A Long Tail Keyword Success

Posted on Thursday, October 30th, 2014 No Comments

I recently had success with optimizing a website for long tail keywords, and that project is a good illustration that I can use to explain this type of SEO.

I was hired by TRUE Telecom to update their website’s SEO, focusing on their local area of Redding, CA. The site was very thin on content, was using outdated SEO practices, and was missing many SEO elements. The result was that they were ranking way down on page 15 of Google for their most important keyword phrases.



The work I did was completely old-school-style SEO. I’ve written before about how keywords don’t work the same way they used to, in an attempt to bring clients up to speed with the current state of SEO. But this particular website is a great example of a case in which SEO can work the way it used to.

Specific cases like this work when:

  • The site hasn’t had any SEO done in the past, or the SEO is so outdated that it needs a complete refresher
  • The SEO can focus on long tail keywords
  • The site has unique content (not product duplications found on other sites, for example)

Another interesting thing about this project is that the website was built with regular old static .html and .css files. It has no content management system. So I used Adobe Dreamweaver as an HTML editor and hand-coded everything I needed to do.

Long Tail Keywords

So what are long tail keywords, and why would you want to use them?

Long tail keywords are keyword phrases that are usually 4-5 words long. They’re useful for targeting very specific topics and customers.

Let’s consider TRUE Telecom as an example. This is a small business in Redding, CA, that provides equipment and installation of security/surveillance systems (security cameras, keypad entry, etc), audio/visual (video conferencing setups, home theaters), and structured cabling (such as the data cabling needed for large buildings or data centers.)

Now let’s imagine that TRUE Telecom wanted to target the keyword “security cameras.” This is not useful for their business because:

  1. Short keywords like that have much more competition.
  2. The websites that rank for that keyword are Best Buy, Home Depot, Costco, Amazon, and the like. Those big guys just have too much clout to compete with online.
  3. We must consider the intent behind the keyword. When someone is searching for “security cameras” they are likely trying to learn more about the available options. Brands, prices, features, etc. They are not (yet) looking for a local installer.

Instead, let’s consider a keyword phrase such as “security camera installation redding ca.” This is useful for their business because:

  1. Longer keyword phrases, although searched for less frequently, are more specific.
  2. When someone is at the point of looking for installation in their local area, they are much closer to making a purchase.
  3. Longer keyword phrases have much less competition, making them actually possible to rank for.

What I Had to Work With

When I began working on the site, this is what I had to work with:

Keyword Rankings: One of the keywords that was bugging the owners of TRUE Telecom was “surveillance cameras redding ca” because their site was appearing on page 15 of Google for that phrase. Everything else was similar or worse — if they ranked for a keyword at all, it was way down in the depths of Google’s results.

Thin Content: The site consists of 7 pages: Home, About Us, Contact Us, and four pages that group their services into categories. Each of these four service pages only had a center-aligned list of words representing each of their offerings. Except for the photos in the header, there were no images, and there were no paragraphs of text or any other content whatsoever.

Very Basic Files: Like I mentioned above, the site is not on any content management system (like WordPress, Drupal, etc). It’s simply .html files, a .css file, and image files. There was no robots.txt file, and there was a very outdated sitemap.xml.

Outdated SEO: Someone had done some SEO in the past, but it was old and there were HTML errors throughout, such as duplicate </head> tags. There were unnecessary metas, odd link descriptions, no image alt tags, and duplicated page titles and descriptions.

What I Did

  1. I asked the owners of TRUE Telecom if they could write some new content for their service pages. I explained how the thin content was hurting their search engine rankings. They immediately got to work on that and provided me with great content to add to the site, which was fantastic.
  2. I did some keyword research with Google Keyword Planner to identify the best keywords to integrate into the website. This is important to do so that you don’t end up trying to target keywords that nobody ever uses, or that have much too high competition.
  3. I integrated these keywords into various places on the site:
    • H1 header tags (these didn’t exist at all before)
    • page titles
    • meta descriptions
    • image alt tags
    • throughout the paragraph text
    • other little hidden places
  4. I added their address to the footer to make it clearer to Google that it’s a local business in Redding, CA.
  5. I created a robots.txt file.
  6. I no-indexed some duplicated files I found in a folder.
  7. I created a new sitemap.xml and submitted it to Google Webmaster Tools.
  8. I created a Google Analytics account and installed it on the site so they can track their traffic.
  9. I added some other new content that they provided for the site.
  10. I updated old or incorrect code that I found throughout, and edited the CSS file for my needs.
  11. I added/updated their social media icons and links.


We saw some results from this work within a couple days. These are a handful of keywords and their rankings at last check:

Google Page 2: security camera installation redding ca
Google Page 2: surveillance cameras redding ca
Google Page 5: home security systems redding ca
Google Page 1, #1 position!: structured cabling redding ca
Google Page 2: home theater installation redding ca
Google Page 1, #2 position!: teleconferencing system redding ca page
Google Page 2: video conferencing equipment redding ca
Google Page 1, #3 position!: access control installation redding
Google Page 1, #2 position!: key pad installation redding ca

Of course page 1 would be better for all keywords, but these rankings are a great improvement over page 15 and beyond.

Here’s a screenshot of the one that achieved the #1 rank:


Some Considerations

Before you run out to get your site SEO’d with long-tail-local keywords, here are some thoughts:

  • I don’t want anyone to depend on organic search results for all of their business. You and I don’t have any control over what Google does, and Google likes to change things all the time. Organic search rankings are a nice bonus, but don’t depend on them.
  • This kind of SEO doesn’t always work. I wish I could give people are guarantee that it will, but I can’t. Anyone who calls you and promises a specific ranking on Google is not to be trusted.
  • In my experience, this type of SEO works well for local, small businesses that have a relatively simple website. It does not work well for large, independent e-commerce sites, especially those that carry the same products as other retail websites.
  • The amount of extra website traffic and business you’ll get from improved search engine rankings will vary. Again, I just can’t promise anything.
  • Often when a website hasn’t been updated in a long time, and then it suddenly gets a lot of updates, Google will temporarily boost its rankings. Then it settles down after that. If the new SEO was done well, it shouldn’t end up all the way back where it was, and it’s possible that it won’t sink down at all. Time will tell.

Overall, this was a successful project, and I’ll be keeping an eye on it to see what happens.

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