As I've mentioned over the past couple of posts here and here (podcast), I'm still actively building niche sites. But instead of tons of small niche sites, I'm planning to build just a select few large niche sites; or as others call them, Authority Sites.
Even though the idea is that authority sites will get traffic from all kinds of sources, the reality is that Search Engine Optimization is still important for authority sites.
The minimum amount of SEO that someone should be doing for any type of site is optimizing post titles for certain keywords. This alone could make the difference between getting great traffic from Google, or none at all.
Importance of Keyword Relevancy
I've said for a long time, that the most important aspect of SEO is keyword research. In addition, I've shown how simply having relevant keywords in your titles or articles can get you to the top of Google over more “authoritative sites”; all because of keyword relevancy. This is an absolutely critical aspect to understand!
In the post I just linked to, I showed that I could rank for the term “Spencer Likes Honeycombs” with absolutely no links or other “SEO” than simply mentioned the phrase in my post. This is interesting because the sites that were in Google for that term were “Authoritative” sites. They had page rank and lots of links pointing to the pages. However, none of this mattered because they weren't really targeting the phrase, “Spencer likes Honeycombs”.
They hadn't used that exact term in their titles or content.
This is so critical to understand, because as you do keyword research, you will see sites that have PageRank or lots of links, but they still might be VERY easy to beat if they are not really relevant to the keyword.
Keyword relevancy is a big deal. In fact, the really long tail keywords usually have very few sites if any targeting the search term. What does this mean?
If you can find lots of long tail keywords that other sites are not targeting, you can rank quickly with little or no link building whatsoever.
The Strategy for Authority Sites
In reality the keyword research strategy is a lot like small niche sites, instead, each post is optimized for a new keyword. However, instead of targeting just 1 keyword for a small niche site, you can target hundreds or thousands of long tail keywords for your authority site.
This is what I have been doing for NichePursuits.com for a long time. When I go to write a post, I decide what I want to write about, then I often head over to Long Tail Pro and find related keywords. The software helps me find keywords that I may not have thought of on my own, then I adjust the title of my post based on what I found. A pretty simple tactic, but its had a huge impact on my blog.
I get a large volume of traffic from Google every single day for free from people searching for these keywords or related ones. To be exact, my site has received 10,109 visitors from Search Engines (mostly Google) in October so far (1st through 15th). That means, I get about 674 visitors to NichePursuits.com from search engines every single day! Not bad. (I get lots of traffic from referrals, return visitors, and more as well).
Oh yeah, and I don't build links to my posts. (These DO come naturally though, so I have plenty of links, but I just don't put any effort into it). Its because my posts are relevant to the keywords they are searching.
Long Tail Pro has actually always been a keyword research tool for authority sites and blogs (not just small niche sites). Over 6 months ago, highly motivating and successful blogger Marcus Sheridan said that Long Tail Pro is: The Best Keyword Research and Blogging Idea Tool I’ve Ever Seen. He gave a great example of how he researches and finds long tail keywords for his blog using the software.
This is what you should be doing for your authority sites or blog. If not, you are leaving free traffic on the table that you could have had by simply tweaking your titles and content just a little.
Specific Example of Using Long Tail Keywords
So, how does this apply directly to your authority sites or blog? Here is the strategy I am applying to my new large niche sites.
- Target 1 primary keyword that has search volume around 4k to 20k exact match searches each month (this volume could vary on the competition).
- Target 1 new long tail keyword for each new article I write on the site.
So, the article on the homepage will target my large primary keyword. Then each additional post will be about a related but different keyword that is MUCH easier to rank for than my selected primary keyword.
Lets say I decided to create a site on getting rid of bugs in your house. I hop over to Long Tail Pro and input “bugs”, “get rid of bugs”, “flies”, and “insect removal”, and hit generate keywords. This returns thousands of results, but with my filters of only keywords between 4k and 20k, I'm left with 58 results. The next step is competitor analysis, which I'll cover more in depth in another post (but you can see an old example here). But lets say I pick the keyword, “Do it yourself pest control”.
This is my primary keyword. It gets 5,400 exact match searches per month. After doing my research, I would write an in depth article about this topic. Perhaps I would title it, “The 10 Best Practices for Do it Yourself Pest Control”. This would be a sticky post on my homepage (meaning it would stay there), and perhaps each of the 10 points in my article will link to additional articles on my site.
Now, I look for secondary keywords. Again, going back to Long Tail Pro, I search for pest control related keywords. The criteria for secondary keywords is different, I want something that will require very little if any link building to rank. Therefore, I will chose keywords that have a much lower search volume. My secondary keywords will usually have an exact match search volume between 100 and 1000 searches per month.
I also ran a “Title Competition” search on Long Tail Pro to show me which keywords are not being targeted very well by my competitors. I can now very quickly see which keywords don't have much title competition. (Think of my “Spencer Likes Honeycombs” example to remember why this is so critical). If no one else is targeting the keyword, you can rank very quickly. Here's a few pest control related keywords that I found quickly that also have low title competition.
- Bed Bug monitor – 170 searches
- Flowtron bug zapper – 480 searches
- Electric bug zapper – 590 searches
- Identifying bug bites – 880 searches
- Electronic bug repellant – 390 searches
- Stink bug killer – 170 searches
- kissing bug bite – 590 searches
- Bug repellant bracelet – 210 searches
The titles I would use to target these keywords would be unique, not just the keywords themselves. For the keyword, “Bed Bug Monitor”, my title might be, “Is a Bed Bug Monitor Really Necessary?”. For the keyword, “Electric Bug Zapper”, my title might be, “How to Make an Electric Bug Zapper at Home!”. And the title for my “Stink bug Killer” article might be, “Top 3 Stink Bug Killer Products”.
I haven't really fully searched to see if these are good keywords or not; however, hopefully the principle of finding primary and secondary keywords makes sense.
You might be thinking, why would you target such a low search volume keyword? Well, trust me, these can still be profitable!
How Much Are These Keywords Worth?
For example, if you ranked #1 in Google for a keyword that only gets 100 searches a month, your site is likely to get 40% of the search volume from Google. So, 40 people will come to your site each month. Over 12 months, that's 480 visitors. If 5% of them join your list or click on ads this could be 24 added to your email list or up to $24 in revenue from ad clicks.
That's $24 for one article or 24 new subscribers. Multiple that by 100, 500, or 1,000 articles on your site and you start to see what could happen. And that's if you only target keywords that get 100 searches a month.
Obviously you are not going to rank #1 for every keyword or make a $1 per click on every click, but I hope you get the idea. Long Tail Keywords can really pay off with an authority site.
This strategy works very well for blogging and large niche/authority sites. So, if you have a personal or business blog that you are passionate about, you should really be optimizing your potential by doing some basic keyword research and title optimization. For example, I altered my post title here after looking at Long Tail Pro to what it is above. Now it targets the keywords “how to do long tail keyword research”, “long tail keyword research”, and “how to do keyword research”. I also expect that related “authority sites” searches will send me traffic. Sure, I will probably only get a few visitors a day from these searches, but it all adds up.
Even if you never build any links, you should at least be doing this type search engine optimization.
What are your thoughts? I've shared how I do basic on-page SEO here and how I am and will be performing it on my authority sites. I would love to hear your comments and questions below.