Trying to focus, by Stefan Cosma

All parents in our country believe their child will be the next Messi or Ronaldo. But you and I both know that’s unlikely—being one of the best players in the world requires talent and skills that, unfortunately, only a few have. Being a great writer and making millions with your words is no different than being a great star in any sport…. you need time, effort and, let’s face it, talent and innate skills.

I know what I’m telling you can be a little disheartening and maybe stop you from starting your own blog, but please bear with me. We have to be aware of our abilities and do the best we can with what we got. We may never play in the Champions League, but I have no doubt we can win our local league. The important thing is to be the best in our (small) niche and to work day in and day out to get better. And better. And better.

Today I’d like to share with you some tips that will help you write better content related to the theme of your website. To do this, we will focus on the role that keywords play and we’ll see how we should use them when we generate content. Follow these tips, cultivate your abilities, practice your skills, write often, and everything will be fine ?

#1 Focus on a Single Topic

The first piece of advice I’m going to give you is this: focus on just one topic, don’t cover too many things. When we start a blog, we might think that the more limited the topic we choose, the more problems we’ll have to write a lot and often, since we will soon run out of ideas. Not at all ?.

Seattle mariners focus by MLB
Focus! Picture by mlb via Giphy.

As Antonio told you in this post, the key is to choose a specific yet broad-enough theme that suits you. For example, a blog of web programming, or design, or birds, or cooking…. can be a great idea, since they all are concrete and well-defined topics with plenty of interesting and new things you can cover. On the contrary, a blog that deals with all these topics at once would be absurd. How could you position something so… random?

Maintaining focus is the key to achieving good search engine positioning. If you do, in the end, you’ll have a lot of content on a specific topic and you’ll eventually become an expert in that area.

#2 Keyword Research—Find the Relevant Keywords in Your Niche

Once you’ve decided what you’re going to talk about on your blog, it’s time to do your homework. That is, you have to research which keywords revolve around your chosen theme.

Women studying by US National Archives
Do your homework and find those keywords that are relevant in your niche. Picture by usnationalarchives via Giphy.

There are multiple techniques and tools to discover these keywords. In a previous post, we saw some examples, such as Google’s own search engine or Google’s Keyword Planner tool. Another option that is often recommended is SEMRush, as it gives a lot of interesting information about the keywords that other websites use and can be used as a fantastic source of inspiration (we’ll talk a little more about this topic in a moment).

Once you’ve identified these keywords, the next question is: which ones do you focus on? Let’s not forget that you’re not the only one writing content around them, so choose gracefully or the competition will be fierce. If you already have content created, the usual recommendation is to focus on those keywords where you are minimally well positioned (you are among the first 50 results) and that have a minimum search volume (at least 1,000 searches per month).

Note that this advice makes perfect sense: we don’t want to devote our efforts to position our content around keywords that few people search for, because that would limit the number of users who can find us. And when it comes to choosing keywords that people do use, it’s best to focus on those where we already have some relevance—with little effort, we should be able to improve.

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#3 Keep a Close Look at Your Competitors and Don’t Miss Any News

Once we have determined the theme and the keywords we want to position ourselves with, it’s time to look for concrete ideas to write about. One of the best sources to find great ideas is your competitors’ content. Whether you’re a freelancer or a mid-sized company, seeing what others do and talk about can definitely inspire you.

Suspicious dog
Keep a close look at your competitors—what they talk about, what tone they use, what visitors comment on their blogs… Source: Giphy.

I remember this meetup in Barcelona I attended a few months ago. One of the attendees asked the following: “Hey, is it bad if I copy and paste the content of other blogs to create my own?” ? As you can imagine, the unanimous response was: “Of course it’s wrong!” You should never, ever copy what others do. Instead, you need to look at what others do and use it as inspiration to create your own take on the same subject. As I just told you, other people’s work is a great source of inspiration—it’s then your responsibility to cover the same topic from a different perspective, focusing on those things that matter to you.  This is how you can differentiate yourself from them and, more importantly, bring unique value.

#4 Listen Carefully

If the previous advice focused on those who “generate” content, like you, this one focuses on the other end—those who consume said content. The ideas you can write about appear in the most unsuspected places, from the hand of those who least expect it.

Breaking news by South Park
Don’t miss anything—keep an eye on all the relevant channels and don’t miss any news. Picture by southpark via Giphy.

If you want to know what really matters to your audience, ask them. Or look at the places where they share this information. Some examples of sites where you can find this kind of information are social networks, support forums, e-commerce stores, comments on blogs… any place where a user, reader, or customer can express themselves is a place you should go and pay close attention to.

Remember that a good inbound marketing strategy is one that adds value to your audience, one that answers their questions. Knowing this, it’s clear that taking an interest in the issues they’re concerned about is a priceless source of ideas. Addressing the questions and concerns of your target audience will allow you to write content related to your keywords and, even better, that you know for sure is relevant to your audience.

#5 Write for the People, Not for Search Engines

Finally, the last piece of advice I want to give you is not to get obsessed with search engines. As I said in the previous section, you’re writing for people like you and me, so it’s them you have to keep in mind, not Google or Bing or any other search engine.

Friends tv applause
Keep in mind that, in the end, your target audience are real people. Source: Giphy.

In a previous post, we talked about some of the things that Google takes into account to index and position your post. The final recommendation I gave there was to focus on your content and on the audience that’s going to read it. Other relevant aspects shouldn’t be neglected, as they’re somewhat important, but they shouldn’t worry you much either. Be yourself, write friendly content thinking about people, seamlessly include keywords in your content, and your website will be where it deserves to be.

In Summary

As Sherry writes in her post, “Good writers don’t pick topics at random. Good writers understand their audience, study keywords, learn from their competition, are original, and participate on social media.” These aspects are the keys to success. These are the steps you need to take to write relevant, quality content. Don’t you want to start applying all this now?

Featured Image by Stefan Cosma on Unsplash.

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