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Trade-Offs Needed for Online Articles – Keywords, Niche, Length, Quality

Updated on June 30, 2017
janderson99 profile image

John uses his scientific skills (PhD) & experience developing 50+ websites to research, review & evaluate SEO, website design, Social Media

To be successful in writing content for blogs, articles and various websites means that you have the play the game the Google way. Google pulls all the strings. The major battle when writing content and designing websites for the Internet, is to provide content to meet two search quests simultaneously:

  • The Quest to Know - that is to provide information for research, history, knowledge and 'how to do' request, remedies and how to make various things (that is to Google It!)
  • The Quest to be Seen - that is to provide reviews and other information to sell things. This can be provided directly via websites and articles that are designed to sell things via ads, adsense and affiliates. Or it can be provided indirectly via ads on 'Information Pages'. Sellers compete and pay to be seen on Google search results so that they can sell things. Google also sells things as well as marketing the ads. Various companies compete for affiliate ads and other ads.

As shown in the diagram below Google controls both sides of the battle by pulling the strings to control what is displayed in the search results when people request information.

Google controls which ads are displayed on the sites, and pages that compete to be displayed in the search results.

Google also pulls the strings by controlling what particular ads are displayed for each user. It uses search history so that the ads are personalized according to the interests of the user, based on their past search history.

Google also pulls strings to penalize sites and articles that are 'too commercial' or of 'low quality', even though is it a major player in the marketing.

Google also pulls strings to manipulate the ranking of information sites according to the number of back links, site authority and content quality criteria according to a set of rules it devises. These rules are only described in very general terms and the details are kept secret.

The rules and ranking criteria change continuously and Panda imposes a set of penalties to sites that Google does not like or it regards as 'gaming the system'. Panda imposes targeted penalties - downgrading specific sites - the 'kill list'. Panda not part of their old algorithm - they run Panda every now and then to insert penalties to revise how the algorithm works to rank the sites for the search results. Panda tweaks and extra string to manipulate search results.

Google is essentially a monopoly and it does what it likes, when it likes. It is broadly driven by the trade-off to maximize its profits and to provide what Google determines its users want from the searches. Google pulls all the strings.

To be successful. writers have to play the game the Google way, as best they can, using the general rules and guessing to fill in the gaps in the details of the rules that Google keeps secret.

Summary of the Process for Making Money Writing Content for Websites, Blogs and Articles

The diagram below summarizes the tradeoffs in the process of being a successful writer.

The diagram is in the form of an arrow with traffic as the target. Every writer aims to be read - that is the objective. There is no point writing stuff that no one reads. Some people write for very small markets on very specialized topics, but they still need to attract traffic to be read.


Making Money

To make money you need TWO things: Traffic and readers who Want to Buy. You can occasionally pick up some cash from information hubs, but the best ones are those on Sell Topics. This really has to start way back at the start where you pick topics to write about and the keywords. The topics have to be reviews or similar types of content targeted at a particular product that you can link to affiliate ads or to attract Adsense or other ads that will offer what the reader is looking for. However, you have to be careful to craft your content is a way that avoids a Google penalty for being to commercial and targeted at sales.

You have to provide substantial quality content that readers will refer to their friends, and will attract organic links. You can make some money from information sites, but the many people who read your content may not click the ads very often and the CPC for the ads will be low and so your income from display of the ads may be quite low. So traffic is necessary to make money, but will not guarantee it, until you write about topics that sell.

Content - The Trade-off between Fast, Quality and Competitive

When writing you don't want to spend days or weeks writing an article or content for a single page on a website or an article. Yet, you have to write 1500+ words of good quality both to impress the reader so that they will link to your page and tell their friends about it, and to satisfy Google, though Google will not tell you exactly what they want. You have to build your authority and credentials with Google via your other pages and sites so that you have good reputation with Google. It is appropriate that Google wants to give priority to 'quality' sites that impress the readers. The problem is that the way they judge this authority is obscure and not well described except in very general terms. The best way to approach it is to think about what the reader wants both in terms of the content, structure and layout. If you can impress the reader you will satisfy the other aspect of competitiveness. The reader has to regard your site as the 'best of the best' so that they will link to it and tell your friend about it. Another aspect is you title and summary. Remember that the only way users will find your site is via the 'rogues gallery' of summaries on the search results. So you should spend some time making both the title and summary appealing as you can, with actions words which in effect say 'Click me'. You need to encourage users to open your site ahead of the crowd.

There is obviously a trade-off between the time spend writing the content, its quality (both to the reader and Google) and making it competitive in terms of the readers view of it, compared to other sites.

