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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....

The Billion Dollar SEO Empire built under the guise of Google Ventures     Have you ever taken some time to reflect on Google’s massive list of acquisitions and mergers? I mean seriously actually sit down and looked at what Google as actual has accumulated over the years? It's quite staggering. Here's just some of their properties.   For a full list just take a look at their plethora of properties here from advanced robotics to digital marketing CRM's they have their net cast across every field. It’s a bit scary if you do. Actually, it might make some of you go hide in the woods before the robots arrive and take over. For the uninitiated, check out this list on Wikipedia and just scan through some of those prices. Is this for real? Yup, they throw around gazillions of dollars like it’s monopoly money. But that isn’t all, they invest in more than just this list of mergers and acquisitions. This is where “Google Ventures” comes in, their investment arm which allows them to dip into all kinds of cool stuff. And that is where things can get a little sketchy. What happens when an investment is heavily fueled by organic SEO from their very own engine? This is concerning to a lot of people in the SEO community, but let’s be honest, Google doesn’t give a shit about us. The reality of the situation beyond just a bunch of whiny SEOs is the potential anti-trust implications, general shittyness, and hypocrisy from Google’s double dipping. A few years back I wrote a saucy piece about RetailMeNot being backed by Google ventures which led to some more light being shined on the company. All was well, then they received a minor penalty. Shortly there after a full recovery. What’s troubling is this seems to be a reoccurring theme with companies getting outted for questionable SEO who are also backed by Google Ventures. The most recent case was with Thumbtack.com who has done very well with aggressive local SEO growth and also received $100 million from Google ventures. These guys were doing some shady shit, no doubt about that, and once it came in the public spotlight from this post (quite similar to my RetailMeNot piece) it was only a matter of time until the hammer came down. Sorry buddy, but been there done that, check my post date ;-) Okay, maybe a bit of jealousy there because his post got shared by Master Fishkin himself and wound up delivering a straight KO punch right in Thumbtack’s gonads. All pretty standard stuff so far, but then Thumbtack managed to get the fastest “get out of jail free” card in the history of Google penalties. In under a fucking week! That’s right, less than seven days and out of the penalty box with shitloads of new backlinks from us SEOs. Have we been trolled? Kind of seems like it but before we start spazzing out we need an overview of all the Google ventures backed companies who have crushed it with SEO. We need numbers to dig deeper into what is actually going on. The Great Big List of Google Ventures Backed SEO Sites To get started I went to GV.com/portfolio (sorry bros, nofollow) and pulled all the outbound links. Shazam, got a list of all their URLs. Now onto SEMRush to get some data on all these. But before getting there I noticed Thumbtack.com is not on the list of Google Ventures investments. Wait a second, there is another “investment arm”, Google Capital which has some interesting companies under its wing as well. Lendingclub, Surveymonkey, Thumbtack, Glassdoor, Credit Karma, and Auction.com to name a few. So farther down the rabbit hole we go. There was one problem though, it was going to take me all day to download 200+ reports one by one. At this point I was forced to utilize the small amount of tech skill I have and use the SEMrush API. But wait, why not just send a quick email instead? Thankfully I have a contact over there and they helped me out. Big thanks you guys are awesome. Here is the data I pulled, enjoy :-)   Google's Portfolio Monthly SEO Stats Provided by SEMrush Show 10 25 50 100 entries Search: Domain Organic Keywords Organic Traffic Organic Cost creditkarma.com 92,767 5,945,665 $14,900,000 glassdoor.com 1,125,085 7,097,346 $14,200,000 retailmenot.com 331,019 12,128,660 $9,946,189 thumbtack.com 109,262 536,320 $4,500,000 uber.com 12,554 1,750,090 $3,683,236 Lendingclub.com 7,778 390,688 $3,400,000 homeaway.com 222,315 2,218,832 $2,687,534 hubspot.com 28,152 324,900 $1,872,331 lendup.com 5,460 150,432 $1,197,143 tunein.com 156,713 2,168,876 $1,024,655 Showing 1 to 10 of 206 entries PreviousNext Some interesting things to note about the data. The total estimated organic traffic cost is about $67 million per month and that is in the United States only. Certainly some of these domains are doing well in other countries so this number is actually much higher. The next number I found interesting and rather low is the total amount of adwords spend. This is around $2.8 million, not bad compared to their estimated overall organic traffic cost, roughly 23 times the amount. Needless to say, their portfolio is reaping the rewards of their search engine quite strategically. They’ve hit some of the most profitable industries: coupons, legal, loans, etc. But hey, wouldn’t you do the same? Well you’re likely not a billion dollar corporation so the implications aren’t quite the same. The real interesting thing is what these properties have done SEO wise.   Let’s look at some explosive growth shall we? CreditKarma Watch out, you might break the backlink checker with this one. Phew, how is the air up there guys? Uber Google loves them some Uber. Can’t really blame them, they got some big stacks invested there. Thumbtack Now this graph might knock you out of your chair when considering they received a penalty. LendingClub Need a loan after all the money you wasted on blackhatworld PBN links? Well don’t worry G ventures has got your back. Just do a quick search for “loans” and you’ll find Lendingclub at #3 and Creditkarma at #1. Shall we dig into the backlinks? Before we start pointing the finger for anything sketchy, freaking out, and starting a riot let’s consider that most large sites are bound to have at least some spammy links from scraper sites or something similar. So the plan is each site gets the 5 minute Jacob King spam check (trademark pending). If I can find some shit in that amount of time then you can make your own conclusions from there. Let’s take a quick look at these sites hopefully without breaking ahrefs. CreditKarma Well they are doing quite nicely. It must be the social signals pushing them to #1 for “credit score” ;-) Or maybe it’s the 6k+ referring domains? Well I started the spam check timer and found some anchor spam at the 1:35 mark. Take a peak at their anchor profile, the untrained eye might miss it.   Ah but wait, exact match anchor text? It couldn’t be, yup, yup it is.   Almost looks like some contextual link spam I’d throw out there, damn near the anchor text profile I’d build too. I’m not going to dig into the actual links as the spam check time ran out. I saw some weird site wide links for “free credit score” on realtor sites and figured I could call it good there. Uber This one is pretty tough, there are just so many links to look at in only 5 minutes. One thing I did notice that looked a bit strange was links to their geo landing pages with some uniform anchor text. I just randomly clicked to the 7th page of anchors, like trying to find a needle in a haystack.   Thumbtack   Wow, 32k referring domains, I thought my hair might turn grey waiting for this one to load. No need to even spam check these dudes since their recent penalty has been posted about a tonnnnn. I’d like to get an estimate of how many new referring domains they picked up from news of their penalty but it’s tough to say with the link removals they did. LendingClub   This one is just too perfect for a closer. So I started peaking at Lendingclub and nothing popped out at me. Then I decided to navigate to the top pages section and check some link building to specific landing pages. Noticed this guy here with a bunch of spam links and the top anchor “consolidated credit “. But wait, upon closer look that’s our friend negative SEO. It’s almost inevitable to get hit ranking on these big SERPs by some spitefull asshole. It’s next to impossible to drop them and if you’re blasting the main anchor it will probably just help them. How did I know this was neg SEO? It’s easy when you spot these anchors: “visit poster’s website” and “strona www” The first is “visit poster’s website” is a default generic anchor text in the software GSA search engine ranker and the second “strona www” is the default from one of the comment engines. Signing Off What can we conclude from all this? Well obviously these sites have done incredibly well and some insights can be gained from them. Although Google has made statements before that an investment doesn’t provide an extra SEO edge or insider information, one still has to wonder. Is Google double dipping? Is it the ultimate case of “do as we say but not as we do”? You be the judge. Save Save Save Save Save...

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...

