SEO for dummies
How to come up with article ideas that will rank on Google
Learning how to do your own keyword research is a valuable skill, and you don’t need a paid keyword tool to do it.
I have other posts on how to use Google to find keywords, so I won’t go into too much here.
Start by googling a generic term in your niche — a big keyword you couldn’t hope to rank for. You can refine your search by clicking on related queries either at the bottom of the SERP, or the ‘people always ask’ box.
I like to use ‘people always ask’. There’s a guarantee of at least some search volume. The gems we’re digging for are those questions that aren’t answered that well. Maybe the article ranked number one only has a couple of paragraphs that really relate to the query.
It seems like these nuggets are impossible to find, but actually, they’re not. A lot of big websites used paid SEO tools that don’t account for entire questions.
Sometimes it’s just not worth paying a writer to write a whole article that only 1000 people are looking for.
These articles are a great way to get the first few clicks through to your site.
Find crap articles
There’s a lot of rubbish out there. How we define ‘crap’ depends on the article and your niche. Perhaps the information in the top-ranked article is out of date.
Perhaps it’s just an 800-word afterthought that you could easily improve upon.
Maybe there’s a lot of numbers that are screaming to be put into an easy-to-read table.
User experience is extremely important to Google’s algorithm. Writing a longer article doesn’t necessarily mean it’s more valuable to the user, so you need to compromise. Make sure all the information that the user is looking for is neat the top of the article.
Answer the question more quickly and concisely than your competitor, and you may be able to win the snippet.
Lurk on Reddit and Facebook groups
They’re a treasure trove of information. A lot of the questions are from newbies that couldn’t find what they wanted from Google.
Do a quick search of any questions that crop up time and time again. Read the results.
Try to work out what’s missing from the articles that made taking to social media the next course of action. Then write an article that will serve newbies better.
I know it sounds unlikely, but helping absolute beginners is a surprisingly underserved aspect in most niches. Experts in their field don’t want to hold the hand of a complete novice — they don’t have time. You do though. Offer up your email address.
Create a rapport with your clients. If you help them, they’ll remember you. They can recommend you to other people. Maybe by that point, you’re in a position to charge for your services.
You do not need to be an expert to provide value — you just need to be able to solve a problem for someone else.
Provide great product reviews
I’m gonna preface this section with a slightly seedy tip: bad reviews are more popular than good reviews.
You see, to a prospective buyer, there’s always a good chance that the review is fake.
Even if the review isn’t fake, how do we know the reviewer actually used it?
And remember that if an influencer reviews a product that was sent to them for free it’s impossible for them not to be biased.
It’s easier to love free products, and you’ll always review something more harshly if you’ve paid for it, especially if:
a) it was expensive and
b) there are cheaper options out there.
Buy the expensive product. Buy the cheap product. Live with them both. For a good amount of time — like, six months.
Compare the two, and give a full review of the pros and cons of both. Put yourself in the shoes of someone that can’t afford the expensive option.
Should they get the cheap one? Is the product even necessary?
This doesn’t need to be a totally positive review to earn an affiliate click. It’s a way to earn that T on Google’s EAT criteria — trustworthiness.
This next bit turned into a rant about hosting companies, so I formatted it as a quote to make it easy to scroll past if you don’t want to read.
The reason I didn’t delete is I know that a lot of you are looking to get into creating a website, and it might be of interest to you.
I have an affiliate link for Siteground on my blogging website Stone Cold Content.
They are not the best hosting company out there, and to be honest, their customer service isn’t as good as it once was (I like to leave a ticket — I don’t have time to wait for live chat person, also I feel like I’m on the spot).
But they’re the best option for beginners, in my option, when you balance up the holy grail of hosting companies: cost, speed, and customer service. I’ve tried Bluehost, Hostgator, etc. I switched after the initial year (which is a hassle I wouldn’t have gone through if at all possible).
I personally don’t know how people who recommend Bluehost can sleep at night — I tried them, and their customer service was great (although I hear that’s not common across the board), their value was pretty unbeatable, but the site speed was crap.
That’s fine for someone that’s putting all their energy in their Pinterest strategy, but not someone that wants to spend their time writing awesome content and waiting for Google to pick them up.
I’m not saying it’ll never happen, but it’ll take ages and your search analysis will have to be perfect.
I seem to have gotten off track.
Write really awesome review posts. They are fewer and farther between than you’d think.
If you can’t afford to either go out and buy something or don’t want to wait six months to write the article, review something you already own.
This is where it really pays off to pick a niche you have at least a passing interest in.
Get more specific than the competition
It varies from niche to niche as to how you go about this, but most niches afford you the option to go brand specific. If you can’t rank for an article on the top ten affordable cars, try top ten affordable Volkswagens.
Consider your USP. You’d struggle to rank for ‘top 10 foundations for oily skin’ but you might be able to get a foot in the door if you do ‘top ten pink-toned foundations for oily skin — all under $10 and available worldwide.’
A lot of big websites are chasing affiliate commissions so will only feature certain brands. Don’t worry about monetising until you have traffic. You can always do a more monetisable brand-specific article in the future.
In the beginning, you need to put your audience before monetisation opportunities, especially if you’re in a competitive niche.
Final thoughts on coming up with article ideas
Don’t think you need to come up with totally unique article ideas.
Check out what else is out there, and try to come up with ideas that you can put a unique spin on, create more authentic content, or even just expand on what your competitors are doing.
If you go the extra mile by creating stats, actually testing products for longer than a month, and helping your target audience, it can yield awesome results (i.e. drive traffic from search engines).*
*Don’t forget that results won’t be overnight in 99.9% of niches.