nat eliason-wiki-strategy-surfer seo
SEO Marketing

Nat Eliason’s Wiki strategy explained with Surfer SEO

Nat Eliason is one of the finest influencers in the SEO industry. He has worked with brands such as Sumo and Patreon, and grew their organic traffic massively. 

He recently published a post that provided several insights into writing a brand new blog that we had to share with you.

Someone who’s been struggling to get their blog post ranking well on Google, will absolutely benefit from these lessons.

One of these lessons is the WIki strategy – a way by which you build and maintain authority on a topic you’re well-versed in. This is the central focus of this post.

I’ll be using Surfer SEO as the tool of choice to illustrate how to go about the writing part for this Wiki strategy. 

Let’s start with talking about Nat Eliason and the post that discussed the Wiki Strategy. 


Who is Nat Eliason?

Nat Eliason is a SEO specialist, who has shown a knack for improving the monthly visitors a site or blog gets, organically. 

He has been published on places like the Ahrefs blog, where his exploits with SEO have featured prominently

On top of being an expert, he’s also an excellent educator on the topic of SEO. He regularly shares his case studies and the takeaways that the rest of us can use to improve our own SEO efforts.


What can we learn from Nat?

Nat Eliason gives us 6 big lessons on creating a high-ranking blog. 

He recently published a post on how to start a blog that can change your life. It serves as a checkpoint of his achievements so far, and spelled out lessons you can take from them. 

Here, I boil down the 6 main takeaways from this post, that I hope you and I can incorporate into our future writing. 


1. Writing a blog should be part of any business

His first point is about the benefits of writing a blog as part of any business. 

If you can find the connection between what your business offers and what people are looking for, it brings in traffic and business.

For instance, if you’ve built a tool that handles task management, your job would be to find the questions that your potential customers are asking online that will lead them to your tool.

A quick search on an SEO tool like Ahrefs for the term ‘virtual team’ gave me a potential keyword – “what makes a virtual team different from a conventional team”.

The monthly search volume is only 100, but it is a very specific query. It implies the person looking for it is possibly struggling with the shift from a physical work environment to a remote one. 

So if you were to write a detailed post explaining the differences between the two, it would be of interest and value to these people. 

It is this value-driven writing that Nat recommends we do when we sit down to write a post. 

The hard part is finding a way to make people care about what you’re saying, not the hosting or SEO part.


2. Setting up a blog right

Once the reason for writing the blog is set, the next question is about how to host your blog.

Nat recommends signing up for Webflow. It costs $20-30 a month. It’s better than a less secure WP site. 

webflow-surfer seo-nat eliason

There is a learning curve with Webflow, but once you master it, it is way better than WP. 

It starts with getting a good template. Don’t spend more than a weekend designing it. You’ll improve it in increments.

webflow-tempaltes-surfer seo-nat eliason

If you’re not using WebFlow, he recommends staying away from hosting options like BlueHost, HostGator, GoDaddy, or other cheap hosting companies.

Also switch away from Squarespace, Medium, Wix, as their SEO is not great.


3. A writing and publishing regime

A life changing blog hardly happens on your first iteration. It requires incremental changes and updates. 

This means creating a schedule and sticking to it. 

Nat’s statistics in this regard are 171 (now 172!) articles, 263 notes from books, and 215 Monday Medleys. That’s 650 pieces of content, over ~2,100 days, or something every 3-4 days.

According to him, your writing frequency depends on which bucket you belong to:

  • Bucket 1 – You have the writing itch and so laziness is not a real issue. Then you write at your own pace. 
  • Bucket 2 – You are new to online writing. Create a schedule and stick to it. It can be 1,3, or 5 posts a week. 

4. Deciding on a topic to write about

The posts that do well are the ones you spend longest thinking about. Not the ones that you spend the longest writing. 

That’s an excellent thought from Nat Eliason, to keep in mind during the part where you decide what to write about. 

Focus on writing fewer, longer posts. This way, you can condense your knowledge into one super-post. 

An example of this is his post on Roam Research, an excellent (the best) note-taking or knowledge base tool. 

This post is also his only post about Roam Research. He has built a highly successful course on the tool, based on this one post. 

roam-research-surfer seo-nat eliason

According to him there are 3 things you can write about:

4.1. Things you know about

If you’re an expert on a topic, your priority should be to put down all that knowledge in a series of posts.

He uses the Wiki strategy. Simply put, the WIki strategy is building a network of posts on a topic that approaches the authority of Wikipedia. 

This will be discussed in more detail later in the post. 

4.2. Things you’re excited about

If you’ve come across exciting news, like the launch of a new tool, you might want to convert that excitement into a post. 

Hype is contagious. If you’re excited about something, it will come through in your writing. His Roam article is a prime example.

4.3. Things you believe in

This is about setting the record straight on any topic that is currently trending. 

For Nat Eliason, this was his take on the benefits (or the lack of benefits) of Soylent supplements. 


5. Promoting your work

The traditional wisdom of ‘20% creation, 80% promotion’ is a horrible idea, according to Nat Eliason. He recommends going the opposite way. 

Good articles will come through, while bad ones need to be forced into prominence. 

Give articles 2-3 months before you judge how well it is doing, and to decide if it needs changes. 


6. Making money off your writing

Patience is a big part of the monetization process.

His blog did not make more than $100 a month for the first 2 years. 

There are 3 main ways to monetize your blog. But no matter what way you focus on, 

6.1. Affiliate marketing

In this method, you promote products or services on your blog. 

Big money-makers for Nat are Webflow, Athletic Greens, Teachable, and Amazon. 

