Monthly Archive: August 2018


3 Google Analytics Reports Every Business Should Monitor

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You’ve probably heard the phrase “Knowledge is power.”

Well, that is absolutely true when it comes to your website.

Without in-depth knowledge of what’s happening on your website, you’re basically flying blind. You don’t know how people are finding your site. You don’t know what they’re doing once they get there. And you don’t know which visitors are buying which products.

In other words, you’re powerless to actually improve your website’s performance… because you don’t know what’s working and what isn’t.

That’s where Google Analytics comes in.

When you know how to use it, Google Analytics can tell you SO MUCH about your website and the people on it. Who are your users? Where are they coming from? What actions are they taking?

This is the kind of information (power) you need to make smart, informed decisions to grow your profits and your business.

But for many people, Google Analytics can seem overwhelming. Confusing. Complicated.

And that’s especially true if you’re a beginner and you don’t know where to start.

That’s why I’m writing this post.

You’re about to learn the 3 Google Analytics reports that give you the most bang for your buck—so you can gain the most valuable insight into what people are doing on your site, in the least amount of time and effort possible.

By the time you’re done, you’ll know how to use these 3 reports to get a quick snapshot of your overall website performance. You’ll also have a few tricks you can use to drill down and get more focused data that you can use to bring in more sales and revenue from your website visitors.

NOTE: Throughout this post, I’m going to be showing you a lot of screenshots. These screenshots come from the Google Test Account, which is a publicly available analytics account you can use to play around and learn more.

If you don’t yet have a Google Analytics account—or if you don’t have much data yet—feel free to open the test account in a separate tab or on a second monitor. If you do have a Google Analytics account, open your own dashboard instead.

Either way, you’ll get the most benefit from this post if you follow along at home as you read. So let’s get started.

Google Analytics Report #1: Source/Medium Report

In my opinion, this is the most important report in Google Analytics.

It gives you an actionable, high-level overview of your website’s performance broken down by traffic source.

You’ll find it under the “Acquisitions” tab, which contains all the reports that tell you about how people are getting to your website (How you are “acquiring” your traffic).

To find it, first click “Acquisition,” then “All Traffic,” then “Source/Medium”:

For the moment, you can ignore the graph at the top of the page. Instead, you’ll want to scroll down to the table—this is where you’ll find the real meat of the report:

This table shows you all the different traffic sources for your website along with the performance details for each source. So you can see things like…

The identity of each traffic source and how many users they are sending you
How engaged those users are on your site
What bottom line results are each of those traffic sources producing (measured by purchases and/or goal conversions)

You want to look for anomalies. Things that stand out.

So what should you be looking for here?

In general, you want to look for anomalies. Things that stand out.

We have a saying at our company, “The truth is in the trend, the power is in the pattern.”

For example…

Knowing that your site has a 46% bounce rate is not particularly helpful. But if you know that YouTube traffic has a 58% bounce rate and email traffic has a 13% bounce rate—that is, almost 5x higher… well, that could be a useful thing to know.

This tells you that people coming from email are much more likely to engage with your site and visit more than 1 page. Once you know that, you can go about making changes to improve your website’s performance—perhaps by prioritizing email over YouTube. Or perhaps by creating a new landing page made specifically for your YouTube visitors.

Another thing I love about this report is that it shows you the big picture. You can see your overall results in terms of sales and revenue from each traffic source:

This reveals that even though YouTube is your second-highest source of traffic, it doesn’t bring you any sales. On the other hand, deal sites are your #1 source of revenue—despite the fact that they bring you far less traffic.

The Importance of Tagging Your Traffic

In order to get the most insight from this report, it’s essential to tag your traffic.

Here’s why:

See that “(direct) / (none)” traffic source?

Anytime someone comes to your website and Google Analytics can’t figure out how they found you, that’s where Google puts them. Inside the “(direct) / (none)” source. Basically, Google doesn’t know if those visitors typed your URL directly into their browser, or if they clicked on an untagged link. And if they did click on a link, there’s no way to know which link they came from.

Basically, (direct) / (none) is like a black box. And as you might imagine, having a black box in your analytics is not very useful…

Fortunately, you can reduce the amount of (direct) / (none) traffic in your Analytics account by tagging your links.

By tagging your links, you’re letting Google know where your traffic is coming from. This gives you better insight into ALL your traffic sources and generally makes it easier to organize your analytics reports.

To tag your traffic, you simply add a bit of code after your website URL anytime you link back to your site. Here’s what it looks like:

If you tag your links like this, then the traffic that comes from that link will no longer show up as (direct) / (none). Now, it will show up in Google Analytics with a source of “newsletter” and a medium of “email.”

You definitely want to get in the habit of tagging your traffic at all times. It’s not hard to do once you get the hang of it. One easy way is to use Google’s Campaign URL Builder.

Now some people don’t like using tagged URLs because it makes the link itself look longer and uglier. After all, is a lot simpler and nicer-looking than:

But here’s a trick for getting around that: use a link shortener (like to effectively hide the UTM parameters.

To do this, just create your tagged URL. For example:

Then use a link shortener to create a new URL that redirects visitors to that longer, tagged URL. For example:

Try clicking that link and then looking at the URL at the top of the page. You’ll see the UTM parameters are there, even though you can’t see them in the shortened version of the link.

(RELATED: Get back to the basics of Google Analytics with The Complete Guide to Google Analytics Campaign Tracking)

Google Analytics Report #2: Landing Pages Report

The next report you’ll want to monitor on a regular basis is the Landing Pages report.

Now when people talk about landing pages here at DigitalMarketer, they’re often talking about a specific type of page—like an opt-in page that’s designed to generate a new email subscriber.

But Google Analytics defines a landing page a bit differently. To Google Analytics, a “landing page” is the first page that someone sees when they visit your website.

So if someone’s visit goes like this:

Homepage → Category Page → Product Page → Exit

Then the homepage was the “landing page” for that session. Another visit might go like this:

Blog Post → Homepage → About Us Page → Exit

In this case, the blog post was the landing page—because that’s the page they first landed on when they reached your site.

When you start combining the insights from these different reports, that’s when you start to glimpse the really awesome power of Google Analytics.

Make sense?


And what’s really cool about this report is that it breaks out all the sessions people had on your website into the landing pages that initiated those sessions. In other words: it shows you which pages people are seeing FIRST. Then it allows you to compare the performance of those pages to see which landing pages are doing the best job of engaging your visitors.

It’s located in the “Behavior” tab, which contains a bunch of reports that give you better insight into the behaviors people are taking on your website.

To find it, first click “Behavior,” then “Site Content,” then “Landing Pages”:

And once again, the meat of this report lies in the table farther down on the page.

The leftmost column in that table lists all the different landing pages on your website:

Remember, these are the pages that people arrive on FIRST when they visit your site.

And when you start to look at the engagement metrics of these landing pages, you can learn some really interesting things.

For example, if you look at the bounce rate, you’ll find that some landing pages do a much better job of engaging your visitors than others:

The sixth landing page in this table has a much higher bounce rate than your other landing pages; it’s more than double the bounce rate of the fourth landing page.

You’ll probably want to take a look at that page with the high bounce rate and see if you can figure out why people are bouncing when they come to it. Maybe it’s missing a menu, or maybe the content doesn’t do a good job of addressing what the visitor is looking for.

