If you are a beginner blogger, you must be looking for ways to rank your website without too many costs. One way is to rank without backlinks while another way is to do keyword research at low costs.
Using free keyword research tool: Keyword surfer
One of the free keyword research tools that I am currently using is keyword surfer. I discovered it just the other day when I was researching on free keyword research tools.
I would recommend keyword surfer to any newbie owing to the fact that it is free as well as easy to use.
The tool is able to give me the search volume per month for a keyword as well as terms that are closely related or similar to the phrase that I have searched for in Google.
It also gives me an estimate of the amount of traffic that each of the webpages is receiving as well as number of words that are in each of the pages.
For people who like visual data, it has a correlation chart that shows the estimated traffic for each site, its number of words as well as the exact match keywords in the first 10 results of the Serps.
What is keyword surfer?
Keyword surfer is a free Google chrome extension. It is a product by the guys who own surfer SEO, a cool on page optimization tool. They have assured us that the tool will remain free.
Lets just hope that they will keep it that way lest they also start charging like Keyword Everywhere did.
How to use keyword surfer?
To use keyword surfer, you only need to head over to chrome extensions and search for keyword surfer.
After typing it, hit the enter key to search and you will get a populated list of extensions that are related to that term.
We are interested in the puple one. Click on it and then click on add to chrome blue button.
There you have it. You have just added keyword surfer to your chrome.
Everytime you now search for a phrase on Google chrome, you will get its search volume and correlation graphs.
It supports datasets from upto 70 countries.
Keyword surfer firefox
For those who love Firefox, you can still add the tool.
You will however need Mozilla Firefox 57 to enable addittion of web extensions.
Go to your firefox browse and search for keyword surfer web extension and follow the procedure to add it.
Keyword surfer for android
You can also add the extension on your android phone.
It is not that straightfoward though because you will first have to go to Google Play store, look for Yandex browser.
The Yandex browser once installed will allow you to add chrome extensions. So after installing it, look for keyword surfer chrome extension.
Sometimes back when I was starting SEO, things were very much easy. Tools like Ahrefs offered us a free two week trial period.
I signed up to their trial tool with as many Gmail accounts as possible.
And then most recently, there was Keyword Everywhere which would show you the searches per month for a keyword, give you related terms to the keyword as well as the word count in web pages.
Things are different now. You will have to cough at least $7 to try Ahrefs for 7 days trial. And then from there, you can decide to start the subscription at a higher cost or ditch it all together.
Keyword Everywhere also introduced charges for using their tool.
Ahrefs and Keyword Everywhere are great tools for keyword research.
But for newbie bloggers who might be hard on cash, getting these fees no matter how small they may seem might be a tall order.
They therefore want free tools that they can use to do their keyword research.
Well, I am your guy in this.
This is a free chrome extension tool.
It gives you the search volume per month for keywords you search on Google as well as the number of words in each of the search results plus the estimated number of visitors each of the domains on the SERPs have.
We saw that Ubersuggest is a freemium tool meaning that you can use for a limited number of times and as a paid tool if you want to use all its features.
I have found it to be a great tool and have been using it for most of my keyword research works.
This is a chrome extension tool similar to Keyword everywhere.
Succeeding in affiliate marketing does not need a degree in rocket science. It is easy but needs to be procedural.
Steps You Follow to succeed in Affiliate Marketing
Here are the steps that you need to take:
Select a good niche that has an audience. A niche is a topic or subject matter that you blog about. Say for example that I am interested in pregnancy as my niche of choice. We have looked at tips on niche selection here.
2. Do your keyword research. We will be looking at that today using free tools.
3. Buy domain, host your blog, enter correct permalinks and get a custom made logo. You could also add your premium theme at this point. Personally though, I wait till I am making some good money from the site before I can invest in a good WordPress theme.
4. Create content and upload it making sure that it is well optimized and topically relevant.
6. Wait for the traffic to stream in. As you wait, you could be creating more content and interlinking it with your previously uploaded articles. At this juncture, you will also be tracking everything using commercial SERP tools, Google analytics and Google Search Console.
7. Once the traffic starts streaming in, you could sign up to affiliate marketing programs and once approved, tweak things a little adding call to action buttons, comparison tables and featured products lists to push your audience to buy off your affiliate links.
