When it comes to growing your online project through SEO - you've probably heard it all before.
Do keyword research!
Make sure your on-page SEO is on point!
Yea... we get it.
Truth be told, there aren't very many unknown SEO tactics out there that actually work.
But there are a few. And this one is possibly my favorite.
Will and I utilized this tactic for the first time last April - and the results were AWESOME.
Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you...
Keyword Expansion is term that Will and I coined for a concept that has been gaining more steam in the SEO-community, and is an extremely powerful way to explode your website's growth.
Keyword Expansion is one of the most powerful tactics we have in our SEO-arsenal, and is something we try and incorporate as often as possible.
Keyword Expansion refers to the process of adding content to your existing blog posts via secondary keyword research.
If it sounds complicated - don't worry, it's not. It's super simple to understand and implement, and I'm going to explain it all right now!
This is how you do Keyword Expansion in 4 simple steps.
This is the basic jist of Keyword Expansion. You simply updating your blog posts by adding content that Google deems relevant to that post. It's a risk-free way to improve in the eyes of Google, and to possibly reap some huge traffic benefits in the process.
It's very simple, but very effective.
Let's run through these steps one by one to see how they work, so you can explode your blog's growth through this little-known tactic.
If you are completely new to blogging - Keyword Expansion isn't for you just yet.
Keyword Expansion is a tactic that best serves blog posts that have been ranking for a while and that are actually getting some traffic.
In fact - I wouldn't recommend doing Keyword Expansion on any blog posts that have been live for less than six months.
Wait at least six months, and make sure it's a blog post that is actually ranking and preferably has some traffic.
A great way identify which of your blog posts are ranking and getting traffic is by creating a list of your best SEO-performing blog posts.
Rather than spending weeks improving every blog post you've ever published - let's go 80/20 and focus on your quickest wins.
You can always go back and expand on your other posts later.
For a quick win, Keyword Expansion best serves two types of blog posts...
1. Blog posts that are ranking #1 and you want to solidify their position like a Spartan warrior
2. Blog posts that are in the 3-10 range and you want to catapult them to the top of the SERPs
If you need help identifying which blog posts are these^ kinds of blog posts, you can easily do so through Google Search Console.
Let me show you exactly how.
If you don't have Google Search Console, you need to set it up now. This is because Google Search Console is the best FREE way to see how your website is performing in the SERPs.
GSC gives you a ton of powerful data which can then be turned into actionable strategies.
To set up GSC, this is a good video to get you started. Or if you don't want to learn how to do it yourself, we paid this dude on Fiverr $22 to set up Google Search Console and Google Analytics for DYD and he did a fine job - just get it done.
Once you are on Google Search Console, click 'Performance' on the left hand side, then 'Pages' at the bottom center, then the little arrow and download it as a CSV or Google Sheets.
If you upload it to Google Sheets, it will look like this (excluding the orange color at the top - I added that).
For this particular spreadsheet, delete the 'Position' row - it's fucking stupid.
And now you will look something like this...
This is a beautiful Google-Search-Console-spreadsheet. This spreadsheet will show you your best performing blog posts based on organic traffic. The metrics displayed are clicks (the amount of clicks on your article in the SERPs), impressions (the amount of people that scroll past your article in the SERPs), and CTR (click through rate).
Based on this list you can see which blog posts are receiving the most organic traffic. These posts fall into category #1 - your SEO-darlings that need love to solidify their position in the SERPs like a Spartan warrior.
But let's take it a step further.
If you want to find blog posts you are ranking in the #3-10 range, you can do it by hand or you're going to need a premium SEO tool. The best is AHREF's, but one of our more affordable favorites is Mangools.
If you are using Mangools, you can use SERPWatcher to help cherry pick which of your posts in the #3 - #10 spots could benefit from Keyword Expansion.
Simply go to SERPWatcher, use a timeframe of the last 90 days, and sort by search volume.
This will then show you which high-volume keywords you are ranking for, and the average position you are in for that particular keyword.
By doing this you will be able to easily identify which of your blog posts are sooo close to being at the top for a juicy keyword!
As you can see in the screenshot above, this example site is in 5th position for two EXTREMELY high volume keywords (27k monthly volume and 12k monthly volume).
A bit of expansion could go a long way for blog posts like that!
Which brings us to step two.
Once you have identified blog post(s) that you'd like to perform Keyword Expansion on, you need to see if there is actually room for us to do Keyword Expansion in the first place.
Sometimes there isn't, but most of the time there is always room for some sort of improvement.
To do this is super simple - we need to see the actual secondary keywords the blog post is ranking for.
Remember - a blog post will rank for hundreds of keywords. If you write a blog post about 'How to improve your jump shot', you might show up on page one for the primary keyword 'how to improve your jump shot', but then it might also show up on page three for the secondary keyword 'jump shot tips', and page seven for the secondary keyword 'Michael Jordan'.
This is because Google is taking the keywords from your blog post, and is ranking your blog post where it believes the post is relevant.
So let's see what Google is ranking us for!
Pick a blog post to investigate. For me, I'll use the example of The Broke Backpacker's 'Backpacking India' guide.
Go to Search Console, click on 'Performance' then 'Pages' again...
Once you see all of your pages, scroll down until you find the one you want to investigate and click on it.
This will put the page at the top (top arrow) and then you will click on 'Queries' (bottom arrow).
Scroll down an vuala - we have our ranking primary and secondary keywords!
As you can see, the keyword it gets the most clicks for is 'Backpacking India'. This is great because it's the post's primary keyword, so it's what we were aiming for.
But notice when you go further down, it then becomes clear which secondary keywords Google is ranking this post for.
'backpacking in India'
'backpacking through India'
'India on a budget'
'backpacking Northern India'
'india travel route'
The list goes on and on...
Let's click the arrow that says 'export data' so we can look at all of our beautiful data in a beautiful spreadsheet
(I'm a spreadsheet-whore in case it wasn't obvious before).
So now we are looking at the keywords ('Query' in the spreadsheet) that a SINGLE blog post is ranking for ('Backpacking India Guide' on The Broke Backpacker).
Also - do not delete the 'Position' column this time! Unlike the last time, the 'Position' column is extremely important for this spreadsheet. You are going to use it right now to help trim some of the fat for your Keyword Expansion.
And by some of the fat, I mean a lot of the fat. Look at how many keywords this post is ranking for...
This Broke Backpacker guide for 'Backpacking India' is ranking for over 600 keywords.
The post that you are auditing will likely have less, but anything over 100 keywords is way too much information to sort through.
We have to trim the fat.
To do this, do a two-finger-click on the 'Position' tab, and click 'Sort Z -> A'.
Once you do that, your spreadsheet will organize itself by the position keywords are ranking for.
This is an important step for two reasons.
1. We can't spend hours upon hours analyzing 600 keywords - it's way too much time. Keyword Expansion is meant to take a bit of time, but overall it's meant to be a quick win...
2. It will show you what keywords you realistically can rank for, and what keywords you should probably not waste your time on. If your blog post has been published for 9 months and it's ranking #72 for a keyword... it's not a keyword you should put anytime into adding.
So to save ourselves time, let's keep the top 50-75 keywords the post is ranking for, and delete the rest.
If you have less than 50 - that's not a problem! It's still powerful information you can use to help grow your SEO-presence.
And on the flip side, you can absolutely keep more keywords in the spreadsheet if you want, but for the sake of not getting too overwhelmed, I recommend keeping it to less than 100 keywords.
Now comes step three... aka the tedious part (or is it?)...
The jist is simple. We are trying to find keywords on the Google Search Console spreadsheet that are NOT actually in the copy of the article enough times (or at all!)...
To do this, you simply cross reference the spreadsheet with the copy in the blog post and record the data.
Simply go through the list one by one, copy the keyword, go to your blog post, and hit command or control + F to search for it in the post.
If it's not in the post, type 'no' and move on.
If it is in the post, type 'yes' and record the exact number of times it is located in the copy.
Don't do Step Three yourself. Outsource it to a VA.
If you have been thinking about trying a VA, this is a perfect first task. Find 10-20 posts you want to record data for, whip up an SOP, and see what they're made of!
If you use VA's then you will immediately understand why this is a perfect VA-task.
If you don't, then you need to understand that (as long as you can afford it) you need to start outsourcing the tedious tasks as often as you can. Doing so will enable you to spend more time on what you rock at.
Plus once you start outsourcing this task, your VA will learn how to do it - and hopefully quickly! This means that the next time you do a next round of Keyword Expansion - they will be ready to go.
Once you have had a VA go through all of your spreadsheets and record the information, it's up to you to make the real magic happen.
Let me show you how.
Part 1 - Keywords that are NOT in the blog post
The easiest wins are finding secondary keywords your post is ranking for that aren't in the actual copy.
Simply find the good/relevant one's (more on this in a sec) and add them in your blog post!
Be sure to add the really good one's as an H2 or H3 AND in the copy.
Next up, let's analyze the KW's that ARE in the copy of the blog post.
Try and find some great keywords that are only in the copy once or twice, and add them a few more times.
Please for the love of Buddha do NOT keyword stuff. Keyword stuffing is a terrible idea.
But if you see an opportunity to add a powerful and relevant keyword a few more times - do it dude!
Not all keywords are created equal, and just because you are ranking for it does NOT mean you want to add it in your post.
There are 4 types of keywords to avoid, let's look at some from the 'Backpacking India' post for some specific examples.
A Speed-search-term is a query that someone types into Google when they don't feel like constructing an entire sentence or grammatically correct query.
Some examples from the India post are...
'travel blog India backpacker'
This is not grammatically correct so do NOT try and put it in your blog post as is.
'solo backpacking india'
'daily budget india'
These two are the same - don't try and squeeze in these keywords!
Imagine a sentence that said 'in this blog post you will learn about solo backpacking India and the best daily budget India'.
You will sound like an idiot
When you are looking for keywords to put into your posts, make sure they make sense in English.
Pro Tip - Feel free to add little words to make it work. If you want to add this KW, just add a simple 'in' where it belongs. Google will understand what you are trying to do and you won't come across like English is your 3rd language.
2. Unrelated search terms
The 'Backpacking India' guide is showing up on page 8 for the keyword 'travel backpacks india'.
While I can see how Google made the mistake - this article is not about travel backpacks in India.
Only add keywords that are relevant to your article.
3. Outdated search terms
Anything with previous years (2017, 2016, etc) in it - leave it out.
4. Branded search terms
A lot of people were searching 'The Broke Backpacker India Guide', but this doesn't mean we should add these keywords in the copy.
Google has stated many times on record that they want fresh and updated content.
Updating your content is a SUPER powerful way to improve your sites rankings.
But if you think about it, Keyword Expansion takes updating content to the NEXT LEVEL.
Keyword Expansion allows you to update your article (which Google loves) with new content that Google already wanted you to rank for. This helps your content stay fresh AND increase in topical relevance in the eyes of Google.
Keyword Expansion can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 30 hours - it just depends on what it is you are trying to accomplish.
For example, let's say you have a blog post that you are DYING to rank higher. Maybe you are in positions 3-10 and it's a money keyword that you really want to dominate in the SERPs.
In that case, I would put a solid few hours into that post. At the end of the day, the more TLC you give it, the better chance you'll have of it performing better in the SERPs.
