If you're like me, you enjoy keyword research but sometimes find it a little overwhelming.
You have to start from scratch every time, and the most reliable, manual methods are excrutiangly slow and full of trial and error.
Plus, at some point you end up with a list of dozens of keywords for your blog or niche site. All of them different, with different amounts of potential, needing different approaches to writing the article.
It can be tough to know where to start.
One of my favorite solutions to this problem (and a relatively fast and easy way to grow the organic traffic to a blog) is by writing what I call Content Series.
What is a content series? It's, well, a series of content articles that meets 4 key criteria.
- Dozens, maybe hundreds, of similar articles you could write in the series
- Worthwhile search volume
- Extremely low competition
- Fast & easy to execute (this is important)
Below, I'll go into a little more detail of what these are and how I find them, give you some examples of great content series ideas, decent ones, and bad ones.
I'll also show you some of my results from content series that I've started on my own sites.
Anatomy of a Content Series
A content series is a collection of (usually) informational posts that you know you can rank and bring readers into your site with.
It minimizes the risk of going after new types of keywords, saves time doing fresh keyword research, and allows you to repurpose research around one topic over and over.
For example, for a nutrition blog you might write an article like "How to order healthy at Taco Bell."
Right away, you can see how this would become a series.
Swap out Taco Bell for any other major, national restaurant chain and you suddenly have a list of literally hundreds of articles you could write.
- How to order healthy at Wendy's
- How to order healthy at Arby's
- How to order healthy at Cheesecake Factory
- And on and on and on
(This example series has great search volume, by the way, but is incredibly competitive. Funny enough, you'll see a lot of the same big names ranking for all of this stuff...)
When big media brands who have the resources to churn out content like this are doing something, you should take note.
But it can work extremely well for newer bloggers and one-man operations, whether you want to write them yourself of hire them out.
Here's why I use content series on my own blogs and why I have these specific criteria.
Dozens, maybe hundreds, of article ideas
The idea of a content series is to save yourself time doing keyword research by developing a formula and a template you know works.
Rather than starting from scratch and guessing whether you can rank for a given keyword or topic, you find something that can be easily tweaked over and over and over again.
(A little further down, I'll talk a little about why it's important to do a test batch of content series articles before you go all in.)
Whenever you're unsure of what to write or focus on next, you can always return to your content series, find new iterations to write, and know that you'll be successful when you publish them.
Worthwhile search volume
This is kind of a no-brainer, but you shouldn't bother with a content series that no one is searching for.
The beauty of a content series, though, is that the search volumes don't need to be high for them to be worthwhile.
You can and should feel free to target 0 and low-volume keywords here, because if you've constructed your series properly, these articles will be really fast to execute.
When the search volume is too high, it's also very likely that the results will be competitive. Though, in certain niches, you can get lucky and find gems sometimes.
Again, the only way to really know for sure how much traffic a post or series will bring will be to write a test and give it time to bake in Google.
Extremely low competition
I like to execute content series that I know I can rank for because the topics are underserved.
I don't want to duke it out with big sites and other bloggers. There's a time and a place to do that, but my content series are my safety nets that I know will bring me rankings and traffic, even just a little bit at a time.
There are times when you should take big swings, but content series articles should be extremely reliable singles and doubles you can crank out over and over.
I like to see first page results full of off topics posts, forums, and other user-generated content when doing content series research.
Fast & easy to execute
This is extremely important and it's the lynchpin that makes content series so effective.
Content series articles should ideally get easier and easier to write as you do more of them.
They should be fast wins you can crank out by plugging information into a proven template.
Think about the "ordering healthy at restaurants" series example from above. 80% of those articles could feature similar talking points about how to order healthy at fast food joints, in general, and then 20% could feature a few healthy example items specific to that restaurants.
You, or your team of writers, could churn these out easily.
I'll give you some examples below of why this is so helpful.
Examples of Good & Bad Content Series
Alright, let's see what these series can actually look like and how to find them, plus how to evaluate them when you do.
Grocery store comparisons (great!)
I had this idea recently and I personally think this would be an excellent content series.
You'd take all of the major grocery store and market chains around the country and do deep-dive comparisons of two at a time.
You'd create a template where you quickly compare, say, Publix and Kroger on Price, Selection, Organic, Customer Service, Store Cleanliness, etc.
It'd be a decent amount of research at first, but the beauty of this is once you've written about each store once, all of the research is done.
