Mike Hunter is CEO of, a successful local translation company In this guest blog article, he discusses his long tail keyword marketing strategy and how his company is benefiting from his tactics of going for highly specific, less competitive phrases.

As you may expect, the translation industry is very competitive. There are some mega companies out there, last year for instance we were tendering against an agency with a UK turnover of £450M (and that’s just the UK subsiduary)! Interestingly, though we didn’t win the business, the client feedback was that they preferred a smaller company.

The problem for an SME such as ourselves, is how can we compete against the big boys, who can spend a fortune on SEO? The answer we believe, is to live in the long tail of search.

Unequal competition from large companies:

I just compared our inbound links against the largest UK competitor, we had around 2024 inbound links to our site, some not great but many were quality inbound links. We have a page rank of 3. The leading competitor had 701,360 inbound links and a page rank 7. It isn’t only the quantity, it is the quality of their links which is scary, they have links from leading authority sites such as academic sites, and news sites. For translation industry terms like “translation services” they regularly appear near the top of page one, we tend to hover around page 5, and aren’t really advancing.

Answer for SMEs – The Long Tail:

Our approach, rather than trying to compete directly, has been to target the long tail of search. We have gone for less popular search terms and optimised specific landing pages for them. For phrases such as “food label translation” and “care label translation” we are top on Google internationally. Volume of search isn’t very exciting, but it’s the quality of search which is key, we have had companies such as M&S and Iceland Foods ring us up directly through seeing us on the web, and they both have become regular clients. We don’t need many leads of this quality, and those we get tend to convert.

Local Search:

We have also targeted local search. I became annoyed with Touch Local having run a successful listing with them for several years. Their directory listing always came top for translation Nottingham, and we were listed with increasing numbers of competitors, traffic and sales through the listing were falling dramaticly. We cancelled our paid listing, and targeted writing a relevant landing page, and some blog articles, as a result we’ve recently knocked them off top spot in the organic listings.

Ranking for your name:

Another phrase we targeted was “better languages”, simply because if someone is actually searching for you, and can’t find you, or worse finds your competitor instead, it clearly isn’t good. The snag was that the BBC ranked top for the phrase! It took around three years, but we now rank consistently above them. Of course our domain name is crucial to this, but we have also had to call ourselves “better languages” in many places on our site, rather than being consistent and using the domain name. By the way, in the .com boom I thought company names including a domain name sounded a bit gimmicky, now we’ve done it ourselves, because every time our company name appears in the offline world, it advertises the domain. Our legal name is Ltd.

So 10 top tips for targeting the long tail:

1) Good site design: if your basic design is wrong, it will be much harder to rank even for long tail terms, give yourself the best chance by having a well designed site. We commissioned Hallam Communications to draw up a specification for our site, it was money extremely well spent, as we then got the design we wanted.

2) On page SEO:

I’m sure we can improve the page content, but we have created content specific to the search terms for our long tail pages, and title tags, alt text, key words, and page descriptions are all relevant.

3) For long tail ignore a lot of the conventional keyword research!

The problem here is that volume search is always going to be very competitive, less searched terms are easier to rank for.

4) Write for a human readership:

A lot of people forget that ultimately you are trying to sell to people, search engine spiders won’t buy your product or service! Its therefore really important that you focus on areas where you have existing expertese and write quality content, of course it needs to be spider friendly as well.

5) Testimonials:

If you look at our “care label translation” page for example, we have Avery Dennison, the world market leader in care labelling as a client, and there is a nice testimonial from them. This backs up our claim to be specialist.

6) Specialist knowledge:

When people contact us by phone or e-mail, we know the relevant industry jargon, and can talk authoritatively on the subject. The result is that we get a lot of conversions from our long tail landing pages. Examples include “food label translation”, where we have leading food retailers and brands as clients. We also have links with the food compliance industry.

7) Be patient:

Don’t expect your long tail page to rank straight away in the Google organic results, it may if you strike lucky, and there isn’t anything much else on the subject, but it is likely to take time.)

8.  Inbound linking:

Quality inbound links are always important, and Susan has written extensively on the subject elsewhere. I would simply add that you should have “deep links” i.e. look for inbound links directly for your long tail search term, and try to get keyworded links directly to your long tail landing page.

9) Site links:

It may seem obvious, but don’t neglect to link to your long tail page from elsewhere on your site. We have written blog articles to support newly launched pages, as well as amending existing pages of our site to include links to new long tail pages. Don’t just rely on the navigation.

10) Monitor and evaluate:

Using Google analytics you can see whether people like your long tail pages, look for signs like high bounce rate to determine whether people like the page or not. Try to emulate successful pages. For example the success of our “care label translation” page, gave me the idea to write the “food label translation” page.

Last year food label translation was the fastest growing part of our business, so the long tail really can work, and produce results for your business.

Additional Reading:

Growth in longer search queries:  the long tail

Plural vs Singular Keywords

Contact the Author

Mike Hunter Ltd, 10 Poplars Court, Lenton Lane, Nottingham, NG7 2RR, United Kingdom,

+44(0)115 9788980

One response to “Long Tail Keyword Strategy”

  1. Katie Saxon says:

    Thanks for a great article Mike – I think point 4 “Write for a human readership” can’t be emphasised enough.

    It’s so easy to go OTT on optimising your content, and it may annoy more than your potential customers. Google’s getting more clever, so if you’ve stuffed your content with masses keywords, it will notice that something strange is going on and you may be penalised for it.

    Good luck targeting the long tail!

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