This is the part where we literally start building your website, so youʼll be doing a lot, but fear not, I explain it step-by-step.
Let’s carry on learning and building!
At the end of this module you should be able to:
Choose and register a domain name
Connect your domain name to your website hosting
Install a WordPress theme
Select and install plugins
Install Google Analytics
Know the differences between pages and posts
Optimize the structure of your website Optimize your content
By the end of this module you will want to have:
A domain name registered
A website hosting account
Your domain name connected to your website hosting
A Premium WordPress theme installed on your website
The recommended plugins installed on your website
Google Analytics installed on your website Your website live
The first thing that I want to talk about is your site’s domain name and how it’s related to growth.
This part is VERY IMPORTANT and it’s something that most people don’t talk about enough when discussing blogging strategy. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen anybody mention this.
Why is domain name so important? Because it tells visitors what your site is about. It’s the reason you don’t find car engine specifications on sites named HoopCentral (a sports website). It would throw off your visitors and just look weird.
Before we talk about choosing a domain name, I want to go over what role it plays in the structuring of your authority blog.
Answer this: What is the long-term vision for your blog?
Basically… How big is your niche? Can it be expanded into multiple categories and hundreds to thousands of pages?
If the answer is no: then your domain name SHOULDN’T be specific to that niche.
I’ll give you the perfect example
Remember the “bowling tips” keyword that we analyzed? The main keywords for that niche get about 50,000 searches per month IF we combine them together into a Pillar Keyword.
But honestly, it just isn’t possible to expand an authority blog to hundreds and thousands of pages in the bowling instruction niche.
There just aren’t enough keywords to make this a worthwhile endeavor.
THEREFORE, I would NOT name my site something like
“EliteBowling.com” because that pretty much limit s my site to ONLY talk about bowling.
Does that make sense?
Go one layer up in cases like this
Instead, I HAVE to find a way to go one layer up so that bowling becomes a category of the site rather than the main topic.
It’s the only way I’ll be able to target other related niches in the future.
So, I have to decide what category bowling fits into.
After doing some quick research, I decided on “recreational activities.” That’s a layer up from bowling.
Instead of making my blog about bowling, I’m going to make it about recreational activities.
In the future, that will allow me to expand the blog into other niches like:
So rather than something like “EliteBowling.com” I’ll go with something like “RecreationElite.com”.
Why is this so important?
I hope you know why already. If you don’t, I haven’t done a good enough job explaining why authority sites are so profitable.
When we start building links and gaining authority on our site, our site is going to slowly build up a LOT of momentum in the search engines.
We don’t want to limit the site’s growth by having a limited number of things we can talk about.
Ranking for keywords becomes SO MUCH easier at this stage. You’ll be able to target new niches as categories and rank page for them so much faster than if you were to start a new blog.
It’s this benefit that makes it possible for a site to go from $1000/month to $10,000/month.
We did all this work to build up authority to our site. We need to take advantage of its power. We need the ability to scale.
Remember the good old days when it was possible to spam a new site to death and have it ranking within days?
Spam is dead, quick rankings aren’t.
You can still rank for big keywords in days – IF you have the authority built up to your domain. We’ll get to the link building part in the next part of the course, but I just wanted to tell you WHY it’s so important to have a wide net of topics you can expand upon for your site.
What does that mean for our site if bowling turns into a category?
We’re still going to target only bowling at the beginning of the site.
However, because my site is now about recreational activities, the homepage will be titled around “recreational activities.”
We’ll also be able to target that as its own keyword, and it should rank itself naturally in the long-run
Then, bowling will be turned into a category, and I’ll have the option to add the other niches in as additional categories in the future.
I don’t need to add everything at once, and a new niche site certainly doesn’t need to stick to a strict publishing schedule. I can grow out the site at the pace I wish.
Where to buy domain?
I recommend you buy your domain on Namecheap https://www.namecheap.com/
They are user-friendly, cheap and offer free privacy protection for your domain – meaning no one will see your home address or phone numbers or email – so your personal data will be kept safe.
Once on their site, use the Search tool to search for “coupons” as they post fresh coupon codes every month and that will save you some coins.
If you have a bigger budget and would like to get a domain with that ‘premiumʼ feel, I highly recommend BrandBucket.
Imagine two different people have identical blogs. They both target the same keywords and they both decide to write an article optimized for it. They both build identical links.
But one of them ranks for more sets of keywords, pulls in more long-tail traffic, and gets 5x more traffic than the other.
How is this possible?
In the next few lessons, Iʼm going to go over one of the most important strategies in this course.
Theyʼre called Pillar Keywords, and Pillar Posts.
Theyʼre the essential components that form the difference between a site that gets thousands of visitors per month – and a site that gets hundreds of thousands or even millions of visitors per month.
Itʼs a SEO tactic that I use that allows my pages to generate tons more traffic than any of my competitors.
The best part is: everything is strategically planned. Nothing happens by accident.
It doesnʼt matter if you have a blog, business website, niche site, or ecommerce site. By incorporating Pillar Keywords and Pillar Posts into your content strategy, you can significantly magnify your traffic.
Whatʼs the difference between Pillar Keywords and Pillar Posts?
Pillar Posts are the actual articles that you create using your Pillar Keywords.
This might sound a little confusing now but bear with me. Itʼll all make sense in a minute when I go through them both.
What is a Pillar Keyword?
Essentially, it’s the process of intentionally ranking for every variation of your keyword through proper planning.
This is one of the biggest areas where I do things differently with my blog building and SEO.
I remember when I started my first blog, I learned from really well-known bloggers in the space.
One of the times I had my “aha” moment was when even they were surprised by how they started ranking for things they never even targeted.
Their main keyword jumped to the first page, and they would say, “What’s interesting is that I’m also ranking for X, Y, and Z and I wasn’t even targeting them.”
They ranked for these terms by accident.
By targeting a major keyword, creating a high-quality resource around it, and building a bunch of good links, they got to #1 for their main keyword.
However, because it was a high-quality resource with a lot of good links, they started ranking for other keywords. By having some of the words in their title, headings, URL, or body of the post, they were targeting them without even knowing it.
And they probably could have done it for even more keywords had they done the appropriate research.
That’s what Pillar Keyword setup is.
Even today, people are taught to target a single keyword and build their
page around it. They ignore the fact that if they build up enough authority to the page to rank for their keyword, they probably could have ranked for a handful of others in the process if they just targeted them in some way.
A powerful strategy of content posting.
After seeing that, I started experimenting with it.
And now… it’s a MAJOR part of my blogging and SEO strategy. In fact, I would NEVER create a blog where I donʼt use Pillar Keywords and Pillar Posts as my main content strategy.
It literally multiplies your overall traffic potential with the same amount of work.
This is the reason my main blogjumped up in traffic all of a sudden.
Gaining enough authority that your site jumps to #1 for the biggest keyword is a big boost in traffic. If you’re targeting pretty much every keyword with that post, they’ll all rise to the first page and the traffic boost is ENORMOUS.
Your page will get so much more traffic without having had to do any extra work for it.
It’s all just a result of smart planning.And Iʼm going to show you exactly how itʼs done.
Here’s how to create your pillar keywords
I’m going to use Potty Training for this example again because there are a lot of keywords I can work with to illustrate the steps.
I’ll go step-by-step through this because this process is very important for you to learn.
If you master this strategy, your blogs will grow to a whole different level than it used to.
Traffic is multiple times greater in the long run than if you did the same amount of work without utilizing this strategy, so make sure you read through it and understand it entirely.
It all starts during your keyword research phase.
If you remember just a minute ago, we inputted some seed keywords into the Keyword Planner.
First, let’s take a look at the keywords brought back from Google’s Keyword Planner.
So here’s the first page of results. Just to note again: If you don’t have a paid Google Adwords account, you won’t be able to use Google’s Keyword Planner. Use Ahref instead to get the same results.
Below are the seed keywords that we searched for.
It should be more than enough. Iʼll usually only go through 3 to 5 pages.
So let’s go ahead and start forming our first Pillar Keyword.
Organize the list
First, I’ll take the biggest keyword I want to target and list out all the relevant keywords that are DIRECTLY related to it.
What do I mean by this?
I’ll list all the keywords that are related to each other where ranking for one of them will pretty much mean I can rank for the others.
They’re just worded slightly differently.
For example, tips for potty training, potty training, and how to start potty training all fall under the same topic.
They ALL mean the same thing. Remember when we learned about search intent?
They all have the same search intent. Anyone who searches for any of those keywords are ALL looking for the same information.
The only difference is the wording.
Each individual keyword gets a good amount of searches per month.
Things from the list that arenʼt related are: potty training pants and potty training toilet seat.
They fall under the same topic of potty training, but they donʼt have the same meaning. Someone who types in potty training pants isnʼt looking for a tutorial on how to potty train their child. They’re looking to buy pants.
So here’s the organized list of all keywords directly related to “potty training”.
potty training – 74,000 potty training tips – 14,800 how to potty train – 8,100 tips for potty training – 880 tips on potty training – 720 how to start potty training – 2,400 when to start potty training – 8,100 when to potty train – 3,600 potty training boys – 18,100 potty training tips for boys – 2,900 potty training girls – 9,900 potty training tips for girls 1,600 potty training for boys – 1,600 tips for potty training girls – 720 tips for potty training boys – 390 how to potty train a boy – 9,900 how to potty train a girl – 6,600 toddler potty training – 720 potty training toddlers – 480 baby potty training – 1,000 TOTAL SEARCH VOLUME PER MONTH = 166,510
All of these keywords are related searches that have the same MEANING:
tips about potty training. Everything else from the list that means something else, I didnʼt add it in.
We can target all of these through a SINGLE PAGE, and that’s 166,510 searches per month. That’s just calculating using the keywords presented on the first page.
If we were to add up every little keyword, it would get closer to 200,000 searches per month.
REMEMBER: This is only counting the keywords listed in Google’s
Keyword Planner. It’s not considering ANY long tail traffic, so the actual traffic numbers will be MUCH higher.
The long-tail traffic I’m talking about are people who will search random queries related to our keyword like “I have a baby boy and I want to start potty training him how”.
Results of using this strategy.
People today are trained to look at that list and choose one keyword.
Maybe they’ll choose a keyword based around potty training girls. It’s a good keyword that gets around 20,000 searches per month if you add up all the variables.
But look at what we did here. By taking the biggest keywords and combining them together, we put our page in a position to rank for ALL OF THEM instead of just one of them.
This magnifies the results of your link building efforts.
Instead of… “Hey Iʼm finally ranking #1 for my keyword. Thatʼs a pleasant bump in traffic.”
Itʼs more like… “OMG Iʼm ranking for EVERYTHING. Iʼve become the authority for this topic no matter how you input your search query, and my traffic just exploded to a whole new level.”
And thatʼs not an exaggeration. Thatʼs literally the difference Iʼve experienced between sites where Iʼve used Pillar Keywords and sites where I didnʼt.
