How I Write Longtail Low Comp Blog Posts That Rank On Page 1

How I Write Longtail Low-Comp Blog Posts That Rank On Page 1

I started a new site on the 1st of this year and grew it to 50k pageviews/mo in just 5 months using a tactic I’ve also used on some other sites I have;

Targeting longtail informational keywords with short-form content and building no backlinks to the domain or individual pages.

You can read the latest update of that site here. It’s still only just over 6 months old at the time of writing this and has passed 130k pageviews in total.

Much like my other sites, most of the posts I wrote ranked on page one within 30 mins or so of inspecting them after hitting publish.

Now, these are low volume keywords (according to the free keyword tools I use), typically around 10-50 search per month.

Don’t expect to hit a huge home run with one post!

If you publish in volume you can drive some decent traffic to your site. Plus, the best part is that due to the nature of these types of keywords you don’t need to wait long and you don’t need any backlinks.

There are two parts behind how I construct my posts;

There is no reason why you can’t follow what I do and drive more traffic to your site too.

Regardless of domain authority, the age of your site, the niche you’re in – if you find the right keywords and write a good post, it’ll rank.

Google Search Console Data for May 2020

Disclaimer – The author of this post cannot guarantee similar results. (But it’s sure as heck likely).

How I Format My Posts and Do My On-Page SEO

Please keep in mind that you have to be flexible. No two posts/keywords are the same, some will require more/less content, images, headers, etc.

Here is a rough outline of what a typical post looks like:

  • URL/Heading
  • Intro – 50-100 words or so
  • Subheading 1
  • 200-300 words or so
  • Subheading 2
  • Image
  • 200-300 words or so
  • Subheading 3
  • 200-300 words or so
  • Related Questions (optional)
  • Image
  • 200-300 words
  • Summary
  • 100 words or so

That’s it, a pretty simple outline. This format will not come as a surprise to most of you read this with experience blogging.

Where my process does differ from what I see most people doing, however, is how I approach the specific on-page SEO of my posts.

Here is an explanation of how I approach each of the sections:

Headers and URL

I include the keyword in the URL and Header (H1). After hitting publish, I add some words to either the beginning or the end of the title to make it more “catchy”.

Note – Don’t try to force bad English into titles just to stick to the keyword. Seriously, I see it all the time. It looks bad and doesn’t help your SEO.

People are lazy when searching on Google and use bad English, use the correct phrasing yourself.

For example, if your keyword is “softest dog bed labrador”, use “softest beds for labrador dogs”.

It’s fine, Google is smart enough to know what your post is about. In fact, I think there is an SEO benefit to writing correctly.

If you’re in doubt, just look at what’s ranking. I bet it isn’t a post that has shoehorned an unnatural sounding phrase, right?

Using the above example, for a finished URL, I’d have

/softest-beds-for-labrador-dogs/

With a finished title of something like;

“8 of the Softest Beds for Labrador Beds (Doggie Approved!)”

Intro (Snippet Bait)

This is a very important part of your post, and something I do differently to what I see most people recommending.

I don’t;

  • Force the keyword into the first sentence
  • Tease people with the answer so they read on

I do;

  • Give the entire answer to the keyword/question I’m targeting right away
  • Carefully optimize my intro to maximize my chance at ranking for the snippet

For example, the keyword, “Does poison ivy cause swollen lymph nodes” (that’s the first thing that came to my head, weird, eh) is exactly the type of keyword I’d go for if I had a relevant site.

In the intro, I’d answer the question as naturally as possible.

Also, looking at what already has the snippet, they’re missing one of the keywords “lymph”. I’d work that in and increase my chance of getting that snippet.

snippet example

I’d write something like;

Despite the deadly-sounding name, poison ivy isn’t that dangerous. It can, however, cause swollen lymph nodes among some other unpleasant symptoms.

If you inhale burning poison ivy or come into contact with the plant you can expect mild, short-lived irritation to some serious swelling or blistering!

Disclaimer; I did look up some more information but the above is being used as an example and might not be medically correct. 🙂

Subheadings

For subheadings, I use a mix of keyword-focused headers and some I think are interesting and bring something to the article.