Growth Hacking The Ultimate Spying Guide for Media Buying (via iAmAtilla)   All right guys, some of you remember me posting a spying thread that explains how to spy on your competitors using a proxy and android apps. That is one way but today I decided to go a little deeper to explore many other ways from cheap to expensive that can help you get a lot of great ideas to minimize your risk, and maximize the profits – I’m calling this iAmAttila’s Ultimate Spying Guide for Media Buyers – because really, it IS really bad ass! I plan to make this guide very detailed, so be prepared … it’s gonna be LONG!   Feel free to skip ahead if you want to the part that is most important to you. Questions i’ll be showing you how to find answers to A) What offers are running on a specific site? B) What offers are being run on specific app placement? C) Where/what placements/traffic sources/sites is the offer being advertised the most on? D) What creatives are being used for specific offer and which ones are being used the most (sizes, angles, etc) E) What landing pages are being used? F) Exposing other affiliates trackers,  learning which ones send the most volume for an offer, and finding their landers/creatives G) Spying on your CPA Network and finding out if they are re-brokering the offer, or you are really going direct to the source Methods & Tools Wee will be using in our journey: In order to do spying you need tools,  these tools are expensive for the newbie but a must for any successful media buyer.     I use all of these tools below myself every time I spy and my friends – the best of the best like Charles Ngo & Finch use ’em too! 1. What Runs Where Mobile [sign up here for $1] 2. HMA+Android Phone+Android Apps [get hma here] 3. Opera Mini Emulator for PC & HMA VPN Proxy  [buy hma proxy] 4. STM Adult Ads Spy (available FREE for STM Members only – get an STM account) 5. SimilarWeb to find who is sending most volume to tracking link/offer landing page 6. Ad planners like Decisive’s, ExoClicks, TrafficJunky’s, etc. to find sites/placements to spy on. are you ready?…    Let’s get started!   A) What offers are running on a specific site Scenario – Adult Dating Campaign / TJ & PornHub 305×99 placement Imagine you are about to do a mobile adult dating campaign,  you don’t have an offer picked out yet, didn’t talk to your reps nothing –  instead you are taking an other approach.   You looked at TrafficJunky and learned that there’s a shit load of volume for CHEAP in Argentina.     The site you have this great opportunity for tons of volume and cheap pricing is on the Pornhub 305×99 banner sizes.     Great!  Now let’s figure out what offers are currently running on it PRO TIP:   You always want to see what offers are running on a placement, because it gives you an idea of what kind of offer WORKS there.  We can use 3 methods here to find out what’s running on the 305×99 placement on PornHub.com Method 1) What Runs Where  This method works great to get an idea on what kind of offer types are running on a specific site’s placement.   While you can’t select exactly the 305×99 size when you follow these steps you will be able to pick out those banner sizes with your eyes right away. -Login to what runs where mobile here -Click the publisher tab, where it says enter domain here,  type in pornhub.com, then click search -From the All Networks drop down select Traffic Junky and click Apply -On the left side menu click on Banner Ads and now you will see all the banners that are running on this particular site. TIP:  To see what’s the best ad that was running the longest click on Sort by AdStrength.    This is usually good sign that this type of offer is working great on this particular placement. Note:  WRW lets you see creatives within a specific time range, ie seen on the last 7 days,  last 14 days, etc.  You can play around with that as you like using the grey menu    Method 2) Opera Mobile Emulator on PC and Apple and HMA Proxy This method is awesome because you can use the opera mobile emulator to pose as any popular smart phone / tablet from your PC or Mac.  If you don’t have Opera Mobile Emulator you can grab it here  Once installed follow these simple steps. 1) Open the Opera Mobile Emulator, select a profile – ie: Samsung Galaxy SIII or iPhone (whatever you intend to target) and click Launch 2) Start up HMA Pro VPN and select the geo you want to spy  -Open HMA Pro VPN –Click DashBoard,  then select a geo from the Quick VPN Location change dropdown menu and then click Connect to VPN 3) Go back to Opera Mobile Emulator, and you should see the opera browser already open, type in pornhub.com in the address bar and press ENTER Method 3) Check out the site from an mobile phone using the built in browser This is fairly straight forward,   if you have a smart phone handy simply go to the site using your mobile phone and refresh it to see what offers are being run right now. You can use your HideMyAss VPN account in connection with their HMA App for Android to spy on different geos.  To do this you simply install the HMA app from Play Store,  then open it, select the geo you want to spy on, connect to the VPN, then go to pornhub and see what banner ads come up.   B) What offers are being run on specific app placement? Scenario:  Picture this..  your AM hits you up and says there’s a hot new global CPI offer called Acme Speed Up!   It pay $10 dollars for 1 install.  WOW.     You are a big super star affiliate,  you don’t mess around and you go for the placements with top volume.   You immediately jump on APPANNIE and see what the top are 20 apps right now in the utilities category are.       Sweet, you jot down the list of top 20 util appz.    Next, you want to pick which apps have your competitors ads on them (lets just say for laughs which apps have clean master advertising)   how do you find out? Method 1)  Grab an android phone, install apps on it, and open them and see whats running there. NOTE: If you don’t already have an android phone,  then you can pick up a cheap one on ebay.com or local craiglists.  I recommend Samsung Galaxy S3 as a bare minimum. #1) Open Google Play Store on your phone by clicking its icon #2) Click on the Magnifying glass to search #3)  Type in the name of the app from your list, and tap search on your keypad.  #4) After you located the app, open it’s page and tap the INSTALL button #5) Repeat the above steps for all of the apps you’ve written down until all 20 is installed. #6) Open each app one by one, and wait a few seconds.  Make note on a piece of paper what ads you saw.     I recommend exiting the app, and opening it again a few times – so you cycle threw a few different sessions to catch more banners/advertisers. #7) One important thing to remember is to always spy in different countries, this is where the HMA Proxy VPN comes in handy.    Basically you’d want to check what kind of banners run on specific placements in the geo the offer you want to promote accepts.   In our case its a global offer so we’d want to test it in a few tier 1 countries, a few tier 2 countries, a few tier 3 countries.  The more data you have the more solid plan you can make. To conclude our scenario:  I’d install the top 20 apps app annie showed me,  check out whats running on them using the steps above, and then figure out which one would be most suitable for my offer (i’d look for competition/same offer that im promoting being advertised – because if someone is already advertising it on a placement, chances are that is where my demo is)   Method 2)  Use a tool like whatrunswhere to see what ads are running on the specific app placement.   If you don’t have an android phone, and don’t want to spend too much time spying – a quick way to get insight whats running on a specific placement is to use a spy tool.  My spy tool of choice is WRW (get it here) for this.      The quick method is good, but the time consuming method #1 I talked about is way more accurate, and solid.     Affiliate marketing is a dog eat dog world, so those take take extra steps are often the ones that are crushing it! Anyway, here’s how you’d look up a specific placement to see whats running on it using WRW: #1)  Sign in to WRW #2)Click on By Publisher on the top menu #3) You have to get the package name of the android app you want to look up.  To do this follow these 3 simple steps a) Head over to http://play.google.com b) Type in the name of the app in the search bar and click Search c) Click the app’s icon on the search results page and when you arrive at its landing page, look in your browsers address bar #4) Now that you have the package name,  head back to WRW and type in the package name and click SEARCH.  That’s it!  You will get all kinds of data,  I personally head over to the Banner Ads section on the left menu, and sort by ad strength to see which ads ran the longest to find what kind of offers do best on this placement.   C) Where/what placements/traffic sources/sites is the offer being advertised the most on? This is a very good question that helps that if you get the answers to can help you save a lot of time and money. Let’s look at an example –  someone is interested in promoting the game CPI Farmville2,    they never promoted a farming game before but have limited funds.    They did their research and know happy farm was killing it before and it is a very similar game to farmville.  So what can they do to find out where happy farm advertised so they can put their ads for essentially the same kind of game on those placements? Lucky for you WRW is very powerful when it comes to answering this question,   while there’s other ways to find out what placements worked great for a specific app,  this is the one that gives the highest impact time invested vs outcome gained.    So let’s answer this question together. Where/what placements/traffic sources/sites does an offer advertise on? #1) Sign in to WRW #2) Click on By Advertiser up top and type in the name of the game –  #3) After a few seconds, WRW gives us a breakdown of Traffic Sources,  Categories,  iFrame Hosts/Placements, etc all on one screen.  We can dive in and explore it in great detail – which I won’t do here. What is important is to take a note of the top traffic sources,  these have been proven to work so if you want to promote this offer – start there!    Also look at the iframe hosts/placements – these are sites that worked well for this offer, again start there if you are budget limited. The data tells the tale of success, if a placement was seen/used for many, many days for an offer that means it was working.       The right demographic that is interested in the offer is on that site, so by targeting the same sites as your competition (similar offer) you are saving yourself a huge amount of guess work. D) What creatives are being used for specific offer and which ones are being used the most (sizes, angles, etc) WRW is very lucrative tool,  I don’t know of any other one for mobile atm that is as good.  By doing a simple lookup you can quickly find out what angles, banner design styles and banner sizes work best for an offer.     Let’s look at a very popular App Mobogenie.    (The process is the same for any mobile offer, you just type in the one you are interested in promoting – I’m just showing you real examples so you can get it easily.) #1) Login to WRW, and click on By Advertiser #2) Type in the box com.mobogenie.markets press search #3)  Click on banner ads in the left column  #4) Next select sort by Ad Strength #5) And look at the banner sizes that come up.   Also make note of the angles, and the look and feel of the banners.    This is all very important.       Taking these ideas, and using it as a jumping board is a great way to find success fast;  never steal – just take an idea lets say a design and change it a little bit, improve it, then test it.   