2 other metrics you’ll want to look at are Pages / Session and Avg. Session Duration. These can also reveal insights into how well your landing pages are performing.

For example, the fourth page in this table does a much better job of engaging visitors than the second:

This is another example where you’ll want to take a look at the high- and low-performing pages to see what you can learn (And more importantly, what you can do to leverage the high-performers and improve the low-performers).

Now that’s all really cool, useful stuff you can uncover in this report.

But when you start combining the insights from these different reports, that’s when you start to glimpse the really awesome power of Google Analytics.

(NOTE: With Lab+, you can access all 11 of our acclaimed marketing certification and mastery courses—including the Analytics & Data Mastery Course that will teach you how to interpret your data so you can make informed business decisions—PLUS everything Lab has to offer. Quickly become a full-stack marketer with the best training available. Start your free trial today!)

How to Segment Your Report by a Secondary Dimension

Remember that in report #1, you learned how to analyze your website by looking at each traffic source individually.

We’re in a different report right now, but you can still apply Source/Medium to this report using a secondary dimension.

In simple terms, what this does is allow you to analyze all your landing pages, broken out by traffic source.

That might be kind of hard to conceptualize, so let’s just go through an example to make this a little easier to understand.

To apply a secondary dimension, just click “Secondary dimension” above the table. Then click in the search bar and type “source.” Finally, click on “Source / Medium” to apply that segment to the table.

You’ll notice that this has added another column to the table: the “Source / Medium” row:

Now you can see the performance of each landing page, broken down by traffic source. For example:

In the table below, row 1 shows all the data from sessions starting on /home and coming from organic Google traffic. Row 6 shows all the data from sessions starting on /home and coming from Adwords (Google CPC):

And if you want to dig down and focus on 1 particular landing page, you can click on it in the table:

Doing this will show you only that particular landing page, so you can compare all the traffic sources going to that page. Like so:

I LOVE doing deep-dives like this because this is where you can learn some really useful information. For example, if you take a look at that table you’ll see that even though organic traffic accounts for the most visits to your homepage… it does NOT result in the most revenue.

Instead, the traffic sources linking to your homepage that create the most revenue are rows 3 and 4 (email and deal sites):

Knowing this, you might realize you want to do things a little differently. For instance, you might decide to change your homepage so that it speaks more directly to people coming from emails and deal sites.

One Last Thing to Keep in Mind

There’s one thing I want to make sure you realize: this report shows you the data from your users’ ENTIRE session.

To understand what that means, first you have to know what Google Analytics means by a “session.” A session is essentially a “visit.”

If you visit a website and browse around for a few minutes, then leave, that was 1 session. If you come back the next day and browse around some more, that’s another session.

And the Landing Pages report shows you what happens during the entire session—NOT just what happens on the landing page itself.

For an example of what that means, take a look at this column of data:

This section shows 243 transactions with /home as the landing page.

But those transactions didn’t occur ON the homepage itself. Instead, they most likely occurred AFTER the person landed on the homepage and then navigated to a different page (Probably a product page, then a checkout page, then a confirmation page).

For example, 1 session might have gone like this:

Homepage → Product Page → Shopping Cart → Order Confirmation Page

Another session might have gone like this:

Homepage → Features Page → Product Page → Shopping Cart → Order Confirmation Page

The point is that those 243 transactions didn’t necessarily occur ON the homepage. But they did occur during sessions that BEGAN on the homepage.

(RELATED: Want to shape up your landing pages to get better engagement? Check out our 15-Point Landing Page Audit that you can download for FREE!)

Google Analytics Report #3: Product Performance Report

The last report you’re going to want to keep a close eye on is the Product Performance report. And this one gives you a detailed view into your ecommerce sales broken out by product.

It’s located under the “Conversions” tab, which contains all the reports that dig into the goal conversions happening on your website.

To find it, first click on “Conversions,” then “Ecommerce,” and finally “Product Performance.”

You’ll notice that this table is broken down by product, allowing you to view sales performance for all the different products for sale on your site.

Here you can see, at a glance, how much revenue you generated from each product. You’ll also see your sales broken down by quantity, average price, refunds, and more.

This is another high-level report that can reveal some important insights if you simply look for the things that stand out.

Another thing you can do is to compare “Unique Purchases” and “Quantity” to get an idea of how many people are purchasing multiple copies of a product. In this table, you’ll see that in row #2, everyone purchased exactly 1 copy of the product (8 sales, 8 units sold). But 2 rows lower, you had 7 purchases resulting in 21 total units sold—which means people are buying more than 1 at a time.

This gives you even more insight into the buying habits of your website visitors, which you can use to better optimize your site for more purchases and revenue.

You Can Segment This Report, Too

And once again, you can segment this report by a secondary dimension to get even more focused data.

You can segment by source/medium to find out which traffic sources are resulting in the most sales of each product:

Digging down into the data, you might notice that your top-selling product brings in 10x more revenue from deal sites than it does from organic traffic:

In this case, you might want to spend less time on SEO and more time on getting featured on more deal sites.

You can also segment by landing page to find out which landing pages are resulting in the most sales of each product:

You may notice, for instance, that your buy-to-detail rate is highest when the landing page is /basket.html:

And that makes sense when you think about it. If someone’s session begins on /basket.html, they’re probably coming from a shopping cart abandonment campaign of some kind. So you would expect to see a high conversion rate from those visitors.

Applying these secondary dimensions can reveal some really useful insights. For instance, which traffic sources or blog posts are leading to the most sales of your best-selling products? Do people coming from YouTube buy the same products as people coming from PPC? What products do people usually end up buying when they arrive on a certain category page?

When you know the answers to questions like that, you can start to drive more traffic through your best sources—and to your best landing pages—to increase your sales even more.

Start with ONE Thing

Google Analytics can be really overwhelming at first.

(Don’t feel bad. It was the same way for me and everyone else I’ve ever known.)

But there’s something you can do to minimize or even avoid feeling overwhelmed:

Start with just ONE thing.

Part of the reason why Google Analytics seems so complex is because people start clicking around and looking at a dozen different reports at once.

That’s a sure-fire road to confusion, frustration, and overwhelm.

But if you look at ONE report at a time, and just focus on making sense of what that one report is telling you…

…then you can start to learn useful information right away.

Then, AFTER you’ve mastered that first report, you can move on to another.

Then another. Then another.

And the cool thing about Google Analytics is that each time you learn how to use a new report, you’ll also understand how to use that dimension as a “secondary dimension” to segment other reports.

So… Don’t be in a hurry. Don’t try to figure it all out at once.

Just start with one of the reports in this post (personally, I’d suggest the Source / Medium report), and take your time figuring it out. Then move on when you’re ready.

(NOTE:With Lab+, you can access all 11 of our acclaimed marketing certification and mastery courses—including the Analytics & Data Mastery Course that will teach you how to interpret your data so you can make informed business decisions—PLUS everything Lab has to offer. Quickly become a full-stack marketer with the best training available. Start your free trial today!)

The post 3 Google Analytics Reports Every Business Should Monitor appeared first on DigitalMarketer.


3 Simple Steps to Creating A “Pillar Blog Post” That Generates Organic Traffic for Years to Come

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You know content is important… right?

I hope so.

After all, back in 2014, when DigitalMarketer was a young company that nobody had ever heard of, it was content that helped cement our authority and launch us into the international brand we are today.

And do you know how many pieces of content it took to begin that dramatic transformation?


