How To Write Your First Blog Post – And Rank!
Creating your first blog post and getting it to rank can be easy, if you do it the right way. In this guide I am going to show you what you need to do and delve into what Google wants from you.
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There are 3 stages involved in writing a blog post and getting it to rank
1. Research - Finding keyword terms you can easily rank for.
2. Writing The Content - Writing content that is the best possible content for that keyword.
If all the other posts on page one of Google are 2000+ keywords… go to 2500 and cover everything in more depth.
3. Improving your Google Ranking. Getting onto the first page is just the start.
Constantly updating your content and getting relevant backlinks are what will get to the #1 spot.
If you do the first two correctly then you won't need to spend much time and effort on the ranking part which is by far the part where most people fail.
Ranking usually comes down to getting backlinks and having the most relevant content. However as I'll show you in this guide sometimes you don't need many backlinks at all.
If you set about things the right way from the start that getting your posts to rank on Google can easier than you think.
Content = The Buy In
We all want to rank well on Google, doing that ensures that we’ll get traffic. Traffic generation visitors and income.
Nothing will kill your motivation quicker than having no one come and read your well crafted articles.
It's a sad fact but 95% of all blogs don’t get updated after 6 months. They then slowly die a long lingering death.
Let’s avoid that and ensure that all your content ranks on the front page of Google.
This starts with writing the right content.
To steal an analogy from Poker.
Your content is the buy in, it's gets you a place at the poker table.
Now if you did your research before you wrote the content then you may well be at a table with players of a similar level as you.
You now have a great chance chance to win.
On the other hand without research you may have ended up playing against players with far more experience and skills.
The chances are you are walking home in your underwear tonight!
Let me make a confession here, the topic of this post took over an hour to find, there was no way I was going to be able to rank for my first 15 ideas.
Finally, I found an angle that would work “how to write your first blog post”
The original article was going to be “How to write a profitable blog post” which I’d struggle to rank for to be honest the content isn’t very different just the approach.
The Google Bonus
Google’s algorithm is superb and working out what related keywords your content can rank for. As a result your often find your articles rank for keywords you haven’t even included in the content.
The result is your 1500 work article can rank for 800-2000 different keywords.
This is why I rarely worry about how much search traffic my main keyword gets. “How To write Your First Blog Post” gets around 350 searches a month.
However we’ll also rank for “First Blog Post” which will potentially get 1600 and isn’t too difficult to rank for.
If you wanted to write a post and compete for the keyword "Best Keyword Tools" You'd first need to write the best possible piece of content, then you'd need to get a lot of links for it.
Would you like to compete for that?
The top article has 881 backlinks and a high domain authority ranking.
You'd be looking for 455 backlinks just to get into the top 10.
It's not impossible but it will take a lot of time, the top sites gets 20,000 visitors a month to that keyword and ranks for 2,200 keywords.
Over time your blog will get backlinks and with luck in a few years time you’ll be able to compete against other well established blogs but for now Pick The Battles You Can Win
In each niche there are lot's of keywords you can rank for with very few backlinks. One mistake a lot of bloggers make is they go after these without considering what the person searching for actually wants.
Google understands “search intent” so where possible they will show relevant sites
As an example lets look at the world of: Golf Shoes.
Here we have a search term with 38,000 visitors a month and a relatively easy keyword to rank for.
At this point many bloggers would be getting excited..
“Wow I only need 15 backlinks to rank for Golf Shoes.. Pass the Lamborghini catalogue”
However just have a look at the search volume figures on that image, only 62% of people clicked on the search results, seems a bit low doesn't it ?
In my humble opinion the search term is too "wooly" there really isn't much search intent going on there.
If you type in golf shoes it doesn't give Google much idea of what you really want..
Hence you can see a variety of topics in the results.
But what If you went more specific?
Let’s look at “Waterproof Golf Shoes”
We can rank with no links!
It looks like we are getting somewhere with Waterproof Golf shoes.
Great let's create an article on waterproof golf shoes and we should rank with no links.
Not so fast Tiger!
Who do you think will rank at the top of those search terms?
Well, have a look..
Yep.. stores because Google rightly thinks that people who search for Waterproof Golf Shoes are looking to buy, you may not need links to get onto the first page but the domain authority of those sites will keep you off the top.
Let's look at the lower ranked sites
Yep there we are, low domain authority and only a couple of backlinks. And a MASSIVE clue to what maybe our best bet at ranking highly.
Did you spot it?
Yep "Best Golf Shoes", at this point in the buying cycle google knows that people who search for Best <Keyword> are doing research they don’t want to go to a store and buy they want to find out the pros and cons of a variety of options.
So they won't send the searcher to a store they send them to a site where they can complete their research.
And if you have an article that compares different products and add a few links in there, you are well on the way to having an article that ranks well and earns you money.
In the top 5 rankings we still have dicks sporting goods mainly because they have a page called best golf shoes but if you look at the others it's not going to be difficult to knock them off their perches.
In fact the final site in that image came from nowhere in the past few months and has the knowledge box at the top of the listing.
It’s also a great example of a site ranking for a keyword it’s not targeting.
