Long tail keywords are a part of the usual strategy for top ranking. The strategy usually works well, and it has been proven as a successful. But what are long tail keywords and how they really work? You will find the answer here, keep reading.
One long tail keyword example
I shall take one actual long tail keyword (or LTK) I used in one of my posts in the site here:
If you are curious about the origin of this screenshot, this is from Jaaxy keyword tool. It is included in premium membership in the site hosting and online business learning platform where I started years ago and where I still keep my sites.
I shall focus only on the QSR column here because it shows something interesting. The meaning of QSR is “quoted search result”. So Jaaxy is telling me that this particular keyword is not used anywhere in the Internet. But it is in fact used in my own post which I published very recently. As of the moment of writing this text, if I go to Google incognito search and use this exact phrase under quotes, I can see that I am the number one on Google with this. It appears that Jaaxy has not consumed it yet.
Before I continue, this situation with QSR may change quickly because my readers or just anybody else might start using it. This is just to know that you might get a different result if you check later from your side. But this is not because of wrong numbers given by Jaaxy, it is because the situation changes naturally.
Note that I get some competition when I omit “a” in the search phrase. So although this exact search phrase looks great and it is useful for demonstration here in the text, its actual practical value is questionable.
See what I get when I omit “what is the” in the keyword, this version I shall call “short tail keyword” or STK:
Finally, here is what I get when I reduce it even further and omit “for business”, this I shall call the core keyword or in short CK:
This terminology I am using here only to make my point (more below). So you realize that QSR is changing drastically. From the value 0 in LTK, it goes to QSR value 23 in STK, and then to 234 in CK.
This means that competition becomes much stronger and it is unlikely that I will rank for STK or CK.
One more comment before I continue. My LTK includes stop words “what is” and also “a”. These and similar words are usually ignored by Google search engines. This means that in this particular case, the zero-QSR value may not really have any practical value.
So this is just to make clear that I am aware of the issue, in case you wanted to ask. But why am I using it? First, I know that people do search by using “what is”, “why is”, “how to”, etc. Second, in any case it all depends on Google, but if my text is seen as relevant to a search query, I might have some advantage and Google might decide to show my text in a search result. Third, I am trying to explain the principle of long tail keywords, and I am not there yet.
The strategy of using LTK implies the following:
a) I use LTK 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 LTK which can be decomposed into several shorter options (STK, CK), where each of them independently is a good keyword and may have much more searches, in particular the CK (i.e., the shortest part of my LTK).
c) I know that every post is ranked for many keywords. If you are familiar with Google Search Console and Google Analytics, you surely know this. Your post can be ranked for tens if not hundreds of words. Ranking for each of these (key)words makes my post more appreciated by Google, and its overall authority may grow in time.
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 LTK 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 core keyword (CK) because it has much more searches; logical of course. This means that eventually all three of my options (LTK, STK, CK) 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 LTK, STK and CK. The long tail keyword (LTK) typically has more chance to get your page to some higher ranking (this is pulling component, LTK 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 CK, and now due to the effects of LTK, assume that it has improved its ranking, and it is on the place 24 for searches by CK.
Hence, for people searching by my core keyword (CK), the page is now better ranked (although the improvement may be minor), therefore the traffic will be increased for searches by my CK. But any improvement in searches by CK again implies an increased traffic in general, and as you know, searches by CK are more numerous. So the effect will be visible although it is so low-ranked with respect to the CK searches.
It is easy to realize that these searches will further improve the ranking by pushing the page in ranking from below (the CK acts as the rear train engine). The page thus becomes even better ranked for those searching through LTK. As you can imagine, the cycle will simply continue. You can visualize this PP work as a movement of a caterpillar which moves forward by using the legs on the front and on the back.
You can certainly add the short tail keyword (STK) in the picture. It is somewhere in between (think about a third engine added in the middle of the train), it will help in the same manner. With respect to the LTK, it will be pushing from behind, while with respect to CK it will be pulling the page. .
That is how in my view PP-principle works. All three elements LTK, STK, and CK 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, the 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 LTK. But the other two will catch-up as well.
As you see, the formal starting long-tail keyword (LTK) is not changed. It is just that the relative importance of it has changed. The role of LTK thus reduces in time. STK may eventually take over, but in the end it will be the core keyword CK playing the main role and providing the most of the traffic.
I hope you find this text useful. If you are in search of a good site hosting and online business learning platform, you can use the same place where I started many years ago and where I am still now with my sites. Please leave the comments below. I shall be happy to read them and reply to any question you have.