Typically, the first subheading will be designed to make the person read on. I’ve given away the answer in the intro to try and claim the snippet, so I need something to make people read on.

For the above example, I’d probably write something like, “Touched poison ivy? Here’s what might happen”. Then I’ll write a couple of hundred words relevant to the topic.

For the other headers I pick up ideas from the “People also ask” and the “Searches related to…” sections from the search results page for the keyword.

People also ask examples

Not the best and most relevant examples for this keyword.

I’d probably target the first, and maybe the third or forth questions. Using these and the suggestions at the bottom of the SERPs means you should never find it difficult to add subheading sections to your blog post.

Summary

Writing a brief summary at the end of a post is good for two reasons:

  • People are in a hurry for information and like to skim. They’ll often swipe down to the bottom of a post for a conclusion.
  • It’s a second chance to optimize for a snippet, and I get a lot of snippets using content from the summary section of my posts.

Just write a couple of short paragraphs as you did for the into. Optimize it for a snippet using all the relevant keywords that Google would bold.

That’s pretty much it for how I structure a post. As you can see, I basically optimize around one keyword and add several sections of relevant content targeting other keywords that are recommended by Google.

I don’t add fluff or try to pad out the word count. The average word count of my posts is around 800 words.

Related Questions and Other On-Page Stuff

Here are answers to some questions I’m often asked or are anticipating:

What About Internal and External Links?

I link to as many internal pages as I can that come up naturally while writing a post. Which can be as many as 15 at times as I publish to many posts.

I also always link out to high-authority sources that I used to provide my answer. I never link to sites that could be seen as competitors.

So, How Many Times Do You Use the Exact Keyword in a Post?

Most of the time I either don’t use the keyword in the post, or I’ll add it in once near the beginning just to see if it helps. But it really doesn’t matter that much.

More often than not, I tend to look at how many times the articles ranking in the top 3-5 used the exact keyword and follow suit. Which, in the case of longtail keywords is often zero times!

But, My Yoast SEO Score Will Not Be “Green” Following Your Advice

That’s right. I don’t use Yoast, but if I did most of my posts would be orange at best. A lot would probably be in the red.

Yet, most of my articles rank well. What does that tell us?

Will I Rank on Page One Using Your On-Page Strategy?

There are no guarantees, never believe an SEO that promises you amazing results with ease.

That said, if you nail the keyword research, have a site with enough content for Google to know what it’s about, and write a post even loosely following my outline, it’s very likely.

I don’t usually use screenshots from keyword tools as they are so inaccurate. However, to provide some insight you can see from the screenshot below that Ubersuggest thinks I have 1,785 keywords ranking on page one.

Ubersuggest keywords example

Taking into account Ubersuggest thinks I only get 15k traffic, and combined with what I can see in my Search Console, I probably have at least double that number of keywords ranking on page one.

All by literally writing articles exactly how I’ve outlined in this post within a few months on a new domain.


Now it’s over to you. Do you want to increase the traffic to your site without going out and begging for backlinks?

Of course you do, everyone does.

From talking with other bloggers, the biggest hurdle seems to be actually doing the work. I feel bad calling that out, but it’s true.

You have to start pushing out the content if you want more traffic.

Don’t rush or cut corners though. Write the best possible article you can citing sources and answering the question to the best of your ability. It’ll pay off in the long run (and hopefully in the short run).

Any comments, tips, or feedback always welcome!

24 thoughts on “How I Write Longtail Low-Comp Blog Posts That Rank On Page 1”

  1. Great content as always.

    Thank you for taking time to write this straight to the point and super helpful article.

    I have few questions if you don’t mind answering (would be grateful if you answer them)

    1 – My website does not have a specific niche, I picked a domain that can basically fit anything I write about and I hope that wasn’t a stupid mistake. Was it? Do extremely general websites face a hard time ranking well?

