Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit, sed diam nonummy nibh euismod tincidunt ut laoreet dolore magna aliquam erat volutpat.

GUIDES

Philosophy, Pragmatism & Paid Search. The Convergence of Human Psychology and Marketing applied to Google AdWords.         VOLUME 1/3 about the philosophy and pragmatism behind writing powerful Adwords ads.   Warning: This article contains mature content. Reader’s discretion is advised. Marketers. Always craving for attention, talking about our products, services, offers, always trying to make a sale. It’s not our fault, we just want more customers. And more money. The paradox. Those who think less about making that quick sale and more about helping people, make the most money. Is it really obvious? We think we’re helping when in reality, most of the time, we’re not. When it comes to Adwords ads, this is overwhelmingly true.     Forgive the mature content of the example that follows, it was the best I found to illustrate the effectiveness of taking an altruistic approach to ad writing. Here are two ads:     This first ad outperformed all its peers with a CTR of 3.65%. The keywords were not very specific and quite broad in nature but this ad attracted the attention of my prospects in a way that my other ads never could. Because of it, the seven keywords in the ad group were awarded perfect Quality Scores of 10/10 and allowed me to bid a few cents while getting more exposure. The reason this ad worked was because I finally offered my searchers exactly what they wanted to know. Not what I wanted them to buy from me. The dozens of ads I wrote before it barely managed to get a CTR above 1%. The second highest performing ad in the ad group never went above a 1.62% CTR and a Quality Score of 7/10. It was the best I could do for a long time. This wasn’t bad, in fact it was doing pretty well by current standards and I could have just moved on. However, it was my highest traffic ad group, I wanted a 10/10 and the benefits that came with it so I made an extra effort. With intensive research, I discovered what the hidden questions in my prospects’ minds really where and the true nature of their search. Reading many forum posts on the subject matter, going through every link in the search results, it became very clear what people “really” wanted to know. Each of the many variations I tested took me about an hour to write. Some even more. And the vast majority of them did not work. Most advertisers lack the determination and patience that is often required to find the gold that is right in front them. Worse, most don’t know that it exists. And even those that do know the gold exists, will often give up after a few attempts proclaiming that they have done all that can be done, not admitting to their failures. I have succumbed to those failing attitudes many times myself, and many times I have surprised myself to find words that made all the difference when I had completely lost all hope. Of course I have not won all my battles, but the reasons for my own failures, and the mistake I made have always been the same.     Ad Writing Mistakes The 3 bad habits robbing you of your ability to write better PPC ad copy Mistake #1 Writing ads staring at your AdWords account This is how you’re writing your ads, it doesn’t work. It can take me over an hour to write an ad because of research. I’m not staring at my Adwords screen for an hour nor trying to pull it out my… Yes I’ve managed to increase CTR or conversion rates by a few percentages by switching description line 2 with 1 or using similar clever tricks, but never in ways that tripled my results and significantly improved performance. Great ads are created by caring about users and going where they are. When you’re in front of your AdWords account, you’re not caring about your users and it will be evident as you write ads of no importance over and over again. Before everything, it all comes down to you making a decision. A decision not to be blinded by your business needs in thinking that what you offer is really what they’re looking for. It is harder than you think, as it always catches up with you no matter how far you leave it behind. You simply need to recognize when it does, and make a conscious effort to preoccupy yourself with the needs of the searcher instead of your own. Selflessness.   Mistake #2 Not doing enough research before writing new ads If you’re trying to improve your AdWords Quality Score, you can stop the research only when you’ve managed to write an ad that doubles or triples your ad CTR and shows a significant, permanent increase in QS. Until then, the research is not over. You still don’t know what users want until you’ve been able to write that ad that magnifies your results in ways no other test has been able to. There are many ways to conduct user research. My favorite is to follow users where they are before they reach my landing page. In many cases, we trust that Google knows user intent better than we do. Your ability to analyze the search results and squeeze information out of it is what will define your success or failure. This will be the topic of my next article that will cover Empathy: How to put yourself in your searchers shoes to discover their world. Mistake #3 Thinking you know what searchers actually want I was having a call with Marilyn the other day (Marilyn is our fabulous content writer for Tenscores Daily PPC News & Tips) and I asked her whether she knew what people searching for “violin rosin” in Google actually wanted. She knows a lot about violins and so her natural instinct was to tell me what violin rosin is, what people searching for that term actually want and the kind of ads we should write for them. That is the number one behavior that will ensure you never write great ads. You should always assume you know nothing. It’s only when you acknowledge that you don’t know, that you can truly take the steps necessary to write ads that make a difference. It is accepting this reality that will drive you to hours of research in a market that you’ve already been working in for years. It was this that pushed me to write an ad that would get a perfect score of 10, while in reality a 7 was already good enough. The first two mistakes all stem from this last one. It’s a decision you have to make for yourself, a choice to always assume you don’t know until you’ve written an exceptionally high performing ad.   Selflessness What it is and why cultivating it is crucial to the ad writing process Selflessness is a very attractive quality. One that can also be very lucrative when done right. Think about the times a friend truly did something for you simply to make you feel good or just because they cared. Now think about the times someone stopped you on the street trying to sell you something. One is attractive, the other is repulsive. Of course, we’re marketers, and I’m not suggesting you become Mother Theresa (although I suspect she would be a better marketer than any of us), but your close friend would be much more successful at selling you something down the line than a salesman ever would. You need to learn how to talk to your users like you were their best friend, and they need to believe that you actually care. It is harder than you think, especially if you don’t start practicing this approach.   Best practices When it’s time to leave best practices behind Best practices are never the best. They produce average results, not the best. They will only give you the same results as everybody else because everybody follows best practices. You’re probably one them, those I call “best practice advertisers”. It is time to stop doing that. This doesn’t mean that best practices are bad, they’re just training wheels that prevent you from making mistakes and falling face first. The problem is we tend to keep those training wheels on and never catch up to speed with those who are riding unassisted. They travel faster. This doesn’t also mean that you should just try anything that pops out of your head. Nope, that doesn’t work either. You let your research guide you and you leave any bias behind that you may be carrying with you. One of the best practice I like to break is the idea that keywords should be in the headline or the ad itself. Sometimes a slight variation of the keyword works best, sometimes not having the keyword at all works better. That is because when you present to the searcher exactly what he wants, he can’t resist, and sometimes what he wants is not exactly what he typed. You can only figure this out when you dedicate yourself to understanding who your searchers are. In my example above, notice that the keywords I was advertising are not systematically in the ad, in fact, you might not be able to guess exactly which they were. If you’re still one of those who believe that a headline should always contain a keyword, then you will never be able to surpass yourself nor beat your competitors. The kinds of results we’re talking about are only accomplished by the top 1% of advertisers and they employ strategies that go beyond the average “best practices” advice you generally encounter.   Landing pages Understand what needs to be on your landing pages to convert more visitors Once you know what people want through your ads, you’ll understand what is lacking in your landing pages to convert better. When you decide to hop on that quest, what you learn allows you to find the offers and how to present them in way that generates conversions. Your skills as a marketer evolve continuously. The ability to influence people with words start with understanding who those people are. The first time I wrote an ad that significantly improved my results is when I decided to learn more about copywriting. If this article convinces one person to read and research about how to be a better copywriter, it would be my success as this is in my opinion the most important skill a ppc marketer should have. How can one sell anything without words? Most words are meaningless, but a few create emotions that drive actions. They are different for different groups of people. It is your job to find out which they are. Isn’t that what “ad words” is all about? For the example above, what I did was create an entirely new landing page on which I offered the answers to the questions in exchange of an email address. An opportunity to build a relationship with people who would soon buy from me. It’s always a good thing when people come knocking at your door to shop and you already know who they are and what they want.   Perfect scores Make all your keywords behave like your brand terms Is that even possible? You’ve seen how cheap you’re paying on your brand related keywords, you know you don’t have to worry about them as no competitor can beat you. You’ve probably put them in their own campaign and you have perfect scores for each of them, the acquisition costs on those are way lower and you generally don’t have to optimize them. What if all your keywords behaved that way? I want you to know that this is possible. It is not easy for most, but it is possible. I’m not asking you, nor expect you to make this a reality for yourself tomorrow. I just want you to understand that this is a reality for some advertisers in any market you’re in. And that you can catch up to them. Eventually. We have many Tenscores customers who have whole accounts with thousands of keywords with Quality Scores ranging from 9 to 10/10. In this article and the ones that will follow, I will attempt to give you the strategy to make it a reality for you. At the very least, I hope it will help you write a few ads that will increase your scores for the main keywords that are responsible for the bulk of your revenue.   Difficulty It’s hard at first, really hard… then it becomes easy It’s like trying to forcibly push your way through a closed door. You’ll push hard and hard at first until the door gives and let’s you in. The work that I’m suggesting here, for most markets, has to be done once and your discoveries can be used across the board. It’s like finding the core that drives a group of people to behave a certain way, once you’ve found the heart of the issue, everything else is a slight variation of the center. So if you’re thinking to yourself “I have thousands of keywords”, you’ll only need to figure out a handful of searches that will open the door to understanding what you need for the vast majority of your ad groups.   VOLUME 2 Selflessness is the mindset, empathy is the process, charisma is the language You’ve just read how important it is to be selfless and be concerned with your searchers needs, but I haven’t told you how to actually discover what they really want. I’ve written about it in the past but didn’t go into detail about how I do it myself. In fact I skipped over some very important aspects of the process. There are two other qualities you need to cultivate: Empathy and Charisma. Empathy is having the ability to really understand where users are coming from, being able to put yourself in their shoes. This is where all the research comes into play and will be the subject of my next article. Charisma is about knowing which words, which tone, which message to convey in order to attract swarms of clicks. It will be the last article of this series. Together with selflessness, empathy and charisma amplify your ability to write irresistible ads and dominate your market. Stay tuned. Do you have any deep insights on ad writing you would like to share? Thanks to Rand Fishkin of Moz for providing initial feedback on this article.   Save...

((Case Study)) $6,117.50 Profit In 5 days From A Single Affiliate Product Affiliate Marketing case study and guide to success.   Interested in getting an inside look at to how a top affiliate sells 216 copies of a digital product (plus an extra 45 upsells), wins an affiliate contest and makes $6,711.50 in just 5 days? And how YOU can emulate this success and increase your own affiliate commissions? Then you need to read every last bit of this post Whether you're a digital product affiliate on the likes of Clickbank or JVZOO Or you're creating Amazon affiliate sites. (Check out how to make your own coupon website) The insights in this post will increase the amount of affiliate products you sell. So read on...

