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Growth Tag

Growth Hacking, the most dreaded word in the world of Marketing, for fools they say. Well if your not bringing your clients Growth then what are you bringing them? Your like Leo in the Great Gatsby waiting for the girl who's never coming, go back to making direct mail marketing.     But what is Growth Hacking? Simply put its using avenues otherwise never thought out of or used by "traditional" marketers for reasons I believe has something to do with their ego as in "we didn't create that, nobody does that, that doesn't work", typical Old Tymer marketers, you'll run into them from time to time just dismiss them politely and throw a good Instgram Marketing question at them leaving them baffled and back to to buffet stand for more crab legs.   Let’s come to a consensus on what Growth Hacking is before we delve into the depths of these amazing hacks your about to implement and experience unsafe levels of Growth. Growth Hacking is implementing knowledge of the product, brand and distribution channels to find ingenious, tech & social based avenues for growth that , use knowledge of the product, brand and distribution channels to find ingenious, tech-based avenues for growth that push the bounds of what is expected or advised by “traditional” B.A. Marketers. 1) Figure out your strengths and weaknesses. This is the fundamental step to Growth Hacking.The very first thing a Growth Hacker does (aside from growth hacking his breakfast) is analyze the client/company’s digital strengths and weaknesses. Areas they are killing it in and areas they are falling on their face in. Why waste time in areas where there’s no for it? Ranked #1 on Google for your keyword but still lacking leads, maybe you need to explore Search Marketing or list building to start an Email marketing campaign. Now I know most of you will say “Duh, of course” to this technique when presented to you by such a brilliant writer I can see why. However actually take a moment and think about how many businesses realistically strategically access and go over their strengths and weaknesses, the answer is…not many. Once you conclude where exactly your strengths and weaknesses lie you can start to develop a Growth Hacking plan focusing on specific needs instead of a general overall growth approach. Understand your strengths and weaknesses and understand the first step to successful Growth Hacking. 2) Sell your story, not your product. In today’s world everyone has a product, everyone has a pitch and everyone has a service to offer. If they are market leaders, they will sell them. However if your a startup or launching a product how do you compete in today’s saturated market? By hiring an amazing Growth Hacker of course. However in the meantime become personable and start selling YOURSELF just as much as your product. This is Growth Hacking psychology 101. People remember personal interaction and connection, ie; like that little email “Company X” sent me after I purchased their item explaining their founding story. A great example of this is Sam Parr, founder of HustleCon and theHustle.co who recently broke a record for the fastest company to reach 500,000 email subscribers in less than six months. How did they do that? Through adding in their companies story at every stage of their founding from the literal assembly of the IKEA chairs they purchased to the founder’s backgrounds and personal history in each email they sent out and I LOVED it. It drew me in like the smell of fresh donuts. Get personal, sell your story because everyone remembers the storyline, not everyone remembers the production company. 3) Go “viral” through Incentive based marketing. This is one of those Growth Hacks that will increase your CRO like you injected your brand with digital steroids. This has been a very trending idea amongst top companies that have their digital game on a wrap. Give your customer or invited consumer and “incentive or free gift” to buy from you. If you allow your first-time buyer to get a 25% coupon or free membership for a month if he refers someone else within 24 hours, the conversion rate on that program will be like a nuclear bomb compared to a musket. People love getting stuff for free or at a discount because it makes them feel like they “won” and they also love to show their friends/family/co-workers the new things they discovered in order to gain that freebie or incentive. Giving consumers an incentive to invite outside people to buy from you will make your product go viral instantly. Incentive based marketing is similar to the “freemium” model using basic human psychology and marketing to Growth Hack people’s own minds without them knowing. Similar to the movie Inception where you can implant an idea in someone’s mind, however, this is the real world where it works beautifully and will you on way to going viral. 