    2 – I have been posting almost everyday since 4 months and 9 days now. I believe that the articles that I have written on the website in the first 3 months were a total crap (I knew nothing about blogging). I started using your keyword method in my 4th month of blogging and I believe I am now already following all the tips you shared in this article. The problem is that I still can’t see any traffic (barely a 1 organic click a day and sometimes no clicks at all). I’ll keep doing the thing that I’m doing right now and see what happens, but my question is, do u think there is a way to know whether it’s you who is messing things up or it’s just google taking more time to get you out of what some bloggers usually call the ‘Sand box’

    I’m sorry for this lengthy comment, I just can’t stop asking things lol !!!

    1. Hey, it’s cool, I love talking about this stuff hah

      1 – I haven’t built out a general site myself, I think it’s fine but I believe Google favors sites based on how much content they have on a specific topic. If I were you I’d focus on a few categories and see which are working out best then double down on those. Unless it’s important to you to write about a wide range of things that is. See what competitors are doing something similar to you and how they’re handling it.

      2 – I’ll show you something – https://gyazo.com/812f83e93c09ccfcf95c34e4e88a0257 – that was a site I started a few years ago. More than 100 posts doing almost nothing, I left the site alone for years then added some content – about 20 posts – in March with my current style of keyword research and look what happened. 🙂

      You do have to nail the keywords and content, there’s no doubt. It does sound too early to tell with your site if you’re ignoring the first 3 months of content. Start focusing on a few narrow topics if possible though, as I said above. Treat categories like narrow niches and that will speed up how soon your content ranks.

  2. Hi Phil, great article, thank you for that!

    I have just one question about the section “Related Questions” you mentioned as optional. Do I understand it correctly that you just write down other related questions from “People also ask” that are in Google SERP for the primary keyword and then you provide short answers to them? If that is the case, do you use FAQ schema for this section?

    Thanks a lot!

    1. Yes, that’s right, John. Just some questions from Google and answers, and I’ve seen my answer appear as the drop down to the answer in the SERPs at a later date, so it works.

      I have used some schema FAQ blocks before, yes. They appeared in the SERPs as blocks of answers and looked nice, but I’m not sure if I like them or not. I don’t do them very often because I think anything like that might change in the future. Imagine if everyone spammed those FAQ blocks, they take up too much space.

  3. I have made a site for the first time and the site age is more than one year and total 43 pages and getting traffic 5~10/day.

    I have read your full website and did keyword research and wrote 2 articles.
    What I saw, my article ranks at number 6 position after publishing 4 days. (This is great for me!)

    Unfortunately, two days later I could not find my article in googles top 100 results.(No Idea why).

    Another issue in my site, my indexed articles (ranked on 13 position) are de-indexing automatically.

    Checked with search operator site:mydomain and it returns 31 instead of 43 pages but my search console show my 43 pages are still indexed and green.

    Please suggest me weather should I continue or quit investing time on this site.

    Thanks for your inspiration
    Hassan

    1. Hi Rifat

      I’ve had some indexing issues lately, a lot of people have since the last update. Don’t give up due to something like that, you’ll always find a way to fix it – or it’ll resolve itself.

      If you content is ranking well, keep on going!

  4. Hi Phil,

    thanks for this article… super informative

    Using the example you provided above…about rabbits…can I have one category just for rabbits and write everything about rabbits…then much later create more categories and expand to other animals?

    1. Yeah, for sure. If your site is about rabbits, you should split out categories for different breeds, housing, food, etc. If you’re going more general, then use categories for other pets.

  5. Great article!

    I was wondering. Does it make sense to go after long-tail keywords with 0 volume searches?
    I see that you have done well with a couple of them, but is it a good strategy to target them in general?

    I ask because I find a lot of them that I can rank for easily on the first page while even the words with 10 searches per month are harder to find in my niche.

    I don’t want to waste a bunch of time writing articles for them if it doesn’t make sense.

    What do you think?

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Beth, I’ve had good success with zero volume keywords, yes, so I do go for them sometimes. It’s basically a judgment call, the more possible variations there is for that keyword, the more likely it’ll rank for more keywords. Plus, sometimes, keyword tools are just totally wrong, but again, it’s a judgment call if you think it’ll get search.
      I always suggest people try some.

  6. Hi Phil great content and I appreciate it. I do understand the concept of low volume / low competition keywords and how to blue print posts from reading all your stuff.