But let's say you were just looking to give your blog posts a bit of life and make sure Google knows that your site is a rocking site that will always stay fresh and updated?
In that case, 60 minutes for a post should be sufficient. Find your missing KW's, put them in and H2 or H3 with a few paragraphs of (awesome) copy and BOOM -on to the next.
One big mistake I see with bloggers is forgetting their currently ranking content for their soon-to-be-published content.
This is a terrible error.
You need to treat your ranking articles like gold, and one of the best ways to do this is by sprucing it up with a bit of Keyword Expansion.
I say give your ranking articles some Keyword-Expansion-love once a year. Schedule a week in your calendar. Make it happen. You won't regret it.
At the end of the day, Keyword Expansion is not a guarantee for higher rankings. Will and I expanded a few posts that never moved from the position they were in.
But plenty of them did.
And that's EXACTLY why I love Keyword Expansion.
This is one of the lowest risk SEO-moves you can make. You aren't removing anything from your articles - you are enhancing them. If done as I have outlined, there is basically a zero chance for you to lose your rankings, and an enormous chance to improve your rankings.
Ultimately you have nothing to lose, and so much to potentially gain.
And at the end of the day, even if you expand a bunch of articles and none of them improve in rankings, you've still gone through your best performing articles and given them a content-facelift, which Google will adore you for.
Which is why it's my one of my all time favorite SEO-tactics.
What are your thoughts on Keyword Expansion? Are you going to try it? Let me know in the comments below!
Have you ever heard the saying that 'a carpenter is only as good as his tools?'
This quote perfectly exemplifies one of my biggest passions - tools.
Not those kind of tools.
I'm talking awesome tools that help your business gain an edge against your competitors and allow you to explode your website's traffic and growth - SEO tools.
SEO tools are one of the things I nerd out on the most - and for good reason... Discovering and properly using the right tools has helped me master SEO and generate massive amounts of traffic to all of my sites.
And when it comes to a website... traffic is everything.
So if you are looking to generate massive amounts of traffic - mastering SEO with premium tools is definitely the most effective and quickest way.
Here's the deal.
Technically speaking - SEO can be done tool-free.
Technically speaking - you do not need any SEO-software.
But let me tell you...If you have just started your first website and getting traffic on Google is your main priority (and it should be) doing it without tools is basically impossible.
Because at the end of the day, SEO-tools and software give you an insight into SEO that you never would have otherwise had, which then gives you an edge over your competitors.
And that insight is CRUCIAL...
Want to take your business to the next level?
Ditch Your Desk subscribers get access to our best content. Period.
Are there free SEO tools?
Hell yes! And plenty of them are awesome.
My personal favorite SEO tool (Keywords Everywhere) is 100% free. Add that in with the Moz bar, Keyword Keg, Ubersuggest and a few more and you'll realize that there are TONS of free SEO tools that can help you explode your growth.
But remember that at the end of the day, while these tools are awesome... they are free-awesome... not premium-awesome.
Ultimately - you get what you pay for.
And while these free tools are 100% mandatory in your arsenal... they are best utilized as complementary tools. Not primary tools.
If this were an ancient battlefield, the free tools would be our archers.
But the paid SEO-tools? That's the freaking cavalry.
Paid SEO tools give you access to data and insights that can only be described in one word - powerful.
Paid (or otherwise known as 'premium') SEO tools take the three aspects of SEO (Keyword Research, On Page SEO, Off Page SEO) and give you an edge that beforehand you probably didn't even know existed.
Coming Soon - The 17 Best Free SEO Tools for SEO-Domination
I recommend different tools for different people in the SEO-quest.
Simply put, if you are a bit more advanced and have some money to spend - nothing beats AHREFs.
AHREFs is hands down my favorite software and acts as an all-in-one SEO-tool. AHREF's is the most sophisticated SEO software on the market, and will literally blow your mind with its capacity.
But as mentioned, AHREFs is a super-premium product, and a super-premium product comes at a super-premium price.
You gotta dish out a MINIMUM of $99 a month (and even then, I'd recommend starting out at the $179/m pricing to really get bang for your buck).
For most newbies and even the more moderate/advanced - this is simply too much money.
I know this because it used to be way too expensive for me. A few years ago I knew that I needed SEO tools to help explode my traffic - but there was NO WAY I could afford $179 a month.
If this sounds like you, then don't worry - I have the perfect tool for you.
Ladies and gentlemen - meet Mangools.
I don't get this worked up over SEO-tools very often, but Mangools is without a doubt one of the coolest SEO tools on the market for beginners.
This is for three distinct reasons.
These three reasons are why I think Mangools is the best SEO tool anyone with a beginner to moderate understanding of SEO.
Let's analyze these aspects one by one so you can assess whether Mangools is the right premium tool for you.
Let's go ahead and get the pricing out of the way.
Mangools costs anywhere from $29-$79 a month.
If you are here considering Mangools, I wouldn't worry about the $79 option. I would recommend you using either the $29/m or $39/m option.
This pricing is truly a godsend for beginners. Super-premium SEO tools like Moz, SEMRush and AHREFs all start at $99 a month - and that's for their basic accounts with limited features!
Being able to have premium SEO tools at your fingertips for less than $30 a month is easily one of the biggest selling points of Mangools, and why we at DYD recommend it so highly.
Mangools gives you the opportunity to dip your toes into the world of SEO, with a fantastic product, and a really affordable price.
If you are intimidated by $30 a month then you need to reconsider what it is that you are trying to accomplish with your business.
If you want a small hobby-blog that generates a bit of traffic, I can understand being hesitant to invest money.
But if you are trying to carve a life of freedom and generate a ton of money online, you have to look at your blog as a business.
And businesses require investments.
Just keep that in mind. Even if you don't want this particular Mangools product, you need to be ready to invest money into something, or you'll continually be watching your competitors steal all of your traffic and potential income.
Ease of use is crucial - especially if you are new to this kind of stuff.
And that's one thing that Mangools nails.
The Mangools interface is simple and well designed.
To see just how great the interface is, definitely check out the screencasts below.
So you can agree that $29 is a good price, but you might be asking yourself...
'Wait... what do I get for my $29 a month?'
This is the best part.
When you buy a subscription to Mangools, you get access to their 5 SEO tools. Those tools are...
A lot of SEO tools in this price range can be one dimensional.
But not Mangools.
With a Mangools subscription you get a ton of bang for your buck.
Let's take a closer look at the 5 SEO tools you get with your Mangools subscription.
KWFinder was the first tool of Mangools that I used.
I'm kind of a keyword research addict, so I'm always looking for new tools that can give me a competitive edge with this part of SEO.
And KWFiner does a really, really great job at this.
This tool will help you take your keyword research to the next level.
Watch the screencast to see me use KWFinder to find awesome keyword-gems.
Another CRUCIAL aspect of keyword research is SERP analysis.
SERP = Search Engine Results Page, and analyzing the SERPs is crucial for SEO success.
And the Mangools SERPChecker can really help you in your SERP analysis
Watch the screencast to get a better idea of SERPs and why this tool will help you take your SEO to a new level.
Here's the deal - you absolutely need some sort of SERP-watching software.
SERP-watching software allows you to enter your keywords into their program, then every day it will give you a SERP-report where you can see how your blog posts have done in the past 24 hours.
The good news is there are tons of SERP-report software options out there. I am currently using a cheap product for a few of my sites called SERPRecorder for less than $15 a month.
But the better news? If you buy Mangools, you don't need to buy SERP-report software - it's all included baby!
This helps rationalize and negate the price of Mangools, plus not to mention the interface is far and away the best SERP-reporting software I've tried.
Check out the screencast to get a complete understanding of how this software helps your SEO-organization.
Diving into the world of backlinks can seem scary and dark - so let LinkMiner be the light!
LinkMiner does a good job of making backlinks less intimidating. This will help you accomplish two very important things.
1. LinkMiner will help you see your competitor's backlink profile
2. It will also help give you an idea of where to start out reaching for backlinks on your own site.
The screencast will answer all of your questions about this underrated and powerful tool.
The newest addition to the Mangools family - I introduce you to SiteProfiler!
SiteProfiler is a powerful SEO tool that will enable you to do in-depth competitor research. This tool will allow you to see competitor's SEO metrics, estimated traffic, their top content and a bunch more.
This is a watered down version of AHREF's 'Site Explorer' but does a good job of giving accurate data and making it simple to use.
You gotta watch the screencast below to see how I use SiteProfiler to (ethically) spy on competitors to know which content I should create.
The verdict is pretty simple - if you are looking to dip your toes into the world of SEO, want to get ahead of your competitors but aren't ready to invest a ton of money... Mangools is as good as it gets.
Have you tried Mangools? Do you think there is a better all-in-one SEO tool for beginners? Let me know in the comments below dudes!
*Disclosure - Some ofThis means if the product is right for you and you purchase it, we get a small commission - at no extra cost to you! Your support keeps us caffeinated so we can pump out more content*
“Give me six hours to cut down a tree, and I will spend four of those hours sharpening my axe”
- Abe Lincoln
If you are here, I commend you. Your online game is about to change forever.
If you are interested in learning the ways of SEO, this is one of the most important articles you will ever read.
I'm an SEO-nerd. And as an SEO-nerd, I've got to tell you, keyword research does not get a fraction of the attention it deserves from online entrepreneurs.
In the world of SEO, keyword research provides the greatest return on investment for the least amount of effort.
We at Ditch Your Desk say SEO has three distinct stages...
1. Keyword Research
Keyword research is the foundation of SEO and is where you need to begin your SEO journey. This is the ultimate guide for beginners and anyone looking to up their SEO game.
On Page SEO and Off Page SEO are quite popular topics. The web is littered with websites offering tons of information on how to optimize your content (On Page SEO) and to build links (Off Page SEO).
But for some reason, lost between those two is the foundation of any content marketing pro.
This foundation? Keyword research.
Ladies and gentlemen - this is the greatest guide to keyword research ever fucking written.
This is more than just a 'how to' guide.
This is Keyword-Research-University, and class is in session.
99.9% of SEO's would charge for this kind of content.
But we at Ditch Your Desk politely say, screw that. We got your backs homies!
By the time you are done reading this, you will not just have a better understanding of keyword research, but of SEO (and the internet) as a whole.
Three and a half years ago I had no idea what SEO was. I had no idea what a keyword was, let alone what keyword research even meant.
Now, I'm quite good at it.
But I'm not that far removed from the days where I felt incredibly overwhelmed by SEO and especially keyword research. Because of that, I've been able to translate this info in a way that is easy to digest.
So if you are an SEO-newbie - worry not! I can empathize with you!
If you read this guide carefully, take notes, and actually apply the lessons - you'll literally catapult your SEO-knowledge. I guarantee it.
Wrongo. Keyword research is alive and well.
Sure, it's certainly evolved and changed over time, and in many ways it's become more immersive and challenging.
But that's why it's so awesome.
Because Keyword research has evolved so much over the years, less and less people are doing it correctly or efficiently.
Which is why this article will help you dominate your competition and catapult your brand to the top of your niche.
Want to take your business to the next level?
Ditch Your Desk subscribers get access to our best content. Period.
This is Part One of the Keyword research Guide, and it's aimed at educating you exactly what keywords are, how they work, so you can then have a better understanding of how to do Keyword research.
