Two years ago, I published the first blog post in a series of 16. The series was about the Myers-Briggs types of fictional characters from books, movies, and television. At the time, I was an SEO newbie and barely knew what I was doing—I used the Yoast SEO plugin to target short-tail keywords I never had a chance of ranking for.
Today, six of the blog posts in that series rank #1 on Google, and the rest rank on the first page of Google’s SERPs. They don’t rank for the keywords I originally targeted. Instead, they rank for closely related two- and three-word keyword phrases.
But here’s the interesting thing: I rank #1 for a couple of keyword phrases that I shouldn’t be able to rank for according to Yoast. I wasn’t trying to target those keyword phrases, and I did a terrible job of integrating them into my blog posts.
Basically, I ranked #1 on Google multiple times by accident.
How did I do it?
Two years later, now that I’m far more educated about SEO, I’ve discovered the secret that landed me in that #1 spot multiple times.
It’s all about choosing the right topic to write about.
What I didn’t know when I decided to write that series is that the Myers-Briggs personality-typing system is a wide-open topic for search engine domination.
Loads of people search for Myers-Briggs-related content every day, but the number of content creators writing about it is still relatively low. This creates a sweet spot where there’s high traffic and low competition.
Keywords with high traffic + low competition = SEO gold.
The vast majority of keywords related to Myers-Briggs have low competition, according to Google’s Keyword Planner. So it’s easier to rank not only for the keyword you’re targeting but also related keywords, even if your SEO strategy is far from bulletproof. Choosing high-traffic, low-competition topics will dramatically increase your chances of dominating search results.
But what if you’re a small blogger in a highly competitive niche?
Well, aside from the usual strategy of targeting long-tail keywords, you can also write what I call crossover posts. These are posts that relate to both your main topic and a topic that has less keyword competition.
Here’s an example:
A quick glance at Google’s Keyword Planner reveals that WordPress-related keywords are highly competitive. Even many long-tail keywords in this niche are hard to rank for. Squarespace, on the other hand, is a wide-open topic. Many Squarespace-related keywords have moderate traffic and low to medium competition.
So let’s say you blog about WordPress tips and tutorials—you could write a blog post comparing the features of WordPress and Squarespace. Or you could be more specific and write a post comparing WordPress SEO to Squarespace SEO, or WordPress web design vs. Squarespace web design.
A crossover post is related to your main topic, but also has the potential to rank high in certain tangentially related search results. And it could potentially draw a whole new audience to your blog.
This is essentially what I did with my Myers-Briggs series. My blog was all about books and reading. So, I combined the book-related topic of fictional characters with Myers-Briggs personality types into a series that capitalized on search traffic from people who were interested in the latter. And I got a lot of new readers and well over 200k page views in the process.
More strategies that helped me rank on Google:
Choosing a high-traffic, low-competition topic had the biggest impact on my Google ranking, but it wasn’t the only thing that helped me claim the #1 spot. Here are some other things that had a positive impact on my search engine ranking:
- SEO-friendly WordPress framework—My website was built on the Genesis Framework, which has some basic built-in Schema markup and a great SEO foundation.
- Multimedia content—I embedded YouTube videos in each of the 16 posts in my series. Google loves multimedia and tends to reward bloggers who integrate it with their content.
- Headers—I used H1 and H2 header tags to outline my posts, making it easier for Google to pull information for rich snippets.
- Deep linking—At the end of each blog post, I linked to all the other blog posts in the series. Strategically linking to your own related content is a great way to win points with Google.
SEO is a complex, multi-faceted topic, but you don’t have to be a veteran blogger or an expert to rank on the first page of Google. You just have to find the right thing to write about—and then run with it.