Masterclass in becoming an entrepreneur to living that location freedom lifestyle   Chatting with Champions #98 by Tyler Basu featuring blogging wizard Yaro Starak   [su_audio url="http://traffic.libsyn.com/chattingwithchampions/CWC_098_-_Yaro_Starak.mp3" width="500px"] “A Blueprint For Building A Profitable Blog In Any Niche”   Yaro Starak is one of the most well-known and highest grossing bloggers online today. After hustling his way through various enterprises, from a card game e-commerce store, to an online proofreading business for international students, to investing in websites in various industries, Yaro decided to create his blog Entrepreneurs-Journey in 2005. Initially, his blog was intended to be a hobby site where he would share stories from the previous years he spent as an entrepreneur. However as his blog grew in popularity, it eventually became his primary business, and to-date it has generated him over a million dollars in revenue. Yaro has since taught thousands of others how to make a full-time income from blogging, how to buy and sell blogs and websites, and how to successfully launch information product businesses. Visit Yaro’s website: www.entrepreneurs-journey.com Topics discussed in this interview: How Yaro got started in business & why he became an entrepreneur The process of starting and growing his blog An overview of his business today How to choose a topic to blog about Ways to increase traffic to your blog and build your audience How to create products your audience will buy Mistakes to avoid when trying to turn a blog into a business Challenges entrepreneurs face and how to overcome them Specific habits that are key to Yaro’s success Yaro’s definition of success Advice for aspiring entrepreneurs Resources mentioned: Problogger.com (Darren Rowse) Living the 80/20 Way by Richard Koch The Perfect Store by Adam Cohen The PayPal Wars by Eric M. Jackson ** FREE BONUS ** Click here to download a free copy of Yaro’s Blog Profits Blueprint Key quotes: Before you start blogging, you really need to spend some time on topic selection. If you get this part wrong, it really doesn’t matter how well you do everything else, you’ll still fail. Since it takes a while to create a product, you don’t want to spend time creating one that may not sell. Don’t drive traffic to a blog that has no mechanism for returning some sort of metric to gauge success. Content creation has by far been the best thing I have ever done for my business. All the hard work I did, I’m living off it now. I still get traffic from articles I wrote 10 years ago. Identify the 20% of tasks that deliver the 80% of value. Find host Tyler Basu @TylerBasu and Yaro Starak at @YaroStarak and his site BlogProfitsBlueprint.     Rise of the Entrepreneur #2 by Zac Johnson featuring entrepreneurial guru Jim Kukral [su_audio url="http://traffic.libsyn.com/zacjohnson/riseoftheentrepreneur02.mp3" width="500px"]   "How To Run A Lifestyle Business"   Podcast: Play in new window | Download | Embed Subscribe: iTunes | Android | RSS The journey from employee to self employed entrepreneur is a long and lonely path. For some it may come faster and easier, but for the majority of us it’s quite the task. Many times people read or hear about the success of others online and think having your own business is the greatest thing in the world (which it is!) and that the majority of us are lucky (which rarely has anything to do with it)… however what many of them don’t realize or get to read about is the long hours of constant work, frustration and failures that we endure until we finally hit that success we’ve been looking for. This is exactly what we are going to be talking about in the latest episode of the Rise of the Entrepreneur. Nothing comes easy in life, especially when you are just entering the work force and trying to make your own path. Jim Kukral is a real life example of someone who has worked their way up from the trenches of the dreaded 9-to-5 to achieving his dreams of being his own boss and doing what he wants with his time. Like many of the special guests on my show, Jim and I go back many years. I first met with Jim back in 2000-2001 on the AffiliateForce cruises when he was working with another ad network and I’ve personally seen him transition himself from being an employee to running his own lifestyle business and now even his own book marketing club and conference. In short, he’s running the “lifestyle business” he’s always wanted. Talking Points Discussed in this Episode: Jim brings us back to 1995 to discuss his first job experience How to achieve the goal of a life-style business When Jim knew he never wanted to work for anyone again Finding your passion and sticking with it Self Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing From online entrepreneur to conference builder Three great Q&A questions for Jim in the Pit of Fire -> Download this episode to your computer. Mentioned URLs and Resources: JimKukral.com (Jim’s Personal Blog) Author Marketing Book Club Author Marketing Live Event Twitter – Follow Jim on Twitter Christmas time came around and I said, “Where are the owners?” They said, “Oh! They went shopping.” We are all sitting around, waiting for our Christmas bonuses. They came back with a truck full of Ikea furniture and then proceeded to say, “Look at all the great, big furniture we bought.” I saw and said, “That is great.” Then, they handed up the Christmas bonus checks. I got mine and it was like, $600. Now you say, “Jim, $600. You should have been really happy with that.” They weren’t paying me very much, and I just found out that they spent 38,000 on Ikea. Zac: Wow. Jim: I looked at them and I said, “I just busted my butt…” We are talking about a million dollar account. “I made all this money for you, guys and you went out and blew all the money on Ikea furniture and gave me a measly $600 for Christmas bonus. That is the exact moment I knew I never wanted to work for anyone ever again because I knew I could not handle letting someone else control my profit, controlling my success. And that is when I started to become an entrepreneur, really take a heavier input in my life and building a lifestyle business. is a really niche audience. There is going to be a high demand for that.Jimget back up. Not only is he a great guy, but he is also a finally found his calling and become quite the authority in the self-publishing and book world. For many of us, we maybe way too envious of this success of others and think that it just comes to them way too easy. Jim’s story was a perfect example of how much work, time and effort goes into finding and paving your own path. The important thing to remember is that nothing happens overnight, and in Jim’s case, this was a journey that took shape over the course of many years. Now is the time to turn your dreams into a reality. It does not matter what you want to accomplish in life as long as you start to take action right now. If you are trying to change your life for the better, create that new business that you always wanted. Or even just figure out how to make a few extra dollars online. You need to take action and make things happen. Today, I want you take that first step to achieving your goal and setting your path in the right direction. Create that new business that you have been thinking about. Call that family member that you have not talk to in a while. Just grab a piece of paper and write down that big goal that you keep pushing to the side. Take that immediate action today. As always, I want to thank you for listening to the Rise of the Entrepreneur and there is nothing I would love more than to hear your feedback on the show. Feel free to leave a review or rating within the iTunes and connect with me on social media and through the blog. Don’t forget to visit zacjohnson.com for show notes and more. Until next time, this is Zac Johnson. Seize the day and go make your dreams become a reality. LET ME KNOW YOUR THOUGHTS! I can’t thank you enough for listening in to the second episode of the Rise of the Entrepreneur. Be sure to check back often as a new episode will go live every TUESDAY and THURSDAY. You can listen to each of the episodes through the blog or itunes, stitcher etc.. Find host Zac Johnson at @ZacJohnson and his personal BLOG and guest Jim Kukral @JimKukral and his site here.     Ending the Grind by #12 by Steve Roy featuring Sean Ogle aka the "LocationRebel" "Creating A Life Worth Writing About" Podcast: Play in new window | Download Sean Ogle runs a very cool blog called Location180, which is about helping people create online businesses that can be run from anywhere in the world. He’s been all over the world and is actually living the lifestyle of his choice. There are so many blogs out there (including mine) that talk about lifestyle design, living on your own terms, and being passionate about life but aren’t actually doing them yet. Sean is. His online businesses afford him to live anywhere he wants, enjoy his life, and experience life to the fullest. If you don’t believe me, watch his video on his “About” page. Pure inspiration. Sean and I had a great chat and I enjoyed his easy going nature and humility. He seems like someone who is genuinely happy with their life. How many people do you know that can say the same? In our conversation, a few things stuck out to me: Instead of letting his fears control his life, he took action towards moving past them. They paid off! Why learning marketable skills can help you end your grind much quicker that you think. The two things that are holding you back from living your ideal lifestyle. How he found an underserved market, filled the demand, and is earning passive income every day from it now. Sean also has an excellent free eBook called Location Rebel Arsenal, which details all the tools he uses to run his businesses from anywhere. I’ve read it and there are a lot of great tips and ideas for online entrepreneurs. Thanks again to Sean and I hope you enjoy the interview! And if you do enjoy this interview,why not listen to the rest of them and subscribe to my Podcast in iTunes. Find host Steve Roy on Twitter @EndGrind and guest Sean Ogle at his Blog and LocationRebel sites. Save Save Save Save Save Save Save...

Private Influencer Network, A new Hope for Link Building in 2017   A product of 'digital' nature, ViperChill has come up with a new Link Building strategy combining aspects of PBN's, Influencer Marketing & Black Hat.   What I’m going to reveal in this blog post is a strategy that will likely weed out a certain section of the ViperChill audience. In other words, I’m fully aware that this blog post will make a particular type of person unsubscribe from ViperChill and likely never return. It’s certainly not going to end up on the homepage of Inbound.org. If you are loyal to Google guidelines, the teachings of blogs like Moz and love playing by the book, then you’ll probably realise with this article that we possess a very different perspective. When I first started my internet journey – where I spent day and night trying to make a living online – I tried and tested more website ideas and angles than you would believe. Today, I’m still pushing the boundaries to see what works. These boundaries most often pertain to SEO, since it’s what I’ve enjoyed the most over the last 11 years. I’m in the fortunate position that my business it not tied to some employer who dictates how I have to do things when it comes to promoting web properties. As such, I’m always willing to ignore everything I previously thought about marketing and to be open to new ideas and opportunities. This blog post details one such opportunity, but I realise it will not be for everyone. Not everyone is the position to implement it for their online business, and even if you are, you may question the ethics of what is coming up. With that disclaimer out of the way, today I’m going to introduce you to the world of PIN’s. Just before I do that, I want to talk about why I think they’re necessary.   I Predict We’ve Got Four to Five Years Left to ‘Do SEO’ As We Know It   This isn’t some “SEO is Dead” article you see go viral in the SEO blogosphere every six months, but a genuine prediction based on how Google search results have evolved over the last few years. Google make all of their money via ads so quite simply want more people to click on them (and more often). The less success people have with SEO, the more likely they are to move to Google’s advertising platform. Long gone are the days when we’re presented with just 10 blue links on a page. The White Space Between Search Results Has Increased It’s known that the higher up the page a search result, the more clicks it will receive. Therefore, when organic search results are pushed further down the page they’re going to be receiving fewer and fewer clicks. Not only are they lower down now in mobile results due to spacing, but the change is being tested across desktop results as well. The search result on the left includes the new extra spacing with the ads taking up far more vertical space than the search result on the right (graphic via SEMPost).   There Are More ‘Featured Snippets’ Than Ever Before There isn’t much to say on this one besides feature snippets are to be found for millions of search queries in every industry imaginable. What, when, how and why questions are often answered with a featured snippet box. This not only pushes ‘organic’ search results further down in search results, it also attempts to give you the answer right from the results page. We can argue whether or not it’s useful for searchers, but for SEO’s, it gives new meaning to having the top result in Google.   ‘Map Packs’ Completely Changed Local Search Results Some call them ‘map packs’, some ‘the local pack’ and some even call them the ‘snack pack’. Whatever your term of choice, after being introduced a few years ago SEO’s have been trying to figure out how to get themselves and their clients into the pack to compensate for a lack of expected search results. After all, these local listings take up a large portion of screen real estate. I’m not complaining about this change; I’m simply pointing it out. There’s no doubt it makes search results more useful and that is Google’s aim (usually) after all. While Google did reduce the listings from seven to three back in August of 2015, the redesign of the listings with adding spacing means not much changed in terms of organic results being seen.   Those Map Packs Now Contain Ads, Too We’re not going back to Google updates of a few years ago to make a point about Google evolving. Just last month Google announced that the map / local / snack pack would now include ads, as shown below. This image is a mockup by Barry Schwartz, though the real thing looks very similar It’s interesting to follow both PPC and SEO guys on Twitter and see the difference in reaction. PPC guys are over the moon since it gives them more traffic opportunities for their clients and SEO guy’s, well…I’m sure you can guess the reaction. Based on how Google’s past, it’s not one of surprise.   They Have All The Answers The knowledge graph was released in May of 2012 and it’s almost disappointing when you don’t see it for queries when looking for quick answers. For example, when I want to see how my football team, Newcastle, have fared against Liverpool, I literally don’t have to click anywhere. Whether you want to learn about how old someone is, what 12 x 56 is or who discovered Radium, Google has the results right there for you. As a searcher, I love these quick answers, but as an SEO, it’s just one more thing which has lessened the likelihood of people clicking on my website if it doesn’t appear in this box.   They Continue to Make People Scared of Link Building Google are great at making people fearful of performing any type of SEO. After all, this was the company that introduced the rel=”nofollow” attribute so we could link out to websites without giving them “link juice”. That isn’t the real headline for the article – I’ve got to have some fun in these serious posts – but Google have publicly cracked down on pretty much everything when it comes to link building. The list includes, but is not limited to: Guest posting for links Using directories for links Utilizing private blog networks Adding links to website themes Adding do-followed links to widgets They literally created a ‘no-follow’ tag That’s not all; they openly share how much human intervention is involved in finding people abusing the guidelines, rather than algorithmic. This tweet speaks volumes. Anglo Rank was a small network being promoted on the Black Hat World forums. Just think about this for a second. One of Google’s first employees (and former Head of Web Spam), worth millions of dollars, dedicated his time to actively targeting a tiny little network on some private forum just to scare other people away from doing the same. The simple fact is that Google can’t figure out with absolutely certainty which links are earned, or bought, or manipulative, very effectively. Now I’m not taking anything away from Google here. Their company is worth hundreds of billions and mine, well…isn’t. They have undoubtedly created the world’s most sophisticated search engine. But as I said earlier, it’s far easier for them to get us to police ourselves than it is for them to police us.   Big Brands Dominate the Long Tail As SEO becomes increasingly difficult and searches are more and more dominated by big brands, the long tail will be the final frontier of search traffic opportunities. When I said we only have a few years left to do SEO as we know it, the long tail will be where the majority of SEO’s focus their time through on-site SEO changes and content marketing. While we’ll still have opportunities for SEO to ‘work’, long tail search results just don’t seem to be as diverse as they were in the past. It makes sense to me that Google have some kind of ‘filter’ whereby if they’re not sure what to list for a search result, they simply show more results from an authoritative site to be on the safe side.   Logically, this makes sense, but as an SEO, it could be a worrying sign of things to come. You can see this lack of diversification above in my screenshot of the map packs as well, with Yelp dominating the first three organic search results.   The Lack of Diversity in Search Results Will Only Get Worse If you’ve only found ViperChill recently then it was likely because of my recent article, How 16 Companies Are Dominating the World’s Google Search Results. It has been shared thousands of times on social media and been read over 40,000 times, making it one of the most popular articles I’ve ever written here. In the article I highlighted how Hearst Media were using their brands like Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan and Woman’s Day to point footer links to a new website of theirs, BestProducts.com. That strategy, which would get the rest of us penalized, continues to work incredibly well. “Just follow the Google guidelines.” Why? Since that post, I was also contacted by a few people associated with the brands I had featured. One of those people I talked with was Tre who works in the growth department of About.com. I had already mentioned in the article how About planned to spin off into many more verticals over the coming months, which he confirmed. I admit I’m being a little pedantic with my highlighting, but when you’re Director of Growth for About.com you’re going to share which terms are driving traffic to one site with the team that is in charge of another. I appreciate Tre’s replies and I’m sure there’s only so much he can say, but About.com’s real goal with their spin-off’s is to no doubt own ten search results, instead of one.   