How to Create a Successful Blog in a Competitive Niche
Before we jump into how to create a super successful blog in a competitive niche. I believe we need a little bit of context.
Since January 1st, my business partner Emelina Spinelli and I have been writing three times a week on our blog (more or less). This year alone we have written over 100+ blog articles. One of the many differences between our blog dscience.co and most others, is that we made the decision: “no article will be under 1000 words.”
Dscience.co is in the very competitive niche of marketing, social media, and business. There are tons of A+ quality websites and blogs that we aspire to be like. Here are a few of my favorites to read.
Neil Patel’s Quicksprout is one of the best online marketing resources. Personally, I don’t think there is a better name out there for all things internet marketing. He was the reason I have started dipping into infographics so hard. Heck one infographic, the DIY guide to being an SEO expert has generated us over 1,145 links.
In fact, this article is also our most linked to article to date.
Moz.com and YoastSEO are two top SEO resources that I devour. I personally have a love-hate relationship with SEO. See, I am not very smart and search engine optimization makes me feel really stupid. Both of these sites have helped simplify the process so I can hack and slash my way to doing well in SEO. Am I the best? Nope! But have I started generating some really good traffic from Google and even placing first with “longtail keywords.”
Social Media Today is my go-to resource for all things social media. What I love about Social Media Today, is that it’s curated from many different writers, giving many different perspectives.
Finally, there is Gary Vaynerchuk’s Youtube and podcast. Gary is the undisputed leader in all things social media and entrepreneurship. I have learned more from Gary than I have from 10+ years of education. He gives really in depth strategies plus he always drops awesome tactics to implement.
If you notice, I didn’t mention Entrepreneur, Huffington Post or Forbes because personally, I feel those sites are majorly lacking in solid content. Unfortunately, 99% of the articles are fluff and filler. They have the audience and I would love to write for them, but the smaller niche sites usually have better content (just not the epic brand name!).
You can’t stop creating content if you want to create a successful blog in a competitive niche. So let’s get into the step-by-step guide to creating a successful blog in a highly competitive niche. If you’re wondering what you should write about, start here.
Do Your Keyword Research
Keyword research is going to have two purposes.
- Define your niche
- Create your content schedule
The way to create a successful blog in a highly competitive market is to not compete against the big players.
David rarely beats Goliath in the metaphorical blog-wrestling match. As “David,” find a way to attack Goliath where he doesn’t see coming. For you, this will mean finding a sub-niche.
Let’s say you wanted to create a blog in social media marketing. You would have a very tough time building up authority because there are many other authorities in the field. Only people like Gary Vaynerchuk could do it successfully. But, he didn’t create a blog‚—he created a Youtube channel that spun out a blog.
The solution? Find a social media marketing niche that isn’t being fought over heavily. This would steer you to newer social medias in the industry. Blogs talking about Periscope, Snapchat, and Musically would be great candidates.
You can figure out what trends are starting to hit using keyword research.
You’ll find trends based on search results.
After figuring out what your sub-niche is going to be, then you can look at creating your first pieces of content.
Before you write a single piece of content—do basic keyword research.
People are searching for topics all day, every day in Google. The over-simplified way of explaining keyword research—is to find what terms are being searched and write articles around the terms. A simple way to search for these statistics and terms is to use tools like Google’s Keyword Planner to find long tail keywords.
According to Searchenginepartner:
The benefits of utilizing long tail keywords are:
- Can easily rank in search engines
- Will not have too much competition
- Will not be present in keyword database because search volume is very minimal
- Can boost conversion (but depends on various factors, we shall see this in later part of our article)
Another way I personally like to do keyword research is to take those long tail phrases and put them directly into Google. I look to see how many results there are and what websites are ranking well. This gives me an idea of the competition and if it’s worth writing the article to gain more free traffic from Google searches.
Someimtes I see lots of sites like Entrepreneur, Forbes, and Huffington Post already covering it. I tend to steer away from these keywords if I see the big-sites, as I know I won’t get that first rank very easily. If I see other blogs covering the subject who are not as authoritative as dscience.co, I’ll snag that first spot ASAP.
Create a Content Calendar
Most smart bloggers, content marketers, and entrepreneurs know the power of having a content calendar. When you hit that wall on what you should write about, a content calendar answers the question. Usually, we have scheduled ahead about 2-4 weeks worth of ideas for different pieces of content. I am a complete fanboy of the tool called Co-schedule, it is a super robust content calendar. (PS. If you click that link and sign up, they give us the equivalent of a cup of coffee.)
The site has a super clean user interface. It also integrates with my favorite word processing programs: Evernote and Google documents. Coschedule syncs up with my social medias to allow easy social media management. They even have one of the best tools for analyzing headlines.
Whenever you have a great blog idea, add it in to your content calendar as an idea. Write a quick outline with a few key points that are in your head. Because later when you are asking “What should I write about?” You can come back to your idea and finish your article.
As you do your long tail keyword research, you can start creating headlines for your new content ideas.
Create your “Keystone” Pieces of Content
A Keystone piece of content is the one piece of content you are going to link to the most. This article is the basis for generating a ton of traffic and leads. Brian Dean of backlinko has a similar strategy called the Sky Scraper Technique.
