How to land 1,830 ranking positions with only one article
You don't always have to create many unique content pieces to earn multiple SERP rankings. Sometimes, you only need one article. Here's how.
Within months of publishing, our “resignation letter templates” article climbed to number one in the SERPs for a client.
If you know how to engineer success before starting then this shouldn’t be surprising.
But hitting number one for a single keyword wasn’t the most impressive thing about this article.
Because after about a year, it was ranking for 1,830 keywords.
That’s not a typo. It wasn’t a fluke.
And this article will explain exactly how to replicate it.
Long vs. short content? Here’s why you’re asking the wrong question
Everyone is looking for a trick or a hack. A silver bullet that prints money without actually having to lift a finger.
But the unfortunate truth is that “it depends.”
- Should you write a long, in-depth article or a short, snappy one? It depends.
- Should you produce content in high volume or prune your site to limit the noise? It depends.
- Should you try to target one keyword per article or multiple? Once again, it depends.
There is no one-size-fits-all approach. (Despite what LinkedIn gurus guarantee.)
Here’s a quick example:
✅ Typically, you’d want to create one article around one primary topic.
✅ Add in your semantic themes and blend them together with similar-yet-complementary, laser-focused content.
✅ Tie it all up in a bow with internal links to create a dense web of content.
✅ Then, let topical authority + some high-quality backlinks do their thing.
But this might not always be the case.
Imagine you’re doing your keyword research. As you do. And you see something like this:
- Lots of closely-related keywords sharing similar intent.
- Volume on the low (to long-tail) side of the spectrum.
- With lower keyword difficulty targets, too.
The next step isn’t to send all these to your favorite cheap writer. Or, god forbid, ChatGPT.
‘Cause the wrong content or just plain bad content isn’t going to help you, anyway.
Instead, it’s to roll up those sleeves and do some basic investigating.
First, compare parent + child keywords (and ‘volume’ vs. ‘potential volume’)
The raw data an SEO tool spits out isn’t all that helpful – mostly because it’s garbage.
Let me explain.
For starters, volume numbers are entirely inaccurate! Look up volume in three different tools and you’ll undoubtedly get three different answers.
You know what else those three answers will have in common? They’re completely wide of the mark from the actual, real-life volume or click-through rate data you might see.
While others, like keyword difficulty, heavily bias things like the number of page-level referring domains instead of the quality of said domains or even the overall domain strength (like domain rating) across the top 10 on any given SERP.
The point here is to focus less on the actual numbers and more on what the relationship of the numbers might be telling you.
Check out this “construction project management” example. Look it up in Ahrefs, then drill down into the “child” keyword ideas sorted underneath the primary “parent” topic.
Now, you’ll see a list of closely related keywords that could be the perfect starting point for a brand-new cluster of a dozen or so articles.
Or it could just be one really long, in-depth article.
How do you know?
Here’s a giant clue.
Compare the difference or ratio between Volume (local, specific to this keyword) and Traffic Potential (as in, with other keywords, too). You can even compare Global Volume if you appeal to international customers, too.
The fact that the Traffic Potential to Volume ratio here is ~4:1 tells me that you probably have a lot of very similar keywords displaying the same content pieces.
In other words, one really good, probably longer, and in-depth article on “steps of construction” will most likely be displayed for many long-tail variations around the same theme.
This means you also don’t need to create unique pieces of content to rank for each.
And that’s exactly what happened.
We created one in-depth piece of content and picked up the first position for lots of similar keywords – effectively ~4xing (or more) the traffic to this article vs. what any keyword tool might have originally told us.
The good news is that you don’t have to rely on hunches or decades of experience to verify this.
You just need to do a little additional legwork when you spot these clues.
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Then, compare the content currently ranking across each unique SERP to look for ‘overlaps’ vs. ‘unique’
SEO isn’t all that hard at the end of the day.
Yes, there are some complicated elements to think through. But it’s not a complete mystery or black box.
Heck. Google literally shows you exactly what works vs. what doesn’t. Hiding in plain sight.
That means whenever there are doubts about what people want to find out about a particular keyword and, therefore, what Google wants to display, all you have to do is simply…
Seriously, don’t overthink it.
Pull up the keyword we’ve been discussing, like “steps of construction.” Then, look at the actual content already ranking for this query.
- What do they have in common?
- What are they all doing well?
- What gaps are there that you think you can exploit?
- And last but not least, how much of this same exact content is showing up for other closely-related keywords you’ve found?
The easiest way to do this is a simple side-by-side comparison. So take your “steps of construction” SERP…
… and compare it with the top 10 articles ranking for “process of construction,” too.
Several articles that are exactly the same, showing up for different (yet similar) keywords – that most keyword research tools tell you are actually separate or distinct.
But in Google’s mind, they’re not.
And at the end of the day, that’s the only perspective you should care about when it comes to SEO.
Don’t lose sight of the forest through the trees.
SEO tactics or metrics or “best practices” – in isolation – are limited at best or completely misleading at worst.
That means Ahrefs' volume metric doesn’t matter. Same as Moz’s or Semrush, or [insert new cool hipster tool here].
At least not on their own. They don’t.
What matters is how you interpret the data and see the relationships or patterns in SERPs to understand what's happening under the surface.
That means sometimes you want to do more frequent, short articles. While other times, you want to do the opposite.
As the saying goes, everything looks like a nail to the man with the hammer.
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