4) Get Analytics right with Google Analytics & avoiding “Vanity Metrics”. Tracking your website, social, content, email and all inbound marketing channel’s analytics is a cornerstone of Growth Hacking. Some basic metrics to avoid with Google Analytics are the common ones such as Daily Active Users and Monthly Active Users which are what is called “Vanity Metrics” forget them, they don’t tell you how long or how engaged the users were and many other variables. Without analytics there would be no Growth Hacking, in order to “Hack the Growth” you have to know what to “hack” and that starts with analytics. One of the most important analytics is the “Bounce Rate” or how long someone stays on a specific web page, landing page or piece of content. Ideally you want at least a 30 second bounce rate, anything under that is utterly useless for analysing. A great analytical Growth Hack for Bounce Rates is simply applying a parameter for only recording analytics on people who stay on your site for over 30 seconds, which means they are most likely interested in what your putting out there. Google Analytics records all of these metrics however some other ones you want to monitor is the “heatmap” of your site, or where users are spending the most time and figuring out why that is and applying that metric to other “cold” areas. The King Arthur of all analytics is Conversion. CRO Tracking or Conversion Funnels is one boss of all metrics which tracks the flow of the acquisition of new users and their retention time. Tracking the flow of new user acquisition at a daily rate is key to a successful analytical approach. However be careful it is easy to go overboard with analytics so make sure your don’t risk compromising your growth hacking philosophy which is wasting time implementing solutions that you don’t need. 5) Redefine traditional distribution outlets. Ever wonder why McDonald’s had famously “Sold Over 1 Million Hamburgers” in such a short period of time, they Growth Hacked. Yes of course it was due to their production of “fast food” generation however it was also their growth hacking based marketing efforts. McDonald’s knew the importance the new road systems like the US Interstate System and the German Autobahn and systematically founded their franchises on these roads at popular exits. Now lets fast forward from the medieval ages and get back to normal time. If you can navigate the digital roads that exist on the internet today that direct the users and information online like Search Engines, you can easily set up your own distribution outlets at these “major intersections” getting your name seen by millions. Traditional advertisements meant to been seen from the car are equivalent to modern day SEO and Search Marketing by being seen on Google, Bing, Yandex, etc. Adverts shown before a movie at a theatre is now Video Marketing on YouTube, Newspaper ads are now Mobile Advertising. The true Growth Hacker finds the newest most convertible outlet and attacks it like a mongoose, like implementing Influencer Marketing on Instagram two years ago. Clear your mind from traditional marketing thought and think like a Growth Hacker. Go out and find that new avenue to dominate like McDonald’s did 50 years ago and if Growth Hacked right…one day you’ll sell a million digital burgers. 6) Start A/B Testing and Experimenting Across All Channels Like analytics, Experimentation and Metrics are two other cornerstones of Growth Hacking. . What Growth Hacking is about is testing out what works and what doesn’t, what drives traffic what doesn’t, what converts users what doesn’t. This is all done through analytics as well as the coveted ancient technique of “A/B Testing” sometimes called “split testing” which is simply testing “Method A” then “Method B” or even “Method C” then analyzing the results of each one to see which had a more positive result in which eve area you were looking to optimize. A/B Testing is like the AK-47 of the Growth Hacker, it never fails, always works, always delivers and was probably invented by Russians. Whether you are A/B Testing or playing around with different Typography in your Email Newsletters, experimentation is the core of Growth Hacking. A great Growth Hack for A/B testing and a way to increase your conversion rate is by flowing traffic to two or three landing pages or pages of content with different features and different products, then assess the feedback on each one to see which one resonated best with your audience. You can also learn from the pages that didn’t convert well, taking the aspects form those pages and breaking down why they didn’t convert will teach you a lot out about audience. Implementing pre-made “A/B Testing” models and very quickly experimenting by swapping out the “bad” pages your new pre-made pages gives you incredible information about your audience and greatly increases your chances of converting prospects into clients. 7) Leveraging your competition for Growth Hacking success (Case Study) When AirBNB first launched they didn’t get the explosive traffic growth seen with other brands like Vine or Snapchat. The idea of renting out extra rooms in your house to total people? Excellent idea (unless your agoraphobic) in a completely unfilled niche however it took time, years in fact for them to gain true national and international traction. In fact Growth Hacking was the reason AirBNB got put on the map. So how did AirBNB go form being an incubator startup in 2008 operating mostly in the Pacific Northwest to having 75% of their bookings being in major international cities by 2011. Yes! you guessed it, by Growth Hacking. AirBNB leveraged one of the most established online brands in US, Craigslist, to Growth Hack their way to success. By creating an “Call-to-Action” option when adding a listing they added in an Opt-In form that “Automated A Duplicate Post on Craigslist” thus creating an extra inbound link for you (the seller) and another backlink for the AirBNB platform. So why don’t other companies use this same method? Because Craigslist didn’t have a public API or an easy way for companies to integrate their services, Craigslist simply used basic Growth Hacking methods to leverage their sales through a larger competitor. And always remember to: BONUS: Are you ready to go VIRAL? BONUS: Inspirational story of AIRBNB Originally written by Growth Kings https://growthkings.com/stories/...

