I’ve been blogging for almost five years now, and I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks, especially within the last year.
This website was originally an online portfolio where I could share my writing, photography, and artwork. As I geared up to release my first novel in 2018, the blog took on a new aspect. I wrote about my self-publishing adventures, and to my surprise, I started connecting with more and more writers and indie authors.
I began working in ecommerce in early 2019 and started to understand more about SEO and how web optimization can drastically increase traffic to a website. In the summer of 2020, I really started educating myself. I joined an online program that taught lessons about the importance of SEO and micro niches, as well as how to start leveraging affiliate marketing to monetize a website. And in February 2021, I was hired as a content creator writing SEO articles.
In this post, I’m going to talk about what I’ve learned in regards to pairing SEO with a micro niche to help your content rank in search engines. I’ll talk about affiliate marketing later in a future post.
What is SEO?
SEO stands for search engine optimization, which means optimizing your content to rank well in search engines. That used to mean cramming as many keywords onto web pages as possible, but now, Google and other search engines actually penalize websites that try to shove tons of keywords into poorly written content and cheat their way to the top results.
For bloggers who are serious about the quality of their content, that’s great news! Good content is what search engines are looking for.
High-quality SEO writing needs three main components:
- Relevant, well-written content
- Keywords that have decent traffic and low QSR
- A target audience within a micro niche
What is a Micro Niche?
A micro niche is a specific target audience. The micro part is key when it comes to ranking on search engines because it reduces your competition. For example, instead of targeting sports, which is a massive audience, narrow it down to a single sport, and then you can narrow it down even further:
Sports > Basketball > Basketball Drills for Beginners
For the first four years of this website’s life, I had low but somewhat consistent traffic. The problem was, I wasn’t writing for a targeted audience; I was just sharing my personal writing and occasionally musing about different aspects of being a writer. But when I started documenting my journey as an independently published author, I noticed my numbers were going up.
Why? Because I’d accidentally stumbled into the micro niche of self-publishing.
Once I examined the analytical data, I realized that my top two posts, which were reviews of B&N Press and IngramSpark, were a clear indicator of my micro niche. These posts were insanely popular in comparison to my other articles because prospective authors were searching online to learn more about independent publishing, and my review posts were coming up in their searches.
As the pieces started to click together, I revisited those old posts that were performing so well and added extra keywords and backlinks to help give the SEO a boost.
How to Search a Keyword (with Examples)
Quality content is great, and keywords are a must, but you can’t rely on one or the other; you need to use them both effectively in order to achieve prime search engine optimization.
Keyword research is a critical component of SEO writing.
Once you’ve identified the niche your blog is going to focus on and then brainstormed content ideas, you need to know how to search a keyword. Luckily, there are online resources to help you do that.
One of the best keyword research tools that I like to use is Jaaxy, which helps you determine if the keyword you’ve chosen is strong. It also recommends similar keywords and phrases so you can scope out the best options. I also like Semrush to analyze the ranking keywords and organic traffic on my website (as well as competitor’s websites).
Other free keyword research tools include InfiniteSuggest, Kparser, and Keywords Everywhere, the last of which is a Chrome/Firefox extension that generates keyword ideas based on the webpage you’re on.
Check out Backlinko’s review on their top 15 picks for the best keyword research tool.
Now that you have access to some tools, here is how to search a keyword:
1. Understand your audience and their search intent.
Before you start researching keywords, you really need to know your intended audience and why they’re searching for information in the first place.
For example, let’s say you own a pizzeria and are thinking about targeting the keyword “wood-fired pizza.” If you’re going to successfully connect with your desired audience and benefit from that keyword, you need to know the intent behind their search.
Do they want to find a local restaurant that serves wood-fired pizza? Are they shopping for an outdoor pizza oven to bake it themselves? Are they looking for a delivery service? Online recipe? You need to know which audience you’ll be targeting so you can deliver the most useful and relevant information.
2. Define your micro-niche topic.
We’ve already discussed the importance of a micro niche in order to target a smaller audience with specific intent and less competition. Look at your brand, audience demographics, and the topic you want to write about. Then, consider if there’s room to narrow your focus.
For example, instead of targeting “knitting,” which is a broad topic that encompasses a lot of different search intents, consider “how to knit a blanket” instead as your article topic and primary keyword phrase. It’s specific, and it will attract readers who are actively searching for exactly what you have to deliver.
3. Create a list of keywords centered around your topic.
The best place to start with your keyword research is a list of possibilities. Think of a few general keywords and then define them better with adjectives and phrases to make your article more targeted, as we did with the knitting example above.