8. If you are getting good traffic on your informative articles, you could go ahead and sign up for ad networks so that you can monetize your traffic with ad networks such as Google Adsense, Ezoic and Mediavine.
9. Make money. Better your sites by working on your conversion rate optimization. Rinse and repeat.
NB: The first two steps can make or break you.
Select a bad niche that has no audience and you are doomed.
Work on wrong keywords and you will never see a dollar stream into your bank account.
It is therefore important that niche selection and keyword research be done really well.
But what is a keyword?
A keyword is a phrase that your audience is typing on search engines so as to answer their needs.
Say for example that a pregnant woman is looking for free apps to track how her baby is growing. She might type ‘free pregnancy apps to track baby growth’ on Google search. This is a keyword.
What makes a good keyword?
My rule when hunting for keywords is get those that have high search volume but low competition. It is however never that easy.
Often keywords that have high search volume also have the highest competition. Why? Because the big boys are chasing for them. And since they have better authority than a newbie, you are better off throwing in the towel.
To fix this, we have the keyword golden ratio. Here you get low search volume keywords but at the same time with an incredibly low competition.
How to do keyword research with Ubersuggest
One of the free tools that you can use for your keyword research is Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest. The tool is able to show you the search volume of a keyword as well as the difficulty in ranking for it.
Ubersuggest is a freemium tool meaning that you can use some of its features without paying a dime. If however you want all its features like unlimited keyword searches per day, then you could pay up
I am still interested in the pregnancy niche and so, let us research for the keyword ‘free pregnancy apps to track baby growth‘ to see whether it has 1. A good search volume and 2. Low competition using the KGR strategy.
So I head over to Ubersuggest, type my keyword into the text box saying enter a domain or keyword and go on to hit the search button
Here are the results:
You will find that the keyword has 0 search results.
I therefore do not need to work with it.
But how about I look for ‘free pregnancy apps‘.
Here are the search results for that on Ubersuggest:
Awesome! It shows that it has some 320 search results.
But I still do need to check for its competition using the KGR technique.
For KGR technique, I need to do the computation below and if it is below 0.25 then, that is a low competition keyword.
So, I go to Google and search for the term ‘free pregnancy apps’ with the allintitle search tag so that whatever I search for on Google is “allintitle:free pregnancy apps” without the quotation marks.
It shows that we have 1250 search results that have ‘free pregnancy apps’
Doing the KGR calculation for this
We get a figure of 3.90625
That is way higher than 0.25.
So, our efforts were futile. Should we give up?
If you search for the term, ‘free pregnancy apps’, you will see that at the bottom of the 10 Google search results on your first page, there are other searches related to free pregnancy apps.
One that captured my attention was ‘best pregnancy app for dads’. So, I want to examine whether it is a good keyword.
Again, I go back to Ubersuggest and see whether it has a search volume.
And yes, it does have a search volume of 210.
Let me see its allintitle search results
It has 6 allintitle search results.
Does if fit the KGR compliance calculation?
Yep. Because 6/210=0.028
So that makes a good keyword. If my niche was pregnancy, it would be one of the keywords that I would write content on.
If I do a Google search for ‘best pregnancy app for dads’ so as to see related search results, I get this
Maybe this other related searches could make some good keywords for my niche site on pregnancy.
So, I grab ‘pregnancy app to share with partner’, ‘best pregnancy app for couples’ and ‘pregnancy app for mom and dad’ to examine their search results and KGR compliance.
This has a search result of 30 . Lets see its allintitle search results
Woo hoo, it seems we have another keyword here. Because KGR=1/30=0.033
So, that’s another keyword, we could focus on in our pregnancy niche blog.
Lets go to another keyword
And the allintitle for this
This shows that there are 0 allintitle search results.
Wow, another good keyword there to blog about!
I will leave you to carry out the analysis for the last keyword ‘pregnancy app to share with partner’
Other Considerations to be made in Keyword Research
Though the KGR technique works (and I have indeed proved that it really does work), you need to observe the following.
Search for each keyword. Look at who is ranking and check out their content for gaps. Make sure that your article is way better than theirs.
See how many backlinks they have. If possible to replicate them, do it.
Lets examine the first example keyword on ‘best pregnancy apps for dad’.
A simple Google search for that keyword shows us that the site that scooped position one for that keyword is this:
Infact this webpage https://redtri.com/5-pregnancy-apps-every-dad-to-be-should-be-using/ scoops the featured snippet.
