“Content is king” is a phrase you will often hear about blogging and internet marketing, and it is very true. There is rarely a better use of time for someone starting out on a new site than to create good content. What is the process for doing this though?
The main way to get content to rank is to write articles answering search terms on Google related to your niche that are less competitive and under-served in terms of search results. The aim to produce content which answers these phrases better than the content that is already online. This is how you rank high for search terms on Google and drive traffic to your site, which can then be monetized.
Before you set about writing the content, though, it is important to do some basic research to make sure the article is a) something people are actually searching for online; and b) something you have a realistic chance of ranking for given the competition for that search term.
Regarding the first point, it is important to answer questions people are actually asking and not just what you personally would like to write about. Doing some Google searches online around your niche topic will reveal what people are searching for. The autocomplete feature completes certain phrases, telling you there is search volume for that phrase.
Regarding the second point, it is important to not go after search terms which are already covered by big, authoritative sites that have been around a long time. Their domain authority will be such that is likely impossible to outrank them no matter how good an article you write, especially for a new website.
It is better to target longer tail phrases that are only covered by smaller sites and forums and where you therefore have a chance of competing. Long tail refers to the longer search terms of five words or more. The short tail phrases of less than five words tend to have already been snapped up by the bigger sites and are much harder to rank for.
Income School on creating good content
Fill a Gap in the Information Market
One of the first jobs of a blogger is to fill in gaps in the market for information online. By this we mean answering questions which have so far not been answered properly in terms of the search results that show up on Google for that question or term. Look for the terms that have been under-served so far by other bloggers on the topic.
This is basically the way you decide what content to write for your site. Find out what search terms relevant to your niche are being asked online. The Google autocomplete feature which finishes off search phrases as you are typing can help with this. Keyword research tools may also help but need to be approached with caution. See our article on this for more details.
This is where some research trying different search terms can come in useful, since you can find terms relevent to your niche which have not been answered so far online, or only answered very poorly. You can pick this low hanging fruit and very easily rank if you produce even a 1000-1500 word article if no one else has really addressed the search term so far.
It is also a good idea to have some articles on your website which are purely informational, in other words, are simply providing useful information without any monetization with affiliate links.
It helps to give the impression that you are wanting to help people and not just make money and readers will be responsive to this is they see that the site is generous with helpful information and advice. This is exactly what you can do with these informational articles, directly answering questions being typed into Google that are relevant to your niche.
Help People Solve a Problem
On the monetization side, you can basically do the same thing we mentioned above, but also recommend products along the way as a solution to a problem you are addressing in the article. If you attach affiliate links to the product and the reader later buys off the site they are sent to, you will get a small commission for the referral.
This is one of the most common ways people make money off their website. The Amazon Affiliates program is the most common one that bloggers sign up to to do this. See our article on signing up. It is free and easy and instantly gives you access to millions of products on their site to promote in your content.
However, it is important not to go too far overboard with this, plastering every single article with tons of affiliate links. Google can see when you do this and treats the article as spammy if there is too much of it. Readers will also be put off if the monetization is too blatant.
Therefore, it is best to use affiliate links sparingly; once every few hundred words on average is a commonly suggested frequency. See our article on how many affiliate links to use in your content.
Again there is a good chance here to undercut the competition and provide a more helpful resource to the reader than existing content on the subject. If other articles are recommending a product, but you know of a better (or crucially cheaper) one that can sole the same problem, there is a gap in the market there you can fill to be more helpful to the reader and/or save them money.
Go The Extra Mile
In order to rank high for any search term, but especially the more competitive ones, you need to produce a resource that has something extra that other articles on the subject do not.
In others words, you need to create a more useful post than other sites who are ranking for the same search term. You also need to take into account the reputation and authority of those sites to judge whether you can realistically expect to rank at all. Going up against big, established sites is tough but smaller sites and blogs is totally possible.
There is where you can use intricate or detailed knowledge of a certain niche topic or hobby to really provide a unique resource that goes well beyond what current articles are doing to answer the question.
Even if a search term you want to target is already covered by some other sites, but you think you can do a better job, then it is still possible to rank for that term in some cases, as long as you create a better, more useful resource
In short, you are trying to create a resource that is more accessible, more helpful and easier to digest than the articles which are currently out there answering that search term. If the competition is low, then this is easy. If there is more competition for a term then it is still possible but requires you to go the extra mile to produce an even better resource.