If you are new to keyword research, SEO and content creation in general, I urge you to grab your favourite beverage, find a comfy seat, arm yourself with a pen and paper and prepare your mind...
Understanding keyword research is beyond crucial to your online success and driving traffic to your website.
Not because keyword research is some easy formula to make millions.
But because by wrapping your head around the ideas around keyword research, you'll begin to wrap your head around the ideas and principles of SEO and the foundation of being a successful internet entrepreneur.
This is the core of content marketing, and what gives you a competitive edge. This is akin to making a business strategy, and will put you ahead of 95% of other bloggers/content creators out there who do not understand KW research and are just shooting in the dark with their content.
In my quest for SEO-ninja-ness, I can confidently say that one of the biggest jumps I made was when I was able to completely wrap my head around how keywords work and how keywrods rank.
One day, it all just clicked for me.
That day is today for you.
By the end of this guide you will have learned three things about keyword research...
The goal here is not to spend 50 hours a week on keyword research. Screw that. Your goal is to read this crash course, create a huge and effective content strategy, and leave with the understanding of how to do keyword research in short small bursts in the future (3-4 hours a month).
Basically, by reading, understanding, and implementing this information, you'll elevate yourself from an SEO-newbie to an SEO-ninja.
This is the simplest way I can put keyword research.
Keyword research is preparation. It's a strategy. Which is super important especially if you are new to this.
You need to look at your blog like a business, and successful businesses are businesses that have a plan.
Example. Let's say you wanted to open a restaurant. You could do one of two options.
Keyword research is best viewed as 'business research'.
You see, too often people create content like point #1 ('winging it'). They create content based on what they like to create. They create content based on what they think people want to read or watch.
Don't get me wrong, 'winging it' has worked for some people online - but that's mostly a thing of the past. Blogging competition is increasing by the day, and it's less likely that blindly going into content creation (or let's be real, any business) is going to yield success.
You need to understand that successful content marketers (whether on a blog, Youtube, Instagram, or any platform in between) typically do the same thing...
I mean, simply put - how the hell do you expect to have a successful business without doing some research?
Keyword research shows you what people are searching for and which search queries do not have too much competition. You can then cherry pick the highest volume, lowest competition keywords and create content around those topics.
If you are doing everything yourself (writing, SEO, editing, etc) then when it comes to time spent you can expect to spend around...
So as you can see, when it comes to TIME spent as a blogger, Keyword research will only run you about 10% of your overall SEO-bandwidth. In this time you'll look for the answers you expect, discover some answers you didn't expect, and all the while gaining an invaluable understanding of what people are searching for, and what you can expect to accomplish.
But as mentioned, this illustrates TIME spent as a blogger.
When it comes to IMPORTANCE, it's a different situation.
Again, this is in no way science, just a way for you to understand the importance of the different steps of SEO. I think across the board the three aspects of SEO are just as important as the other.
Coming soon - the How to 80/20 SEO - Our 15 Most Epic Tips.
When I first began my quest to become an SEO-ninja... I had no clue what a keyword was. And, embarrassingly, it took me a long, long time to be able to completely wrap my head around the concept.
So let's start with the big picture, and then slowly hone in on the smaller concepts.
In the bigger picture, keywords (according to Moz) are...
"ideas and topics that define what your content is about"
Does that confuse you? Don't worry. It used to confuse me.
I would think to myself, 'wait? wtf are my keywords then?!? What is my content?!? WHAT ARE MY KEYWORDS?'
Let's break this down further...
Answer - as many as you want...
This used to confuse me. I thought that I had to have ONE keyword that was used for my entire site.
But then it dawned on me...
Different websites use keywords differently, but the easiest way to look at is, is that each page and/or post that you publish, will have its own primary keyword (We'll discuss secondary keywords a bit later).
For example, let's say you owned a trophy store in Birmingham UK. You don't have any intention to write any blog posts, you don't have any intention to write any other pages for your website, you just have a homepage with a photo of you and a phone number for your kick-ass trophy shop.
One page for your website. Your keyword for that one page would probably be 'trophy shop in Birmingham'.
Simple and easy.
But, I have a sneaking suspicion, that if you are here, you aren't looking to open a one-page website promoting your trophy shop in Birmingham. You are here because you want to write a shit ton of amazing content, capture a ton of traffic and make a ton of money.
So, as a blogger, you are going to write about a ton of keywords - and each of those keywords will be covered in a different blog post.
Let's say you've decided to start a rock climbing blog. You'll probably do some brainstorming and come up with different article ideas...
Well, simply put, your keywords will basically be the exact same thing!
Each blog post you create will be about a topic, so therefore each blog post will have it's own primary keyword because keywords are just the words people use to search for topics.
The blog post topics are the keywords you will use.
For an example, let's look at The Broke Backpacker.
Will's travel blog has almost 1,000 blog posts. Sure, while most of them fit under the general travel-umbrella, no single keyword can describe the site in its entirety. So each page of the site or each blog post will have its own targeted primary keyword.
Another example from The Broke Backpacker...
This one blog post ("Ultimate Guide to Backpacking India") has one primary keyword ('backpacking India').
Like I said, The Broke Backpacker has 1,000 articles, so I could show you 1,000 more examples, but you get the point.
In essence - each blog post has it's own primary keyword, and each keyword is a separate piece of real estate that you are trying to win.
But if we have the keyword.... how does someone find our blog posts?
So let's recap.
Let's say you have an awesome rock climbing blog.
This rock climbing blog will have many blog posts, and each blog post will exist to answer a question or explain a topic.
Each question or that topic that you write about is its primary keyword.
And for every blog post or video you make, you can target new and different keywords.
Let's say there is a young woman named Jill in Pittsburgh Ohio who is interested in taking a rock-climbing-vacation in Colorado and wants to find some great Rocky mountains to climb.
She goes on to Google, and types... "best rock climbing in Colorado".
This is known as a search query, and is the most important aspect of keywords and why we are doing what we are doing.
You have a blog post about rock climbing in Colorado. Jill is searching for where to climb in Colorado.
What is the only thing connecting you to Jill?
In the image above we have information on the left, and the searcher on the right.
Your rock climbing site has a bunch of information on rock climbing.
Jill is looking for information about rock climbing.
Google (and Youtube, and Bing... I guess?) is the middle man that connects it all together. This connection process is done through you creating topics around a keyword, and people searching into a search engine for that keyword.
So in essence...
Google is the middleman that connects people to the highest quality answer to what they are seeking.
This is Google's priority.
This is the basis of SEO. SEO = understanding what Google deems high-quality content, replicating that, and then reaping the benefits (traffic).
But to get traffic to our website, we have to get into the mindset of searchers and their search queries.
Do me a favor, I want you to ask yourself a question...
What makes a keyword valuable?
There could be a complicated answer for this, but I'm gonna make it super-easy.
There are two things that made a keyword valuable young Jedi;
Let's break them down...
There's a saying in the blogging game.
Traffic. Is. Everything.
Traffic is a make-or-break for websites, and the single-most important metric for gauging a website's success and overall value.
This is because volume represents opportunity. The more traffic you have going to your website, the more people become aware of your brand, the more people are subjected to your products, the more likely you are to make a sale or the more leverage you can have for advertisers.
It's marketing 101 -> the more the people that see your ad, the more potential customers you can have. This is why a Super Bowl commercial costs a million times more than an ad on the local news.
Would you rather have 100 people exposed to your product or 100,000? It's a no-brainer.
Let's dive a bit deeper into volume, and how it works for you and your content site.
Let's use a previous example before from The Broke Backpacker - the 'Backpacking India' article.
Will targeted the keyword 'backpacking India' because it brought in a decent amount of traffic.
There are a variety of tools, but the easiest to use (and our favorite recommendation for newbies) is Keywords Everywhere.
Oh, and it's free.
Keywords Everywhere is a Chrome extension that gives an approximate volume of keywords as you type them into Google. For example...
Please, take these numbers with a grain of salt. Keywords Everywhere is an approximation. But in our experience, they are good enough to get a great understanding of a keywords potential and general volume.
So according to the above screenshot, the keyword 'backpacking India' has a volume of 720 a month, meaning that globally, around 720 people go into Google.com, type in 'backpacking India', and hit 'Enter'.
Let's put this into perspective... Let's see how many people search for the term 'India' on Google...
To further put this into perspective....
The keyword 'how to travel to India cheap' gets around 20 searches a month.
So let's analyze these three different keywords from the perspective of volume....
So, if I told you that volume = value, that would mean that more volume = more value.
So if more volume = more value, then why didn't Will/The Broke Backpacker try and rank for the more valuable keyword 'India'.
Isn't 368,000 potential visitors better than 720 potential visitors?
We'll cover that very soon, I just want to make sure you understand how keyword search volume works.
*Real quick - stop what you are doing right now, open a new tab, type in 'Keywords Everywhere' and download the plugin. Simple to use, and always on - this little tool is an essential part of your SEO-arsenal and it makes Googling a lot more fun*
So, Keywords Everywhere tells us that 720 people a month are typing the keyword 'Backpacking India' into Google.
Now look at this.
So in theory, you'd think that if we ended up #1 in the Google results (the ultimate goal) that 720 people on the dot would click on Will's 'Backpacking India' page, correct?
So out of the 720 people a month that type the keyword 'backpacking India' into Google, only 300 clicked on The Broke Backpacker's Guide... And it's in the number one position!
Actually, truth be told this is well above the average. Click through rates (commonly referred to as CTR's) for the #1 result are usually only in the 30% range, and this post is getting a CTR of around 42%.
You gotta understand that ranking #1 for a primary keyword with 1,000 searches a month will not give you 1,000 visitors to that page a month through that search term alone (hence secondary keywords, which we'll get to in a bit).
Sure, understanding 'user intent' sounds like it's going to be boring as shit, but it's actually awesome and it's very, very powerful.
Understanding 'user intent' doesn't take too long, and once it's embedded in your skull, you'll have a much stronger idea of which keywords you should be looking to rank for.
The gist of 'user intent' is making sure you know exactly what a keyword means, by identifying exactly what the searcher (user) is exactly looking for (intent).
On a surface level, this will seem like common sense, but we'll take it a step further and figure out which user intent keywords are online entrepreneurs' wet-dreams.
So before we dive too deep into specifics, let's look at a few different keywords to help us understand 'user intent'.
First keyword example - 'Skinny arm workout'
You could easily imagine someone typing this into Google, right?
And if you had a fitness blog, it would probably be a really good idea to have some sort of blog post that covers this topic/keyword!
What is the topic/keyword? Or more specifically, what is the user intent (aka - what information is the searcher actually looking for?)
Is it "skinny arm workout" for women looking to make their arms smaller?
Or is it "skinny arm workout" for men looking to make their arms bigger?
I'm not saying this is a bad or good topic/keyword... but it's a bit unspecific.
Our goal with keywords is to attack a specific topic or answer a specific problem or question. We want to accurately know the questions people are asking so we can accurately answer them with our awesome content.
Second Keyword - "Backpacking Aguas Calientes"
The closest town to Machu Picchu in Peru, Aguas Calientes acts as sort of a gateway to this world wonder.
