With my newest business project, Locksmith Training HQ, I wanted to start up a small niche site to generate passive income for me. This, however, is no longer the case. The more I write, the more I realize I have so much more to say on the topic. It has surpassed niche site, and is growing into the realm of authority site. With any site, though, it is important to develop a strong content creation plan when considering your SEO strategy. That is what I have done, but first…
Why me? Why locksmithing?
So, a bit of background. I have been picking locks from the time I was 15. It’s always been about the puzzle to me. The challenge of simulating the act of a key. For years it was simply a hobby of mine that I would do when I was bored. Then, a few years ago, I decided I’d open my own locksmithing business. By that point I had learned enough about the trade to feel confident that I could not only make money at it, but that I would be a benefit to my customers.
This, unfortunately, didn’t happen. It was about a week after I made that decision that my current full time employer messaged me for the first time. The job was a challenge, the pay was steady, and better than I expected to make as a locksmith, and it was at a company that I had wanted to work for since I was a kid.
But now here I am with 15 years of locksmithing knowledge built up, and nothing to pour it into. It felt like a waste not to put it somewhere, so into Locksmith Training HQ it goes.
Content Creation Plan
So enough of the backstory, let’s move on to the content creation plan strategy. I have studied SEO as long as I’ve been in web development. Back in the days of spammy link building and Web 2.0 Properties, I was the guy telling my clients to write good content, answer all the questions that their readers would think up to ask, and grow slowly. It isn’t exciting, but it also works. SEO these days is all about Google, and has been for some time. So ask yourself: What does Google want? Not the algorithm, Google the company. Google wants to bring their searchers the content that they are looking for, the content they actually want, and the content that will help them.
Spam allows you to get Google to put your content in front of people by putting a ton of weight on the “looking for” piece of that puzzle. And that’s it. The other two pieces get nothing. Of course, those two are also the hardest for Google to analyze, so it makes sense.
Enter Artificial Intelligence.
By using AI, Google can begin to analyze the content of pages. They have all the tools at their disposal that they need. They track every search, they know who clicks on what, and they are the leading analytics resource, so they are able to follow that data to track how long each person stays on the page, how many pages they view, etc. Because we know what a quality visitor looks like in analytics, Google can take their search results and extrapolate which pages match up to which search queries and create the quality visitor experience that Google wants to put in front of their searchers.
Seems a hell of a lot like what I’ve been telling people all these years.
Step 1: Get Something Out
My content creation plan is simple. I launched Locksmith Training HQ by hiring a freelancer to research the requirements to open a locksmithing business in each of the 50 US States. Then, I took that research, and compiled a unique blog page for each state, detailing these laws.
That was it.
After this, I connected the site to Google Analytics and Google Search Console (Google Webmaster Tools).
Then I started writing. I wrote posts about topics I thought my potential readers would be looking for: Residential Locksmithing, Commercial Locksmithing, Bump Keys. I made sure to add keywords that reference all the subjects that I think my potential readers will want to look for. These weren’t high quality posts, they were simply ways to get my site showing up anywhere in Google. The idea here wasn’t to rank these posts to #1, but to use them as a content feeder.
Step 2: Wait
This was almost as hard as writing content is. Google takes time to index your site, so you have to wait. You can use Google Search Console to request indexing, but it still takes time. And even after you’re being indexed, it takes time for you to start popping up in people’s searches. I wrote nothing for a week, instead focusing on coming up with a plan for the future of the site, installing AdSense, and preparing anything that wasn’t content for what I was doing.
Step 3: Research
Now that I was indexed, and I was showing up in people’s search results (even if on page 10, where nobody ever looks), I was starting to get data out of Google Webmaster Tools. Because of the nature of Google, a lot of the search queries that I was appearing for weren’t anything I was interested in. I started reading at the top, and for that first week it was a very short list. About 5 or 6 down, I came across an interesting keyword — “Are Lockpicks Legal” — which was the perfect starting post. I quickly wrote up a blog post with that as the title, and answered that question, publishing it that day.
But then I found another query, “locksmith apprenticeship nyc”, which wasn’t as clear as a question, but it had potential. My research hadn’t brought up much about apprenticeships, though, so I stuck that very query in Google and did a lot of research on the subject. Finally, when I thought I knew exactly what I needed to know, I put together my content, and I published it.
Step 4: More Waiting
Again, the important thing here is patience. I published the apprentice post on December 21st. At the time, my page that discussed the Locksmith Regulations for NYC was ranked 56th for that query.
Step 5: Review
You can’t simply stick things out there and expect good things to happen. The idea behind my content creation plan, though, is that it allows you to drive traffic to your website without spending money on advertising, or spamming social media. You’re simply putting yourself in front of the people that are looking for you. And you’re doing it exactly how Google wants you to.
I did other posts in the meantime, put together plans for the future of the site, and started networking with locksmiths online. This was the time that I was letting my posts simmer.
Then, two weeks after publishing the apprentice post, I looked at my stats for it. The new post had debuted on Christmas Eve, starting it’s journey at 17th for the query, and never really moving from there. It’s average position is 16.2, and it has recently dropped to 20th place. After looking over it, I understood why immediately. I had made a fundamental flaw.
The flaw in my original post was that I wasn’t actually targeting the same keyword. During the initial article writing, I had morphed the focus keyword from “locksmith apprenticeship nyc” to “Becoming a Locksmith Apprentice in NYC” which is similar, but just different enough that it kept my article on page 2 of the Google results. I was fine with this, though, for a little while. I figured the stream of clicks that it was generating would continue, and eventually Google would rank it higher due to this. Apparently this was not the case, which was flaw number 2. I shouldn’t have waited quite as long as I did.
But we’re doing this for the long game, remember? So let’s not dwell on time frame.
The Attempted Fix
Editing the article to change the focus keyword back was not that difficult. The entire content of the post stays the same, as well as the purpose. What changes is that now I have the exact keyword (or variations of it) showing up in my article content. This is only going to improve my ranking. Once I updated the content, I also changed the title of the article, as well as the URL of the article. Then, I added a URL with a 301 Redirect from the old link to the new link. After that, I went into Google Search Console and requested that Google index the new URL, as well as the old URL, so it could pick up on the 301 redirect.
This all happened today, so I’m still waiting. I will let it ride for the next few weeks. I’ll follow up with another post when I get the final results of this little test and experiment.
If you want to follow along, post a comment with what you think will happen to the article? Will it rank? Will it continue to drop out of the top 2 pages?