In Journalism, a “beat” is a specific, niche topic that a journalist covers.  A journalist will write on the these topics, which usually have a high level of interest among a niche group of readers.

This journalist dedicates their reporting to this niche, staying up-to-date on information and latest happenings, speaking the language of their audience, and discovering new topics to explore the deeper issues in that niche.

The same scenario applies to niche blogging and writing solid SEO copy.  You are a writer.  I can assure you, if your content is weak, copied, unresearched and/or untimely not only will anyone not read your content or click your ads, Search Engines aren’t very inclined to rank it well, either.

The best keyword phrases with low competition and high purchase power do not matter if the only thing supporting them is badly written, copied, un-researched and/or untimely content.   No readers, no ad clicks, and no search rankings.

Here are some tips to get into the Beat of your niche and produce exceptional content that ranks well, competes in the Top 10 search results, and convince your users you’re the pro they should trust.

Make the Search Results Better

This point seems very simple but amazingly seems to go right over the heads of newbies to Search Engine Optimization, who tend to concentrate more on achieving results without putting in the effort first!

Google has a huge appetite for your content, and they WANT you to write.  Don’t treat SEO like you’re competing with the search engines.  Instead, step into it with the attitude that you’re going to produce better content than already exists in their engine for that keyword.

So look through the Top 10 search results.  How will you compete with them?  How much content do they have written to support that keyword?

With mindset you will create something grander, better, more complete, and more useful than those top 10 results…. you’re off to a good start.

When In Rome, Write as the Romans Do

Immediately after telling you to be unique, I’m now going to contradict myself and tell you to be similar.  Look through the top 20 results in Google for the keyword you’re writing on and read every single page.  Learn from them, as you would an Art teacher if you’re a Freshman writing a piece of Art History.  What do the search results have in common, in grade level of writing, lingo/terminology, and structure?

If you want to connect with users and convince Google you know what you’re talking about, you have to appeal to the masses.

Another tip is to find the words that Search Engines deem relevant to your words (or not).  Certain words will trigger relevancy in Google to a specific topic and/or keyword you are using.  Ideally, you should include them in your posts.

To find these “magic words”, go to Google and enter a query.  Now, before you search for that query, put a tilde (~) before the phrase.  Do your search, here is one for a ridiculously competitive keyword in Google, “~Airplane”:

Google Relevance Search

Notice that the search for Airplane produced multiple BOLDED words.  These words are “Airline”, “Flight”, “Aviation”, “Air”, “Plane”, “Aircraft”.  All of these words Google has determined are related specifically to the word “Airplane”.  I think they did a pretty good job.

Try more searches with various keywords and see what pops up:

~SEO: “Search Engine Optimization”
~money: “currency”, “funds”, “Financial”, “cash”
~STL: “St Louis”, “st. Louis”, “Saint Louis, Missouri”
~diamond: “Diamonds”, “gold”, “engagement” “jewelry”

Read the News and Respond

Stay on the beat by keeping up with the latest news. This is very easy to do with Google Reader, which allows you to centralize all of the important feeds for your niche topics.

Go to Technorati, MyBlogLog, Networked Blogs, Google News, CNN, etc. and grab feeds for the industry blogs and news sites for your niche.

Do Google News searches for any Brand names that you may be concerned with promoting and collect their feeds as well.

Then, simply check your Google Reader account on a regular basis; do it daily if you’re serious & once a week if you’re not, and see what news pops up. Write about it soon after because you want traffic. Don’t report on “old” stuff.

Review Feedback and the Internet Chatter

Like a journalist who receives letters, editorials and comments for their writing, you will want to respond to the feedback you get and keep an open mind about new things you can write about in your niche.  Feedback and writing inspiration on a beat can come from anywhere:

  • Visitor Emails:  Rare on a niche money blog, but if you truly inspire someone, sometimes questions and opportunities will come your way.
  • Blog comments: Are you asked any questions, or do your commenters feel strongly about something said?  Have others written on similar topics where discussions have risen?  See what things are discussed and concerns people have.
  • Amazon Reviews: If writing about specific products or services in your niche, check Amazon to see if there are comments on that product that address specific needs/desires/positive/negative aspects of that product.  Often these can inspire new writing topics.
  • Twitter: Using Google Reader as mentioned above, you can follow feeds of Tweets for your keywords to see what people say, ask, and discuss about your topic.  These can be inspirations for new topics.
  • Yahoo Answers:  You could spend time writing answers to questions on Yahoo… but even better, you can find in the questions and answers in Yahoo to answer yourself and construct into new, niche posts with well written content.
  • Keywords:  Sign into Google Analytics (or however you read your keywords), choose a date range of 2-3 months, and see what keywords people use to find your Website.  Often you’ll get surprise queries in there about similar but un-related topics that your visitors happened to stumble onto your site with. And, heck, since it’s coming directly from your keywords, you already have a pretty good idea of how to tag your new post!

I’ve created and written content for blogs that I didn’t think would go deeper than 5 posts because they were simply too niche and I didn’t know enough about them.  These topics simply didn’t seem to have the complexity and deeper issues of many, more broad writing topics.  But I soon realized, based on comments, keyword referrals, and reading questions from others that there was far more to the topic than I ever realized!

I hope I’ve convinced you that no matter what topic you’re writing on, good content is going to give you the best success in the long run.  Staying on the beat is easy to do.  Never underestimate how much there is to say about something!

If you’re not in the top position for your keyword goals, you have more work to do, so start producing new, original content for your readers!