Now you can just plug and play.
With well over a dozen big grocery store chains you could compare, there are tons of articles you could crank out in this series.
As far as search volume, see for yourself:
(By the way, those search volumes are coming from a simple free plugin called Keywords Everywhere. It's one of my favorite blogging tools)
If I ran a food, recipe, or budgeting blog I'd be all over this.
There's some competition for certain higher volume comparisons, but for the most part I think well-written articles from young blogs could compete in these SERPs.
Takeaway: Versus keywords aren't just for product comparisons. "VS" is almost always one of the best ways to find good content series.
It works so well because most of your competitors just want to write one big article comparing a few of the big grocery chains and then be done with it. They won't take the time and, frankly, endure the repetitiveness to get granular and pull in more of this longtail traffic.
Best color for a new car (pretty good!)
Examine your niche and think if there's any one singular question that could be asked over and over again about a very specific entity.
For example, I was brainstorming for this article and was thining that I bet people have a lot of debate over what color their new car should be.
There are hundreds and hundreds of specific car models you could write articles about!
The search volume isn't fantastic, but these would be absurdly easy to write.
A quick list of what colors the car comes in, maybe pictures of a few, a general section on how to pick a car color (that you could re-write and re-use in each article), and then your overall favorite.
The competition and volume is so low, these could be 800-1000 words tops and you could literally crank them out in huge batches.
The low search volumes would give me a little pause, but Google's autosuggest offers up a ton of ideas here.
I'd be very interested what kind of traffic you'd pull on these 0-volume keywords.
Takeaway: What is there a LOT of in your niche? And is there a simple question you could answer about each of them over and over and over?
It'll take some brainstorming, but if you find something good with search volume that you can quickly execute over and over (or hire out to freelancers in bulk), you can see incredible traffic growth.
Best playground in every city (not ideal)
I had this idea on one of my sites recently to try a series of local guides.
Like "Best (something) in (city)".
The search volume was great, and the top results were all crappy Yelp pages put together by an algorithm.
I wanted to see if I'd be able to rank for these, having never tried to rank for local before, so I wrote a test article.
It was a LOT of work.
A series like this might seem like a good idea, but you'll be starting completely from scratch research-wise in every city or locale. Plus, if you're not familiar with the area, it'll take even more research to get the lingo and locations right.
I ended up finishing that one test piece, and we'll see how it goes. I might still do the series, but it's definitely not a quick win.
But just for giggles, you'll almost DEFINITELY find intriguing local keywords in your niche if you look carefully.
Takeaway: Beware! Sometimes, articles will seem easy to template-out, but they'll actually be a lot of research.
Content series are awesome when they get EASIER as you go along and accrue more research, or when they're answering such a simple question that you don't have to do much.
If you have to start completely from scratch every time with hours of digging, it might be a little too high effort for our purposes.
It might still be great content or a great series, just keep in mind it won't be the quick win you're looking for.
My Results & Real Data
Let's take a look at some real results from series I've started on my own sites.
Site 1 / Series 1
This one is in the vein of my grocery store comparison example above.
It's extremely simply in execution. It's A vs B, B vs C, C vs D, A vs C, B vs D, etc, etc. and on and on.
The more of these I write, the easier and faster they get to crank out.
Posts so far: 16 (2 very new)
Total Pageviews last 30 days: 11,881
What's next: I've been writing these in small chunks for well over a year.
I have dozens more of these I could create. I've done most of the higher volume ones, so now I'm testing if it'll be worthwhile to crank out articles on the keywords with 0-50 searches per month.
My hunch is Yes, because I've literally already done ALL the research, and I'll likely bring on some freelancers to help me churn these out.
It actually pains me that I haven't done more of these, but I tend to get distracted by new tests and projects! However, this has been an awesome safety net to return to when I need a quick win.
Site 2 / Series 1
Another simple versus comparison series comparing general product types, but not specific models.
Think "treadmill vs elliptical," "elliptical vs stairmaster," "treadmill vs stationary bike," etc.
Posts so far: 4
Total Pageviews last 30 days: 4,559
What's next: This site is a little newer, having just hit the one year mark at the time of this writing.
I wrote a couple of these as a test when the site was young.
This content series is performing like bananas, with each of the articles bringing in 5-6x the traffic suggested by the estimated search volume.
There are at least a dozen more in this series with lower volumes, but based on how these have performed, I'd say they're worth going after now that I've done most of the heavy-lift research.
