I got another request for “good keywords” and unfortunately, I can’t just GIVE anyone good keywords. It’s not about the keywords. It’s about the combination of keywords that are good for different reasons. Hopefully this 3000 word article will explain 🙂
SEO for freelance web marketers (and that is exactly what content writers are) is more than just memorizing a list of badass keywords. Sure, we all know that certain topic areas are worth more money. It’s no surprise that the $5,000 a month Suite101 lady (who started almost exactly a month before I did) writes about personal finance. Clearly personal finance is a lucrative business, so their keywords are high dollar, competitive words. But not at all easy to write about if you don’t know the subject. She happens to be a CPA.
Legal advice, auto repair and electronics are also highly profitable topic areas, but not ones that I feel comfortable (or interested in) writing about.
I have tried writing in those topic areas and the articles do well. I can’t tell my exact Suite101 article totals, so I really don’t know how much better they’re doing. I just know that having a diverse variety of topics has been a profitable strategy for me. (And I fully support & understand why they don’t tell us the totals. It keeps the site balanced. It’s a good thing)
Additionally, I have learned a lot of things from the research involved. I choose to write about things I find interesting. Because making money has been so much fun, I have tried to teach myself about personal finance and applied the strategies I was reading about into my own life which resulted in actually being able to write a few titles. I am sure that the more I learn about the topic, the better I will do, both from the knowledge and from writing about it..
Back to keywording- there’s no magic list. Sure- certain topic areas have a higher CPC. But that doesn’t mean that it would be smart to write the same title a million times. And no topic is “on top” long enough to warrant such a narrow experience. Also, with so many other writers grabbing at that keyword, the search engines will slide you slowly down the list as time goes by. (Unless you’re working to build incoming links, writing more content on the same topic and linking to your other work, giving it “authority.”
Just don’t forget the following
The fact is, that you’re writing for people who have ten million bazillion interests.
Your readers are the ones the article is FOR. You need to always keep in mind that your PRIMARY KEYWORDS in any article need to be reader-driven.
Whichever site you’re writing for will have their own SEO instructions. They know how many times the phrase will be repeated on their page. When they say something like “2-3% saturation” and “300-500 words” You need to STICK TO THAT. If you don’t know what the terms mean in their guidelines, look it up.
When eHow says that every section needs to begin with a verb, they mean it. It’s about site consistency and what works on their platform, not about you or your article. Keep that in mind.
They want your articles to make money, too, because THEY make money when you make money. They are GIVING you the secret to success on their site, in the guidelines and training. Don’t ignore it and then complain on the forums about having your article deleted. Just follow the rules. I have lost articles in eHow sweeps and without exception, every one has been in violation of house standards. In fact, I have never ever ever seen a writer who was right in their complaints of eHow article removal. The article either sucked completely, or wasn’t written in house style. If your article sucked, rewrite it before posting it elsewhere. Have some pride.
Anyway, even without a “magic list” of keywords, you can still create magic articles. The secret isn’t a matter of being a really good writer, either. The secret is in creating the perfect combination of high-income, medium traffic level and low competition. Let me emphasize that:
- -High Income (CPC)
- -Medium Traffic Level
- -Low Competition
an alternative and possibly more successful combination would be
- Low – Medium CPC
- Medium-high traffic
- Social Networking and
- ANY Competition
But we’re just going to talk through the first method at this point. I think that, for the time invested, it offers a better IMMEDIATE rate of return.
OK, the first important point is HIGH CPC. Now, this strategy does have flaws, every single keyword you choose can NOT be a high CPC word. First of all, the articles would likely be stilted, very stilted. Second, chances are that if you go google that keyword you will find a gazillion other webpages with that title, because it’s a high CPC word (which can change tomorrow, that’s another thing).
Did I forget to mention that you need to think of EVERY article as its own webpage. We’ll come back to that later, just don’t forget that your article is not going to stand on its own, it will ALWAYS be accompanied by other things (graphics, ads, toolbars, sidebars, other feeds and topics) in a repetitive framework that you need to keep in mind
OK- high CPC keywords need to be PART of your equation. Just part.