If we use the ahrefs free backlink checker tool to see the backlinks built for this site, we will see this:
19 backlinks! That is a lot, right?
But on further examination, you will find that some of the backlinks are somehow spammy and do not have that high authority.
The content is not that long form. If I were to compete with this web-page, I would make sure that I do more content than them.
At the moment, there are about 703 words in this post.
In the site, they have reviewed only 5 apps for dads. I would try to do more in my article on ‘best pregnancy app for dads’
I would also go ahead and write reviews of each of the apps and have those reviews linking back to my main content. That way, I would have better topical relevance.
Lets face it, most of the websites that are doing well on the first pages of search engines have backlinks.
Or it could be that even though the ranking pages do not have backlinks pointing to them, the sites have great domain authority owing to the links pointing to the root domain.
And so newbies who are starting out their SEO games can do nothing but covet the experts who seem to be ranking without too much effort.
To be honest, I always like cutting corners in SEO.
I am a grey hat who will build all sorts of links be they comment backlinks, guest posts or even the more riskier PBNs.
And so the concept of ranking a site while beating down the temptation to build backlinks was new to me. Not until recently.
But hey, the guys at incomeschool seem to always preach about doing SEO without having to rely on backlinks. They claim that newbies can outrank the experts without having to invest in building links
So is it posibble to rank a website without backlinks?
The simple answer is yes.
You can do it.
But there is a caveat to that yes.
You have to flesh out great content, bringing in new ideas to your readers and have a topically relevant website.
So lets look at strategies that you can use to rank without relying on backlinks
Sound social media presence
Of late, I have been exploring other sources of traffic such as Facebook and Pinterest. And I have found out that once you start receiving lots of traffic from Pinterest, Google also gives in and starts awarding you with organic traffic.
So, do not ignore social media. Especially Pinterest.
I would not say the same about Facebook unless you have a way of creating viral content. With Facebook, you share a post in a group, it generates over 200 views in one day but that plummets the next day to less than 10. And that number goes to 0 the next.
So, it is not a reliable source of passive traffic. And Google knows this. They will therefore be a little bit reluctant to award you with organic traffic if your only source of traffic is Facebook.
Great content that have good user experience
The guys at Incomeschool say that to get organic traffic without building backlinks, you need to make sure that you are consistent in your content creation as well as make really good content.
And that is true. Google also says that content is king.
If you are not building backlinks, you really need to show Google that your site has trust on the topic. And how do you do this?
You build topical relevance.
If you are writing about video cameras, have at least 5 pages that are talking nothing else but video cameras. This way, search engines will start trusting you on the topic of video cameras.
And once you have the 5 pages on video cameras, make sure to interlink them so that as Google crawls from one page to the other, they will be able to see that you indeed do have topical relevance.
I swear by Keyword Golden Ratio(KGR) keywords in all my keyword research strategies. If a keyword is not KGR compliant, I just leave it and go hunt for others.
Now for those who are wondering what KGR keywords are, I would refer you to Doug Cunnington who came up with this concept. KGR is nothing but a formula where you check the number of times a keyword appears in the titles of pages divided by the search volume per month.
In short KGR=allintitle:keyword/searchvolumepermonth
Now if this number is less than 0.25, I will comfortably go for that keyword with the assurance that I will appear in the first 100 pages of Google once I am indexed.
If it is more than this number, you will have to hustle for backlinks before you can appear in the first 100 results of the search engines.
Great on page optimization
Of late I stumbled on a keyword tool called Surfer SEO. Now this is not your average SEO tool that spies your competitors telling you which backlinks to build or keywords that have low competition.
No Surfer SEO shows you how to optimize your on page.
It tells you how many times to use a certain keyword based on how the top ten competitors are doing it.
It even tells you of how many words your content should have based on the word count that the top 10 sites ranking have.
Some years ago, SEO gurus would tell us to make sure that our product review pages should have at least 1800 words while support pages ought to have at least 600 words.
Overeliance on search engines though poses a danger. Personally, my first site that was in the bodybuilding niche went down because of over-relying on Google for all my traffic. The site was attracting a constant stream of at least 100 pageviews per day.
And then the August 2018 Google Medic update came and wiped it out. The traffic tanked to 20, 10 and then 0.
It was frustrating but I learnt a lesson.
Never trust one traffic source.