Take the angles (the text written on the banners) and reword it so it has the same meaning, try different variations – you’d be surprised how a little change can mean a huge difference in CR! For Mobogenie I see a few things -The 120×120 and 320×50 banner sizes are most popular -Upgrade your Android Market! Install Now (Angle1),  Mobogenie 1,000,000+ Free Apps & Games,  Download (Angle2) and Mobogenie Market – Download Now (Angle3) are the most popular. -Blue colour, red with white font, and system message looking banner is the style that seems to be killing it. E) What landing pages are being used for mobile offer? To find landing pages for an offer things get a little bit more complicated. Unfortunately more often than not, i’d say 80% of the time WRW is going to be useless here showing you no landing pages other affs are running if you look it up by offer. I am going to show you how to find some landings for the infamous WHATSAPP content billers.     It will be HARD to do this, but I will take you a journey so you can see the methods you can try. Method #1)  Analyzing Upstream Data by Working Backwards First things first, when you are working backwards you want to identify the offer landing page, this is where everyone ultimately sends their visitor that pushes the offer.      To do this, just follow through on the campaign link your AM gave you for the offer. After I followed the link I got from ClickDealer I arrived at http://p.shoopadoo.com/mx/whatsapp.pinsc/ Step #1) For the hell of it, Lets see what WRW brings up when we type p.shoopadoo.com in the where does domain advertise box. As you can see nothing of use to me,  its all the same domains just variations of the official landing page for the offer. Meh.. next.. Step #2)  Head over to Alexa.com and type in shoopadoo.com and press search.    On the results page scroll down to upstream sites. What do we have here?   Hmm..  could these be the tracker URLs of other affiliates?   Let’s find out! Step #3) Go back to WRW, and type in each domain from the list above and see what comes up under landing pages.  1. go2cloud – meh nothing, but i discovered a lot of traffic sources seem to have subdomains on go2cloud top level domain, so that’s something to investigate later maybe.. 2.  textsrving.info – not found in WRW 🙁 3.  softonic.com – some irrelevant text ads found – no lps 4.  srv123.com – nothing found 5.  No search results for “loadingnow.info”. Okay, well that is dissapointing – alexa didn’t get us closer to finding an LP — this method didn’t work this time, lets try another way.. Step #4) Go to www.similarweb.com and type in shoopadoo.com hitting search We now want to check two things,  the top referring sites column, and the top destination sites column. We’re going to run every site in WRW, see if something comes up. UPDATE I ran it and some came up but not with relevant information.  So we’re back to square one.   The reason why I am showing you this hands on follow along style is because I am hoping to get something very important across,   doing spying is no walk in the park – it takes time and effort on your part.  We’ve checked alexa & similarweb and so far nothing concrete, we didn’t discover any landing pages.   So do we give up?  No,  what else can we do? Method #2A) Finding affiliate tracker URLs by looking up the links networks give you  I am working with ClickDealer and MundoMedia for the WhatsApp Offers – the offer links they gave me for whatsapp contain their domain which are: clickdealer: cldmob.com mundomedia: sebcotrk.com chlcotrk.com #1) After you have the offer domains from the links your AM gave you,  fire up WRW + Login. #2) Click the advertiser tab and where it says where does Enter a domain advertise, type in the tracker domains one by one pressing Search. #3) You should now get some data, and see some landing pages – if you are lucky.  Hah,  well I was not lucky so lets take it a bit farther. NOTE: This method doesn’t work often – but that doesn’t mean it does not work at all.   So always try it,   due every step to uncover some great stuff no other guys will because they are lazy to do the footwork required! Method #2B)     Method #2A + Similar Web + Upstream Domains Sending Tracking Domain Traffic We can take Method #2A further if we weren’t happy with our success.   What we want to do is take the tracker domains from our CPA Network, type them in to similar web and look at what sites are sending it the most traffic.     *Remember how we worked with similar web already in our journey to expose mobile landing pages of our competitors?* #1) Hop on to www.similarweb.com #2) Enter the domain(s) from your CPA Network link(s) –  I entered cldmob.com  and pressed the magnifying glass to search #3) Look at referring sites –  For my domain, it said not enough data – if you encounter the same result – look at the next link. #4) Looking up sebcotrk.com showed me referring sites where I was able to find one, that showed landing pages.  Unfortunately the landing pages I found were for toolbar offers and for adult dating – so the guy that was pushing whatsapp was also doing these two other verticals.   Not useful in this case, but I discovered some random stuff. Take away: This method is somewhat useful, but unless you have SimilarWeb Pro you will not have a full list of referrals and will most likely not see the trackers/landing page hosts sending relevant traffic (in our case whatsapp landers).      SimilarWeb Pro is $500/month which a little bit out of reach for most, however if you can afford it – it can unlock the full list of referrals which you can go through to find the landers.   Method #3)  Proxy + Android and becoming a user method We can look at the placements sending the most traffic to this offer using a proxy in MEXICO.  We can visit each placement from a mobile phone, and click through and explore it that way.  Then once we find the trackers/landing page hosts, type those into WRW to see if it has any more details.  If not we’d copy the link from our mobile phone and send it to ourselves for viewing on the PC. This might work, it may not work – it depends on the affiliates running the offer – if they are targeting only specific carriers – we’d need to somehow come from that specific carrier to experience the effect of their targeting, so it really is a very complicated process. Method #4)  Using WRW keyword feature to find landers This method may work or it may not.  You gotta try it.    Again,  what may work for one offer might not for the next… #1) Click on By Keyword #2) Type in offer keyword (in my case whatsapp) and make sure you select Search in ALL Countries – this is important! #3) Press Search #4) Look for banners that relate to the offer – click a few, opening them in new tab (CTRL+Click on PC, not sure on Apple – maybe Command+Click?) Sidenote: YAY Success! Finally we’re getting somewhere with whatsapp.  So keyword search method is working. #5) After you opened a few banners in new tabs,  on the left menu, click landing pages #6) Here we go, we found one whatsapp lander!  #7) Now copy the link from WRW to the clipboard (CTRL+C, CMD+C) and paste it into a new browser tab address bar and press enter, and bam you should see a lander! #8) We are not done yet,   note the domain of the whatsapp lander we found  ->  whatsappmobile.net !! There might be some more landers here, let’s check it out #9) Go back to WRW, Click on  By Advertiser and paste in the domain whatsappmobile.net and press search. #10) Click the landing pages tab on the left, and HOLY CRAP –  for this particular site there are over 114 entries (that means many landing pages for whatsapp baby!)  Now we’ve made it.. we’ve SUCCEEDED in our landing page spying effort after such a long run. NOTE1:   This is just one site I found using the keyword search function > All geos in WRW.  You can open multiple banners, check the banner host URL and look up each using wrw’s by advertiser function. NOTE2:  I said it but I’ll say it again,   this method works for some, but not all offers – that is why I outlined every single way I use to find landers by taking you on a real life journey using whatsapp.   F) Exposing other affiliates trackers,  learning which ones send the most volume for an offer, and finding their landers/creatives Without getting into too much detail why anyone would want to do this … this method can come in handy because it can lead you to many ideas on how to run a specific offer.    To make this easy to understand, I am going to be showing you a scenario.    Let’s say we want to look up who the top trackers are sending traffic to the offer landing page which is http://m.pl.funfone.me/wap/9183/?af=457 Method #1)  Similarweb – Top Referring Sites + WRW #1) Go to www.similarweb.com #2) Type in m.pl.funfone.me – press search #3) Look for the Top Referring Sites #4) Write down every single site in this list in your text editor of choice (for most of us Notepad will be just fine) #5) Now while you hold CTRL (CMD on Apples) click on each of the sites to open them in a new tab. #6) Write down all the top referring sites you see for each site into your text editor as well.    After you complete it you should have around 110 total sites written down. #7) Login to WhatRunsWhere and click on search by Advertiser – typing in one by one the domains from our similarweb top referring sites list we saved in notepad. Do this for all of the ones on your list, checking banners and landing pages in the left tool bar on WRW.     Not all sites will bring back results, but some will and in a big way.  I was able to find landers for pop traffic this way I never thought of. Golden nugget:  I found a kick ass sweeps lander that had testimonials on it where chicks were holding iphones,  it had an automatic javascript to show the todays date,  it said they are part of the phone model rewards program, etc.      And this lander doubled my CR – so it def pays to spy on your competitors!   Method #2)  Using tracker footprints to find trackers! This method is very advanced, and requires even more time.  But time spent can bring huge returns.     I will show you how to do it with prosper footprint  /202-login.php.  #1) Head over to www.google.com #2) In the top url type this:   inurl:/202-login.php  & click on search #3) I ended up getting over 15 pages of results and uncover many trackers this way.. #4) Next I made a list of all the domains I found, and saved them in a text file. #5) After that I went back to my very favorite WRW tool, and plugged each in one by one.     Again a lot of work, but in the process uncovered some real gems that gave me some new ideas for both landers & banners.   G) Spying on your CPA Network and finding out if they are re-brokering the offer, or you are really going direct to the source Why in the world would you want to spy on your CPA Network?  The answer is simple, just because they might say they are #1,  they are honest with you, this and that – at the end of the day their own interests are most important to them – so that means profits.      Many networks might say we have the offer exclusive, and direct but in reality that isn’t true.  That is why a smart affiliate always does his/her homework and spies on the CPA Network to make sure they are pushing offer X as close to the advertiser as possible. I am going to show you what a non-brokered offer looks like vs what a brokered offer looks like.    For this part of my tutorial we are going to be using Live HTTP Headers (get it here for Firefox,  get it here for Chrome) and also HideMyAss Proxy [get it here] Scenario #1 – What a NON-Brokered Offer Looks Like #1) Start up your browser of choice – Chrome of Firefox #2) Take the campaign link your CPA Network gave you (for this example I am using http://mpdotrk.com/mt/w264v24474q233r244s20324/ which is a MUNDOMedia link) and copy it to clipboard. #3) Make note of what GEO the campaign accepts (you will need to disguise as if you are from this geo using HMA) #4) Start up HMA and connect to the geo, wait till it gets an IP #5) Close all other instances of your web browser to make sure only 1 is running, and only 1 tab. #6) Click the Live HTTP Headers icon in the toolbar to open it in a new tab #7) In another tab, paste in the URL of the offer and press enter. #8) Switch to the Live HTTP Headers tab and look at the data. As you can see,  if a visitor hits your campaign link that Mundo gave and is from Spain, they will be taken direct to the advertisers landing page.  Which in this case is wap.mozzi.com.   