Understanding Keyword Containers in SEO
Identifying the keywords that will attract customers to your website isn’t the most glamorous-sounding task. It has a rote, data-driven feel to it. But when you really get into it, keywords are a window to human behavior. They’re the written manifestation of people’s curiosity, and are more revealing than even a conversation with a customer because they’re inherently private.
So how do we choose the best keywords? Well, to start with, you need to know the general types of things that potential customers search when they’re looking to buy what you sell. As an example, let’s pretend we own a heating and air conditioning repair company in Austin, TX. There are some obvious things people would search when they need a company like this, such as “heating repair austin” and “ac repair austin”. These two phrases are indeed keywords, but more than that, they are keyword containers which make us think of longer, lesser-searched keywords like “best a.c. repair company in austin, tx”. We call these unique, lengthy phrases “long tail” keywords.
The intriguing thing about long tail keywords is, if you add all of them up, they are far more commercially valuable than container keywords like “ac repair austin.” If someone’s air conditioner breaks in Austin, our data shows that they’re only going to google the container phrase “ac repair Austin” about 25% of the time. Another 20% of the time they’re going to type in some variant of that container phrase such as “air conditioning repair Austin” or “ac repair austin tx.” The other 55% of the time, people are typing in long tail keywords. And those long tails bring in a whopping 70% of all new business.
The reason why long tail phrases are so much more lucrative, in our experience, is that people who type in longer phrases tend to know what they want and be more decisive. Someone that simply types in “ac repair” for instance, might be trying to learn to do it himself, or might be casually shopping around.
Because we know how valuable long tail keywords are, we want our HVAC company to rank well for unique phrases like “heater running constantly cold air coming out.” And how do we accomplish that? By writing an article on every niche topic we think is going to lead to new business. It’s the equivalent of a candidate for president going out to every group, forum, club, and meeting in America to explain how she will be fighting for the interests of that specific strata of people. If such a strategy were feasible, time- and energy-wise, it would certainly be very successful. It is the same with this keyword-based SEO strategy.
To implement this strategy, you can use the following process: Think of a keyword container, and from that container, think of 20 long tail keywords that could go inside that container. It may help to type the container keyword into Google’s search box and see what else it suggests. Once you’ve identified your 20 long tail keywords, use them as inspiration for 20 new blog articles (or other pages such as a FAQ, industry page, or geo-targeted landing page).
When choosing your long tail keywords, you should aim for words that around 50 people per month would search. If you go for the most popular keywords, the container keywords, the competition will be so high that you may not rank for years (although, you should definitely target these big keywords down the road, once your site has built credibility with Google). And if you go for keywords that are too long tail, nobody will have searched for them and your efforts will be pointless.
After you’ve found keywords that hit that sweet spot of about 50 searches per month, you need to create pages inspired by them. If our container keyword was “heater repair austin,” and one of our long tail keywords was “cold air coming out of heater,” we might decide to write a blog entry called “What To Do When Cold Air Is Blowing Out Of Your Heater.”
This would normally be a good title. However, our company is located in Austin. Therefore, we want to try to add the location to the title. Because it would be awkward to just throw “Austin” in there, the best approach is probably adding “Austin” into the meta title tag somewhere. We can do that naturally by inserting a phrase at the end of each blog entry’s title tag that reads “Austin HVAC Blog” or something similar. That would make the meta title tag of this article:
What To Do When Cold Air Is Blowing Out Of Your Heater | Austin HVAC Blog
That’s good! We’ve got a nice, commercially valuable long tail keyword in the title, we’ve geotargeted our post, and now there’s only one thing left: the article itself. Remember what I told you in my last blog post: plain old content marketing doesn’t work anymore. So if your page is a boring amalgamation of material that’s already been written about, all your hard work coming up with keyword containers and long tail keywords will be for naught because Google won’t send its users to your page. Instead, every new page you create needs to be the best of its kind, a true piece of thought leadership. That’s the final element that makes this strategy soar.
- Select a keyword container
- Come up with ~20 Long Tail keywords that would go in that container
- Write article titles that include those Long Tail keywords
- Geo-target your meta titles if the business is local
- Write an article on that page that is the best one that’s been published on the subject
- Repeat 100+ times
That’s a formula for success. Is it hard work? Yep. That’s why companies like ours exist – to do that hard work for you. But whether you outsource it or do it in-house, it’s the way to create an organic marketing machine that will keep delivering leads for years to come.
Evan Bailyn is a best-selling author and award-winning speaker on the subjects of SEO and thought leadership.