In addition, our page is going to so much more jam-packed with information and provide value to our readers. It’s a monster and we’ll learn how to create content for these types of post in the next lesson in what I like to call Pillar Posts. Pillar Keywords and Pillar Posts are the pillars of my blogging strategy – hence the name.
This is what I mean when I say the biggest blogs don’t rely on single keywords to determine their success. I say that a lot, and people always look at me with confused looks.
Even if it takes a long time to rank #1 for a competitive keyword like “potty training” this article will bring in a TON of long-tail traffic long before you even reach the first page.
Remember, we’re creating a valuable long-term authority blog. It may not rank for all of these right away, but as we continue to build out our blogs out and do proper link building, it will.
And when it does, it will be more traffic than you’ve ever seen from any of your older blogs.
Formatting the meta around our Pillar Keywords
Youʼre probably wondering…How do we even target all of them? Are we mentioning them in our content? Are we creating a massive 100 word title?!
It starts with the title and description elements.
Title tags and descriptions are often used on search engine results pages (SERPs) to display preview snippets for a given page, and are important both for SEO and social sharing.
Title tags are one of the most crucial components of SEO and are given a lot of weight by Google in terms of how you rank, and for which keywords you rank for.
Now let’s learn how to create one with the Pillar Keyword strategy!
Writing Our Title and Description for this Monster Post
So now comes the part of smartly targeting all of these keywords so that… ranking for one of them = ranking for all of them.
What we’re trying to do is make sure that we’re targeting every single one of those keywords in the list we made within our site’s Title and Description.
Again, here is the list of keywords we had selected earlier. potty training – 74,000 potty training tips – 14,800 how to potty train – 8,100 tips for potty training – 880 tips on potty training – 720 how to start potty training – 2,400 when to start potty training – 8,100 when to potty train – 3,600 potty training boys – 18,100 potty training tips for boys – 2,900 potty training girls – 9,900 potty training tips for girls 1,600 potty training for boys – 1,600 tips for potty training girls – 720 tips for potty training boys – 390 how to potty train a boy – 9,900 how to potty train a girl – 6,600 toddler potty training – 720 potty training toddlers – 480 baby potty training – 1,000
Try and find one keyword from our list where that title isn’t relevant.
Theyʼre all targeted in one way or another.
This is easier than it might look. All it takes is some creativity and a bit of practice.
You’ll have to play around with the title and descriptions a bit to get it just right.
I’m pretty happy with this one.
IMPORTANT: Donʼt make this mistake
A lot of people are mistaking pillar keywords and pillar posts as something where you stuff every keyword into the article.
Each Pillar Keyword and Pillar Post must be its own specific topic, and all the keywords you target should have the same meaning as each other.
Letʼs move onto Pillar Posts
So now you saw how I do keyword research for my biggest keywords.
They’re the only ones I pay this much attention to because they’re the ones that have the ability to drive substantial amounts of traffic to our site.
I normally try to create at least 2-3 of these Pillar Posts at the start of a blog.
Meaning… when I start a new blog, Iʼll always start things off by crafting 2 or 3 Pillar Keywords and then creating the Pillar Posts for them.
Only 2 or 3?!
Yes. As you can see, we’re targeting a large number of keywords here. And the MINIMUM total search volume Iʼm looking for out of these Pillar Keywords is 50,000.
2 or 3 pieces of content might seem like a really small number, but in reality, theyʼre targeting hundreds of thousands in search volume.
The content for these types of posts also takes a long time to put together (which we’ll get into next).
2 to 3 is enough for the beginning. You can do more if you prefer, but I like to add in smaller posts (what I like to call inner pages and will be discussed later) targeting long-tail keywords after I get just 2 to 3 of these published.
During your keyword research stage, put together 2 of these posts first. We’re not going to write the content just yet.
Just do what I did above. List out the related keywords and try to target all of them within your site’s title and description.
Formatting Your Pillar Posts
These are the top 5 things I make sure to have in each of my Pillar Posts:
1.It must be over 2,000 words long
Long-form articles above 2,000 words do very well in Google, and theyʼve been proven to get more links and a higher number of social shares.
But I donʼt just try and fill up the word-count.
If you read my next couple of points, youʼll find itʼs near impossible to create Pillar Posts that arenʼt at least 2,000 words.
2.Each sub-topic must be in-depth
A single paragraph isnʼt enough. Obviously, some sub-topics will inevitably be shorter than others simply due to the scope of the topic.
What I mean is… donʼt just slack off and think a few sentences of explanation are enough.
Really dive into the points and use examples whenever you can to illustrate your point.
For example, letʼs say that I was writing the Pillar Post for my potty training Pillar Keyword, and I had a subtopic titled, “Differences between potty training a boy and a girl”.
I would dive deeply into it. I would not only list all the differences but explain why using sources.
Which brings me to my next criteria…
3.Sources must be used and linked to fromwithin the article
People still feel icky about linking out to external sites. I love linking out to credible sites that support what I say, or where people can get more information from.
On the contrary, I love reading articles with a bunch of sources, and external links where I can read more.
No, you wonʼt lose “link juice” just because you link out to helpful articles. In my opinion, it helps your rankings by linking out.
Linking out to sources adds more credibility to your own articles, and people feel more comfortable trusting the things you state.
I still cringe when I see people trying to rank articles with zero links besides a single Wikipedia link at the end.
Donʼt just randomly link out to Wikipedia.
That seems to be a common trend.
“Oh, linking out to credible sources help my rankings? Letʼs see if thereʼs a Wikipedia article I can link to…”
Instead, link to other articles that youʼve used for your research.
A good way to do this is:
Letʼs pretend that to research my points for my articleʼs subtopic, “the differences between potty training a boy and girl” I typed that into Google to find some more information about it.
If I see some good information about it, Iʼm going to link to it.
If I see something that could help my readers, Iʼm going to link to it.
For instance, check out thisForbes guide on SEO. Itʼs got links everywhere. They link within their content, which is a great way to link out to sources.
Itʼs under the articleʼs subtopic of “Keyword Research”.
Itʼs not at the end of the article, itʼs at the end of the subtopic. Great organization.
Those arenʼt links to their own pages. Theyʼre external links to articles written by authorities.
If I were interested in learning more, I would love seeing that! And I would immediately credit Forbesʼ article for doing the research for me and showing me a credible resource where I could learn more.
Things like this are awesome, and what you should be doing for your own Pillar Posts.
4. Use helpful/relevant images
Images arenʼt absolutely necessary, and there are a lot of articles that rank well without any.
But I always prefer using images for my Pillar Posts. Itʼs good practice for SEO and it makes for a lot better user experience.
My favorite places you can get images for free:
Please make sure to read these websites’ terms (check their “License” page) before using any image. At the time I’m writing this, no credit required to be given for using images from any of these two sites. Just find one you like, and add it to your post.
5. Have a clean design, but more importantly: clean formatting
Now this one isnʼt something thatʼs absolutely important either. But if youʼre going to spend all this time and effort on creating something awesome, it helps a TON if you make it look awesome as well.
People, myself included, discredit sites with poor design. Itʼs just the way people are programmed.
This doesnʼt mean that you have to be a professional designer with fancy graphics or anything.
Just go clean and simple.
The important thing to take away from this is to format your Pillar Posts very cleanly.
Make sure your header tags stand out, and not everything is mushed together and hard to read.
Paying just a little bit of attention to making your formatting clean is a small thing you can do that has a great effect.
Wikipedia style formatting
This is a feature that I like to include in my Pillar Posts.
How many times have you searched for something on Google where you would type in what you’re looking for, and “wiki” to find the Wikipedia page?
For me, it’s a lot. Whenever I need to look up information, I find myself searching directly for the wiki.
Why? Because I know Wikipedia’s style of writing and page formatting. It tells me everything I need to know (most of the time) and it covers every important subtopic about it (very in-depth).
Plus, it’s perfectly organized.
As a result, it’s the format I love to create with my own Pillar Posts.
As you’ve seen from our keyword research, a Pillar Post will target the
biggest keywords, and it will target a lot of them at the same time. So our article has to cover those topics extremely in-depth.
The Wikipedia model is the perfect way to format and organize that content.
For more information on how to do on-page SEO like Wikipedia,check out this blog post (that Chris Lee wrote) a while back in the RankXL blog.
Table of Contents with in-page links
Pillar Posts can get very long. For me, it’s always over 2,000 words long, and sometimes much longer depending on the topic.
One of my favorite ways to organize the content on the page is to use a table of contents with in-page links.
It’s one of the best ways to set up your page architecture for easy accessibility to your subtopics.
You can even link to it from an external and it will take you straight to that section.
How to set up in-page links
This requires some basic HTML.
I’ll use the example from Wikipediaʼs page to show you how that one was set up.
The link is set up by using the name tag.
Then, from your table of contents, you add your link, and link it like this: <a href=”#seo-marketing-strategy”>As a marketing strategy</a>
Clicking on that link would then take you straight to your section.
Creating this type of format isn’t absolutely necessary, but it’s a great way to set them up.
Further Clarifications OfPillar Posts
Pillar Posts are an extremely important part of our strategy. Therefore, I wanted to create another lesson here where I go over some common questions, misconceptions, and examples.
First, some examples.
When most people learn about Pillar Posts, they immediately assume that they MUST build a 10,000-word resource – an ultimate guide type of article.
This is not the case.
Pillar Posts can take many forms.
What type of content you want to create is up to you.
Letʼs go through different examples.
STYLE #1: The Ultimate Guide
Ultimate guides are called ultimate for a reason. Theyʼre the most thorough type of content on the web. Theyʼre usually above 5,000 words long, and can sometimes get up above 20,000+ words long.
These are custom designed pages on your site. They arenʼt your standard blog post.
The custom design is optional, but it goes a long way in making the ultimate guide feel more special – which usually leads to more links and social shares.
When someone searches for your keyword, theyʼre looking for an answer. The mission of your article is to answer somebodyʼs question completely, and give the best answer in Google.
Adding in irrelevant sub-topics into the article just for the sake of making them longer, or because you think thatʼs the way itʼs supposed to be done, is incorrect.
Use your common sense, and ask yourself if your article is laser-focused on your topic and answers the readerʼs question thoroughly and completely.
We went through every step of the process that I go through before a site launch (which just means going live with the site). From niche selection to keyword & competition research to creating our Pillar Keywords and Pillar Posts.
When I launch my sites, I do so with my 2 to 3 Pillar Posts. That’s it. Just 2 or 3 pages of content. Once I do my keyword research, put together my Pillar Keywords, and create my Pillar Posts for them, I launch the site. Nobody’s going to visit your site at this stage. It’s not even going to be indexed in Google. We’ll get to those steps later.
But not everything is complete yet.
Before we’re ready to research, and launch a new site, we need to go over the next module of this course.
How does a Pillar Post get structure into a site so that backlinking efforts are maximized? What is the best way to structure an authority site? How do you plan for growth? What is growth in a niche site?
There are a few key things you have to do for authority blogs that are very different from launching a small blog
These are all things that I’ll be teaching you in the next module, including some pretty neat on-page SEO tricks I like to use.