This is what a NON-Brokered offer looks like, this means Mundo runs this direct (which is what u always want) Scenario #2 – What a Brokered Offer Looks Like Mr Green @ STM setup a brokered offer over at F5 for me, so I can show you what it looks like on the HTTP Live Headers screen when an Offer is BROKERED. #1) I closed all tablets/browser instances leaving just 2 tabs open. #2) I cleared the previous results from the Live Http Headers Screen by pressing the CLEAR button as shown below: #3) I pasted the link I received into the new tab’s address bar and press enter. #4) After looking at the data screen this is what I saw. F5 is brokering the deal from Glispa.   Glispa was sending it to gltrkk.net?   WTF is gltrkk.net – is that the tracker owned by glispa, or another network? Let’s find out! Easy Method to try First –  Type gltrkk.net into your address bar and see what happens  (this method actually confirmed glispa does in deed own this domain – so our search is over) Method #2)  *For the hell of it* What if Glispa Did NOT own that tracker domain? What if it was another CPA Network?   How can we find out who it belongs to? Here are some methods to try,  but again; nothing comes with a guarantee. Way1)   Do a WHOIS lookup – go to www.geektools.com, type in the domain, and look for the company/contact details —  in this case the details were protected by whois guard so that’s no good. Way2)  Reverse Look up the server address of gltrkk.net, then see what other sites are hosted on that server and work your way back using a reverse ip domain checker tool. Way3) Look at the upstream/downstream sites for the domain gltrkk.net using similarweb.com and look for aff network names there. Way4) Type the tracker URL into google.com and see what comes up.   This guide is focused around Android, because I personally hate iPhone (yes I owned one – so I gave it the benefit of the doubt and sold it after 3 weeks and went back to Android) and because Android is the most popular OS in the world and iPhone usage is on a decline anyway.    Regardless, much of the ways on android can be repeated on iPhone with the iphone software version. NOTE:  This guide is 100% unbiased, no one paid me a single cent to write this guide.   Of course there are paid tools in this guide being mentioned because without them you just can’t get from A to B.  If you want to make $1000+/day you MUST invest in proper tools,   these are the tools I use and recommend because they help me, and they will help you.   I used my affiliate links for referrals when linking these tools,  you can skip the links and go direct by typing them into the address bar if you feel I don’t deserve the credit.   Whatever you do,   I thank you for reading this guide....

THE 7 Pillars of Growth Hacking and why Growth Marketing is the Future Through our own experience helping clients grow, we developed (and are continually improving) a general methodology for achieving exponential growth. We call it the RockBoost Growth Playbook, and it consists of 7 foundational pillars. We’re going to share it with you to give you a taste of our approach.   What Is Growth Hacking, Actually? If you have read anything related to startups or marketing this decade, you will undoubtedly have come across the popular term “Growth Hacking” and wondered what all the fuss was about. People everywhere are writing about it. They’re calling it “Lean Marketing” or even “Marketing 2.0.” Did you miss something important? If you’re feeling a bit behind the times, I’ve got good news for you: this post will explain everything you need to know about growth hacking so you can get back up to speed with the rest of us. It is 2016 after all and the world has changed since you studied marketing at university. The term was actually coined by a guy named Sean Ellis in 2010, to describe the process by which many Silicon Valley companies rapidly transitioned from budding startups to multimillion dollar enterprises using creative and unconventional techniques. These “growth hacks” were highly successful tricks, often employing technical expertise, that traditional marketing professionals would never have come up with, nor have had the necessary skills to implement. “A growth hacker is a person whose true north is growth.” - Sean Ellis Growth hackers trace their roots back to programming engineers. But they are much more than that. They are creative marketers, product managers and data analysts as well. They are focused on a singular goal: finding the most effective and efficient way to grow a business. This often involves rapid experimentation across marketing channels, constant attention to product (re)development and an unending focus on building and engaging a company’s user base. Most importantly, every decision a growth hacker makes is based on data. A growth hacker knows how and what to measure. They use analytics, landing pages and A/B testing to understand their target customers’ habits and behavior. They test everything, iterating and optimizing until they find the most effective solutions with the most potential for growth. They don’t make assumptions. Instead, they are obsessed with data.     Not yet sure how all these pieces fit together? Let’s have a look at some well-known examples. Growth Hacking Examples   Dropbox One of the most famous examples is Dropbox. Now with more than 500 million users (Statista, 2016), they started small as an invite-only service with a waiting list. By notusing expensive, widespread ads targeting every Joe out there, but by using targeted messages carefully crafted for selected platforms where they knew their potential customers already congregated (e.g. Digg, Reddit), they created a sense of exclusivity. On top of this, they put together a fun homemade video that made the relatively complex cloud service easy for anyone to understand. The video went viral and drove massive amounts of trackable traffic to their landing page. But the real hack was this: They set up a referral system where for each friend invited that subsequently opened an account, the user would be given 250MB of free space. Sign ups jumped from 5k to 75k overnight as users invited their entire contact lists. Spotify Spotify grew enormously by simply allowing its users to automatically post whatever they were listening to on the social media giant, Facebook. How many times do you remember seeing messages about what your friends were listening to on Spotify? Did you ever click on one of these? How many signups do you think this simple automated arrangement led to as people became curious and wanted to show off their own musical tastes to their friends? … Let’s just say quite a few. This hack is a classic example of what we call leveraging other people's platforms or audiences, something many companies have had success with Airbnb Another well-known example is Airbnb. Struggling to scale up, their growth team came up with an ingenious leveraging idea. They wrote a sophisticated API that automatically cross-posted all new Airbnb listings onto Craigslist, who already had a gargantuan user base. By doing this, Airbnb suddenly had distribution access to one of the world’s most popular websites and generated enormous exposure, leading to exponential growth. This is something a traditional marketing team, with all the organizational pressures on them, and with limited technical ability would not have had the capabilities to pull off.     Even though Craigslist didn’t have an official API for cross-posting, through creative thinking, boundary pushing and some clever programming, Airbnb was able to create their own. Craigslist eventually closed the loophole in their system, but by that time the hack had already been a success that helped Airbnb gain tremendous momentum. This example illustrates a key point: Many of the best growth hacks have a limited lifetime, and the new ones are often closely kept secrets. Because of this, the world of growth hacking is constantly evolving as new hacks are discovered and methodologies are developed. Many larger companies, impressed by the successes of these startups, have begun experimenting with many of the same techniques. Growth hacking is no longer just for startups. The good news for you is,  that many of the principles behind growth hacking are simple, easy to understand and don’t require lots of technical knowledge. We’re going to teach them to you.   So, What Are the 7 Pillars of Growth Hacking? Much of growth hacking comes down to systems and processes. It’s about finding the weakness in a system and exploiting it. It’s about the processes of continual ideation, prioritization, testing and analyzing.     Silver bullets like the Airbnb hack are generally few and far between. Growth hacking is not magic. While the examples above, and many others, are oft quoted sensational examples of growth hacking, one does not typically hear about the time invested, the hard work and the perhaps dozens of failed attempts that preceded the breakthroughs. For a growth hacker, however, failures are progress. They are part of the experimentation and learning process. Through our own experience helping clients grow, we developed (and are continually improving) a general methodology for achieving exponential growth. We call it the RockBoost Growth Playbook, and it consists of 7 foundational pillars. We’re going to share it with you to give you a taste of our approach.   1. Achieving the Growth Mindset Growth hacking starts with your mindset. It involves focusing all your efforts on achieving your One Metric That Matters (OMTM). This is typically an ambitious and specific growth goal, for example “to achieve 10 million in revenue by 2020.” It is very important that it be measurable and achievable. It is also important that it be straightforward so you can always keep it in mind, letting it guide your team’s every move. As the person or team in charge of growth, all of your activities should be geared towards achieving your OMTM. The growth mindset is also about challenging yourself and realizing that you are capable of far more than you give yourself credit for. Growth hackers think big, take risks and constantly ask the question “what if?” Relentlessly pursuing a goal, even when it takes you beyond your zone of comfort, is what makes growth hackers effective. “Impossible” should not be in your vocabulary.   At RockBoost we like to constantly remind each other to hustle. By this we mean to take risks and try things that would normally be outside our comfort zone. You never know if something will work or not until you try. We even encourage each other to do silly things like randomly asking the Starbucks barista for a 10 percent discount… just to keep the mindset primed. It can’t hurt to ask, right? You’ll be surprised by how many doors will open for you. Some of our greatest achievements have resulted from practicing this attitude. Hustling is about having the courage to reach out for what others might think to be unattainable.   2. The Right Team Growth hackers’ skill sets are in a T-shape where the horizontal bar represents breadth of knowledge and the vertical bar represents depth. No single person can be an expert in every area, which is why having a solid team is so important. The typical member of a growth team will have knowledge about a broad range of topics while specializing in one or two key areas.   There are 3 primary areas of expertise that are necessary for every growth hacking team to have: 1) creative marketing, 2) software programming & automation, and 3) data analysis & testing. Building a team with this combination of skills--that also understand each others’ T-shapes and can leverage each other’s strengths--is fundamental.   Standard Operating Procedures At RockBoost we take lots of inspiration from the U.S. Navy SEALS. One of the SEAL principles we practice that gives us a cutting edge are standard operating procedures (SOPs). SOPs enable you to standardize common processes for an entire team, allowing things to get done more quickly, consistently and with less energy. They help to remove the thought process behind common activities. The discipline of developing and using SOPs will free up your team’s time and mental energy. Many people ask, “If you set up systems and processes for everything, can you still be creative?” We actually think it allows you to be more creative. Systems and processes save you energy and time on mundane tasks so that you can focus your cognitive energy elsewhere. This is not only good business practice, but a powerful life tool. “The mind is for having ideas, not holding them.” - David Allen   3. Measurement, How and What? As you and your amazing new growth team pursues your OMTM, everything you do to speed up growth should be measurable. If you’re achieving results, great! If not, stop and move on to the next idea.     