Dan Bilzerian has conquered Social Media Marketing and did it through Growth Hacking his way through the establishment of Silicon Valley trash.   Start living that ‘ilzerian life, and stop cowering to your boss and become your own. Growth Hacking your way to a location lifestyle business through sound content marketing and social media genius.   Have you unfortunately been born into the “Millenial” years? Well, I just made the cut by one year. And let me say from what I’ve witnessed at multiple workplaces Millenials are setting themselves up for a .50cal to the head, metaphorically speaking of course. Unless you pissed off The Ilzerian. Dan Bilzerian, the Poker Superstar, Social Media Marketing guru and Content Marketing extraodinaire has shown the world how properly using Social Media outlets for the INTENDED purposes can create a larger than life figure; example A) SEE Donald J. Trump. In fact I can picture The Ilzerian as president in about 16 years from now, screw you Bezos. By showing his incredibly self absorbed cheesy pictures on Instagram of his amazingly awesome life he has a soft 22.5 MILLION followers on Instagram, the World's 3rd Largest Social Media network, and all by starting out as a Poker Player...

A manifesto on the dark side of Google and how to break their digital chains   Before this, here is a genuine question I hope you'll think about it for a moment before answering honestly. Are you tired of being forced into Google's imaginary box of so called "ethics" and "morals" on your work and business?   This irrational yet widely accepted idea that if you do not follow what Google says then you are digitally “spanked” by Google, literally, (interns who come to your house with their special self-driving cars) which then casts you out and treats you like a criminal by banning your account or site or anything else within their seemingly endlesss power. This even with the constantly changing guidelines (aka RULES) that Google itself violates in their own ventures, just see how much money they make off their SEO on their OWN search engine, more than some nations. And then, after trying hard by spending time and money to be one of Google’s law-abiding followers you STILL find yourself unrewarded and often punished seemingly without reason or explanation. What I’d kindly like you to do is to try and imagine breaking away from Google, taking the focus away from what Google wants you to do and put the focus back on what is important, what is healthy and good for your business, because that it was matters most. Focus on page optimization, image optimization, content curation, content strategy, content marketing, email outreach, newsletters..the BACKBONE of your brand and website, not the website that ranks it. Put the focus back on what is important, what is healthy and good for your business, because that it was matters most. The concept for the “Smart Internet Marketer” or SIMer for short.A proper SIMer (S-I-M-er) does not identify as a "BlackHat" or "WhiteHat", an SIMer concentrates only on what works and is not swayed by the irrational pressures which force false illusions of bad morals and ethics just for looking out for your business in a way that is not good for Google’s business. An SIMer uses common sense and rational judgement to make the right ethical and moral calls. This does not mean the SIMer is unethical or a criminal, it simply means putting focus on what matters most to your business and what is relevant to your business, not what Google wants to make relevant and force businesses to do. By trying to pull rank on Google you are not breaking the law, only Google guidelines, and every business SHOULD be trying to reach higher rankings on Google, ah duh. Google is just a search engine, a website, they can’t force you to do anything and a lot of businesses find themselves no better off by following Google’s guidelines. Remember, what is best for you is not what is best for Google, they do not share the same goal as your business (as I showed you their $1B SEO Empire through Google Ventures), they are a competitor and they simply need control of the market and your business to earn their money by scraping content from your business website and using it in their search engine. (By the way, scraping content is hypocritically against their guidelines too.). By thinking like an SIMer (or Growth Hacker), Google and even SEO is simply one of many tools you can use to grow your business and you are not restricted by the ridiculous box they try to force you into. Smart Marketing plus Growth Hacking equals Breaking Out of Google's Chains SIM drives a wedge in-between Google’s fear-mongering and the labels which plague online marketing. To wrestle away control from Google so they cannot define what is good and bad so chillingly and to take away the power they feel they have by making people feel as if they are a criminal for going against Google. Genuinely increasing the spectrum of quality content out there shoud be the goal of true content marketing. There is an awful lot of fluff and crap marketing content which gets posted all over the web. I want to consolidate the best information to a few great places online so we can see the most knowledgeable, original and helpful articles to our businesses without worrying if it is labeled Blackhat or Whitehat.   The future for Smart Marketing is bright and I hope in coming time I begin to see people adopt this acronym and replace the old redundant Blackhat vs Whitehat labels. Because lets be honest with eachother NO ONE is purely a White Hat and NO ONE is purely a Black Hat, Duality is a myth and everyone is wearing Grey Hats.   Remember, if you’re a Smart Marketer, you’re labeled as doing what’s best for your business or clientele, not what is best for Google or Bing or goddamn Yahoo, and that is what you want if you want to be successful online. As an SIMer I want to surround myself with good original SEO related news, guides and resource such as; SEOBook, Bruce Clay, Backlinko, SEO by the Sea, HubSpot, Contently, iPullRank, Moz  & many more. If you’re also interested in being part of such places then subscribe to my blog and I’ll update you with news as they come. For now, subscribe to the SIMer Subreddit as we work to find you the best content out there without the labels and without the fluff. The SIMers Subreddit is dedicated to Smart Marketing. Smart Marketing is about rejecting the Whitehat and Blackhat labels in order to pursue what truly matters in Internet Marketing, Growth, Influence, Conversion, etc. A Smart Internet Marketer has morals and ethics but concentrates on what works and is not afraid of testing and experimenting in the marketing field. A Smart Marketer pushes boundaries and limits.   Check out the Smart Marketing subreddit here https://www.reddit.com/r/smartimers/ Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save...