So when you’re ready, let’s move over to the first lesson of the next module.
Note: Iʼll keep adding to this FAQ as I get more questions on the private Facebook group so if you have any questions, post it on the group.
I canʼt seem to find any high search volume keywords for my niche. What should I do?
When I really canʼt find ANY, then Iʼll move onto another niche to research. Theyʼre not worth pursuing.
UNLESS – the niche is filled with a ton of low competition keywords that get 1000-5000 searches per month.
Even if you become the #1 site in the niche, your traffic and growth potential will be limited. You want your hard work to pay off with floods of traffic, not just a small handful of traffic.
Growing a site to $100-$500/month, even $1000-$2000/month is pretty basic stuff.
Thereʼs a major difference between those sites and those that cross 5figures per month.
Everyone says when you find something that works… all you need to do is scale it up. But with the way people build their niche sites these days, itʼs impossible to do that. I want to show you how to plan for growth and “scaling” the proper way.
STEP 3: Once you start ranking for your biggest keywords and you buildup authority… dominate the niche by ranking for everything.
But whatʼs next?
The LAST THING that we want to do is work our asses off on our site,get a bunch of links, drive a bunch of traffic, and build up a bunch of authority and then get capped.
We built all this authority to our site and are finally reaping the rewardsbut now we find we canʼt take advantage of it.
What do I mean by “get capped?” I mean you canʼt grow. Your site isstuck. You havenʼt planned sufficiently enough to make sure that you can now start expanding.
How does that happen?
It happens when you donʼt plan for growth BEFORE you build out yoursite.
Every site I build, I have a list of 5-10 niches I will expand into later on inthe future. Once I dominate my niche, Iʼll expand into these other niches.
Why? Because once your site is at this stage… growth is sooooo mucheasier. You rank for keywords almost instantly, you require very few backlinks, and there is no sandbox period or anything like that that you may have experienced when just starting out your site.
Your first few Pillar Posts will ALWAYS be the toughest to rank. This isbecause theyʼre the ones that establish authority to your brand new domain.
Once you have them up and ranking, youʼll have established more thanenough authority to start ranking for new keywords with little to no effort.
Growth created niche website.
So then why wouldnʼt you plan for it from the start!?
Itʼs like a snowball effect. When you first start your site… (especially ifitʼs on a fresh domain) then you have to go through the “sandbox” period. You wonʼt rank that quickly, and that makes sense youʼll have zero links pointed at your site. Itʼs not established yet.
As you start building links, publishing more Pillar Posts, targeting newkeywords, expanding into new niches, ITʼS A SNOWBALL EFFECT.
Everything you do gets stronger and stronger (provided you followalong with the strategy in the course and are doing the right things).
Therefore, it gets SO EASY to grow! Look at sites like lifehack.org,techcrunch, inc, forbes, greatist, marcandangel… really just about every other established site you can think of… they rank for EVERYTHING.
They have the power to publish something today and rank #1 for it by tomorrow.
Theyʼve been in the shoes of starting from the beginning and workedtheir way up.
Taking advantage of this authority is where the money is at!
Okay, Iʼm not saying weʼre trying to build the next Forbes or Incmagazine here…. But the model weʼre going after is similar. Building authority, then taking full advantage of it.
This is isnʼt any new SEO strategy. Itʼs just that people in the internetmarketing industry never seems to really talk about it. Instead of building an awesome indestructible site that gets stronger and stronger over time, internet marketers as a whole tend to look more for loopholes and quick ways to “beat Google.”
Look at sites like about.com and ehow.com. Theyʼre branching out intoeverything. You might notice that their actual pages that are ranking usually have 0 links.
They ARE aware of the power that their site has built up and theyʼretaking full advantage of it…. Taking advantage of it is where the money is, and what makes this model so profitable.
Itʼs the difference between a site that makes $500-$1000/month andthe monsters that generate upwards of 5-figures and even 6-figures per month.
Niche website that make money?
The most important thing is to plan for growth before you grow so thatyou can grow when youʼre actually able to grow. Little tongue twister there 🙂
Donʼt just pick a niche and run with it right away. Strategically plan for how youʼre going to grow the site. How are you go ing to expand the site?
How are you going to take full advantage of the authority you build up and turn your site into a beast?
FIRST: When youʼre choosing your niche, make a list of 5-10 otherniches you will target in the future.
You donʼt need to do a bunch of keyword research for these futureniches. Once youʼre ready to expand into them, itʼs a different ballgame.
It wonʼt be like it was in the beginning. It wonʼt require the same amountof effort, and you wonʼt have to wait very long for it to rank.
So all you need is a list. A possibility. Knowing that there are options.Thatʼs all weʼre looking for here.
Make sure your niche website reflects your future growth.
If youʼre going to start your site with a bunch of pages about touringItaly, donʼt just register a domain like journeytoitaly.com.
Stop right there and think… what will be the ultimate niche of your site?Once you target this niche and rank for everything, what will you expand into? What is your list of future niches include?
In this case, you might want to plan for touring across Europe, or ifyouʼre very ambitious, then touring across the world.
Then… a more appropriate domain might be journeytoeurope.com.
Do you see what I did there? Does that make sense?
Take things one step at a time. Youʼre not a 500 person team. YouCANʼT create 100 pages a day and jump into all niches at once.
Target one niche at a time. You have plenty of time and that doesnʼt mean a small income until youʼre targeting everything. Remember that each Pillar Post targets over 50,000 searches per month.
50,000 searches per month donʼt mean that youʼll be capped at 50,000 visitors per month either. It will be so much more. Once you start ranking for big keywords, itʼs usually a sign that youʼve built enough authority to the site.
And once youʼve built a lot of authority to your site, you start ranking forjust about every long-tail keyword. Itʼs a beautiful thing.
Dominate one niche, then move onto the next. But in the beginning,make note of the possible niches you will enter later on, and use it for your domain selection.
One thing that I noticed that with previous students in the class was that they were including too many short-tail keywords.
What do I mean by short tail?
Short tail keywords target short terms (also known as head terms). These are things like “fitness” or “grizzly bears” or in the case of our examples, “bowling” and “potty”.
They’re commonly just 1-2 words long and have no real meaning to them. What is the search intent of those keywords? What is somebody typing in “fitness” in Google looking for? Fitness information? Fitness training? Fitness gyms around their location?
It’s not specific at all, and as a result, it’s difficult to rank for with a specific type of content (You can’t create content around a keyword where you don’t even know the search intent of).
Not only that, short tail keywords are extremely competitive and are usually going to be dominated by Wikipedia. It’s not impossible to beat Wikipedia, but for short tail keywords, they dominate. For that specific search intent, they’re usually the most relevant resource and it’s tough to rank above them.
Long tail keywords
Long tail keywords are the exact opposite. They’re usually around 5+ words long and are very specific.
A long tail keyword would be something like “why grizzly bears like to eat berries” or “what is a strike in bowling”.
These are perfect for our inner pages, but not for Pillar Posts.
The perfect middle tail keyword
These are the keywords like “bowling tips” –> Yes, I know it’s only 2 words but word-count isn’t the main factor in determining the “tail” of a keyword. It’s search intent and specificity.
Bowling tips is a medium-specific keyword. It’s right in between short tail keywords (which are not specific at all) and long tail keywords (which are very specific).
Another example would be something like “how to lose weight”. This is a medium tail keyword that we would love to target.
A short tail keyword would be something like “weight loss” or “fat loss”.
Yes, “weight loss” has a higher search volume, but it’s also a very nonspecific short tail keyword that we wouldn’t want to spend time targeting.
Example differences between keywords
Let’s say we want to target a keyword around beauty and makeup.
A short tail keyword would be something like “beauty” or “makeup” or “cosmetics” –> No specific meaning to any of these.
A long tail keyword would be something like “how to create makeup out of olive oil” or “reasons why going to sleep without removing makeup is bad” –> very specific and requires a clear answer to the question.
A medium tail keyword would be something like “how to become a beauty consultant” or “makeup tips” or “how to remove makeup” or “easy beauty tips” –> Medium specific, has a clear meaning to the keyword, and can be expanded upon quite heavily.
How to find Medium-Long Tail Keywords using Ahrefs
Enter a seed Keyword
Choose a Report from the menu on the left
Set the Volume filter to a search volume considered low in your niche, for ex, Min-2000.
To retrieve more specific search queries, set the Word Count filter, so the results include only queries with many words.
Additional ways to identify more long tail keywords
Use the Questions report in Keywords Explorer in Ahrefs.
If you’re an active participant in your niche, an advantage of choosing a niche you’re interested in, you probably already know the wording used, the questions asked by beginners, the questions asked by experts, etc. Open a blank page on your computer, or grab a pen and paper, and do a BIG dump of ALL the questions and words you can think of and then get them into Ahrefs.
If you’re an outsider of the niche you have chosen, go talk with a few people IN that niche and you’ll find they use certain words, expressions and terms, have common questions and search for the same things online. This footwork will give you an advantage over people building a website around a topic they know nothing or very little about, and wonʼt bother to do enough research.
Also, check FAQs, pinned posts and top posts in forums and communities as these are often a collection of data that can be very useful to you.
Also, take a look at the long tail keywords that your competition is ranking for.
Enter a competitorʼs domain into Ahrefsʼ Site Explorer
Go to the Organic Keywords Report
Filter for keywords with low search volumes
For even more long tail keywords, try the tool Answer The Public (as mentioned in the lesson about Tools).
You can also use very long tail keywords by using “modifiers”.
For example, if you enter “long dress” into Ahrefsʼ Keywords Explorer, then go to the Phrase Match report and filter for the search queries that contain the word “with”…
Looking at the Keyword Difficulty (KD), you can see how easy it should be to rank for those keywords.
You can leverage user-generated Q&Aʼs and create a directory where each page targets a long-tail keyword. Just make sure the content on each page answers the question in the mind of the searcher.
Another modifier is location.
If you search in Ahrefsʼ Keywords Explorer for “rent a van in” and choose the Phrase Match Report, you get a list of very long tail keywords.
Each of these long tail keywords has low search traffic, but you can rank with ease for them and when you sum all those clicks, it will actually bring you a decent amount of traffic.
Another benefit of using this kind of keywords is that being very focused, they will usually convert better.
Short tail or long tail keywords?
The most important thing you have to take away from this is to avoid short-tail keywords –> Keywords that are too general in meaning.
You may very well end up ranking for them in the future. For instance, if you had a page targeting “bowling tips” you could rank for the keyword “bowling” naturally over time.
But we’re just not going to pay attention to them when we’re forming our Pillar Keywords and Pillar Posts.
Because seriously, what does ranking for “bowling” even mean? How is that keyword profitable? Are people looking for the history of bowling, information about the sport, tips, locations, bowling equipment?
It doesn’t matter. A search like that is very non-specific to you and you shouldn’t be focused on them.
Which keywords to look for
Now that we know which keywords to look for, letʼs dive into competition research.
