5 Ways Your Fans Can Help Optimize Your Site for Conversions

I’ve been watching Facebook closely for a long time.

I’ve tested hundreds of ad iterations.

I’ve worked hard to build organic reach for myself and my clients.

Here’s what I’ve concluded: Facebook is awesome. But it’s also tricky.

Why? Because the algorithm is constantly shifting, forcing marketers to up their game, readjust their techniques, and reorient their strategies.

Here’s the thing. If you have a social presence for your business, Facebook has decided that your organic reach needs to shrink.

Again.

You know, of course, that this isn’t the first time the social giant tweaked its algorithm.

In June, Adam Mosseri, VP, Product Management for News Feed at Facebook, shared a post that detailed how Facebook was updating the news feed.

The core of the update is to prioritize posts that come from friends and family while reducing the onslaught of content from businesses and other publishers. Facebook wants users to see more posts from actual people, not businesses doing marketing.

The gist of the algorithm remains the same.

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But the variability is increasing. Mosseri explained:

It will vary a lot by publisher mostly based on how much of their referral traffic or their reach is based on people who actually share their content directly…

If you’ve got strong engagement from your audience and they’re shouting your name from the rooftops as they share your content, or generate content around your brand, you’ll be far less impacted by the update.

But most of the businesses I work with aren’t enjoying that level of stellar engagement.

This is what it boils down to. If you want to improve your reach and engagement, you’ll need to find ways to leverage user-generated content (UGC) since that’s what friends and family will see first.

What I want to communicate is pretty simple: User-generated content is one of the most effective forms of content marketing available today.

User-generated content is the future of content marketing.

UGC will act as dynamite to your social media presence, accelerate your onsite content efforts, increase engagement, boost conversions, and build up a wall of defense against any algorithm the world throws your way.

Let’s talk about where the rubber meets the road-your fans helping your site become a conversion-generating machine.

Why you should put your money into user-generated content

There are a lot of benefits to UGC, and those benefits can be significant. And that’s primarily because you’re not limited to social media when it comes to working with customers to acquire and leverage it-though that’s where a bulk of your gains can come into play.

Consider for a moment that more than half of the adult users on Facebook have around 200 people in their immediate networks, according to Pew Research.

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That social network graph looks something like this:

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If the algorithm wants all those people to see content from their connections first, it’s in your best interest to get your audience producing or creating content about you.

And that’s not just for the sake of a little (or even big) boost in visibility.

Consumers fully admit they find branded information from their peers trustworthy-85% of consumers, to be exact.

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That’s because the vast majority of them find that kind of content to be helpful when they make a decision about whether or not to make a purchase.

Nielsen’s study on this subject showed that 92% of consumers trust content and the opinions of their peers over any other kind of advertising.

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UGC also has influence over that trust, according to data shared by Yotpo:

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UGC is the best way to beat an algorithm that wants to topple and bury your promotions amid pictures of babies, beards, and breakfast platters.

But you’re not limited to Facebook in leveraging it.

With variations in engagement time across different social channels, you can see where there are opportunities to use user-generated content to drive up engagement as well as increase consumer trust.

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Some brands are having a lot of success on other social channels and digital properties with UGC.

Below are a couple of examples of brands that leverage UGC using different channels.

A touch of wanderlust

National Geographic asked users to capture unforgettable people, places, and experiences that have impacted their lives from their travels around the world. The hashtag campaign (#wanderlustcontest) brought in tens of thousands of submissions branded to NatGeo.

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And, of course, among those public submissions were some truly breathtaking and awe-inspiring photos people were all too happy to continue sharing.

Ignite user creativity

Nissan’s luxury car brand, Infiniti, ran a campaign promoting its Q30 model, aiming to leverage the content of its fans to help promote the vehicle. The New Heights contest had users print out a marker card that would display the vehicle in 3D when used with their mobile app.

Fans were encouraged to show off the vehicle in unexpected places by snapping pictures and sharing them with a branded hashtag via different social channels.

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These two great examples of building campaigns and visibility from user-generated content had a couple of things in common:

  1. They both revolved around contests. While this is a good way to encourage action among your followers, it’s not always necessary to give something away in order to source user-generated content.
  2. These two campaigns were actively asking their fans to provide the content.

This aspect-the asking-is the most important part you need to remember.

Why? Because the majority of brands simply don’t ask. If you don’t ask for it, you won’t get it.

It’s just that simple.

So, what’s the simplest and most effective way to get UGC?

Ask your users to provide it.

If you want UGC, ask your followers to provide it

Brands don’t want to be pushy, but with UGC, you’ve got to approach it like you approach a call to action (CTA).

With a CTA, you’re telling your audience explicitly what you want them to do. It’s been proven time and again that without a clear call to action, you lose conversions.

But only about 16% of brands take the same approach with UGC, expressing to fans just what kind of content they want to see. Without that kind of direction, consumers aren’t sure what’s okay to share.

In fact, 50% of consumers want brands to tell them what they should include when creating and sharing content.

You don’t need to give away a luxury or big-ticket item when you make the ask, but you do need to ask.

Don’t sit and wait for your fans to provide you with gold.

Here are some of the best ways you can start sourcing and leveraging user-generated content for your brand and social channels.

1. Curate user-generated content with Yotpo

I’ve long felt that Yotpo is an impressive platform for sourcing reviews, engaging customers, and utilizing customer feedback to promote growth.

Now, it’s even better than ever.

Yotpo has stepped up its game with the recent launch of the Yotpo Curation tool.

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This tool allows you to collect relevant Instagram photos from fans and influencers, displaying them on a single dashboard.

From there, you can tag products and handle rights management (including engagement with the original user to say thanks), inject the photos into your product pages, and even sell from your timeline.

This simplifies the tedium of trying to manually source user-generated images and lets you quickly benefit from the social proof tied to UGC.

In one survey conducted by Yotpo, 77% of consumers admitted they preferred to see consumer photos over professional shots:image03

That’s a clear indication of what you should have on your product pages.

Imagine the impact of having quality reviews alongside images showing off your products being used by actual customers.

It would provide a significant lift in conversions when you consider that 63% of customers are more likely to make a purchase from a site displaying user reviews. A study conducted by Reevoo showed that reviews alone, without any other UGC, lift sales by 18%.

The Yotpo tool turns your customers into brand ambassadors right on your product pages, plus you can create your own shoppable Instagram galleries or post that UGC to other social channels.

2. Build a community

When I talk about building a community, I’m referring to a gathering of people. Literal people in online gatherings.

You may view your social channels as individual and separate communities, but they’re really not. At least not without some kind of organization.

There are a lot of ways to build communities, e.g., Facebook groups, subreddits on Reddit.com, or communities built into your website.

A community you create and manage can give your fans a sense of belonging and make them feel connected to your brand. They’ll share a mix of personal content as well as content related to the brand as they engage with one another.

Through this engagement, you’ll see things like images, videos, and testimonials crop up that are ripe for the picking.

That user-generated content feeds back into the community, encouraging others to generate more of it, and it helps anchor prospective customers who were on the fence about making a purchase.

Giant Vapes is one of the largest online retailers of e-liquid for electronic cigarettes. It also operates a Facebook community, roughly 25,000 members strong. Members regularly share the products they’ve purchased, industry news, their opinions about interactions with the company, praise over shipping and deals, and more.

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3. Give them customization and unique experiences

Customization provides your fans and customers with a sense of real ownership. They’ll naturally want to share with their friends and family what they’ve created, and you can play on that desire by asking them to do so.

Whether it’s a customized piece of clothing, a bag, or a vehicle, customization often leads to some great user-generated content.

And sometimes you don’t even have to ask.

Scores of people got excited about the announcement of Nintendo’s Super Mario Maker. Players create their own Mario levels to play on their own or share with the community. Fans, new and old, went crazy when it launched, and YouTube was flooded with the creations of streamers, generating a lot of visibility for the brand and the game.

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This video has almost 12 million views to date.

In the same vein of creating unique experiences, Hello Games is seeing images and videos of their game No Man’s Sky showing up all over the web, including a subreddit devoted to the game (a user-created community).

No Man’s Sky features a universe boasting over 10 quintillion procedurally (randomly) generated planets, each with creatures and alien plant life different from the last. That guarantees unique content, and fans have been quick to share images and videos of their discoveries since its recent launch.

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When you give your audience something they’ve never experienced before and the chance to create something unique they feel they own, they’re more likely to share that experience far and wide. That builds a lot of trust and provides a lift in conversions.

4. The UGC contest

I touched on contests above with a couple of examples, but in recommending this approach, I wanted to add one more because of the success of the campaign.