If someone opens your website or article you need to ask yourself “What are the major things that a user would want to see and get information about when they open a site like this?” and you need to cover most of these topics really well it is almost like the 'one stop shop' for them. They should not have to go anywhere else because you provide most of what they need and they will spend a lot of time reading it all. You should aim to provide a good user experience, and Google knows what a site that does this, looks like and so Google will hopefully give it a boost. Google can also monitor the average time users spend on your site compared to related sites (bounce rate).

Compromises for the Choice of Topics, Niches and Keywords

Finding a profitable niche is perhaps the hardest part of all, and involves many trade-offs and compromises. The trade-offs are:

Popularity - You need moderately popular keywords (generally a few thousands per month). Highly popular ones will have too much competition from too many competing websites and articles. Low popularity ones will generate no traffic.

Topics - Choose the topics you think, or know from research, that people are searching for. See the following for ideas about choosing keywords:

Mostly, people search to gets some information, find out how to do things, get recipes, buy things, plan a holiday, etc. So your keyword searches should target what people are searching for in your selected topic. Writing about obscure topics, and not including popular action words such as "how to" in your keyword phrase and title will be unlikely to attract much traffic.

There are a lot of software applications for finding the 'perfect niche'. Look for one that focus on highlighting niches with low competition. This is a rather obscure concept and none of them do a very good job. You may have to resort to running your suggestions through several tools as I do.

Finding Niches and Long-tail Keywords for Titles

Don’t pick a niche market that is very narrowly focused because there will be little opportunity to find an unfilled niche that you can compete in and develop long-tail searches for. Look for a niche market where there is variety in the available key words. Variety in the key words means that you will be able to create a decent sized website that covers several topics. You will be able to find competitive niches for related topics that you can write a group of articles about.

Don't pick a topic that is too broad such as 'health', as you won't have a chance of competing in it - It's a done deal. Come down several levels and look at topics such as 'Muscle Building' or some 'Home Remedy'. Do your niche research on these low level topics that have moderate traffic and low competition.

Once you have chosen your niche, remember do on a thorough research job to produce high quality and well written content. You need to really impress your readers by creating a site that has good content, excellent structure and its organised.

Try to be original and exciting. Your readers want to hear that your site offers a secret loophole or the latest research or review information that no other site has discovered yet.


If you can choose keywords and topics that have a high return for each click. This information is shown in the Google Keywords Tool and various other keyword software tools. You can also get software which will list Amazon products that have high value and commissions.

Competiting Websites, Average PR and keywords in Title, URL and other parts of the HTML

Try to find keyword phrases that few other sites are competing for and for the average PR for the existing sites is less than 2. This means that you will have a reasonable chance of competing and getting on the first page of Google results.

Choosing a keyword phase that does not appear in many other 'titles', 'anchors' and 'URL's by doing the searches shown below using "green tea" as an example

intitle:"green tea "inurl:"green tea "inanchor:"green tea"

is worthwhile, but not necessarily a good indicator of how your page will rank. Despite all the stuff about choosing keyword phases, the bottom line is that Google's results are based on the score for the individual words rather than the whole phase.

For example for the phrase "green tea health benefits" Google compiles relative rankings for various pages that include each of the single words

  • green
  • tea
  • health
  • benefits

and ranks the pages on overall score. There is a contribution for the phrase "green tea health benefits" and the sequence of words does matter, but not as much as the scores for the single words. This is why it is so hard to predict how your page will rank.

Autocomplete and Autosuggestion

Don't ignore the sequence of words. People are more likely to put the major subject words first when entering a search term.

For the green tea example people will be more likely to enter:

  • 'green tea health benefits' than
  • 'the health benefits of green tea'

even though the last one appears to be a better title. The autocomplete and autosuggestion tools is based on the way people do searches and the more common search phrases are listed first and so it pays is look at what is suggested and to use these phases in your titles.

See: Autocompletion a Game Changer for Search and Keyword Research

and Channelling by Google Instant and Autocomplete threatens Long-tail Keywords

and Keywords in Titles - Benefits of Long-tail Keywords for Extra Niche Traffic

Niche Keyword Phrase Competition

This has been mentioned before, but its worth mentioning again, because it is the 'Holy Grail' for making money from eWriting. Choose the words correctly, and you will be listed on the front page of Google where you have a chance of being seen. It is hard to predict this and hard to maintain your position. Finding tools that discover these gems is the key to success.

© 2012 Dr. John Anderson


Submit a Comment

  • Xenonlit profile image


    6 years ago

    I am lost! Would you look at a couple of mine and tell me where I could do better? I just can't get this keyword stuff. Thanks for a highly detailed article. Voted Awesome.


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