You need to understand how to analyze the competitiveness of your keywords first before you decide to target it.
Through Pillar Posts, you have an advantage over competitors in that youʼll pull in WAY more traffic than they ever will with the same rankings. Youʼll pull in more long-tail traffic, and basically dominate the keyword by ranking for every variation of the phrase.
Now letʼs go through how to determine whether or not a keyword is worth pursuing or not.
A word of caution. Each SEO tool will show you different results, sometimes just a little different, other times dramatically different. Each tool has its way of calculating each metric and some companies have even come up with their proprietary metrics, like Ahrefsʼ Domain Ranking which shows the strength of a websiteʼs total backlink profile, in terms of its size and quality.
Keep in mind that no tool is 100% accurate or reflect 100% of the searches being made.
And no, not even Google’s own tools. Thereʼs life outside of Google, believe it or not.
So the key is to choose one tool and stick with it. Use it to the fullest and take action on the insights you get from using it. Donʼt get stuck trying to figure out how each tool is calculating each metric, or why youʼre seeing differences, or…
Keep it simple. Be smart. Evaluate the numbers you see with your common sense and if something doesnʼt look right, look further into it.
Finally, know that keyword research is not a one-time thing you do for your website. As you go on growing your website, youʼll want to keep an eye on the competition, on your own website and keep adding keywords and finding opportunities to bring more traffic to your site, so keyword research is a skill you should keep improving and using. Keyword research is one of the highest return SEO activities.
Best paid keyword research tools
Youʼll be able to get some data using free tools, but not only you will need to use a lot of tools to get the different data you need, which means
learning how to work with all of them, youʼll also ne ver get the really good
insights because the features that provide them are paid, or available only in paid tools. Feature development and data management involves big costs, so it makes sense that the more complete and advanced tools be paid tools right?
If you canʼt really afford to pay fully for a tool right now, make the most of the Trial Period.
The tool I recommend you use is, without a doubt, Ahrefs. Ahrefs – https://ahrefs.com/
Ahrefs covers all your SEO needs, it can help you with:
Just to mention one key feature, Ahrefsʼ Rank Tracker gives you data on these SERP Features, not just a snapshot but the results over time:
You can start a 7-day trial for $7 here
Other keyword research tools to take a look at.
Answer The Public – https://answerthepublic.com/
You can download the results as a CSV file to work the results to your liking, or in the format of an image, like in this example for a search using “bowling”:
Ubersuggest – https://neilpatel.com/ubersugg
Not only it provides content ideas for the keywords you search using it, but also you get to see what are the popular blog posts for that keyword and the number of social shares. Usually the more shares a blog post has, the more people loved it, so is a good indicator.
You also get great information related to Backlinks and Estimated Visits to help you with the promotion part of the content, which is as equally important as the part of creating the content.
With this tool, youʼll be on your way to create content that people will care to read and you will not waste your time and resources creating content that wonʼt get you any social shares, backlinks or rankings. Usually, Social Shares will result in more short-term traffic and search engines will bring you less traffic upfront, but consistent traffic over the long-haul, so try to find a balance between them when choosing content to create.
BuzzSumo – https://buzzsumo.com/
It has several features to help you research, including finding influencers and monitor your topic or brand, but a key feature is their Chrome extension, which allows you to check the real-time shares for any webpage you are
browsing, displaying the number of engagements on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Reddit (sum of upvotes and comments).
You can also see in the extension an article’s Evergreen Score, which is an internal ranking system that BuzzSumo developed and it measures the number of social engagements and backlinks that article got 30 days after it was published. The higher the score, the higher the engagement it got. This is great information for you to use when planning Evergreen Content for your site.
Keyword Keg – https://keywordkeg.com/
Keyword Keg is a suite of three keyword research tools: the “Find Keywords” tool, the “Import Keywords” tool and finally, the “Merge Words” tool.
It includes proprietary SEO metrics like On-Page Difficulty, Off-Page Difficulty, SEO Difficulty & CTR Scope and also tells you which SERP Features exist for every keyword.
SERPWoo – https://www.serpwoo.com/
Besides the information you would expect from this tool, like tracking your domains and the competition, measure strength from URLs and Domains and help you find new opportunities to rank, it also allows you to do super useful things like get alerts for your brand and personal name with ORM tagging or be alerted when something significant happens.
Using SERPWoo, you’re able to track the top 100 ranked sites for each of the terms you want to track, every single day. This will give you the data on the entire landscape,not just how one site is ranking, and it will allow you for instance to track up and coming websites.
This was the first tool to allow you to see your mobile rankings, which you can do using the Rank Tracker; you can do this also now with Ahrefs, but you must have an Advanced or Agency plan to have that feature
available. I donʼt need to tell you how significant m obile traffic has become in recent years, right?…
You can also integrate it with Google Sheets so that it pulls in live data from SERPWoo from any of your projects – including Keyword SERP Data – which should make controlling your data much easier!
The tool is free but to see exact monthly search volumes you need to at least create an Adwords account and set up an AdWords campaign.
Once inside your Adwords account, go to Tools and then choose Keyword Planner and youʼll see “Find New Keywords” (great to generate keyword ideas) and “Get metrics and forecasts for your keywords” (wonʼt generate keyword ideas but if you have a list of keywords you can find out their search volume).
Since this tool purpose is to help advertisers, there are lots of features that wonʼt be useful for your keyword research, but even without them, you should still be able to get good results.
Youʼll find more information on how to use this tool other post.
Google Trends – https://trends.google.com/trends/
Letʼs try searching for example for “christmas lights” and see if thereʼs any seasonality affecting this keyword?
Wayback Machine – https://archive.org/web/
Start by entering a site’s URL into the WayBack Machine
In the results page, follow the timeline back to the first archive of thatsite
Click on the year and go through the calendar to open each snapshot ofthat website
When selecting a specific date from the calendar take intoconsideration the resultʼs color as follows:
Blue means the web crawler captured a good, 2xx result
Green means the web crawler got a redirect, 3xx result
Orange means the web crawler got a client error, 4xx result
Red means the web crawler got a server error, 5xx result
You want to check always the blue results if possible.
This process allows you to see how that site growth has been, the changes that have been implemented…
Youʼll find often there are historical robots.txt files archived and when youʼre trying to troubleshoot website issues such as big shifts in traffic, reviewing them can help you check if there were a ny changes in the crawling permissions that may have caused the big shift in traffic.
There are lots of ways to leverage this tool for SEO, so is a good one to add to your toolkit.
BeamUsUp – http://beamusup.com/
This is an SEO crawler, spider, robot analysis tool that allows you to find out problems easily on your entire site that might affect your SEO results. Problems like missing titles or short descriptions can easily be found and then fixed. As well as Duplicated Content so you can sort this as wellbefore you get penalized because of it.
You can crawl your whole website by entering the URL into the Spider and then it will automatically crawl all pages that have an internal link. Alternatively you can crawl a list of URLs, if you’re for instance checking for broken links (404s) and in this case, change in the menu from Spider mode to List mode.
The free version gives you access to these features:
Find Broken Links, Errors & Redirects
Analyse Page Titles & Meta Data
Review Meta Robots & Directives
Audit hreflang Attributes
Discover Duplicate Pages
Generate XML Sitemaps
The paid version has additional features, including the ability to integrate with your Google Analytics.
Also included is a Log File Analyser: https://www.screamingfrog.co.uk/log-file-analyser/
Find Broken Links, Errors & Redirects
View Most & Least Crawled URLs & Sections
View Bot Crawl Frequency
View Bot IP Crawl Activity
Identify Large & Slow URLs
Find Uncrawled & Orphan URLs
Combine & Compare Crawl Data
I hope this overview of the top tools available makes it easier for you to choose which ones to try out and also which ones to invest in.
If youʼre feeling overwhelmed, I recommend you start with Ahrefs and only venture into other tools when you feel comfortable using it.
You can start a 7-day trial for $7 here.
Niche & Keyword Analysis (New &Existing Sites)
If youʼre starting a new website, you can read through it or jump right into the section afterward, where I cover doing Keyword Research for new websites.
Keyword Research for New Websites vs Existing Websites
The big difference is existing websites provide the opportunity to analyze existing directional data and new websites require a lot more front-load of competitor research.
Starting keyword research for an existing website
You’ll want to leverage the intelligence that your website can provide using these data sources:
Let’s take a look first at your Analytics Data. First, you’ll want to look back over the previous 12 months in Google Analytics and identify the source of:
The highest volume of traffic (Acquisition→ All Traffic→ Source/Medium)
In the Source/Medium section, you can see all your main sources of traffic.
The most valuable traffic (meaning the visits that created conversions)
These are your most valuable traffic sources that youʼd ideally want to further capitalize on. It also gives you a fair idea of where your audience comes from.
Next, let’s look at Ranking Data of your site and identify what keywords you’ve both:
Historically ranked for.
Are currently ranking for.
To do that, go to your Ahrefs account, enter your domain then choose Organic Search from the left menu.
Looking at these keywords can provide you insights to any immediate opportunities.
For example, if youʼve lost rankings for a high traffic keyword that you previously dominated, you can find the reasons why it happened.
May be a competitor came up with a more useful piece of content, acquired better backlinks, targeted the topic in a more holistic manner and optimized their page better than you.
This would help you identify action points for your own strategy.
Similarly, if you find keywords where your content is ranking below the first 3 or 4 results or top of the 2nd page, you can study the top results on the first page and find possible improvement areas in your content that can elevate your rankings.
Finally, let’s look at Contextual Data.
You can go see how Google currently contextualizes your website.
This is quickly and easily done using the Keyword Plannerʼs URL functionality in your Google Ads Account.
As compared to a new website owner, youʼre not lost and already have a reference point to give you an idea of the keywords you have to target.
Starting keyword research for a new website.
With a new website, you don’t have your own sources of intelligence, so you are on the hunt for a webpage that you can use to steal intelligence.
Choose what you believe to be your best root/seed keyword for your new website and enter it in Google.
For example, if your site is in the weight loss niche, you could search for “weight loss tips”.
Your goal is to find a contextually relevant root keyword to use as your start point of a brainstorming path, so you have in itial directional data.
If you don’t see any results that would work, keep running additional variations and pay close attention to competitor title tags.Make sure to pay attention also to paid results as they can provide insights into good conversion-focused keywords.
Evaluating a niche.
So now that you have a few niches selected and jotted down, as covered in the previous lessons, it’s time to examine them one by one.
What weʼre going to do is measure the potential size of each niche.
Meaning… weʼre going to be digging through each one to see what keywords are available, and how big they are.
Note: To do this youʼll need an SEO tool. My tool of keyword research is Ahrefs and thatʼs what Iʼll be showing in the screenshots and examples.
You can find a list of tools in the previous lesson and learn why I prefer this one over the others.
This is the area where a lot of people get stuck.
Where do you even start? is the problem most people face.
Entering in seed keywords is the way I start digging into any niche.
What are seed keywords?
Theyʼre just a bunch of different keywords (broad topics) in that niche that you input into your keyword tool. Iʼll get to examples of some of my favorites in just a little bit.
