Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

The Art and Science of Writing to Market

Note: This is a guest post by Dave Chesson, who helps teach authors advanced book marketing tactics at Kindlepreneur.com. He’s also the creator of KDP Rocket, software that helps authors discover profitable book ideas that Amazon shoppers will love.

The Art and Science of Writing to Market

When I first started Kindlepreneur about a year and a half ago, I didn’t have a following. I was just a writer with an idea that I thought was unique – teach people advanced book marketing tactics.

But, as we all see when we first create our platform, nobody knew it existed. My traffic was zero.

I was writing articles that I thought self-publishers needed to know, but no one even knew my content was there; thus, no one read them.

And that’s why I shifted my strategy. Instead of writing my best stuff for no one to find, I’d start my platform by writing articles I knew people could and would find when they searched the internet.

I decided to start creating ‘seed’ articles.

The idea is that seed articles bring in new readers every day, and those readers discover your best content by exploring your website once they are there.

Seed articles really do exist, and don’t require you to be an advanced Search Engine Optimization (SEO) guru. It’s just about finding article topics that your market types into Google every day, but doesn’t have a lot of competition.

Think of them as the low hanging fruit ready to be picked. I promise you, it’s a lot easier than you think.

So, let’s find out how to discover seed articles, plant them on your site, and watch your blog grow.

The tactic of seed articles demystified

Like I said, this will not require you to be an SEO specialist, nor will it cost you anything.

The fundamental strategy to building seed articles is this:

Find websites in your market that are either as large as yours, or smaller, and see what articles are bringing them new readers every day. Then, create your own version.

Yup, that’s it.

Once you have 5-10 of these in place, you’ll start to see your traffic grow and your readership increase each month.

I did this with my fourth ever article on Kindlepreneur. After doing the steps laid out below, I discovered that there were thousands of people searching for special websites that would promote their book for free. Using this information, I created my own list of free book promotion sites and have since seen the below results from that one article:

That article has been read over 58,000 times. That’s crazy considering that I wrote it and moved on. I planted the seed, and over time it grew on its own.

So, how can we find your seeds and start growing your blog?

Step 1: Understand the strength of your website

In this first step, we need to know how good our own website is so that we can later compare it to others.

Start by placing your website’s URL into Alexa’s Website Traffic Tool. This tool looks at a website and ranks them based on perceived value. The lower the number, the more traffic it gets, and the more powerful the website is.

Step 2: Identify unknown websites like yours

Now that you have your own website’s Alexa number, we need to find other websites to test in the Alexa tool.

To find websites that write about the same information as yours but aren’t very popular, go to SimilarSites.com and type in a word or phrase that describes your website.

After clicking enter, Similar Sites will give you a list of other websites they believe fit the description.

When I did this step for Kindlepreneur, I typed in “Book Marketing” and found a large list of websites that discuss book sales and marketing that I had never heard of before.

Once you’ve found a couple of websites that fit your niche, place their URL into the Alexa tool and compare their rankings to yours.

If their number is comparable to yours or larger, then mark them down for step 3.

Step 3: Discover what works for them

Now that we have a list of websites that are about our size or smaller, let’s see what keywords or articles bring them the most new readers and what words those articles are targeting.

Take their URL and place it into SEMRush.com:

Then click on “Organic Research” on the left:

By doing this, you can now see the top 10 keywords that website ranks for on Google (these are the words that people type into Google when they find that website), and thus, see the articles that bring them the most traffic. Again, the idea is that if they can rank for it, so can you.

Looking at the information presented by SEMrush, you’ll need to consider the following two things:

  1. Check the list of keywords and make sure they’d be a good topic for you to write about.
  2. Ensure that the position they rank for is between 1-14. Anything higher means it will probably be too competitive.

Now go through each one of the websites you collected in step 2 and see if there are any potential seed ideas you can write about. In the case above, the website I put into SEMrush has shown me that writing an article about “famous vampires” and an article about “dark fiction” would be great seed articles.

NOTE: SEMrush will show you the top 10 keywords a website ranks for as part of their free tool. For most of us, that’s all we’ll need. But to access all the keywords a website ranks for, you’d need to signup for their premium package.

Step 4: Start writing and publishing your seed article

You should have a couple of article topics that comparable websites rank for, now it’s time to create your own.

The seed article strategy makes it so that you don’t have to use advanced SEO tactics in order to see increased traffic results. However, there are some things I’d recommend any author do to fertilize a seed article and assist its growth.

  1. If you’ve identified a keyword, include it in the title of your article.
  2. When applicable, try to use pictures or videos.
  3. Never write more than you have to but keep in mind, Google tends to like articles that go more in-depth than ones that just scratch the surface of a subject.