There is no room in the world of growth hacking for assumption. As the saying goes, “When you assume, you make…” you know the rest. All decisions should be based on data. And in order to have that data, you need to start measuring. Many traditional marketers or small business owners wouldn’t be able to say what the ROI was on their most recent ad campaign, likely because they don’t know what to measure or they just don’t have the right tools to do so. Knowing what and how to measure can be tricky, but it is so essential. If you succeed in reaching some target, but you didn’t measure everything you did, you don’t know what it was that led to success. Conversely, if you fail at something, without measurement you won’t be able to avoid the same mistake next time. Measurement allows you to know what exactly correlates with success and it gives you a baseline to which to compare your performance as you experiment. Luckily, technology has made it possible to track almost everything you do. Here are just a few of the online measurement tools we use to help business track and improve their performance: - Unbounce - Optimizely - Mixpanel - Qualaroo - CrazyEgg - Sumo.me - Inspectlet - Google Analytics - Google Tag Manager - Kissmetrics - Hotjar - Ghostery These tools will give you rich information about how users interact with your websites and apps. Where do they get stuck? Where are they clicking? What makes them leave? Once you understand your customer’s journey, you can begin to formulate hypotheses and start experimenting.   4. How to Listen to Your Market The #1 reason why startups fail is that they try to sell a product that nobody wants.Here’s a news flash: Just because you think you have an amazing product, doesn’t mean that there is a market for it. Accepting this reality early on will save you lots of trouble.     Entrepreneurs sometimes fall in love with a product they create, and when it fails to sell, they are often unwilling to let go. They fruitlessly spend all their time, money and energy trying to push something for which there is no market. Don’t let this be you. How can you avoid this? By listening carefully to your market and tailoring a product to what your potential customers are already asking for. It seems obvious, right? It’s amazing how often this is neglected. One of the most useful things you can do is to create a customer desire map. Research your potential customers as thoroughly as you can until you know what makes them tick. Here are some of the things to look for:   Hopes and Dreams What does your customer want to attain or achieve above all else? Pains and Fears What are your customers wanting to avoid or get away from? Barriers and Uncertainties What is preventing or getting in the way of what your customers want?   Of course you can use surveys, focus groups, interviews and other traditional market research tactics to find this information, but consider some other options as well. Where does your potential customer segment congregate and how can you tap into what they are saying? Amazon book reviews, for example, often contain a wealth of information about what your customers are thinking and feeling. Try looking at the reviews of some of the best selling books related to your subject or business and see what people are saying. Look at question and answer sites like Quora and Reddit. We call this forum mining. The goal with all of this is to know your customers better than they know themselves.   5. The Elusive P.M.F. Using the results from your market research, you can now determine if you have a product market fit (PMF). This is about finding ways to remove all doubts or hesitations your customers might have about your product or service. It’s about offering them a product they cannot live without.     Take a minute to think about some products that you would be devastated if you could no longer use. In most traditional companies, product development teams are separate from the marketing teams. The product developers build it and the marketer's job is to sell it. One of the reasons growth hackers are so successful at helping companies grow is that they don’t live within these boundaries. When you are working towards your OMTM, all options need to be on the table, including the willingness to take your product back to the drawing board and make adjustments based on your continual process of market research, measurement and testing. Based on experimentation and constant iteration, you should tailor your product to your customers. The rule of thumb is this: When at least 40% of your users report that they would be very disappointed could they no longer use your product or service, you probably have PMF. Sean Ellis found this out after working with more than 100 startups. Those who had more than 40% PMF were able to achieve traction and grow. Those that didn’t constantly struggled to stay afloat. PMF is vital to achieving growth. If you don’t have it, your marketing efforts are going to be wasted as you try to push a product nobody wants. When you have PMF, people will be so satisfied with your product that they will become your sales people as they share it with their friends. Product Market Fit is about building growth into your product or service so that it sells itself.   6. Which Traction Channels? If you are handing over bags of money for ads on Google and Facebook without any idea as to your ROI, it is time to rethink your approach. It’s not that these channels are not useful--on the contrary! But they are not the only channels. And they might not be the best channels for your situation at this point in time. So, how can you best reach and interact with your (potential) customers? There are actually 19 different traction channels you could (and should) exploit to grow your business. You definitely don’t want to use all of them simultaneously. But figure out what the right combination is for your business at this moment in time. Remember, it is not about the size of your reach, it is about its effectiveness. In the end it doesn’t matter how many people have heard of you. What matters is that theright people know about you: the people with the highest potential to become loyal customers. Overview of the channels - Viral marketing - Public relations - Unconventional PR - Search Engine Marketing (SEM) - Search Engine Optimization (SEO) - Social and Display ads - Offline ads - Content marketing - Email marketing - Engineering as marketing - Target marketing blogs - Business development - Sales - Affiliate marketing - Existing platforms - Trade Shows - Offline events - Speaking engagements - Community building Each of these deserves its own blog post (we will try to do that in the future). But for now, it is enough that you are at least aware of these channels. One of the biggest pitfalls is that people tend to only utilize what they are familiar with. By doing this, you may be missing out on big opportunities. You can never know exactly what your market is going to do, or what channels are going to work best. But you can experiment, measure and test! In order to find the right channels for you to pursue, spend some time thinking with your team. Divide the list into three categories: 1) Promising, 2) Potential and 3) Long-shots. Find the top 3 options, and start optimizing these. And go through this process regularly because they are likely to change over time. Remember, it is not about the size of your reach, it is about its effectiveness.   7. The Key to Optimization By now you have embraced the growth mindset, put together a stellar team with a broad set of skills, you have understood the importance of measurement, you have begun listening to your market, you have developed a product people can’t live without, and you’ve identified the most promising traction channels. So now what? What do you do to achieve exponential growth? The key to growth hacking is to test, test, and keep testing! Using your research and measurement techniques, you should continually search for ways to optimize. This requires a systematic approach in which you develop hypotheses and then test them. Hypotheses need to be simple, clear, relevant to your goals and based on data. Like this: Because we saw [data/feedback] We expect that [change] will cause [impact] We’ll measure this using [data metric] But where should you start? The Lift Model ® Developed by Chris Goward is one guide you can use to ensure you cover many of the most important aspects of your business. It consists of 6 essential elements that you should constantly monitor, measure, tweak and optimize. Value Proposition: Are you communicating the benefits of what you are offering with crystal clarity? Relevance: Are the design elements on your site motivating and stimulating desired action? Clarity: Is the content on your site as clear as possible? Are users getting lost and confused? Distraction: Are there design elements on your site that are preventing or distracting from desired actions? Anxiety: Are you credible? What is causing uncertainty or doubt on your website? Urgency: How can you add a sense of urgency for people to take action? So these are the 7 pillars of the proven RockBoost growth methodology. Start using them, and we can’t promise you will be the next Airbnb, but we can promise that you will see results quickly. We know because we have helped lots of companies accomplish exponential growth.   The RockBoost Mission RockBoost was the first growth hacking agency in the Netherlands. We were already running our own highly successful digital agency, DotControl--a team of software engineers that could build just about anything. But we noticed that having a stellar new website or app didn’t necessarily translate into traction and growth. And so we began thinking about how we could help clients not only with their platforms, but with setting up a system for growth as well. At the same time, the Silicon Valley growth hacking trend was getting bigger, and we took inspiration from the systems approach they advocated. Chris, our lead growth hacker and co-founder, had developed an appreciation for the power of processes while working as an auditor at KPMG, and so growth hacking appealed to him right away. We had now found the missing piece that could help DotControl clients get a bigger ROI on their new platforms, and RockBoost was born in November 2014 as a partner company to DotControl. Since its founding, less than 2 years ago, we have grown from 3 people to a solid international team of 14 and have helped dozens of clients on their road to exponential growth. The RockBoost mission is now all about growth hacking implementation and education. We do the hard work of implementation for you. But we also believe that training your teams is an essential part of setting up your business for sustainable growth.   Let's start growth hacking! Hopefully you have a pretty clear understanding now of what growth hacking is all about. It is for all types of businesses (and individuals) looking to accelerate their growth--whether it be in terms of revenue, customer base or anything else. It’s about understanding systems and processes, and learning to exploit and craft those systems to do what you want. It is about having a ‘hustle’ mindset in which all of your team’s focus and energy goes into achieving your one metric that matters (OMTM). It’s about constant measurement, testing, experimenting and optimizing. It’s about listening closely to your market, achieving product market fit (PMF), and then finding the channels best suited for your situation. Finally, growth hacking is about creativity. It is about pushing the boundaries of what marketing is and trying things that you might not have learned in the text books. All in the name of growth. ...