That’s what it took to launch the DM brand.

Just 10 amazing pieces of content.

And if you don’t believe me, check out this recent post from Ryan:

Now when we say all you need is 10 pieces of content, these aren’t just any old blog posts you can put together in 45 minutes. These are big, meaty, strategically positioned pieces of content that we call “pillar posts.”

And in this article I’m going to show you how to create your own pillar content so you, too, can build your authority, your brand, and your business through better content marketing.

When you’re done reading this article, you’ll have a simple 3-step system you can follow to create a pillar blog post that continues to bring new website traffic and leads to your website—and pre-sells them on the value of your product or service—for years to come.

But before we get started, there’s one question you need to ask yourself.

Are You a Publisher?

Many people have the mistaken belief that in order to succeed with content marketing, they have to post a new piece of content every single day.

Luckily, that’s not true. At least… not for most of us.

Most companies out there do NOT need to create a ton of new content on a hyper-regular basis. The only exception is publishing companies.

Publishers are companies whose business model is “publishing.” These companies make their money by serving ads on their content. And in order to maximize their revenue, they also have to maximize the amount of content they produce each day.

Classic examples include The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

That said, this post isn’t for publishers.

Now if you’re a publisher, volume is the name of the game… which means you DO need to publish a lot of content. Because that’s how you make your revenue.

Gizmodo, for instance, publishes 6-8 pieces of content per day. theCHIVE produces 40 a day!

That said, this post isn’t for publishers.

Because the strategy I’m about to teach you doesn’t really apply to companies like Gizmodo or The New York Times. If you are a publisher, you may find our “Ultimate List of Blog Post Ideas” helpful.

But if you’re a company that sells a product or service—whether it’s a physical product, a service, a SaaS product, whatever—then this process of creating pillar blog posts WILL work for you.

At this point you might be wondering…

What the Heck is a Pillar Blog Post, Anyway?

Think of a pillar blog post like the columns in the ancient Greek temples. The pillar is what holds up the building. It supports the weight.

A pillar post does the same thing. It’s the foundation that supports the rest of your content marketing.

Pillar posts are big, meaty posts. They’re useful, actionable, well-written, and engaging. They’re filled with relevant images and audio/video files to support the points you’re making in the text.

As a result, pillar posts have something that 99% of other blog posts don’t have: longevity.

The average blog post gets a spike of traffic when it’s first posted… then it quickly dies down. After 48 hours, most blog posts are basically dead. They never again bring in more than a trickle of traffic.

Pillar posts, on the other hand, provide long-lasting ROI. They’ll continue generating new visitors to your website day after day, week after week, even year after year.

Some of our pillar posts at DigitalMarketer are still generating massive organic traffic, even 5 years after they were initially published, like our “101 Best Email Subject Lines.”

Finally, the last thing that separates a pillar post is that they pre-sell your product or service.

It’s not enough to simply publish a blog post that’s somewhat relevant to your product or service. Your content should actively pre-sell your audience on the value of whatever it is you offer by providing them with the education they need to fully understand why your product or service is so incredibly valuable.

It might sound complicated, but I promise it’s really not. In fact the whole process can be boiled down into 3 simple steps…

Step 1: Choose Your Topic

The first and most important step is to simply decide what you’re going to talk about.

Don’t rush this step. In order for this process to work, you need to spend a little time here and really come up with a topic that is going to resonate with your audience.

A pillar post is designed to help pre-sell your product or service to the reader.

Remember, I said that a pillar post is designed to help pre-sell your product or service to the reader. Well, in order for that to happen you need to really think about your audience, what their problem is, what they want, and what kind of content would be most helpful to them.

Here are the 3 questions you should ask yourself about your ideal customer to help come up with great topics for your content. Trust me—the topic for your pillar post is hiding in those answers.

1) What does your prospect need to believe in order to buy the product or service you’re selling?

For example, if you’re selling a marathon training course, maybe your prospect needs to believe that they can run a marathon—even if they work full-time and can only train on nights and weekends.

Or maybe they need to believe that they can run a marathon, even if they’re over 40 or 50 or even if they’re currently overweight.

Because if your prospect doesn’t believe they can run a marathon because of their job, weight, age, etc., then they aren’t going to buy your marathon training course.

So it’s your job to educate them and answer their most common objections with a post like:

“How to Run a Marathon, Even if You Work 40 Hours a Week”

Here’s another example of an article that does a good job of this. It’s called, “5 Reasons why Small Businesses Should use A CRM”:

Clearly this company has identified some of the beliefs that their customers have (particularly the small business owners) need to be overcome. Then they turned that into a blog post that helps to overcome those common objections.

2) What do your prospects research before they buy your product or service?

So our marathon company that we mentioned earlier needs to figure out the kind of things that marathon runners research before they run a marathon, and thus, buy your product.

Are they searching for marathon training tips?

Best marathon shoes?

Marathon motivation?

Here’s another example from REI. They’ve put together a checklist of mountain biking equipment:

This is a great post for new mountain bikers who are researching what kind of gear they need to get started. And, of course, the list has plenty of hyperlinks to products you can buy right on the REI website.

3) What conversations are going on in the mind of your customer before they buy your product or service?

Now you have to really dig deep into the minds of your customers.

When people are thinking about running a marathon, what kinds of things are they thinking about?

Maybe they’re wondering if marathons are good for you or not.

Maybe they’re wondering if running long-distance will hurt their knees, or cause muscle wasting, or 100 other similar questions.

Here’s a great example from Glassdoor. Clearly they’ve identified some of the doubts that tend to run through people’s minds right before an interview:

Here’s another from Charles Schwab. It’s a timely topic for parents (like myself) who are just starting to think about paying for their kid’s college and so on.

Become the Answer to These Questions

These questions are super important because they help you to identify all the hot-button topics that are on your customers’ minds during the buying process.

And once you know the questions your prospects are asking, you can start being the answer to those questions. This will be the foundation for your pillar blog post.

Once you know the questions your prospects are asking, you can start being the answer to those questions.

Are you having trouble figuring out what kinds of questions your prospects have? If so, here’s a little hint.

Get out there and ask them!

Check out forums dedicated to your niche. Attend a local meetup. Or just see if you can interview some of your company’s previous customers to find out what sort of things they researched and thought about before they purchased your product.

HINT: Think About the Way Your Audience Self-Identifies

People often go through a process where they suddenly decide to self-identify a certain way.

As as guitar player. A chef. A photographer. Someone who’s fit. Etc.

For instance, maybe you have been mountain biking off and on for a while. But one day, you find yourself biking more and more often, and you realize you really enjoy it. And then you stop thinking of yourself as a guy who goes mountain biking… and start thinking of yourself as an actual mountain biker.

And just like that, the way you identify yourself in your mind has changed.

People do this all the time, and when they do, it’s a great thing for savvy marketers who know how to take advantage of it.


Because anytime a person decides to self-identify as something, they have a tendency to buy a lot of stuff.

When you start to think of yourself as a mountain biker, you’re going to want to own all the things that mountain bikers generally have—like a hardcore mountain bike, protective gear, mountain biking shoes, and so on.

Those possessions are a way of reinforcing your new self-image.

And the trick, when you’re coming up with a topic for your pillar blog post, is to figure out what is going to speak to that person who has just now started to self-identify as a customer who uses the same type of product or service that you provide.