For example, you can use Keywords Explorer tool in Ahrefs and enter a few see keywords that broadly related to your niche.
These are things like tips, instruction, tutorials, how-toʼs, data, etc.
And you should be doing the same thing.
Why? Most sites out there are informational, and there is a big market for information.
For instance, Sports Illustrated, WikiHow, eHow, Business Insider, Forbes,Instructables, Martha Stewart, WebMD, Search Engine Journal…. I could go on and on.
Theyʼre all websites that produce informational content.
The market for information is ginormous, and as a result, there are a LOT of high search volume keywords for information in almost EVERY niche imaginable.
Itʼs no wonder that even sites whose primary goal is to sell their products
— SAAS websites, businesses, websites for profes sional services, and even e-commerce sites — are turning to information-related content to attract customers through search (usually in the form of a blog).
Itʼs just a huge market and there is always room in any niche for someone like you and me to come along and build a high-traffic blog around it.
Types of keywords you should avoid.
Before we go any further, I want to go over a rule I have about targeting keywords:
I avoid e-commerce / product-related keywords because they act in kind of a different way than normal search results.
You have to understand the meaning behind the search — search intent of the searcher.
For instance, let’s say one of the niches you’re analyzing is bowling.
An e-commerce/product-related keyword might be something like: “bowling shoes”.
It gets a good amount of searches per month (around 60,500 to be precise)
Why? Because of the MEANING behind the search.
Google knows that the majority of people who search for “bowling shoes” are looking to buy.
If you did a search, there’s nothing but e-commerce sites on those listings.
Keyword Search Intent.
Search intent is Googleʼs understanding of what the searcher is looking for. Based on this understanding, it gives priority to different pages in its search results for different keywords.
Itʼs only going to get better and better, as Google continues to improve the quality of their search results.
There are still some searches out there today that clearly mean one thing, but Google shows another thing. Theyʼre not perfect yet, but theyʼre improving.
As a result, itʼs very important to understand search intent while youʼre doing your keyword research.
An informational piece of content could very well have ranked for the term, “bowling shoes” a couple of years ago.
But as Googleʼs understanding of search intent gets better, theyʼre now nowhere to be seen for that keyword.
Links have nothing to do with it. Even if a page describing what bowling shoes are and how theyʼre made had hundreds of backlinks from the biggest websites in the world, they still wouldnʼt appear on the first page for that search result.
Google wants a page that sells bowling shoes because that’s what they’ve discovered their users are looking for. If your page doesnʼt sell any, it simply wonʼt show up there.
Thatʼs search intent and thatʼs why you NEED to pay attention to it.
To do keyword research properly, you need to fully understand your potential visitor’s intent.
Search intent is perhaps the most important “ranking factor” in 2019.
Analyzing Keyword Intent.
Understanding search intent is fundamental for driving visitors through your conversion funnel and knowing how and when to ask for the sale.
The four types (or levels) of search intent.
Hereʼs an image that describes these types pretty well.
Informational search covers the largest type of keywords and is generally representative of users looking for a quick answer.
Examples: “who is greta thunberg”, “wordpress”.
Navigational search is when a searcher is looking for a pre-determined destination.
Examples: “facebook”, “beginners guide to ahrefs”.
Investigation queries where the searcher is looking for information to help inform a buying decision, even if they do not convert; this is the gathering of information that has the potential to later lead to a sale.
The searcher is looking to make a purchase, find a place to make a purchase, or complete a task. These can range from queries looking to make a purchase online, to looking up the address of a store, to signing up for a service.
Google itself describes these search behaviors as micro-moments. In fact, hereʼs one of Googleʼs own infographics that describes these searcher-intent types in plain and simple words.
The AIDA sales conversion funnel
Maybe you heard about AIDA before, it stands for:
A – Awareness
I – Interest
D – Desire
A – Action
Your target customer moves across each of these levels of the funnel, as they move in their customer journey.
At the top of the funnel, you have the Awareness Level, where their search is informational, the customer is completely unaware and most likely not in the buying mood, so your goal is to attract their attention.
Use specialized articles, images, videos, infographics, and other media to educate, entertain, inform, and inspire them.
Next comes the Interest Level where their search is navigational, when you target these keywords you’ll be telling people the facts or the features of the offer and your goal is to get the interest of your target customer.
They are “problem” focused rather than “solution” focused, so the page
where they land should show how the problem can be solved and present solutions for the problem.
Next is the Desire Level where their search is commercial and you should focus on the benefits (which is different than the features) of the product since your goal is to convince your target customers that they want and desire the product/service and it will satisfy their needs.
They know what they want, just not which one is best for their needs. Emotion comes into play at this level and they will start imagining themselves with the product/service, how they will use it in their daily lives
Some ways to provide the information they’re after is through surveys, polls, subscription newsletters (it should be easy to capture their email at this stage) and white papers.
At the bottom of the funnel is the Action Level where their search is transactional – this customer is hot and most likely have their credit card nearby ready to be used – and your goal is to lead them towards taking action and/or purchasing the product/service.
Itʼs the perfect time to show them clear benefits of the product and provide a simple and easy way to convert (purchase, buy, or download) showing what the next step is with clear and easy instructions.
Using the AIDA model to your advantage
The key to creating effective content is to make sure you’re using AIDA as a funnel and target the right level.Knowing the user intent allows you to create content around the different levels each type of visitor will be at.
The ideal scenario would be to have the Awareness pages linking to the
Interest content, then having the Interest content moving them along to the Desire level, which then takes them into the Action mode.
The key is to understand at what level the customer is in AIDA and then answer the potential problems theyʼre having there and so provide the solution.
For any website selling products (e-commerce), the most profitable keywords are going to be at the Action level – since these customers have already made the decision to use their credit card.
As an affiliate, you should focus on creating content at the levels of Interest and Desire to move your audience to the next level and get them to convert. You want to have visitors click to the e-commerce sites for your CPA offer (ex. Amazon affiliate program or Google Adsense).
Otherwise, if you’re targeting only the Action level, you’ll need to provide some Value because they already know they want Product X, they are not looking for more info or reviews, they’re ready to buy and don’t welcome a “delay”.
Of course, if you ever start selling products yourself, then you would be targeting also for Action, to convert those visitors ready to use their card.
I’m going to reference here an old (but still relevant) article by Rand Fishkin which has some interesting views on where opportunities are:
Opportunities – Brand searchers with a positive impression of your site, information, company, etc; Attract inbound links; Receive attention from journalists/researchers; Potentially convert to sign-up or purchase
Opportunities – Brand searchers with a positive impression of your site, information, company, etc; Attract inbound links; Receive attention from journalists/researchers; Potentially convert to sign-up or purchase
Average Value – Middling
Opportunities – Convert to member/sign-up; Sway purchase decision;
Collect email; Get user feedback/participation
Average Monetary Value – High
Opportunities – Achieve transaction (financial or other)
Average Monetary Value – Very HighSource: https://moz.com/blog/segmenting-search-intent Intent
In English grammar, a modifier is a term that clarifies or describes something. When modifiers are added to search keywords, they help Google understand what the searcher actually wants.
By targeting keywords that include modifiers, you can target users whose intent matches with your offer/content.
Here are some of the most common modifiers, in different types of keywords, to look for when tagging your keywords for search intent.
The key characteristic of an informational query is that it is noncommercial in nature, and the searcherʼs goal is just to gain information, not make a purchase or provide any of their information.
Keywords searched usually contain terms like: info, more information, information, details, latest features, benefits, definition, location,
resource, ideas, tips, learn, examples, voted the most, simple steps, more efficient, expert review, the facts about.
Indicators of familiarity with you, your company, or your product(s) or service(s). These searchers are simply using search engines because they find it easier/ quicker to find a website and use brand names or names of a product or a service.
Commercial Investigation Modifiers
The searcher is relatively familiar with the product he/she wants, and is now just trying to gain the final bits of intelligence to help with his/her decision.
These searchers are ready to buy and just looking for where they can purchase. These are often longer, and much more specific queries such as: buy, purchase, order, sale, coupon, cheap, price, low price, lowest price, pricing, promo code, discount, online, free shipping, fast shipping, refund policy, trusted, great customer service, hassle-free, safe ordering, sale ends soon, readers’ choice, sweet deals.
Tagging For Searcher Intent
While doing keyword research in Ahrefs, you can use the modifiers listed before to filter for keywords with specific intent.
Enter a few seed keywords into Ahrefs Keywords Explorer and hit search (like I demonstrated earlier)
Choose one of the reports from the left-hand menu to see some keyword ideas. A good starting point is the Having same terms report.
Copy-paste the modifier words into the “Include” box and switch the toggle to “Any word”.
informational content for informational keywords category pages
for commercial investigation keywords product detail (or conversion focused pages)
for transactional keywords.
A Word of Caution About Modifiers
A caution note here, modifiers are not foolproof since not all keywords contain modifiers. So donʼt rely solely on modifier words to analyze search intent or youʼll end up missing out on a lot of good keyword ideas. Also see how Google tends to show certain SERP features more or less frequently, depending on the intent of the search.
The “featured snippets” for instance tend to show up mostly for informational queries.
Iʼll cover how to rank for Featured Snippets and also how to use Product Comparison Tables in the next module.
All it takes is some common sense, and awareness during your keyword research. Ask yourself
What does this keyword mean?
What is the searcher looking for when they type in this keyword?
Are they looking for information?
Are they looking to buy?
Take a look at the results and check to see what type of results are shown.
Does it show nothing but e-commerce sites?
Thatʼs all you need to know, and youʼll be fine.
Just remember to always keep search intent in mind as you do your keyword research.
So if “bowling shoes” is an e-commerce keyword, what would be an example of an informational keyword?
A better, information-related search would be something like: “bowling tips”.
So… letʼs go back to our keyword research process.
We had a list of niches, and the next step was to analyze their keywords and search volume by entering in some seed keywords for each niche.
For this, Iʼm going to be usingAhrefs Keyword Explorer.
This is the main tool I use for all my keyword research, and it’s what I’ll be using throughout this example.
What we’re looking for here are BIG keywords. Are there good keywords within this niche with a big enough search volume that will make pursuing this profitable?
Donʼt worry about things like CPC and competition analysis yet.
Inside Ahrefs Keyword Explorer, enter in your seed keywords:
If youʼre using a different keyword research tool, just follow along there.
I’ve chosen “potty training” as my example niche, along with some seed keywords that I thought of.
What exactly are we looking for here?
This is important: Where is our cut-off point? What is considered a high search volume keyword?
My criteria for keywords at this stage is: 10,000+ searches.
10,000 is the minimum number that I would need to see to target it as one of my MAIN keywords.
In this stage of the game, weʼre going to ignore all the smaller keywords for now. Weʼre using this criteria to measure the size of the niche, and the potential traffic we can drive to our site by measuring the biggest ones.
Why 10,000 search to main keywords?
Think 10,000 is a lot? Itʼs not.