7 Growth Hacking techniques for the modern businessman, professional or bank robber.     Lets come to a consensus on what Growth Hacking is before we delve into the depths of these amazing hacks your about to implement and experience unsafe levels of Growth. Growth Hacking is providing rapid analytical and data based Growth that jealous B.A. Marketing (hahahah, Bachelors of Marketing = Robots) have no idea to even wrap their mindless heads around. Creativity + Data + Innovation, everything your current Marketing Manager is NOT.   1) Figure out your strengths and weaknesses. This is the fundamental step to Growth Hacking.The very first thing a Growth Hacker does (aside from growth hacking his breakfast) is analyze the client/company’s digital strengths and weaknesses. Areas they are killing it in and areas they are falling on their face in. Why waste time in areas where theres no for it? Ranked #1 on Google for your keyword but still lacking leads, maybe you need to explore Search Marketing or list building to start an Email marketing campaign. Now I know most of you will say "Duh, of course" to this technique when presented to you by such a brilliant writer I can see why. However actually take a moment and think about how many businesses realistically strategically access and go over their strengths and weaknesses, the answer is…not many. Once you conclude where exactly your strengths and weakenesses lie you can start to develop a Growth Hacking plan focusing on specific needs instead of a general overall growth approach. Understand your strenghts and weaknesses and understand the first step to successful Growth Hacking.     2) Sell your story, not your product. In todays world everyone has a product, everyone has a pitch and everyone has a service to offer. If they are market leaders, they will sell them. However if your a startup or launching a product how do you compete in today’s saturated market? By hiring an amazing Growth Hacker of course. However in the mean time become personable and start selling YOURSELF just as much as your product. This is Growth Hacking psychology 101. People remember personal interaction and connection, ie; like that little email “Company X” sent me after I purchased their item explaining their founding story. A great example of this is Sam Parr, founder of HustleCon and theHustle.co who recently broke a record for the fatest company to reach 500,000 email subscribers in less than six months. How did they do that? Through adding in their companies story at every stage of their founding from the literal assembly of the IKEA chairs they purchased to the founders backgrounds and personal history in each email they sent out and I LOVED it. It drew me in like the smell of fresh donoughts. Get personal, sell your story because everyone remembers the storyline, not everyone remembers the production company.       3) Go “viral” through Incentive based marketing. This is one of those Growth Hacks that will increase your CRO like you injected your brand with digital steroids. This has been a very trending idea amongst top companies that have their digital game on wrap. Give your customer or invited consumer and “incentive or free gift” to buy from you. If you allow your first time buyer to get a 25% coupon, or free membership for a month if he refers somone else within 24 hours, the converson rate on that program will be like a nuclear bomb compared to a musket. People love getting stuff for free or at a  discount because it makes them feel like they “won” and they also love to show their friends/family/co-workers the new things they discovered in order to gain that freebie or incentive. Giving consumers an incentive to invite outside people to buy from you will make your product go viral instantly. Incentive based marketing is similar to the “freemium” model using basic human psychology and marketing to Growth Hack people’s own minds without them knowing. Similiar to the movie Inception where you can implant an idea in someones mind, however this is the real world where it works beautifully and will you on way to going viral.     4) Get Analytics right with Google Analytics & avoiding “Vanity Metrics”. Tracking your website, social, content, email and all inbound marketing channel’s analytics is a cornerstone of Growth Hacking. Some basic metrics to avoid with Google Analytics are the common ones such as Daily Active Users and Monthly Active Users which are what is called “Vanity Metrics” forget them, they don’t tell you how long or how engaged the users were and many other variables. Without analytics there would be no Growth Hacking, in order to “Hack the Growth” you have to know what to “hack” and that starts with analytics. One of the most important analytics is the “Bounce Rate” or how long someone stays on a specific web page, landing page or piece of content. Ideally you want at least a 30 second bounce rate, anything under that is utterly useless for analyzining. A great analytical Growth Hack for Bounce Rates is simply applying a parameter for only recording analytics on people who stay on your site for over 30 seconds, which means they are most likely interested in what your putting out there. Google Analytics records all of these metrics however some other ones you want to monitor is the “heatmap” of your site, or where