Writing a book is hard work.
I know it’s hard work because I have written six books. Four of those books were published by a technical book publisher, CBM Books.
It’s because it’s difficult that it’s all worthwhile.
Let’s take a minute to examine the word authority. It comes from being an author. An author isn’t just a writer. They have published their written work.
An author is the creator or originator of any written work such as a book or play, and is also considered a writer. More broadly defined, an author is “the person who originated or gave existence to anything” and whose authorship determines responsibility for what was created.
Everybody gives lip service to writing a book someday. But how many people do? Scant few.
It’s because it’s difficult.
Writing a book, with an interesting plot, valuable message, scientific research, or helpful information gives you authority. But how do you do it?
I suggest doing it the same way you’d eat an elephant. One bite at a time!
Outline Your Book Using Ahrefs Keywords Explorer
Once you’ve found what you think will be an ideal book title, it’s time to go do more research. Start by looking at the top 10 competitors for the search.
You can get this information from any number of SEO tools. I like Ahrefs. Moz Pro, SEMRush, SpyFu, and Ubersuggest are additional tools you can use to explore content on the internet.
Here’s some of what the Ahrefs Content Explorer tool will show you:
I generally start with the page that has the most page traffic value, which Ahrefs shows you (right). This is a good indication that the content ranks for many different keywords. In my example, that page is on a site called Investopedia. So, I give the page URL to the next Ahrefs tool, Site Explorer.
Site Explorer is packed with so much information it will make your head spin. For our purposes right now, I’m going to focus on organic keywords. On that page, Ahrefs will show you what other keywords the page ranks for. These can be used for chapter ideas.
It seems unimaginable that a single article can rank for 2,500 keywords. But this Investopedia article does. It’s equally hard to imaging that the traffic value is over $40,000 per month. What Ahrefs is telling us with their traffic value estimate is that it would cost Investopedia an estimated $43,600 per month in Google advertising to get the same search traffic their article is getting organically, for free.
That makes this an ideal article to dissect because Google obviously likes it a lot. Let’s dig in and see what other organic keywords the article ranks for by clicking “Organic traffic.”
Immediately Ahrefs showed me a topic that would make a good chapter, “Medigap vs Medicare Advantage.” It was obvious to me because Medigap insurance is an alternative to Medicare Advantage insurance. And, as it turns out, it was already an article I wrote for my website. In fact, every chapter I put in the book came from doing research exactly like this and writing an indepth article about it.
Once you have the topics, it’s time to dissect exactly what to write about.
Using Google’s Own Technology to Outline Your Chapters
Above you learned that good content starts with keyword research. I demonstrated how you can use Ahrefs to start with a topic and drill down to get subtopics. And that’s really what a good nonfiction book is. It’s a core topic broken down into relevant subtopics.
If you want your articles and book to rank well, you must write content that people are searching for and that answers their questions. People have questions. Google has answers. It’s that simple.
All SEOs have their own unique approach to writing content for organic search results. But if there’s a single step I always recommend, it’s to make sure your content is relevant and comprehensive. Furthermore, start with a solid outline to guide you through what you need to write.
For this, I use a tool called ClearScope.
ClearScope is a content development tool that uses natural language processing (NLP) technology (artificial intelligence) to tell you what words you need to use in your content to perform better in organic search. It provides this information based on the top-ranking content for a particular keyword.
ClearScope uses the NLP capabilities of IBM’s Watson and Google’s own Natural Language Artificial Intelligence interface. And, in my experience, it works great. Not only does it help me write faster, but it also helps with my research and makes sure my terminology is spot on.
Using ClearScope is easy. You start by creating a report using a keyword search from Ahrefs. Let’s use a chapter example from my book, “How Do Medicare Advantage Plans Work?”
Once you create a report, ClearScope will show you the competitors along with a content grade:
They also show a map of relevant terms used in each of the top ten articles. From the list of relevant terms, you can begin creating an outline for your article. To assist you in that process, ClearScope kicks off your document with the top questions people ask about the topic. It’s brilliant and a huge timesaver.
As you write your article, using the keywords suggested by ClearScope, it highlights their use in yellow and updates your content grade. They suggest an A++ for best results.
If you get stuck on a term ClearScope will help you with that, too. Simply click on the term in the sidebar, then click the examples button. ClearScope with show you how your competition used the term in a paragraph.
When you’re finished, you can extract the article without ClearScope’s highlighting. They call it “copy mode.”
And that’s it. Simply wash, rinse, and repeat until all your chapters are complete.
To show how productive and effective this is after I finished Why Medicare Advantage Plans are Bad, I outlined a 10-article series for my website called Medicare Mistakes. Each article details a common, and potentially costly, mistake people make with Medicare health insurance. With the help of ClearScope, I was able to knock out all 10 articles in less than a week. These articles will be the chapters in my next Amazon book, How Much Does Medicare Cost?, which people search more than 12,000 times per month.
Send Your Manuscript Out for Professional Editing
Writers write and editors edit. Don’t try to be both. It doesn’t work. You simply won’t see all the issues the way a good editor can.
If you use Grammarly Professional to assist with your writing, you can probably skip a proofreader. The next level of editing after proofreading is copy editing. A copy editor:
- Corrects errors in grammar, spelling, syntax, and punctuation.
- Looks for consistency in spelling, capitalization, font usage, numerals, hyphenation.
- Finds continuity errors and makes sure that all loose ends are tied.
- Identifies factually incorrect statements. For example, a thorough copyeditor checks if the facts in your manuscript, such as drug names, species names, etc., are correct.
- Looks for potential legal liability. The most important legal liabilities are plagiarism and libel.
- Ferrets out the inconsistency in your story. For instance, do you describe a study retrospectively on one page but prospectively on another?
You can try finding an editor on a site like Fiverr. However, my experience is that it takes too much time to find a Fiverr editor with experience in your niche. Instead, use a business with many editors across various genres. I was lucky enough to find an editor with experience in my niche at GetProofed.com. They claim to have over 400 editors.
The next step is to start building out your Amazon book page.