You can build traffic in 2017, as in 2016, with long, informational posts. These will get you noticed in the search engines.
If you make a sustained effort to produce actionable high-quality content, your traffic will steadily grow. You do not need to publish often – but when you do publish it needs to be something people can follow and take action on.
Long information-rich articles are examples of epic content.
How Will Epic Content Help My Site?
Your epic posts must be long – aim for at least 2000 words – high-quality, unique, relevant and frequent. There are advantages to working this way. You will :
- Increase freshness to help your site get noticed by Google (frequency).
- Generate backlinks as people will be more likely to link to it (length, quality).
- Demonstrate knowledge and so increase confidence in your capabilities (relevance, length, quality).
- Increase visitor numbers from the extra long tail searches (length, relevance).
- Rank for more relevant keywords (unique, length, relevance).
- Make your site look alive and so increase trustworthiness (frequency).
- Add more opportunity for internal linking (length, frequency, relevance).
- Demonstrate real people with real opinions inhabit your business (unique).
- Provide content to post on social media (frequency).
- Build authority in your industry with related businesses (quality, frequency).
- Provide content to send to your list (quality, frequency).
- Increase leads – the more you write, the more leads you generate (frequency).
Have You Checked Your Market?
A market is a place where buyers and sellers meet to trade. You cannot create a market that does not exist. If that last sentence does not resonate, re-read it until it does.
The Power Of An Existing Market
You cannot educate people to want your product because it would take too long, cost too much, and may not work.
It is better to concentrate on serving an existing, proven market. If you’re trying to sell a product or service that does not already have an enthusiastic audience, or your ideas are a little too avant-garde, you might not make many sales.
Many people become deeply committed to a niche before they have checked that anyone is commercially interested in it. It’s a mistake most of us make.
There will always be someone who’ll buy your product. But there may be too few buyers to cover your business and living expenses.
So after choosing a niche you like, check your niche has an existing, hungry market. If it doesn’t, you won’t have organic traffic and consequently reduced chances of making any money from your site.
Can I Just Write About Anything I Like On My Site?
Writing whatever comes to mind is fine for a hobby site. However, to grow your income using organic traffic you must publish content that people are actively seeking right now. You can sanity-check your choice of niche and find good article topics by doing the following:
- Check that your chosen niche has a market. Have you just started an online business without checking?
- Find relevant keywords for the niche. Did you skip this step?
- Check for any trends around those keywords. This can reveal important seasonal information or a dying or growing niche.
- Write posts on the topics described by the keywords. This can get your traffic started.
- When writing, answer questions that people interested in your niche, ask. Make your article more bookmarkable and useful.
How Do I Think Of Content For An Existing Market?
If you study Brian Dean’s skyscraper technique, you can find out more about his three-step plan for creating long posts that steadily build traffic.
I did, and I’ve modified Brian’s advice to suit what works for me. I’ll explain how I go about it below.
- Pick A Niche
Pick something you are interested in and have no problems writing about, either because you already know the topic well or because you are confident you can research it. You will be writing about plenty of topics closely related to the niche, so choose wisely.
The likelihood if you are reading this, is that you have already built your site and your niche is already picked. Now is a good time to re-assure yourself that plenty of good keywords exist for that niche. If they do not you might well have a problem building traffic and getting that traffic to buy your stuff or click on your affiliate links.
If you discover you’ve selected a sparse niche, throw it away and get a new one. The following steps tell you how to discover if your niche idea is a good one.
- Check Your Niche
Your niche is the shortest number of words you could use to identify your area of interest. For example, here are some typical niches. See how many words are used – usually between two and four words. What’s your niche?
- lace wigs
- nail art
- sports cars
- ralph lauren
- small business sales training
- premier league football
- post natal depression
- vegan recipes
- christmas gifts
- how to get published
- gifts for men
- team performance
- independent film production
- losing weight
- laser hair removal
- customer engagement
- infusionsoft consultancy
- wordpress web design
- makeup for dark skin
- counselling for copreneurs
- high speed blenders
- car design
- straw bale gardening
- dental practice
- change management
- building a computer
- personal training
- lbgt experiences
- easy diy projects
- dog nutrition
- dry stone walling
- fine wine
- mountain biking
- back pain treatment
- cheap air fares
- photoshop tutorials
- self-build houses
- vetinary advice
- toilet roll dolls
- headway themes
How Will It Be Monetised?