Now, get writing and start planting those seeds so that in time, your website will start to naturally grow and continue to build with or without you.

What’s next?

Building a couple of seed articles can help your blog in many ways, including:

  1. Help get your blog on the map
  2. Attract new readers everyday
  3. Give you key insight as to what your market wants to read

And more.

But remember, seeds take time to grow into something useful—so be patient. The article of mine that I referenced above took 3-4 months before I started to see people show up every single day. There’s a reason why we call these seed articles, and not sapling or tree articles.

But once you’ve done the research above, identified some seeds, planted them, and given them time, you’ll see growth.

Plus, even if one particular seed article doesn’t grow, at least you know you wrote an article that people are actually looking for.

But when they do grow, having 5-10 in place can quickly help your website grow exponentially over time and allow people to REALLY discover your writing and what you have to offer the world.

So, what are you waiting for? Create seeds and start growing your site now. If you have any questions, write a comment below and I’ll make sure to answer them.

How strong is your website? What are some seed articles you could write? Share in the comments.

About Dave Chesson

Dave Chesson helps teach authors advanced book marketing tactics at Kindlepreneur.com. He’s also the creator of KDP Rocket, software that helps authors discover profitable book ideas that Amazon shoppers will love.

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  • Thanks for the opportunity to talk about seed articles. If you have any questions, let me know!

    • Michael Scanzello

      Sorry having trouble as well. I read your post twice and comments. I tried about 4-5 different urls I found in google and no data came up in SEMrush.com. Similar sites only worked for “success.” I saw only all the big boys in the field and unrelated sites below. Funny enough I tried “book marketing” in similarsites.com and got the “no data” messsage. How is this possible? So sorry to say having issues with the search tools you recommend. Are there other ones? Is there some glitch?
      I was searching topics related to change and stress management or success coaching. Just retired “change” in similarsites.com got a url: changents.com put into SEMrush no data and it popped up with a opt-in to get 10 more for free before charging me for “no data” result searches? Again any other tools? Did I do something wrong? I followed your steps everytime.

      • Hmm…very very odd. That sounds like a glitch because I just put that info in and got the information. But here are some other sites you can try:

        Instead of SEMrush:
        SimilarWeb.com
        Ahrefs.com

        Instead of Similarsites:
        1. Put your own website into SEMrush or the other two above. Each has a section that lists who they think your biggest competitor is because you rank for many of the same terms.
        2. Google search the term and look on the 4th or 5th page for non-big dogs
        3. http://www.alexa.com/find-similar-sites
        4. http://www.similarsitesearch.com/

  • bulatyu

    Thank you for the article! How can I implement this strategy when I’m just going to start a blog? What sites should I look for?

    • Well the key would be knowing exactly what your blog is going to be about, and then finding others in the industry that cover that general area.

      • bulatyu

        Thanks for the answer! You wrote, “Find websites in your market that are either as large as yours, or smaller”. But when I’m starting any blog is bigger than mine. Should I look for new blogs, small blogs, or it doesn’t matter on the start?

        • In that case then, I’d recommend putting forums about your subject into SEMrush and see what things they rank for. If a forum string can rank for it, so can a new website. Sure forums are powerful, but a string isn’t content heavy – usually a sign that there is no good full article on the subject.

          As for the websites, yeah, its best to look for smaller sites. Although they are currently bigger than your new website, they can still be a good indicator. Just understand it will take a little longer for your seed article to grow 😉

          • bulatyu

            Thanks a lot, Dave! The forums advice is especially useful for me 🙂

  • Great -simple- actionable! Another good one Dave. Now all I/we gotta do is do it!

    • Thanks Eric – yeah, they can really help blogger build. Slowly….but surely.

  • I used your method and found an article which is ranking. I am in the process of creating a better version of that article.

    Thank you for the information. This is gold.

    I plan to continue doing this often.

    • Awesome Rohan. And let us know how it goes when you’ve got it rolling.

  • What if your blog is a “general interest” no-one-theme type? Say I write a blog post about doing historical research — but it may be the only one I’ll ever write on that topic. If readers come for one post, will they stay to hear about our renovation project in the next post?

    • Hmmm…great question. But I’ve got to ask, if your objective is to attract people about your renovation project, then why write about your historical research?

      However, for the artistic writing side, if the creative juices are moving you in a direction, you can always use the tactic above to build some creative options on what you can write in that subject.

  • Really helpful and thought-provoking insights, Dave!

    • Thanks Mike – hopefully its action inducing as well 😉 If you have any questions, let me know.

  • Karen Sargent

    This information is amazing! My blog is nearly a year old, and I’ve been “satisfied” with it’s slow but steady growth. yet, I look at other blogs like mine that get more traffic and try to figure out what they are doing that I’m not. This strategy gives me specific action steps…and so simple! Thank you!