Back in 2014, Starbucks invited fans to decorate their white cups with customized art. Fans were asked to submit the images through Twitter with the #whitecupcontest hashtag for a chance to win. There were thousands of entries, and, of course, a constant stream of buzz that drove customers to their local stores.

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I’m mentioning this contest specifically because it pulls in elements from my last point: let users customize and do something unique.

You don’t have to have a multi-million dollar budget to add customization to your product line.

Sometimes, you just need to give your customers a blank canvas and set their creativity free.

5. Use videos on product pages

Yotpo can strap a rocket onto your conversions with user-generated images, but don’t let the rocket run out of fuel.

If you can get your fans and customers generating videos of your products in use, those should be added to your product pages as well.

Explainer videos are great, but there’s nothing that sells a product faster than a video showing real, happy customers, who are 100% satisfied with their purchase.

Here are some quick stats that show how effective product videos really are:

  • 90% of users admit that seeing a video about a product helps them make a purchase decision
  • 36% of customers trust video ads; imagine the trust you gain from earned media
  • 64% of visitors are more likely to buy a product after watching a video online
  • Product videos can increase conversions by as much as 20%

Conclusion

Aside from those five tips, it goes without saying that you should absolutely be using product reviews on your website and social channels such as Facebook.

Leverage that social proof, and find creative ways to team up with your customers.

A large portion of your audience are happy to create and share content for you-they just need to know what you’re looking for.

Tell them how to help, inspire them to get creative, and watch your conversions climb steadily as your collection of UGC grows.

Are you using user-generated content right now to build trust with your audience and increase your brand’s visibility? What techniques are you using, and what’s the most successful?

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7 Huge Sites for Traffic That Marketers Don’t Take Advantage Of

big sites

Do you want to know why everybody focuses on SEO and social media marketing?

Because everyone wants traffic for their websites, and both of these sources are huge.

Google, YouTube, Facebook, and LinkedIn are all in the top 20 traffic sites in the world.

Whether you’re a plumber, SaaS marketer, or recipe blogger, you can find your target audience through one or both of these sources.

Or if you sell physical products, you likely sell them on the e-commerce giants such as Amazon and eBay—same concept really as you can sell virtually anything on them due to their size.

There’s nothing wrong with focusing on getting traffic from these well known sites.

However, it’s a shame that more marketers don’t realize that social media and SEO are just the surface of web traffic.

They are the obvious ones that every marketer tries to get traffic from, which leads to stiff competition.

But there are opportunities elsewhere if you know where to look.

There are so many other sites from which you can get traffic to your website that the majority of marketers never even take a second look at them unless one of them explodes.

Take Reddit, for example. I’ve written about how to effectively market on Reddit a while back.

Since then, I’ve seen more and more articles about marketing on Reddit as the site becomes more popular and marketers see others succeeding on it.

So, what sites in particular am I talking about here?

I’m going to give you seven specific examples of sites with tons of traffic that you can potentially drive back to your site.

Then, I’m going to show you an easy way to find even more sites that are virtually untapped.

Sounds interesting? Read on… 

Site #1: IMDb

IMDb is the movie site.

It has insane levels of traffic, all focused on movies and TV.

The first step in deciding whether a site could be good to market on is to determine whether your audience uses it.

Since we’re not looking at the biggest sites (search engines and social media), only certain audiences will be found on each site.

If your audience isn’t on IMDb, I promise that they are on some other large sites.

Since IMDb has a very specific focus, it’s really only good if you sell products related to movies and TV.

But if you do, it could be an opportunity.

I say could be because you won’t be able to drive traffic from every site that your target audience uses back to yours.

You have to look for a way to drive that traffic back.

In this case, there is one chance, and it comes from the active forum community on IMDb:

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You can tell from the frequency of posts that it’s really active, and that’s just one section of the forum.

Then, you’ll need to become a part of the community and find a way to give value—but do so in a way that requires members of the forum to click through to your website.

Here are 3 resources that will help you do just that if you’re not experienced with forum posting:

Site #2: Etsy

Etsy is another up and comer that will eventually be saturated by marketers. But it’s not at that point yet.

If you sell any sort of high quality jewelry, crafts, home decor, or clothing, it’s a fantastic e-commerce marketplace.

Why compete against so many businesses on Amazon for customers looking for the cheapest option, when there is a ton of traffic comprised of people who care a lot about those things and will pay a fair price for them?

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There are no tricks to increasing your sales on Etsy.

If you have a product that is actually great, people will see it, and you will make sales.

You can certainly use conversion rate optimization and copywriting tactics to sell more, but marketing isn’t tough when there isn’t much competition.

Site #3: BuzzFeed

No doubt you’ve heard of BuzzFeed, but have you ever considered it as a traffic source?

If you have a younger demographic in a social niche (like entertainment, home decor, food, etc.), it could be a great source.

BuzzFeed not only has a ton of traffic but also allows you to contribute your own content to it.

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To start, create an account, click on the icon beside the arrow above, and click “new post.”

That’ll bring you to a standard text editor, and you can post whatever you’d like.

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If that post gets some traction early on, BuzzFeed will actually help you by promoting it on the site.

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Crafting the right kind of post isn’t easy, but if you do, you’ll get tens of thousands of views on your post.

Then, you can link from your post (when appropriate) back to your site.

Matthew Barby has created a great guide to getting on the front page of BuzzFeed. He was able to do so multiple times himself and drove a lot of traffic to his recipe site:

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Site #4: Forbes

Forbes is a magazine site for all topics related to business.

And while it’s possible to be invited to contribute, you can also drive traffic back to your site with a much simpler method: comments.

Blog commenting back in the day used to be extremely popular. Eventually, people realized that it didn’t always produce results.

The main reason for that is because they commented on blogs that had barely any traffic to begin with.

Any post on the main page of Forbes will get tens of thousands of views. Even if a small portion of those people read your comment, that’s at least a few hundred eyeballs.

From there, a great comment can drive anywhere from 25-50% of that traffic back to your site.

That’s a decent use of your time, especially if you’re struggling with traffic.

Every Forbes post has the “comment on this story” option at the bottom of the last page:

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According to their rules, you can have up to two links to other sites in the comments:

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Really, you only need one.

The hard part is leaving a comment that will impress people enough to drive traffic back to your site. Here are some great resources that will show you how to do that:

Site #5: Business Insider

Business Insider is another site similar to Forbes, with slightly different topics:

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Even though it has a slightly higher Alexa rank, it still has an insane amount of traffic.

As an added bonus, you can add your website’s URL to your username as you leave comments:

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Again, this is just blog commenting at its core, so use the same strategy as I showed you above with Forbes.

Site #6: Allrecipes

If you have a food blog, there are many opportunities to get creative and draw traffic back to your own site.

Although Allrecipes is a tough one, it’s still possible to make it work.

A standard recipe page looks like this at the top:

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Then you see instructions, and then reviews.

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If your review is really helpful, it will be seen by almost everyone who views the page.

Then, you could place a link at the end of the comment. It’d be easy to make a natural transition.

For example:

I’ve tried 10 other gumbo recipes, but none have turned out as good as this one.

It was so good that I adapted the recipe just for my gluten-free friends. They LOVED it!

Here’s how I changed the recipe to make it gluten-free: (link)

I’m sure you could make the comment more valuable—I’m just not a cooking expert.

The point is, look for ways to add value with your comment while naturally incorporating a link into it. It won’t even look like you’re trying to drive traffic to your site. It’ll look like you are just trying to help people.

That’s your goal with any link: make it useful.

Site #7: Quora

Quora is the 141st most popular website in the United States.

It’s a question and answer site that even I use. It has the same concept as Yahoo Answers, but the quality is much higher.

The site is continually getting more popular, and many (but not all) marketers have realized its potential.

The simple strategy is to leave really great answers to questions posted in the community.

Great answers will be upvoted to the top and seen by most people.

Then, include links in your answers as appropriate, and that will drive traffic wherever you’d like:

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To get started, start typing a topic in the search bar. It will suggest a bunch of related topics, and when you see what you’re looking for, click it:

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You can then follow that topic and answer questions that you feel you can do justice to.

There’s no trickery here: you have to provide value.

Yes, it’s a lot of work per answer, but the rewards can be big as well.

You can get millions of views on your answers over time if you stick with it:

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While not all those reading your answer will end up visiting your site, even a small chunk is a significant number.

In addition, you will likely end up attracting additional business from people impressed with your answers. Even without the traffic, it’s worth it.

How to find as many of these low competition sites as you need

Maybe more than one of these sites are perfect for your marketing.

Maybe none are.

That’s the point of going to sites that are smaller than the Googles and Facebooks of the world—but large enough to be potential sources of traffic.

They don’t have every audience you might want, so I can’t give everybody specific sites to market on.