PIN’s: My Version of Fighting Back While I Still Can When I talked about why I started using private link networks and then continued to use them after Google’s “crackdown”, my primary reason was very simple: Writing quality content and getting ‘whitehat’ links wasn’t working for me. I was being outranked by people with crappy link networks who could build their own ‘relevant’ links on a whim and I decided to fight back. You could view PIN’s in a similar light. I am utilising them because we’re not competing on a fair playing field, and what is supposed to work is very rarely what ranks, at least in the industries that I operate in. While I don’t wish to reveal those exact industries, let me give you an example closer to home, with ViperChill. I will say in advance that this is a search term I really don’t care about ranking for. I have no idea how many times it’s searched for each month and honestly, I doubt it gets many searches at all. Here are the search results for the query, ‘Future of blogging’.   My site is usually either in 10th or 11th for that term, yet by every SEO standard metric I should be number one. I have more links to the page ranking than anyone else I have more ‘domain authority’ than most other pages My title tag seems more relevant than half of them Yet in order to get more traffic for this search term, which I think I ‘deserve’ from a 10,000 word article which took me weeks to put together, all I have to do is one thing. It’s not getting more links. It’s not improving my on-site SEO. It’s not building better connections with influencers. All I need to do to get my traffic back is to add a sentence to the start of the article which says ‘Last updated: July 25th 2016‘. This is a search result where how recent an article was posted is more important than whether it’s actually a good page to rank. I don’t actually have to update the article; I literally just need to make it appear to Google – thanks to that one sentence – that my article was updated recently. This one sentence, this ‘trick’, would bring me back the ranking I feel I deserve. (Though, again, I doubt this even gets searched for. It’s just an example). This is not theory. If you look at the first sentence of my WordPress SEO guide that’s exactly what I’ve done before, with great results. This little change is not too dissimilar to what I need to rank in other industries. I don’t need better on-site SEO. I don’t need to build natural links from relevant sites through content marketing. I simply need to add more domains to my private link network and write more guest blog posts. Yes, these are both tactics that are looked down upon by Google, but they still work incredibly well. In 2014 when I covered Google’s crackdown on private blog networks I did mention that they would now be less likely to care about private link networks. In my exact words: What I expect to happen is that Google will ease off looking into private networks. The damage is mostly done. Why? Because they’ve already made people scared to build them. The best way to deal with people trying to game the system is essentially making us as a community police ourselves so we don’t try to game the system in the first place. The continued use of private link networks and guest posting for SEO is part of the reason why I will get a lot of criticism from this post. How to implement these tactics more effectively, which I’ll talk about later, will be the larger reason for criticism.   The Approach to Take One of the first ideas I had when I started out online was to assemble a team of people who could work together to build a huge website. At the time I was following the growth of TechCrunch and Mashable and saw how quickly they were able to grow thanks to having a team of writers. My idea was to essentially connect a team of people who all worked on one website and in return everyone had a percentage ownership. The logic being that working as a team would result in the site growing faster and even if revenue or a sale price was split, we would have more success than working on our own. It’s a similar idea a number of ViperChill readers had after reading my last article on the small number of brands dominating Google search results.   While it’s a nice idea, in theory it doesn’t work so well. Some will want to dictate the direction of a site that others don’t agree with and more importantly, some people will put in far more work than others. If you’re writing more content than others and your articles are getting better traction, you’re going to want to increase your ownership compared to someone barely putting in any effort. There is another option you can utilise if you wish to team up with others though, and that’s a PIN. It comes with all of the benefits of creating your own team, without the downsides of worrying about who is contributing what work.   What the Hell is a PIN? A PIN is a play on the acronym PBN, which is commonly referred to as a private blog or link network. I’ve received my fair share of critics over the years for talking about PBN’s and their success – and continuing to build them – but there’s a reason I do: They work. I simply don’t believe that playing by Google’s rules is always going to get me the results I want. In some industries I wouldn’t make the money I do without them. I don’t use them for clients, but do for my own websites. Going forward, I think PIN’s are going to be crucial to my success in certain industries, and I think they are going to be crucial to a number of people reading this as well. PIN, stands for Private Influencer Network. Before you think that just means making some “friends” online and building up your connections, allow me to continue. I define a Private Influencer Network as a group of people looking to rank their websites in Google in similar industries (but not the same) who work together to help each other reach their objectives. Essentially, they use any opportunities they have to build links (such as private blog networks, guest blogging, interviews, blogger round-ups) to send backlinks to other people in their network. In return, other people do the same for them. The end result is that for the work you would do to build ten backlinks, you can get twenty to forty (of the same quality) in return.   A $100,000/m PIN Operating Right Under Your Nose I first came across a Private Influencer Network a little over a year ago. A few ‘influencers’ in a particular field were using their private blog networks to – quite simply – link to each other. I didn’t think much of the tactic at the time, until I found another example of this happening just a few months later. Then three months after that, I found my third example. This time it really got my attention. A group of just five people (from what I could tell) were ranking in one of the most profitable industries online and undoubtedly making over $100,000 per month in the process. I operate in the niche, which is how I found their collaboration, and know the numbers very well. This is when I started working on building my own, PIN. Finally, the idea to write this blog post came to me when I found yet another PIN. One of the members of this network is one of the most well-known SEO’s on the planet and is reading this article. He already “knows I know.” If you follow the SEO blogosphere, you’ll undoubtedly know who he is. One of the sites they are promoting also very likely also makes more than $100,000 per month. I’m not involved in the niche, but I know others who are and with the rankings they have, those numbers wouldn’t surprise me. I reached out to the owner of the ‘money site’ they had all teamed up to promote. I keep a private database of paid link opportunities and one of them costs more than $10,000 per year. I found their website there, so sent the main owner an email. One months revenue spent on link building is a small price to pay when you’re doing huge numbers thanks to gaming Google. While some would view four to five guys linking to each other to make more than $100,000/m from a one-year-old website as shady and unethical, I’m personally impressed at how well they are crushing a very competitive niche so quickly. While there is a chance that a PIN could be “outed”, the last two examples I found were so well put together that I’m almost certain I was the only person who connected the dots. If you’re not trying to rank in an obvious industry that’s constantly monitored by SEO’s – like blogging and internet marketing – the chances of your PIN becoming uncovered are relatively low. Much lower than having your private blog network discovered. As you’ve probably already figured out more succinctly than I am at getting to the point, members of a PIN use any opportunity they have to ‘link out’ to take care of their whole team. While I’ve been fairly slow on the uptake to building my own PIN, I have been slowly building them in a few industries over the last few months and I’m excited to see what the future holds. I didn’t want to write this blog post until I had a better understanding of how to build and manage them, because managing them is actually the most time-consuming part. You have to make sure everyone in the network is pulling their weight and giving (and getting) equal opportunities. Opportunities, of course, is code for links.   A Real-World Example of How a PIN Works One of the websites I find myself checking for ideas and inspiration is Entrepreneur.com. I recently found an article on the website, published by a contributor and not a staff member, which could serve as a great example for how PIN’s work. Let me say it in bold (for those just skimming) that the example below is totally legitimate. I’m highlighting it because it’s natural, but could have been used in a non-natural way. While the screenshot below might be the longest ever embedded by me into a blog post, there is something much more important that I have to say about it. There is no specific reason I have singled out this article. It was simply the first article on Entrepreneur.com when I was looking to give an example for this post. Proof of that is the date. This article is going live on July 25th whereas this article I’m featuring below is from July 22nd. It just happened to be a great example to see a PIN (or what could be a PIN), in action.     I made the article a little shorter than the original (the screenshot was long enough, I know) but you can see the majority of it here. The first thing you’ll notice is four mentions of Weekdone. Unsurprisingly, these are all links to the company that the author works for. A good guest article, utilised for a PIN, will link to other recommended resources that are connections of the author. The links should be relevant, but also to other people in your network so that you are ‘owed’ a link back. Now on the surface (without my large logos stuck over the text) this looks like a totally normal article (albeit with a little overuse of linking back to the authors employer). If you do a little more research, you’ll learn that the other two highlighted companies, Zlien and Mavrck, are actually clients of Weekdone. In other words, Weekdone likely earn some bonus points from their clients for mentioning them in an article on Entrepreneur.com. I see nothing wrong with this and it’s a one-off occurrence so it’s not done for SEO manipulation; I’m just trying to show how a PIN link looks without actually revealing one. Essentially everything looks natural until you look under the hood. It’s normal for a client to talk about a company they use, as shown below where the relationship continues. Once again, I’m not saying they’re doing anything wrong here. It was one of the top articles on Entreprenuer.com as I was finishing up this article (the post is only three days old) and happened to make a good example. The truth is that Entrepreneur.com, along with Forbes and the business sections of the Huffington Post, are great resources to see mini PIN’s in action. The people who write content for these sites generally try to get as much out of writing for them as possible. They link to their friends, and their friends link to them.   A PIN in Action I wanted to create a graphic for this section but your understanding of the concept is far more important than your ability to decipher my poor Photoshop skills. Before it gets a little bit crazy, I have assumed that there are just two ‘influencers’ in your private network. The yellow box is your money website (the website you wish to rank in Google). The brown boxes are private blog sites you own (optional). The grey boxes are link opportunities you’ve created through guest posting or similar. While the graphic is admittedly not the prettiest (I did warn you), the concept is very simple. Some of your private network domains will point links to the other influencer in your network, as will some of your guest posts on other websites. In return, the other influencer will do the same for you. Once you start adding more people to your network, things get a little bit more messy, but the principle remains the same. When I try to visualise this with four influencers as part of your PIN it gets a little ugly, but here goes.   The golden rule you need to remember is this: If you receive a link from someone from a specific source, you need to replicate the link in kind. So if you receive a link in a guest post from someone in the network, you need to give them a link from a guest post you write. Essentially meaning that the work you do for 10 links for yourself gets you 30-40 links in return. This number varies because sometimes it’s a bit risky (such as using blog networks) to link out to the same sites which are linking to you but you still receive more links than you would have without your network, for essentially the same work.   The Types of Links Which Are Shared I originally tried to write these guidelines as if there were four people in a PIN but it became a little bit too complicated to read (and write). Instead, I’ll assume there are only two people in your PIN and show you what types of links you could generate or other ways to help each other. If there are more people in your PIN, which I highly recommend, then understand that Influencer #1 will sometimes link to #2, while #4 sometimes links to number #3 and so on. It’s basically just varying the following link opportunities to keep things fair for everyone. The types of reciprocation that can take place. You can tweet or Facebook share an article from another influencer You can retweet or publicly thank another influencer for mentioning you You can utilize a guest post opportunity to link to a relevant quote or article from another influencer If you use build private blog networks, you can use some to link to other influencers If you find articles where comments drive traffic to your site, you can inform other influencers When being interviewed you can link to a relevant quote or article from another influencer Sharing link opportunities you find on your site they can utilize for theirs Offering website design advice Utilizing Web 2.0 properties to give links and get the same in return   If performed properly, there is no reason to hide that you have a connection with other influencers in your niche. The only thing you would have to care about is that the obvious mission for having these connections is to help each others search engine rankings. If you are outside of the internet marketing world you don’t really have to worry about other people finding your private link networks, but always keep a few rules in mind to avoid footprints.   Ready to Build Your Own PIN? Here’s My Advice   If you see the benefits of utilizing a PIN for your own search engine rankings, and actually getting more than rankings in return, then here’s my advice for setting one up.   A PIN Must Have a Leader As I mentioned earlier, I didn’t want to write about this topic until I had attempted to do it myself. My short but relevant experience tells me that there has to be one person (or two at most) who is in control of the group you gather together to make sure that everyone in the team is pulling their weight. In other words, you need to make sure that the people who are receiving links are doing their part in giving them as well. The leader must also make sure that members of the team are active. It’s no use everyone playing along for the first few weeks while the idea is hot and then dropping off the map.   Bringing Together Your Team While some of you may be excited about getting started on this – and some horrified that I’m even talking about it – there’s one important caveat to keep in mind. Do not bring anyone into your team who has never shown any self-drive in terms of search engine optimization. If someone: Doesn’t already have a website they wish to rank Doesn’t regularly produce content for their own sites or others Doesn’t have at least a basic knowledge of SEO fundamentals Don’t invite them to be part of your network. I assumed this would be the case from the start of building my own, but I’m even more sure of it after trying to get other people excited about the idea who weren’t actually willing to contribute to the rest of the teams’ success as a whole. A simple test to see if someone would be right to join your network is to send a candidate over to this article and have them read about this concept for themselves. If they don’t immediately “get” the idea and they don’t reply with something like “I can see this working well” then it’s not someone you want on your team. You shouldn’t have to convince anyone to work with you. They should see it for themselves. If they’re against it because of ethical reasons, then that’s totally fine (and understandable) but again, it’s a sure sign that they’re not someone you want in your team. As far as communication goes, there are a few platforms out there that would be useful. You could create a Skype group where people get together. I certainly recommend that everyone get on a call together at least some point to make sure you all understand each other’s roles. Slack is another good option, as you can keep up to date via their mobile app and have a history of previous agreements. A private Facebook group is another good option. Both Slack and Facebook allow there to be a leader who can add or remove members to the network. The platform is really up to you. My only recommendation is not to lay out all your plans in Google Docs ;).   Take One Step Back from Your Current Niche It should be obvious but I’ll state it anyway: You don’t want to work with people who are targeting the same keywords as you. However, you still want to connect with people who are in a relevant niche (I’ll give you the chance to connect with ViperChill readers at the bottom of this post). For instance, if you’re promoting your real estate website then it makes sense to team up with other realtors, just not for the same region. If you’re in the weight loss niche then it makes sense to collaborate and grow your audience with other people in that niche, but target different keywords and / or promote different types of products and services. Whatever niche you’re in, imagine you’re shopping for that specific industry on Amazon but go back one category to find people to work with. Again, I’ll give you the opportunity to find PIN partners at the end of this article.   Footprints are Hard to Find, But Still Be Careful From the PIN’s I’ve discovered and the ones I’m working on myself, I’ve found you really don’t have to be too careful when it comes to leaving some kind of footprint. After all, it doesn’t ring any alarm bells when Copyblogger keeps mentioning Problogger or Mashable keep linking to TechCrunch. It’s “natural” and something you can expect from the owners of websites who have developed friendships with each other. Where you have to be careful is primarily with private blog networks and not creating footprints of clearly linking back and forth to each other from the same sites at all times. Of course, you don’t have to use private networks, but remember for each link you give out, you can get three to four back, so it can dramatically speed up the process of ranking your site.   Be sure to thanks Glen for this FUCKING AWESOME idea and analysis at his blog ViperChill and personal site GlenAllsopp.com Save...