Site 2 / Series 2
This is going to be the biggest series I've attempted by far.
I haven't even compiled a full list of the keywords yet because there are so many. I'm still in the testing phase, but if the early results are good, I may scale up and publish over a hundred of these.
Posts so far: 10 (all brand new)
Total Pageviews last 30 days: 90
What's next: This is the one I'm really excited about.
It's high volume, extremely low competition, and unbelievably easy to write these.
(Think "best color for a honda civic" easy.)
It's all I can do to restrain myself from spending thousands of dollars to write 200 of these right now! But I'm waiting and testing to make sure they'll perform before I go all in.
I'll update this space in a few months with more results.
Site 2 / Series 3
This one is kind of a fail, and I'll explain why so hopefully you can learn from it!
Posts so far: 4
Total pageviews last 30 days: 1537
What's next: I'm not continuing with this series because the ratio of work to results is way off.
It's a simple versus comparison series relevant to my niche, but it turned out be a lot less simple than I thought. (Think comparing two big multi-facted disciplines or philosophies... Intermittent Fasting vs Keto, or Affiliate Marketing vs Dropshipping, something like that.)
These needed hours of research to put together, and though they got easier the more I learned about the topic, the traffic numbers just weren't there.
Right now they're averaging about 400 pageviews per month each, which isn't horrible, but I feel I can get a better ROI on my time elsewhere.
How to execute a content series (the smart way)
If this sounds interesting to you and you want to try this method out, here's how to do it.
Step one: Keyword research
Phase one is actually finding your content series.
It can be a little bit tricky and time consuming. Don't fall in love with the first idea that you have!
Chances are you'll find it's:
- Too competitive
- Too much effort to write the articles
- Not enough search volume
- Or too small of a series
To get the most bang for your buck, keep digging until you find something that checks all of the boxes.
You don't have to write the entire series in one go (I usually don't), but you want to have a well you can keep going back to for consistent singles and doubles whenever you need them.
Remember, "versus" keywords are often a goldmine, and try thinking of general questions you could ask about every single item or place that appears frequently in your niche.
Step two: Test
If you found a series idea that you think have potential, I URGE YOU to test it out first.
What I mean is, don't go spend your entire lifesavings on Upwork to have freelancers write the entire thing for you in one month.
I'd advise doing a handful of test articles from the series and giving them some time to see how they perform (how much time is up to you, but the longer the better).
- One higher search volume article
- One mid volume
- And one low or zero volume
This will give you the best idea of what you'll be able to rank for, how fast, and what kind of traffic to expect if you decide to pursue scaling up with the entire series.
Step three: Strategize
I haven't mentioned this in the article yet, but this is REALLY important.
Content series are usually going to be informational posts.
I'm sure it could work with affiliate product posts (Best X for Y), but those are often their own individual beasts that require unique research.
If you're bringing a lot of informational (non-buyer) traffic to your site, it's IMPERATIVE you have a plan for that traffic.
I personally run ads on my sites, so raw traffic is valuable to me. I also try to get these visitors to join my email list or check out my other content.
Make sure you have a strategy for how get value out of this organic traffic, using some combination of:
- Lead magnet / email list
- Relevant affiliate offers
- Pushing them to other relevant content
Step four: Scale
It's up to you, your time, and your budget how you want to apporach the content series from here.
The exciting news is you have (like I've said before) a reliable well of content ideas you KNOW will work.
(And here's a fun bonus: The more articles in the same series you write, the better and faster they'll start ranking.)
So far, I've usually chipped away at my series on my own with long testing phases. But I'm currently preparing to do a pretty large scale content push if my latest test pans out.
If can write a handful of these yourself first, you'll get better rates out of freelancers. A lot of the information, and the template, will be right there for them and they'll just have to piece things together.
So that's one of my favorite strategies for scaling organic traffic.
Hitting the occasional content home run is great, but overall I'd say most of my traffic on my sites is a result of steadily hitting singles and doubles.
It's the long haul approach, and it can be pretty repetitive, but that's exactly why it works! Because no one else wants to do it. Very few other bloggers out there are going to have the vision or patience to work through a series of 25-50+ articles with low search volumes.
But if you can find a formula that works, even just a little bit, hopefully these tips will help you rinse and repeat over and over again, adding up to one huge result.
Questions? Was anything not clear? How else can I help?
Hit me in the comments!