Now this isn’t necessarily an exact science. There’s always a little guesswork involved. Which is why 1 blog topic idea isn’t enough. Instead, I recommend coming up with a list of at least 10.

Create a List of 10 Content Ideas

When you find the perfect topic for a blog post—I mean that 1 blog post topic that absolutely hits your target prospect right where they live and makes them hungry to read more—that 1 piece of content might be all you need to connect with your audience and launch your content marketing success.

That’s what you’re looking for: that 1 idea that will truly resonate with your audience.

And if you take a closer look at Ryan’s post, he says the same thing:

For DigitalMarketer, it was a post called “Customer Value Optimization: How to Build an Unstoppable Business.”

The bad news is that you probably won’t pick the perfect topic right off the bat (ask me how I know). It will probably take a few tries until you hit on a content topic that really works for you.

So, start with a list of at least 10 great content topic ideas.

Then follow the rest of this process for each of those 10 ideas, one at a time, until you hit that home-run.

(NOTE: Struggling to create shareable content quickly? Get the Perfect Blog Post Template. You can use to it create viral blog posts fast, without ever having to “write” a single line of text. Check it out here.)

Step 2: Pick a Type of Post

Now that you know what your content is going to be about, the next step is to choose how you’re going to present it.

And there are 2 post types that I recommend you start with here. These aren’t the only way to format a pillar blog post, certainly, but in most cases these are the 2 best formats to use if you’re writing a pillar post.

And the 2 perfect pillar post types are…

1) The “How To” Post: Describe how to execute a process, and use images, video, or audio to enrich the post

This type of article teaches the reader how to do something—whether it’s how to lose weight, how to change a flat tire, or even how to create a pillar blog post. (Woah, meta.)

If you choose to write a how-to post, make sure to go into detail on every step so that the process you’re explaining is super clear to the reader.

The awesome thing about how-to articles is that they have the natural side-effect of positioning you as an authority in your niche.

As a company that offers training programs, DigitalMarketer would want their prospects to view them as an authority in the digital marketing niche. So creating how-to posts is a natural fit for them, which is why DigitalMarketer writes a lot of them.

An example would be DM’s pillar post on customer value optimization:

This post goes into great detail in explaining how to nurture leads into customers and then how to maximize the value of those customers using a marketing funnel that runs largely on autopilot.

2) The Listicle: Create a list of books, tools, resources, or literally anything else your audience will find useful

The other type of post I recommend is a listicle. This is a big old honkin’ list of things that will be useful for your reader. It’s a good choice when there are many different ways to accomplish whatever it is your reader is trying to do.

It’s also a great choice for a lot of B2C companies who want to give their customers new ideas about different ways to use their product. For example, here’s a listicle post from an essential oil company showing people all the different ways they can use essential oils:

If Those 2 Post Types Don’t Fit…

Chances are pretty good that your pillar post idea will work best as a how-to article or a listicle. So try those 2 post types first.

But if those don’t seem to fit, then check out our blog post called The Ultimate List of Blog Post Ideas. And appropriately enough, this is actually a listicle that contains over 50 (and counting) types of blog posts you can use to deliver your content online.

Then, the last thing you’ll need to do is…

Step 3: Find Your Angle

At this point you have your topic, and you know what format you’re going to present it in. So now you just need to start writing… right?


I can almost guarantee that your post is going to need some kind of angle. Some way of presenting your topic that grabs your reader’s attention and makes them want to click and read that post.

Because here’s the thing. Just about every topic under the sun has been covered before. So it’s not enough to simply write about your topic in a straightforward way.

Instead you first have to find a way to differentiate your post by adding an angle to it. Something that makes it more interesting, more attention-grabbing. Something that makes it stand out from the pack.

Don’t Skip This Step!

Choosing an angle for your post is the step that most people skip.

And that’s a shame because there are a lot of really great posts out there—super helpful posts written about topics people are interested in—that never got the traction they deserved…

All because the creator didn’t write the post in a way that made it stand out from the competition and grab people’s attention.

Here are the 5 main post angles that I recommend for your pillar post:

1) Benefit: A direct angle that speaks to the reader’s self-interest

In this angle, you present your topic as something that will benefit the reader. And everything about that post—from the title to the way you lay out and write the text itself—needs to focus on that benefit.

Because this angle is pretty straightforward, it needs to make a big, bold promise. It needs to tell the reader what they’ll gain or learn.

Here’s an example of a “benefit” angle…

…which promises to show the reader how to be a good leader.

2) New: Use this angle when you are revealing something novel or previously unknown to the reader

People love things that are new and exciting.

New developments, new technology, new announcements—if there’s anything about your topic that you can portray as being new and exciting… something people haven’t seen before… then this is probably the angle you’ll want to use.

The great thing about this angle is that it will appeal to people who are already well-read in your niche.

Take this example from our friends at Social Media Examiner:

If someone has already read 100 articles on how to monetize blogs, they probably won’t want to read a blog that looks like it covers the same thing they’ve already read 100 times.

But you just might grab their attention when you mention “New Research” in your headline, promising them something NEW that they’ve never read before.

3) Threat: A form of the “benefit” angle, this post speaks to the avoidance of pain

This is basically the inverse of Angle #1. Only this time, instead of focusing on how taking action can benefit the reader… you’re focusing on the ways in which NOT taking action could harm them.

Here’s an example of a post with a “threat” angle:

4) Piggyback: Leverages the authority or popularity of someone or something outside of your company

A piggyback is when you leverage something else that’s well-known to lend extra interest and credibility to your topic.

Here’s an example from that piggybacks off of the authority, credibility, and success of Richard Branson:

Richard Branson didn’t write this article. But the author can take advantage of his popularity by writing a post that talks about some of the principles that Richard Branson has talked about or written about in some of his books.

5) Curiosity: Piques interest without providing direct information

The last angle, curiosity, is when you write a post that makes people curious to read more.

You’re not necessarily promising a benefit, or something new, or piggybacking on something else… you’re just piquing the reader’s interest as a way to draw as many people into your content as possible.

Here’s a great example of a “curiosity” post:

This was a super shocking headline, but it made perfect sense for this post because most people (including myself) didn’t know that James Chartrand is actually a woman.

Note: You have to be a little careful with curiosity angles. Don’t try to get too cute or too clever with your angles until you know what you’re doing. Otherwise you’ll end up writing a post headline that doesn’t really speak to anyone.

You Can Combine These Angles Together

Now that you know the 5 most common angles for pillar posts, keep in mind you can also Frankenstein these things together to create an even more enticing post angle.

For example, you might combine a benefit angle with a new angle to create a post like:

“Research Shows This New Face Cream Reduces Wrinkles by 90%…”

Or you could combine a threat angle with a piggyback angle to make this post:

“Warren Buffet Warns Investors: Do NOT Invest in the Stock Market Unless You Do This First!”

3 Tips to Help Extend the Lifespan of Your Post

Remember, the goal of this process is to create a post that will live for a long time, bringing you more and more organic traffic even months or years after you publish it.

If you follow the 3-step process I outlined above, you’ll be well on your way to achieving that goal.

But just to make sure you’re armed with all the content firepower available, I’m also sharing these 3 tips to help make sure your posts live a long and healthy life.

1) Update Them Regularly

If you want your posts to continue bringing in traffic year after year, you need to update them and add to them on a regular basis. (Once a year is a good goal.)

This does a couple things.