    • Absolutely Karen and glad you liked it. It’s incredible what a couple of seed articles can do to any blog in order to give it that ‘spark’.

      Actually, you might be surprised to find out that most big blogs have only a couple of posts that bring in the majority of their traffic. All it takes is one or two and boom!

      • Karen Sargent

        I signed up to follow your newsletter a bit ago (and passed your link to an author friend as well). 🙂 The ebook calculator…do you think it works for Amazon pre-orders, too? I can see my line chart on my Author Central page, and the rank is listed each day, but it doesn’t tell the number of books that have been pre-ordered. (Sorry, this is a little off topic!) Just wondering… 🙂

        • Cool and glad you’re there! Yes, actually it does. Just make sure to enter the Amazon Best Seller Rank of the book or ebook version into calculator.

  • Ben Weaver

    This is fantastic! Thanks for the article! Quick question – My blog is super new (3 weeks) and the Alexa website search site states that doesn’t have enough info to rank the site. I am assuming because my site is brand new and traffic hasn’t been huge? Or is there another solution? I am dropping plenty of new content on there every week. Thanks for your help!

    • Hi Ben. That would be correct. Since you site is new, it won’t have enough data for Alexa. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find opportunities. The key would be to look for other websites, that don’t appear to be ‘big dogs’ of the industry. One way to do this is to type into Google what your site is about, and then search through all the pages that Google shows. Click on them and look for websites that look like a newbie. Mark them down – not as quick or easy as just through Alexa, but still an ability to find that REALLY low hanging fruit.

      Another way to find opportunities is to put forums that are on your subject into SEMrush and see what pages they rank for. If a forum thread ranks in the first 7 of a google search, then your website article about that will DEFINITELY rank well for it as well…and there….is a seed article topic.

      • Ben Weaver

        Thanks Dave! I appreciate it!

  • Virginia Leopold

    Great articles with some helpful ideas! Thanks so much!

  • I gave your instructions a try, but it didn’t work for me. And I think it’s because of my industry. I’m a crochet designer/blogger. I’ve been blogging for over 10 years. My main site is at least 8 years old. While I have a small name/following in my niche, I apparently don’t rank in Alexa at all. SimilarSites pulled up WordPress.com of all things as a similar site to mine. And SemRush can’t find any information. I wish this worked for me, but I think I just have to apply these principles by hand. Search Engines do not understand the online crochet culture, keywords we would use, or what to look for. But I do. Same goes for other sites I own, which are more artistic and philosophical in nature.

    • Hi Julia, okay, then here’s a tip/trick for you. List out the other crochet websites out there that are not big companies but crafted by true crochet experts. Now, place each one of their URLs in to SEMrush.com and see what is their BEST and MOST Google loved articles. Although their websites might have a little bit more Google love than yours, since yours is 8+ years old, it’s stronger than you think (or at least what Alexa things).

      By doing this one thing, you’ll find out what it is your competitors or others in the field has written that get new crocheters to their site every month. It can be a starting point for new material to tackle and provide.

      The key is, even that last step, can help you write articles that the market is looking for.

  • Jeff wasn’t exaggerating when he said this guest post was “epic”. I’ve been in and around websites for the past ten years. Nobody has explained the topic and the tools (free no less) better than you just did. I’m coming back to this post many times for reference. Awesome stuff, Dave!

    • Thanks James – that means a lot to hear. As you go through, hit me up for any other questions you may have as you work on it.

  • I use SEMrush too. But I usually just use it for my own website. I love your strategy of finding similar or smaller websites and write a better blog post on the keywords they are ranking. Would definitely try it. Thanks for the tips, Dave! 🙂

    • Absolutely and let me recommend that you also put forums that are about your subject into SEMrush as well. You’d be amazed at how many “how to” type questions are there…and if a forum string can rank for it, a well written article on that subject can DEFINITELY rank for it. Lowest hanging fruit.

      • Wow, thanks for the tip, Dave! Didn’t know that SEMrush can do so many things.

        • Yup…it can also tell you what websites are pointing to a site, and it can even tell you if that website is doing Google Adwords, what keywords they are targeting in Adwords AND what sales copy they are using. Pretty advanced and a lot of fun – but definitely a powerful tool. But what I love most about them is the level of information they give for free is usually good enough for most.

          • I use the free version and it’s good enough for me. Really a fun tool for people who are interested in analytics and data. 🙂

  • Jordin Ketelsen

    Wow. Just wow. Absolute game changer for a beginning blogger like me. Can’t believe you are giving this info out for free ;]. But seriously.

    • Glad you like it! And it was a real honor to write for Jeff since I’ve been a LONG time reader.