Within months of publishing, our article on “Resignation Letter Templates” rose to number one in the SERPs for a client.
If you know how to plan for success before you start, this shouldn’t be surprising.
But hitting number one for a single keyword wasn’t the most impressive thing about this article.
Because after about a year, it was ranking for 1,830 keywords.
It’s not a typo. It wasn’t a fluke.
And this article will explain exactly how to replicate that.
Long or short content? That’s why you’re asking the wrong question
« Depends. »
Everyone is looking for a trick or a trick. A silver bullet that prints money without having to lift a finger.
But the unfortunate truth is that it « depends ».
- Should you write a long and insightful article or a short and snappy one? Depends.
- Should you produce loud content or prune your site to limit noise? Depends.
- Should you try to target one keyword per article or more? Again, it depends.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach. (Despite what LinkedIn gurus guarantee.)
Here’s a quick example:
✅ Typically, you would like to create an article on one main topic.
✅ Add your own semantic themes and mix them together with similar but complementary laser-focused content.
✅ Tie everything together with internal links to create a dense web of content.
✅ So, let topical authority + some high quality backlinks do their thing.
But this may not always be the case.
Imagine doing your keyword research. Like you do. And you see something like this:
- Many closely related keywords that share similar intents.
- Volume on the low (long-tail) side of the spectrum.
- Even with lower keyword difficulty goals.
The next step it is not to send all of this to your favorite business writer. Or, God forbid, ChatGPT.
Because wrong content or just plain bad content isn’t going to help you anyway.
Instead, it’s a matter of rolling up your sleeves and doing some basic investigation.
First, compare parent + child keywords (and « volume » vs « potential volume »)
The raw data that an SEO tool spits out isn’t all that useful, mostly because it’s garbage.
Let me explain.
To begin with, the volume numbers are completely inaccurate! Look for volume in three different instruments and you will no doubt get three different answers.
You know what other will those three answers have in common? They’re completely off the mark from the actual volume, real-life, or click-through rate data you might see.
While others, like keyword difficulty, heavily influence things like the number of page-level referring domains rather than the quality of said domains, or even the overall strength of the domain (like domain rating) in the top 10 on a certain SERP.
The point here is to focus less on the actual numbers and more on what the relationship of the numbers might tell you.
Check out this “construction project management” example. Look it up on Ahrefs, then dive into ideas for the « child » keywords sorted under the main topic « parent. »
You’ll now see a list of closely related keywords that could be the perfect starting point for a brand new batch of a dozen articles.
Or it could just be a very long and in-depth article.
How do you know?
Here’s a giant clue.
Compare the difference or ratio between Volume (local, specific to this keyword) e traffic potential (as in, also with other keywords). You can also compare Overall volume if you also attract international customers.
The fact that the traffic potential to volume ratio here is ~4:1 tells me that you probably have many very similar keywords showing the same content.
In other words, a really good, probably longer and more in-depth article on « building phases » will most likely show up for many long-tail variations around the same theme.
That means you too Not need to create unique pieces of content to categorize for each.
And that’s exactly what happened.
We’ve created in-depth content and achieved #1 positions for many similar keywords, effectively ~4x (or more) traffic to this article than what any keyword tool could have originally told us.
The good news is, you don’t have to rely on hunches or decades of experience to verify this.
You just have to do a little more work when you find these clues.
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Then, compare the currently ranked content in each unique SERP to look for « overlapping » and « unique »
SEO is not that difficult at the end of the day.
Yes, there are some tricky elements to think about. But it’s not a complete mystery or black box.
Heck. Google literally shows you exactly what works and what doesn’t. Hidden in plain sight.
This means that whenever there are doubts about what people want to find out about a particular keyword and, therefore, what Google wants to display, all you have to do is simply…
Seriously, don’t think too much about it.
Bring out the keyword we discussed, like « construction steps ». Then, look at the actual content already ranked for this query.
- What do they have in common?
- What are they all doing right?
- What gaps are there that you think you can exploit?
- And last but not least, how much of this exact same content shows up for other closely related keywords you’ve found?
The easiest way to do this is a simple side-by-side comparison. Then do your SERP “building steps”…
…and also compare that to the top 10 items ranking for “building process”.
Several articles that are exactly the same, displaying for different (but similar) keywords – which most keyword research tools tell you are actually separate or distinct.
But in Google’s mind, they are Not.
And at the end of the day, that’s the only perspective you should care about when it comes to SEO.
Don’t lose sight of the forest between the trees.
SEO tactics or metrics or « best practices » – in isolation – are limited at best or completely misleading at worst.
This means that the Ahrefs volume metric doesn’t matter. Same as Moz or Semrush, or [insert new cool hipster tool here].
At least not alone. They don’t.
What matters is how you interpret the data and see the relationships or patterns in the SERPs to understand what’s going on beneath the surface.
This means that sometimes you want to make articles more frequent and shorter. While other times, you want to do the opposite.
As the saying goes, everything looks like a nail to the man with the hammer.
The views expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff writers are listed here.