The basis of the Skyscraper Technique is simple. You create a piece of content that is 10x better than the number one ranked spot in Google for that keyword. From there you spend a ton of time and energy building the right backlinks needed from high authority sites.
Once you have those keystone pieces of content, the next step is to guest blog and link to that article. It takes time to effectively grab the number one spot on Google through this process but it is worth it. A single keyword that generates 100 unique hits a day can increase your monthly organic traffic by 3,000 unique hits.
Steal Ideas like an Artist
Steve Jobs once said in an interview: “good artists copy, great artists steal.”
The idea here is to steal the ideas of other top blogs. What headlines, articles, and topics are generating buzz? Remember how earlier I mentioned all those awesome blogs that I read. I don’t only read those blogs to learn something new. I also steal ideas like a mother trucker from them. For instance, Randy Fishkin wrote an awesome piece “Weird, Crazy Myths About Link-Building that You Should Probably Ignore.” This is a great article and I highly recommend reading it on its own accord.
That being said, the first thing I noticed is the title. In particular the “weird, crazy myth” part of the title. It interested me and happened to be about link-building. It caught my attention because I’m always looking to generate high-quality links to our site.
Now, analyzing the headline, I can start brainstorming ideas I might want to write about. “Weird, Crazy Myths About Snapchat You should Probably Ignore” is totally going to be an article I write.
Then take the title you re-crafted and use it for your blog. Weird, crazy myths about (insert your topic) that you should probably ignore.
One of my favorite resources to determine what titles to steal is Buzzsumo. Buzzsumo lets you monitor competitor blogs and see what articles are doing the best. Input your competition’s URL and it will let you know what articles are getting the most social shares and on what platforms. If you input dscience.co into Buzzsumo you will see:
Our top shared articles are:
- 7 Ironclad Reasons Instagram stories are superior to Snapchat
- How I cleared 95GB of Space on My Macbook Air
- The DIY guide to being an SEO expert
- The Ultimate guide to Snapchat: How to get your first 1000 views
What you can see from these headlines is that each one solves a problem. If you dig further into these articles, you will see that they all are also deeply in-depth about each subject. Each article takes you step by step to achieve your goal.
Knowing this, we should focus on more content that solves problems.
Stealing ideas from competitors is a great way to generate more engagement on your site. If your competition’s audience likes certain types of articles, they may like yours too.
Build Competitive Backlinks to Your Site
Backlinks are the backbone of good SEO.
Fir example, let’s compare two articles. One has zero people linking to it while the other has 100 different websites that link to it. The article with 100 back links will perform better in Google. It will show up higher on the pages and rank more favorably.
Now that being said, Google is very smart, so the process isn’t that easy. There are over 200 “singles” Google uses to determine search engine ranking position or “SERPS.” The other major factors when determining backlinks is the authority of the sites and the relevance.
A small number of high authority and high relevant sites linking to your article can beat out a site with massive links that don’t have relevance or authority.
That being said, the backlinks your competition has are easy to figure out and compete over. Using Opensiteexplorer (a tool by MOZ) you can input your competitor’s URL and see where they are getting backlinks. You can also see the anchor text and keywords they are competing over. You’ll also see if those sites and links carry any authority. The way you check authority is using “domain authority” and “page authority.”
Again, using http://dscience.co as an example you will see:
You can see our domain authority is 28 and page authority is 35, with a nice distribution for a link profile. I’ve spent time generating many links from more authoritative sites with the anchor text “Austin Iuliano” or “d.science.”
ABM: Always be Monetizing
A blog will never generate revenue directly—no matter how successful or how much traffic you get. You have to find a monetization strategy that works for your business. A way you can quickly monetize your blog is to represent affiliate products. Patt Flynn has been very successful with this method. This can be a fantastic way of delivering great new products that help your audience while making some change.
The downside to affiliates is the massive amount of traffic you need to generate decent revenue. For instance, one of our top affiliates —Grammarly only pays .25 cents per lead. It is an awesome program that is akin to Microsoft spell check on steroids. But 25 cents isn’t a ton of money.
You can take Ryan Deiss’ appoach (digitalmarketer) and create a membership site. This creates a recurring revenue stream that is an absolutely fantastic form of monetization. The challenge is the consistency need to keep content updated and deliver new content for members.
Sell Online Courses
You can sell online courses and ebooks that are one off purchases. This can be in the form of open enrollments or full product launches. Both of which are great ways to monetize a blog also.
Ad-Sense & Promoted Content
Adsense has an extremely low payout and you must have a ton of website traffic. That being said, it is extremely easy to set up and can generate you a small amount of money with little work.
Promoted content, on the other hand, can generate you some really decent revenue. The downside is you end up losing trust with your audience because you push out low-quality work. In our entire blog’s history, we only allowed promoted content on our site once. After that, we just didn’t feel right about it. We have to believe in everything we produce for you guys, and wouldn’t want to recommend products, sites or links that we aren’t in love with. It’s just our jam!
As a closing note, ad-sense and “promoted content” are probably not the best ways to monetize a blog— #justsaying.
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Did I miss anything? What would you add as a must have to creating a successful blog in a competitive niche?