Whatever your niche, you must have a way to monetise it. You may be selling
- a physical item
- a live event
- a local service
- software as a service
- a downloadable product such as an ebook, or software
- a membership
Alternatively you may not sell anything directly, but instead monetise by having your visitors click on display ads or affiliate links.
Or you might get paid for leads. Whichever it is, you must choose monetisation methods that work for you and your niche.
Gauge Niche Opportunity
Suppose we have two ideas for a website. We want to build an affiliate site that will be monetised through organic traffic. This means we must produce content to attract the traffic. We have already found that there are products we can promote as an affiliate for both ideas. Our two niches are
- Headway Themes (Headway are a WordPress theme framework.)
- Ralph Lauren – (Ralph Lauren is a clothing designer label.)
I know it’s a bit artificial as Headway’s WordPress themes have become less popular recently, so I kind of know it won’t be an outstanding niche.
I wanted to show you the difference when compared to a more promising niche so you’d know what to look for.
To quickly check how good the niches are, I use SECockpit. Within 10 minutes (mostly used up while I make a cup of tea) I can see that Ralph Lauren is a niche with potential, whereas Headway Themes has little opportunity at this time, (of course this could change).
- Decide On A Seed Keyword For Your Article
Now you have validated your niche, you can concentrate on finding good keywords to use as the original source of an epic article.
So use a one, two (or at a push, three) word keyword phrase that describes the broad subject of your article, as your starting point.
For example, if you run a dental practice, your seed keyword might be teeth straightening, or tooth implants or toothache.
If you’re a small business consultant, your seed keyword might be small business software or online business or entrepreneur ideas.
If you’re a vegan food blogger your seed keyword might be vegan meringue or vegan omelettes. Your seed keyword (if you are using SECockpit) might even be any phrase containing the words vegan and cheese.
- Research The Seed Keyword
Method 1 – Keyword Research
In this method we use the seed keyword to find related keywords that have relatively little competition and a relatively large number of searches.
If you can find a keyword like that it’s known as a golden keyword.
How Do I Find A Golden Keyword?
I used SECockpit to research the seed keyword toothache. I found a keyword that is searched 22,000 times per month, and has fairly weak competition. The keyword is toothache remedy. So if I were doing this for real, I would write an in-depth article about toothache remedies.
SECockpit allows you to easily find any golden keywords in and around the initial keyword you enter. As long as the niche you’re in is searched for by enough people, SECockpit will find it.
If you want to find out more about SECockpit, read my SECockpit Review.
Method 2 – Find An Existing Popular Article
Find an existing, exceptionally popular article in your niche. Because the article is ranking well in search and is doing well in social media we can assume that the article is
- what people want, and
- of reasonably high quality.
So it stands to reason that if you create another article that answers the same questions that the popular article answers, but does it in a much better way, and to higher quality, your article should also do well.
How Do I Quickly Identify Popular Articles In My Niche?
The easiest way to do this is to use Buzzsumo. Type your keywords into the box and select the past year. You will find the most popular and most shared articles and videos for your keywords very quickly using this method.
The free version of BuzzSumo only shows you the first 10 results but that is enough for this purpose.
Find the article(s) you want to improve upon. Study the article, decide how you will make it better.
- Give The Article A Compelling Title
Get some help from Copyblogger’s free ebook How To Write Magnetic Headlines.
A good headline or title for your article is important as it can make it click-worthy. If the title can also contain some keywords – even better.
- Now Write An Epic Article
If you’re going the Buzzsumo route above, take the initial idea that has clearly impressed so many readers already, and improve on it to such an extent that people will immediately recognise its quality.
If you’re doing your own keyword research (which is my preferred method), plan a long article based around the idea of your initial keyword, exploring every angle.