My criteria used to be 50,000. But that really narrowed down the potential niches you can go after.
But with recent conditions, 10,000 seems to be the better target number. Instead of creating massive pieces of content that are over 5000 words long, itʼs better to reduce our target metric and instead create more content targeting more keywords.
IMPORTANT: I donʼt mean 50,000 searches for a single individual keyword.
This might sound a little confusing right now, but Iʼll explain everything in the unit after the next one.
Iʼm going to show you one of the MAIN STRATEGIES that I use that allows me to build more traffic to my sites than any of my competitors.
Apart from link building, I give credit to this strategy for the reason why I was able to cross $10,000/month.
And I canʼt wait to show you how you can use it for your own sites.
NOTE: This post has more to do about audience building than SEO. However, the same principles apply either way, and itʼs important for you to understand this during your niche selection process.
If youʼre currently doing niche research, trying to decide which niche you want your site to target, hereʼs something you might want to consider.
Should you go low competition high search volume keyword targeted?
What does going high search volume keyword targeted mean? It means diving one step deeper AFTER you select your niche.
When youʼre goinghigh search volume keyword -targeted, youʼre choosing your target AUDIENCE.
An audience is any small subset of people within your niche.
Hereʼs an example
Instead of just saying: Oh, Iʼm going to target the nutrition niche with my site…
You would instead go one step deeper and target something like a nutrition blog for moms who want the best, healthiest foods for their families.
Instead of just saying: Oh, Iʼm going to build a site around productivity hacks…
You would instead go one step deeper and target something like a productivity blog for college students who want to get the most out of their college experience – both in and outside of the classroom.
Instead of just saying: Oh, Iʼm going to build a parenting blog…
You would instead go one step deeper and build a parenting blog focused just on dads.
Why do low competition high search volume keyword targeted?
The reason you would do this is to differentiate your blog from the sea of others out there. By zeroing in on who youʼre targeting, you can more easily build a loyal audience of people.
Think about it, if youʼre a college student, are you going to be more inclined to read a general productivity blog or an high search volume keyword-targeted productivity blog built SOLELY for college students?
By going high search volume keyword -targeted, itʼs easier to stand out from the crowd and build an audience of loyal readers.
As an SEO, you must do this carefully if you decide to go this route.
When you go high search volume keyword-targeted, youʼre cutting out a large portion of people who donʼt fit into the category of your target audience. For example, if you build a nutrition site for moms, youʼre cutting out everyone else who isnʼt a mom. You donʼt want to go high search volume keyword-targeted in a niche thatʼs already tiny.
As an SEO strategist, the best way to make this work profitably is to do in a vertical thatʼs really large. Verticals like personal finance, health, and nutrition, marketing, careers.
Tackle big industries with a unique twist
The most profitable way to use the “high search volume keyword-targeted” strategy is to find big industries, and think about how you can differentiate yourself by targeting a site dedicated to a unique audience.
In the examples I gave above these were nutrition, productivity, and
parenting. These 3 are all huge industries.
Trying to build a general nutrition site targeted toward everybody, and talking about everything related to nutrition is a huge task. One that would require a large team of writers to cover the large breadth of content in that niche.
But by targeting just moms who want the best, healthiest foods for their families, youʼre going high search volume keyword-targeted while still working in a huge vertical and having a lot of room to grow a large audience.
Here are some examples:
#1. WELLNESS MAMA
Hereʼs the link to their site:https://wellnessmama.com
Wellness Mama is a huge nutrition blog. However, they donʼt just target anybody and everybody interested in nutrition.
They target just moms.They do a great job in identifying their target audience in their about page:
And by doing so, theyʼve become the go-to resource for all the moms interested in nutrition and wellness for themselves and their families.
Are they losing a ton of traffic by targeting only moms?
Maybe, yes. Men wouldnʼt really be loyal readers of this site. All their content and messaging is toward mothers.
But because theyʼre targeting such a huge industry, nutrition, theyʼre still able to drive a ton of traffic – over 4 million readers per month.
Thatʼs very difficult to do if youʼre just another “general” site about nutrition. Email marketing and list building is a whole other beast that I dive intoin a different post. But it becomes much easier to build a loyal email list of buyers when you have a targeted audience.
#2. COLLEGE INFO GEEK
Hereʼs the link to their site:https://collegeinfogeek.com/
College Info Geek is a productivity and self-improvement blog just for college students.
And because they were able to zero in on their target audience (college students), they were able to build a giant, targeted email list of 150,000 email subscribers.
Both Wellness Mama and College Info Geek arenʼt the biggest sites in their industries.
Remember these are giant industries – health & nutrition for Wellness Mama and productivity & self-improvement for College Info Geek.
By going high search volume keyword-targeted, they reduced a little bit of their potential readership in exchange for something extremely valuable – a loyal, TARGETED AUDIENCE.
Wellness Mama has 1.2 email subscribers and over 4 million visitors per month.
Again, that might be lower than other giant websites in their niche. However, their readers are all extremely targeted. Theyʼre mothers interested in nutrition.
In the case of College Info Geek, theyʼre college students who want to improve themselves and be more productive.
Having a targeted audience makes it so much easier to build an email list, sell products, promote affiliate products, and attract high-paying advertisers which leads us to example #3.
Hereʼs the link to their website:https://www.fatherly.com
Fatherly is a parenting blog thatʼs targeted at just fathers.
There are a ton of parenting blogs online. But most of them are directed at mothers. But Fatherly decided itʼs time to build a parenting blog at dads, and executed their vision perfectly.
By building an extremely targeted audience of just fathers, theyʼve built an audience of readers that advertisers are willing to throw their money at.
So they must be getting tens of millions of visitors right? Wrong.
Thatʼs tiny compared to other parenting blogs in the space.
So why are advertisers spending $5.2 million to advertise on their site?
Itʼs because theyʼve built an extremely targeted following of readers. By advertising on their site, brands can be guaranteed that theyʼre reaching the exact audience that they want to reach.
So should you gohigh search volume keyword?
Going high search volume keyword-targeted isnʼt for everybody. Because our goal is to build a massive site with SEO, you have to execute it right.
The industry you target has to be big enough, and you need to choose an audience that would make sense AND makes it easier for you to grow your site. For some sites, it wonʼt make sense.
For example, it wouldnʼt make sense to go high search volume keyword-targeted if youʼre trying to build a review site about the best backpacks. Itʼs already a tiny niche, and you donʼt need to further target an audience within that.
But consider a blog like RANKXL.COM, my site in the online marketing industry. Online marketing is huge. If I built a general site about internet marketing? RankXL would be nowhere right now. Nobody would care about my site.
Because itʼs just too general and broad of a topic. If one day I wrote about Facebook ads, then the next day SEO, then the next day content marketing, then the next day how to build iPhone apps… it just wouldnʼt work.
It wouldnʼt be targeted at all, and nobody would become a loyal reader of my site.
They might like an article or two, but the theme of my site isnʼt something they would follow and subscribe to.
On the other hand, my site is targeted toward SEOs. But I go even further. While I talk about SEO, itʼs targeted toward people who are interested in doing SEO for their own online businesses. Iʼm not targeting people who work in agencies, Iʼm not teaching agency owners, Iʼm not teaching SASS companies on how to get leads.
Yes, some of these people still read my content, but my main focus is on people interested in SEO for building out their own content businesses.
In my case, the audience targeting was differentiated through intent and goal. My content is for everybody – all ages, all genders, all races, all anything. But differentiation is the REASON WHY they want to learn what I teach.
This lesson was to make you think about more options during your niche research. Itʼs NOT something that you MUST DO. Itʼs something that you should consider and think about.
If youʼve avoided niches like finance or marketing or health simply
because they seemed too competitive try segments that industry into a tiny audience.
Let’s just narrow down a list of your interests to start.
Ready? Let’s get started
I’m going to take you through a few sources you can use. These are my favorite sources to use when doing niche selection.
While you’re browsing the lists, just write down on a piece of paper or notepad app a few topics that spark your interest.
Try to keep it between 5 to 10.
Broad or targeted?
It doesn’t matter at this point. For instance you can be as broad as just saying“basketball” or you can be as targeted as saying “jumping higher for basketball players.”
You can be as broad as you like or narrow it down as much as you want. We’ll get to sorting out that part in the next step.
RedditList – Ever wonder what the hottest trending topics and sub- reddits are onReddit? This website shows you in real-time. Although a lot of Reddit’s subreddits are not niche-site topics, you’ll often come up with some great ideas browsing what’s trending.
Udemy – Udemy has high-quality courses on a variety of topics. If people are willing to purchase a course about it, chances are it’s a pretty popular topic. You’ll come up with a lot of great ideas browsing through their courses. Go through different categories and skim through what types of topics people are creating courses on. It’s a great way to spark ideas for your niche site.
Barnes & Noble – Just a giant list of book categories. One of my favorite places to find niche ideas is at the bookstore. The section you find yourself going to most often is probably going to be a good idea to start your niche site about since you have an interest in it. Well, this is probably the most extensive list of categories you’ll find without having toactually visit a bookstore.
Magazines – A huge list of magazines. If thereʼs a magazine about a subject itʼsusually a good sign thereʼs also a market with buyers, sellers, and advertisers.
The three big niches
There are 3 core markets, also known as the 3 core interests. These are BIG, so think of them like umbrellas for the niches youʼve been reading about.
The 3 niches are:
These are veryprofitablemarkets because these are linked to the3topdesiresthat motivate most people: to be healthy, wealthy and have good relationships.
The Health market is so valuable because there’s a high level of urgency, people are always looking to solve their health problems.
Money, whether weʼre talking about making money or saving money, is a powerful motivator for a lot of people and this market includes many profitable niches like real estate, debt, starting a business and many others.
Having good relationships is also high on the desires and niches like dating and romance keep growing in value.
Each of these big 3 has lots of sub-markets and niches inside them, like these:
Health > Nutrition > Nutrition for moms Health > Nutrition >Diets > Vegan diet
Relationships > Dating > How to save your relationshipRelationship > Dating > Dating advice for men
By giving it a different angle or twist you can differentiate in the marketplace:
Health > Fitness > Energy > Entrepreneurs and CEOs
These niches are still growing
Each of these 3 markets is growing and expected to keep growing in the near future. For example, the market value for Health and Wellness in the United States is expected to reach a staggering 179 billion U.S. dollars by 2020. The health and wellness product market is buzzing with exciting new trends, many of which are related to food and nutrition.
For some business experts, niches that are part of these 3 markets are considered less risky for a beginner, even though thereʼs usually a lot of competition in them.
The Niche Book
The Niche Book is packed with more ideas than youʼll know what to do with. With 112 profitable niche ideas and over 300 keyword ideas, youʼll find new opportunities every time you scroll through it!
You can download your book from Training Materials. It used to be a paid resource, but I really donʼt want to see anyone stuck on the niche selection phase.
Do you have your list of niches?
In this lesson, I gave you a few sources where you can go to get your niche ideas and a big resource full of ideas. If you followed my instructions, you should have around 5 to 10niches noted down that are worth analyzing.