If the current top ranking article is a 1500 word article, then try to write a 2500 word article that answers the same question in more detail, providing more information, more helpful product choices and better presentation.
Formatting and Structuring Your Articles
Another important aspect of content is to make sure it is structured properly to make it is easily accessible and digestable by the reader. There are some simple steps you can do to ensure this:
- Write in short blocks of text, preferably 3-4 lines each, to make reading on mobile devices easier.
- Create H3 subheading sections throughout your article as you move on to explaining differents things or covering different products.
- Provide a basic answer to the question early on in the article, within the first few paragraphs. Then go into it in more detail further down in the article.
- Add easy to read bulleted lists to explain product features, or directions to do something
- Insert comparison tables when relevant so readers can compare and contrast products. TablePress is an excellent free plugin that is easy to use.
- Insert high quality informative videos from Youtube where relevant to back up your points or provide a visual demonstration of how to do something.
- Add images and screenshots where relevant to break up the article or demonstrate something more clearly.
Anticipate Additional Questions the Reader May Have
One problem new bloggers can run into is that the basic question that is the title of the article can be answered in a few short paragraphs. They answer it and think “OK, so now what? I’ve answered the question in 100 words. How am I supposed to get to this 1000-1500 word limit everyone is talking about?”
The crucial thing here is to make the article as helpful a resource as possible. You may have answered the main question, but what about exceptions and qualfiers to your answer? When might the answer you give not be the case?
If the topic you are dealing which is not always cut and dried, black and white, then go into more detail about the nuances of the topic that other articles may not cover. Again you are trying to give your content something extra to make it stand out from other content on the topic. Be as helpful and detailed as possible.
Another good tactic is to anticipate, and answer, further follow up questions that you can imagine readers asking once you have answered the main question that is the topic of the article. Create additional H3 subsections which deal with closely related questions and topics that follow on logically from the main topic of your title.
For example, if someone is asking “how to turn the firewall off on Windows 7”, then answer that, but also provide more sections detailing the potential security risks of this, plus maybe how to alleviate some of these risks. Provide follow up answers that make the article more thorough and comprehensive.
There are two benefits to this. Firstly, it just makes your article more helpful and thorough, in that you are covering more bases around the topic and answering closely related questions the readers may also be interested in. You are providing a better resource.
Secondly, adding more sections helps you to get the word count of the article up to that 1000-1500 word area that makes it so much easier to rank higher on Google. That said, do not try and excessively force this just to get to 1000 words.
If you have answered the main question and follow up ones after 750 words, and cannot reasonably go any further without going way off topic, then that is fine. The article can still rank as long as it’s the best resource out there for that question.
The Mix of Content on Your Website
It is also a good idea to have a good mix of different length and type of articles on your website to cover all the different bases. It is generally advised to get a good balance between longer and shorter content and also monetized and non monetized content, to send the message to Google and to readers that the site is aiming to be a useful resource and not just make money.
Income School again have a good approach on this, recommending a good mix of different types of articles. Firstly, there’s the short, sharp response posts of maybe 1000-1500 words, directly answering a question being searched on Google around your niche. Here you are looking to answer a question and provide and useful resource or piece of information.
Within these articles, it is good to have a split, monetizing some of them with affiliate links but making some of them just purely useful, informational articles helping readers out. Having every single article on your site stuffed with affiliate links sends the wrong message to Google and your readers so it is best to have a balance.
Then you have the much longer, more in depth content, what Income School calls pillar posts, which can be 3000-4000 words long or more in some cases. This is where you really dive in deep to a certain topic, answering many different questions and covering lots of different bases, with plenty of H3 subheadings and detailed explanations of certain topics and products.
These are called pillar posts because they are what holds your site up; the big cornerstones of your content that really provide a super useful and thorough resource for a certain search phrase within your niche. Experienced niche site owners often find these much longer posts are what draw in the most traffic over time to their site.
It is also important to get the link structure right here with your pillar posts, making sure your shorter response posts link to this pillar content when appropriate. Your shorter posts are in a sense acting as funnels to direct your readers to your bigger pillar posts which really contain the useful information.
Going back through your posts once you have published them and making sure you have good internal linking between them is an excellent SEO tactic and helps get pageviews on your site up as well as make it a more helpful resource to visitors. A related posts plugin can be useful for this; there are plenty of free ones on WordPress.