Google Rankings: From Long Tail To Short Tail

google rankings longtails short tails keywords
You have a chance at a google ranking for a very competitive short tail keyword through the long tail keywords.

I was going through one of the ebooks of Mao Flynn, one of the truly over-delivering IMer in the internet marketing world, when I came across one of his tips: “Rank the long tail and the short tail will follow”. It immediately rang a bell and that’s because I agree with it 100%.

And why would I say that? Because I have first hand experience with this. Funny thing is, it happened with the very first site (outside this blog) I ever created. Looks like experience indeed is the best teacher.

Firsthand Google Ranking Experience

The very first site I ventured to create was born out of the very first few days of using Micro Niche Finder. Incidentally, this is the site from which I got back my MNF investment. I still remember shouting in glee as a long tail keyword sprang out with a green signal. My kid who was playing in the other PC leapt out of his seat and rushed to my side to see what’s going on. “I hit a gold mine!” was my over-acting cry when he asked what the big deal is.

The Long Tail and Short Tail Of It

At the time, newbie as I was (and I guess even now, I still am in a lot of ways), I still have no idea about going the ‘long tail’ way to get to the ‘short tail’. And of course, it never occured to me that I’ll ever get a chance at the short tail because the first time I checked it with MNF, it was screaming a red SOC (strength of competition) at me.

So, long story short, I did the best I could with SEO, both on-page and off-page. I detailed this ‘experiment’ in an article I posted several months ago called: Update to Keyword-In-Domain-Name Experiment. In three month’s time my site got to a stable number one status (meaning, no more erratic google dances) in the google serp for the long tail keyword. The succeeding months consists of minimal maintenance and a little more backlinking. Then, with Market Samurai, I noticed that the number of backlinks seems to grow for quite a time. I realized that those backlinks I’ve created before have now been gradually found and indexed by google or yahoo.

Long story shorter, I found a few more months afterwards that I’ve gotten within the first five entries on google’s first page for the short tail which was originally and still is sporting a red SOC in MNF. I found it out when I logged in again at, the free web stats tracker I used for my site. It showed that I am now drawing searchers of the short tail to my site.

I can’t pretend to know how to explain how this happened but I guess the following things that I did must have been right. You, of course, know all about these basic organic search engine optimization stuff to improve google search engine ranking already.

  • I used the long tail keywords as my domain name.
  • I got around 4% keyword density on the page.
  • I did backlinking work manually, in blogs and forums. It was still pretty exciting back then. Now, if I want to get bored, I do backlinking work.
  • I actually had a backlink on one of my articles on an article directory.
  • I added more pages using related keywords for each page.
  • I think 97% of my anchor links contain my exact longtail keyphrase.
  • Using Market Samurai, I saw that I have created around 8 edu backlinks for my site. All others below me in the serp didn’t have any.

Now, that I have a crack at the short tail, it follows that any further backlinking work would involve using the short tail keywords as my anchor links henceforth. That is of course just my guess at how to drive my site up the google serp ‘short tail-wise’. Maybe in a few months I’ll know if I’m right or wrong.

Long tail/Short tail Keywords Resources

See definition of ‘long tail’ according to wiki here.


  1. Good to see you finally struck gold James. I’m having problems getting backlinks to my sex blog because I’m not all that comfortable leaving it’s link on other peoples blogs. I’ve tried finding related blogs but most of them don’t update their sites and most comments go into moderation and so I never know if they get accepted.

    I’ve stopped trying for a while but I think I should tackle it again. As you know the blog has the domain name topsexualaids and with the use of Market Samurai I’m ranking number one for the term sexual aids on both Bing and Yahoo but I’m way back on Google and the only thing I can think of is that Google relies more on backlinks than the others do. I’ve changed some things to see if they will help and if it does I’ll let you know what it was.
    Sire´s latest blog post ..Putting The Fun Back Into Your Posts

    1. Hey Sire, it’s indeed difficult to build backlinks for that kind of keyphrase if you rely on regular blog sites. However, like I mentioned in point number 3 in this post, I backlink from both “blogs and forums”. While blog owners may cringe at your keyphrase, forum owners usually don’t mind you leaving it in your profile page at their forums (maybe because they’re too busy to check each member profile). You don’t even need to post in their conversations. Perhaps you could try it.
      james-mdeo´s latest blog post ..Moon Shots With Canon 18-200 IS Lens

  2. Without reading the book, i’m thinking that if you rank on enough long tails, and get visits from those rankings, this helps the short tail rank too.
    Because your authority rises, and that’s always good. And i believe i read somewhere that google takes into account the number of hits your website gets.
    Maria Pavel´s latest blog post ..CNA Training in Arizona

  3. Well done, James. I consider myself a suckling-babe blogger especially with SEO and short and long keyword stuff. I have never used MNF and MS and I don’t know how to use them. Perhaps you could enlighten me and who knows I’ll be the next to struck gold. 😀
    Anne Sales´s latest blog post ..epc Belfast

    1. I am a beginner at this too actually, Anne. I still have a lot to learn. In fact, I haven’t utilized MS to the fullest. I have yet to learn some of its features. But of course, whatever I learn, I always put it up on this blog. 🙂

  4. James,
    Do you think you can use the Google Keyword Tool to find long tail phrases? There are a number of programs that I would like to get now but would like to know which ones I can do without because of a free tool, although the work might take more time, time is what I have more of right now.

    I see a lot of talk about Market Samurai. Do you think that is the best or another one I have heard of is SEONuke.

    Really appreciate your expertise,
    Selina @ Total Curve´s latest blog post ..7 Secrets To Younger- Firmer and Fuller Breasts

    1. Hi Selina! I have both Market Samurai and Micro Niche Finder and both had helped me in my keyword research. I have no experience with SEONuke, yet.

      If you have much time on your hands, I think you’ll do fine with the manual work, as long as you do the right procedures and analysis techniques. The softwares actually are just automated versions of the manual techniques since they follow the same procedures.

    1. Hi Richard,

      The keyword tools only help you find the statistics for those keywords, e.g. number of searches, competition level, etc. Getting the traffic and rankings is another area of seo where you actually do some work like on-site optimization, backlinking, etc.

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