The Advanced Beginner's Guide to Google Analytics by The Evangelist himself   Being book smart is good. The outcome of book smart is rarely better for analytics practitioners then folks trying to learn how to fly an airplane from how-to books.   Hence, I have been obsessed with encouraging you to get actual data to learn from. This is all the way from Aug 2009: Web Analytics Career Advice: Play In The Real World! Or a subsequent post about how to build a successful career: Web Analytics Career Guide: From Zero To Hero In Five Steps. Or compressing my experience into custom reports and advanced segments I've shared. The problem for many new or experienced analysts has been that they either don't have access to any dataset (newbies) or the data they have access to is finite or from an incomplete or incorrect implementation (experienced). For our Market Motive Analytics training course, we provide students with access to one ecommerce and one non-ecommerce site because they simply can't learn well enough from my magnificent videos. The problem of course is that not everyone is enrolling our course! :) All this context is the reason that I am really, really excited the team at Google has decided to make a real-world dataset available to everyone on planet Earth (and to all intelligent life forms in the universe that would like to learn digital analytics). The data belongs to the Google Merchandise Store, where incredibly people buy Google branded stuff for large sums of money (average order value: $115.67, eat your heart out Amazon!). And, happily, it has almost all of the Google Analytics features implemented correctly. This gives Earth's residents almost all the reports we would like to look at, and hence do almost all the analysis you might want to do in your quest to become an Analysis Ninja. (Deepak, would you kindly add Goal Values for the Goals. Merci!) You'll also be able to create your own custom reports, advanced segments, filters, share with the world everything you create, and all kinds of fun stuff. For consultants and opinion makers you no longer have to accept any baloney peddled to you about what analytics tool is the best or better fit for your company/client. Just get access to this data and play with the actual GA account along with Adobe and IBM and WebTrends et. al. and suddenly your voices/words will have 10x more confidence informed by real-world usage. No NDA's to sign, no software to install, no IT resources required. Awesome, right? In this post I'll highlight some of my favourite things you can do, and learn from, in the Store dataset. Along the way I'll share some of my favourite metrics and analytics best practices that should accelerate your path to becoming a true Analysis Ninja. I've broken the post into these sections: How to get Store Dataset Access? Jump-Start Your Learning 1. Play with Enhanced Ecommerce Reports 2. Gain Attribution Modeling Savvy 3. Learn Event Tracking's Immense Value 4. Obsess, Absolutely Obsess, About Content 5. SEO & PPC, Because You Should! 6. Develop a Smarter Understanding of Your Audiences 7. Icing on the Cake: Benchmarking, #omg I'm sure you are as excited as I am to just get going. Let's go! How to get Store Dataset Access? It is brilliantly easy. Go to the Analytics Help Demo Account page. Read the bit in the gray box titled Important. Digest it. Then click on this text: ––>ACCESS DEMO ACCOUNT<–– Looks scary in the all caps, right? That is just how the Google Analytics team rolls. :) You'll see a tab open, urls will flip around, in two seconds you'll see something like this on your Accounts page… Click on 1 Master View and you are in business. If you ever want to remove access to this real-world data, just go back to the page above and follow the five simple steps to self-remove access. Jump-Start Your Learning. You can start with all the standard reports, but perhaps the fastest way for you to start exploring the best features is to download some of the wonderful solutions in the Google Analytics Solutions Gallery. You'll find my Occam's Razor Awesomeness bundle there as well. It is a collection of advanced segments, custom reports, and dashboards. You'll have lots of features incorporated in them. You can customize them to suit your needs, or as you learn more, but you won't have to start with a blank slate. You can also search for other stuff, like custom reports or attribution models. Another tip. If you are a complete newbie (welcome to our world!), you probably want to start your journey by reading about each type of report, and then looking at the Overview report in each section in Google Analytics. At this point you'll be a little confused about some metric or the other. That's ok. Go, read one of the best pages in the Analytics help center: Understanding Dimensions and Metrics. Go back into GA, you'll understand a whole lot more. This is a beginner's advanced guide, so I'm going to do something different. Through my favourite reports, often hard to find in your company's GA dataset, I'm going to push you beyond other beginner's guides. I'll also highlight frameworks, metrics, custom reports, and other elements I feel most Analyst's don't poke around enough. 1. Play with Enhanced Ecommerce Reports. It is a source of great sadness for me that every single site is not taking advantage of Enhanced Ecommerce tracking and analysis . It is a complete rethink of ecommerce analysis. The kind of reports and metrics you'll get straight out of the box are really amazing. Go to the Reporting section of our Store Demo account, click on Conversions in the left nav, then Ecommerce, and now Overview. You'll see in an instant the very cool things you can track and analyze… With a little bit of smart tagging you can track your internal promotions (buy one Make America Great Again hat and get one Stronger Together hat free!), transactions with coupon codes, affiliate sales and more. Very nicely summarized above. Next go to the report with new things that will help you drive smarter merchandizing on your mobile and desktop websites. Go to Shopping Analysis and click on Shopping Behavior… I adore this report. Most of the time when we do funnel analysis we start at the Cart stage (third bar above). We rarely hold people responsible for Traffic Acquisition accountable, we rarely hold people responsible for Site Design and Merchandizing accountable. The former are promoted on silly metrics like Visits or Visitors or (worse) Clicks. The latter are promoted based on silly metrics like PageViews. The first bar to the second shows the number of visits during which people went from general pages on your website to product pages (places were there is stuff to be sold, add to cart buttons). A lame 26%. See what I mean. Insightful. How are you going to make money if 74% of the visits don't even see a product page! The second bar the third is even more heart-breaking, as if that were possible. Of the sessions with pages with product views, how many added something to cart. A lousy 17%. One. Seven. Percent! On a site were you can do nothing except buy things. See what I mean? Question time for your Acquisition, Design and Merchandizing team. Do you know answers like these for your website? That is why you need Enhanced Ecommerce. I won't cover the last two bars, most of you are likely over indexing on funnel analysis. Practice segmentation while you are here. Click on + Add Segment on top of this report, choose Google (or whatever interests you)… And you can analyze acquisition performance with a unique lens (remember you can't segment the funnel that exists in the old ecommerce reports which is still in your GA account!)… A little better. Still. You spend money on SEO and PPC. It should be a lot better than this. If this were your data, start with questioning your PPC landing page strategy and then move to looking at your top SEO landing pages, and then look at bounce rates and next page analysis for those that stay. I can honestly spend hours on just this report digging using segmentation (geo, media, new and loyal customers, all kinds of traffic, product page types and so on). It has been a great way to immediately influence revenue for my ecommerce engagements. While you are here, you can play and learn to use the new funnel report… it is called Checkout Behavior Analysis… Much simpler, so much easier to understand. You can also, FINALLY, segment this report as well. Try it when you are in the Store demo account. Take a break. A couple days later come back and checkout the new Product Performance and Product List Performance reports. The latter is particularly useful as an aggregated view for senior executives. In case of the Store data, the first report has 500 rows of data, the second just 45. Nice. I wanted to flag three metrics to look at in the Product Performance report. Product Refund Amount is $0.00 in this dataset, but for your company this is a great way to track refunds you might have issued and track were more of that is happening. I love Cart-To-Detail Rate (product adds divided by views of product details) and Buy-to-Detail Rate (unique purchases divided by views of product-detail pages). Remember I was so upset above about the poor merchandizing. Using the sorting option on these two columns I identify where the problem is worse and where I can learn lessons from. Very cool, try it. I could keep going on about more lovely things you'll find in the Enhanced Ecommerce reports, but let me stop here and have you bump into those cool things as, and I can say this now, you have access to this data as well! Bonus: If you are a newbie, in your interview you'll be expected to know a lot about Goals (I call the micro-outcomes). Explore that section. Look the Overview, Goal URLs and Smart Goals. Ignore the eminently useless Reverse Goal Path report (I don't even know why this is still in GA after years of uselessness) and Funnel Visualization (almost totally useless in context of almost all Goals). 2. Gain Attribution Modeling Savvy. My profound disdain for last-click reporting/analysis is well known. If you are using last-click anything, you want your company to make bad decisions. See. Strong feelings. Yet, many don't have access to a well set-up account to build attribution modeling savvy and take their company's analytics the year 2013. Now, you can! I am big believer in evolution (hence my marketing and analytics ladders of awesomeness). Hence, start by looking at the Assisted Conversions report (Conversions > Multi-Channel Funnels)… Then metric you want to get your company used to first, to get them ready for savvier attribution anything, is the metric Assisted Conversions. The last column. Here's the official definition: A value close to 0 indicates that this channel functioned primarily as the final conversion interaction. A value close to 1 indicates that this channel functioned equally in an assist role and as the final conversion interaction. The more this value exceeds 1, the more this channel functioned in an assist role . Now scroll just a bit back up, stare at that column, what would your strategy be for Organic Search if it is at 0.46? What about Display advertising driving which plays primarily an "upper funnel" introducing your brand to prospects 1.58? The change required based on this data is not just your marketing portfolio re-allocation, that is almost trivial, what' bigger, huger, crazy-harder is changing how your company thinks. It is painful. Largely because it quickly becomes about how people's budgets/egos/bonuses. But, hundreds of conversions are on the line as well on insights you'll get from this data. Learn how to use this metric to drive those two changes: marketing portfolio – people thinking. Couple bonus learnings on this report. On top of the table you'll see text called Primary Dimension. In that row click on Source/Medium. This is such a simple step, yet brings you next layer of actionable insights so quickly. You'll see some surprises there. Second, look at the top of the report, you'll see a graph. On to top right of the graph you'll see three buttons, click on the one called Days before Conversion… I love this report because it helps me understand the distribution of purchase behavior much better. I profoundly dislike averages, they hide insights. This report is the only place you can see distribution of days to purchase for Assisted Conversions. If you've changed the think in your company with Assisted Conversions… You are ready for the thing that gets a lot of press… Attribution Modeling! You'll find the report here: Conversions > Attribution > Model Comparison. You'll see text called Select Model next to Last Interaction. Click on the drop down, ignore all the other models, they are all value deficient, click on the only one with decent-enough value, Time Decay, this is what you'll see… Half of you reading this post are wondering why I don't like your bff First-Interaction (it is likely the worst one on the list btw) or your bff Linear (the laziest one on the list)… worry not, checkout this post: Multi-Channel Attribution Modeling: The Good, Bad and Ugly Models . The column you are of course looking at is % Change in Conversions. The GA team is also helping you out by helping you understand where the results are significant, green and red arrows, and where it is directional, up or down gray arrows. This is the data you'll use to drive discussions about a change in your marketing $$$ allocations. Where you have CPA, it is is an even more valuable signal. And, such a blessing that the Store demo account has that data for you. You'll need all your brain power to understand the report above (make sure you read the models post above), and then some more to drive the change in how your company thinks. Attribution model is not a software or math problem, it is an entrenched human minds problem. And because I'm the author of the quote all data in aggregate is crap I recommend scrolling up a bit in the attribution modeling report and clicking on the down arrow under the word Conversion…. This is admittedly an advanced thing to learn because even understanding marketing dollars plus user behavior overall is hard, this just makes it a bit more complicated because you can actually understand those two things for every goal you have individually or just ecommerce all by itself. It is incredibly awesome to be able to do that because now you are this super-data-intelligent-genius that can move every variable in a complex regression equation very finely to have max impact on your company. If you can master this, and IF you can evolve how your company does marketing portfolio allocation and how it thinks, then you are ready for the max you can do in Google Analytics when it comes to attribution… custom attribution modeling. On top of the table, click on Select Model, then Create New Custom Model. To get you going, here's one of my models for a client… Custom attribution models are called custom because they are custom to every company. It requires an understanding for everything I've requested you to do above, business priorities (what the business values), and business strategy. Creating a couple different custom attribution models, seeing how it affects the data, what decisions GA recommends, helps you have an intelligent argument with all your stake holders. Again, the decisions from this analysis will flow into changes to your marketing portfolio and how people in your company think. Once you get into custom attribution modeling, and you spend serious amount of money on marketing online (a few million dollars at least), you are ready for the thing that actually will drive the best changes: Controlled Experiments (aka media mix modeling). Hence, it is critical that you approach your learnings in the precise steps above, don't jump steps if at one of them you have not changed how your company thinks. Bonus 1: You might think the above is plenty advanced. It is not. For the higher order bits, when you are all grown up, read this post and internalize the implications of it: Multi-Channel Attribution: Definitions, Models and a Reality Check Bonus 2: The Time Lag and Path Length reports in your Multi-Channel Funnels folder are extremely worth learning about. I like Path Length more, more insightful. When you analyze the data, be sure to play with the options under Conversion, Type (click AdWords), Interaction Type and Lookback Window. With each step absorb the patterns that'll emerge in the data. Priceless. 