Is someone searching for how to travel to the town of Aguas Calientes? (backpacking/budget travel)
Or is someone searching for how to hike the mountains around Aguas Calientes? (backpacking/hiking/trekking/camping)
It could go either way. While there could be some overlap, it's not immedietaly apparent to me what information the searcher is looking for.
Third keyword - "Mom butt"
Will and I run a niche site in the health sector and in my keyword research I learned that "mom butt" is two things.
One group is women searching for how to be rid of their post-pregnancy "mom butt".... but the other group of people have slightly different intentions with this keyword, if you know what I mean...
We want to make sure we understand the user's question and make sure we don't mistake it for something else.
This is because the 'user intent' has a ton of value. Some questions/search queries/keywords are more valuable than others.
This is because we use different words when we are looking for different information.
Let's go back to a previous example - the keyword 'India', which had a volume of 370,000 searches per month.
370,000 searches a month is an insane amount of traffic... but let me ask you... If someone searches for the keyword 'India'.... what the hell are they even searching for?
Seriously, think about it for a second.
I ask those questions specifically because that's what Google seems to think.
The results are all over the place. Google pulls up websites that have...
What does this tell us?
That the user-intent is fairly undefined. When someone types 'India' into Google, even Google is like 'dude, can you be a bit more specific next time?'.
Let's look at another previous example - 'backpacking India'...
As you can see, all of the results for 'backpacking India' are about cheap/budget travel to India. There is no confusion here. Google knows what people want when they search for this search query.
Last example, let's looks at 'how to travel to India cheap'...
What do you think that keyword means? According to Google, it means two distinct things...
The first four results are about cheap flights TO India. But results 5 and 6 are about cheap travel IN India.
This means a few things.
So let's analyze these three different keywords from the perspective of user-intent....
While we initially said that volume is the first part of understanding a keyword's value, user intent can actually show the complete opposite.
And because of that, sometimes volume is a terrible, terrible way of gauging a keyword's value.
User intent is the true path to finding bad-ass keywords that converts into buyers.
Let's look at two keywords.
So if we were comparing the value of these two keywords on traffic/volume alone - 'how to walk properly' would beat 'best mattress for back sleepers'.
880 searches a month > 590 searches a month. Case closed.
If you are measuring only by search volume, 'How to walk properly' is more valuable.
But this example perfectly exemplifies why volume is not the most important thing to us.
Let's look at these two keywords again, but this time let's look at their CPC.
(CPC = cost per click, and it shows how much advertisers are willing to pay for a single click to their website for a potential keyword. While not a science, it can help you gauge the competition and overall value of a keyword.)
This is because of a few things, but we are only going to look at user intent.
What it comes down to is this -> 'best mattress for back sleepers' is a keyword that converts (makes money).
People who type ' how to walk properly' into Google might apply a simple lesson (keep your back straight, don't walk flat footed, etc) and move on with their lives. Simple as that.
But compare that to 'best mattress for back sleepers'...
People who type 'best mattress for back sleepers' into Google sleep on their backs, and are interested in buying an expensive-ass-mattress to support their sleep-style. Simple as that.
'How to walk properly' doesn't quite have the same buying-power. Don't get me wrong, depending on your niche, audience and goals - 'how to walk properly' could be an amazing keyword! But it's not a conversion/money keyword, and compared to best mattresses, it's not as valuable.
*A quick note - $6 CPC is extremely high and is a result of the product (mattresses). I specifically used this keyword to illustrate a large disparity between two very different types of keywords. But you need to understand that there are keywords that people use to buy shit. 'Best mattresses for back sleepers' is one of them.*
A great rule of thumb? Try ranking for 'best' anything.
Look for keywords with 'best ___(insert any type of product)___'.
Some other great one's to look for? (____ = enter a product in your niche)
'___ vs ___'
'____ best price'
All of these types of keywords convert very high and could prove super valuable to your marketing effors.
I'm not talking shit about the keyword 'how to walk properly'. That keyword could be a huge opportunity for someone.
I just wanted to explain that not all keywords have the same monetization-potential.... but there are other factors you need to consider...
There is no universal 'sales cycle'. Everyone's differs, so I decided to make our own.
Meet Ditch Your Desk's 'Content Sales Cycle'.
This is typically the process. I cut down the fluff and boiled it down to it's most basic process, specifically to how it relates to content marketers (like you!).
So if you look at the sales cycle, let's look at different keywords that fit into different parts of the sales cycle.
John is at a bar, drinking his favorite beer. John loves beer. He loves drinking beer. He loves talking about beer. He fancies himself a beer connoisseur.
Ding! A light goes off in John's head. John thinks to himself.
'Wait.... Can I brew my own beer?'
Enlightened, John leaves the bar, goes home and Google's a few different keywords...
'How to brew beer'
'can you brew beer at home'
'is brewing your own beer difficult'
'brew IPA at home'
This part of the sales cycle is crucial. While John is not ready to buy a product, he is actively seeking information and is very, very impressionable right now.
So while these sort of keywords might not give you the highest conversion rates (hardcore money) these are without a doubt the keywords that enable you to make the biggest impact on someone (hardcore followers).
If someone is looking for a new hobby/interest/niche that could become important in their life, your content might be their introduction into this new world, and they will forever relate your blog/video/content with that change in their life.
This is human nature.
This is why you want to establish yourself as an authority on your topic. So when John - inspired by life and a few pints of his favorite local brew - types into Google 'is brewing your own beer difficult', your beautiful, shiny site is there to tell him...
'No John, in fact, it's super easy... Let me show you exactly what to do' 🙂
These are the keywords that yield the highest conversions.
Why? Because at this point in the sales cycle, John is ready to buy.
He's discovered information about brewing beer, realized he can do it himself, is inspired, and is ready to start looking for specific products that can aid him.
The sort of keywords John will look for are....
'best home brew starter kits 2018'
'top rated beer brewing kits'
'Eagle Brew kit review 2018'
'Brooklyn Brew Shop Everyday IPA Beer Making Kit'
These are product-research keywords, where the buyer is ready to type in their 16 digit credit card number and click the shiny 'Buy Now' button.
John buys his first home-brewing kit, and eagerly awaits it's delivery.
You receive a commission from Amazon, or another affiliate platform, for bringing in the sale.
While there is certainly some overlap, topic-research and product-research are two distinct parts of the sales process, and each gives you a different opportunity to engage with your customer.
Each keyword presents its own opportunity and benefits, and a professional content marketer will ensure to have an even distribution of both types of keywords. This way you can be sure you are targeting different types of users at different points in the cycle.
But that's more advanced shit that we'll get into a bit later.
Understanding user intent is important, but don’t feel the need to be an expert in this. It’s one of those things you want to just register in your brain and keep in mind when gauging the value of a potential keyword.
Remember, by itself, neither volume nor user intent is enough to gauge a keyword's value. You need to find keywords that are relevant to your brand, that have some volume and the right user intent.
Once you understand how to gauge the value of a keyword, you need to be able to determine something equally as important - it's difficulty.
So at this point, you will be thinking something along the lines of...
'I need to start looking for keywords with high volume, and the right user intent. Once I do that I can start creating kickass content that appeals to people who are looking to be topic-aware AND product-aware!'.
But unfortunately, it isn't quite that easy...
A friend of mine made a cool comparison, that a keyword can be looked at like a piece of real-estate.
Some keywords (‘Best Foods in Bulgaria’) are like small countryside farms in Kansas.
And other keywords (‘Best Laptop’) are like New York City penthouses.
Sure, the farms are nice, but the penthouse is a penthouse
But while the farm on Kansas is affordable, the penthouse is going to cost you an arm and a leg.
Keywords are the same way.
Let's look at an example...
Let's say you really wanted to start a blog on rock climbing. You think to yourself...
'What's the most obvious keyword I can target... Shit! I got it! 'ROCK CLIMBING'!'
Let's look at the numbers...
There are over 90,000 searches a month, and while the user intent isn't completely obvious, it's very relevant to your blog - hell yea!
You are imagining yourself writing a guide on rock climbing, sitting back, lighting a cigar, and shooting to the top of Google as you watch 90,000 people a month read your content.
Hold up cowboy (or gal), let's talk.
First of all, this is a terrible keyword to target for many reasons.
The user-intent is not obvious and it's completely up in the air.
Is this person searching for where to rock climb? How to rock climb? When to rock climb? What is rock climbing? Frankly whoever searches for this is confused.
Second of all, we are going to use this example to highlight our next topic - keyword difficulty.
Courtesy of our secret-ninja-keyword-software - KWFinder by Mangools (more on this later).
So let's be real. The keyword 'rock climbing' is going to be very difficult to rank for.
While 'possible' might sound mildly optimistic, KWFinder has a tendency to be a bit passive-aggressive.
I'm telling you that to truly give yourself a competitive advantage in keyword research and SEO in general, you need to use tools to train yourself in gauging the difficulty of a keyword and to leave the ones out of reach be.
Not all keyword real estate is cheap. Not all of it is easy to snatch up. This is where the combination of hard-data and educated guesses helps us make decisions that will benefit our content efforts.
Let me explain.
It makes sense that keywords should have different difficulties right?
As we mentioned before, keywords have different values. If something has low value, there's going to be low competition for it.
For example, let's use the keyword 'lawyer New York'. To gauge the keyword's value we have to look at two things...
1. It's volume
2. The user intent
There is no tool to gauge user intent. The CPC $ will help you get an idea (which btw - WOW, $12 per click is insane), but it's mostly based on YOUR evaluation.
So ask yourself, do you think that people who use the keyword 'lawyer New York' are willing to spend money?
So, do you think that's going to be a high competition keyword or a low competition keyword?
If you guessed that 'lawyer New York' has valuable user intent - you are correct!
Because if someone types this keyword into Google, they need a lawyer, and lawyers aren't cheap. So that means being in the first place on Google for this keyword = you are making money (assuming you are a lawyer).
Add in the juicy volume of 1300 a month and you have a very, very high-value keyword.
And the value is reflected in the competition (some of the top law firms of New York).
Long story short, because of the high value of the keyword, ending up on the first page of Google for this specific keyword is going to be very, very, very difficult.
And as far as we at Ditch Your Desk are concerned, understanding how to gauge a keyword's difficulty is the difference between life and death in SEO.
Because instead of fighting for our lives, battling big brands for keywords that are super valuable, we want to focus on smaller keywords that we have a much better chance of ranking for.
Let's dive deeper.
The goal now is this...
We've figured out the type of keywords we are interested in - keywords with high volume and with the correct user intent.
But we need to now identify which keywords we SHOULD go for.
If you want to be the #1 spot on Google for 'best sunglasses', you have to realize it's going to be near impossible to even get on the third page for that keyword.
Personally, I'm very interested in buying the Miami Heat NBA basketball team. Doesn't mean I should try.
Same goes for you and the keywords you are targeting.
This doesn't mean you can't write articles that have super competitive keywords. In fact the complete opposite. Every website will need staple topics, regardless of their ability to rank.
This is the part where we need to decide which articles we think we have an actual chance of ranking in Google, and we do that through keyword research.
One thing I want to make clear here. There is no easy way to do keyword research. And there is no single tool that accurately will tell you how difficult a particular keyword is to rank for.
Yes, there are a series of free and premium tools you can use that will make your life easier - but as with anything in business, there are absolutely no guarantees.