What you create will have to be epic. It must be so all-encompassing that people cannot help but link to it in some form or other. They may book mark it, put it out on social media, link to it from their own sites or from forums. So how do you make an epic article?
- You make it longer than other articles.
- Make it more up to date than others
- Apply better markup so that it looks good on both desktop and mobile
- Add you own ideas
- Make your instructions, step by step. Use numbers and number each step.
Bear in mind that a long, well-researched post might take you several days to complete. That’s OK. If you could do one every couple of weeks you’d be doing extremely well.
- Internal Links In Your Epic Article
Internal linking is important for your visitor experience as well as for your SEO. As you write a long article, you’ll often think of brilliant ideas for other long articles. These will be expansions of the ideas you may just touch on in the one you are currently writing.
So it would be GREAT to link out from the article you are currently writing to the other awesome articles you haven’t written yet ….. err …. yeah it would.
But you can see there are inherent difficulties with this.
Future Internal Linking
So what are you going to do? Try to remember to come back, re-read your article and suddenly remember all the good ideas for linked articles you had?
No – you are going to markup the text as you go, at the precise moment you have the bright idea. All you have to do is a add a tag that you can search for later. Tag the exact anchor text you will link out from, like this :
I used a title value of linkoutlater on a span tag. This has no effect on your page, but you can easily search for it inside WordPress to find all the reminders to link out from.
Later you change the span tag to an anchor tag after you’ve completed each new post. By doing this you will create a valuable information trail around your site.
Imagine how good your site would be if you’d done this from the beginning, LOL.
- Easy Wins
For most of your posts you’ll want to use the methods outlined in the previous section, using Method 1 or Method 2 to come up with a good topic to base your long poston.
But there are a couple of other ways to create a less lengthy post that has the potential to generate backlinks and be shared on social media. These are list posts and beginner jargon posts.
In any niche there are always people who are interested in it, but are new to the subject. So in soccer for example there is a lot of jargon, as there is in
- cordon bleu cookery
- car tyres
- nordic walking
- pedigree dogs
- english literature
- electric bikes
- the royal family
and so on. Every niche has its jargon.
So produce a Beginners Guide To ‘Insert Your Niche Here’ Jargon article. The article will list as many of the terms you can find and explain them simply in straightforward language. A well-written article like that should generate a lot of backlinks.
It would be a lot of work to write an Ultimate Guide to “something” in your niche. But if you want to do an easier Ultimate Guide, try researching a topic and then finding the best articles to link to, that together form a round-up of ideas on a topic.
You can link to each person’s article in your round-up and maybe place a short synopsis of your thoughts on the article alongside.
You now have an excuse to email each person in your round-up and tell them about the post. They may send it out to their followers in social media and they may link back. You never know.
- SEO Your Content
- Whenever you build an article around a keyword, if the article is long and on topic you will not need to do a lot of on-page SEO as the words you naturally use will come together to address lots of long tail searches. However, there are some SEO items that you should attend to. I’ll address these in Part III.
- Promote Your Content
Brian Dean suggests the next step is to contact site owners and ask them to link to your post. This isn’t my favourite thing to do so my suggestion is don’t do it if you’re not comfortable. I think you can still build traffic without writing any begging emails.
Obviously do all the usual things such as
- You must be building an email list. So make sure you have a great email marketing system and a great optin enhancer. I recommend Active Campaign and Optinmonster respectively. Here are six clever ways to use optin forms on your site.
- Hand write the on page SEO values such as the Title Tag and Meta Description Tags
- Make sure you have an image associated with the post for the Facebook Open Graph image and the Twitter Card image so that when the article is posted on either of those networks, it is accompanied by a large eye-catching image.
- Tweeting out to your followers on Twitter
- Posting on your group page (if you have one) and fan page on Facebook
- Get a Fiverr Gig to submit your post to Reddit.