First, it lets Google know that your post is still up-to-date, still relevant. Google rewards pages that are updated more often with better organic rankings, so this is a way to let them know your post hasn’t fallen behind the times.

“Hoping” isn’t a strategy.

It also makes the post itself more relevant, interesting, and useful for the end reader. Because no matter what topic you’re writing about, there’s bound to be some new information on that topic every year.

And by keeping your post up-to-date, you’re making sure that it continues to be the go-to resource for people who are researching that topic.

2) Create Something 10x Better Than Anything Else Out There

Before you write your post, it’s a good idea to find some of the other pieces of content out there on the topic. Read through that content and see what your competitors have already done.

Then do 10x better than that.

If you aren’t willing to go way above and beyond what’s already out there, then this process isn’t worth your time.

If you want people to choose your blog post over someone else’s (especially a blog post that’s already out there and getting organic traffic), then you have to give them a good reason to do so—and you have to make sure that your content is the best, most helpful resource out there on your topic.

3) Buy Some Website Traffic

Once you publish your blog post, don’t be afraid to pay to send some web traffic to it.

There’s a lot of competition out there for people’s attention, and you can’t always just publish content and hope that people will notice it.

“Hoping” isn’t a strategy.

Instead, it’s your job to make sure that people notice you. And one way you can do that is by spending some money to get your content in front of the right kind of people.

How Many Pillar Posts Do You Need?

The last thing I’m going to talk about in this post is: how many times should you go through this process?

In step #1, I recommended coming up with 10 pillar post topics.

And that’s a good number to start with. When I first started at DM, that’s what I did: I started by creating 10 awesome pieces of content.

And that was enough.

Those 10 blog posts were enough to grab the attention of our market and really launch us into the brand we are today.

So come up with 10 post topic ideas. Then complete the rest of this process for each of those ideas, 1 at a time, until you have 10 amazing pieces of content.

But don’t stop there!

Once you’re finished with your first 10 pieces of content, do it again. And again.

And again.

And watch your audience, your brand, and your business grow to new heights.

(NOTE: Struggling to create shareable content quickly? Get the Perfect Blog Post Template. You can use to it create viral blog posts fast, without ever having to “write” a single line of text. Check it out here.)

The post 3 Simple Steps to Creating A “Pillar Blog Post” That Generates Organic Traffic for Years to Come appeared first on DigitalMarketer.


Making Marketing Training Work: Closing Skills Gaps, Proving Value

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Does investing in employees’ marketing skills pay off? Or is it just a waste?

Businesses spent nearly $94 billion on corporate training in 2017—a 33% increase over 2016.  Per employee, expenditures ranged from $399 at large companies to $1,886 at smaller organizations, according to the same report from Training magazine.

Within marketing departments, an estimated 4.2% of the total marketing budget now goes to training programs, up from 2.7% in 2014. The Association of National Advertisers’ CMO Talent Challenge Playbook highlights success stories from marketing training investments:

After Unilever rolled out a training program to 5,000 marketers in 2016, it reported a “35% uplift in knowledge” and “96% uplift in confidence.”
Graduates of IBM’s E.School now produce marketing content that “performs better on average than content previously produced.”
Fifteen months after implementing their “New Modern Marketing Curriculum,” Johnson & Johnson’s team showed a “statistically significant increase” in prioritized skill areas.

What about your team? Are you spending too much? Too little? Are you training the right skill sets? Is training a good investment? A wasteful expense? Do you even know?

The State of Marketing Training

Some 23% of marketers surveyed by HubSpot identified “training our team” as a top challenge. “Hiring top talent” was immediately below, at 22%.

Companies trying to hire their way out of a skills gap face a competitive marketplace. LinkedIn’s May 2018 Workforce Report revealed a 230,000-person shortage in the United States for marketing skills, with demand highest in major cities.

That tight talent market has pushed training to the forefront, especially training to develop new marketing capabilities. The biannual CMO Survey anticipated a 6.5% increase in investment for “how to do marketing.” No other increase in marketing knowledge development—such as the transfer of internal knowledge or honing of market research skills—topped 3.9%.

As a segment of the training market, however, marketing lags behind the stalwarts of the industry—sales and leadership training:

Search volume for “marketing training” has consistently trailed other disciplines. Source: Google Trends.

Still, marketing’s share of the corporate training budget is significant: $17 million annually for large companies (10,000+ employees), per Training magazine. Mid-size companies (1,000–9,999) spend an average of $1.5 million per year; small companies (100–999) invest around $375,000.

Those figures are supported by similar findings from a 2016 Brandon Hall Group Benchmarking Study, which surveyed training spending for equivalent tiers: $13 million (10,000+ employees), $3.7 million (1,000–9,999), and $290,000 (100–999).

In recent years, most of that money has tried to close a single marketing skills gap: digital.

A Skills Gap Marketers Don’t Know They Have

The Digital Marketing Institute’s 2016 report “Missing the Mark: The Digital Marketing Skills Gap in the USA, UK & Ireland” lays bare marketers’ shortcomings. Only 8% of those tested achieved entry-level digital marketing skills, and the perception of skill exceeded performance: 51% of U.S. marketers perceived a skill level that only 38% demonstrated via testing.

A 2018 analysis of client data by General Assembly—which has benchmarked more than 25,000 marketers with its “Digital Marketing Level 1” skills assessment—found no correlation between seniority and expertise (among those below the vice-presidential level), and cited “data and measurement” as the biggest skills gap.

“It’s not uncommon for us to hear, ‘We don’t know what we don’t know,’” noted Alison Kashin, an Education Product Manager at General Assembly who focuses on digital marketing training. Kashin elaborated:

Most corporate marketers have outsourced digital execution to agencies, and clients now realize they’re too far removed to be effective. It’s hard to give direction, ask the right questions, or make confident decisions if you don’t know how something works.

Marketers’ Self-Inflicted Wound

The yawning skills gap is, in part, self-inflicted. As the Digital Marketing Institute’s report notes, “The general consensus among employees is that the pace of technological and digital change within their organizations is too slow, and that factors such as a fear of loss of control, especially among employees aged 35–49 years, is hindering its adoption.”

The push to close the skills gap also has the potential to create tension with agency partners, who at times transfer knowledge that reduces the need for their services. As Rhea Drysdale, CEO of Outspoken Media, explained:

Companies want to train their team so they can handle more internally, and that makes sense. They see our work as a means to an end. More often than not, that end is team growth.

“This exact scenario happened last year with an enterprise-level professional services company,” Drysdale continued. “Our advocate went from managing one person to a dedicated team that included a data person, an SEO, an editor, and developers. We’re still working with them but as a consultant on project scopes.”

Digital marketing isn’t the only skills gap disrupting the industry—in-house and agency—either.

Further Fronts in Marketing Training

Niches like account-based marketing (ABM) have seen rapid growth in recent years as well.

“The top question we get around education and training development is account-based marketing,” stated Rob Leavitt, Senior Vice President of the Information Technology Services Marketing Association (ITSMA). “There is a hunger and demand for ABM, and it’s far beyond us.”

Search volume for “account based marketing” began a dramatic rise in 2016. Source: Google Trends.

Leavitt believes ABM training has been a reaction to the digital wave, which can confuse interested individuals with interested accounts:

If I download four whitepapers to understand something relevant to my client, I look really interested—but I’m not a relevant account for you. So how do we take what we’ve learned in digital and overlay an account-based strategy and approach?