3. Learn Event Tracking's Immense Value I'm very fond of Event Tracking for one simple reason. You have to create it from scratch. When you open GA, there is no data in these reports. It can only get there if you spend time trying to understand what's important to the business (Digital Marketing and Measurement Model FTW!), what is really worth tracking, and then through intelligent thought implementing the tracking. I love the fact that you have to literally create data from scratch. For any beginner who is trying to get to advanced, Event Tracking will teach you a lot not just about Event Tracking but creating smart data. Lucky for us the GA team has created some data for us to play with. Go to Behavior in the left nav, then Events, and then Top Events… This is what you'll see… The Store team is capturing four events, you can drill down into any one of them to get a deeper peek into user behavior. I choose Contact Us to analyze the Event Labels, I get all these strategies that people… It would be valuable if the Event Value had been populated, which would also give us Avg. Value in the table above. Still. Understand that data, how it is collected, what it implies about user behavior is incredibly valuable. You can also create an advanced segment for any of the events above, example Email. Then, you can apply that segment to any of other reports in Google Analytics and really get deep insights. What cities originate people who call is on the phone? What sites did they come from? How many visits have they made to the site before calling? So on and so forth. The event tracking reports have three options on top of the report. Event, Site Usage, Ecommerce. Try the Ecommerce tab… While we did not see any event values, you can tie the sessions where the events were fired with outcomes on the site. Really useful in so many cases where you invest in special content, rich media, interactive elements, outbound links, merchandizing strategies etc. This report, in those cases, will have data you need to make smarter decisions faster. Bonus: While you are in the Behavior section of Analytics, familiarize yourself with the Site Speed report. Start with the scorecard in the overview report. Move on to Page Timings to find the pages that might be having issues. One cool and helpful visual is Map Overlap, click the link on top of the graph on the Page Timings report. Close with the Speed Suggestions report. Your IT team needs this data for getting things fixed. Your SEO team can do the begging, if required. :) 4. Obsess, Absolutely Obsess, About Content It is a source of intense distress for me that there's an extraordinary obsession about traffic acquisition (PPC! Affiliates! Cheat Sheet for Video Ads!), and there is huge obsession with outcomes (Conversion Rate! Revenue!), there is such little attention paid to the thing that sits in the middle of those two things: Content!! Very few people deeply look at content. Yes, there will be a top pages report or top landing pages report. But, that is barely scratching the surface. Look. If you suck at content, the greatest acquisition strategy will deliver no outcomes. Obsess about content dimensions and content metrics. Since you know some of the normal reports already, let me share with you a report that works on many sites (sadly not all), that not many of you are using. The Content Drilldown report uses the natural folder structure you are using on your website (if you are) and then aggregates content on those folders to show you performance. Here is what you'll see in the Store demo account you are using… Nice, right? You are pretty much seeing all of the content consumption behavior in the top ten rows! A pause though. This report is sub-optimally constructed. It shows Pageviews (good), Unique Pageviews (great) and then three metrics that don't quite work as well: Average Time on Page, Bounce Rate, % Exit (worst metric in GA btw if anyone asks in an interview)… At a folder level these really help provide any decent insights, and might not even make any sense. Think about it. Bounce Rate for a folder? Good time for you to learn simple custom reporting. On top of the report, right under the report title, you'll see a button called Customize. Press it. Choose more optimal metrics, and in a few seconds you'll have a report that you like. This is the one I created for my use with valu-added content metrics that work better: Average Session Duration, Cart-to-Detail Rate (as it is an ecommerce site) and Page Value (to capture both ecom and goal values at a page level)… Much better, right? Would you choose a different metric? Please share it via comments below. Ok. Unpause. Even a quick eyeballing of the report above already raises great questions related to overall content consumption (Unique Pageviews), merchandizing (Cart-to-Detail Rate) and of course money. You can now easily drill-down to other more valuable bits of content and user experience. I click on the first one, most content consumption, to reveal the next level of detail. I can see that Apparel is the biggest cluster of content, with pretty decent Cart-to-Detail Rate… Depending on the business priorities I can ask questions like how come the summer olympic games stuff no one seems to want (and we spent $140 mil on an Olympics sponsorship, kidding). At the moment the company has a huge investment in Google Maps branding, so we can look at how various brands are doing… YouTube FTW! Maps is not doing so well. You can see how this data might make you curious if this list is what your business strategy is expecting will happen? Or, is this how we prioritize content creation? I mean, Go! People are interested in something esoteric like Go (programming language in case you are curious) rather than Nest! What a surprise. That is what this type of content analysis is so good at. You can continue to follow the rabbit hole by the way and get down to the individual pages in any folder, like so… Ten percent Cart-to-Detail Rate is pretty poor, compared to some of the others above. Time to rethink if we should even be selling this combo! If not that, definitely time to look at the page and rethink copy, images, design, and other elements to improve this key metric. The above custom report is really easy to create, for Subscribers of my newsletter I'll also email a downloadable link for this and other custom reports below. Bonus: Most people stop at what the reports show in the default view. The GA team does a great job of adding good think and express it all over the standard reports. For example, in context of our discussion here, try the Content Grouping primary dimension. Here you see what happens to the report when I switch to Brands (Content Group)… Even more useful than what was there before, right? So, how does GA get this data? As in the case of Event Tracking above, the Analyst and business decision making combination are thoughtfully manufacturing data. In this case using the immensely valuable Content Groupings feature. Invest in learning how to use it in the Store demo account, learn how to create content groupings to manufacture useful data. When you interview for higher level Analytics role, or for a first time Analyst role, you'll stand out in the interview because this is hard and requires a lot of business savvy (ironic right, you stand out because of your business savvy in a Data Analyst interview!). 5. SEO & PPC, Because You Should! Ok, you've waited long enough, time to talk about the thing you likely spend a ton of time on: Acquisition. Since you likely already know how to report Traffic Source and how to find the Referring URLs and Sessions and… all the normal stuff. Let me focus on two things that are a bit more advanced, and will encourage you to learn things most people likely ignoring. The first one I want you to immerse yourself in when you are in the Store data is Search Engine Optimization. You know that this is hard because when you go to Acquisition > Campaigns (what!) > Organic Keywords you will see that 95% are labeled "(not provided)". This report is completely useless. You do have other options to analyze SEO performance. Here's the advanced, advanced, lesson: Search: Not Provided: What Remains, Keyword Data Options, the Future. But, you also have some ability in Google Analytics itself to do keyword level analysis for Google's organic search traffic. Go to Acquisition > Search Console > Queries. This report shows you the top thousands of keywords (4,974 precisely today in the Store report today). The data is available because the team has configured the Search Console data to connect with GA. Here's what you'll see… I sort the data by Clicks, because Impressions is a lot less valuable, and with Clicks I get something closer to Sessions (though they are very different metrics). I immediately value CTR as a metric in this context, you can see the variations above. This is perfect immediate data for SEO discussions. Average Position is also interesting, perhaps more so for my peers in the SEO team. As a Business Analyst I value Average Position a lot less in a world of hyper-personalized search. My next data analysis step is to take this data out of GA (click Export on top of the report) and play with it to find macro patterns in the data. I'll start with something simple as creating tag clouds, using Clicks or CTR as contextual metrics. I'll classify each keyword by intent or other clusters to look for insights. Try these strategies, can you find weaknesses in the Google Store's SEO strategy? How do your insights compare to what you just discovered in the content analysis in terms of what site visitors actually want? Really valuable stuff. What you cannot do with this data is tie it to the rest of the data in GA for these visitors. You cannot get conversions for example, or Page Depth etc. This is heart-breaking. But, see the not provided post I've linked to above for more strategies and meanwhile you can do some cool things in Google Analytics when it comes to SEO. Bonus: In the Search Console reports, I also find the Landing Pages report is also helpful because you can flip the center of universe, for the same metrics as above, to landing pages rather than keywords. The insights you get will be helpful for your SEO team but more than that it will be critical for your site content team. A quick note on the above… for the current data you'll see the Landing Pages report looks a little weird with no data in the Behavior and Conversion columns. Something weird is going on, on my other accounts there is data. The team can fix this in the very near future. Next, spend a lot of time in the AdWords section. Both because Paid Search if often a very important part of any company's acquisition strategy, and because at the moment there are few digital acquisition channels as sophisticated and complex as AdWords. When you are getting ready for your interviews, being good at this, really good, is a great way to blow your interviewer away because most people will know only superficial stuff about AdWords. As if those reasons were not enough, in Google Analytics AdWords is a great place to get used to the complexity that naturally arises from mixing two data sources. In almost all GA AdWords reports the first cluster of data (pink below) will come from AdWords and the second cluster (green brace) is the normal collection of metrics you see in GA… This will naturally prod you into trying to understand why are Clicks different from Sessions? After-all it is a click that kicks off a session in GA when the person arrives. It is internalizing these subtle nuances that separate a Reporting Squirrel from an Analysis Ninja. Above view is from the Campaigns report. I usually start there as it gives me great insights into the overall PPC strategy for the company. While you are learning from this report, here's a little smart tip… Click on the Clicks link on top of the graph you see (you'll see it along with Summary, Site Usage, Goal Set 1, and Ecommerce), you'll get a different set of metrics you should know intimately as well… The combination of CPC and RPC is very important. It is nice that they are right next to each other in this view. When you look at Store data I also want you to live-see why ROAS not even remotely a useful metric. It looks alluring. Return On Ad Spend. That sounds so awesome, surely it is in some holy books! No. It is not. For