To summarise the series, the first (which is this article) will talk about why you should give up the notion of ranking for keywords and focus on just keyword optimisation. The second article will then teach you how to pick new niches that can use this keyword optimisation method even more effectively. The last article will pull everything together and give you tips to how to make a site that has value after picking the right niches.
Ok, on with the show.
I spent lots of time on this blog talking about doing keyword research including how to check keyword competition, how to find low competition keywords as well as using software to find long tail keywords. However, I realise there is one critical thing that I didn't talk about. What do you do with the keywords you found?
I realise that I am a bit more successfully at generating traffic because I do one thing very differently with regards to keywords. I don't chase their rankings anymore. What I do is to conduct the keyword research and then place them in my content. That is called keyword optimisation. I am trying to optimise my content to gather as much traffic from as many different keywords as possible. I don't have a goal of trying to reach position #1 for any keyword.
This explains why I am so relaxed about backlinks. People asked me how to rank for keywords if they don't build backlinks. I used to find this question odd until I realise that when they talked about rankings, they are talking about specific keywords. For me, rankings means having some keywords ranking on the first page without me knowing in advance what these keywords will be.
You might find this strange but my approach is actually more resource efficient. Why?
You don't know which link passes valueIf you are chasing keyword rankings with backlinks, you are facing a very tough challenge of not knowing which links will pass value. Do you know that Google discounts a lot of our backlinks? If you are not familiar with what kinds of links do google discount, read this article
The only way to correctly test whether a link passes value is this: use a unique expression such as "aaron is in hanoi recently" as the anchor text of the link and point it to a page which doesn't have this expression. If that page ranks, (and it should if the link can pass value since this is a unique and non competitive keyword), then the link is a value passing link.
Unfortunately, there are no tools currently that can do this automatically for you. As a result, you simply have no idea of what links can help your keyword to rank. One solution is by volume as among the large number of links created, a couple will surely pass value. Another is to use guest posting on high authority sites as these tend to have a higher chance of passing value as well.
Hence, if you are building backlinks to rank particular keywords, you are wasting a lot of resources on getting the right kind of value passing links because you don't what works.
All known keywords are competitiveMore and more folks know what is SEO. This means a more competitive landscape than what we have seen. If you chased keywords, you are like everybody else. Worst thing is many folks have more resources than you and they can easily outgun you if you are a beginner.
So, rather than engaging in pointless competition, cast a wide net using your keyword research and your content. Throw it out there and let google tell you what is competitive and what is not. If you do your keyword optimisation, I guarantee that there will always be terms that you can rank for without backlinks. If you then used your search logs to look for future content and keyword ideas, this becomes a never ending cycle of being able to increase your search traffic in the most effective way.
Does this really work?Yes it does. The screenshot below shows the traffic for aaronchua.com for the past 6 months. Oct 2011 is when I decided to pick up blogging again.
About 5k unique visitors using 1788 keywords!
Click to enlarge
So, if I can achieve that with such lazy efforts and in a competitive niche, you should do better if you are hardworking and pick a new niche with no competition.
Minimizing the risk of making money onlineThis approach of not chasing keywords also make your site more real. Building links is always against what Google wants. The recent deindexing of build my rank and the Panda alogirthm all points to the risk of trying to game the system with links. Focusing on writing useful content with keyword optimised words carries less risk.
Also, by spreading your search traffic across thousands of keywords, you tend to be less prone to any changes in the search engines, relative to someone who is drawing traffic from only a handful of terms.
Maxising your resource allocation for SEO
As a SEO practitioner, you should try to maxmise your resource including time and money. Don't listen blindly to people who said links are everything. These guys are narrow minded and they purely chase keyword rankings. Remember that SEO is about keywords, content and backlinks.You can still build a successful site with lots of search traffic if you practice good keywords research and optimising them on a piece of quality content.
Writing content is much more resource efficient. After all, I have just increased this site's traffic with this article that I have spent 30 minutes writing. How much time do you think I would need is all I do is to go out get and backlink for the keyword 'how to make money online"?