4. Use a keyword analysis tool to uncover a potential keyword’s:
- Average searches: the number of online searches for a keyword per month
- Traffic potential: how many monthly visitors you can expect to visit your website if you land on the first SERP (search engine results page)
- QSR (quoted search results): the number of competing websites ranked in Google for that particular keyword.
- The KQI (keyword quality indicator): the keyword or phrase rank based on traffic-to-competition ratio in addition to other factors.
This information will give you valuable insight into whether or not a keyword is within targeting range. Your best bet is to seek keywords that have normal-to-high traffic and low QSR, aka low competition for high-performing keywords.
Let’s look at the screenshot from Jaxxy below to better illustrate the analysis process:
I started by searching “keyword” to spark ideas. That keyword by itself isn’t the best to target, which isn’t a surprise since it’s so broad.
From the first suggestions of alternative keywords, the research shows us that “best keyword tool” is also not one we should be spending our energy trying to target. Why? The average monthly search for that keyword is only 189. We’d be competing with 300 other ranked websites to fight for a spot on the first SERP, and even if we did manage to land a coveted feature on the first search results page, the estimated monthly traffic would be only 33 visits to our website.
In comparison, “how to search a keyword” has an average of 615 searches per month, and only 50 other ranked websites are actively competing for that keyword. We have a much better chance of landing on the first SERP, which would bring in a predicted 105 website visits — definitely preferable to 33 from the other keyword. Our KQI tells us this is a good keyword to target.
5. Find similar keywords and phrases to target within the same article.
This is where keyword research tools can help you by showing a list of potential keywords and phrases that are similar to the specific one you were searching for. You can take a more strategic approach rather than a blind shot in the dark.
But, in addition to knowing how to search a keyword, it’s also important to be strategic in your keyword placement.
Google’s primary purpose is to provide relevant, useful content to its users who are searching for information. If you repeat the same keyword in every sentence, your writing is going to sound robotic and unnatural, which will negatively impact your SEO.
However, if you have a handful of keywords you’re targeting, it’s easier to slip them in with enough variety to make both Google and your human readers happy while still achieving your SEO goal.
The truth is, there is no perfect keyword density formula. Some experts recommend placing your primary keyword(s) in:
- The post URL
- The post title
- The first paragraph (or first 100 words)
- One or more subheadings
In most cases, as long as you’re writing naturally but focusing on the specific topic and slipping a handful of your top keywords into your post, you’ll be in good shape.
If you’re interested in seeing keywords in action, you can go back and see how I incorporated two targeted keywords from the Jaxxy report — “best keyword research tool(s)” and “how to search a keyword” — throughout this section of the article. I also used the targeted keyword phrase in the subheading and article title.
6. Follow up with analytical data to measure your progress.
Be patient, as it can take some time for Google to crawl and properly index your website, but you should run regular analyses on your website, organic traffic, and top keyword rankings (I recommend Semrush for this).
Pay attention to which of your content marketing campaigns were successful. What are the top ranked keywords for your website? That can be a good indication of which segment of your audience is the most engaged and where you should be focusing on future content.
Which keywords fell short and didn’t receive the high ranking you were hoping for? Is there potential to revisit those articles and give them an update so they’re more targeted and relevant?
Proper SEO copywriting creates content for both Google and humans, which means there’s a fine line between using your keyword enough for Google to find it but not overusing it to the point of annoying your human readers. Just remember not to force keywords into the content in an awkward way that breaks up the flow and doesn’t sound quite right.
Note: expect at least 3-6 months before you start to see ROI from your keyword-targeting SEO content marketing strategy.
Best SEO Writing Practices for Bloggers
If you’ve made it this far, you’ve already got a pretty good grasp on ways to optimize your content and start ranking in search engines. Some additional tips to maximize your website’s SEO:
- Break up long text with subheadings.
- Use bold text to highlight important points.
- Add both high-quality internal and external links into the content. (If you’re not sure whether a resource you’re linking to is high quality, use Alexa to analyze the website URL. Results that rank below 100,000 are good to use.)
- Utilize images, videos, charts, and infographics.
- Avoid long paragraphs.
- Use bulleted and/or numbered lists.
- Add transition words such as then, finally, in conclusion, et cetera.
- Use numbers in your title to catch people’s attention. Popular ranked posts often use this technique:
- 7 Guaranteed Ways to Boost Your SEO
- How to Write Good Content: 10 Steps for Successful Marketing
- 15 Common Practices to Increase Website Traffic
Implementing these tips, in addition to focusing on a targeted micro niche and writing awesome, keyword-rich content, is going to have a major impact on your SEO, which will translate into increased web traffic.