users are spending the most time and figuring out why that is and applying that metric to other “cold” areas. The King Arthur of all analytics is Conversion. CRO Tracking or Conversion Funnels is one boss of all metrics which tracks the flow of the aquisition of new users and their retention time. Tracking the flow of new user aquistion at a daily rate is key to a succesful analytical approach. However be careful it is easy to go overboard with analytics so make sure your don’t risk compromising your growth hacking philosophy which is wasting time implementing solutions that you don’t need.       5) Redefine traditional distribution outlets. Ever wonder why McDonald’s had famously “Sold Over 1 Million Hamburgers” in such a short peroid of time, they Growth Hacked. Yes of course it was due to their production of “fast food” generation however it was also their growth hacking based marketing efforts. McDonald’s knew the importance the new road systems like the US Interstate System and the German Autobohn and systematically founded their franchises on these roads at popular exits. Now lets fast forward from the medieval ages and get back to normal time. If you can navigate the digital roads that exist on the internet today that direct the users and information online like Search Engines, you can easily set up your own distribution outlets at these “major intersections” getting your name seen by millions. Traditional advertisements meant to been seen from the car are equivelent to modern day SEO and Search Marketing by being seen on Google, Bing, Yandex, etc. Adverts shown before a movie at a theatre is now Video Marketing on YouTube, Newspaper ads are now Mobile Advertising. The true Growth Hacker finds the newest most convertable outlet and attacks it like a mongoose, like implementing Influencer Marketing on Instagram two years ago. Clear your mind from traditional marketing thought and think like a Growth Hacker. Go out and  find that new avenue to dominate like McDonald’s did 50 years ago and if Growth Hacked right…one day you’ll sell a million digital burgers.     6) Start A/B Testing and Experimenting Across All Channels Like analytics, Experimentation and Metrics are two other cornerstones of Growth Hacking. . What Growth Hacking is about is testing out what works and what doesn’t, what drives traffic what doesn’t, what converts users what doesn’t. This is all done through analytics as well as the coveted ancient technique of “A/B Testing” somtimes called “split testing” which is simply testing “Method A” then “Method B” or even “Method C” then analyzing the results of each one to see which had a more positive result in which eve area you were looking to optimize. A/B Testing is like the AK-47 of the Growth Hacker, it never fails, always works, always delivers and was probably invented by Russians. Whether you are A/B Testing or playing around with different Typography in your Email Newsletters, experimentation is the core of Growth Hacking. A great Growth Hack for A/B testing and a way to increase your conversion rate is by flowing traffic to two or three landing pages or pages of content with different features and different products, then assess the feedback on each one to see which one resonated best with your audience. You can also learn from the pages that didn’t convert well, taking the aspects form those pages and breaking down why they didn’t convert will teach you a lot out about audience. Implementing pre-made “A/B Testing” models and very quickly experimenting by swapping out the “bad” pages your new pre-made pages gives you incredible information about your audience and greatly increases your chances of converting prospects into clients.     7) Leveraging your competition for Growth Hacking success (Case Study) When AirBNB first launched they didn’t get the explosive traffic growth seen with other brands like Vine or Snapchat. The idea of renting out extra rooms in your house to total people? Excellent idea (unless your agoraphoic) in a completely unfilled niche however it took time, years in fact for them to gain true national and international traction. In fact Growth Hacking was the reason AirBNB got put on the map. So how did AirBNB go form being an incubator startup in 2008 operating mostly in the Pacific Northwest to having 75% of their bookings being in major international cities by 2011. Yes! you guessed it, by Growth Hacking. AirBNB leveraged one of the most established online brands in US, Craigslist, to Growth Hack their way to success. By creating an “Call-to-Action” option when adding a listing they added in an Opt-In form that “Automated A Duplicate Post on Craigslist” thus creating an extra inbound link for you (the seller) and another backlink for the AirBNB platform. So why don’t other companies use this same method? Because Craigslist didn’t have a public API or an easy way for companies to integrate their services, Craigslist simply used basic Growth Hacking methods to leverage their sales through a larger competitor.   And always remember to; Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save Save...

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

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

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

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...