However, you can find plenty more that are right for you with a simple process that I’m about to show you.

This will work for everyone.

First, head over to Alexa, and browse sites by category.

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By sorting by category rather than rank (which is what I did for the seven sites in this post), you ensure that you find sites relevant to your business.

From there, you have the option to choose a subcategory, or you can start with the broad sites.

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Either method works, but be careful not to narrow down the sites too far and be left with those that don’t have much traffic.

While a site’s Alexa Rank isn’t perfect by any means, it does generally correspond to traffic levels.

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Try to stick to sites with an Alexa Rank no higher than 20,000.

That still leaves you with a ton of options.

At this point, you’re staring at a list of domains.

You need to go to each of those sites individually and answer the same two questions I’ve been mentioning all along:

  1. Does your audience visit this site?
  2. Is there a way to get that traffic back to your site?

The second step is the hardest at first, but you’ll get more proficient at it as you go. In general, you want to look for things like:

  • a forum
  • comment section (that allows links)
  • guest posts/editorials that you can submit
  • a way to post your products directly (if the site is a store)

After you go through 100-200 sites, you’ll have a list of at least 5-10 sites you could effectively use as traffic sources.

The final thing to mention here is that when you’re marketing on a brand new site, you need to take the time to figure out an effective strategy.

For social media sites and search engines, the work has been done for you by marketing bloggers. For most of these new sites, you’ll have to do the work yourself.

Try to understand the tactics used on social media and search engines, and then apply those tactics to these new sites.

Even if you don’t get them perfectly at first, you should still have some success because of the low competition.

Conclusion

Search engines and social media giants are fantastic sources of traffic for almost all businesses.

But…they are hard to capitalize on.

The best marketers win big, while a large portion of marketers struggle.

Unless you’re already getting a great ROI on them, you’re probably better off finding new traffic sources that marketers in your industry haven’t saturated yet.

I’ve given you seven specific examples of these sources, but more importantly, I’ve given you a simple framework you can use to find more of them. They might just turn out to be perfect for your business.

If you have patience and persevere through the tough parts in the beginning while you figure out the best marketing strategy on these new sites, you’ll find that you can get much more traffic with less effort (and cost).

One last thing: If you try this out, I want to hear from you! Leave me a comment letting me know if you were able to identify any sites that could work for your marketing plan.

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5 Ways to get SEO Traffic in a Hard Niche

seo

It’s one of the biggest challenges when it comes to SEO.

You can read about tons of different SEO tactics on various blogs, but will they work for you?

After all, that’s the important part.

Not everyone wonders about this because they know that common SEO tactics will work for them, no problem.

But you might be different.

Your business may operate in a “hard” niche.

And it’s true, SEO is more difficult in these niches, so not all tactics will work.

However, I’ve worked with many clients in hard niches and have been able to achieve great SEO results with them.

That’s why I’m confident that there is an SEO plan out there that will work for you.

I’m going to help you make that plan for your specific business by showing you 5 ways to improve your SEO efforts in hard niches.

But before we start…

What is a “hard niche?” There’s no formal definition, but I’m referring to businesses that operate in niches that:

  • have small online audiences 
  • have lots of SEO competition
  • are hard to get links in (there aren’t many blogs or sites that seem to link out)
  • are “boring” (I’ll expand on this throughout the article with specific examples)

If your business falls into that category, I believe that by reading this post, you’ll learn at least a few ways to improve your SEO traffic. 

1. Competition depends on the scope (hint: change your scope)

We’re going to address those problems individually, starting with competition.

It’s easy to rank highly for a term when only a few pages on the Internet are optimized for that term.

However, if you’re going up against 10 experienced SEOs, you’ll have a hard time.

If your business is in a hard niche in the sense that traffic is incredibly valuable so competition is fierce (think loans, insurance, etc.), you’ll find that scenario often.

The very core of your SEO strategy needs to shift because you won’t be able to beat all your competitors.

Instead, you need to find keywords that they don’t even target because they don’t think that those words are worth their time.

But you’re smarter than that.

We’re talking about long-tail keywords here—longer, more descriptive keywords that have lower search volumes.

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Even though they have lower search volumes, because they are more specific, the traffic they bring is usually more targeted and valuable.

While long-tail phrases don’t get as many searches per month as shorter ones do, there are way more long-tail phrases than the popular short-tail ones.

This isn’t a new concept by any means, but it’s an important one if you’re targeting a competitive niche.

Even a phrase that only gets 50-100 searches a month may be worth it if it’s for a term with high commercial intent (reader is likely to buy something from you).

How to find long-tail keywords: Sure, some SEOs are smart and target long-tail keywords because they know they’re easier to rank for, but there aren’t very many of those SEOs.

And since there are so many long-tail keywords, you can always find some new ones to target if you’re willing to dig.

Why?

Because the best keywords aren’t easy to find.

Most bad SEOs (and there are a lot) and business owners simply use the Google keyword planner (or a similar tool).

They plop in a broad keyword and choose keywords to target based on the results:

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But thousands of people have done this for just about every niche imaginable. You’ll find more competition than seems reasonable for almost all of those terms.

Google has data on just about every search phrase you can think of but doesn’t always show it in these broad search results.

So, while using the keyword planner is fine, you need to enter seed keywords and phrases that are different from those everyone else is using.

There are many ways to find these, but one of my favorites is to head over to Reddit.

Type a broad keyword into the search bar. I typed in “drywall”:

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Now, start looking at the results for keywords.

I quickly found “how to screw drywall” in one of the threads.

Put that into the tool, and it turns out that the phrase gets about 90 searches per month in the US:

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No, that’s not a huge number, but it’s nothing to sneeze at either. If you rank for that phrase, you’ll also probably rank for other very similar phrases (e.g., “how screw drywall” or “how to screw in drywall”). Each of those will have small search volumes, but they’ll all add up to something substantial enough.

Put together 50-100 articles for long term phrases like those, and you’ll be getting a few thousand search visitors fairly easily, without the insane competition for popular keywords.

Look at the search results for that phrase:

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The #1 result is a YouTube video, and the top content results don’t even have the phrase in their titles.

That’s as easy a keyword as you’ll find, and it’s because it’s not a keyword that comes up in those obvious searches.

If you put the time into finding great long-tail keyword phrases, you’ll make your SEO plan significantly easier and more effective.

There are many ways to find good long-tail keyword phrases. Here are a few resources with other specific tactics:

2. If links are hard to find, think laterally

In some niches—such as marketing, recipes, and entertainment niches, for example—it’s very easy to get links.

There are hundreds of thousands of blogs that are willing to link to you if you make a good case.

But in some niches, those blogs just don’t exist.

That’s when you need to get creative.

One very effective strategy is to get links from related niches.

For example, if you’re a plumber, related niches would be:

  • home DIY
  • home decor
  • beauty/life (e.g., a proper way to unclog sinks or prevent clogs)

Basically, think of any other niche that you can add your expertise to.

Then, all the typical SEO tactics come back into play: guest posting, forum posting, etc.

Let’s go through an example.

Let’s say that you’re a home decorator.

One related niche is home buying and owning, which has a different audience from your typical home decor enthusiasts.

You could write about how home decor could add value to your home. In fact, that turns out to be a good long-tail phrase:

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What could you do with this?

You could create content for your own site and then reach out to home buyer/owner blogs asking for a link. That’s a standard SEO tactic.

Alternatively, you could use the idea for a guest post on a popular site.

Not only will it rank for the long-tail keyword that you target (sending you continuous traffic), but it’ll also send you a lot of immediate referral traffic from the site you post on.

Start by thinking of as many related niches as you can, then generate as many ways as possible to add value to those niches.

3. Boring niche? Here’s how to make it more fun

What can you do in a boring niche?

Can you really make painting homes fun?

If you approach the subject with a notion that it is, in fact, boring, then you probably can’t.

But usually, there are ways to make content at the very least entertaining.

Brian Dean did a great case study of this exact idea. Mike Bonadio, who runs an SEO agency based in NYC, had a client who worked in bug control—boring.

However, he created a high quality infographic on an interesting topic: how bugs can help you defeat garden pests. That infographic got picked up by a few prominent blogs:

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Gardening is a related niche for pest control (just as we discussed in the previous section).

But Mike took it a step further by creating “fun” content.

Bugs aren’t supposed to be fun, but he made it fun by focusing on the benefits that bugs can provide.

And you can do this in every niche by focusing on exciting benefits and surprises instead of the boring parts.

For example, do you seal driveways?

Well, that seems boring at first, but what if you created content like:

  • How many gallons of sealant would it take to seal Leonardo DiCaprio’s driveway?
  • Choosing the wrong driveway sealant will cost you money: A comparison of the true cost of paving a driveway

I’m not so sure that all of those are real things, but the point remains. Turn the boring parts into an important element of a story, but not the main focus.