How to start a blog and get Google to send you over 100,000 visitors a month.   When you first think about starting a blog you kind of don’t imagine you’ll ever get more than a trickle of traffic. And then you have your first 100-visitor day. Then your first 1,000-visitor day. After a while even 5,000 or 10,000 visitors a day seems like just part of the plan. What I want to do today is show you that detailed plan and take away some of the mystery. Let’s look at all the ins and outs of how to get over 100,000 visitors a month from natural organic Google search. Things are so much nicer when you have a plan.   Why is Google traffic still the best? If you’ve been reading Blog Tyrant for a while you’ll know that I occasionally warn against relying on Google too much. And I stand by that. Organic traffic from Google search is still the most valuable traffic you can get because it grows, it’s free (sort of), and people who are using search engines are usually in a buy-ready frame of mind. A screen shot of my Clicky Analytics account showing one of my first 28 day periods where I had 100,000+ unique visitors hitting my blog from Google searches.However, if your begin to rely solely on that traffic you run the risk of getting yourself into a bit of trouble in the longterm. Every time Google updates its algorithm there is a chance your blog is going to be less relevant. And that means your traffic vanishes. My own little story with this issue I’ve told this story before but when I first got into blogging I had a few fitness blogs which made money pretty exclusively through Google Adsense. One day I woke up and all my traffic (and revenue!) had gone – I’d received a pretty significant Google penalty for some unknown reason. Lucky for me, the traffic came back. But it was a very scary experience and it taught me that I need to ensure that I have diversified traffic sources that act as a back up in case one of them gets accidentally or deliberately turned off.   How long does it take to get 100,000 visitors a month from Google? Something I want to stress in this post is that my approach to Google traffic is one that is very clean, natural and safe. And “safe” isn’t always a word that sits well with entrepreneurs. Because it usually means slow. If you’re after some short term SEO tricks to help you get an inferior website ranked in two weeks then this isn’t the post for you. This is all about a high-value approach to blogging that you can use on a site that you love and don’t want to take unnecessary risks with. But saying it will take 6 months or a year is kind of irresponsible of me because every blog and niche is different. It will depend a lot on how prolific you can be, and how willing you are to learn a new approach.   How to get 100,000 visitors a month from Google Okay, now we can get into the real tofu and potatoes of the post. And, as always, if you get to the end and think I’ve missed something important or have any questions please leave a comment and let me know. 1. Choose a topic, keywords and target market that has the depth   The very first thing you need to do if you want to have a good SEO strategy is know what keywords you are going after and what target market you are trying to tap into. Too often I see blogs that have a very generalised topic which leads to a lot of fragmented content, an unresponsive mailing list and not a lot of success. When researching your topic, please make sure you know what you want to talk about and how your blog is going to be different to all the others out there. It is very important that you think about deliberate ways that your topic is going to stand out. When researching keywords, it’s a good idea to know who your competition is and how saturated the market is. There are some niches that are very, very hard to compete in. The main worry, however, is a niche with not enough traffic. One simple place to start is by logging into Google Adwords and using their suite of Tools. One of them will estimate search volume and show you the Adwords bidding competition. This will give you a pretty good idea about whether your market is worth the effort. Make sure you try a lot of variations of your keywords here. Even small changes like plurals or alternative words that seem similar can have a massive effect on traffic numbers. At this stage you’ll also want to look at your competition using a service likeMajestic to see what keywords are going around, who is working on what, etc. You can then go and spend some time manually searching and clicking through to websites to see if there is anything that you can do better than what is already out there. At this point I’d like to just mention that passion really is the most important thing here. It’s something I’ve heard successful bloggers like Glen from ViperChill say again and again. Even if you find a profitable niche to work in, you’ll soon lose interest at all the hard (and boring tasks) if you don’t love it and sincerely want to help your readership. That is very important. 2. Get your own domain name and self-hosted WordPress setup   How many times have you seen a free blog like Tumblr or Blogger in the first position on Google? Not often is the answer. Google gives a much higher weighting to websites and blogs that have their own domain name and host because it is a pretty basic signal that that website is going to be taking itself more seriously – hence better quality. Here’s a quick video explaining my preferred setup. So how do you choose a good domain name? Well, there are several options: Exact match keywords A few years ago if you could get an exact match phrase you’d be more likely to rank at the top. Now this isn’t so popular and can look a bit spammy. However, for local search, things like ArchitectMelbourne.com.au still rank extremely well if you can get them. Keyword + noun Another popular method is to take the keyword that you are targeting and add a noun or adjective to it. Blog Tyrant could be an example of this approach if I was targeting the keyword “blog”. Distinctive domains This is actually now the best option given that all the good keyword domains are taken. Being distinctive is important. Look at a site like ViperChill where the domain name has nothing to do with anything but you’ll never forget it. Once you’ve decided on your domain name you can register it and do all your WordPress set up through BlueHost. This is a good idea because then everything is in the one place. Here is a tutorial on how to start a WordPress blog and bit more about blog hosting in general if you’re interested.   3. Change your general WordPress settings for better SEO performance   For the most part, WordPress is a pretty SEO-friendly platform. That being said, there are a few little default things that we want to change from the get go. The first is your default permalinks structure which is often set to some combo of the date and name. I like to set this to just post name as we will want the keywords that we are targeting to show up in the post. Just go Settings > Permalinks > Post Name. Remember, if you already have your blog up and running you don’t want to change any existing permalinks as that will result in any links pointing to that old structure to throw an error. We only want it for future things. The next thing you want to make sure is that your post titles are set to h1 tags and not anything else. Often you find that WordPress themes have the site name as the first header and then the post title is h2 which is a mistake. You can change this by going Appearance > Editor > Single Post and then changing your post title to the right tag. The last basic WordPress thing we want to change is your sidebar. Get rid of everything in there except for an email subscriber opt-in form and maybe some links to your most popular posts. You don’t need all that Meta stuff in there, and you especially don’t want any blogroll links.   4. Install an SEO-specific plugin like WordPress SEO by Yoast I personally use "All in One SEO" by the great guys at SemperPlugins for WordPress over Yoast, I found Yoast useful when I started blogging but certain aspects just irked me the wrong way. So I simply searched "SEO" on the plugin page and found "All in One SEO", saw the number of downloads read the reviews and was sold...