In this section of the article I want to step back a bit and look at keyword research in a bit more depth.
Get your research right and you’ll have traffic and sales. Get it wrong and no one will ever see your site.
Many people fail to realise that Google’s algorithm is very clever.
As we saw it knows what you are writing about and knows that people who search for "Best Golf shoes" may be interested in "most comfortable Golf shoes" so it will rank you for both.
In fact it's not unknown for articles who are targeting just 1 keyword to rank for thousands of keywords.
So focussing on a competitive keyword that get’s 20,000 views is not always the best way forward.
Start by researching for keywords that can rank of the first page in google and don't pay any attention to the search volume .. it's not always accurate anyway!
The following Video is a quick look at how to rank and how to do free keyword research
The following piece of research too me less than 5 minutes to perform. I call it the Low Hanging Fruit Method
1. I searched for the keyword:Golf
2. I refined that down to articles with golf in the title that had zero backlinks, were getting over 1000 visitors a month and had a domain rating below 30.
This gave me this (plus several others)
That is an article that gets 2,100 visitors has zero backlinks and a low domain ranking.
Think you could compete with that? Hell yes!
Next Step was to check out that page:
Below we can see all the keywords it ranks for all 1078 of them.
As a bonus we see an estimate of the traffic for each keyword , the keyword difficulty and where they rank
So now we can see that best golf shoes is a good keyword where we can get a lot of traction quickly.
So let’s now look at the site as a whole is it something we can go up against, and is it a good niche in general
Well , why yes it is!
Below you'll see an overview of that site Only 391 backlinks throughout the whole site from 112 domains. 33,000 visitors and 19,000 keywords.
If we wanted we could pull all those keywords and plan our content for the next year.
Now we are cooking on gas... how about we look at what that site ranks for once again this will give us an idea of what we can rank for easily in the next month or two.
And here we go.. 134 pages with all the keywords, positions, and traffic.
Think you could go up against this site?
As I said that piece of research took me just 5 minutes, imagine if I selected 10 keywords, and researched every site on the front page of Google, for each of those keywords over the next 2 weeks.
Do you think I would have a solid game plan that would help me drive lot's of traffic to my site and make sales?
Even if you didn't sell affiliate products with good traffic you could use Adsense or Ezoic on the site and just focus on building your traffic.. (GET TRAFFIC FIRST BEFORE ADDING ADS!)
I am using Ahrefs to do my research, it comes with quite a large monthly fee that may be out of a lot of people range when starting out.
However there are lots of tools that are cheaper or even free that can do a similar job.
A Cheaper Solution is Serpstat, it does a lot of what ahrefs does and has some good videos to help you get started.
Initially you are just looking for keywords with low competition that you can write articles around.
Free Keyword Research
The following method is free and should be enough to get your started
Have a look at Keywords Everywhere it’s a free chrome plugin that will show you the stats behind every search you do on google and the content on any site.
Team that up with Answer The Public and you can see what questions people are searching for and the search volume.
Finally grab the free “Moz bar” another chrome plugin and you’ll see how strong the sites ranking in google are.
Creating Content That Ranks
Now that we’ve looked at researching your keywords it’s time to move onto content
Your content needs to be better than the sites you are going up against, it needs to answer the questions the searchers are asking in depth (Search Intent)
The time when you could write 500 words of nonsensical content and rank on google is long gone.
Now the top 10 articles in google are "Generally" the best articles at least they are in the niches and keywords we'll be focusing on.
You have already seen that you can generate a lot of traffic with very few links so long as you research your keywords.
Google tends to rank the articles that answer the "Searchers Intent" above ones that it considers doesn't provide a good answer. We are going to give google what it wants.
Imagine if I wrote this article and didn’t mention keyword tools, Google would compare this article against others and realise that I missed a vital part of the process of creating content that ranks and put my article below articles that covered it.
NOTE: The easiest way for me to demonstrate how to approach writing content to you is to look at an existing piece of content.
Take the idea i show you and create your content, then revisit it every month and tweak it until it ranks at #1
There are thousands of ranking factors in at play in Google’s algorithm, it's impossible for you to know what counts in most cases but in some cases we can make an educated guess.
On Page SEO
These are 4 factors we can control, if we do away with the need for backlinks to get onto page 1 then the rest should fall into place.
Good On Page SEO will simply allow google to know what your article is about, to do this use the Yoast Plugin or Webtexttool and follow their guidance.
NOTE: There is no need to stuff your site with keywords any longer google has you covered.
Loading Speed - Your site should load at a similar speed to the sites ranking in the top 3 , you can check this using GTMetrix.
Below you see the score for an article where I rank on the first page compared to the #1 ranking site.
Over the rest of this article I'll be looking at how I can move higher in the rankings.
As you can see they are very similar so I am not too worried, I will try to improve my speed but it's not a priority.
If you are yet to publish any content then you are at a slight disadvantage. A lot of what I am going to show you relies on seeing how your content is performing once it is indexed.
You may currently have a choice about whether to use an existing site or to use a brand new site.
I would always recommend using a pre-existing site wherever possible, it just makes live so much easier in the long run.