Back to the case study—how did it go?

Extremely well, I’d say. After Mike reached out to sites in that related niche, he was able to get over 60 referring domains and hundreds of links:

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On top of that, he got over 2,100 views from referral traffic in the short term. His client’s site still ranks #4 for the term “exterminator NYC.”

Can you make your niche interesting to your customers? I know this is difficult and requires some thinking, so let me give you another example: Blendtec.

Blendtec is a company that sells…blenders.

Not exactly a sexy product.

However, you might have heard of their “Will it Blend?” video series.

In these videos, they blend all kinds of crazy objects, like iPhones, superglue, and even skeletons to answer the question: “Will it blend?”

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They now get millions of views on each video they produce.

More importantly, those videos get linked to a lot, and those videos link back to Blendtec’s website, which makes them rank highly for all sorts of blender-related terms.

4. Don’t start from scratch

If you’re in a hard niche and you also have a brand new website, it’s going to be a long journey to SEO success.

For some types of businesses, most notably local businesses, you have an alternative: use another site’s domain authority.

For example, if you search for “plumbing Chicago,” you get these results just below a map of a few plumbers:

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Notice that these listings aren’t of sites that actual plumbers own but of review sites such as Yelp.

Any business can create a page on Yelp, which will automatically have more search authority than your brand new site.

More importantly, these sites have that authority because they already have good search optimization and huge quantities of backlinks.

All you need to do is show up highly on their important pages, and your page (on their site) will rank highly in the search results.

You don’t need links to do this. Usually, you just need reviews.

If you run a great business, these aren’t too difficult to get. Just ask all your happy customers to leave a review (and give them instructions).

In addition, here are some more resources that will help you get more online reviews:

5. Competitor analysis is always an important first step

The final complaint that I hear is that “no one links out in my niche.”

Well, I’ll tell you something: everyone else is getting their links from somewhere.

And with the tools available to you today, there’s no reason why you can’t get many of those same links.

This is not a new technique, but it remains one of the most cost-efficient and effective ways of getting backlinks and improving your search rankings.

It’s not difficult either, but it will take some work on your part.

Here’s the simple procedure.

Step #1 – Make a list of competitors: First you need a list of sites similar to your own—your competitors.

If they are similar, you should be able to get most of the same links they have.

To make this list, start searching for popular terms in your niche, and then write down the URLs of the top 10 results (or fewer) in a spreadsheet or list:

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If it’s a site on a specific topic, you can write down just the domain name, but if it’s a huge site (like hgtv), copy down the exact URL of the page.

Step #2 – Get a list of their backlinks: Next, you need to sign up for either Ahrefs or Majestic.

Those are not affiliate links; those are just the two best link databases by far.

The small monthly cost is more than worth it if you’re serious about SEO.

Go through your list, one by one, and enter the URLs or domain names into the site explorer:

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Then, go to the “backlinks” panel on the results, and you’ll get a list of all the backlinks to that page or site:

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Step #3 – Determine if it’s possible to get any of those links: Here’s where the work really comes in.

You need to visit each of those pages that link to your target page and see if it’s possible for you to get a similar link on those pages.

For example, one of the above links looks like this:

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It’s a page that links to tons of resources.

If you had an appropriate resource page, it would be simple enough to email the owner and ask to be included.

Other times, you might see that the link is from a guest post. You can email the owner pitching a guest post of your own.

While you won’t get a 100% success rate, you will be able to duplicate a good portion of the links for each competitor.

The links are out there, and this is one of the best ways to find them.

One final note is that I recommend you batch each step to improve your efficiency.

Don’t try to get each link as soon as you find it. Instead, record it in a spreadsheet, and do all your link outreach at once.

Conclusion

Not all niches are created equal.

Some are in fact more difficult when it comes to SEO.

However, that doesn’t mean that it’s not doable.

I’ve shown you 5 ways that can help you improve your search traffic in almost any industry (hard ones included).

Start by trying out at least one of these, if not more.

If you have any success stories about SEO in a boring niche, I’d love it if you shared them in a comment below.

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Local Chiropractor Awarded 5-Star Review by The Reviewers Choice

Local Chiropractor Awarded 5-Star Review by The Reviewers Choice

A local Richfield wellness clinic has been awarded a Verified 5-Star  Review by The Reviewers Choice.  The Reviewers Choice is a unique online directory that specializes in featuring proven 5-Star local companies but only after a rigorous review verification process through phone interviews and proof of payment for services or products from customers.  Their motto is “Verified Reviews for Consumer Confidence”.  

The owners of the clinic said they feel honored to have patients who take the time to express their deep gratitude for the results they’ve received at the clinic.  The Reviewers Choice announced the completed 5-Star Review verification process in the last week of January.  After it was completed, they developed the patient review into what’s called a “Verified Review Video” which can be seen at

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iC6Bb-sCuqo

The Chiropractic clinic is in the midst of developing an intense wellness program which the doctors refer to as “8 Weeks to Wellness” and they are thrilled to watch their patients develop new healthy lifestyles and habits in 8 weeks that will transform the rest of their lives.  To put it simply, they are passionate about their patients.

The Founder & Owner of The Reviewers Choice, has commented:

“Our relationship with this clinic has proven they are a perfect fit for our directory as they care about their patients as if they were family. Our goal with awarding our Verified Reviews to any company is to help local consumers narrow down their local search quickly so they’re not spending so much time researching the vast choices online. We are the only review company that verifies reviews before they go public.  We want to help consumers avoid companies that have been “propped up” by fake reviews.

No business is perfect every day of the year, but ultimately we want to give the consumer peace of mind that the company they’ve chosen has a 5-Star reputation and has a solid track record of doing business for some time.  This wellness clinic is without a doubt one of these companies that people are looking for.”

To contact The Reviewers Choice for qualification of a Verified 5-Star Review, call 832-263-1990.

 

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Woodlake Chiropractic Awarded 5-Star Review by The Reviewers Choice

Woodlake Chiropractic Awarded 5-Star Review by The Reviewers Choice

A local Richfield wellness clinic, Woodlake Chiropractic, has been awarded a Verified 5-Star  Review by The Reviewers Choice.  The Reviewers Choice is a unique online directory that specializes in featuring proven 5-Star local companies but only after a rigorous review verification process through phone interviews and proof of payment for services or products from customers.  Their motto is “Verified Reviews for Consumer Confidence”.  

The owners of Woodlake Chiropractic, Dr. Paul Zilka & Dr. Ann Zilka, feel honored to have patients who take the time to express their deep gratitude for the results they’ve received at the clinic.  The Reviewers Choice announced the completed 5-Star Review verification process in the last week of January.  After it was completed, they developed the patient review into what’s called a “Verified Review Video” which can be seen at

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iC6Bb-sCuqo

Woodlake Chiropractic is in the midst of developing an intense wellness program which they refer to as “8 Weeks to Wellness”.  Dr. Paul and Dr. Ann are thrilled to watch their patients develop new healthy lifestyles and habits in 8 weeks that will transform the rest of their lives.  To put it simply, they are passionate about their patients.

Sue Kulpinski, Founder & Owner of The Reviewers’ Choice, has commented:

“Our relationship with Woodlake Chiropractic has proven they are a perfect fit for our directory as they care about their patients as if they were family. Our goal with awarding our Verified Reviews to any company is to help local consumers narrow down their local search quickly so they’re not spending so much time researching the vast choices online. We are the only review company that verifies reviews before they go public.  We want to help consumers avoid companies that have been “propped up” by fake reviews.

No business is perfect every day of the year, but ultimately we want to give the consumer peace of mind that the company they’ve chosen has a 5-Star reputation and has a solid track record of doing business for some time.  Woodlake Chiropractic is without a doubt one of these companies that people are looking for.”

To make a wellness appointment, go to http://www.woodlakechiro.com or call 612-866-9194. 

 

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26 Tools to Help You Increase Your Blog’s Performance

tools

Spending hours learning how to implement the smallest improvements on your blog is the biggest source of frustration for most blog owners.

You probably understand how important it is to give your visitors a great reader experience.

And to do that, you need to optimize many areas of your blog:

  • colors
  • the layout
  • navigation
  • pop-ups and other opt-in forms
  • loading speed

and more…

It’s great if you know a little bit of coding so that you can make small changes yourself.

But for 99% of bloggers out there, it makes no sense to learn how to build a pop-up tool from scratch.

Instead, you can save yourself hundreds of hours of frustration and effort and just use a tool. You can find a free tool for just about any basic function. And even if you want a more complete tool, they typically don’t cost more than $50 a month.