Is there a tool that will absolutely tell you if your new stock investment will definitely pay out?
Is there a tool that will absolutely tell you if your new coffee shop will succeed?
The same goes for running a blog.
But there are absolutely tools that can give you a clearer understanding of what you are up against, which in turn will give you a competitive edge. And competitive edges are awesome.
Ultimately, keyword research can be as free or expensive as you want it to be. But if you have money to invest, I highly recommend using one of these two products.
Far and away my favorite SEO tool available. I find AHREF's data to be the most accurate, and interface to be preferable to most of the other Keyword tools out there (and I've tried most of them!).
But AHREF's does not come cheap (the bare-bones program is $99 a month), and it's not necessarily beginner-friendly.
But if you can swing it, it's certainly the most powerful tool on the web.
I truly love and recommend this tool, that even though AHREFs doesn't have an affiliate program, it's still my number one recommendation for the best overall keyword research tool.
Coming soon - my full review on why AHREF's is the most powerful SEO-tool on the web
So, if AHREFs is out of reach, or if you are looking for a much easier introduction to the world of SEO/keyword research, this is absolutely my number one recommendation.
KWFinder has become one of my favorite SEO-tools for beginners.
It's only $29 a month, and that price gives you 5 kickass SEO tools that Will and I use every day.
Its phenomenal interface makes it great for beginners, and the price includes a series of tools that can really help anyone with a beginner to moderate understanding of SEO to the next level.
While these tools are powerful, there are not without their flaws. But by using them, you'll be able to increase your arsenal in ways you never knew possible. And the bigger your arsenal, the more powerful your army.
Ignore premium SEO-tools at your own peril. If you're not willing to invest in your success online, you will be walking a very challenging, frustrating road.
If you do choose to invest in a premium SEO research tool, you'll be given access to some game-changing, powerful data that will give you an edge in your quest for domination.
But if you can't invest right now - that's OK too!
Next we are going to dicuss using the SERPs to gauge a keyword's difficulty (hint - it's free!). Even if you have a premium keyword research tool, you'll want to use this free method as well (because it's probably just as powerful!).
SERP = Search Engine Results Page.
What is this fancy combination of letters you might ask?
Type any word into Google, hit 'Enter' and BAM! You are looking at the SERPs.
In a nutshell, SERPs are the results Google delivers for a keyword.
These are the SERP's for the keyword 'Hong Kong visa'.
Your mission is to get to the top of the SERP's.
SERPs are an interesting thing. They both 1) fluctuate like an emotional teenager and 2) stay as solid as Spartan warriors holding the line against Persian invaders.
So using the example keyword 'how to reset iPhone'...
This is both encouraging, and a bit discouraging.
Discouraging because it does mean that knocking someone off their horse on the top of the SERPs is not always easy. But with the help of Ditch Your Desk, you'll know exactly how to do it.
Encouraging because it means if you earn your place in the top five (and even more specifically in the top three), you will have a good chance of solidifying your dominance for that keyword.
Basically, we accomplish both feats above in two ways. 1) with better SEO than the competition and 2) with better content than the competition.
Coming soon - Our secret formula for how to keep your stronghold if you've got a great SERP position.
Is it impossible to get knocked off the top five? Hell no! Greater kings have fallen. But if you update your content, continue to build links, and ensure you have the proper link juice flowing to that page - you stand very likely to dominate for your keywords.
But please, don't let it discourage you. A ton of people will say, 'what's the point of even trying if the top three are solidified?'.
This is a negative, bullshit question.
The first reason - beating the number one position is a challenge, but completely doable. Will and I own multiple sites spread across multiple niches, and we do it all the time.
The second reason - everyday 500 million new keywords are being created. Don't believe me? I'll allow Google to explain...
So, as you can see, there is still plenty of opportunities to rank in Google. How many opportunities? Try 500 million A DAY! Every day there are new technologies, new products, new industries, new companies, new everything - and all of them represent opportunities for new keywords.
And every day old blogs go out of business, stop putting out great content, or get sold to less interested/savvy owners. Again - this opens opportunities for newbies to come in and take their own slice of the pie!
This is why it kills me when people say 'SEO is dead'.
It's not dead. It's just evolving. Has it gotten more difficult? Sure. But that's because people are now aware that for the price, organic traffic through Google yields the highest advertising ROI. No question.
You aren't putting up a billboard and hoping people see it.
You aren't paying for a facebook ad and trying to generate interest.
If you get a spot on the SERPS, people are coming to you, their mouths literally watering for answers.
Is it a bit more difficult to get to the top? Sure. But organic search is still the smartest investment you can make - this I thoroughly believe.
But I digress.
So now that we have a decent understanding of the SERP's, let's take a look some metrics so we can really get a more on-the-ground understanding of a keywords competition (to then decide which one's we are going to target!).
The first tool you are going to download (if you haven't already) is the Moz Bar.
Go to Moz.com, click 'Free SEO Tools' (top right), click 'On Page Metrics with Moz Bar', then download the extension.
A quick overview - Moz is a badass SEO company, for many reasons, but for the sake of this free Moz Bar extension, we are going to focus on one thing...
DA (Domain Authority)
DA is a metric that was created by Moz to rank a website's age, value and rankability - these metrics are super useful as you can quickly check a website's DA to form an educated guess on the ranking power of that site in SERPs.
The domain is the actual home page of the website (for example - www.thebrokebackpacker.com or ditchyourdesk.com), and the DA is the score Moz gives the domain based on a ton of factors including how many backlinks the site has, how well the content is ranking in SERPS and various other factors such as on-page time and bounce rate.
The score ranges from 0 (least powerful) to 100 (most powerful).
Simply put, the higher the DA, the more perceived strength Moz thinks a website has. The more perceived strength, the easier time the website should have to rank for a keyword.
Further reading - is DA even important?
Making sure the Moz bar is turned on, let's google the keyword 'best rock climbing chalk'.
(Notice - if you are doing this yourself, your results might look slightly different)
Let's take a look at this and analyze...
So how can REI publish a blog post about the 'best rock climbing chalk', and with all of it's power and huge DA of 88... how is it losing (and badly) to 99boulders? A small blog with 1/4 of the DA power?
It's coming down to one thing - quality content.
Let's compare the blog posts side by side. 99Boulders is on the left, and REI on the right...
Are you seeing this? 99Boulder's article completely shits on REI's article.
99Boulder's article is longer, has more information, more multimedia, better organization, and just kicks ass! REI's article... not so much.
I'm highlighting this to show you that ranking in the SERP's for quality keywords is totally possible. You just have to put together phenomenal content. It's no guarantee it'll beat the big names, but creating world-class content will give you the best possible shot.
Ultimately this is Google's goal - to connect their users to the best piece of content.
Now, let's take a peek at what KWFinder thinks about this particular keyword...
KWfinder thinks ranking in the top 10 for 'best rock climbing chalk' is easy!
So when you are gauging a keyword's difficulty, you have to ask yourself two things...
If the answer is yes to both questions, then - BOOM! We've found keywords we are going to make moves to rank for.
So you've got a pretty good idea of what you are looking for now...
And how to do find those keywords....
But let me clarify something here...
Remember, two things make a keyword valuable
Well, as the title above implies... while high volume keywords are extremely valuable, they are also getting tougher and tougher to rank for.
Let's go back to the keyword 'best rock climbing chalk'.
Only 40 searches a month.
You might be thinking - 'wtf?!? that's so low!'
It is. And that's exactly the reason why you should target low volume keywords.
Long tail keywords are something that SEO's have been buzzing about for years.
Ultimately, long tail keywords are keywords that have three or more words.
'men workout' = NOT a long tail keyword
'top strength training workout for men over 60' = long tail keyword
'laptop cases' = NOT a long tail keyword
'best laptop cases for mac under $20' = long tail keyword
Long tail keywords are the way people actually search for things on Google. Long tail keywords are specific, yet random, but no matter what they are low in volume, and they are the way the majority of the population searches for things online.
You'll notice that while the 30% of 'fat head' and 'chunky middle' has the highest number of monthly searches, the 'long tail' keywords have the most keywords at 70%.
As a newbie, you need to go after medium to long tail keywords, that are 3-7 words long, and have low competition.
And really, you don't need to go after just 1-2 of them. You need to go after 100-200 of them.
Back in the old days (like, two years ago), Google wasn't quite as sophisticated as it is now.
Back in the old days, keyword selection was VERY specific.
Two years ago, choosing between 'best luxury hotel in Singapore' and best luxury hotels in Singapore' was an actual discussion. That 's' was a big deal.
Keywords were super specific, as Google would try and connect exact searches to exact keywords.
Now? Those days are over. Google's a lot smarter.
You see, remember when we discussed quality content?
Remember, Google's ultimate goal is to best answer the question of its users. And it has gotten so much better at that. So much so, that articles are ranking for so many more keywords than they intend.
These other keywords that you rank for are called secondary keywords.
You have to understand, that you are going to rank for more than just your target keyword. And if you follow Ditch Your Desk's guides - you'll rank for a TON more.
Let's look at a SERP we previously talked about, 99Boulder's ranking for the keyword 'best chalk for rock climbing'.
Using AHREF's software, I'm going to blow your mind.
If you notice, AHREF's is reporting that this page is actually ranking for 157 keywords! And if you look, is estimated to being in 109 users a month via Google. A lot better than only getting a portion of 40, right?
Let's look at AHREF's report to get an actual idea of what other keywords this is ranking for.
And this screenshot only shows 16 keywords. This post is ranking for 157 total keywords.
Granted a few caveats, these reports are never 100% accurate, and many of the keywords this page is ranking for are not giving them any traffic. But this example is here to show you that while you are targeting a single keyword, you'll end up ranking for hundreds of keywords!
Or maybe thousands...
Ranking for thousands of keywords enables you to explode your traffic to another level. Well written blog with great On Page SEO posts will naturally rank for tons of keywords.
But there are also a couple of keyword research hacks we use to help rank for even more keywords. We'll cover the best ways to ensure your posts end up ranking for hundreds of juicy keywords in part two.
Are you still here?!?
Good. Then it means you are taking your SEO super fucking serious.
And those who take SEO super fucking serious win on Google.
Simple as that.
This is only part one of my epic keyword research guides. Next up, I'll be going into detail into the exact process I use for keyword research with a variety of free and premium tools. I'll also show you how to then use that research to make an epic and long-term content strategy that brings in both traffic and big income.
You won't want to miss it.
In the meantime, please give me some comment love below to let me know if anything is unclear or if there's anything else you want me to cover.
**Yay for transparency! Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase, Ditch Your Desk will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you**
There's no way around it.
To get started making money online, you are going to need a website.
No if's and's or but's.
Maybe your plan is to set up a bunch of sweet niche sites or a more in-depth personal blog. Or perhaps you simply need a site to sell your drop-shipped products.
Whatever your online aspirations, getting a website up and running is the most important first step.
This guide will show you everything you need to know to set up your first site cheaply and quickly while setting yourself up for long-term success.
Let's start with the basics.
First of all...
First thing is first, make sure you know what niche you are going to choose. If you need help with where to start, read this epic guide.
If you know what your website is going to be about, then get excited...
"Because in less than sixty minute's time, you will have your website."