5 NEW SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING TRENDS TO JUMP ON FOR UPCOMING HOLIDAYS   As summer’s winding down, it is time to start gaining a competitive edge before the holiday rush, which is why you need to pay attention to these three big social media marketing and advertising trends that are all the rage these days.   #1: Live Video Streaming   As video has taken over our social feeds, live streaming has popped up on the horizon as the hip new hip sidekick to regular video. Whether it be Facebook Live, Periscope, SnapChat, or Instagram, engaging with your audience in real-time through video is becoming essential to your social strategy. Video helps humanize your brand, but live video actually connects an individual to your brand in real-time, which is even more powerful than well-produced recorded content. The other benefit of live video is that the production quality isn’t expected to be high, which eases the production process. Most recently we’ve seen big brands use live video in a variety of ways, from Marc Jacobs using live video to give a sneak peak of their 2016 fashion line, The Tonight Show providing a behind-the-scenes look backstage before the show, and Madden video games providing behind-the-scenes coverage of players. But these are HUGE brands. How can you use live video? Live video can be used to build excitement about a new product release, show off your company culture, give live coverage of an event, or even host a live Q&A with your super-fans. The possibilities are endless. Check out the post below for a live video we made at Wistia of the unboxing of the brand new Canon 5D MarkIV. This is a great use-case of live video as this new video camera is a pretty big deal for a huge chunk of our customers, so the live stream was especially interesting for our audience.     Still not convinced? Live videos receive 10x more comments than pre-recorded videos, according to the VP of Facebook in Europe, Nicola Mendelsohn.   #2: Social SlideShow Ads   Ahh! More new and exciting forms of interactive visual content. What could be better!? Social slideshows are popping up in more and more social networks and for good reason! Social slideshows are easy to create and can utilize images, videos, or both. Advertisers can even pay to play for these babies leading to more, even more, exposure and interaction. So whether you’re showing off your new winter ski apparel or displaying videos promoting your upcoming conference, slideshows are a great way to help your social audience interact with your brand in a memorable way. These ads also work! Take the sock company Stance for instance;comparing their static image ads to slideshow ads, they saw a decrease in cost per acquisition by 48%, a 2.42X increase in click-through-rate, and a 1.48 increase in return on ad spend. Pretty outstanding stuff! Facebook also just made some improvements to their slideshow ads, outlined here.   #3: Diversifying Landscape of Social Channels   With different forms of content and social interaction, we’re also seeing more channels emerge as important places for marketers and advertisers to build a strong presence. Online social communities, run through platforms like Slack, are becoming a more and more important area for marketers to engage with their customers and prospects. Medium, Inbound.org, and Reddit are critical places to spread awareness of your content. Not to mention Snapchat and Instagram are taking over with sponsored stories and in-line ads. Long gone are the days of only having to maintain a Facebook and Twitter page. “Now, forms of interaction are starting to diversify. Platforms like Snapchat are allowing more one-sided conversations, in a more fleeting, temporary context. Brands and consumers are able to talk to each other in new, more diverse ways, and that range is only broadening,” says Forbes contributor Jayson DeMers.   #4: Instagram Stories   Instagram recently stole a page from Snapchat’s book by adding a story feature at the top of the feed. Now social browsers can see what their favorite Instagrammers are doing for 24 hours. So why copy Snapchat? Perhaps Facebook is still a bit bitter about Snapchat’s declining to sell the app for $3 billion, but regardless the reaction to this new Instagram feature was mixed. Some were outraged, others pleased to have their snap stories moved to their favorite social network.     Regardless, this has been a big opportunity for businesses to showcase their brands in a prime location on the app. Large brands like Starbucks, Taco Bell, and JCrew have already been taking advantage, as well as smaller brands like Justin’s PB and HubSpot. “Over time we look forward to introducing new advertising and other business opportunities as part of Instagram Stories,” says the Instagram Business Blog. “In the meantime, we’re excited to see all the ways our community will use it to highlight their businesses on Instagram.”   #5: Social Chat   Did you know that over 900 million people use Facebook Messenger? WhatsApp has become one of the largest chat apps in the world. Seventy-seven of the top 100 Fortune companies use Slack. Chat is no longer just used for internal communications, but it’s being used more and more to engage with prospects in a more personalized manner. “People are becoming more interested in actually communicating, rather than broadcasting,” according to Harvard Business Review. Marketers need to start utilizing chat apps to engage in real-time with their leads rather than posting and wishing for the best. In the future chat, bots will likely make this scalable in new and fascinating ways. About the Author: Margot is a Customer Success Coach at Wistia. She loves all things digital, and spends her free time running, traveling, and cooking. Follow her on: Twitter: @ChappyMargot Google+: +Margot da Cunha LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/margotdacunha...

How to successfully Growth Hack on WordPress   With WordPress anyone can build a website — quite literally. The platform is beginner-friendly, powerful and makes the process really easy. However, building a website and building a successful website are very different things. While anyone can now do the first part, not everyone is up for part two. What is a successful website? Simply put, a website that achieves it’s goal, be it generating traffic, profits, newsletter sign ups or awareness. Yet, the more important question is how do you arrive there? How do you grow from simple website to online success? One discipline that is obsessed with this question is growth hacking. Growth hacking has allowed a number of well-known companies and startups to reach high levels of success, among them Twitter, Dropbox and Airbnb. If it works for them, why not for you and your website? That’s exactly what this blog post is about. Below you will learn what growth hacking is, how growth hacking tactics can be applied to websites and the tools that WordPress puts at our disposal to do so. Ready to dive in? Then let’s go.   What Exactly is Growth Hacking? On the most basic level growth hacking describes a marketing approach that uses innovative techniques in order to achieve sustainable and scalable growth, mostly for web entities. The term growth hacker was first coined by Sean Ellis in 2010. By then, he had already achieved incredible growth results for a number of Internet companies, among them Dropbox. In the very same article Ellis also describes the characteristics and skills that make someone a growth hacker.   Growth Hackers Are Focused on Growth (Surprise!) A growth hacker is a person whose true north is growth. Everything they do is scrutinized by its potential impact on scalable growth. – Sean Ellis Growth hacking has only one success metric: growth. All it cares about is moving the needle forward, be it in terms of users, revenue or whatever your metric might be. Every decision, strategy, tactic, method and tool only is chosen only with this objective in mind — to create scalable and repeatable growth. What’s interesting, however, is that growth hacking has no constraints on how this goal is achieved. Business development and number crunching are just as much part of the growth hacking toolbox as viral videos and guerilla marketing. All that matters is whether the numbers are moving in the right direction. In that, growth hacking differs from classic marketing which has a limited set of tools and communication channels.   Growth Hacking is Often User and Product Driven Another characteristic of this discipline is that there is no distinct line between product and marketing. In fact, the product is the first step of marketing. Without something worthwhile to sell, growth hacking essentially falls flat. The discipline is all about distribution and getting things into the hands of users. To do so, the product often becomes part of the marketing machine. Instead of relying on buying ad space and the likes, growth hackers try to help the merchandise market itself and be part of its own distribution. Great examples for this are Dropbox’ offer of free additional space for user who successfully invite others to join or Airbnb’s offer to post ads on Craigslist with the click of a button. The latter allowed the company to mine Craiglist’s user base (which was much larger than their own at the time) and helped their own users get more exposure for their ads. Win win. Growth Hackers Have a Diverse Set of Skills Because methods for growing are so non-linear, growth hackers need to have a wide skill set and diverse range of knowledge. Their job involves working across multiple disciplines such as data analysis, product development and marketing. For that reason, many people involved in this discipline are hybrids between coder and marketer. They use creativity, analytical thinking, social metrics and technology alike, run A/B tests and use landing pages and other non-traditional marketing tools to achieve their goal. For that reason, growth hacking is also not a cookie cutter recipe but a process that will be different for every product.   Hackers by Nature The more attentive among you will have noticed the word “hacking” in growth hacking. It originates from the fact that growth hackers are not concerned with following norms or an established process but instead try to figure out how to “hack the system” and short circuit modern communication channels. Since this profession is coming from the world of startups, much of their work is also concentrated on low cost and innovation. Plus, many growth hackers are also coders, though this isn’t strictly necessary.   Growth Hacking For Websites Now that we know more about the nature of growth hacking and what growth hackers do, how can we apply this to our websites? If you’ve been paying attention, you will have noticed that growth hacking comes down to a few principles: Focus on Data — Knowing what works, tracking results to uncover relationships and causation in order to make informed decisions, make success repeatable and allow predictions about the future. Emphasis on Creativity and Experimentation — Pushing the envelope and trying out new things, being curious and thinking outside the box. Product Driven — Concentrating on building something valuable first before getting it into the hands of people, making the product (i.e. website) part of the distribution process. Interdisciplinary Thinking — Not being constrained by one communication channel, having a multi-faceted approach to marketing, being a jack of many trades (like many website owners already are). Concentrated on Low Cost — Using innovation and creativity to make up for budget, employing existing tools in non-standard ways to create traction. To apply these principles to our websites, we have a number of tools at our disposal including (but not limited to): Content management systems Web design Content marketing SEO Social media Email marketing A/B testing Viral marketing As you can see, these are things that bloggers and website owners already make use of on a regular basis. It’s also the reason why WordPress is the perfect tool for aspiring growth hackers.   