Pinterest is another good traffic source for people who create visual content and then have it pinned.
How Pinterest works is that you create content. It could be an article, image or a video. Then you have an image with an attention grabbing image within your blog.
You pin this image to Pinterest and when you capture the right audience, they are going to click through the image to visit your blog.
Pinterest though has lots of updates and as such, you can never know how things are going to be tomorrow.
Quora is a question and answer forum like site. People ask all sorts of questions and experts in those topics answer them.
You want to be the expert answering questions related to your niche. As you answer the questions, you sneak in links to your blog post so that when people want more information, they will be going to your blog.
Of course, it will take lots of work and time to gain good traffic on quora and therefore, you should not entirely depend on its traffic.
You must have seen those optin and pop up email subscription forms on most websites requiring that you supply them with your email address so that they can send more content related to the niche they are blogging about.
As a blogger, you will then be directing these people to your other blog posts everytime you publish content. You could also try to sell products to them.
Email marketing is a good source of traffic especially for information niches. I have however not seen it to be so effective when you are doing affiliate marketing posts where you review a list of products. Your readers want to click on your call to action (CTA) buttons but never subscribe to your emails.
Affiliate marketing programs
Amazon associates program was a good source of passive income for affiliate marketers until they started slashing commissions without any consultation. If you are in the program, you know that you are just a pawn.
You never in control of your income.
Shareasale is a good alternative to Amazon affiliate marketing owing to their higher commission rates and monthly payouts but their conversion rates are not that good. People do not trust their merchants sites that much and so you might be driving so many clicks with zero sales made.
Google adsense is a good ad network where you will earn depending on the number of people who see ads on your blog. Their RPMs are however not the best; they are very low.
Google adsense has also been known to ban publishers with a high frequency especially when you violate their terms.
Ezoic is a good alternative to Google Adsense but they require you to have at least 10k pageviews per month and be Google Adsense approved. The major problem with Ezoic is that they will slow your site speed so much.
Mediavine have a great reputation for better RPMs but it will take over 60 days before you get your payouts. At the same time, they require at least 50k sessions before you join the platform.
Payoneer are a good payment method for receiving your affiliate cash from the amazon associates program especially if you are from a non US country, shareasale and even ezoic.
Last week though, users received information that Wirecard AG, the company that supplies them with Mastercards had filed for insolvency and therefore they could not withdraw their money.
Paypal is a good option for receiving online payments but they are also well known to limit and suspend accounts.
The main purpose why most small publishers are starting a business blog is to earn money through selling their own products, affiliate marketing and earning ad income. However, to make money, you first need to get traffic. If you do not have traffic, nobody is going to see your well designed website or wonderful products.
So you will not make any money blogging!
Traffic is therefore something that every blogger should hunt out for.
There are many ways to get traffic to your blog: you could get it from social media marketing, email marketing campaigns, paid ads or organically through search engines.
For the purpose of this post, I will only look at how to get organic traffic from search engines and in particular, Google to your wordpress site.
So, let’s look into it.
Strategies you need to implement to get organic Google search engine traffic
You get Google traffic by ranking for search terms/keywords.
Google organizes its search results into pages with each page containing 10 search results.
So when a user searches for ‘wordpress seo’, Google will look at different web pages on ‘wordpress seo’ submitted to its index and using its secret algorithm, organize those web pages so that those it finds to have the best relevant information that will solve the readers question come first.
Any blogger who wants to get Google traffic should try and understand how this secret algorithm works. When you learn how it works, you will make sure that your blog is able to rank on the search engine. We say that you are optimizing for Google and that is why we have the term search engine optimization (SEO).
The long and short of the matter is that to rank in Google, you need to have some knowledge on search engine optimization.
So how do you do SEO on your blog?
On page optimization
The very first thing you need to do in your blog SEO is optimize the very article you want to rank. Let us look at how you do it.
Long form and relevant content is great because it shows that you are an authority in the field. You therefore need to write in depth information in your article so that your reader’s question is fully answered.
Expert SEOs like Matt Diggity have however argued that for some niches, you would want to limit yourself to a word count that Google has been shown to love. He gives an example of local seo for plumbers where those who rank do about 300 to 500 words. Were you then to do 5000 words for such a niche, you would look like the black sheep which is not something you want to do.
When you are starting out, I would advise that you target long tail keyword golden ratio compliant search terms.
