There are many reasons that blogs can be “stuck” in rankings:
- Not enough content
- Super competitive niche
- Bad content
- Sub par on-site SEO
- Technical issues
But today, we are going to discuss the #1 issue I see with blogs that aren’t ranking. And I’m going to discuss it in detail:
Problem: Bloggers Target the Wrong Keywords Their Blogs Can’t Rank For!
For whatever reason, most bloggers and SEO enthusiasts glaze over one of the most important parts of creating content and doing solid SEO: keyword research.
A lot of people find random keywords that they get excited about and put it on their list to write an article for.
And that’s not a keyword strategy.
That’s a random keyword scribbled on the white wall of an old, abandoned house that’s about to crumble any moment.
There’s no structure to this “strategy”; it’s literally throw shit on the wall and let’s see if it streaks down the wall.
Other bloggers will take it a step further and gauge the competition level to rank for that keyword.
You see, a lot of keyword research tools have a metric like the “SEO Difficulty” or “Keyword Difficulty” where they establish how easy or tough it is to rank for a keyword using their own proprietary formula.
Cool. But I haven’t seen that metric to be reliable.
A lot of these tools don’t have the most reliable data as I have mentioned before in the AP Zero Search Volume Keyword Strategy.
Back to the original point: bloggers choose random keywords, write solid content around it, perhaps even great content, do awesome on-page SEO and get a page that is stuck on pages 2-5 in Google.
However, if bloggers learn to be more thorough and follow a couple of guidelines, they can easily increase their chances of ranking a lot of articles super well.
Solution: Understand What Keywords Your Blog Can Rank Well
The first part of this process is to understand how authoritative (or not) your blog is before you can determine how to go about increasing traffic for it. In layman’s terms, can your blog rank low competition keywords, medium competition keywords, or high competition keywords?
For instance, a new blog that’s under 6 months old will rank for low competition, long-tail keywords whereas a blog that has been in existence for 3-4 years may have an easier time ranking medium competition keywords. Let’s discuss this a bit further.
With this step, you’re assessing which kind of keywords your blog can rank super well for. Is it:
- 0-250 searches/month?
- 250-880 searches/month?
- 880-1500 searches/month?
- 1500-3000 searches/month?
- 3000-14,000 searches/month?
See the pattern?
You want to see what level your blog is at and give it more of what it can do well.
So, if your blog is ranking well for several keywords that fall in the range of 250-880 searches per month, now you can choose keywords from 600-1500 searches per month and expect them to rank well in due time.
If your site is doing well for the majority of keywords at a certain level, you can go optimize your new articles with more competitive keywords and see how they perform.
Not determining or understanding what types of keywords your blog can rank well for and bring in traffic as soon as possible is one of the biggest mistakes new and intermediate bloggers make… and one that costs them their success.
Keep in mind that this isn’t an exact science but you want to assess how your blog is doing for the majority of the keywords based on the data right in front of you.
If you’ve written amazing blog posts targeting keywords at 800 searches per month and higher and you have a new blog or a blog that doesn’t have a lot of content on it, well guess what, buddy?
You’re going to be stuck here for a long time, if not always.
Either that or pony up for backlinks and that’s not the way the Phoenix rolls!
For every keyword that is a short-tail keyword and receives a high number of searches, you can find another variation of it in the long-tail form.
Let’s consider a few examples.
How to Find Better Long-Tail Keywords Instead of Short-Tail Keywords
All it takes is spending a bit of time with long-tail keywords (in fact, even zero search volume keywords) to know that 99% of the time, you can find a much better, super-targeted long-tail keyword with the same intent as a short-tail keyword, or hell, one with just a specific intent, period.
Using your favourite keyword research tool, put in your seed keyword, dig into keywords that receive less than 200 searches per month.
Often, this is where I find gold.
Let’s try some examples.
- litter training a cat – 720 searches/month
- how do you litter train a cat – 90 searches/month
The first keyword has a lot more competition. It receives hundreds of searches per month and a lot of big sites in the cat/pet niches as well as blogs are aiming for it. You can go further down the list and explore a close variation of this keyword; in this case, I found one that receives only 90 searches/month but if your blog can rank in the top for it, that’s way better than never ranking for a keyword that receives hundreds of searches per month.
- fishing for beginners – 1600 searches/month
- learn how to fish for beginners – 70 searches/month
- how to start fishing for beginners – 10 searches/month
The first keyword will get most people foaming at the mouth because, hey, who doesn’t want hundreds of people finding their article? But, if you don’t have a blog that’s reached a certain authority level, it won’t be able to rank for that keyword. You can aim for one of the other two and get some traffic to your article much, much faster. However, if your blog is ranking for keywords that receive hundreds and thousands in search volume, then aim for the first keyword.
- making ice cream at home – 4,400 searches/month
- making ice cream at home without a machine – 50 searches/month
Same here. Having done SEO professionally for so long, the first keyword has me super excited but the reality of getting to the top of Google with that keyword is next to nothing unless I have a super blog that is absolutely thriving with authority (it’s been in existence for years, gets awesome traffic, has hundreds or thousands of backlinks already).
If you have a new blog or a blog that’s targeting medium-competition keywords and not bringing in visitors, it’s time to adjust your keyword strategy.
As a blog with no authority, aim for keywords that are better or more specific in intent and are MUCH easier to rank for so you can see a return on investments as soon as possible.