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;
- Finding low-competition longtail keywords (which I’ve already covered in this post)
- Writing an article with good on-page SEO (which I’m covering in this post)
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.
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:
- Intro – 50-100 words or so
- Subheading 1
- 200-300 words or so
- Subheading 2
- 200-300 words or so
- Subheading 3
- 200-300 words or so
- Related Questions (optional)
- 200-300 words
- 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
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.
- Force the keyword into the first sentence
- Tease people with the answer so they read on
- 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.
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. 🙂
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.
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.
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.
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!