Download this cheat sheethttps://neilpatel.leadpages.co/leadbox-942.js of 26 tools if you want to increase your blog performance.

I’ve put together a list of 25 great tools—divided into 4 main categories—that you can immediately use to improve your blog.

Create better blog content with these tools

These tools will help you either create content faster or create content that wasn’t possible before.

1. VideoScribe: No doubt you’ve seen explainer videos before. They look as if someone is drawing images on the screen.

In most cases, they actually aren’t. They use a tool such as VideoScribe instead.

There’s no way I can do this tool justice, so just watch this short video:

That’s one of the coolest tools I’ve seen.

It allows you to create different images and then pick a style of hand and pen.

Then, the tool puts all your images together to form a video. But the useful part is that it draws the images for you.

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It loads the background first and then moves the hand around to make it look as if it’s drawing the other lines and pieces as they load.

Your other alternative is to pay a professional artist thousands of dollars to create a real live drawing.

2. BuzzSumo: This tool is a must have in any content marketer’s toolbox. It’s useful for several types of research.

The top content part of the tool, which is the main one that you’ll use, lets you find the most popular content on the web (determined by the number of social shares).

There are two main ways for you to use Buzzsumo.

The first way involves entering the domain of any of your competitors. This will bring up a list of their most shared content. You can also sort by a specific network if you’d like.

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The obvious use of this is that you can create content on similar topics that produced popular (possibly viral) content for your competitors.

Chances are these will perform well for you too.

The second common way to use the tool is to enter in keywords you’re interested in targeting.

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When writing content around that keyword, you want to see the best your competition has to offer. If you can produce even better content, it should perform even better.

Alternatively, this type of search usually reveals which social network is best to get active on. If you see 90%+ of shares on Facebook, that’s where you should focus your attention.

Finally, when you’re done creating that content, do another search for the keyword. This time, click “view sharers,” which will bring up a list of people who shared those articles on Twitter.

You can Tweet or email those sharers—there is a good chance that they will be interested in your new content.

3. Snappa: Creating attractive custom images isn’t exactly most marketers’ strong suit.

Until recently, you had no choice but to hire a designer or try to hack together something in Photoshop.

However, a recent wave of easy to use design tools has made it easier for you to create your own simple custom images.

Snappa is one of those tools.

It was created specifically for marketers to use, which is why the creators understand the need for simplicity. Oh yeah, and it’s free for most things.

Create an account, and scroll down to the “Blog” section. You can also choose from social media templates, ads, and header images.

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Either way, click one of them to get started (or click the “custom size” button at the top).

Once you do, you’ll see a whole bunch of templates.

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If you like the looks of one, just click it to load it, and then make whatever edits you need by clicking on the different elements.

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If you want to add anything to the template or change something, like the background, just use that top menu to change the left sidebar.

It’s a really intuitive tool, so once you spend 10-20 minutes learning it, you’ll be set.

4. Pablo: Another one of those simple design tools is Pablo.

This one is made by the same people behind Buffer, which is another tool you might be familiar with.

Pablo is extremely simple to use but focuses especially on social media images.

However, there’s no reason why you can’t use these in your blog posts as well. Having images optimized for being shared on social media sites will increase the re-shares and, consequently, the traffic you’ll get.

On the right side menu, you have three sizes of images to choose from. For a blog post, you’ll probably want the “wide” picture or the square one:

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Pick the size that corresponds with the image size used within your most important social network. This will change the size of the canvas in the middle.

Next, you’ll want to pick a background from the left side menu:

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Finally, you can click the default text and type whatever you’d like.

This is great for a certain type of image but obviously won’t cover all of your needs.

5. Picmonkey: This is another image-based tool but different from the ones we’ve looked at so far. It will allow you to edit any pictures to make them look better for your blog.

Whether it’s someone else’s picture that you’d like to include (with credit, of course) or one that you’ve taken, you can upload it to this tool and change things such as:

  • contrast
  • direction (rotation)
  • sharpness
  • brightness
  • color

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To use the tool, just click those little icons on the far left to bring up different options.

You can also add some pretty neat filters to your pictures to make them look more professional.

For this specific function, click the little flask icon, and then click on any of the filters that come up to try them out:

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6. Skitch: So far, we’ve looked at creating basic custom images that are mainly optimized for social sharing.

If you’ve read many Quick Sprout posts, you know I love including annotated screenshots.

When I’m showing readers how to do something, I often include a picture of what it looks like:

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The annotations let you point out specific things on the screenshots.

Here’s what it looks like:

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You click the “screen snap” button at the top, then click and drag a box over your screen to capture an image.

Next, you use those options on the left side of Skitch (shown above) to draw arrows, shapes, and labels and to add text.

Another option is to install the web clippera Chrome extension.

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It lets you screencap anything in your browser and offers mostly the same options for annotation as Skitch does (slightly more limited).

7. Giphy: One way to make your content a little bit more exciting is by including gifs.

Giphy is a search engine specifically for gifs (like Google is for web pages).

You can type in any broad term and get many gifs as a result:

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If you like one and would like to include it in your post, scroll down to the “share” section, and copy and paste the embed code into your post’s HTML tab:

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Don’t go crazy with gifs, but one or two now and then can make your audience smile and enjoy the content a bit more.

8. TweetDis: You should always be trying to make your content more engaging. The more focused the reader is on your content, the more likely that it will provoke them to take action.

To do this, you need to break up your content.

One way to do this is with interactive content, which has the added benefit of getting you more social shares.

TweetDis is a tool that lets you quickly embed an attractive tweet image into your content.

Readers can click it to instantly Tweet that pre-made message (they can edit it first if they’d like).

This tool is a WordPress plugin. To use it in any post, you just click the shortcode icon in the post editor.

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That brings up the settings, which let you choose the type of image you’d like to use.

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The most common one that you’ll probably end up using is a box tweet:

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Alternatively, you can create an “inline tweet”, which will highlight your text (turn it into a link) and put a Twitter logo beside it:

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You have a complete control over the appearance of these types of tweets. If you go into the plugin settings, you can change things like font size and margins.

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9. CoSchedule Headline Analyzer: A good headline can generate up to 500% more traffic than an average one.

This tool aims to help you create better headlines.

It’s simple to use. Just enter your current headline idea into the text box:

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It will spit out a detailed analysis that will judge how effective your headline is on a scale from 0-100.

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It’s difficult to get close to 100, just like it’s difficult to get close to zero.

Aim for as high as you can, and always try to improve in the future. That’s more important than the score itself.

On top of an overall score, you get some information on why your headline got that score.

Most importantly, it divides the words you use into different categories:

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You need common words such as “that,” “the,” and “a,” but they don’t add much value.

Uncommon words are the opposite of those common words. They aren’t used very often, so they should be used sparingly to stand out from other headlines. But use too many, and readers won’t understand what you mean.

Emotional words and power words both cause people to take action, which you want (to click the headline). Aim for as many of them as you can.

Research by CoSchedule shows that the most impressive headlines have at least one power word or phrase in them, if not more.

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You should aim for at least one emotional or power word in your headline (combined), but aim for 2 or 3 if possible:

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This tool is a good way to learn about writing better headlines, but it also gives you a way to decide between different headline ideas.

10. Hemingway App: This tool was designed to help you write better, which every blogger can benefit from.

To use it, paste your content into the tool. It will automatically highlight common issues (e.g., run on sentences).

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Here’s a quick sample passage from the Beginner’s Guide to Online Marketing:

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Clearly, I’m not a perfect writer (far from it).

After simplifying those sentences by removing unnecessary words and breaking them down into clearer sentences, I managed to decrease the word count by 18 words:

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That means that originally, there were about 10% of unnecessary words (fluff).

The best writers have little fluff, while bad writers have a ton of it.

Use this tool on a regular basis to ensure that you continue to progress as a writer. Content doesn’t need to be perfect—just improve it as much as possible.

Provide a better experience for your readers

If your blog is ugly or hard to use, it doesn’t matter how good your content is, no one will read it.

These tools will help you improve the typical reader experience.

11. Pingdom Website Speed Test: Loading speed is a huge factor in user experience.

The days of dial-up are gone for most people, and they expect pages to load within a few seconds.

Ideally, you want every page of your site to load in under 2 seconds.

To use the tool, enter your URL into the main text box on the homepage:

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Once you click the test button, give the tool a minute to conduct its test.

When it’s done, you will see the results below:

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Most important is the overall load time.

If your load time is good, you’re all set. If not, you’ll need the data below:

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The “performance grade” tab will show you your general scores in different categories.

The “waterfall” tab shows you how fast each individual part of your webpage loaded.