At times, the skills gap comes full circle. Just as experienced marketers may hesitate to invest themselves in digital, newer marketers, Leavitt cautioned, risk undervaluing traditional skill sets: “More experienced people feel more comfortable with soft skills—collaboration, leadership, teamwork, etc.”

For every marketer, there’s need. For every facet of marketing, there’s training. But can training close the skills gap?

Does Marketing Training Work?

Few executives know.

In Learning Analytics: Measurement Innovations to Support Employee Development, authors John Maddox, Jean Martin, and Mark Van Buren reveal that, when it comes to training, some 96% of CEOs want to measure one aspect more than any other: impact.

How often is it being measured? Just 8% of the time. Another 74% of CEOs want to connect money spent on training to money earned—the return on investment (ROI). It’s measured just 4% of the time.

Measuring the business impact of training is possible. But individual knowledge gains don’t guarantee company-wide improvements.

Recognizing the Limits of Training

On August, 8, 1963, a band of 15 robbers stole £2.6 million in cash from a mail train traveling between Glasgow and London. Media outlets dubbed the heist “The Great Train Robbery.”

In 2016, Harvard Business School (HBS) Professor Michael Beer and TruePoint researchers Magnus Finnstrom and Derek Schrader reappropriated the moniker to allege a similarly monumental fraud: “The Great Training Robbery.”

Despite the ominous title, the authors are less critical of training programs per se than the “fallacy of programmatic change,” which mistakenly focuses on individual behavior change as a way to shape institutions. Their findings suggest the inverse is true:

The organizational and management system—the pattern of roles, responsibilities and relationships shaped by the organization’s design and leadership that motivates and sustains attitude and behavior—is far more powerful in shaping individual behavior.

Evaluating the Corporate Climate
Professor Amy Edmondson uses the metaphor of “fertile soil” to describe a corporate environment in which individual training can thrive.

Additional work by another HBS professor, Amy Edmondson, distills the prerequisites for effective training programs down to a single metaphor: the need for a corporate climate to provide “fertile soil”—a psychologically safe environment in which subordinates can voice opinions freely. Only fertile soil, in turn, can allow the “seeds” of individual training to germinate.

Beer et al.’s work found that just 10% of training programs surveyed had the fertile soil necessary to derive value from training. Too often, they lament, the rush to invest in individual training protects obdurate executives—or the HR representatives who would need to confront them—rather than addressing core organizational or leadership issues.

Those findings align with Kashin’s experience working with clients at General Assembly:

There are layers of team structures, technology, planning processes, etc., that need to be re-examined to be successful in digital. Most corporate programs have an element of change management. The most success occurs when we support a larger change-management effort that has been set in motion with strong internal leadership.

Measuring the Success of Marketing Training

Even with strong organizational support, how do you know if a marketing training program works?

“It usually looks like ‘program success,’” according to ITSMA’s Leavitt. “Clients look at basic satisfaction with the education training: Did it seem like a good use of time? Have we been able to develop the program and succeed? Are we hitting our targets?”

For Kashin, numbers are only part of the picture: “At the core of every one of our success stories are individuals who were motivated to learn and change, and highlighting their stories is one of our most powerful and rewarding ways of showing value.”

“The reality of a lot of these programs,” Leavitt summarized, is that “education training is hard to measure. A lot of it is qualitative, informal. We know it when we see it. We’ve not cracked code.”

Jack Phillips believes he has. Phillips, an expert on determining the value of training programs with a doctorate in Human Resource Management, is chairman of the ROI Institute:

We don’t like ‘estimates,’ but our choices are to do nothing or claim it all. Neither one is any good. Quantitative data is more believable. Executives understand it quite clearly. Our challenge is to make and defend credible estimates if quantitative data isn’t available.

That combined measurement—exhausting quantitative data sources while communicating qualitative ones persuasively—begins with the identification of KPIs.

Identifying KPIs for Marketing Training

“Sales and marketing tend to have the same metrics,” explained Phillips. “Increase existing customers, acquire new customers, increase client quality, etc.”

(A scan of marketing-specific KPIs highlighted by training firms also reveals a list of familiar metrics: number of qualified leads generated, cost per qualified lead, marketing staff turnover rate, and marketing staff productivity.)

When attempting to identify KPIs, a common mistake is not translating a problem into its underlying metric. For example, “poor copywriting” may be a marketing problem, but improvement can’t be measured unless marketing executives identify an underlying business metric—like conversion rate—that can show the effects of successful training.

According to Phillips, identifying KPIs is far easier than parsing the influence of factors that may affect them: What if an improvement to an ad campaign drives more qualified visitors to a landing page? Or a recent website redesign increases site speed?

Isolating the impact of marketing training, Phillips asserted, is the key to unlocking assessment methods that can demonstrate ROI. Still, the math can quickly become complex. So can the cost of measurement. On average, companies spend just 4% of the total training budget on measurement; most spend less than 1%.

Many models, Phillips’ included, outline progressive levels of measurement to help companies scale accountability based on resources.

The Phillips Measurement Model
The methodology behind the Phillips Measurement Model. Source: Phillips, Jack. Measuring the Success of Sales Training.

Phillips uses a five-level model (an optional sixth level assesses intangible values—job satisfaction, organizational commitment, teamwork, etc.):

Reaction: Did participants like it?
Learning: Did they learn from it?
Application: Did they apply their new knowledge on the job?
Impact: Did the training have a business impact?
ROI: What was the value of that impact, and was it a good investment?

While authoritative, Phillips’ model is not the only one. Models by Donald Kirkpatrick and Josh Bersin are also widely used. (General Assembly uses a version of the Kirkpatrick model.) The Kirkpatrick model allows for immediate post-training measurement, while the Bersin model folds values such as efficiency and utility into Phillips’ approach.

Levels 1–3: Generating a Baseline Measurement

The initial levels of measurement include assessments such as post-training surveys to measure trainee satisfaction as well as tests or instructor evaluations to measure knowledge transfer.

Phillips believes the first two levels are sufficient for a baseline measurement of knowledge transfer. Additional levels of measurement connect training outcomes more closely with business metrics and monetary returns, but those insights come at a cost.

Kashin concurred: “Measuring behavior change and business impact is something we always encourage, but it requires a fair bit of investment on the client side.”

Measuring behavior change (“Application” in the Phillips model) also requires a time lapse—Phillips suggests three months—but can be a simple retest of training knowledge or follow-up survey about trainees’ perception of its enduring value.

Levels 4–5: Bridging the Gap between Training Costs and ROI

To complete a five-level measurement with “Impact” and “ROI,” companies must identify a business outcome (e.g. web leads), assign it an accurate monetary value (e.g. dollar value of a web lead), and isolate the impact of training from other factors.

Phillips offers quantitative and qualitative options to isolate the impact of training:


A/B Testing. Find two similar groups of marketers within your organization (e.g. teams in roughly equivalent markets located in different cities or countries). Offer training to one and not the other. Measure the difference in performance between the two based on a key metric (e.g. increase of sales-qualified leads the three months before and after training).
Trend analysis. Use past performance to project expected progress of a given metric. Measure the actual outcome after training. The impact of training is the difference in performance between the two lines.
Modeling/forecasting. If training aligns with changes to other variables (e.g. advertising campaigns), subtract the known impact of that variable from the total change; the remaining change is the impact of marketing training.