But first, you're going to need three things...
I'm going to walk you through this step by step, screenshot by screenshot.
After you finish following these steps you'll have a beautiful website and you'll also understand basics of how your website works.
If you want to jump right into the 7 steps to start your site- click here!
Let's make this real simple - I like to think of hosting - like paying rent.
There are ways around paying rent in the real world. Sure, you could go deep into the woods, chop down trees, collect lumber and learn how to build a house from scratch. Similarly, rather than renting your website space from a hosting provider, you could look into building your own hosting servers but hell, that would be a mission.
So, you need to rent your space from an already established hosting provider.
Think of your hosting company like your landlord. Now we just have to find a landlord...
There are tons of hosting companies out there offering all sorts of packages.
But out of all of the hosting options, we recommend going with Bluehost.
There are three things we look for in a hosting provider.
Bluehost does all three.
Will and I have been using Bluehost independently and on the same projects for years. They provide quality hosting at the cheapest price on the web.
Try $2.95 a month.
I know - $2.95 a month to run your business cheap is basically nothing.
But Bluehost is more than just their low price.
Far and away the best part of Bluehost is their customer service. Anytime I had issues, all I do is make a call, and the problem was quickly resolved.
If this is your first online project then picking Bluehost is a no-brainer - let's start the process!
If you haven't already, click the button below to get started.
You should be taken to this screen.
Click the green button that says 'Get Started Now'
You should then be taken to this screen, where you can select your monthly plan for Bluehost...
If you are planning on taking your website to the next level and are interested in the juicy extras, the prime option at $5.95 a month is completely worth it!
But if you aren't sure or this is your first site - don't worry. The $2.95 plan has everything you'll need (and you can always upgrade later).
Click the green 'Select' button for the plan you want for your business.
You should now be at this screen...
Which means you now get to pick your domain name!
If you know the domain name you already want, go ahead and skip to the next step!
If you don't know what your domain name is yet, here's some helpful tips.
Our domain at Ditch your Desk is DitchyourDesk.com
Facebook's domain is Facebook.com.
So we need to make sure your domain is available. This means we need to be sure no one is already using your domain name. You can do so on the current Bluehost screen.
Here are a few things to keep an eye on when picking a domain name...
How annoying would this be?
"Hey check out my site! It's no9-5foru.com! That's spelt n-o-number-nine-hyphen-number-five-f-o-r-letter-u.com!'
Wayyy too complicated.
Do yourself and your future audience a favor - no numbers, no hyphens, no shortened versions of words (you/u) and no slang. You want your domain to be simple and clear.
Simplicity is key. Any domains over three or four words should be reconsidered. You want to convey the message of the business in as few words as possible.
Think of www.TheBrokeBackpacker.com.
Simple, easy to remember and the message is immediately apparent. There's no guessing how it's spelled or debating what kind of content you'll find on that site.
Often the path of our online endeavors will change. It's almost a guarantee. Life will throw your curveballs, your niche/market will evolve and your personal interests will change.
So the best way to set yourself up for this? Choose a domain that isn't too specific. You want to settle on a name that doesn't tie you down and that will give you some room for flexibility.
Let's say you want to start a pizza-review blog based in New York, so you name it NYSlice.com
Which is all fine and dandy...
Until you move.
Then you're fucked.
Then you have to decide whether you have to continue with this name, re-brand, or sell the site.
So instead, do yourself a favor, and choose something that is more flexible.
We see this problem a lot in the travel blogging niche. Someone names their site VietnamTraveler.com - and it'll be a great first year! But then after a year eating Vietnamese food, the VietnamTraveler now wants to venture to other parts of the world...
The lesson? Instead of tying yourself down, give yourself a domain name that is malleable. You want something that can adapt and evolve as your brand will adapt and evolve.
*Ditch Your Desk Hustle Notes* - An idea worth considering is just to go with www.yourname.com. While the domain won't reflect your niche, as your site grows, it will give you an enormous edge in personal branding. But with pros come cons. A website named after you will be very difficult to sell further down the line.
As Bruce Lee said - be water.
Once you have chosen your domain name, you should be taken here...
Please set up your payment information with a debit or credit card.
Now you should be looking at this screen.
Click the green button.
...and create your password! You'll know you've chosen a good password when you click the blue 'Next' button and see this screen.
If you click 'log in', you will now see this screen.
You are going to choose a theme on Bluehost, but don't worry which one you pick - it's only temporary. We are going to easily change it a bit further down the line.
For now, pick whichever you like and head to the next screen.
Once you see this - you can start building your site! Click the blue button to get acquainted with your new best friend, WordPress.
You now should be looking at a screen like this.
Choose the 'Business' option.
You'll then be taken here...
Click the blue 'Launch' button, which will then show you this screen...
Type in your site title and go ahead and give it a bit of a description. Anything will do. Don't worry about making it perfect - you can easily change it later.
Click 'Next Step' and BOOM! WordPress is now installed!
Go ahead and click 'Log in to WordPress'.
YOU DID IT!
You have now completely finished setting up your first website and can get to the fun stuff - making it look awesome.
From now on, you'll have little interaction with Bluehost. Remember, they are like your landlord. They collect your rent, but mostly they leave you alone (unless you need help with something technical).
Most of your time on your website will be spent with your new best friend - WordPress.
Thanks to Bluehost, we now have a business name (domain) and our office (hosting) in the internet universe! Yay! We now have a legitimate website.
Our website is empty.
Don't worry, this is the process. You see, Bluehost only rents you the room. They are a landlord, not an interior designer.
Now you have to decorate.
That's what WordPress is for.
WordPress will give you a free hand in designing your new site. It helps decorate, and organize your entire website.
While it can come with a bit of a learning curve, WordPress is an absolute godsend. It has simplified the blogging process and currently powers nearly 30% of the world's most popular websites.
Now it's time to decorate. We do this in WordPress by picking a WordPress theme.
Coming soon - A Theme for Every Budget (And our #1 Pick!). In the meantime, you should probably start brushing up on your SEO here.
**Yay for transparency! Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that if you make a purchase, Ditch Your Desk will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you**
Affiliate marketing is awesome, and I believe it's the absolute best way to make money online. Period.
Affiliate Marketing has a low barrier to entry, anybody can get started, and while there is a LOT of initial work you can reap the benefits again and again.
While I dislike the term 'passive income' (nothing is truly passive), affiliate marketing represents a golden opportunity to set up a system, and let the money roll in 24/7.
It's as close to 'passive' as income gets.
Imagine waking up every day and KNOWING that you will have made money as you slept.
For the last year, Will and I have been working on several joint projects. Some sites make $5 a day, others make over $500 a day - and we don't have to do anything else to continue making that money - the hard work is done!
While there are always tinkering with, and trying to scale, our affiliate income streams we know that we can take months off at a time and still earn cash whilst we travel...
As I mentioned before, it takes a serious commitment of time and energy to build up an affiliate income in the first place but if you want to invest in a future where you're making money online in your sleep, affiliate marketing is your best bet.
Want to take your business to the next level?
Ditch Your Desk subscribers get access to our best content. Period.
Before we get into the wonderful world of Amazon and other affiliate programs, we need to make sure you understand exactly what "affiliate" means and how it works.
Don't worry, it's simple stuff.
Here's the bottom line...
If you find a website that is recommending a product that they don't personally sell - there's a 90% chance it's an affiliate product.
This is an enormous aspect of the internet-economy and is how many online entrepreneurs monetize their sites.
The primary function of affiliate marketing is for you (the content creator) to connect a buyer (whoever uses your website) with a seller (whoever sells the product).
The gist is simple - you act as a middleman.
Think of it this way...
Sometimes when people want to buy something - they know what they want to buy. They go directly to the source.
In this^ situation, there isn't much room for you (the affiliate marketer) to make any money.
But what about when someone isn't sure what they want to buy?
They need information before they make a purchase. And what's the first thing you do when you need information...
You Google it.
That's where affiliate marketing comes into play.
Affiliate marketing is the use of informational reviews, buyer guides, and content aimed at educating consumers before they purchase products.
Then, if the user decides to buy the product - you get a commission!
This is how an affiliate marketer (you!) makes money.
Affiliate marketers are the middleman who provide people with information they need to guide their purchase decisions.
And if that consumer buys a product after using your site - BOOM, you'll get a commission.
And these commissions can add up very, very quickly.
I am of the opinion that affiliate marketing (and SEO as a whole) have been instrumental tools in improving the quality of information on the internet.
Back in the day, there was no incentive for anyone to write great content about products. Anyone could write a bullshit review about a product.
Now? Different story.
Only truly great content will rank on Google, and only honest affiliate marketers will survive.
To make good money affiliate marketing, you have to create truly awesome reviews and buyer guides that are honest, up to date, and better than anything else on the web.
This is how you become successful as an affiliate - by producing genuine, thorough information about products which helps guide your audience.
This is how you make sales, get recurring customers, and stay on top of Google.
Like most things - the sky is the limit! But it will completely depend on how much effort you put into your project.
I run several different projects.
This is a screenshot from a niche site that we bought over a year ago but never really had any time to work on. It pulls in a bit of amount of money, but we haven't touched it in months. Over the past year, it's made over $1000.
This site will probably continue to bring in a couple of hundred bucks a month for the foreseeable future.
And below, we have a screenshot from one of our more exciting projects showing income over the last 30 days...
That's nearly $6,000 of profit in 30 days, and because we are still investing in more content on this site, the income is only going up.
We expect to double this income over the next three months which will mean a cool $12,000 a month - and that's just from ONE of the many Amazon affiliate sites we run.
The above two screenshots are from Amazon - but Amazon is NOT the only affiliate program you should be aware of.
As you may have guessed, Amazon is the most popular affiliate program in the world.
This is because Amazon is truly huge, stocks pretty much everything and is globally known all around the world - meaning it's a site that converts visitors to sales at a much higher rate than any other affiliate program out there.
This screenshot from The Visual Capitalist shows just how massive Amazon has become. Most people have grown comfortable buying things online, and Amazon is the biggest reason why.
In a nutshell - Amazon has a monopoly, and because of this, they have a catalogue of almost limitless products they can offer.
So no matter if you are writing reviews on laptop cases, making videos about puppy sweaters or anything in between - Amazon probably sells the products you are reviewing, and they will pay you an affiliate commission to send traffic their way.
But I would not go so far as to say Amazon is the best affiliate program.
'Best' is completely dependent on the content you are going to create and the products you are interested in pushing.
The cool thing about affiliate marketing is that so many companies offer affiliate programs and there are big networks of affiliate programs you can join, such as ShareASale.com, Commission Junction or Affiliate Window - these enable you to find all kinds of companies willing to pay you to help sell their products.
You'd be surprised how many companies and products are available to promore as an affiliate.
But not all affiliate programs are created equal...
When you are looking into affiliate marketing and choosing which programs you want to join, there's two things you should bear in mind...
Here's an example of affiliate marketing in action...
Let's say you're on the hunt for a new stylish high-quality kitchen faucet. So you do what every human being on planet earth does - you start Googling! You go through a bunch of random searches (aka keywords) and after a while end up here.
You fancy #7. "Kitchen Faucet Reviews and Buyer's Guides" sounds great! You click.