now, invest in understanding what is is measuring, what the data shows, is that good or bad, and what's missing. When you already to move to advanced-advanced stage, read this post: Excellent Analytics Tip #24: Obsess About Real Business Profitability Once I've exhausted the value in Campaign reports (drilling-up, drilling-down, drilling-around), it is time to shift into detail. While it might seem that the very next step will be the AdWords Keyword report, it is not. I like going to the Search Query report first. In AdWords context, Keyword is what you buy from Google. Search Query on the other hand is what people are actually typing into Google when your search ad shows up (triggered by the Keyword of course). Here are the two reports from the Store account, you can clearly see why I like starting with the Search Query report…. I would much rather learn to anchor on what people are typing and then go into the Keyword view to see what I can learn there. The Search Query performance report helps me re-think my AdGroups, Match Types, bidding strategies and more. It also helps me optimize the landing pages, both from a content they contain and what ads I recommend send traffic there. You could spend three months in these reports just learning and finessing your PPS savvy, so I'll leave you to that. :) Bonus: Shopping Campaigns are incredibly successful for most ecommerce properties. Spend time in that report in the AdWords section, drilling-down and segmenting, to learn what makes these campaigns distinct and if you were tasked to identify insights how would you go about it. 6. Develop a Smarter Understanding of Your Audiences Having grown up on cookies, we have typically have had a finite understanding of our audiences. This has slowly changed over time, most recently with the awesomeness of User-ID override empowering us to understand a person. Still, most of the time we are not great at digging into Audiences, and their associated behavior. Hence, to assist with your evolution from beginner to advanced, three often hidden areas of Google Analytics for you to explore now that you have access to real data. Go to Audience > Interests > In-Market Segments. Here's the official definition of what you are looking at: Users in these segments are more likely to be ready to purchase products or services in the specified category. These are users lower in the purchase funnel, near the end of the process. I've developed an appreciation of this report as I think of my performance marketing strategies, especially the ones tied to Display advertising. Far too often we rely on just PPC or email and don't use Display in all of the clever ways possible. This repor, leveraging insights from my users, help me understand how to do smarter Display. You can drill down to Age by clicking on the in-market segment you are interested in, and from there for each Age group you can drill-down to gender. Per normal your goal is to identify the most valuable ones using micro and macro-outcomes for your business. After I've mastered in-market segments by adding near term revenue to my company and helping shift the thinking about Display in my company, I move to leverage the data in the Affinity Categories. Also a report in this section. Affinity categories are great for any display or video advertising strategies you have to build audiences around See Intent (See – Think – Do – Care Business Framework). A bit more advanced from a marketing perspective (you would have had to master strategy #2, attribution, above). For the second hidden area, go to Audience > User Explorer. This lovely beast shows something you think you are dying to see. It is also something I really don't want you to obsess about (except if you are a tech support representative). But you want it. So. Here it is… What you are looking at is a report that shows you the behavior of an individual user on your website, as identified by an anonymous Client-ID. You can loosely think of it as a person, though it is more complicated that. If you have implemented User-ID override (congratulations, you deserve a gold star!), then you areas close to a person as you'll ever be. Because this is everyone on your website, there is no wrong place to start and a hundred thousand terrible places to waste time. You can literally watch each person! See, what I mean when I say I don't want you to get obsessed about this? On the rarest of rare occasions I look at this report, my strategy is to understand the behavior of "Whales", people who spend loads of money on our website (why!). I sort the above report by Revenue, and then look over the users who form the first few rows. The data, fi you do it in the Store account for the person who's at the top at the moment, looks like this… The report is sorted from the last hit (08:16 above) to the first hit (which you don't see above, the person browsed a lot!). You can quite literally watch the behavior, over just five minutes, that lead to an order of $2,211.38! You surely want to know what this person purchased (Men's Cotton Shifts FTW!), what pages did they see, where did they come from, how did they go back and forth (this person did) and so on and so forth. Looking at the top few of these Whales might help know something about a product merchandizing strategy, a unique source, or how to change your influence with your acquisition strategy to get a few more of these people. There will always only be handful of folks. The higher order bit is that the best analytical strategy is to analyze micro-segments rather than individuals. Small groups with shared attributes. You can action these, at scale. Nothing in your marketing, site content delivery, servicing at the moment has the capacity to react to an individual's behavior in real time. And if you can, you don't have enough visitors. Hence, obsess about micro-segments. That is a profitable strategy. The spirit above is also the reason why I don't mention real-time reporting in this guide. Simply not worth it. (For more, see #4: A Big Data Imperative: Driving Big Action) For the third hidden area, ok, not so hidden but to expose all your analytical talent, go to Audience > Mobile > Devices. With greater than 50% of your site traffic coming from mobile platforms, this audience report obviously deserves a lot of attention (in addition to segmenting every single report for Mobile, Desktop, Tablet). The problem is that the report actually looks like this… It is poorly constructed with repetitive metrics, and an under-appreciation for mobile user behavior (why the emphasis on Do outcomes when Mobile has primarily a See-Think intent clusters?). It makes for poor decision making. So. Time to practice your custom reporting skills. (Oh, if you as an Analyst only use custom reports, you are closer to being an Analysis Ninja.) Scroll back to the top of the Mobile Devices report and click on the Customize button. On the subsequent page, pick the metrics you best feel will give you insights into Acquisition, Behavior and Outcomes. While you are at it, you'll see just one dimension in this report, Mobile Device Info, you can add other drill-down dimensions you might find to be of value. I added Screen Resolution (matters so much) and then Page (to analyze each Page's performance by resolution). Here's what the report's Summary view looks like for me… Nice, right? Smarter, tighter, more powerful. My obsession is with people on mobile devices and not just the visits. Hence Users come first. Then, paying homage to See and Think intent, my focus is on Pages/Session. For the same reason, my choice for success is goals and Per Session Value (ideally I would use Per Session Goal Value, but as you saw in the opening this account does not have Goal Values). I would delete the Revenue, it is there mostly in case your boss harassed you. Delete it later. Depending on the role, Acquisition, Behavior or Outcomes, I have everything I need to start my mobile analysis journey. As I recommended with AdWords analysis above, the tabs on top of the report hold more analytical insights for you… You will discover that you'll have to go and practice your custom reporting skills on all these tabs as there are sub-optimal elements on all three of them. For example with Site Usage, I added Think intent metrics. For Goals and Ecommerce tabs there are fewer and more focused metrics. Now almost all of the stuff I need to make smarter decisions from my mobile data is in one place. This exercise requires a lot of introspection and understanding business needs as well as what analysis makes sense. That is how we all move from Reporting Squirrels to Analysis Ninjas! :) As with the above custom report, I'll email a downloadable link to the Subscribers of my newsletter The Marketing – analytics Intersect. You can contrast your choices with my choice of metrics and dimensions. Bonus: If you present screenshots from GA to your management team, make sure you take advantage of the option to show two BFF trends. In my case above you can see I choose to pair mobile Sessions with Goal Completions (again to put the stress on See – Think intent). 7. Icing on the Cake: Benchmarking! One final beginner's advanced recommendation. You just finished looking at a whole bunch of mobile metrics. How do you know if the performance of the Google Merchandizing Store is good or bad? Yes, you do see trends of past performance. But, how about with others in your industry? Others who have your type and size of website? I've convinced that most of the time without that competitive / ecosystem context, Analysis Ninjas are making incomplete decisions. The cool thing is, you can get benchmarking data in Google Analytics. Audience > Benchmarking > Devices. And now you have a really strong sense for what is good performance and what is non-good performance… You might have come to one set of conclusions doing the analysis in the mobile section above, and I suspect that now you have very different priorities with the lens pulled back to how the ecosystem is doing. And, that's the beauty. There's a lot more you can do with benchmarking. You can explore the advanced-advanced version here when you are ready: Benchmarking Performance: Your Options, Dos, Don'ts and To-Die-Fors! I hope you have fun. That is it. A beginner's advanced guide that hopefully accelerates your journey to become an Analysis Ninja. As always, it is your turn now. Be sure to visit the blog formerly known as Occam's Razor by Google Analytic's expert Avinash Kaushik....

15 Timeless Quotes from the original Mad Man of Madison Avenue, David Ogilvy   Fellow Scot, Genius & Marketing expert David Ogilvy was one of the most in tune Psychological Influencers to ever walk this earth, he understood the human mind and how to Persuade it through Marketing, more specifically Content Marketing.   [caption id="attachment_376" align="aligncenter" width="500"] Yeah Ogilvy isn't just some cool name the agency is named after him dummy. Get your name stapled on a Big Four advertising agency then talk to me.[/caption]   Let's face it -- it's really easy to have Shiny Object Syndrome in marketing today. With such a rapidly changing industry, we're always trying to stay up on the latest and greatest. "New tools! New social networks! New audiences! Gotta try them all!" But sometimes, it's helpful to step back and remember that some marketing advice is timeless. Tools change, methodologies develop, but there are some core marketing truths that can stand the test of time. And sometimes, one person can be the source of a ton of timeless marketing advice. Today we wanted to highlight one such person: David Ogilvy. Widely considered the Father of Advertising, Ogilvy was the founder of Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide and a prolific writer. Even though his books were published decades ago, his advice is still applicable today. So we rounded up his best advice for marketers to help inspire you on this day. Here's what Ogilvy has to say:   Timeless Marketing Wisdom From David Ogilvy   1) “I don’t know the rules of grammar … If you’re trying to persuade people to do something, or buy something, it seems to me you should use their language, the language they use every day, the language in which they think. We try to write in the vernacular.” (Tweet This Quote)   2) “It has been found that the less an advertisement looks like an advertisement and the more it looks like an editorial, the more readers stop, look, and read.” (Tweet This Quote)   3) “Never write an advertisement which you wouldn’t want your family to read. You wouldn’t tell lies to your own wife. Don’t tell them to mine.” (Tweet This Quote)   4) “Do not address your readers as though they were gathered together in a stadium. When people read your copy, they are alone. Pretend you are writing to each of them a letter on behalf of your client.” (Tweet This Quote)   5) “Consumers [decide] to buy or not to buy [based on] the content of your advertising, not its form.” (Tweet This Quote)     6) “On the average, five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.” (Tweet This Quote)   7) “The best ideas come as jokes. Make your thinking as funny as possible.” (Tweet This Quote)   8) “Good copy can’t be written with tongue in cheek, written just for a living. You’ve got to believe in the product.” (Tweet This Quote)   9) “Advertising people who ignore research are as dangerous as generals who ignore decodes of enemy signals.” (Tweet This Quote)   10) “Never stop testing, and your advertising will never stop improving.” (Tweet This Quote)   11) “Why should a manufacturer bet his money, perhaps the future of his company, on your instinct?” (Tweet This Quote)     12) “Hire people who are better than you are, then leave them to get on with it. Look for people who will aim for the remarkable, who will not settle for the routine.” (Tweet This Quote)   13) “Training should not be confined to trainees. It should be a continuous process, and should include the entire professional staff of the agency. The more our people learn, the more useful they can be to our clients.” (Tweet This Quote)   14) “If you always hire people who are smaller than you are, we shall become a company of dwarfs. If, on the other hand, you always hire people who are bigger than you are, we shall become a company of giants.”  (Tweet This Quote)   15) “Don’t bunt. Aim out of the ball park. Aim for the company of immortals.” (Tweet This Quote)   More...