To identify outside variables that affect progress toward business metrics, Phillips leans on experts within the organization, asking questions like:

Would this trend have continued if we had done nothing?
Is it market growth?
Did anything else happen in the environment around the marketing share?
Were there other marketing promotions?
Did prices changes?
Were there added incentives for related groups, like sales staff?
Did competitors shift strategies or enter/exit the marketplace?


Estimates. Conduct surveys of clients or marketing staff. Ask clients to identify the channels or efforts that made them aware of a product or influenced their purchase. Survey marketing staff about the degree to which various marketing efforts (training included) influenced results.

If, say, a digital marketing training program, an online advertising campaign, and a website redesign all launched in the past three months, ask marketing staff to weight the effect of each, multiplying by their confidence:

As Phillips argued:

When you combine these estimates from a group of people, they become powerful. Our effort is always to go to the most credible process first. If we can’t use a mathematical approach, we’ll use estimates—and we’ll defend them.

Time and again, Phillips has seen the “confidence” adjustment account for human error effectively. (Phillips cited Jack Treynor’s jelly bean experiment as corroborating evidence.)

Expert opinions. When collective estimates by customers or staff aren’t available, use internal experts or key managers to make individual estimates.

“The key is to ask the right person and collect it the right way,” Phillips explained. Finding the “right” person or conducting a survey the “right” way is open to interpretation. But, Phillips is adamant, no less necessary:

You have to do it. You can’t just say, ‘We’ll take full credit for it,’ and life is good. Executives will require you to sort it.

Translating the business impact into ROI requires two additional steps:

Converting the business impact to a monetary value (e.g. the dollar value of a whitepaper download)
Determining how many dollars are returned above and beyond the initial investment in marketing training

Importantly, an ROI calculation differs from a benefit-cost ratio in format (percentage versus ratio) and formula (subtracting program costs from benefits):

How ROI differs from a benefit-cost ratio. Source: Phillips, Jack. Measuring the Success of Sales Training.

Even without a complete ROI calculation, assessing the “business impact” of training—when supplemented with a list of intangible benefits—can be a powerful defense at multiple levels within an organization, c-suite included.


Need alone—digital marketing skills today, account-based marketing skills tomorrow—may continue to fill training budgets and grow training programs. Measurement challenges will not fix or excuse skills gaps in marketing departments.

“To some extent,” Leavitt concluded, ruminating again on the question of ROI, “When your clients come back for more, they’re happy with what they got the first time.” It’s a purely qualitative measurement.

Still, robust, quantitative ROI models, though more persuasive in the c-suite, lean on qualitative components, too. All measurements can be defended; all surpass a failure to measure anything at all.

Nor can any assessment answer other, broader questions: Is training currently the best use of marketing resources? Does the commitment to change extend to the highest levels of the organization?

In short, is it the right season? Is the soil fertile? If yes, then plant the seed. And grow.

The post Making Marketing Training Work: Closing Skills Gaps, Proving Value appeared first on CXL.


How to Get Around Google’s Latest Algorithm Change

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Have you noticed that Google is constantly making algorithm changes? And when they do, they rarely tell you the change they’ve made.

They tend to keep it a bit vague, like this…

So, do you want to know how got around this algorithm update?

Well, before I tell you how, there are a few things you need to know.

How Google works

Can you guess how many factors there are in Google’s algorithm?

It’s over 200!

SEO is complicated. If Google made SEO easy you would see product and service pages rank at the top of every Google search instead of content-rich pages.

That means it would be easier for you to rank and make money, which would cause fewer companies to spend money on Google Ads.

Just look at the image above, Google generated over 95 billion dollars in ad revenue. That’s a ridiculous amount of money!

Now, Google isn’t just focusing on placing content-rich sites high up in the search results because they care about ad revenue, they do this because that’s what you want.

See, Google’s goal is to provide the best experience for you.

If you as a user wanted to see product and service related pages in the top of organic results, then that’s what they would start doing.

By providing you with the best user experience, this causes you to keep coming back to Google, which allows them to monetize through ads.

If they didn’t focus on user experience and making you happy, Google wouldn’t be the most popular search engine. It would be Bing or some other search engine.

So, when Google makes an algorithm change they are doing this because they’ve learned how to provide a better experience for you.

They aren’t making these changes because they want to screw up your rankings or ruin your business.

Google isn’t perfect

Similar to any other business, Google isn’t perfect. They make mistakes (we all do), and sometimes the changes they make may not provide the best experience for you.

When they may roll out changes, they may learn some adjustments didn’t work out the way they wanted, which causes them to constantly go back and make tweaks.

This is why you see search traffic fluctuations. Just look at my search traffic for all of 2017:

When looking at the graph above, you may notice that I generated 6,162,300 visits from search of which 4,284,056 were unique.

And if you look even closer, you’ll see that 2017 started off really well. February was a great month even though it has fewer days.

In February, I generated 390,919 visits from search but then in March, my traffic went down. And then in April, I saw another drop.

The drop may not seem that big when you look at the graph, but April’s search traffic came in at 292,480. That’s a 25.18% drop in search traffic when you compare it to February.


I didn’t make any major changes to my website that would have caused the drop and there isn’t seasonality around that time…

As you can see from the screenshot above, my 2018 search traffic shows a trend of going up and to the right (that throws the seasonality theory out the door).

And honestly, I don’t know if Google made any algorithm changes during that time in 2017 because I don’t pay attention to them (I’ll get into this a bit later).

In other words, your traffic is going to fluctuate, and that is ok. But when you look at your search traffic, as long as it is going up and to the right year after year, you are fine.

2017 was a rough year for me as my search traffic didn’t start going up again until August. I wasn’t doing anything different, it’s just the way the cookie crumbles.

So why don’t I pay attention to Google algorithm updates?

I mentioned this above, and I know it may seem shocking. Yes, I do read up on them every once in a while, but I don’t need Google to tell me about where they are heading with their algorithm.

You, the user, tell me this.

So instead, I focus on you. If I do what’s best for you, eventually my site will rank higher.

Sure, in the short run my rankings may drop, but I know if I focus on you (the user) it will give me the highest probability of ranking in the long run.

Just look at my search traffic for the first 7 months of 2018:

I’ve already beat my 2017 numbers!

5,017,790 is the number of unique search visitors that have come to in the first 7 months of 2018. The count for all of 2017 was 4,284,056.

That’s a huge difference.

As long as I do what’s best for you I know that my total traffic should go up and to the right.

If you look at my traffic from when I started to blog on (August 2014) to now, you’ll see that my traffic goes up and down each month, but the overall graph is up and to the right.

So, are you saying that you don’t care about SEO?

No, I still care about SEO and I practice it daily.

I just don’t stress out about every Google algorithm update because it isn’t in my control.

This doesn’t mean I ignore the advice Google gives. For example, when they announced that they were going to create a mobile-first index, I made sure I optimized my site for mobile.

But trying to read into every Google update and making assumptions on what I should do next is like playing a game of cat and mouse.

It’s time consuming, exhausting and inefficient. You are better off spending your time making your website better for your users.

Like I always say: Succeeding with digital marketing is a long-term game. Focus on the long term.

So how do you ensure long-term success?

I already showed you that my traffic goes up and to the right over time.

Here’s my secret to ensure that Google loves you in the long run.

Please, please, please note that some of the tactics I’m about to share with you may reduce your traffic in the short run, but you will be better off in the long run.