Why WordPress is the Perfect Growth Hacking Tool The WordPress platform is a great choice for those wanting to growth hack their way to the top. First of all, it offers lots of control and flexibility. In fact, one of the main reasons for the success of WordPress is that it enables you to build basically any website you want, be it a blog, forum, online shop or something else. In addition to that, WordPress provides plenty of opportunities for experimentation and hacking. You can run different marketing campaigns, A/B test the crap out of every site element and modify almost anything you want to increase conversions, improve the user experience and more. Plus, WordPress is very search engine friendly out of the box and has lots of additional options in that area. No wonder Google loves WordPress. That extends to mobile search, which has surpassed that of desktop machines in many places of the world. Masses of available responsive themes allow you to take advantage of this traffic source. Last but not least, thousands of plugins let you optimize and tweak your site in many different ways, making growth hacking and WordPress a match made in heaven. To make it easier to start hacking your own site, from here on out I will list a number of WordPress plugins that are especially suitable for doing so.   WordPress Growth Hacking Plugins Below you will find some concrete plugin ideas that will help you integrate growth hacking principles into your WordPress website. All-in-One Solutions While all plugins on this list are helpful, one of them deserves special mention as an almost complete growth hacking solution. The plugin suite SumoMe contains tools for lead generation, sharing, analytics and more all rolled into one attractive package. While its basic functionality is free, you will need to purchase a premium license for more advanced things like A/B testing. Still, highly recommended! You can find a detailed article on SumoMe here.   Analytics As mentioned earlier, growth hacking relies heavily on data. Therefore, the first order of the day is to make sure you collect relevant information. Plugin options for that include: Google Analytics by MonsterInsights  — I don’t know any other plugin that makes setting up Google Analytics as easy as this one. It literally takes seconds to connect your site to Google’s service. Plus, the plugin displays your most important data in the dashboard so you don’t have to sign in to your account to get an overview of where you are standing. Jetpack Analytics — Similar to SumoMe, Jetpack is a collection of different plugins rolled into one. While it’s overall worth a look, one of the plugin highlights are the real-time analytics for your WordPress dashboard. While not as sophisticated as Google, they are definitely enough to keep track of your traffic and the direction of your site. Clicky — Very neat plugin for those using Clicky analytics as it helps you connect your site with the service. The plugin is a bit dated but still rated well so it’s worth trying out. Hotspots Analytics — Heat maps help you understand how users interact with your site. See what they are interested in and which actions they take. This stuff is great info for A/B testing site elements. Feelback Reactions — Feedback doesn’t always have to be in the form of numbers, you can also collect it directly from your users. Feelback allows your visitors to express their feelings about your content via Facebook-style emoticons. If it works for Facebook…   Social Media Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn and other platforms have millions of users, making social media an important piece of your growth hacking strategy, especially if you plan on producing viral content. The following plugins will help you make that happen: Jetpack Sharing — I already mentioned Jetpack further above and Sharing is another one of its modules. The plugin enables you to easily add social sharing buttons for many platforms to your site. You can also add your own networks as well as customize button location and style. Ultimate Social Media Icons — Another solution for adding sharing buttons that comes with 16 different designs and loads of options. Customize button function, turn them sticky so they stay on screen, use pop-ups and more. Image Sharer — Part of the aforementioned SumoMe plugin suite. Image Sharer is specially made for sharing visuals on different platforms. When activated, share buttons will appear on images when visitors hover over them. Good stuff!   A/B Testing While analytics can give you data on the status quo, they can not provide you with alternatives that might work better. That’s where A/B testing comes in. By trying different variants of website elements you can improve conversions and other growth markers. WordPress has several solutions to offer for this. Nelio A/B Testing — One of the most well-known conversion optimization plugins. Test anything on your site from headlines to widgets. Includes heatmaps and is compatible with WooCommerce. What more do you want? Simple Page Tester — If you just want to try out different page versions, this plugin has got your back. Run split tests for pages without changing any code and quickly figure out which one is performing better. WordPress Calls to Action — This plugin lets you add and test calls to action on your web pages, including as popups. Great for lead generations and building your email list. Title Experiments Free — Finally, if all you want to optimize are your post titles, this is the plugin for you. Put in multiple titles for the same post, see which one gets the most clicks, pick the winner and rest easy knowing you went with the best possible option. List Building You have probably heard the saying “the money is in the list”. That’s because email remains one of the most important online marketing channels and list building is one of the best ways to grow your website. These plugins will help you do so: OptinMonster — In my opinion, OptinMonster is the list-building plugin par excellence. While it’s a premium solution, the plugin is worth every penny. Together with SumoMe it forms the pinnacle of lead generation plugins for WordPress. For a comparison between the two, read this article. OptinForms — However, there are also free alternatives for collecting email subscribers and MailChimp is the favorite of many. This plugin makes the integration of MailChimp forms on your site easy as pie. Alternatives: MC4WP, MailChimp Forms by MailMunch, and Easy Forms for MailChimp. Those are my personal picks but you can find more list building plugins right here on WPKube.   Content Promotion In our day and age, content creation one of the most important factors for marketing success. Few growth hackers will be able to do without it. However, content promotion just as important and these plugins make it a little easier: Related posts by Jetpack — Showing related posts at the bottom of your content is a great way to keep visitors on your site. While there are many other solutions out there (like this one and this one) these types of plugins are infamous for being performance hogs. Jetpack addresses this problem by outsourcing related post to the WordPress.com servers instead of the WordPress database. Popular posts — Talking about keeping people on your site: Showing off your most popular content is another good way to do so (besides highlighting your latest posts, which is built into WordPress). The plugin mentioned here is highly customizable and should cover all your needs in this area. Revive old posts — Older but still relevant content is an excellent promotion tool and should not be forgotten. This aptly named plugin does exactly what the name suggests and gives your dated content another go-around in social networks to keep it visible. OnePress Social Locker — Finally, this plugin increases your visibility on social networks by locking popular content until your visitors share or like it. An easy way to get more social presence. SEO As I said before, WordPress is very search engine friendly from the get-go. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement and the following plugins will help your site play nice with Google: Yoast SEO — The SEO solution by team Yoast is probably the plugin I recommend most often. For good reason. Not only does it automatically optimize many aspects of your site for search engines, it also offers a lot of help for creating optimized content. Also check the alternative and IMO the BEST All-in-One SEO Pack. I perfer this plugin to Yoast any day of the week but for some reason people are stuck on Yoast so go for it. Broken Link Checker — Having dead links on your site is bad for your bounce rate and user experience. This plugin helps you find them. Be careful though, some people complain about performance problems so maybe only activate the plugin once in a while and not continuously. Caching — Caching is important for site speed and thus user experience and search rankings. The most popular free solutions in this area are W3 Total Cache and WP Super Cache. Both have their pros and cons so you need to decide which one is right for you. A popular premium solution is WP Rocket. User Engagement Site growth is all about users and keeping them engaged to keep them around. Here are the tools to do so: Postmatic — One of my favorite plugins of the last year. It sends blog comments directly to your email inbox and lets you answer from there, too. That makes staying on top of the discussion much easier and eliminates many signup steps. Subiz Live Chat — Live chat is especially suitable for websites that sell something. It enables you to talk to website visitors in real time in order find out what they need and how you can make them happy. If that’s something you might be interested in, this plugin is for you. Contact Form 7 — Of course, giving visitors a way to get in contact with you directly is one of the most important ways to engage with them. Luckily, Contact Form 7 makes creating contact forms a breeze and is free, too. E-Commerce Your website itself does not have to be your main product. Sometimes it might just be a vehicle to sling your actual merchandise. In order to growth hack your profits, the following e-commerce solutions will be your best friends: WooCommerce — The most popular WordPress solution for building online shops and for good reason. Stable, sophisticated, and free! At least for the basic functionality. Some functions require paid addons. WooCommerce is also highly supported by other plugins. Easy Digital Downloads — If you are selling virtual products only, this is the plugin for you. The people behind it are known for their quality and the solution comes with multiple payment gateways out of the box. Again, the basic version is free with premium addons available. Ready to Growth Hack Your WordPress Website? Growth hacking is an established discipline for growing companies and startups. Its sole purpose is to move the needle forward and it is characterized by a certain mindset, creativity, the use of many disciplines and a focus on both product and users. For site owners, the principles of growth hacking are also applicable for building successful websites and WordPress is the perfect companion platform to do so. Its flexibility, the ability to modify any aspect of the website and the abundance of available tools make it a prime candidate for growth hacking traffic and users. The plugins listed in this article are only the beginning and there are more tools out there. If you have any others to add, please feel free to do so in the comments below. Aside from that, I wish you all the best in growing your site....