This is something I’ve not talked about before.
I’ve been doing quite a bit of keyword research this week and it occurred to me that there a lot of keywords that I have no business ranking for even if relevant to my niche.
I say this because the keyword difficulty might be low and search volume high, but I skip them because even if I manage to rank number one, it would be temporary at best (and rightly so).
It all boils down to search intent.
You must ask yourself two questions:
1. What is it the searcher really wants?
2. Can you publish the content that searchers would want?
If you can’t answer “yes” to question two, whether you write it or your have a writer write it, you should skip it.
Even if the keyword difficulty is 0 and search volume is high.
Google is big on intent and if your content doesn’t meet that intent, while you might hit the top spot, chances are it won’t last long.
By now you’re thinking to yourself, “hey Jon, how about some examples?”
Okay. Here are examples.
1. “Amazon Associates”
About 18 months or so ago Thebalance.com (a Dotdash website) ranked #1 for the search “Amazon Associates”. As someone who logs into Amazon Associates regularly, it was annoying. I don’t know how many times I clicked into the Balance out trigger happiness only having to back out and scroll down to the Amazon Associates link.
99.99% of people who search for Amazon Associates simply want to log into their associates account. They don’t want to read about it.
Many brands get searched a ton and on paper don’t appear difficult to rank for. Many have keyword difficulty 2 or less in Ahrefs.
However, that does not mean you should target brands alone. By all means target them with qualifiers such as “review” or some additional keyword but not on its own.
Because 99% of searches for just a brand want to visit the brand’s website. Not yours.
What about people’s names?
That’s different and this nuanced distinction is a great example of trying to understand search intent.
People who search a person’s name want information about that person. I often search people’s names. I actually don’t want to visit their site (if they have one). I either want the full work up on Wikipedia, but more often than not, I want some editorial piece about the person. In some cases, I enjoy those “X name – 25 things you didn’t know” articles. Those can be fun if well done.
3. “How-to” articles.
The aggregate search volume for every how-to search must be billions per month. Many have high search volume with relatively low keyword difficulty.
However, my position these days is I won’t bother going after any of those unless me or writers include a full blown tutorial of the how-to with our own photos.
Recently a writer pitched some topics to me. I was busy so I quickly approved them. One approval was a mistake. It was a how-to. When she delivered the article it wasn’t based on her actually doing the full task and documenting it with photos.
To fix this, I had her re-do it and document it properly. That more than tripled the cost (I pay her hourly) but the end result is a really good how-to article instead of some garbage based on theory.
When I search “how to” I expect top ranking articles to be a full blown tutorial if it bolsters the topic. Not every “how to” is tutorial-based, but if it is, do the tutorial and photograph every step.
You can take it to the next level by doing a video of it as well… but that adds a ton of work.
Fortunately most keywords you find don’t have these issues, but it’s good to be aware of them.
Always ask “can I publish the content that searchers really want?” for any given keyword.
Speaking of ranking, today Google is rolling out a new broad core algo update.
So far there isn’t much to read other than it’s rolling out.
If the past is any indication, you usually know where you stand after a full day or two. Good luck.
Jon runs the place around here. He pontificates about launching and growing online publishing businesses, aka blogs that make a few bucks. His pride and joy is the email newsletter he publishes.
Hyperbole? Maybe, but go check it out to see what some readers say.
In all seriousness, Jon is the founder and owner of a digital media company that publishes a variety of web properties visited and beloved by millions of readers monthly. Fatstacks is where he shares a glimpse into his digital publishing business.