How to build out a SEO strategy that will gain you 141% increase in organic search volume. Hint: Its Very Complicated, must have a Growth Mindset.   What would your business be like with 141% more organic search traffic? Unless your website is a CRO nightmare… You would see hockey stick revenue growth. In this post, I’m going to show you how we grew a client’s organic search traffic by 141%. Let’s jump in.   Brief Background I will give you as much detail as possible without revealing the client’s niche or website. Here are some quick facts about the client: Their business is between 1-5 employees. They already had an active blog and were promoting their content on social media. They hadn’t done any SEO in the past. Our SEO Strategy My SEO agency uses two different strategies with our clients and they are as follows:   1. Content Driven Strategy This is our preferred strategy, but it requires significant resources, time, and effort. Which is usually beyond what the majority of clients can afford. With that said, our content driven strategy is simple: Create content that attract backlinks. Promote the content so that it actually gets backlinks. The goal of this strategy is to increase the authority of the client’s website. The more website authority you have, the easier it is to rank for keywords. This content driven strategy is exactly what we teach in Gotch SEO Academy.   2. Non-Content Driven Strategy This strategy is exactly like it sounds: we don’t create and promote content. Instead, we optimize a page or many pages for target keywords. This approach is best for smaller businesses or local businesses with smaller budgets. For this client, we used this strategy. Here are the tactics involved with this strategy: Find keyword ideas, analyze the competitors, and have the client approve the keywords Optimize the target page(s) for those keywords Perform an SEO audit to identify all on-site technical issues and off-site backlink issues Fix all issues found within the SEO audit Prospect for link opportunities Begin securing “easy” backlinks Start our blogger outreach campaign Continue acquiring relevant backlinks until the client ranks Now I will show you how this process works in practice.   Keyword Research Right off the bat, the client supplied us with great ideas/keywords they wanted to rank for. We took this information and immediately tossed it into the Google Keyword Planner. The purpose of doing so is to verify that there was enough search volume. Through quick research we identified the keywords with the highest search volume. We ended up with a rough list of approximately 15 keyword ideas. We cut this list down to 9 target keywords. Here is the search volume for the keywords we are targeting: We were able to trim the list through our competitor analysis strategy.   Competitor Analysis We break our competitor analysis down into two stages. The first stage takes no more than 30 seconds. Within this 30 second timeframe, we are looking at the following: PA & DA: we compare the client’s PA and DA relative to the ranking websites Big Brand Dominance: we look for big brands such as Wikipedia or Amazon ranking on the first page. This is can be a sign that the niche is competitive. Pages That Signal Low Competition: we look for “weak” pages such as those from Q&A sites, PDFs, article directories, press releases, or even web 2.0s. These types of pages are easy to outrank. This quick process can tell us whether a particular keyword is worth pursuing. If the keyword passes this first test, we then move onto stage two of our competitor analysis. The second stage is more comprehensive because we analyze the each competitor one-by-one. In this analysis, we are looking at a few different factors including: Total Linking Root Domains: the quantity of unique domains linking to a page is a strong ranking factor, so it’s at the top of the priority list for us. Link Quality: we examine the link quality of the competitor’s page. We do this to get a general picture of what link quality is “accepted” for the keyword. Domain Age: I don’t believe domain age plays a huge role, but it’s something we still consider. Strength of Content: we rate the quality of the competitor’s content on a scale of 1-10. This rating is based on the length, the intricacy, the exhaustiveness, and the structure of the content (from a readability and design perspective).   We always measure these factors relative to the client. Example: if a competitor has 100 linking root domains, then we know that our client must get a similar amount. This isn’t an unbreakable rule. Sometimes it takes more, sometimes it takes less. But it’s a good goal/benchmark to keep track of during the campaign. This entire competitor analysis process is in Gotch SEO Academy. Make sure you sign-up to secure your spot for the next launch. The next stage of the process is to select what pages we want to optimize. Then, actually optimize those pages.   Page-Level Optimization We decided it would be most effective to target the client’s homepage for the set of 9 keywords we selected. These keywords are related, so this isn’t a problem. In most cases, I don’t think you should ever exceed 1-3 keyword themes per page on your site. One keyword theme, per page is best. For example, if I’m targeting the keyword “anchor text“, I wouldn’t also try to rank the same page for “St Louis SEO”. Yet, I can target keywords related to “anchor text” such as “what is anchor text”. That’s because those variations are within the same keyword theme. With that said, here’s what we did to optimize the page: Are you ready? It’s complicated so make sure you hang onto your hat… We added the keywords to the title and META description We added our the “big hitter” keyword (the one with the most search volume) to the first H1 tag on the page We sprinkled the big hitter keyword a few more times on the page That’s it. Mind blowing, right? After we optimized the target landing page, we then began our SEO audit.   SEO Audit Procedure I’ve explained our SEO audit in-depth before, but I’ll explain here again. The purpose of our audit is to identify technical issues that could harm user experience. Or, technical issues that could be leaking website authority. Common technical issues that hurt user experience or leak authority include: Slow website loading speed Non-mobile friendly websites Distracting elements Ugly, confusing, or outdated design 404 pages (only bad if they have link equity) Broken links Redirect chains 302 redirects Duplicate content Thin content Ineffective internal linking After performing the audit, we were happy to see that the client did not suffer from these issues. Their website loads around 1 second. They have a mobile friendly website. Their SSL certificate installed right. They have a clean and modern design. They only had a few 404 pages and broken links. The only issues we identified had to do with the client’s internal linking practices. This wasn’t an urgent issue, but something we wanted to jump on right away. Their main internal linking issues were: A) they weren’t using keyword rich anchors and, B) they were linking to the wrong pages with keyword-rich anchors. Point B can be the most problematic because it can create keyword cannibalization issues. We knew that by fixing these two issues, we could flow internal authority back to the homepage. So, that’s exactly what we did. We changed the internal links to target the homepage and used exact match anchor text. That simple. After we finished up the on-site optimization we moved onto link acquisition.   Link Building We decided to focus on the following link types: Blogger outreach links Niche relevant blog comments Business citations Branded properties These are the link types that we use for most national SEO campaigns. Here are the rough totals of links we built: 30 + contextual backlinks on relevant blogs 100 + blog comments on relevant blogs 15 citations on the best directories 50 branded properties The client has 31 linking root domains before we started. Now the client has around 84 according to Ahrefs. They have more than this because Ahrefs doesn’t capture all link data on the Internet. I know you are likely wondering: “what about the anchor text ratios!?” I got you covered. For the contextual backlinks, we used exact match, keyword variations, and branded anchor text. We used a name for the blog comment anchor text and the citations produced naked link anchors. The anchor ratios are in line with what I’ve been preaching for years now: Less than 1% exact match anchor text 1-5% keyword variations High percentage of branded and naked link anchors If you need help with anchor text, read our guide: https://www.gotchseo.com/anchor-text/ Now let me show you the results of this work.   The Results Here is the Google Analytics data over the course of 9 months: When we started the client was getting approximately 1,885 organic search visitors per month. After 9 months of work, we increased their organic search traffic to 4,541 per month. A 141% increase. There are a few conclusions you can draw from this growth pattern: Growing organic search traffic takes a long time If you quit early, you will never see the fruits of your labor SEO agencies and businesses who hire them, must both understand that SEO is a long game. My agency has achieved explosive growth for some clients within 3-4 months, but this is rare. For most campaigns, it takes 6, 8, 12, or even 15 months to see growth. SEO is NOT a quick fix. In my opinion, it is a supplemental marketing channel. Businesses that rely on SEO or an SEO agency for growth, will lead themselves down a path of destruction.   This is true for two reasons: 1. When you rely on an SEO agency to grow your business, you will use the agency as a scapegoat. When you aren’t converting leads on your site, you will call up the SEO agency and ask: “why aren’t we getting leads” or “we haven’t been getting leads since you guys started”… Here’s the truth: It’s easy to blame an SEO agency or any type of outside marketing agency for your problems. It’s HARD to reflect on WHY you actually aren’t getting leads. More often than not, traffic is NOT the problem. In an ideal world, more traffic would solve your revenue problems. In reality it doesn’t. Getting traffic is the FIRST part of the process. You have to actually convince that traffic to contact you or buy your product. That means you have to understand sales, copywriting, and conversion rate optimization. The reason why businesses stagnate when they have MORE traffic is because of a weak sales funnel. Business is just like real life. For example, your life will be a struggle if you are always looking for someone to blame for your problems. The same is true for your business. Stop blaming. Start reflecting. Now let me rant onto the second reason why you shouldn’t rely on SEO. 2. Businesses built on organic search traffic, have no other choice but to blame the SEO agency. This is the reason why my agency doesn’t work with startups or businesses that do not already have reliable marketing channels. That’s not because we can’t get them results… It’s because we know how those campaigns turn out. A bootstrapped startup will question your every move. They will ask questions like: “Why aren’t we getting results yet!?” …after two weeks of starting a new campaign. I’m going to end my rant here, but I will be writing a blog post on “Why Startups Should NOT Hire an SEO Agency” to elaborate on this further. Subscribe to get notified when it’s published.   Conclusion This client had a great foundation for SEO and made our job much easier. It’s not always this easy to grow organic search traffic when working with clients. Sometimes the clients have years of ineffective/spammy SEO tactics that you must battle against. That’s why my agency loves working with clients who have done little or no SEO in the past. Working with a fresh slate makes your life a lot easier. With that said, this SEO campaign still has a lot of room for improvement. Have some questions about this case study? Leave it below because I answer every single blog comment. Filed Under: SEO Case Studies Featured Article: You’re Making at Least One of These On-Page SEO Mistakes ...

SEO Strategy To 20 Million+ Visitors A Month Three quarters after Yummly launched, its Chief Growth Officer Ethan Smith watched the food discovery platform log its 10 millionth visit in a month. However, like most enduring recipes, it didn’t become a crowd favorite by tossing together ingredients in a fit of inspiration. Yummly’s SEO strategy, which helped the startup top the charts as the best global recipe app for iPhone, iPad and Android, was years in the making, going back to Smith’s first company. Product Hunt is Everywhere - This is How It Got There Smith started his career as a user experience designer and researcher. At Wize, he managed product, design and marketing, until Nextag acquired the product review startup. Since 2010, he’s held various roles at Yummly, including its Head of Product and VP of Growth, helping it tally over 20 million monthly visits. Beyond Yummly, he actively advises startups such as Wanelo, Vinted and Thumbtack on strategies to improve growth and SEO. In this exclusive interview, Smith shares why a specific inflection point with SEO has led to costly misconceptions and missteps. He outlines how to recognize and sidestep them as well as identifies key tenets for high-performance SEO. For any company that has lost confidence in or hit the wall with SEO, Smith’s tactics can help retrofit and reenergize your strategy. A PARADIGM SHIFT WITH SEO One reason the concept of product-market fit resonates is because the balance and reliance between the two elements — product and market — is front and center in its name. But when many startups think about SEO, minds often jump to sly maneuvers and hacking a way to growth. The truth is that optimization is only as strong as one’s understanding of the search engine part of the equation. When the rules of search change, so must the strategy. Over the last five years, Smith has seen startups neglect a shift that has changed a big part of SEO. “A new era for SEO began in early 2011, when Google launched Panda, its change to its search results ranking algorithm. What was once a very simple algorithm was revamped to penalize low-quality, thin sites. Gone were the days of a formula based mainly on keyword density and pagerank,” says Smith. “In the SEO of the past, one could repeat and conceal a bunch of keywords in a tiny font with camouflaged text to increase word density and pagerank. A SEO manager’s job was to find holes like this and exploit them until Google would slap your wrists and patch the gaps. Because the penalties were short-lived, people would go back to finding and exploiting another loophole as soon as they could.” Together with Google Penguin, which penalizes artificial boosts in page rankings through backlinks, Panda brought in somewhat of a new world order with SEO. “While most of the workings of the Penguin filter is public, there was — and still is — more unknowns with Panda. For example, if your site is penalized by Panda, it could take years to get released from it and it’s not obvious how that happens,” says Smith. “Here’s what I’ve seen occur over and over: Founder starts a company. He’s not an SEO expert, but hears that it’s important. He asks around, and is told to launch 50 million pages. The startup starts with 100,000 and sees traffic go up. Then it launches 1 million more pages. More traffic comes. Then it launches 50 million pages. Traffic soars. Then a few months later, traffic tanks. The founder frantically tries to get the traffic back. Months go by, but nothing works.” Aggressive SEO (red) versus gradual SEO (green) THE ERA OF GOOD CONTENT AND ENGAGEMENT It’s not earth-shattering to learn that Google tweaks its algorithm to reward good content and user experience, but the hard part is figuring out how to act to actually reap those benefits. “What’s required is not only a change in behavior, but a switch of mentality. Nearly every get-traffic-quick scheme pulls the carpet out from under you eventually,” says Smith. “You have to think for the long haul; the growth curve you want is more gradual and steady. It won’t look good in the early days, but it will lead to significantly more long term traffic if you’re consistent.” Here’s where to start to embark on the steady curve: Use Google’s guide — not your guesswork — to define what’s good. If improving your content quality and traffic is your goal, there are levers to pull, but don’t assume you can choose which ones. “Most people instinctively nominate themselves as authorities