The keyword golden ratio is a concept introduced by Doug Cunnington and it states that if you find a low search volume but long tail keyword whose ratio of allintitle keyword to search volume per month is below 0.25 then you can easily rank for the keyword without so many struggle.
Say for example that when you use keyword research tools such as ahrefs for ‘best mattresses under $500’ you find that it has a search volume of 200 per month.
At the same time, let us assume that when you search for “allintitle:best mattresses under $500” without the quotation marks you find that the allintitle shows 10 web pages that have the term ‘best mattresses under $500’ in their titles.
The ratio then is 10/200=0.05
Then that keyword is KGR compliant and you are assured to rank without so much competition or hard work.
Have the focus keyword in the right places such as the url, heading, SEO title, meta description, alt text in images, within the body of your article.
You can always edit the meta data ie SEO title, slug and meta description by using third party plugins such as Yoast and Rank Math SEO.
Below here are my meta data for this post which I can edit using Rank Math SEO which is what I am currently using.
Other than using exact match keywords, you need to work with partial match keywords. For example if you want to rank for the keyword ‘best mattresses under $500’, you could also use partial matches such as ‘cheap mattresses on a budget’, ‘great mattresses that sell cheaply’ etc.
Link out to other authoritative pages that are covering the same topic. This way, the algorithm is able to tell what your blog post is all about. Caution should however be taken that you do not link out to your competitors since they might beat you at ranking. I like linking out to authoritative sites such as Wikipedia or educational studies that have covered the topic in depth.
Nice looking and short permalinks
By default, wordpress has this ugly permalinks that contain the date when you made the post as well as its id. You really do not want this for SEO purposes. You want the permalinks to be short and sweet and to contain the postname with a keyword.
We looked at how to do permalinks containing the postname here.
Off page optimization
Other than optimizing the exact page that you want to rank, you also need to do some other off-page optimization.
So how do you do it?
-Interlink the article from other related articles on your blog that are already indexed. This way, you will have the web page getting indexed faster and at the same time you help the Google algorithm tell what your page is all about.
– Create topical relevance for your page by creating 3 -5 new short posts interlinked to main article.
If the article that I want ranking is ‘best mattresses under $500’, I would go ahead and create 3 new posts related to mattresses. Say for example articles on ‘how to clean your mattress’, ‘how to repurpose an old mattress’ and ‘tips on choosing the best mattress’. This new articles would then link out to the pillar ‘best mattresses under $500’ article.
The basis of off page optimization is relevant and authoritative backlinks.
Every time I create a new website, I try and hunt for backlinks from various sources. They could be 1. blog comments, 2. guest posts, 3. forum links and private blog network links.
I know most SEOs will argue that Google wants link acquisition to be a natural thing. It should not be something that you build. And this is where people who build links unnaturally are nicknamed as either gray hat or black hat SEOs.
But hey, look here, building links has been working for me. Why should I not continue doing it.
Let us look at look at how to do blog comment links as well as private blog network links.
Blog comments establish relations between bloggers.
They have however been labeled as spammy by most SEOs. Google has gone ahead and introduced the rel=nofollow for all blog comment links.
Despite all this, I still find them to be important especially for new sites when you want Google to index your blog.
To do blog comments, I would only search for bloggers in my niche. Say for example, I want to build comment links for this post, I would search for blogs talking about how do do seo.
I searched for ‘how to do seo ‘blogspot.com’ because I want to find blogspots since they are the easiest to leave comment links on.
I was lucky to find this blogspot that talks of seo ‘https://destinedboy.blogspot.com/2019/12/google-blogger.html’ and so I go ahead to read the blog content and then leave a comment.
This is how you leave a comment to ensure that it is a link
And then after writing that, I need to click on publish.
Voila, my comment with link pointing to this post went through.
The acquistion of Private blog network (PBN) links is one that has been debated in so many SEO circles.
There are those who say that it is black hat and would not touch PBN links with a tne feet pole.
But hey, they work and that is why I continue using them.
A private blog network means that you have a group of privately owned blogs whose purpose is to link out to you only.
The private blog networks should themselves have authoritative backlinks pointing to them so that they can then pass the link juice to your blog that you want to rank.
You can acquire blogs for your pbn by scraping for expired domains or buying from brokers who have scraped them.
But before buying, you need to make sure that the expired domain does not have spammy backlinks and had not been penalized by Google before expiration.