Donʼt get too picky here. If youʼre not sure if a certain niche is interesting or not, just jot it down anyways.
This is exactly how I start my niche selection when Iʼm about to start a new project.
It doesnʼt have to be a complicated process. Just going through a few different sources and jotting down a few that catch your eye is all thatʼs required.
Imagine finding a niche, working months on it, only to discover itʼs unprofitable. Hereʼs my process to find the perfect niche every time.
The most FAQ I receive is niche selection related. No surprise there… itʼs where everything gets started. I hope this little, fun resource can help simplify your thought process. Because…. niche research isnʼt that hard!
Make a list… of niches
Niche ideas are everywhere. Seriously. Everywhere you look is a niche idea.
Not all of them will qualify to be good enough to build a site around, but make a list of anything you can think of. We can filter them down later.
I have a separate notepad on my desk where I just write whatever topic I have down when I see or think of one. When it comes down to build a site, all I need to do is start researching them.
Ideas lead to more ideas. Seed words lead to ideas you may never have thought of. For instance, I might just thoughtlessly write down McDonaldʼs as a niche idea. After a bit of research, I might land on a really cool idea like…… nutrition information, fast-food nutrition, how much fat is in X, how much caffeine is in X, where does X get their ingredients?…. etc, etc. See how far you can go with just a single seed idea? Pretty neat, huh?
Difference Between Niches & Keywords
One of the biggest problems I see is the confusion between niches and keywords. For instance… weight loss is a niche and how to lose weight quickly is a keyword.
You donʼt target niches as keywords because theyʼre too broad.
Another example: karate. Karate is a niche. You donʼt target the term, “karate.” Instead, youʼll find keywords within that niche such as how to teach yourself karate, how to kick higher, or karate training from home.
Letʼs go through another one: Letʼs say we thought of something like how to run faster. Thatʼs a keyword. In that case, your niche is running.
You have to determine these things during your niche research. What is your niche? What are your keywords?
Understand The meanings niche behind your keywords
One of the biggest mistakes I see during niche & keyword research is the failure to look at the MEANING behind searches.
What do I mean by the meaning behind a search? It means the TYPE of search result that the user is looking for.
Why is this important? Because Google thinks itʼs important.
For instance: If you wanted to target the travel niche and one of your keywords is travel to Rome, your article about the benefits of traveling to Rome is never going to rank… ever… for that keyword. Why? Because of the meaning behind the search. The search results are ALL going to be travel packages, hotel accommodations, flight information, etc. Thatʼs what Google interprets that search query to MEAN.
You have to understand this during your niche & keyword research. You have to be able to pivot and find INFORMATIONAL keywords like reasons to travel to Rome. In this case, your article about the 100 awesome reasons to travel to Rome has a chance at doing very well.
What exactly are we looking for during niche research?
Niche research doesnʼt have to be so complicated. Here are the steps Igo through…
FIRST: Make a list of a few different niches. These are possible niches we might like to target. They are the niches we will research.
SECOND: Research each niche by putting them into Googleʼs KeywordPlanner one by one.
WHAT ARE WE LOOKING FOR? Weʼre looking for niches that have big keywords. Keywords that we can make 50,000+ searches per month with using the Pillar Keywords strategy taught in the book.
REMEMBER THOUGH: We are not using niches as keywords. To find keywords, you will have to do some digging. Add in different seed words next to your niche and use your creativity.
FOR INSTANCE: If you had karate as a niche idea, donʼt just type in karate into the KW Planner. Type in other words alongside it like karate training, how to learn karate, learn karate, karate tips, online karate training, best karate, career karate.
Doing this will bring back whole different sets of suggestions, which can be used to identify some high search volume keywords.
WHATʼS NEXT? Once you do this, youʼll be able to filter down your initial list of niches. Only keep the ones that have some good high search volume keywords (ones that, combined with similar phrased keywords, can be turned into 50k+ searches per month).
WHAT IS A SIMILAR PHRASED KEYWORD? Keywords like karate training, karate training tips, how to learn karate, etc… These all mean the same thing. Theyʼre just worded differently. As a result, they will all be targeted through one single page. Therefore, you can combine them together. **Refer to the Pillar Keywords and Pillar Posts section of the book for more information on this.
Your initial list has been filtered down to only contain the ones that have
high search volume keywords we can target. But it requires one more step…
Niche low competition research
We want to take a look at what the competition looks like. So for each ofthose big keywords, run them through Google.
FIRST, skim the list… Are they names you recognize like Inc, Forbes,eHow, Huffington Post, etc?
SECOND, open up each page and check out their content. Is it indepth? Is it “great” content? OR is it full of fluff? Can it be improved? Can you make something better than blows it out of the water?
THIRD, run the sites through a backlink checker like Mozʼs Open SiteExplorer. Check their backlinks. Domain authority will usually be high for most sites ranked highly for most search results. Take a look at their page authority. Analyze how many links are pointed at the actual page.
For MOST search results, you will see that there are fewer than 20-30 links pointed at the actual page. Thatʼs a good sign. Sometimes, youʼll come across pages with hundreds of links pointed at them. Youʼll have a very difficult time outranking that.
Go through this process for each keyword in each of your niches. Findthe one with the best opportunity. That means a lot of keywords with high search volume, and not much competition. Thatʼs how you filter down a list of niches.
And thatʼs the last step. Once youʼve done this, itʼs time to decide whichniche you want to target. If a niche has made it to your final steps here without being filtered out, thereʼs potential in the niche. Itʼs time to stop the dilemma over which niche you should choose and just TAKE ACTION.
You canʼt beat your competitors if you donʼt know their strengths and weaknesses. Which is precisely why competitor analysis is critical to your success.
Trust me, itʼs not as difficult or complicated as some marketers make it look like.
Our goal here is to create a high-authority site that generates consistent income for years. Iʼm not talking about short-term micro niche sites or quick money making methods that may or may not work.
I want you to think of this as a proper long-term business. So everything Iʼm sharing in this post, including competitor analysis, is based on this goal.
Why are we doing competitor analysis?
To determine the ranking potential of our target topic and keywords based on the authority and the relevance of the top ranking pages.
To find any weaknesses or gaps in the top ranking search results that we can take advantage of.
To find out the exact improvements we need to make to our content to make it to the top search spot for our target keyword.
Once you have this information, you will use it to build an authority site around your target topic with MUCH better content than your competitors.
This will result in thousands of visitors from long-tail search traffic and will also help you rank for the head keywords of your topic in the longrun.
When Google starts considering you an authority on a topic, because of the superior quality of your content and backlinks, it ranks you for many other long-tail search keywords even if you donʼt directly target them.
2 things before we start competitor analysis.
The success of your authority blog WONʼT be determined by yourrankings for these big keywords. We’re going to target them, but it’s not do or die. Your blog will get TONS of long-tail traffic before you even get into the top 5 rankings.
Google is now all about authority. Any search you do today will bringback nothing but really high authority sites.
The biggest thing holding people back from entering niches and starting their blogs is competition. They see these high authority sites on the first page and decide it would be crazy to compete with them.
DON’T let this intimidate you.
We’re still going to analyze competition to make sure it’s not TOO competitive, but your criteria and metrics need to change to compensate for Google’s algorithm changes, and our goals with this site.
I can’t stress how important this is you understand these 2 points.
There’s a fundamental difference in how sites that make thousands of dollars per month are built. It might be completely different than how you’ve approached blog building in the past, and that’s a good thing.
Okay so now that we have that covered.
Let’s get started.
Performing competitor analysis
You only need a couple of tools to perform competitor analysis.
One of them is Google Search, which is free of course.
The other one is Ahrefs, the best SEO tool, with the most updated andaccurate data, in my experience.
Itʼs a complete research tool thatʼll help you analyze your competitors for a number of factors that impact search rankings.
Step 1: Analyze Google Search for Unbeatable Rankings
The first thing that I do is make sure that the rankings aren’t unbeatable.
What do I mean by unbeatable?
I mean a search results page with government pages, official company sites, and organizations. These are the pages that will NEVER be beaten.
They’re just the most relevant search for the keyword you chose. End of story.
Unfortunately, the Air Force and Military’s official pages will never be beaten no matter how many powerful links you build to your page. Longtail keywords are going to be dominated by these official sites as well.
Most keyword searches aren’t like this, and it takes a bit of common sense to spot these kind of results pages. But in the first stage of competition analysis, this is all we’re looking for.
If it does look unbeatable, then I would dump the keyword/niche.
If it’s not, then let’s move onto the next step.
Step 2: Check Page Authority and Backlink Profile
Page Authority (PA) and Domain Authority (DA) are metrics used in Moz Link Explorer tool and considered a standard indicator of a siteʼs strength.
Ahrefs, an even more advanced SEO tool, has introduced URL Rating (UR) and Domain Rating (DR) which are pretty similar to PA and DA.
But what exactly do they mean?
Domain Rating (DR) shows the overall strength of a website based on the number and the quality of links pointing to it.
URL Rating (UR) shows the strength of a specific URL based on the number and the quality of links pointing to it.
Thatʼs an important difference that you need to remember.
For competitor analysis, your primary concern is the UR of the page ranking for your target keyword.
For example, here are the top search results for the keyword “Bowling tips” (excluding videos and featured snippets)
If you consider this score alone, itʼs pretty hard to outrank this page.
But the UR score, the strength of the URL ranking for the top spot, is just
Plus, if you look towards the right side of the DR score, youʼll see the number of backlinks and referring domains to this page.
Again, donʼt get fooled by the number of backlinks. The count that matters is “Referring Domains” because multiple links from the same sites donʼt have the same value.
This means we have a top ranking page with a low URL Rating and only 26 referring domains.
On the right of your screen, Ahrefs shows you details of the types of backlinks pointing to the searched URL.
Another good sign for you.
If you scroll further down, Ahrefs shows you the strength of the backlinks pointing to the searched URL.
So basically all the links pointing to this URL are pretty weak.
It is mainly ranking on the top because of a strong and relevant domain (DR 84).
But with a better quality page thatʼs optimized for your target keyword and has more high quality links pointing to it, this page can be easily outranked.
The only metrics weʼve considered are UR, the number of Referring Domains, and the UR of the linking domains.
Do this for all the first page results to get a better understanding of the strength of your competitors.
These scores are strong indicators of whether a search result can be outranked easily or not.
But there are a few other things to consider as well.
Let me explain them one by one.
Step 3: Analyze On-Page Optimization Factors
On-Page SEO factors play a crucial role in determining the search rankings of a page.
A key part of competitor analysis is to see whether the top ranking pages are properly optimized for the target keyword or not.
If a page is ranking on the first page without proper On-Page SEO, itʼs an opportunity for you to create an optimized page to outrank it.
Here are the things you need to consider.
Target Keyword in Title, URL, and Meta Description
The Meta Description, however, doesnʼt have a direct impact on the search rankings but it does influence the click through rate of a result.