This website is Kitchen Faucet Divas. It's a totally random site I came across but it perfectly exemplifies what affiliate marketing is.
Kitchen Faucet Divas is a niche website. They specialize in one thing and one thing only - reviewing high quality, stylish, kitchen faucets, and sending buyers to Amazon (more on this in a second).
The site is simple, yet effective. It has some buyer guides, some pages about reviews of kitchen faucets, but if you spend some time on the site, you'll notice there really isn't too much to it and there's not a lot of content there.
Whoever is behind this site has planned, created and promoted this site with one strategy: corner the kitchen faucet market. Now while that may sound tough, sites like this have the potential to make an absolute killing.
If you click the 'Buy Now' button (or any of the other links), it will take you to Amazon.
Pretty simple, right?
But here's the best part...
This is the brilliance of affiliate marketing.
Affiliate marketers don't own any actual products.
Kitchen Faucet Divas doesn't own any actual kitchen faucets.
They don't own any faucet inventory. They don't have any products. They don't have any stock. They may have never even seen the faucets which they are reviewing.
They have a few things - a website, and a ton of content, and great SEO. They also have a website specifically designed to get a ton of people looking to buy faucets. And when someone does go through Kitchen Divas to buy a faucet on Amazon, Amazon gives the Divas a percentage of the sale for the referral.
It's that simple. And the money can be big.
Starting with your own affiliate income is easy. First, ask yourself a few questions.
Do you have an idea/niche? (If not, check out this guide)
Do you have a website? (If not, check out this guide)
If so, what is the niche?
What sort of content do you create?
What are the products within or closely related to your niche?
By determining what products you can sell, you can easily start to draft a content plan for your own affiliate marketing.
Here at Ditch Your Desk, we believe that diversified income streams are the best path to sustainable online success and whilst we do not recommend focusing solely on affiliate marketing... but it should absolutely be a part of your strategy.
Affiliate marketing is a great way to monetize content that is already ranking and when you establish a pattern of keywords, you can absolutely crush it...
As a passive income stream, affiliate marketing is one of the best options as once it's set up and cranking, you will continue to earn as long as you do not get knocked out of the SERPS.
Have any questions? Hit me up in the comments!
Here's the deal.
We get a ton of questions about making money online and traveling the world. But without a doubt, the most common question we get is...
"I want to make money online!...But I just don't know where to start?
And believe me - I understand the struggle.
Maybe you are dreaming about traveling. Many of you are quitting your job to travel. Maybe you just want the freedom of working for yourself wherever you want.
I've been working online and traveling for years now... and it's even better than it sounds. Running a successful online business has allowed me to live a lifestyle many people dream about.
But this didn't happen overnight.
I understand that not knowing where to start can be overwhelming.
I get that you want to make money online - you just need to know how to take that first step...
So I decided to make this epic guide to show you the exact process you need to follow to start your first successful online project. This one of a kind resource has concepts that have never before been published. I've designed a blueprint for success for you...
These are my most powerful tips, hard earned through years of trial and error.
With this blueprint, you'll be able to confidently start your first project, and set yourself up for long term success, making money online as you travel the world...
Allow me to introduce you to Ditch Your Desk's 'Tower of Success'
Simply start from the foundation (bottom of the tower) and move up as you build.
This tower shows you a simple (yet effective) process for starting your first online project. It's an easy to follow guide and once you get started, you'll be well on your way to making money online.
You'll be creating quality content like a pro in no time.
(PS - If you want some inspiration for starting your first project, read below! If you want to jump to the actual 3 Step Process, three-steps just click here!)
First things first...
I need to make it clear that Will and I completely understand how intimidating starting your first project can be.
Many people see our travels, our online projects and how we have built The Broke Backpacker up to a six figure income, with hundreds of thousands of visitors a month, and think that all of this awesome success has come easy...
Traveling the world whilst trying to scale a business is not easy (but then again - building a business never is).
But the juice is worth the squeeze and after 18 months of working together, Will and I have accomplished some incredible things on our joint ventures. We've achieved a level of financial success that makes endless adventures traveling the world a reality, no longer a pipe dream.
Want to take your business to the next level?
Ditch Your Desk subscribers get access to our best content. Period.
Before Will and I met, we were two broke travelers, adventuring across the world, each of us struggling to get our respective blogs off the ground.
Then, everything changed.
We met, teamed up as business partners, and our fortune's were forever altered.
But whilst our greatest success has been on joint ventures, our paths to success were quite different.
Will and I's stories perfectly embody two very different paths to the same destination - a location independent lifestyle of earning money whilst traveling the world.
By every measure, Will's The Broke Backpacker is one of the most popular travel blogs in the world.
But it did not start this way.
Will wrote stories for months that nobody read or gave a shit about. The first version of The Broke Backpacker website was pretty terrible.
The site was slow to load, there were no images and Will had never heard of SEO. Nobody could find Will's site, even if they wanted to.
The only person that did follow Will's blog was his extremely supportive mum! Will did, however, find his way and relatively quickly figured out that he could sell some of his best stories to media outlets.
By 2015, Will was able to make $1000 a month but this was never passive income and it wasn't until Will discovered his real skill sets that he was able to grow his business into a 6-figure empire.
Will discovered he had an incredible talent for designing high quality content, managing a team, and designing SOPs (organizational systems) which enabled him to explode The Broke Backpacker's growth. Scaling a business, creating awesome content and inspiring a team was in Will's blood, and his success is due to his entrepreneurial mindset, constant SEO experiments and managerial awesomeness.
Will knew that to crush his competition, he needed to pour his time into customer acquisition. He focused on learning everything he could about SEO, doing elaborate tests on a network of twenty sites and figuring out exactly what needed to happen to make content rank.
He took those findings and designed content series and team systems that allowed him to create some of the most informative, high value, content in the travel-space, at a pace that would be unmatchable by any of his competitors.
Will focused on his blog and his brand and put in buckets of blood, sweat, tears, and YEARS of learning, until it all finally clicked.
Will's story is what we will call the 'One Site - Many Years'.
He built a brand, and once he really discovered the best way to leverage his skills for success - The Broke Backpacker became what it is today.
My story starts very similar to Will's story, but then it makes a sharp turn.
I too started as an amateur travel blogger, wanting to share my travel tales with the world. I dreamt of being featured in National Geographic and truly craved success as a world-famous travel expert.
But I soon realized... it wasn't for me.
I was enjoying blogging and the online game, but I saw that my interests were changing. I noticed I was becoming less interested in being a 'travel expert' and writing country guides and was growing more fascinated with marketing and growth. I liked the analytics and numbers side of things.
Then it hit me.
I knew I didn't want to be a travel blogger anymore, and I knew I needed to pivot.
I hit the reset button. I completely abandoned my travel blog and came to a one year partnership agreement with Will to help grow The Broke Backpacker into an empire. Since then, we have become 50:50 partners on three other ventures, including Ditch Your Desk.
Will encouraged me to go nuts on TBB and I did... I ran A/B tests on everything, utilized audience feedback to tweak our leadmags, homepage and content series. I mastered Thrive and designed new content formats focussed on improving conversions as well as working with Will to strengthen the site's brand and layout.
I designed more and more elaborate content layouts, implemented a CRO plan that led to increased clicks and brainstormed with Will on SEO and overall strategy.
Much of what exists on TBB today is because of my Thrive expertise, split tests and marketing input.
But what about my first travel blog?
I spent almost two years on it, and now it's completely on the back-burner. Was it a waste of time?
Had I not started a travel blog, I would never have unlocked my new passions. My travel blogging days helped me get a taste of online entrepreneurship and directed me towards things I was better suited to do.
Now I'm making a great income, I now have the money and capital to grow my own websites, all while I travel the world freely.
I discovered I had a natural talent for marketing, and a genuine interest in growth software. My success is the result of my creative thinking, and my drive to learn and master new skills.
My story is what I'll call 'Many hats - Many years'.
I tell our two stories to relay something important.
There is no single blueprint for success.
Will pursued success with The Broke Backpacker for over four years. Eventually, he found his most powerful talents, and leveraged them for success with his brand.
I tried many things over four years, failing and experimenting until I found something that suited me best. Eventually, I found my stride and I successfully leveraged my creative side for success with my brand.
But notice that while our stories have differences, they have similarities too...
Similarity #1 - It took us years
Similarity #2 - We never gave up
Similarity #3 - We both threw ourselves into the online game, without knowing anything prior, but we both made that first step.
Nothing can happen until you take that first step.
Which is exactly what you are about to do.
Ultimately, it doesn't matter what your first project is. It doesn't matter if you start a blog, a YouTube channel, a podcast, an online shop, an SEO agency or anything in between.
You just need to start something.
And you need to start it now.
When you start, the exact project doesn't necessarily matter.
What does matter is that you've started SOMETHING.
Start strategically, proceed intelligently (with the help of Ditch Your Desk), but at the end of the day - get fucking started.
And who knows - maybe your first project will work (like Will!).
Or maybe it will take you 4 or 5 different projects (like me!).
Whichever of the two happens for you, you have to understand that something needs to happen first.
"You need to throw yourself into the fire, and start your first project."
This is the only way to achieve success. There is no way around this.
Without throwing yourself into the fire, you'll just keep making excuses, or keep planning, or keep preparing and keep saying the worst fucking phrase in the world.
"I'll start tomorrow."
It begins, now.
You might already know what your first project will be.
You also might have no idea and feel utterly lost.
You may not care what your project is - as long as you're making money online, you'll be happy.
Wherever you're at, let's break down the process step by step so you can figure out how to start your first project...
You might be wondering...
Should you try and pursue the road of passion? Or should you pursue the road of cashin'?
This is often a first cross-roads for first time online entrepreneurs.
Your brain tells you one thing...
But then your heart might be telling you another thing...
These conflicting feelings can be a bit maddening.
Worry not. I'm going to provide you with a super clear path on how to get started.
Here's a few important tips from Will and I to rock your first online business in 2018...
Yes, having 100 million Instagram followers can be amazingly lucrative. Yes, having tens of thousands of snapchat views feels great.
But in the long run, putting all of your effort on these platforms can be a poor investment.
Reason being, while Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook and other social media platforms clearly own the attention of the world, they also own something else.
If Instagram went out of business tomorrow, all of your shit would be gone. G. O. N. E.
If Snapchat says, 'we have now decided to charge $10 per video you publish', you'd be fucked.
Ultimately, Social Media platforms are like renting an apartment, except that instead of an apartment, it's content. But you don't want to rent your content. You want to own your content.
Further reading - Social Media 101
That's why starting a website is priority number one. You own a website. No one can take that away from you.
Yes, you want to eventually be on several of the platforms out there - social media included, but don't put all of your chips in one basket.
Especially if that basket then owns all of your eggs.
This is what you should be doing...
This is the biggest reason why we recommend starting and running the majority of your content on your own website (but more on this later).
If you have a passion and you want to create content around that passion, do not give up on this dream for a path that may be more lucrative.
This doesn't mean you shouldn't follow the money... You must learn how to monetize your passion. And of course, you need to be aware that some niches are easier to monetize than others.
If you don't have a passion that you can create content around, you will have more options than somebody who is constrained by creating content only around what they are passionate about.
Our advice is to try and create content around your passion but to realize that working online is not always fun and that sometimes the most boring niches are the most lucrative.
