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3 tools for writing better adventure stories

Writing adventure stories that your digital friends want to share is a big challenge.  But these 3 tools make it easier to find inspiration, target the proper keywords, and set the best time to post your best work.

For hacks like me, it can be difficult to write adventure stories that are on par with the likes of the professional writers you read in the outdoor magazines or on the NatGeo sites.  But the social media revolution has ushered in a new definition for “good” content.  Shakey video, mispelled misspelled words, and acronyms for all the cool digital slang of the moment are seen as acceptable practices these days.

I’ve tried to improve my blogging skills and the following have become essential tools for me.  I thought it was an appropriate time to share them as we enter the Spring hiking season and we all begin to think about crafting tales from the trail again.

Google’s Keyword Tool

I’m a creature of habit and there are countless Google tools in my blogging tool belt.  The Keyword Tool is one of the most useful.  It lives inside Google Adwords and can be a very powerful search tool if you’re logged into your Adwords account.

I use this tool to find the best keywords for my blog posts.  My best advice is to start broad and then use the tool to narrow it down to a short list of possibilities.  The results of your search will include the competition for the keyword; the number pages already indexed for that term.  It’s important to know this.  You efforts to rank on the first page for a broad term like “backpacker” may be futile.  Try a more myopic phrase like “ultralight backpackers” or even more narrow “gear for ultralight backpackers”.

Targeting the long tail of search has been a favorite strategy of content marketers for years now.  The long tail is made up of the more narrow keywords for a given topic.  Using the example above, you’d expect to see more searches and higher competition for “backpackers” than the other keywords.  Conversely, you’d think that “gear for ultralight backpackers” would have less competition and less search volume.  That is most likely true.  The benefit in pursuing the more targeted keyword is that you will have an easier time ranking near the top of the search results with less competition.  And if you choose your keywords appropriately you will be able to leverage those higher rankings into better conversion rates.  The game here is to convert clicks into action on numerous long tail keywords rather than getting lost in the shuffle for a highly searched and highly competitive search phrase.

With the Keyword Tool you can uncover the best keywords for your adventure story and give it the best chance of being seen in search results.

Tagxedo’s Word Cloud Creator

Word clouds are a very powerful tool for the curious outdoor blogger.  Sites like Tagxedo provide a very useful tool in the form of word cloud creation.  Let’s say that you are going to write a post about “backpacking” and you’ve already used the Google Keyword Tool to narrow down your keyword possibilities but you still aren’t sure where to take it.  Look to a word cloud.  Using the word cloud creator at Tagxedo, you can enter the keyword “backpacking” and create a cloud from a Twitter feed, and RSS feed, a Google Search, or even a News search.  This is a powerful tool because it gives you a cloud represented by data – data from your query online.  The more times a word is used the bigger it is represented in the cloud.

I find that the cloud reveals the hidden topics that my target readers are already talking about.  It works in much the same way a trending topic does on Twitter.  And if you know what interests your readers before you begin writing it should allow you to craft more share-able adventure stories.

Google Insights

The third tool in this arsenal is the Google Insights platform.  This tool gives you the power to compare search volume for keywords over time.  You can refine your search based on time frames or categories.  I use this to test my chosen keyword.  Let’s use “havasu falls” as an example.  I would run my focus keyword through an insights search to see if there are any derivatives of it that are rising in search volume or any that may be more suitable for my adventure story.

If you look below, you will notice that there are several phrases that are performing well.  In the Rising Searches section you can see that several are considered Breakout phrases as they’ve seen large increases in volume.

On the chart, you can see that the volume for “havasu falls” is very cyclical.  Permits to hike Havasu Falls become available on February 1st and volume of searches begin to increase leading up to and well after that date.  As the summer season comes to an end searches begin to drop.  This would suggest that a post about Havasu Falls should be published early in the year to maximize the potential for clicks from search.  Insights is a tool that is great at showing you when to do this for any keyword or phrase.

A search in Insights is usually my third and final step in determining my keyword for any of my adventure stories.  I use it for Trail Reports, Gear Reviews, and even my regular blog posts.  It only takes a few minutes but the value it generates can be massive.

What tools do you use?

There are countless tools available to the outdoor blogger.  These are only a few of the ones I’ve used.  What are you using to refine your adventure stories?  Share them in the comments if you have some that you like.

About Tim Miner

I'm the founder of Vestor Logic, the digital strategy and web design firm that created Trail Sherpa, ParksFolio, and Modern Steader. I'm a day hiker, top chef in camp, doting husband, and father to two headlamp wearing boys. My work in digital media brings those experiences to life.