How To Rank High for Your Money-Making
Keywords [SEO Case Study]

Struggling to get your content to rank well in the search engine results pages?
You’re not alone.

Ahrefs recently surveyed over one billion pieces of content, and found that the vast majority (91%) weren’t getting any organic traffic at all.
As far as Google is concerned, it’s like they were never even created.

But does this mean content marketing is no longer worth the effort in 2019?
Not by a long shot.

Content marketing still brings in three times as many leads as paid advertising. So, if anything, what Ahrefs’ research proves isn’t that
content marketing is no longer effective—but that most businesses are approaching it the wrong way.

With over four million blog posts hitting the internet every single day, creating relevant, useful and actionable content isn’t enough on its own.
If you want to be on Google’s radar—and get more traffic, views, shares and, ultimately, those all-important conversions—you also have to use
the right techniques.

We’ve seen first hand what a huge difference applying the right techniques can make. Recently, a blog post we wrote for HubSpot ranked #2
on Google for our money-making keyword, “press release distribution”, just three hours after it was published.

Here’s a step-by-step rundown of what we did to achieve this, so you can apply it to your content marketing efforts, too.

The 2 Common Mistakes Stopping Your Content From
Ranking On Google

Before we dive into the nitty-gritty of how we got our blog post to rank #2 in three hours, it’s worth having a quick look at why most content doesn’t get any organic traffic.
According to Ahrefs’ research, this is mainly down to two things:

Few (or no) backlinks

The Importance of Backlinks

55% of the pages Ahrefs looked at didn’t have any backlinks. Yet, out of Google’s over 200 ranking factors, backlinks are arguably one of the most important.
This is because the greater the number of websites that link back to your content, the more authoritative Google perceives it to be. Moz explains:
“Backlinks are especially valuable for SEO because they represent a “vote of confidence” from one site to another. In essence, backlinks to your website are a signal to search engines that others vouch for your content.
If many sites link to the same webpage or website, search engines can infer that content is worth linking to, and therefore also worth surfacing on a SERP [search engine results page]. So, earning these backlinks can have a positive effect on a site’s ranking position or search visibility.”

Targeting the wrong keywords

Are You Targeting the
Right Keywords?

As important as backlinks are to your rankings, they’re not a silver bullet.
Ahrefs note that, out of the 1 billion pages they analysed, 30,000 had over 200 unique backlinks. Yet, despite the obvious vote of confidence from other websites, they still weren’t getting any organic traffic.
So, what went wrong?
They weren’t targeting the right keywords—the keywords their
audience was actually using when searching for content they were offering.
If your content were a letter, the right keywords are the address and stamp that’ll make sure it gets to its intended recipient. So,
getting your keyword research right and making sure your content is optimised is key.

How We Ranked #2 For Our Money-Making Keyword
in 3 Hours: A Step-By-Step Walkthrough

Now that we’ve discussed why your content might not be getting organic traffic, it’s time to look at how to fix this.
Here’s the exact process we followed to get our blog post to rank #2 for our chosen keyword in three hours.

Step 1: Finding Your Money-Making Keyword

We’ve just said it above, but it bears repeating: If you want your content to get organic traffic, targeting the right keywords is crucial.
In fact, keyword research should be the cornerstone of your content marketing efforts.

But what do we mean by the “right” keywords, or “money-making” keywords? Well, we mean keywords that will get your content in front of people who are:

  • Interested in what you’re selling
  • May actually whip out their wallets and part with their hard-earned cash in exchange
    for your product or service

The money-making keyword we picked was “press release distribution”. You can
find yours by imagining you’re a customer who wants to buy one of the products
r services your business sells. What would you type into Google to find and compare
options? List these terms down.

Alternatively, sign up for Google Search Console or a service like SEMRush. This will show you which keywords you’re already ranking for. You might find you’re already lingering around page #2 for a keyword that drives the majority of your traffic:

If that doesn’t retrieve any money-making keyword ideas, head over to a keyword research tool such as Google Keyword Planner,
WordStream or Ubersuggest and type the keywords you’ve listed.
This will show you each keyword’s search volume (how many people are searching for it), and some other alternatives:

Once you’ve gone through the keywords in your list (and, perhaps, some of the keyword planner’s suggestions), it’s time to decide on
your money-making keyword.
You’ll want to pick a keyword that is:

Relevant: to a product or service you sell. In our case, “press release distribution” is a key PR Fire service, so picking it was a no-brainer.

Searched for: Check the search volume for the region you want to target. The higher the search volume, the more people are searching for that particular keyword

Competition-free: Larger companies have more resources, so it may be difficult for you to compete. A keyword research tool can help you find out how competitive a keyword is. For example, SEMRush has a Keyword Difficulty analyser.

Step 2: Decide Where You’re Going To Publish
Your Content

The obvious choice is your blog. That said, your content marketing strategy should also involve guest posting on high quality websites.
This has several benefits, especially because guest posting:

  • Puts your content in front of a wider audience
  • Is a source of those all-important backlinks
  • Boosts your credibility, and helps you position yourself as an authority in your industry

In our case, we decided to try and get our blog post published on HubSpot.
HubSpot is a well-known, highly authoritative, highly respected website that averaged 1.8 million organic visitors a month in 2017. The content on their blog is also fairly similar to the kind of content we publish on our own blog, making it a perfect match.