If you do use an existing site look at doing a content audit and making the existing content the best it can be for your main keywords.
Like many bloggers I have a lot of old sites that I’ve abandoned that have low quality content. Running a content audit on these sites can be a very useful exercise.
You can merge articles, delete them totally or improve them.
If you are creating a new site with fresh new content you MUST make the content better than the top ranking sites in order to rank on the front page.
Follow the exact same process I follow below and you won't be far off.
Know your competition, analyse the top ranking articles, create better content and hold on tight. Here is where it get complicated , so fasten your seatbelts!
TIP: There is actually something to be said for constantly updating content, it keeps it fresh in googles mind.
Initially create the basic article and see where it's ranking in a month, add some more content and try to move it higher. Each month rinse and repeat until your articles is the best on available.
I have an article called "How To Come Up With A Blog Name" unfortunately google ranks this at #4 for "Lifestyle Blog Name" a difference of almost 800 searches.
So we have some work to do there.
The sites that rank well for both those keywords are my rivals so we need to analyse them.
How many words has each article got.
What topics do they cover
When I do this I can immediately see that my article is 1400 words log and my rivals are around 2400 words long...
Step 1: I need a rewrite and I need to add 1000+ words.
But is it worth the effort?
I currently rank for 159 keywords with that article but the other sites rank for 4000 -8000
So by extending my article I should rank for more keywords and therefore generate more traffic.
My rivals articles are attracting thousands of visitors a month (6000+ in my direct rivals case)
By now it's obvious that Google sees several articles as superior to mine so I need to improve my article but how?
Simple, Analyse the content that is ranking what topics are they covering?
Create a list of all the topics you can find and then do the same for your article.
What you have here is a "Content Gap"
My job is now to close that gap by adding extra content that covers those topics and gives me a better change of ranking higher.
Here is a content gap generated for my site that contains 122 suggestions about what they cover and I don't.
You can do this manually and I suggest you do as you'll know instinctively what you are missing.
Simply go to your rivals articles and make a not of the headings and subheadings then compare them to yours. This is actually my preferred method of doing this.
Ultimately all this effort is about ranking higher and getting more traffic , which means more subscribers and sales.
Position #1 is probably out of my reach at the moment simply down to Domain Authority/ Domain Ranking. But I can see that one of the sites that ranks at #2 for one of my keywords is a lower DA than me and has fewer backlinks compared to my 1 link!
That jump of 2 places equates to over 500 more visitors a month.
The only difference is their number of words 2200 to my 1400 and google’s perceived search intent.
Let's go get her!
In the previous 2 articles I looked at researching your keywords and creating content. I mentioned that if you do the first 2 steps correctly then your need for backlinks is reduced.
Google wants it's readers to find the best content, so if your article is more in depth and answers what the searchers intent is then you'll get a ranking boost and maybe even get to the top of the rankings.
Of course if you've decided to go for a keyword with lots of competition then you'll need more than just great content, so in these cases lot's of other factors come into play one of which is the number of sites that link to that article.
Google interprets these as a level of authority.
As you've seen above you will probably need a few backlinks to get each article to rank and stay there.
Even if you rank at number 1 with no links you are a sitting target to anyone else to come and build a few more links.
My advice is to create a spreadsheet of where you can get free backlinks, then for each article start to build links over a few weeks.
You can get free links from lots of resources, for example once your article is indexed by google do a summary and post it on medium and link back, same with tumbler, and wordpress.com. Create a slideshow or pdf of the article and post it to slideshare.
Create an audio version and put it on soundcloud etc etc etc.
It won't take you long to get 20 backlinks.
Then it's time to find out where you rivals are getting links from.
Here are all the backlinks that Golf Influence have (the site about golf shoes). I've used ahrefs but there are many other tools that will help you do this.
It won't take much to get similar ones or even ones on the same site. (I actually think that these guys MAY be using a PBN (private blog network) I don't recommend this as it can reduce the value of your site when you come to sell it.
Outreach takes time and very few people do it, the ones that do are the ones that sell their sites for mid six figures.
Once you have a system in place then it can be a simple process or pressing a few buttons and waiting for results.
Tools like Mailshake and Ninja Outreach make the process easy by monitoring responses and sending follow up emails.
Outreach is one of the tasks I'd have no qualms about outsourcing.
Here are 3 of the ways you can get good quality links, there are many others
Once you have posted you article, tweet and message all the influencers in your niche the link, you can also do this in advance to build a bit of enthusiasm.
If your article is good they may link out to you.
In the image below we can see that there are thousands of broken links going to problogger. These maybe because they did an audit and merged or removed pages.
Reach out to the blog owners and let them know their links are broken and offer an alternative on your site.
Many sites have a link where you can submit content as a guest post, search them in google then reach out to them with ideas for articles:
^.5 Million results for golf... enough for you?
I hope this guide proved useful to you.
Follow this and there is no reason why you can't build yourself a blog that ranks for multiple terms on google.
Whether you are blogging for passion of profit getting off to the right start is important.
Creating a solid foundation for your blog will allow you to grow a blog you can be proud of.
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