Keyword in H1 and H2 Headlines
See if the target keyword is used by the page in itʼs main headline and at least one sub-heading with an H2 tag. Itʼs another strong On-page ranking factor.
LSI Keywords in H2 Headline
LSI keywords are terminologies that are closely related to your main target keyword. Google considers the use of LSI keywords a strong OnPage SEO factor.
You can find hundreds of LSI keywords using LSIKeywords.com
If not, itʼs an improvement area you should note down.
Keyword in the Introductory Paragraph
Using the target keyword in the first 100 words of a page has a direct relationship with higher rankings.
See if your competitors have done that in their content.
Keyword Usage in Body Content
Pay close attention to how many times your competitors have used the target keyword in their content.
Keyword Density as a metric no longer matters, but if a page has used the target keyword sparingly, it gives you an opportunity to improve on it.
Optimized Alt-Tags in Images
Most websites publish blog posts and articles with images that do not have any Alternate Tags (Alt-Tags)
Alt Tags play the same role as keywords and have a direct impact on rankings.
See if your competitors have paid attention to them
Relevant Internal Links
Have the top ranking pages used any internal links in their content?
Good, because thatʼs another opportunity to make your page better than theirs
High Authority External Links
No external links to any relevant high authority sites?
Google considers external links as a relevance signal. Using them is a recommended On-Page SEO practice.
Once you analyze the top ranking pages for all these factors, see which ones are missing in their content.
If most of the top ranking pages are poorly optimized, itʼs another sign that youʼll easily outrank them by creating better optimized pages.
But before making a final judgement, thereʼs one last thing to consider.
Step 4: Look for Improvements in Content
How does the actual content of the top ranking pages read?
Is it high quality, well-researched, and in-depth?
Or is it spun or simply a collection of words that doesnʼt make sense?
Content quality is one of the biggest search ranking factors. Plus, it has a direct impact on backlinks acuqisiton.
Poor quality content rarely gets backlinks from other high authority sites.
If a top ranking page for your target keyword has poorly written content, it probably has a pretty low backlink count as well.
As a result, itʼs easy to outrank.
Here are the things to consider while analyzing the content quality of a page
Content Length/Word Count
In-depth and detailed content not only gives more value to the readers but also helps you rank for dozens of long-tail keywords. So keep a close eye on the average depth and length of content ranking on Googleʼs first page for your target keyword
Does the content have typos, grammatical mistakes, or improper sentence structures?
If yes, the page is likely to have a higher Bounce Rate since users quickly press the back button when they see poorly written content.
Visuals and Multimedia
How many images, videos, or animated GIFs is the page using? Note down the number for every page you analyze.
Is the content properly formatted for online readers with headlines, short paragraphs etc.?
Or is it simply a wall of text that makes you fall asleep?
These are all user experience factors that have a direct impact on the search rankings of a page.
If your target keyword has first page results with poor content, they can be easily outranked with better content.
Wrapping up competitor analysis
When you analyze your competitors based on the metrics Iʼve shared in this section, you will be able to gather detailed information about their strengths and weaknesses.
Now your job is simple.
Create a page/resource that is better than your competitors in terms of all the factors Iʼve discussed.
When you create such a resource, getting backlinks wonʼt be a problem.
And with better content and more backlinks, no one can stop you from dominating the search rankings.
How To Do Competition Analysis The Right Way
How to do competitor analysis which involves more than just the numbers some tool is showing you, so I think youʼll gain from going through it even though he is using a different tool than the one weʼve been using in the course so far.
In the last post, we learned about the metrics that we should be looking for when weʼre doing competition analysis.
To help you understand further, Iʼm going to go through the entire start to finish process of what I do when Iʼm analyzing the competition for a keyword.
So, let’s continue with our example niche from a few units ago: “Bowling tips”.
Searching for “bowling tips” brings back these results.
Who is Bowl?
At first glance, it seems that bowl.com is a pretty big player in the space. They’re ranking for the first 2 spots in the rankings.
I’ve never heard of bowl.com before so I opened up their site to get some more information on who they are.
Not a good sign.
I donʼt like seeing that because it says theyʼre the “national governing body of bowling.” Right off the bat, Iʼm assuming theyʼve probably got some crazy backlink profile.
If theyʼre a “national governing body” are they “unbeatable” like in my Air Force Training example?
No, not at all.
The keyword “bowling tips” is about bowling instruction. This is just a national membership organization. They’re not the prime authority for all things bowling tips.
If that sounds contradictory to my example with the air force, consider this:
“air force training” = There’s only one official authority on this: The Air Force. The only training you can really get is from The Air Force.
“bowling tips” = How to bowl. There is not one organization or company that is the official company for everything related to bowling instruction. Bowl.com is likely ranking #1 because of their high authority, but they are not unbeatable.
So now that thatʼs out of the way, letʼs dive into some analysis.
Let’s look at the pages that are ranking
Bowl.com is ranking for the top 2 positions on Google for this keyword.
But look at the pages that are ranking.
#1 RANKING PAGE FROM BOWL.COM – What is that like 50 words of content combined with a list of 10 internal links?
This is a really good sign for us if we’re going to pursue this niche. This content is terrible…
This is #1?!
We can easily blow their content out of the water with what we create with our Pillar Posts.
Letʼs check out their page in the #2 spot.
Just from looking at this, we know we have one major advantage: We can totally whip this site’s butt in terms of value provided with our site.
We can create something that knocks this page out of the water, which will make it easier for our site to get links.
And in general, this is a great sign early on.
If the #1 and #2 spot is filled with content like this, we can only assume that the rest of the comoming to be terrible as well. I could be wrong, but itʼs a safe assumption
The only thing that worries me at this point is their backlink profile.
Maybe theyʼre able to rank this type of content because theyʼve got some really strong links.
We’ll find out in a bit.
Checking Bowl.com’s links
Step 1: Checking the link profile for the entire BOWL.COM domain
Before checking the links to the individual ranking pages, I want to get an idea of this site’s overall link profile… Seeing how theyʼre ranking #1 and #2, they seem to be the current authority on bowling at the moment.
Before I even check the links to this site, I already know that it’s going to be super high authority. They’re the “official” organization for bowling in the U.S. so I’m guessing they’ll have a lot of links.
Let’s throw their site into Mangools.
Although their site is really high authority, remember that this is the profile of links going to the entire domain.
Let’s take a look at the link profile for the SPECIFIC PAGES that are ranking for “bowling tips.”
#1 Competitor analysis
A page authority of 28, which is very beatable.
Only 5 social shares. Nobody’s sharing this page. This page is NOT a good search result for people who want bowling instruction. I can imagine their bounce rate to be really high.
#2 Competitor analysis
Thoughts about Bowl.com
At first glance, it would seem crazy to compete with a site like bowl.com.
But after analysis of quality of content, and the specific link profiles for the pages that are ranking, we can see that it’s going to be pretty easy actually.
Their content is horrible, it looks outdated, and it’s the prime example of what a high bounce-rate site should look like.
We can easily over-take this site as THE AUTHORITY in bowling tips and training.
There’s another good reason this keyword is wide open.
That site is ranking for the top 2 spots! There aren’t 2 high authority pages in the top 2 spots. Beating 1, means beating both with one punch.
Hereʼs something you might not have known: When 2 pages from the same domain are ranking on the first page (or any page on Google), they will always be grouped together.
The power of authority sites?
This is what I’ve been research stage. This is the kind of search results that are on the first page now.
No links to the page that’s ranking, but because Google sees that they’re an authority figure in the niche, they’re #1. That’s exactly what we’re going to do with our own sites, and start dominating for all the keywords available.
Let’s go through the rest of the sites that are ranking.
Before we decide this is an easy niche we can easily dominate, we need to analyze what the rest of the competition looks like.
#3 Competitor analysis: BowlingTechniques.net
The next result is BowlingTechniques.net. It’s just a blog roll with a bunch of posts about bowling tips.
What about the backlinks?
#4Competitor analysis: Wikihow
Seeing a Wikihow page is another great sign.
Yup, I was right.
#5 Competitor analysis: YouTube Video
I don’t even have to check the links for this page. It’s going to be super weak.
Even today, there are people ranking YouTube videos by blasting thousands of links at it. It works because YouTube has such a high domain authority, that mass links donʼt signal a penalty.
Itʼs a form of Parasite SEO – latching onto strong websites like YouTube and using their domain authority to rank faster than a normal new website would.
If you blasted links to a new site, it would immediately destroy your rankings and your chances of any rankings in the future.
But by doing so on a site with a giant domain authority like YouTube.com, there are more positive effects than negative.
This is one of the ways weʼve achieved multiple rankings for clients when I was working at my old SEO agency.
We would rank their website #1 and then work on bringing a YouTube video #2 for the same keyword.
But for this one, I know it would be weak because of how few links that the first 4 pages in the results have.
Any YouTube video with hundreds of links easily has a chance just jump to #1.
#6 Competitor analysis: YouTube profile page
The #6 ranking site is a YouTube.
Okay, it looks like a guarantee that this is a wide-open niche by now. We can totally just overtake this keyword/niche.
I don’t even need to check the links for this.
A profile page is on the first page? Really? Thatʼs great for us.
#7 Competitor analysis: EpicBowling.com
Just a blogroll of posts related to “bowling tips.” And if you look at the latest blog posts, theyʼre not even optimized around this keyword.
In my opinion, category pages are some of the worst performing pages in the search engines.
Theyʼre not topic specific, they can end up with random blog posts like the one you see to the right.
Second, itʼs not rich in just a stream of snippets of text and random titles.
#8 Competitor analysis: HelpWithBowling.com
The links pointing to the site are absolute garbage. They’re not relevant, they’re on weird pages that have nothing to do with bowling. They’re weak, most of them are comment spam and directory links.
It’s a good sign that he’s ranking #8 with those links because the links we get will be SO MUCH MORE powerful than his. Weʼll learn just how to build these links in just a bit.
In fact, with the type of links weʼre going to learn how to build, I can even make a wild assumption that we can rank at the top of this search with less than 10 links.
#9 Competitor analysis: BowlingThisMonth.com
Let’s take a look at the links:
Thoughts after competitor analyzing Page 1 of results
There are only 9 results for this search because one of them is an image result.
So I just quickly went through all the sites on the first page. You were able to see exactly what I look for, and what makes a weak site weak.
If you noticed, competition analysis is not difficult at all.
And itʼs fun! You learn a lot through every page you analyze because youʼre able to assess what theyʼre doing wrong, what theyʼre doing right, and why theyʼre ranking.
The more of this you do, the sharper your SEO mind becomes.
After competitor analyzing page one, I’ll usually browse through pages 2 and 3. I don’t go through all of them like I did for the first page.
What I’m mainly looking for is just to check if there are other people doing SEO for that keyword. You can usually spot this by the domain name and the keyword-rich titles. They’ll usually be things like “bowlingtipshq.com” or something like that.
But that part isn’t as important.
The most important part is competitors analyzing the first page. And I think we can conclude that this is a pretty easy niche to target, AND ALSO… an easy niche we can totally dominate the rankings for.