How To Find Guest Blogging Opportunities

Want to find your HubSpot?

Search for guest blogging opportunities on Google using your keyword. So,
for instance, if you’re a marketing agency, you could run a search for:

Marketing + submit a guest post
Marketing + guest post
Marketing + guest post guidelines

You could also make a list of your favourite industry blogs and find out if they accept guest posts using the following search terms:

[“blog name”] + guest post
[“blog name”] + blogging guidelines
[“blog name”] + guest posting guidelines

Alternatively, think about well-known people in your industry. Do they write guest posts? Which blogs do they usually publish on? (You could do
this with your competitors, too.)

Once you’ve honed in on a publication, take a look at their submission guidelines.

In our case, we pitched a full article, including my author bio and supporting images, in a single email. We did all the work for the editor so
they could just press publish without the back-and-forth emails.

That said, some publications will specifically ask that you submit an outline first.

Make sure you read the submission guidelines carefully—and follow them to the letter.

Step 3: Write a Compelling, SEO-Optimised Blog Post

Armed with your money-making keyword and an idea of where you’ll publish, it’s time to pick a topic and get to work crafting a compelling blog post.
But what makes a blog post “compelling”?
Well, that’s rather subjective. That said, you can’t go too far wrong if you pick a topic you know well and feel confident writing about.
In our case, press release distribution is one of PR Fire’s core services, and we know the topic inside out. So it made sense to write a comprehensive guide on getting your press release in front of as many people as possible.
You could also find out what your target audience wants to know about the topic. Running your keyword through can help.
For example, “press release distribution” turned up this:

(“What is press release distribution”, “how does press release distribution work”, and a list of the best press release distribution services were all covered in the article we submitted to HubSpot.)

It’s also crucial to go into as much detail as possible and provide actionable advice. What’s the takeaway? What will readers be able to do that they previously couldn’t after reading your content?

Plus, if you’re guest posting, you’ll need to consider what type of content your target publication tends to publish.
In our case, HubSpot often features long, in-depth guides—so we were confident a comprehensive guide to press release distribution would have
a good chance of getting accepted.

Optimising for Search Engines

Optimising your blog post for your money-making keyword will help make sure Google understands what it’s all about. This will boost your chances of ranking high in search results.

Here are some basic tips:

1. Feature your keyword in key places

Work your keyword into the body of your blog post, but only if it fits naturally. If you just chuck it in as many times as possible,
Google will penalise you.

First and foremost, focus on giving your audience as much useful detail as possible.

The meta description is another great place to include your money-making keyword.

This small field of text tells Google—and your audience—what the blog post will be about, so be clear.

(While you’re at it, it’s also worth changing the names of any images you’re going to include in your post to something relevant.)

2. Use plain, straightforward language

Whether readability affects SEO is up for debate.

Many marketers used to think Google calculated pages’ readability. But Google’s Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst, John Mueller, has recently denied this. (Sort of.)

That said, content that’s easy to read improves user experience. And that can’t be a bad thing.

So, it’s worth running your content through a tool such as HemingwayApp or Readability Test Tool and tweaking it to make it as readable as possible. Aim for Grade 7 or less on HemingwayApp or a Flesch score of 60 or more.

For example, our HubSpot blog post scores 70.5 on the Flesch scale:

Step 4: Promote. Promote. Promote… And Then
Promote Some More

Even if you get published on a well-known website with loads of organic traffic, promotion is still super important.
The more you promote your post, the more people will get to know about it… And that means more traffic, more views, more social media shares and, ultimately, better search engine rankings.
Google’s ex Head of Search, Matt Cutts, has said that social media activity isn’t a ranking factor.
That said, several studies—such as this one by HootSuite and this one by Searchmetrics—prove that content with lots of social media shares usually ranks better in search engine results.
This makes perfect sense. People tend to link to popular content. So, more social media shares lead to more backlinks. Which, you’ll recall, are an important ranking factor.

So how do you promote your blog post?

Start by sharing it on social media on the same day it’s published. We did that with using this LinkedIn post:

Then, share your post on social media again the next day, the next week, in two weeks’ time and in a month’s time. According to
CoSchedule, sharing a blog post on social media more than once can increase your traffic by as much as 3,150%.

Here are some other quick tips you can use to promote your post:

  • Reach out to your email subscribers to let them know about your new post. Ask them to like, comment and share it so it
    reaches an even wider audience.
  • Share your post to relevant Facebook and LinkedIn Groups.
  • Join reciprocal sharing websites such as Triberr and Viral Content Bee. These are websites where you earn credits for sharing other
    people’s content. Once you earn enough credits, you can post your content for other people to share it.

Final Thoughts

Think content marketing is dead? Think again.
Not only does content help you conquer the SERPs, but it helps you use someone else’s audience to promote your business. But churning something—anything—out and hoping for the best isn’t going to cut it.
You need to put in the work to get the results.
Do it right and there’s no reason why you couldn’t take the #1 spot for your money-making keyword.