of what’s good when it comes to content and user experience. With SEO, that’s not what actually matters,” says Smith. “What’s important is what Google has defined as good content and good engagement. Note that I didn’t say what is objectively good, but what is subjectively defined as good by Google. Google has a set of guidelines — about 150 pages of them — and has hired thousands of quality raters to rate pages and sites based on their guidelines.” The closer your page resembles those labeled as good content by Google’s rubric, the better your “content quality” is and the more your page will rise in the rankings. “It’s like any sport or board game. Some rules may not make sense, but you have to abide by them to win over time,” says Smith. “For example, scraping and summarizing content can be arguably a very useful thing for users, but Google has decided it’s not. For Yummly, recipes that have a lot of reviews or that have a ‘cook mode’ are ranked highly because Google decided that these make a recipe high quality.” When it comes to Google’s guide to content quality, it’s big theme is EAT, which stands for expertise, authority and trustworthiness. “The guide goes into detail about what standard of expertise is expected for various topics. For example, medical advice should come from people or organizations with the proper accreditation, but forums for spouses of those who died from an ailment are also considered experts. The differentiating factor is what life experience is necessary to credibly give others value. The guide offers a good guiding question: ‘What kind of expertise is required for the page to achieve its purpose well?’” Smith works with companies to help establish high EAT scores for their particular category. “In order to get a high EAT score in shopping, Wanelo shows reviews and photos for each product as well as return policy and shipping information. To show that Wanelo is a highly reputable company, it highlights press coverage in the New York Times, Fortune and other credible media publications on its press page,” he says. “For local services, Thumbtack highlights how many years a practitioner has been in business, whether they are licensed, how many jobs they have completed and, most importantly, lots of 5 star reviews.” With SEO, you can be righteous or right. To be the latter, follow Google’s guidelines, not your gut. Beyond the few hundred pages of SEO guidelines from Google, Smith highlights a few underappreciated tips to consider as you tweak your search engine optimization strategy. Ethan Smith Keep good hygiene. One of the underappreciated aspects of SEO has less to do with what you do and more with what you don’t. It’s not the type of sexy growth hacking that gets written about, but it’s as critical. “Too many people continue with growth strategies that worked before Panda, but which now penalize them. Don’t spend energy trying to get out of Panda’s penalties; direct your energy toward good hygiene and maintenance. This strategy involves striking a balance between testing new SEO strategies and tracking your pages to detect issues early to prevent future penalties.” The Story Behind How Pocket Hit 20M Users with 20 People Here are a few tips from Smith on keeping good SEO hygiene: Schedule a weekly open-ended crawl of your site. A lot of times, companies’ sites will have pages cluttering Google’s index that they don’t want indexed and don’t know about. “What most people don’t understand is that Google will index whichever page they want. It's not about what you put in your sitemap. It's about any page Google can find it will index unless you tell them not to,” says Smith. “Establish an open-ended crawl of your site weekly to look for pages that shouldn't be there. Detecting those is supremely important to improving SEO — and part of good hygiene. Use tools such as Screaming Frog to crawl your site and QA." Track your number of pages, how many are getting crawled, how many are indexed and how many are getting traffic. "Take note of any big differences in those figures. So, the alarm should sound if you have 1,000 pages, but only 200 are getting crawled. Or 1,000 pages crawled, but only 200 are getting indexed. Or 1,000 are indexed, but only 10 are getting traffic," says Smith. "You want all your pages to be crawled on a weekly basis and 95% indexation rate with the majority getting traffic.” Sample Hygiene Report Eliminate incidental indexed pages. It bears repeating: it doesn’t matter if you think your pages are important; what’s key is what Google deems important. Google will tell you whether your page is important by crawling it often, indexing it and sending it traffic. Google doesn’t like sites with lots of thin pages. Once a crawl catches these “thin” pages, get rid of them. Don’t be surprised if you find "thin" pages indexed unintentionally or unknowingly. “Depending on their site architecture, startups can accidentally create and index tons of pages without knowing its impact on SEO,” says Smith. “For example, Yummly users have profile pages for each of its 18 million users. These millions of pages are core to the Yummly feature set and thus are very useful. However, very few people search Google looking for profile pages — they search for a chicken casserole recipe. The issue is that Google will classify these profile pages as too thin and penalize us. We avoid this by being careful about which pages we allow to be indexed.” Once you’ve found “thin" pages, there are a few ways forward. “The best and fastest way to eliminate them is to remove an entire directory by disallowing it in the robots.txt file or using the directory removal tool in Google Webmaster Tools. You can also remove individual pages either with a noindex tag or by returning a 404/410 error code,” says Smith. “But stay vigilant, as there are other ways 'thin' pages crop up. Many sites have HTTPS and HTTP versions of every page; that means that every single page gets indexed twice. Pages can be indexed with and without a “www.” At Yummly, we noticed our DEV servers — like DEV1.yummly.com, DEV2.yummly.com and so on — created duplicate versions of our site. If we didn’t catch it, we’d accidentally have 10 versions of our site getting indexed and causing duplicate content issues.” Flatten your internal link architecture. Pagerank sculpting is dead. What matters now is a sufficiency of links and pagerank. The more you can flatten your internal architecture, the more each of your pages attain sufficient pagerank, and the more your traffic will increase. “Most internal links are skewed toward just a few pages. You might have internal links that are the most recent posts. If you have a thousand pages, the most recent posts are likely ten pages. Then you're not linking to the other 990, which signals to Google that these pages are not important and so they don't get traffic,” says Smith. “Instead, link across all your pages so that Google has many paths to find all of the pages on your site, not just a small percentage of them. So, if you’re showcasing an easy-to-use digital camera, don’t just link to other cameras. Link to other easy-to-use categories, like headphones or TVs. Cross-linking vertically and horizontally creates a more tightly-connected, flat link architecture.” Steal first. Then innovate. The growth strategy that took Smith three years to find and fine-tune at Wize started to work at Yummly after only three months. Given that long term growth in SEO takes time, startups can’t afford a steep learning curve when just getting started. “Worry about innovation when it comes to your core product, not your SEO. It’s not well publicized but most successful growth teams and companies take the most effective strategies from competitors, apply them in-house, then improve upon them,” says Smith. “SEO is no exception. Most of what works is not obvious at the onset, so startups spend an enormous amount of time reinventing the wheel.” Smith has found success with research — not just secondary, but primary. “We look for the most successful SEO companies. We deeply analyze their site and strategy to understand what’s working. Then we try to connect with the person in charge of their SEO to ask them directly what’s working and what’s not,” he says. “Don't just research and reach out to who you subjectively think might be interesting. We use Sistrix and SimilarWeb to evaluate competitor traffic and engagement. For Yummly, we care about certain growth indicators — such as overall traffic, high SERP rank, and a steady growth trajectory — to identify which sites have the most effective SEO strategy. Then we find people who work at those companies, reach out and ask if they’d be open to a call. I never have open-ended chats over coffee. I do my homework and bring a list of pointed questions about specific parts of their site.” Ninety percent of the people that Smith reached out to share techniques with him. “They might not say everything but they’ll answer if I have specific questions. Taken together with other conversations, this helps keep our strategy current. Of course, I offer them ideas on what has worked for us, too, so that the exchange is mutually beneficial,” he says. “It sounds simple, but many just research from afar. We like to both reach out to other growth experts as well as test common attributes across sites — like Yelp, Zillow and Houzz — that correlate with traffic. In fact, don’t just look at competitors, but those outside your category. We’ve actually learned a lot from TripAdvisor’s page structure.” Recommended Article Take Your Fundraising Pitch from Mediocre to Memorable with These Storytelling Tips At Yummly, Smith used both types of research — along with his personal experience — to successfully revamp its category pages. “We launched category pages at my last company where we would find keywords and create pages that target those keywords. So we did the same at Yummly, basing them on structured taxonomies like shopping categories and filters. So there’d be a page for digital cameras and a page for every filter, such as digital camera between $50 and $100,” he says. “It worked, but not well. By talking with peers and pattern-matching with other sites, we realized that our structured taxonomies were not using the words that people use to search in Google form. We then found the phrases that people are actually searching for on Google, such as ‘digital cameras for wildlife photography,’ and curated category pages for those terms. That worked much better because the page exactly matched an actual query that people type into a search box.” Approach SEO as acquisition. According to Smith, most big companies became very successful by being extremely aggressive with their growth. “Airbnb used Craigslist early on to tap into a broader market. Pinterests emails all your Facebook friends telling them you followed them when you didn’t. Linkedin makes it easy to accidentally send invitations to your entire contact list. The most successful companies are also extremely aggressive — with email marketing, paid advertising and referrals — but not SEO,” says Smith. “In the past, SEO success favored the most aggressive companies. After Google Panda or Penguin, success favors companies those that take a steady long term approach to growth. Be aggressive with SEO in the sense that you want to deploy resources to work on it in the first place, but don’t do too much too fast that’s not in your actual strategy.” In the age of mobile, most will claim that websites aren’t important anymore or that SEO is dead. “The truth is that, when used as an acquisition vehicle, SEO is more effective now than it ever has been. In fact, other than gaming apps, the most successful apps, like Pinterest, Yelp, and Houzz, use web SEO as their main app acquisition channel,” says Smith. “Most SEO visitors come to a site, look at a couple pages, then leave. It’s easy to dismiss these passerby users as not valuable. The goal is to get SEO visitors to come back. Whether it’s by getting someone to register, use an engaging feature or download the app. When viewed as an acquisition channel, SEO can be one of the most impactful channels to drive long term lifetime value.” With SEO, you can never be 100% confident. But once you know that, you’re more likely to be good at it.   THE SEO TEAM YOU (THINK YOU) NEED The first mistake you might make — especially as a startup — is thinking that you need a team or person dedicated to SEO from the get-go. “Your SEO strategy and roadmap might come from someone you have in-house, but it’s as likely that it will — and probably should — come from a consultant or advisor,” says Smith. “At Wize, we turned the corner when our consultant, Leo Haryono, gave me his initial recipe, which I took and built from. I know I could have eventually come to the same result, but calling him in helped us shortcut that learning process.” An SEO hire or consultant should join in once you’ve validated some traction and traffic. “For most consumer companies, that'll be around 100,000 visits per month. The role of the SEO manager will not only be to double-down on what’s started to work, but to build really good content, make engagement better and build PR/marketing backlinks through the methods I’ve mentioned,” says Smith. “At this point, the SEO person needs to become a stakeholder in product decisions and should advise on the parameters that the content creators or Product should consider in their work. Make sure this person can point to an SEO engine they’ve built at another company and explain how exactly she grew traffic with tools that don’t cost a fortune. A lot can be done with Google or Bing Webmaster tools as well as free or low-tier versions of Majestic SEO or Sistrix. If she can’t clearly communicate those two elements, take pause and move onto other referrals.” It’s at this point that a startup should double-down with SEO, but through smartly building out its existing teams and product. “You’ve got a team and a dedicated SEO person or consultant. Now it’s about syncing and scaling the teams in an intentional way. If reviews are a lever for growth for your business, build in hooks into your core product to encourage users to write them. Airbnb has done a great job here in creating hooks that feed SEO into the core product,” says Smith. “Nerdwallet is another great example. By scaling into an army of really great finance writers, they have been able to have great SEO. Its focus was not around weird tricks and hidden text, but about writing high-quality articles on topics that people sought out.” Bringing it All Together There has been a sea change with SEO. With the introduction of Google Panda and Penguin, the game has changed over the last five years. The problem is that the methods of many people tackling SEO have not changed along with it. Through good hygiene and understanding of Google’s guidelines, startups can avoid falling into traps that could penalize their traffic and pagerank for years to come. Schedule a weekly crawl of your site to identify and eliminate “thin” pages on your site. Take proactive measures to flatten your link architecture. Start SEO from Day 1, but don’t be too aggressive too fast — either with your strategy or your investment in an SEO hire. The name of the game is slow and steady wins the race. Instead invest in good content and frame SEO as an acquisition tool. Have faith in in in the long term; quick fixes lead to quick declines. “With SEO, even if you find a way to identify every variable, you won’t be able to control each one. You might change a title tag but there are a thousand other factors that you're not controlling for that influence results. The challenges with causation and correlation abound,” says Smith. “If there’s one thing I hope startups take away about SEO is that it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Quick-twitch muscles won’t do any good here — in fact, they’ll likely get you into trouble. Endurance and awareness are the attributes that get rewarded with SEO. I wish people would swap growth hacking for growth harvesting. That’s the type of approach that truly works.” Photography by Bonnie Rae Mills. Save...

The only guide you'll ever need for creating backlinks in 2016   This new guide will teach how to build backlinks in 2016. Every strategy you will read is battle tested. Through hundreds of successful SEO campaigns, we now know what works best. And of course… What doesn’t work. Ready to get started? Let’s go: What Are Tier One Backlinks? "Tier one" backlinks are external links directly hitting your website. Like so: These links are a large piece of the ranking puzzle. But before we get into the heavy link building strategy...