If you are a business savvy person and have been eyeing drop shipping or have been thinking about building a tasty buffet of niche-sites, please brother or sister - DO IT. You won't regret it.
But if creating content around a passion speaks much more highly to you, then you should follow your heart. Your path to success will be much more likely, as you will be driven to create content for an audience you care about and to keep pushing yourself.
Even if that first passion-project doesn't work out (like my story!) it will be an amazing crash course into the online game and will set you up for your next big thing.
Simply put - do not be afraid to learn something new.
Four years ago I could barely operate a computer. I used Wikipedia, a bit of Facebook, ESPN to check to NBA scores and that was about it.
WordPress. Thrive. Plugins. KWFinder. SERPWatcher. Convertkit. Facebook Ads. Affiliate marketing. CSS. Yoast. Google Search Console.
These are things that I personally knew nothing about four years ago. Not a single thing.
Now I use them on a daily basis, and comfortably.
If you fear to learn new things, you need to summon some inner-courage and tell youself ...
'I can do this'.
You need to be above the fear.
This entire game is about one thing - learning new skills. And the better and quicker you are able to teach yourself new things, the better and quicker you'll be able to make serious money online and build something amazing.
And believe me - there's nothing to be afraid of. It's so easy to learn new things these days. Just Google 'How to use ____' or '____ tutorial' and BOOM, you'll find what you are looking for.
Be above the fear.
Now let's dive into Ditch Your Desk's Three-Step Process to start your first project.
As mentioned, if you've been particularly drawn to something (dropshipping, niche sites, SEO agency) - just go for it! There are tons of resources on Ditch Your Desk, and more in the works, to help you explore these paths...
But if you want us to guide you, then I'm going to say your first project should be a content-passion-project.
Not sure what content is? Content is anything you make for your audience to check out...
And since this is your first go - you should make content about something you are passionate about.
Whether creating content about fashion, making videos about food, podcasting about UK politics, or anything in between - you can absolutely create content on topics that you enjoy.
51% of the population of our planet have daily access to the internet.
That's a market of 3.4 billion people.
And every day, that number is only going up. More and more people are accessing the web and more and more people are getting comfortable searching, learning, and purchasing online.
The entire world is turning digital, and when people look back hundreds of years from now, they'll look at this time as the transition period (before the robots took over). Right now, there is a golden opportunity for online entrepreneurs to create content and make money out of that content.
Saturation will come - but for now, there is so much traffic left to divide it's insane.
This is why new bloggers come out of the woodworks nearly every day. And a lot of new ones are making serious money.
Is blogging becoming a more saturated niche? Sure.
Is it more difficult than it was 5 years ago? Absolutely.
But emerging markets, new interests, and a world that is becoming exponentially more connected = a nearly unlimited base for you to market your project to.
Further reading - 10 Reasons why you Should Start a Blog
No matter your interests, there's space on the web for tons more talented and dedicated content-creators.
And passion projects are great because that's what people are looking for - I would far rather consume content created by somebody who cares about the topic...
So if you are here, and you're not sure where to start. It's OK. You don't need some super unique niche idea. Let's start with a passion of yours.
Pick a niche you are passionate about. Some things to ask yourself...
By asking yourself these questions you'll be able to better identify your niche of choice.
Before moving on - whether it's travel, food, culture, sports or anything, make sure you have a good idea of what your niche will be.
Here's the truth.
While I completely recommend choosing a niche you are passionate about or have interest in, this comes with one enormous caveat.
And it's something that I always, always need you to remember.
Whatever your content's niche - make sure it helps your audience solve a problem.
People don't want to consume content about you. They want to consume content that helps them reach an improved version of themselves.
What this means is that most people can't expect to make money online just by being the star of the show. You have to make your content about your audience.
Hear me when I tell you - people only give a fuck about you if it is going to help them.
So when it comes to choosing your niche, you need to focus on other people - not yourself.
This is why most travel bloggers who do nothing but tell personal travel stories fail, and fail miserably. The reason is that people don't want to read about other people's travel stories (at least not overwhelmingly).
The Broke Backpacker has it's fair share of personal adventure tales - Will enjoys writing them and his audience finds them amusing, but the majority of The Broke Backpacker content is aimed at helping readers on their travels.
High value, information rich, posts make up the bulk of content of any great content marketer and is what enables you to create content about things you are passionate about.
These are the posts that get the hits, these are the posts that provide sales, these are the posts that people give a shit about because it helps them solve a problem.
It's pretty simple - just don't allow your blog to become a narcissistic, one (wo)man show.
This can easily be summed up.
Simply focus on the problems of your audience.
What are your audience looking for? What do they need advice on? What are there common questions?
These are the questions you need to be answering.
Focusing on fixing problems and providing solutions is the secret sauce that so many content creators forget.
Yes, you may need a healthy dose of you on your site - but 90% of your material should be about helping your audience in their quest for self-improvement.
This means you need to focus on product reviews, how-to's, best ____, epic guides, and everything in between.
You can go as wide as 'women's lifestyle' (an enormous market) to as niche as 'millennials who like to knit cat sweaters' (a very small market... I assume). Each comes with its fair share of pros and cons.
Some 'wide-niche' examples
Examples of niches you can start (sub-categories of the above niches)
Don't stress too much over this, if you want to create content about something super-niche, then you can expand your scope further down the line, you just make sure your brand/URL doesn't limit you (something we'll discuss when you actually start your website).
And on the other end, don't worry if you want to go super-wide. You can always niche down later.
It comes down to this. If you want to start a blog about rock climbing - DO IT.
If you want to start a blog about finding antique's and selling them - DO IT.
If you want to start a blog about traveling - DO IT.
But maybe, your passions aren't as obvious. Or maybe you want to write about all of these niches!
If this is you, don't worry, I have an easy solution.
Just start a fucking website!
Make a start and then you can figure it out as you go, nothing will happen until you actually pull the trigger.
Choose a general name for now - something like epicblog.com or yourname.com if you're unsure what exactly you'll cover but hell, if you want to make money online, just take that first step.
So you've established your niche for your first project.
It might be a wide niche, like a lifestyle blog so you can create content about anything you'd like.
It might be super niche, like 'how to play guitar and sound like Jimi Hendrix'.
Or it could be something in between the two.
And you also know that the content you create has to help your audience solve a problem.
Now it's time to choose your medium - aka, through what type of content are you going to solve your audience's problems?
A medium refers to materials used to make art, and for content creation on the internet, we recommend three different avenues.
Let's break down these different mediums one by one.
Pros of Blogging
Cons of Blogging
The written word is the oldest, but most solid and most searched for medium on the internet.
This is because most people still use Google as their search engine, and while YouTube is closing the gap, it's still years and years away from replacing Google as the leading search engine.
The written word is the most assured way to get success online. With the right content plan and some basic SEO (see the Glossary) on a blog, you can start generating traffic very quickly.
One misconception is that to be a great blogger, you have to be a great writer.
This is incorrect. In fact, I can think of a handful of popular bloggers who are fairly awful writers.
But that's the beauty of blogging. You aren't writing 18th-century literary masterpieces. You are creating concise, yet easy to digest content that helps to solve your audience's problems.
Even if you aren't a great writer, or don't love the idea of writing, you can still take advantage of the benefits of blogging with low cost and very little work (but more on this later).
The biggest cons of blogging are the fact that other mediums have a greater 'sticky' factor, which I'll explain in the video section next.
If you are interested in blogging (and you should be) check out our 10 Reasons to Start a Blog.
Video coming soon!
Pros of Video
Cons of Video
Let me tell you a secret. Video content is on the rise.
Just kidding, it's not much of a secret. 20 years ago someone posted the first video on YouTube. Now almost 5 billion YouTube videos are being watched every single day.
And while Google is the primary search engine in the world, as YouTube grows and more people upload video content, it will absolutely challenge Google's supremacy.
While we mostly recommend starting a blog... it only barely pushes doing video content.
Ultimately, if you are good at it, video content is the best thing you can do for your personal brand. Video content is aimed at people of all age groups and is super 'sticky'.
'Sticky' means it's something that 'sticks' with people. When someone sees you on video, it's very personal. They hear your voice, they watch you move, they relate to and understand you more as a living, breathing human being.
Compare that to a blog post... well, there's no comparison. Video wins.
But wait, there's more.
You see, video is not all unicorns and rainbows. Creating video content is hard, and it can be expensive. And it has to be great. No one watches a crap video, meaning there is less room for error, especially when you are starting.
In contrast, a half-decent blog post can still generate a ton of shares and interest. Plus more people search for blog posts because they don't always have the time to watch a video. Brushing through an article for the information you need is easy.
Typically the decision between video and blogging has always been tough, but I have a hack to help you choose that I'll explain in a bit.
Pros of Podcasting
Cons of Podcasting
As someone who loves listening to podcasts, I truly hope to get into podcasting one day. It's an incredible medium and is only growing in its influence.
I'm going to be super honest here, neither Will nor I are experts in audio/podcasting. But it would be a disservice not to mention it.
The only negative thing I will say about podcasting is that it is removed from the other aspects of digital marketing. For example, when I am listening to podcasts, I am normally driving, at the gym, or cleaning.
Podcasting, for many, is an activity done, whilst you are doing other activities.
For that reason, while it's still great for your brand and a completely viable way to forge a successful online career, we don't have any more information on podcasting yet, but if you are interested we could run some test studies - let us know in the comments below!
If we take podcasting off the table, that leaves you with two mediums.
And you need to choose one to start. It doesn't need to stay that way, you can eventually do everything (if you get good enough at making that work).
But to start - you need to pick just one.
If you only want to blog - totally cool! Get at it, Hemingway.
If you only want to vlog - totally cool! Lights, camera, action, Spielberg.
But if you are interested in both - DO BOTH... Hemingberg?
Blogging and video content go hand in hand like peanut butter and jelly, and if you can use the two in action together, then world domination will be just around the corner for you and your brand...
Why is this so?
I'll be explaining that back in detail in a future post. Stay tuned.
No matter your choice of medium - word (blogging), video (vlogging), or audio (podcasting) you need to have your content lead to your website.
This is because, as we said, you want to own your content.
This means that you want all of your content to be hosted on your website.
Writing blog posts? Host them on your website.
Shooting video? Put them on YouTube AND your website.
Recording a podcast? Put the episodes on iTunes AND your website.
This is all pretty self-explanatory, but it needs to be made a point for one very specific reason.
A lot of people think social media should be their primary platform. These people are wrong.
Make your website your primary platform. Yes, you can host your video on YouTube, but also have the videos on your site, and most importantly you'll have your funnel and sales mechanisms set up on your site (we'll cover this later).
Like I said, this section is pretty easy, all you have to do is start your own website.
Which is the most important next step!
If you are ready to jump ahead and start your website - read our concise step by step guide here (with a few sweet hacks).
If you've been following along, you should have your 3 things prepared.
With the use of these three things, you'll be able to start your first online project and kick ass at it.
Remember - don't expect things to happen overnight. Overnight success isn't real.
What is real? Hard work and patience.
It worked for me.
It worked for Will.
It works for everyone who's ever been successful.
It will work for you.
Now it's time for the next part.
Thanks for reading, and remember...
Be one with the hustle