Another part of your equation was keywords with medium traffic level.
When someone googles a one-word term, they very rarely find results on the first page The one-word topic (keyword) is too big of a topic to find what they’re looking for. They might go poke around at the first few sites, but the chances of them finding EXACTLY what they’re looking for there are slim.
This is one reason why long-tail keywords are so much easier to succeed with. You’re talking to people who want specific information. The more focused a topic is, the less people will be interested.
For example. Imagine everyone in this room was searching for “teacups.” some of you would be driven by the desire to sell Grandma’s teacup collection. Some of you are shopping for teacups, some of you are shopping for teacup poodles, some of you are looking for kitchen towels with embroidered teacups on them. Another one of you is curious about the history of teacups. Some of you want printable teacup patterns and someone else just wanted to make sure they were spelling teacup right. I mean, is it two words or one?
So you want to use a middle-range search term. For every topic area this will be different. Your middle range search term might have absolutely no CPC- it might be low, sometimes it will be high.
The next important keyword is one with low competition.
A low-comp keyword enables you to EASILY rank on top. Some low comp words are also med-search, which is an excellent find.
So, let me say once again, that the keywords you need to use are
- High CPC
- MED Search Volume
- LOW Competition
At eHow, with 3-5 keywords suggested per article, that means that you need to use 1-2 of each. I write my steps in about 100 words, I try to repeat each KW at least twice in the article. I also try to use them in the photo captions, too, at least once each.
At Suite101, I choose two of each. I have a system for how many KW’s in my title, subtitle and lead paragraph as well as subheadings, captions and content. I’d outline my system here, but I’ve done it on the forums there, too. If you’re writing there, you have access to that and all their writer’s training information that you SHOULD read immediately- it’s REQUIRED. Remember, they want to see you making money.
So- even though there’s no magic list, there’s still a formula that needs to be memorized. Search engine algorithms change, SEO “rules” aren’t set in stone, if the web does ANYTHING consistently, it’s change their game, so you have to keep up. An article that does well this summer might not even rank next summer. So you need to tweak your older work periodically, too.
Here’s what you need to do. Go to Google’s Adwords tool and download the spreadsheet charts of your topic keywords. Download several charts (every column- you need to select “show all” to see the CPC’s. Focused around your topic area and also around your hobbies and interests. If you have a professional background, download those charts, too.
Paste them all into one spreadsheet and begin sorting. You’re going to want to sort the words to reveal a descending or ascending CPC value. Skim over the words and see what the range is. I try to split it into 6 sections in my mind. Color code the sections by coloring the background. Make the lowest value red, then the second lowest is orange, and continue up the rainbow until you place the highest value on the words in purple. Purple is code for “GOOD WORD” in this technique, so the highest CPC, the top income range, will be purple. You have two options for these sections, you can create six even sections or you can create value-based divisions. I prefer value-based divisions. If my highest valued keywords are in the $5-6 range, then everything over $5 is purple, $4-$5 is blue, $3-$4 is green, $2-$3 is yellow, $1-$2 is orange and everything under $1 is red. You can see, though, that in a topic area where the keyword value is higher on average (or lower on average) different divisions would need to be made.
I have an entire niche website built (my most successful one) where none of the keywords are over $3.00 – So don’t be fooled into thinking that you can’t make money with low CPC keywords. I only aim for two high CPC words in an article- for balance.
After that, sort them again, this time according to search volume. I choose the annual search volume, because I’m trying to get long term success. If I were searching for seasonal articles, I’d look at the traffic levels in their peak month.
As a matter of fact, I have a lot of homeschooling articles in my body of work, so August is my peak performance month. I have to keep that in mind and make an attempt to start writing things that peak in November (help with Xmas shopping) and level out the rest of the year. A lot of S101 writers I know are focusing specifically on Seasonal articles and seeing their annual income roll through the calendar rising and falling to the degree that each season is covered. It’s working very well for them. I’m terrible with planning ahead that way, but I can see my seasonal articles traffic levels rise and fall through the year, so I can see how that would be a successful strategy. On the “Top 50 articles” page there are always several seasonal articles listed.