6.2. Ads

Google ads don’t pay very well. It would be smarter to look at newsletter ads, like Nat Eliason does with Medley. Use tools like SubStack to set up newsletters. 

Another method is Medium, where you get paid based on the number of times a paying user gives a clap. 

6.3. Products

You can use the expertise of a topic, and the traffic you gain from your blog to build related products.

Nat Eliason wrote the best post on using Roam Research, and this led to him coming up with a course on the tool. 

The course has netted Nat a titanic $223k so far. 


Nat Eliason’s Wiki Strategy Explained

Nat Eliason coined the term ‘Wiki strategy’ for the way you establish your authority in a particular niche. 

The Wiki strategy has a few significant characteristics:

  • It has to be the best content online for that topic. It can’t be the 32nd post on why Soya beans are not great for your gut. 
  • Your audience should click away from your post, only to visit another one of your pages. Any question on one of your posts must be answered by another post by you. 
  • Your content should be informed by keywords, not driven by them. This ensures high quality of writing. 
  • External links should be good quality. Stick to data and news stories from top publications.

If your series of posts can meet these requirements, you will find your ranking and traffic going up significantly faster. 


Implementing the Wiki strategy

The overall idea of Nat Eliason’s Wiki strategy is to answer every question a person could have about the niche of your choice.

This means you will need a couple of things:

  • A way to find keywords related to the niche
  • A way to write a very detailed, SEO-informed  write-up surrounding a selected keyword

You can use any number of SEO tools like Ahrefs, UberSuggest, or SEMRush to find the keywords to write about.

But there is one tool that I would recommend for the writing part once the keywords are decided. That tool is Surfer SEO.


What is Surfer SEO?

Surfer-SEO takes a keyword and looks at the posts that rank highly for it, and gives you an in-depth breakdown of what your post will need. 

It came to our attention when we came across Mathew Woodward’s stellar review of the tool

We feel that when it comes to writing a brand new post that you want ranking high for a keyword, Surfer SEO is the best tool for the job. 


Using Surfer SEO to implement Nat Eliason’s Wiki Strategy

To write an in-depth post on a specific keyword, and to get ideas for future posts, there’s no better tool than keyword.

A while back, I wrote a post on podcast hosting, and it gave me a good opportunity to explain the Surfer SEO tool. 

Primary Search Term

First you enter the primary search term you’re trying to rank for.

In my case, it was podcast hosting. Note: This is a high-difficulty keyword and will take time and regular updates to rank on page 1. 

In the screenshot below, the primary term is highlighted.

primary-search-term-surfer seo-nat eliason

On the left is the writing area, with all the necessary formatting and editing tools to make a well-written piece. 

On the right is all the data you’ll ever need to make sure this piece is SEO-informed.


Content Structure

First up is the major features a high-ranking post must have:

content-structure-surfer seo-nat eliason

Surfer went through all the ranking pages for this keyword and figured out that the piece must be anywhere between 4906 and 5642 words long.

It also tells me that there should be 19-83 H2s and H3s in the article to break the content into digestible chunks.

Bolding relevant terms is also a great way to help ranking, and there should be 46-132 words in this post bolded. 

The post should also have 4-98 images in it. 

This gives me a general outline on which to base my content structure on. As you can see, my first attempt was quite appalling with these parameters, and I would need to make sweeping changes. 


Relevant keywords

The next screenshot tells me the keywords I should look at adding to my post.

important-terms-surfer seo-nat eliason

This is a list of the keywords closely related to ‘podcast hosting’ that should be in a post about podcast hosting. 

Not only that, it also gives us a range of the number of times a keyword should be used. 

For instance the term ‘RSS feed’ should be used 8 times. This number ensures that I don’t just add the term RSS feed someplace to check it out of the list. 

To explain the RSS feed aspect of podcast hosting properly, I will need to use that term at least 8 times throughout the post, according to the data compiled by Surfer. 

This was something I overlooked in my first attempt. I realized I needed to talk about the RSS feed a lot more. 


Related Topics and Questions

Next up are the questions that people ask most often, that relates to podcast hosting. 

This ensures your post has the best chance to be featured as the answer when people ask that question on Google. 

topics-questions-surfer seo-nat eliason

For example, a lot of people interested in podcast hosting also want to know what the best free hosting options are.

So if I include a FAQ section, explicitly asking and answering that question in this post, it has a higher chance of ranking well. 


Additional Keywords

Finally, we have additional keywords that you can sprinkle in the post that amps up your chances of ranking even more.

These are not important, but are commonly seen in the pages that rank for that keyword. 

additional-keywords-surfer seo-nat eliason

After my first attempt, I noticed that I was missing quite a few of these additional keywords and looked for places I could use these terms without compromising the quality of writing. 


The Takeaway

The Surfer SEO tool gives you every possible advantage to implement Nat Eliason’s Wiki strategy, as it gives a painstakingly detailed blueprint for a top post for a particular keyword.

I would recommend writing the post in a way that fits the best with your take on the topic, and looking at the parameters provided by Surfer SEO to make changes here and there.

A word limit gives you a big bracket to work with, but it also tells you when you may be going overboard with explanation, or too brief with it. 

Then use the keywords and the expected number of uses for it, to judge if you’re getting too spammy with a word or phrase, or if you’ve forgotten to talk about an important aspect of the keyword. 

Topic and question suggestions give extra points, because you took the time to answer any and all questions a visitor might have about it. 

Moreover, the keyword, topic, and question suggestions give you great ideas for posts to write around the current one.

The post used to illustrate the Surfer SEO tool was published in mid-July 2020, and any progress will be updated here. 

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