Rise of a Competitive Keyword

Keyword Research Jun 12, 2006

So, how long does it take to get into the search results AT ALL for a competitive term? Well, this site was launched as a beta under the codename MyLongTail. Embedded into this was the very competitive term, “long tail”. Long tail is competitive because, since October of 2004, Wired Magazine Editor-in-Chief Chris Anderson, has been talking about this demand curve model, and how it is changing the nature of business through such companies as Amazon.com and iTunes. It has since grown into something of a buzzword in marketing, and soon will probably soon join the ranks of The Tipping Point and Crossing the Chasm as models for understanding business and human behavior.

When you have a buzzword like this, everyone jumps on the bandwagon. The more people write about it, and find ways to make money off of it, the more competitive it becomes. It hasn’t become as competitive as say, mortgage refinancing or Viagra tablets, but it is competitive enough to examine.

Back in January, I looked at how long it took for a site to get into Google AT ALL. If you don’t know how short the process CAN be, you don’t know what to tell SEO clients. Well, it took only 2 weeks to go from launching a new website to being in the Google results at all (on the term MyLongTail). There was no title or description. It only listed the URL, but the complete listing was quick to follow.

Its six months later, and I’m curious how well I’m doing on the much more general and competitive concept of long tail. I haven’t been monitoring it closely, so my rise to being anywhere in the results has probably been occurring over those months.

So this morning, I searched on the term “long tail” with a space between the words. Not only is this competing with a hot marketing buzzword that everyone and his brother is blogging about, but there are also long tail birds and bugs to battle. Suffice to say, it’s challenging. To appear ANYWHERE in the search results is a challenge. So, it was with that attitude that I went hunting in the Google results for this site this morning. We’re ONLY on the 15th page of results. Sure, that’s buried in position #141, but it says that there are only 140 sites more relevant.

competitive keyword

It’s actually quite stunning. This is the type of starting point professional SEO’s look for, because it reveals that you’re coming up at all, and there is the potential to do better. And the fact that this was a brand new domain, launched only 6 months ago flies in the face of conventional wisdom, that new domains are at a significant disadvantage. Whatever tweaks were done during the BigDaddy update were not as harmful to new domains as we’ve been led to believe, or the use of Blogger on the domain offsets the penalty.

So, we’re changing the name of MyLongTail to HitTail. Our move off of the old domain will be gradual, as we have a lot of beta testers linking to MyLongTail. I am hoping that this won’t set back the momentum too badly on coming up on long tail related concepts. In particular, I want the site to become known as the essential place to come to learn about free long tail marketing. It seems appropriate, because of the democratizing process that is inherent in Chris’ concept. No longer do we need to buy into the marketing-driven blockbuster hits that are peddled at us, and delivered through limited distribution channels, such as Retail. Instead, we get to search and choose from a nearly unlimited variety of products more tailored to our tastes. But finding that product is still a hit. It’s just a different sort that the blockbuster hit variety. This double entendre is contained within our new name: HitTail, in which you engage in the practice of HitTailing.

So, my challenge is subtly shifted. We don’t have the extra boost of long tail being embedded into the name. But we do have a stronger name that is tied to both the multitude meaning of hits, and to the concept of the tail, and to the notion of a distribution channel, such as Retail or Wholesale. And my decision of what my top-level benchmark keyword should be is now a bit more difficult. But in the meantime, I think I will take measures to ensure we’re found when people research how to take advantage of the long tail effect in marketing.

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