It’s good to have a few trusted keyword research tools under your belt. Our teams at Content Refined are currently using two in conjunction: SECockpit by SwissMadeMarketing, and Ahrefs. We started using Ahrefs a while ago when SECockpit stopped returning results in certain fields and niches (i.e. we stopped getting results for cbd oil related keywords). Ahrefs has a ton of detail in their results, and I really like the way that they suggest alternatives.
So here are the basic steps for using Ahrefs to determine whether a keyword is competitive. For our purposes, we are looking for a few key metrics:
These are the tried and true metrics that Content Refined usually sticks to (unless there’s a unique site that needs something slightly different). We’ve talked about this before in an article about SECockpit. For that article the monthly search volume filter was set to ‘over 1000’. We’ve since found that over 500 is a valuable metric with more opportunities for a lot of sites.
For Ahrefs Keyword Research, follow these steps in this order:
I love finding new strategies and tricks for finding the best competitive keywords in any niche. For Content Refined we also go back once or twice a year and run some data analysis to see which tools are working the best. We did that last year around this time, and are currently in the process of running a new set of data analysis (I’ll be sure to share the findings for you guys).
Keep me updated about what tools and strategies you guys are currently using in the comments below!
I am excited to share a post like this… it has been awhile since I shared a detailed data driven tip on a new strategy that drives IMPRESSIVE results!
The team at ContentRefined has been doing some very impressive work lately performing what we are calling a Pareto^2 Content Upgrade and making the articles pop in terms of rankings and traffic.
This strategy is all about taking what is already working (your 20% of articles driving 80% of your sites traffic) and applying advanced tools/strategy at the right leverage points to make them perform even better!
The Pareto principle (also known as the 80/20 rule, the law of the vital few, or the principle of factor sparsity) states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.
Here is the procedure ContentRefined uses to further apply this principle with content marketing and shared for you to use on your sites! As always if you want to do it yourself we show you the results and the exact steps… however, if you want to have the team at ContentRefined upgrade some of your most important articles then contact them here.
Book a call with Laura here and receive a free consultation/report to identify which of your pages are the right pages to apply the Pareto Upgrade to!
Solid and concise keyword research is arguably one of the most important and crucial process for any money site. This is why we’ve spent a lot of time and resources trying to execute the best procedure possible to ensure that we are using the best tools on the market to help with finding keywords. Although it’s not perfect, our keyword research process is getting more refined as we use and test many different tools. We have done many case studies on the different tools we use and the predictability of ranking for that keyword given a few data points, that article can be found here.
Although SECockpit is one of the slower tools, it gives a good variety of keywords and also shows the details of the top 10 sites that are ranking for that keyword which is good when you are doing a competitor analysis for that keyword to determine what it would take to beat them (more on this below). I usually don’t just use one tool when determining the keywords I want to rank for but rather take the keywords and plug it into multiple different tools (LongtailPro, SEMRush, CognitiveSEO as well as SECockpit) and see which ones hit all the preset metrics I have chosen in each tool. This usually takes a very large list of around 300 and brings its down to under 10.
To get into the nitty gritty of how SEcockpit works, and how we’ve used it to systematize our keyword research, check out step by step procedure how SEcockpit works.
Login to SEcockpit and go to the dashboard and click on the key symbol to search for your first keyword.
This is where it gets interesting. Type in a keyword of your choice that is relevant to the your site and look at your options.
I instruct my team to select the Google Adwords ideas that are closely related and to select ‘Append’, ‘Prepend’, and ‘Add Words in Between’. This increases our chances of coming across a great related keyword. We also change Min Monthly searches to 200 but if you are going after bigger priced items that don’t get as many searches then you should adjust this.
Make sure you’ve inputted your keyword and that you’ve selected your search criteria and then click on Save and Close for the search to begin! This tool can sometimes be slow, so be patient, go make a coffee and some food and come back 🙂
We like to set the competition score to less than 30 with this tool. Ideally if you can get to under 25 that would be great.
Then, as you can see here below, we have our comprehensive list of keywords that meet our metrics:
So this is where you need to do some more digging. With this view, it looks like all of these keywords are great, but you need to click on the keyword to view a full keyword analysis which will give you more information on the other sites that are ranking for it, which, will help you determine if it’s a viable keyword for your article and whether you think you can beat those other articles.
Let’s look at the Keyword “Charcoal Pills” which has 40,500 monthly searches and only 17.25% competition score. This generally looks like a pretty golden keyword and at first glance it looks like a no-brainer to go after it.
With this comprehensive keyword analysis, the top 2 things that we look at is the DA (Domain Authority) and the Top 10 websites. As you can see below, the DA is really high, which means that the competing websites are ranking very well and getting a ton of traffic according to google. You can also perform a backlink analysis as well on your site and compare it to those other sites to see if you can beat them.
If our site is not an authority site in it’s space (which in general, most are not), then it would be a bad idea to go after this keyword because our domain will not be able to compete with the authority domain in that space. For example in this case WebMD and other very well known sites in the space.
Let’s try another keyword on the list, here I’ve chosen a Keyword that was provided to us by the tool based off of the “closely related words” function of the search criteria.
Keyword: Activated Carbon Filter – which has 5400 Monthly Searches and has a competition score of 27.39.
When we click on it for the Analysis, we can see right away that this will be a more viable option to go after than the last keyword as the DA for the competing sites are lower in general (usually is you can find 3-5 sites that have a DA less than 30).