Anyway- back to color-coding the search volume column…
Your rainbow in this column, will not be the same. Your “purple zone” will be in the middle. I begin by eliminating everything under 5000 and over 50,000 (annually) In popular topics, I may get annoyed with myself for ruling out so many keywords, so sometimes I do a few shades of red (magenta, scarlet) Then, I split the sections at 7000, 8000, 9000, 10,000, 12,500, 15,000, 20,000, and 35,000 to make the rest of the rainbow, with purple being the section between 10,000 and 12,5000.
Here’s the “but” You probably need to calculate these limits for yourself because the words on your list may have a different “good range” I have a few spreadsheets that aren’t purple from 10,000-12,500. For some topic areas that would be extremely low and for others it would be extremely high.
So your numbering zone would have to be customized to your topic, the example I gave was just an example. I’ve tried to come up with a “rule” for this. Really, I’ve shared my method with a few other writers and when it comes to defining perfect zones of traffic levels, it’s always an issue. In the end, every writer needs to calculate the “middle zone” for themselves.
When I choose 2 mid-range search keywords, I shoot for purple or blue words.
Low Competition keywords anchor your article in a way, making sure that it’s always on the top of somebody’s SERP. To find them you need to actually google the terms you’re wanting to use. Sometimes you can spot them easily because they’re grammatically awkward. For example, “millionaire how to become” doesn’t flow easily into any sentence. That’s going to be a low competition keyword, I’m going to google it…Sure enough, the top ranking content with that keyword are actually “How to become a millionaire” the 3rd one down on the list is actually …Top 5 ways to be a millionaire (How to become rich) So a high quality article with the term “millionaire how to become” would definitely rank well in the SERPS for this phrase (27,000 people per month search for this odd term)
There are actually 3 things you need to look at when evaluating for low competition. 1 is overall results pulled (now showing 1-10 of 1,456,987,293 results) , the other is quality of results (are the pages on the top of the SERPS garbage?) and the final one is exact terminology, so you’ll have to put your phrase in quotation marks to see exactly how many pages are using that exact phrase. In the example, there were over 9 million for millionaire how to become whereas there were about 90,000 for “millionaire how to become.”
That’s why you need to research. Once you’re familiar with the web, you’ll know which websites you expect to see in your topic areas. If you’re writing medical articles, for example, you’re competing long term with sites like web md or mayo clinic. However, if they’re the only 2 reputable sites on the SERPs (Search engine results page) then you might have a shot making it on the front page.
Another alternative perspective is that if there is a lot of interest in the topic, your article may show up in people’s newalerts. For example, if I have subscribed to a news service with the topic “recipes” meaning that I want google to send me every recipe they come across this week, the article will actually end up emailed and placed in the hands of hungry readers. It’s a good way to build organic incoming links, if your article doesn’t suck.
You’d be surprised what topics people are watching. As a matter of fact, you should go to alerts.google.com right now and subscribe to the term “we pay writers.”
Anyhow- I know that was long. I keep meaning to turn that spreadsheet color coding “rainbow method” into an ebook or something. I’ve been sharing it with people along the way and testing it out, so far everyone has been really good about giving me feedback. I just realized, though, that I’d rather give it away than sell it. If you’ve been reading my site for a while, you know that one message I always try to give is that information is free, words are free and that’s why making a living like this is really the perfect job for moms.
If you can donate, that would be excellent, with 6 kids in the house and a bazillion dollar a month bill to the dance school, I can always use the cash. If you want to remind yourself to donate after you see the proof in my method (which would be you making badass money for very little work) then please subscribe to my website (top left sidebar) and post the URL somewhere memorable, like on your site or on a writer’s forum you frequent. Alternatively, you could find my mesothelioma article and just click on the ads there. just kidding. I don’t have any mesothelioma articles at the moment, but I just learned that it’s a $99 CPC keyword, so I plan to learn more about it. If you see me publishing an article entitled “Homeschool unit study: Mesothelioma” you’ll know why.”