    Now I know this isn’t going to happen overnight. Looks like content is the primary factor in this after you’ve done your keyword and competition research.

    I don’t consider myself a good writer maybe I am don’t know. I was looking into outsourcing content but that can add up at around $20-$30 per article.

    How much initial content is recommended to get started and how much content thereafter after the initial content?

    Thanks!

    Marc

    1. Hey Marc
      That’s such a tough question, because everyone really wants is a positive ROI on content, right?

      If I’d paid $25 per article for say 300 articles, that would be $7,500. Which, valuing my site at around $18,000 means it would have been worth it for sure. But it would take a long time to pay back in monthly revenue, more than a year probably.

      So, using these really approx numbers (anything can happen) I’d go with as much as you can afford, and keep in mind it could take 12 months + to return in value. But the sooner you get the content up, the sooner it can start paying you back.

  7. Hi Phil!

    I’ve been trying your method for a couple of weeks now on a new site with zero backlinks. I made a total of 20 posts with an average of 900 words. I was wondering why my post is getting a lot of impressions and clicks one day and then all of a sudden would be zero impressions. Is this normal? It’s kinda hard to stay motivated when I’m looking at search console and seeing that I’m not ranking on anything. I would love to hear your input on this!

    Thanks,

    1. Hi Mj

      No, that’s not normal. Something has gone wrong there, and it’s likey to do with how your posts are indexing. You should be able to find out why in your search console, check if your posts are being excluded for any reason.

      1. Nothing seems to be wrong from the console. Although I recently removed AMP from my site because I’ve read that most sites don’t really need AMP. Is that why I’m not ranking anymore? Should I turn it on again?

        1. You’re right that AMP isn’t needed. Not sure if that’s the problem though. If your clicks and impressions are zero something is definitely wrong. Could be so many things, it won’t be related to your content though, especially if it was performing before.

  8. Hey Phil,
    Great content as always, you are few of the bloggers, whose strategy really work. I am using the same strategy for my entertainment niche site, where I write about upcoming movies and TV series. But recently, I’ve been thinking of starting a blog/website in a cryptocurrency niche. I want to ask is that cryptocurrency niche being so competitive, can I use the same strategy for this niche? Will it work for this niche?

    1. Hi Karan, yeah I’m sure it would work. In fact, I don’t know Crypto well, but I’m sure there are a lot of specific questions that need answering, right? Even better, I’m sure there are new questions all the time as it’s a progressive niche?

  9. Hi, what is the source of your content? Say you have found those long tail keywords from google related questions abd forums like quora but the answers put out there are short.. do you try your best to paraphrase all the relevant info and put them together in your words? Suppose that we arent experts to all the topics we write abt

    1. Hi Carol, I do everything I can to provide a more detailed and helpful answer. Sometimes I email companies for more information on their products, I talk to business owners locally related to my niche, dig through studies online, and so on.
      You don’t need a detailed knowledge of your niche. The goal is often to provide a better optimized answer for a query. You do have to make sure you’re giving the right answer though, of course, and I always link back to sources of information.

  10. Hey Phil,

    Recently, found out about your Adsense experiment via Google and the whole “Longtail low comp” keyword thing. Read it at around 3AM then quickly wrote a post covering a 10-Volume keyword and published it around 4:30AM.
    It got indexed after one day and is already sitting at position 6. The only results above me are some pages from the official website (completely unrelated to the keyword though), and one Reddit discussion about the keyword.

    Do you think it’s possible to outrank Reddit or do I have to accept that won’t happen at all?

    1. Hey Dilawar, love to hear you took action so quickly like that and saw some good results.
      I don’t see Reddit as a big competitor, unless they also have the exact match, I tend to think I’ll outrank them – although it might take time.
      Reddit posts just aren’t usually as in-depth. Even if it does outrank you for that one keyword, it won’t have all the other keywords you included I bet.

      1. That’s true. I think If I can show up on page 1 in a day then in a week or month I’ll definitely snatch the top position because no one on the page has anything regarding the keyword.

        Thanks for the idea! Looks like I’ll focus on some low-comp keywords along with some high/med-comp for building better authority in the eyes of Google.

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