This guest post is by Elena Vakhromova of Freemake.com.
We all know that search engines are a big piece of blog traffic cake. Unlike other traffic sources (subscriptions or social media), search engines bring visitors who are generally unfamiliar with your blog and have one definite goal: to get an answer or solve the problem with the help of your post.
So while your Facebook fans would rather go to check out your recent post on any abstract topic, visitors from Google & Co. are able to discover only the posts which are shown in search results for queries they enter.
Ideally, every new post should bring visitors from Google, Yahoo, Bing, and so on. However, an average blog has only a few pages ranking high in search results and bringing new visitors daily.
When we started the Freemake Blog in May 2012, we never thought that one post (written in 20 minutes, purely for fun) would bring us ~6K pageviews daily. To tell the truth, we did nothing extraordinary to optimize this post. It just appeared when it was high demand for “funny questions to Siri” and there were almost no posts on this topic.
When we realized how fertile search traffic can be, we tried to write every new post aiming at the same result. And some of our initiatives have been successful.
Of course, it doesn’t mean that we write solely SEO-oriented posts, by no means. We understand that there should be a sound balance between SEO goals and common sense. So we never practiced keyword stuffing, but tried to find the topics which would be interesting to our readers and bring us traffic from search engines.
Here I’d like to share with you an approach that may help you find an SEO goldmine for your own blog.
Step 1. Look for standout ideas
Imagine that you’re going to write a potential SEO-boosting post and you face the problem of topic choice. First, you need to make up a list of all possible topics for the blog that you’re able to cover. There are several places where you can find ideas for new posts:
- Q&A sites: Look for topics on popular Q&A sites (Yahoo! Answers, Quora, Mahalo, etc.). Go through all questions in your category.
- News and trends: Your readers’ attention revolves around popular events in the world and your niche, so why not take advantage of upcoming releases, holidays, and rumors?
- Comments & suggestions: Your visitors may suggest great ideas for new posts. If you don’t have a “Tip us off” page or at least a dedicated email address, it’s high time to think about it.
- Competitors: Have a look at popular posts on competing blogs. If they don’t have such a section, you may check top search queries for that site in Alexa.
- Social media: Visit your Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest accounts and see what your friends and followers are sharing. Some of their ideas may be worth your attention.
Write down all interesting ideas. Then look though the list and cross out those for which you don’t have enough expertise.
Step 2. Forecast organic traffic
You outlined several ideas for a new post. Now let’s check their potential popularity in search engines.
For each idea write three or four possible keywords and compare them using the Google Keyword Tool. This lets you measure the levels of traffic the keywords would bring to your blog if you optimized a new post for them. Put down the rates of global and local monthly searches for each keyword.
The Keyword Tool will also help you identify more worthy keywords to concentrate on. You may also use:
- Google Trends to compare the volume of searches between two or more terms
- Google search suggestions and related searches to get more keyword ideas. Just start typing a query and look at the Google auto-suggestions. Then click Search and look for the related searches at the bottom of results.
At the end of this process, you should have on your list only the ideas with high keyword traffic potential.
Step 3. Find free SEO niches
Once you’ve decided on the keywords, analyze your possible competitors to find a free niche. This tactic especially makes sense for small and medium-sized blogs that don’t have enough authority to compete with big ones for high search engine rankings.
Enter the keywords you picked up in Step 2 and look at the first page of search results. It’s worth trying to compete if, on the first search results page, you see user-generated content (e.g. forum questions, self-created tutorials, YouTube videos, and so on), or posts from blogs whose PageRank and Alexa Rank are poorer than yours.
On the other hand, if large authoritative blogs like TechCrunch, Mashable, or Engadget have already written on the topic you’ve chosen, and the first search results page has no “ray of light”, you’d better think of a different approach to this topic (e.g. a negative or funny one), look for another vacant query, or quit this idea.
Step 4. Pick the winners
So you have filtered your ideas by keyword popularity and competition. Now it’s time to identify the leaders. You shouldn’t always pick up only one topic—maybe several of them deserve to become a new post, or one idea may lead to several articles with different keywords. So let’s prioritize the ideas on this basis.
First, take the topics which are tied to upcoming events or rising trends, and publish the post at least two weeks prior to the event.
Then, give preference to evergreen topics which you’ll be able to update with new information.
Finally, pick up those which seem best suited to your blog content.
Step 5. Write a quality article
When writing a post on the topic you selected, remember that SEO aims shouldn’t affect the post quality. Don’t overburden the post with keywords. Keep in mind: readers who visit your post and don’t find any worthy content won’t come back to your blog again.
To decide which format better suits your new post, analyze your previous articles that gained high social engagement (tweets, likes, comments). What format, length, and headline peculiarities do they have? Don’t be afraid to repeat your successful experiments.
Consider providing useful calls to action and giving additional materials: links to particular tools, related articles, illustrative charts, images, and videos. Don’t write too floridly. Your readers are simple internet users, like you and me. So make every effort to provide a really interesting article.
Step 6. Reanimate SEO-unfriendly posts
As a bonus, I’d like to suggest reconsidering old posts which should be bringing visitors from search engines, but for whatever reason, aren’t. You may easily find such articles in your blog analytics: their keywords don’t bring much traffic as compared to your SEO-leaders.
No doubt, the reasons for this may differ from post to post—from technical or design oversights to high keyword competition. I’d like to draw your attention to the SEO drawbacks that you may eliminate in shortest time:
- The keywords you chose are unpopular. In this case, examine Keyword Tool ideas to find better keyword combinations (go to Step 2 above).
For example, I see that our blog has a keyword funniest youtube channels which brought us about 150 visitors last month. Our post comes second in search results on this query. We consider the keyword unpopular—it has only 720 global monthly searches. Still the tool suggests to me the related search terms top youtubers, funny youtube channels, and best youtube channels.
It’s clear that top youtubers isn’t what the post is exactly about, but a simple change from funniest to funny youtube channels might triple the clickthroughs to this post.
- Your post doesn’t look attractive in search results, so people don’t click it. A skillfully written title and description will improve the situation.
- The post doesn’t match the keywords for which it’s appearing.Short visit durations and high bounce rates are strong signs of this problem. Therefore, think thoroughly about what people expect to see when they enter a particular search query. What is their aim?For instance, imagine that you look for a good youtube converter and instead of a direct link to some converter, you see the analysis of how to choose a good YouTube converter. You may scroll the tips and even follow them one day, but your goal isn’t achieved, you haven’t received what you were looking for. So the post needs re-writing (keep in mind Step 5).
Find your SEO goldmine
Whether new or old, as long as it’s optimized for “right” search queries and written primarily for readers, your post has all chances to become a traffic goldmine.
However, search engines are unpredictable mechanisms, so who knows how another algorithm update will impact on your search traffic?
What steps do you work through to make sure your posts are optimized for the right search terms? Tell us your tips in the comments.