Finally, the “page analysis” tab gives you a nice overall summary of your page’s performance:

image11

I recommend testing at least 5-10 pages on your site to make sure that they all load quickly.

12. Quick Sprout Analyzer: I’m incredibly biased, but I think the Quick Sprout Analyzer on the homepage is a useful tool.

It’s also free, so you don’t have much to lose.

You start by entering your URL, and you’ll quickly get back a detailed report:

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It focuses on SEO, site speed, and social media performance.

There’s quite a bit to the report, so I’ll leave you to explore it yourself. One particularly interesting part is the competitive analysis:

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It will compare your site to those of your top competitors’.

13. Crazy Egg: This is another tool I founded—one of the leading heat map tools.

Once you install it on your website (it’s a simple script that you copy and paste), it’ll track how visitors interact with your content.

While there are a few different features, there are a few main ones that will be most useful here.

First is the scroll map, which shows you how many people scrolled to each section of the page:

image38

This is useful because it shows you if readers are losing interest at any particular point in a post.

You can then figure out why and fix the issue not only in that post but all future ones (or past ones) as well.

The second main feature is the standard click heat map, which shows you where people click on the page:

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If you see users paying a lot of attention to an area, you can rearrange the page so that the most important elements go there.

Alternatively, if they’re trying to click on something that can’t be clicked (like certain images), it shows that they are trying to do something. You can add a link to improve their experience.

14. Google’s Pagespeed Insights: Here’s another pagespeed tool, but it’s a bit simpler than Pingdom.

It should be used as a starting point, and then you can dig in further with other tools if need be.

Pagespeed is one of the confirmed ranking factors in Google. They care a lot about user experience, which is why they made this tool in the first place.

Again, enter your URL into the tool. It could be your homepage or a post:

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It will quickly give you an overall score, not just for desktop users but for mobile users as well.

If you get 80 and above, you’re doing okay.

It will show the biggest issues (red – bad!; orange – not as bad) that you should address to improve your page loading speed.

It also has a “show how to fix” link under each issue, so you get a little guidance to walk you through the solution.

15. Print Friendly: One useful bonus that you can provide for your users is PDF versions of posts, especially if they’re long.

This tool turns web pages into relatively attractive PDF files.

Enter your post URL, and press “print preview”:

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Then, you can click on anything in the preview (like an image or line) to edit that element or remove it if it didn’t show up right.

Finally, click the PDF button at the very top to create the PDF:

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16. Broken Link Checker: Nothing disappoints a reader more than reading a post, seeing an interesting link, and then finding out that it’s broken.

Broken links are unavoidable; web pages die all the time.

However, it is a good idea to check for broken links once in awhile and fix them.

To use this tool, enter your URL and the captcha code, and click the shiny yellow button.

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It’ll take a minute or two to finish the scan. Any broken links will show up underneath.

Explode your conversion rate(s)

Another sign of a high performing blog is its ability to turn readers into repeat readers.

This usually means growing an email list, which is what these tools will help you do.

17. OptinMonster: Not everyone likes to use pop-ups, but they work. They almost always help you increase your email sign-up rate by a large amount.

So while it’s usually a good idea to at least test out pop-ups, that doesn’t mean they have to be annoying.

A good pop-up won’t have a negative effect on the reader’s experience.

OptinMonster is one of the cheapest options to create simple and attractive pop-ups for your site.

image14

You can set it up to appear only when a reader clicks a specific link (useful for content upgrades).

When creating a new pop-up, you can choose from several different themes, and just edit the text:

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It also works with all major email marketing service providers.

18. LeadPages: If you have enough traffic to the point that every extra increase on your conversion rate is a big deal, you may want a more comprehensive tool such as LeadPages.

It’s one of the more expensive options, but it’s also a high quality tool, used by many popular bloggers:

image47

You can make several types of pop-ups, but you also get access to a lot more.

The other important feature of LeadPages is its landing page builder.

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If you’re making any kind of page that you’d like to optimize for conversions, you know that landing pages convert the best.

This tool lets you use themes that have already been tested and proven to have the highest conversion rates.

19. Visual Website Optimizer: Once you have all the best practices for conversion in place, you’ll need to start split testing.

One tool that helps you do that is Visual Web Optimizer (VWO).

It will take you a bit of time to learn how to use it, but basically it allows you to change one element on a page (that you think affects conversion) and then test it:

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You paste the code the tool generates onto the original page, and it will ensure that each variation is seen by different visitors.

In the reports tab, you’ll be able to see how different variations are converting, and it will tell you when you have a statistically significant sample size:

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20. Unbounce: Another popular landing page building tool is Unbounce.

To build a page, you just drag and drop different widgets into the page builder, and then edit your text and/or images.

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The most important widget that you’ll want to include on most pages is some type of an opt-in form.

You can customize it to include whichever fields you’d like, and it will work with any email marketing service.

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On top of being able to build landing pages, you can also split test landing pages.

Since you turn to landing pages when you have an important offer, your conversion rate on these pages is often the most important to optimize.

To use it, create a copy of one of the landing pages you’ve made, and then change something on that page. The tool will show you the respective conversion rates and the statistical significance:

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21. Hello Bar: This is the final tool on this list that I’ve been involved in building, I promise.

Hello Bar is a simple way to display messages along the top of your website:

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If you pick a good color, it’ll get a lot of attention while taking up very little of the screen.

You can use it to display messages, collect email addresses, or direct visitors to a landing page (if they click a button on it).

You can get it up and running free—just enter your domain name in the sign-up box:

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Next, determine which kind of message you’d like to display in your bar. You can always create a new one in the future.

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Most people start with collecting emails or showing announcements.

There are five very simple steps that you go through to configure your bar. You’ll have a chance to change the text and appearance of the bar.

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Finally, you’ll get a short piece of code after you save and publish the bar.

There are three simple installation methods for the code; you can choose the most convenient:

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22. Content Upgrades PRO: Something that I’ve previously mentioned is content upgrades.

A content upgrade is a post-specific lead magnet. Since they are so relevant to the post’s content, they typically get a fantastic email opt-in rate (upwards of 3%).

The difficult part is keeping track of them and offering all the different content upgrades you create.

This premium WordPress plugin was created to help you do that.

You enter a shortcode from the plugin, and depending on which design you pick, it will show up in your content as one of the following boxes:

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A visitors clicks on the box and triggers a pop-up asking for their email address in exchange for the content upgrade.

Get your content seen by more people

This final group of tools is all about getting more people to your blog, which is one of the top goals for any blogger.

23. Buzzstream: Buzzstream is one of the most comprehensive content promotion tools there is.

It helps you find influencers, bloggers, journalists, etc., and finds you a whole bunch of useful contact information:

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Once you’ve compiled a list of people to email about a new piece of content, you can use a feature inside of the tool that allows you to send a template-based message to all of them at the same time (customized with their information, of course).

Not only that, but Buzzstream also keeps track of the success rate of each template you build, so you can figure out which ones are the best:

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24. Content Marketer: This tool was designed specifically for content marketers. It has a modern design, and it’s pretty intuitive to use.

There are three main functions, which are clearly laid out at the top of each project:

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By scanning a post, the tool will compile a list of relevant contacts you could promote it to.

Then, it will find just about anyone’s email address.

Finally, it allows you to send templates to the people on your list:

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This tool can save you several hours on a regular basis.

25. Pitchbox: Another tool that helps you reach out to bloggers more efficiently is Pitchbox.

It’s designed more as a general marketing and SEO tool. You can choose from many different campaigns such as:

  • Blogger outreach – find bloggers and send them emails
  • Get your product reviewed – find product reviewers and contact them
  • Link removal – send link removal requests all at once

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And just like with all the other tools, you can easily send template-based emails, complete with personalized information of the recipient:

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26. Topsy: This final tool is essentially a robust Twitter search engine, which is obviously most useful if you promote your content on Twitter.

You can search any topic, and the tool will return you a list of the most shared content related to that search phrase:

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If you click the orange “# more” link on each piece of content, it will show you a list of people who shared it on Twitter:

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It also divides people based on their following size.

You can use this to find people who were interested in similar content in the past and then contact them to let them know about your new content.

Conclusion

Making a great blog takes a ton of work, but tools can help you accomplish it faster and easier.

But no one needs all 25 tools on this list.

There might be a point when using more tools might actually make your blog worse.

I recommend you start by trying a handful of these tools at a time until you find the ones you have the most success with.

I realize that there are many other great tools out there. Share them in a comment below if I forgot one that you love.

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Learn From the Best: 12 Lessons from 5 Content Marketing Case Studies

case study

Not everyone will have to solve a specific problem for their content marketing.

However, you can often learn methods to make your current or prospective content marketing more effective.

The way to achieve this is to study other people who have successfully used content marketing to grow their own or their client’s business.

