successful. After two weeks (on April 28 it was already on Google 2nd page). You can see how the positions were changing:
Note that the position may vary from one browser to another. Those shown here are from Chrome incognito searches. As you see, by searches through my LTKW and both STKWs, my page is on Google 1st page. As expected, LTKW was the first one which brought it to Google 1st page. For searches by KW (Breithorn) my page has moved from the bottom of Google 8th page to position 8 on Google 5th page. I have no doubt that within a couple of months it will be on G1 by the KW as well.
I was checking yet another example from my another post, in the site which you are visiting now, ‘How to improve page rank’ which has around 550 searches. This is a different niche compared with mountains, so the numbers are drastically different. Competition is stronger, but here too I have all the elements described above (LTKW, STKW, KW).
The shorter phrase ‘improve page rank‘ has about 490 searches (less than the previous one, perhaps this may look strange but it is not unusual), and the shortest possibility ‘page rank‘ has about 4000 searches. So it will take more time to follow the development, and I shall report about it later. But I am sure it will show a rather similar behavior, though on a longer time scale.
I hope you enjoyed the text. Please leave the comments below. I shall be happy to read them and reply to any question you have.