Here, I have checked a couple of the domains and I have determined that I can definitely compete with a few of these sites as their DA is low, and traffic to their site is relatively low on SEMrush. This isn’t to say that they won’t be hard to beat, but they are not out of our reach and they are a similar site as the one we have. I’m confident that with the use of SEcockpit, I’m able to find the best keyword using its rankings, but also it’s analysis on who/how others are using this keyword in their niche.
Now that we have our Keyword (Activated Carbon Filter), we want to make sure that we have a good title for the article. Now I’ll create an article title called “Best Activated Carbon Filter for Tap Water”.
Place the competitive keywords and all of the metrics that you’ve found into the spreadsheet for that site! You can download a template of the spreadsheet here.
After I have a bunch of keywords that meet the criteria set above, I like to cross verify with a few other tools before I get the article created. No tool is ever perfect but if a keyword meets the metrics that I have set for the different keyword tools then I find that it’s very likely that I will be able to rank for that keyword with hopefully not a lot of effort. If you have any other tools we haven’t talked about or haven’t tested that you would like us to try out, please let me know!
Whether you have a bunch of sites or just one, it’s always an easy task to outsource your publishing to a VA. The one main reason why most VA’s fail is because they don’t get clear or proper instructions on the tasks you are looking for them to complete. In order to help you out, we are going to share with you the SOP that my team uses when uploading the content to my money sites.
We also have a template of the document we send to the VA to ensure each step by step is taken that you can download.FREE VA Step by Step Template
***** We have now switched to using photo stock images as sometimes these photos are labeled for reuse but have some fine print that states otherwise so please be careful.
I know when I first started off I was publishing all my content because I wanted it to be done properly and didn’t thing that a VA could handle it. After a while I found that it was eating up my time, time that could be spent focusing on other aspects of the site such as link building or other outreach strategies. I decided I would test out a VA and for the first few, they just weren’t doing what I was expecting them to do, however after I created the SOP for them, they were easily able to pick up the skills I was looking for and was able to execute perfectly. This showed me that a lot of tasks can be outsourced if an SOP is created.
What task would you love to outsource? If it is one I have created a procedure for I would be happy to share!
Building up any website takes a lot of working with writers to get the most useful quality articles possible. Across all my money sites, I work with a team of writers to keep the content new every week and to keep the organic traffic numbers growing.
As you can imagine, that’s a lot of writers to manage. So this week I thought I’d share the best ways to hire and maintain a team of solid writers, keep them organized, and keep on track with what everyone is doing.
In addition to these practises I have developed over the years many of these lessons have been learned via ContentRefined.com where we have produced over 1,000,000 words/month for clients!
I’ve talked about this before, but hiring freelance writers shouldn’t be taken lightly. You want a native English speaking, strong and competent writer with solid experience. I always ask them to do a test assignment before bringing them onto the team. Here’s an example job posting from UpWork.
To check for grammar, I always ask the applicant to fix a couple of grammatically incorrect statements. That’s a quick way to check whether they’re legit English speakers or not. If they provide some examples of their work, that’s a good way to quickly check them out as well. But the best way is to assign them a test article to really see their chops.
I stole this rule from Jack Welch, former GE CEO, about maintaining the best teams. In a nutshell, he says that you should fire the bottom 10% of your staff every year. I apply this (in a way) to writing teams to make sure that they’re always stacked with the best writers. Say you have 10 writers on a content team. Every month or so, I cut out the 1 bottom performer and replace them with someone new. Constantly refreshing teams like this has worked well for making sure that writers are on their game and not getting lazy.
Another tip with freelance writers: don’t give second chances. It’s happened a few too many times where I’ll give somebody the benefit of the doubt for a mistake or a late assignment, and sure enough they go out and repeat that bad behaviour every time. When you depend on sticking to a schedule and you really need writers to be on the ball, you can’t let anything slide. If they screw up, move on and hire someone new. You don’t have to be rude about it. Just let them know the problem(s) and why you can’t continue to work with them. It’s not personal; it’s business.
A master spreadsheet that shows the status of team members has been the most effective strategy for keeping track of everybody. I check in with a spreadsheet like this one pretty much every day to review the work in progress. If I’ve assigned something and haven’t heard back from the writer for a day or two, I’ll follow up. If there’s still no response, those articles need to be reassigned. This simple spreadsheet will save you the huge headache of confusing emails and trying to mentally keep track of everybody. Just be sure to actually update it and don’t let things slip by, because that will make things confusing really quickly. Especially if you’re dealing with 10 or more writers, and various writing teams across different businesses, you want to make sure everything is well-organized.
I also always have an editor go through every article or piece of web copy that I have written. It’s great to have a second set of eyes on any text to help with spelling, grammar, flow, and readability. It’s usually this editor who I also get to run every piece of text through Copyscape to check for plagiarism. So in this master spreadsheet, you can keep track of what’s on your editor’s plate at the moment too.
Some freelancers will want to stick with UpWork for payments for security, but more often than not our writers ask for PayPal. It avoids the UpWork fees. No matter which way your writers want to go for payments, I recommend that you stick to a consistent pay schedule. Every week at the same time of day is ideal. Let your writers know when they can expect to be paid, and keep track of the work they’ve completed on a week by week basis. Here’s an example of what that payment tracking spreadsheet can look like. In this example, payments would ideally be made on Sundays, because the weekly tracking goes from Monday to Sunday. So writers know that if they hand something in on a Monday, they won’t be paid until that coming Sunday.
Consistent work, positive reinforcement, and clear communication are probably the three main things that have helped me keep some awesome writers around for a long time. When you’re working with someone primarily through email, it helps to have a friendly tone and to be as clear as possible with direction. Mutual respect and trust is the goal.
What have you found to be the most effective way of managing writers or content teams? Are there any tools you use that I should be checking out? Let me know in the comments!