There are 2 schools of thought:

Study companies similar to yours and emulate their strategy. Or study companies different from yours and apply their tactics to your niche.

Both have their merits.

You need a complete view of content marketing as a whole, and to get that, you need to study a wide variety of ­­examples.

For instance, you should study how different companies use content marketing for different purposes.

According to a recent report, the top 3 goals of content marketing are:

  • lead generation
  • thought leadership
  • brand awareness

There are many different ways to achieve each of these 3 broad goals.

Some will come to you naturally, but others won’t make sense until you see the successful example of others.

The problem is that you can’t study just any random company because most don’t understand what your objective is.

In another report, it was found that only 30% of B2B marketers thought that their organization used content marketing effectively.

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Although that’s a respectable percentage, it means that at the same time, there’s a lot of poor content being produced.

You want to steer clear of that since there isn’t much to learn from it.

This is where case studies come in. Typically, only businesses with something to actually show off create public case studies.

I’ve rounded up some of the best case studies I’ve come across that illustrate some important aspects of content marketing.

I’m going to be breaking down 12 lessons from five case studies to show you how you can apply them to your content marketing efforts.

Some may just be good refreshers, while others may be brand new for you. I think most marketers will be able to learn at least a few substantial things from these case studies.  

Case Study #1: PTC used content marketing to go from 0 to 100,000 visitors per month

(Original case study)

For me, crossing the 100,000 visitor per month threshold has always been an important goal.

If you can get to that level, you can sustainably grow just about any kind of business.

This content marketing campaign was more about brand awareness than anything else.

PTC wanted to create awareness for their new product launch in a very crowded space and had the secondary goal of getting initial sales for this product.

Most successful products aren’t brand new inventions. It’s likely that you’ll never sell one.

Nevertheless, you may sell products that are innovative—that improve upon others. Your challenge will be breaking into a crowded market.

You just may be able to learn from this case study.

A quick overview: I’m not going to go into too much depth, but let me give you a quick rundown of what PTC is.

It’s a huge software company that sells software to other companies in a variety of high-tech niches.

First, they decided to try to use content marketing to improve awareness of a new product they were about to launch—Creo.

Creo is a design software that solves many of the problems that other types of CAD software often have.

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Without a doubt, it’s a quality product, which is where you should always begin.

Lesson #1 – Outsourcing content marketing can work: One of the reasons that companies are afraid to really invest in content marketing is because they believe it will take away from their existing marketing efforts.

They believe that they need to get employees to spend time creating blog posts and promoting them.

Understandably, it’s tough to make this kind of commitment when most employees are already overworked.

On top of that, most employees don’t know how to create effective posts that will get results.

The companies that do try content marketing usually conclude that it’s not effective.

There are 2 good reasons to outsource your content marketing:

  1. You don’t have the manpower to execute a content strategy
  2. You don’t have the expertise to develop or execute a content strategy

In this case, PTC hired Content Marketing Institute’s Joe Pulizzi and Robert Rose, both well-known top content marketers (even back in 2010).

A company like PTC isn’t short on resources, but they didn’t have the expertise for this kind of work.

Joe and Robert got the industry and company knowledge needed to create a great content marketing strategy by working with some of PTC’s key employees.

One concern when outsourcing content marketing is that you’re stuck with them forever, but that’s rarely the case unless you want it to be.

Most content marketers will spend a majority of their time creating a strategy for you to follow and then figuring out the best way to execute it.

In most cases, including this one, the content marketers will find writers who are also experts in a particular niche.

Joe and Robert hired Barb Schmitz, an experienced writer in their industry, to kick off the blog content. She continued contributing to the blog for another 4 years.

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Even if PTC completely stopped working with the content marketers they hired, they’d still have a plan in place and writers who could continue to contribute.

Lesson #2 – Know your content marketing goals: As we looked at earlier, content marketing can fulfill many different goals.

The actual goals that you are trying to accomplish will influence what type of content you produce and your overall content strategy.

In this case, PTC had one main goal that was made clear from the start:

Goal: To create buzz and launch the new Creo product (in the following 8-9 months).

At that point, their target audience had never even heard of Creo, which was another important factor.

If you create a blog for a popular product (e.g., Canva’s design school), you can be successful writing content such as product tutorials.

If you don’t have a product yet, tutorials aren’t going to draw much attention. Instead, you will need to educate the market to provide value.

As you become more trusted, you can steer attention toward a product launch.

Goals dictate what type of content to produce, but also how much to produce.

Since there was a limited amount of time before the launch, Robert and Joe were fairly aggressive with their editorial calendar. They published around a post a day (although the posts were on the shorter side).

Lesson #2b – Goals can change: Your content marketing strategy should always be evolving and growing with your business.

Once the product launch was complete, they shifted  towards improving sales and market share.

If you go to the Creo blog today, you’ll see a different type of content:

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Now that Creo is well known (and multiple versions of it have been released), content can also include product tutorials that show in what way Creo is better than its competitors.

If PTC didn’t re-evaluate their goals, they would have stopped the blog after the product launch.

Instead, they were able to continue to grow the blog and hit 100,000 visitors per month in a pretty “unsexy” niche.

Over 70% of those visitors are also new to PTC and are potential leads.

Case Study #2: Growing to $100,000 per month in revenue behind content marketing

(Original case study)

If you ever want to study a recent example of growing a business using content marketing, Groove is an excellent place to start (also check out my 0 to $100,000 case study posts).

Groove was far from a struggling company when they began their content marketing, but it still had a long way to go in order to hit their goal of $100,000 in monthly revenue:

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If you’re not familiar with Groove, they sell help-desk software, which means that users pay a regular subscription fee every month.

Since they started blogging back in 2013, they’ve easily surpassed their original goal, which shows the effect content marketing can have on sales:

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Lesson #3 – Content marketing isn’t always slow (if you can do this…): One of the things I always make sure to mention when I write about content marketing is that it usually takes time to produce results.

You’re not going to get tens of thousands of readers overnight, but it also doesn’t necessarily have to take months to get any traction.

Groove was one of the very notable exceptions to the normal growth of a blog.

On the very first post they published, they received more than 100 comments:

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You can check out the dates on these comments, but most of them were made when it was first published.

And it wasn’t just random people. They even got Gary Vaynerchuk to chime in:

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Considering that these influencers not only commented on the post but shared it as well, it’s not surprising that they were able to pass 1,000 subscribers from that single post.

These aren’t typical results, but they’re possible if you have 2 things:

  1. A really interesting idea
  2. Extensive promotion

One of the key things for Groove was being able to pitch the idea of a behind-the-scenes look at how they were growing their income. Even experienced marketers are interested in that if it’s executed well.

As for the second part, they identified a ton of relevant influencers and found ways to connect with them.

After that, they sent a really well-done email to formally introduce the idea and post:

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If you want big results quickly, you need to implement content marketing tactics better than everyone else.

Lesson #4 – Transparency and content marketing should go hand in hand: If you look at just about any of the content that Groove has published on their blog since its inception, you will get smacked over the head by the transparency (in a good way).

Now that transparency is more common these days (thanks to marketers like Pat Flynn), Groove took it a step further.

Instead of just showing their successes, like most “transparent” bloggers do (which is still pretty interesting), Groove doesn’t hide much of anything.

As long as it adds value to content, they include it for the reader.

When they try different experiments, they share the results of all of them, even the bad ones:

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The real value is in explaining how they overcame their challenges and achieved their successes.

And, of course, they share that too.

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One final note on this: Don’t be transparent for the sake of it. Be transparent if it adds value to your content.

Since Groove usually focuses on their marketing efforts and experiments, the private data behind them actually adds a lot of value to the content, so it makes sense to include it.

Decide what parts of your business your readers would actually be interested in, and don’t be afraid to shed some light on them.

Lesson #5 – Always be actionable: In theory, it’s fairly simple to succeed using content marketing. Just create content that is as valuable as possible.

Of course, it’s more complicated than that in practice because there are many ways to go about it.

There are many key factors behind valuable content, but none is probably as important as its ability to be actionable.

If you can get readers to take action and achieve success with it, you will make your content extremely valuable to them.

By continuously providing actionable content, you attract loyal hordes of readers.

Any chance they get at the Groove blog, they show exactly how they tested something.

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Case Study #3: 1,000 new email subscribers with one content marketing tactic

(Original case study)

This case study isn’t of an overall content marketing strategy—it’s of one specific content marketing tactic.

Jimmy Daly of Vero used Brian Dean’s skyscraper technique and got some amazing results:

  • 30,000 page views
  • 1,000 new email subscribers
  • #2 Google ranking for a fairly competitive term

I think most content marketers would be happy to get these kinds of results with a single piece of content.