- Make a video version of your article and post it to YouTube with a paraphrased text version in the description of the video. Use keywords in the title of the video and link to the article from the description/
- Email your subscriber list and tell them about the latest post you’ve written. If you stick to writing epic posts, you’ll be unable to produce more than about one every two weeks. You can then email your list when you write a post. Just include a short synopsis of the post – a compelling couple of sentences, then link them to the post on your site. This brings traffic to your site and more backlinks when people share. If you put the entire post into the email they may never visit your site.
But I Don’t Have Many Twitter Followers
But what if you do not have a mass of Twitter followers? You could just buy some followers using a Fiverr service but they’d probably all be fake and of no use to you.
There are also few tools out there that will grow your Twitter following with people who are not really in your niche and therefore probably not very interested in what you post, so try to avoid those.
There is one premium Twitter tool that does a much better job. I say tool – it is method really – as there isn’t much automation involved. But it works. Just sign up and follow the steps.
And I Don’t Have Many Facebook Likes Or Fans Either!
Well you are in luck, as there is another cost-effective social media tool that you can use to build up your fan pages. This is a perfect tool for a blogger as it encourages you to be always seeking out content to satisfy its hunger to post on your behalf.
Again, no real automation here, just a method for making sure you do a great job.
This is a win/win for you.
While writing your long post (which will drive so much traffic your way), you will want to keep checking it as you write it, to make sure it looks good.
The best way to do that is to publish it. But the last thing you want to do is publish your post before you’re ready for the world to see it. So do what I do.
Simply set the post to private and it will be published so that only users with admin or editor level privileges can see it. When you are ready to publish, set the post to public.
The only difference is that the date of the publicly published post will be when you first published it privately. So if you take 7 days to write a long post, the publish date will be 7 days old by the time you are ready to go public with it.
You should therefore change the date of the post to be the current date just before you change its status to public.
To help you see private posts more clearly in your list of posts within WordPress, install the Post State Tags plugin.
Editing Long Posts
I work exclusively with the text editor in WordPress. The reason I do this and encourage my members at the Genesis Club to do the same. This is because the text editor gives you complete control over your content. It also allows you to be creative and forces you to learn HTML and a bit of CSS, (which isn’t hard).
However, when working with longer posts in the HTML editor, it is very frustrating to be editing something near the end of the post, and then on saving the changes, find that the editor takes you back to the top of the post.
In order to get back to where you were working, you have to scroll down, looking for the precise place you last edited.
I install the HTML Editor Syntax Highlighter. Not only does it provide HTML syntax highlighting, it also does not allow the editor to scroll back to the top of the article every time you update.
- Technical Issues
So you’ve written a great post. In order to maximise its chances with Google search, make sure you have addressed any technical issues on your site.
Make sure your site is responsive and passes Google’s mobile friendly test.
To make your site as fast as possible, my advice is to choose a simple WordPress theme from StudioPress, be careful about which plugins you choose to use, and host at WP Engine (if you use that link you get a discount).
Thereafter, once you have great hosting, check your site speed with GTMetrix. Don’t take too much notice of the grade scores. You should pay attention to the page load times and the waterfall. Make sure your Fully Loaded Time is significantly less than the average on all your most visited pages and on your home page.
Check your Google Search Console account and look at the Crawl / Crawl Errors report.
Use Screaming Frog to find any large images on your site. If you find any, remove them or replace with optimised images.
While you are at it, remove any images that are purely decorative and obviously stock. They will make your site look inauthentic.
Remove Duplicate Content
Check your site using Siteliner – although I admit the results are difficult to interpret. An easier way might be to
- Vary some of the content of your sidebars on a per post or at least per category basis
- Use Screaming Frog to make sure all the meta descriptions and title tags are different
- Unless you know what you are doing, de-index all category and tag pages.
- Old Favourites
Use the seed keyword from the previous step to find a good topic to write about, using one of the two methods below.
Fix all broken links. You can use Screaming Frog to find broken links. And make sure that all your external links open in a new window.
Find Three Blogs
Find three popular, high traffic blogs in your niche where comments are accepted. Make sure that when you leave a comment it includes a link back to your website. Then make a habit of reading articles on those blogs and commenting intelligently.
Some of their traffic will end up on your site.