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Lesson #6 – Quality always makes the difference: The key principle of the skyscraper technique is to look at the content that contains a particular keyword or subject and then create something on a much higher level.

If you truly have the highest quality content, along with good promotion, you’ll get great results on a consistent basis.

If you’d like to take a look, here’s the post that Jimmy made. Judge the quality for yourself, but I think it’s very high, especially compared to his competition back then.

At the time, he had the following table of contents for the post, which I think is very creative:

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I’ve actually used this table of contents as an example of an effective formatting tactic a few times in the past.

Compare that to your typical table of contents modeled on Wikipedia:

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Sure, it’s still useful, but it’s not of the same level of quality.

Show the 2 different tables of contents to a reader, and most will be unimpressed by the second one, but really impressed by the quality of the first.

If you actually check out his article now, he’s changed his table of contents to this:

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It’s still more attractive than a typical table of contents, even if it’s simpler. I suspect that the reason for this change is to increase usability for mobile readers.

Regardless of the outcome, the intention was good. Jimmy was trying to make his content as high in quality as possible.

If you improve the quality of your content in as many ways as you can, you’ll get amazing results with your content marketing.

Lesson #7 – Influencers can drive explosive results: There are many different ways to grow a website (or more specifically, a blog’s readership).

There are 2 main types of successful blogs.

The first is the grinding blog. They do all the promotion themselves, find their readers, and convince them to come to the blog.

It works, but it can take a very long time.

The other type is the one that comes out of nowhere and becomes very popular in its niche.

Those are the ones that other established influencers love.

Once you can get influencers to support you, they can send you a great deal of consistent, high-quality traffic quickly. If you have enough influencers supporting you, you’ll have everything you need to become one yourself.

This is the ideal case; it’s very difficult to actually implement unless you’re offering something truly exceptional.

But it’s not an all-or-nothing situation.

Just because an influencer isn’t mentioning you at every opportunity doesn’t mean they won’t mention you at all.

Getting a few shares or article mentions from an influencer is a much more realistic, but still really effective, way to grow your blog.

One of the reasons why Jimmy was able to drive the initial burst of traffic to his post was that he connected with a few key influencers.

He emailed them beforehand, telling them about the post, and asked for a short piece of advice to feature in the article.

One of the influencers was Alex (the chief contributing blogger) at Groove:

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Guess what happens when you feature someone in an article like that?

They are much more likely to share and help you promote the article (at least in little ways).

Look for ways to connect with influencers in your niche, and give value to them (in some form). That’s how you start to gain their support, which can accelerate the growth of your blog.

Case Study #4: 500-700 organic search traffic visitors per day with a simple strategy

(Original case study)

The first 2 case studies focused on the results that you can achieve with a great content marketing strategy, but I understand that not everyone is at the level where they’re aiming for hundreds of thousands of visitors per month.

This case study features good results, but nothing anyone else couldn’t achieve too.

After following their content marketing strategy, Express Writers were able to get about 18,000 search visitors per month to their blog—definitely a solid number, but nothing incredibly difficult for someone else.

They are in a fairly crowded niche: selling writing.

They offer a wide variety of writing services to businesses, such as blog post creation, press release writing, etc.

What was the strategy? In the words of one of their bloggers, Julia McCoy:

Four 2000-word pieces per week for our own blog, along with 4-6 more pieces per week for major guest blogs including such high-authority sites as Search Engine Journal, Site Pro News, SEM Rush and Content Marketing Institute.

The result of following that strategy was being able to outrank most of their competitors and getting consistent search traffic:

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Lesson #8 – Successful content marketing is consistent: Unlike a few of the case studies we’ve looked at already, there’s nothing big or peculiar about this strategy.

That’s actually a really good thing.

You don’t want to count on going viral to succeed. It’s nice if it happens, but if you need it to grow your blog significantly, you have other problems.

Most marketers should be growing their blogs by consistently producing high quality content.

Express Writers created 8-10 strong posts every single week, and it led to these results. Keep in mind that the average visitor in this niche is a high value one. A business hiring a writer can spend thousands of dollars on a regular basis.

Additionally, from their regular readers, new readers from search engine results, and visitors from other places, they are able to get about 700 visits a day to their content shop (main sales page).

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With a decent conversion rate, they are generating solid, consistent, and recurring revenue.

Lesson #9 – Practice what you preach: On top of driving traffic to their website with this content marketing strategy, the company enjoyed one other huge benefit—proof of success.

Since Express Writers is a company that sells content creation services, mainly to help clients improve their own traffic, this is a big deal.

A potential client can land on the blog, see that they know what they’re doing, and eventually end up hiring them based on that impression.

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That’s huge.

Even more than that, I think that you should always be able to demonstrate to yourself that your product performs.

When you do that, you will never turn to cheap sales tricks to sell products; you will truly believe (and have the data to back it up) that your product or service is valuable.

It’s easy for this team of writers to sell their content and assert that it’s some of the best out there because it actually gets the results they claim it does.

If you’re advising leads or customers to do or buy something, make sure you’re the one to do it first. It will add an element of power and persuasiveness to your message.

Case Study #5: Image based content marketing tactic to increase overall organic traffic by 175%

(Original case study)

This fifth case study is one shared by Brian Dean again, but it’s his own results.

He used a technique for which he coined a term, guestographics, in order to get more backlinks for a page and improve its search engine rankings.

Originally, he wrote a post about on-page SEO.

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As any other article he posts, this was a high-quality article.

It was getting a bit of search traffic, but not as much as Brian had hoped. So, he used this technique and was able to increase organic search traffic by 175.59%.

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Not too shabby. And it also would have improved his rankings for other related posts on his site.

The tactic itself is pretty simple:

  1. Create a great infographic.
  2. Create a list of sites that write about whatever topic you covered.
  3. Send them a link to your infographic.
  4. Offer to write a custom intro if they agree to post it on their site.

Lesson #10 – Different types of content lets you expand your reach: So far, we’ve mainly looked at standard blog posts being used in content marketing.

Yes, those may make up a larger percentage of the content you end up producing, but there are many other types of content that you can produce.

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For some messages, there are better forms of content than just standard blog posts.

In this case, Brian created an infographic.

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And then, he combined it with his original article.

By doing this, he was able to promote his post again and further improve its rankings. He was able to take the original message of the article and reproduce it in an easier to digest format, which benefits his readers.

The takeaway from this case study is that whenever you create content, you should be thinking of 2 things:

  • What is the best way to cover this topic? (to your readers)
  • Would creating this content in multiple forms enhance the reading experience?

If you said yes to the second, you can get creative with your repurposing to create extra promotional opportunities.

Also, by creating different forms of content, you can expose your content to a new audience that you may not normally reach.

Lesson #11 – Great content is nothing without promotion: One of the biggest aspects of successful content marketing that you need to have drilled into your head until it’s habit is that all content needs promotion.

The only exception is when you have a large audience, because your audience will essentially promote your content for you by sharing it.

Other than that, there’s no point creating content if it isn’t getting in front of new readers.

When Brian created the infographic, he was able to email new sites who didn’t already link to him, and get them to link to his article. Check out what his referring domains graph looked like shortly after:

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That’s a lot of new backlinks and the reason why his organic traffic increased.

Lesson #12 – Good marketing can be simple: You see popular blogs all the time and may think that they must be using some secret marketing techniques.

But the truth is that marketing comes down to building connections with the right people.

In most cases, there’s nothing secret or advanced going on.

In his case study, Brian shared the simple email template that he sent to various website owners to get them to post his infographic on their sites and link to him: 

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You could write something like that, couldn’t you?

The difference between someone like Brian and a mediocre marketer is one of the lessons we have already studied—consistency.

He doesn’t just send these types of articles out to 10 or 20 website owners; he sends it out to hundreds.

He doesn’t just do it for one of his posts; he does it for every single post he creates.

This kind of consistent promotion is how you get the backlinks and the search traffic that comes with them.

Don’t stop yourself from taking action just because the content marketing strategy seems too simple or because you think there must be more to it.

Simple strategies are good. Execute them consistently and improve them when you can, and you will get the results you’re looking for.

Conclusion

If you ever get overwhelmed or confused during your content marketing journey, take a step back.

No matter what niche you’re in and no matter what type of business you run, someone has done it before.

This means that you can study them, learn from them, and use this information to overcome any obstacles that stand in your way.

In this post, I went over 12 lessons from 5 awesome content marketing case studies. These are lessons that apply to just about any content marketing strategy.

I strongly encourage you to implement these lessons as soon as you can. You’ll reach your goals faster because of it.

If you have any cool case studies (personal or otherwise), it’d be great if you could share them in a comment below.

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