Strategy #1: Prune and crop

A lot of marketers discuss how pruning and cropping your content can triple your traffic.

If you aren’t familiar with the process, it’s as simple as updating your mediocre content and make it amazing. And as for your irrelevant content that is no longer valid, you would delete them and 301 redirect those URLs.

I’ve done this multiple times on dozens of sites. I have friends who have done it as well. We all see one major trend from doing this… traffic usually drops.

Even if those pages that you are pruning and cropping barely get any Google traffic, you’ll still typically see a drop in traffic.

The only time you’ll see an increase is if your content was so bad, such as deleting short blog posts that are filled with duplicate content.

Even if your blog is new, you should consider pruning and cropping once a year. It will ensure that you are updating your content, thus providing the best experience for your users.

Here’s the process I use to prune and crop (use Excel or Google Sheets to do this):

Create a list of all of the URLs on your website – using Screaming Frog, I crawl my website so I can get a full list of every URL, title tag, meta description, number of inlinks (number of internal links pointing to that URL), and the word count.
Add in traffic per page – I then log into my Google Analytics account and list out how much traffic each URL is generating.
And then I add in backlinks per page – I put each URL into Ahrefs to see how many backlinks each URL has.
Lastly, add in social shares per URL – using a tool like SharedCount you can get the total social shares per URL.

You should have a spreadsheet that looks something like this:

I know the image may be hard to see, so here is a sample.

Some of the data is junk and inaccurate in the sample. Also keep in mind that I am missing some data, such as meta description and social shares (I still haven’t completed this spreadsheet).

The reason I shared the sheet with you is that you’ll notice I added a few additional columns such as “what to do” and “redirect to.”

The 4 options I have under “what to do” are: optimize, delete, redirect, and nothing.

Once your spreadsheet is complete, you need to manually review each URL and select one of the 4 options above. Here’s when to select each one:

Optimize – if the page is popular, it has backlinks, traffic, and social shares, consider optimizing it. This could involve adding more internal links to the page, updating the content, or even optimizing the on-page code.
Delete – if the page has little to no search traffic, backlinks, social shares, and doesn’t provide any value to the user, consider deleting it. When doing so you will want to update any internal links that were pointing to this URL and then, of course, take this URL and 301 redirect it to the most relevant page.
Redirect – if the page is very similar to another page on your site, consider merging the content and 301 redirecting the URL to the similar one. You’ll want to take the least popular version and redirect it to the popular one. A good example of this is if you have two blog posts about social media marketing tools, you’ll want to combine the content, create a 301 redirect, and adjust the internal links to point to the final URL.
Nothing – if the page is fine and there is nothing wrong with it, do nothing.

Strategy #2: Expand internationally

There are over 7 billion people in this world, and most of them don’t speak English.

Yes, Google is a difficult beast to conquer, but it isn’t in non-English speaking countries. Whether it is France, Germany, Brazil, or any other country where English isn’t the main language… it’s much easier to get to the top of Google.

Sure, the search volume may not be as high in countries like Brazil, but because the competition is low, you can dominate fast.

Here are the most widely spoken languages in the world:

And here is the GDP per country:

And here is the population per country:

The best countries to go after when it comes to SEO are the ones that have a high GDP and a large population.

Going international has done wonders for my traffic.

In the last 31 days, the United States only made up 24.23% of my traffic. If you want to grow your global search rankings, just follow the steps in this blog post.

It goes in-depth on international expansion and the lessons I learned from a Google employee.

The cool part about international SEO is that it also creates a better user experience for your users as they will be able to read your content in their native language.

Strategy #3: Fix broken links, images, and media files

Let me ask you a question…

What if you were reading this post and half of the links you clicked on where broken? Especially the links that were supposed to teach you the steps you needed to take to grow your traffic?

You would be upset, right?

I know I would.

And to make matters worse, what if half of the images in this post were also broken?

Do you see how that would provide a terrible experience?

Well of course you do. That’s why you need to fix broken links, broken images, and broken media files on your website.

You don’t have to do this every month, but you should do this once a quarter. You can even use tools like Broken Link Check to make things a bit easier for you.

Strategy #4: Fix errors within Google Search Console

Even if you don’t log into Google Search Console, they will email you when there is a spike in errors.

When you get these emails, make sure you fix them. If you don’t know how to fix them, find a developer on Upwork to help you fix them.

And once you fix them, Google will email you when they acknowledge the fix.

It’s really important to fix your Search Console errors. I know this is an obvious tip, but most people don’t do it.

This one little thing will reduce your search traffic fluctuations. You will never be able to stop the fluctuations, but this will help reduce them.

Strategy #5: Build a brand

Do you know what the future of SEO is?

It’s brands!

The websites that dominate Google may not have the most backlinks, but they tend to have big brands.

People trust brands, which means Google trusts brands.

When you want to buy running shoes, what brand comes to mind?

I bet it’s Nike.

When you want a credit card, what brand are you going to choose?

Probably Visa, Mastercard, or American Express.

You don’t always Google for a product or service, in many cases you just go to the brands you are familiar with.

Not only does building a brand help with Google traffic, but it helps diversify your traffic sources so you aren’t just relying on Google search.

If you don’t believe that branding is valuable, check out this blog post. It breaks down how I grew my traffic from 240,839 to 454,382 visitors in one month (before exploding into seven digits) all because of branding.

It even breaks down the steps you can follow to build up a brand for your company.

It works so well, that I was even able to grow the brand value of my free marketing tool, Ubersuggest.

Strategy #6: Keeping a close eye on my competition

You don’t have to be 10 times better than your competition to beat them. Just being a little bit better can do wonders.

Now, if it was up to me, I would tell you to be 10 times better, but I know that can be expensive and is unrealistic in most cases.

If you haven’t, subscribe to your competition’s website.

From joining their email list to following them on their social profiles to even testing out their products/services.

Do whatever you can to stay up to date on your competition. If you can beat them, even by a little bit, people will prefer your site over their site in the long run. This will help you rank higher and get more traffic (and sales!).

And as I mentioned above, being 10 times better is a bit crazy, but usually when you do that your competition won’t copy you.

When you beat them by a little bit, that’s where you will find yourself battling back and forth when it comes to winning over people (and Google).


If you want to get around Google’s algorithm changes, you have to stay ahead by focusing on your users. Do what’s best for them and you won’t have to deal with Google’s ever-changing algorithm.

If you don’t follow the tips above, you’ll save time in the short run, but you’ll find yourself playing a game of cat and mouse in the long run. That just seems exhausting to me.

I don’t pay too much attention to algorithm updates and you shouldn’t either. Instead, focus on providing an amazing user experience. That’s what will cause you to win in the long run.

Now, there will be times where your traffic will drop, but don’t freak out. You can eventually come out on top by focusing on your users.

And if you got to the top of Google by optimizing your site for search engines instead of people, you will eventually get caught up in an update. When that happens, check out this algorithm tracker as it will help you determine what’s changed, what you did wrong, and what you need to fix.

It’s just tedious, which is why I get ahead, focus on the user, so that way I don’t have to focus on Google as much.

So, do you pay attention to every algorithm update Google does?

The post How to Get Around Google’s Latest Algorithm Change appeared first on Neil Patel.


25 AMAZING Free SEO Tools [2018 Reviews]

sourced from:

This is a list of the 25 best free SEO tools on the planet.

In fact, these tools have helped my site get 200k+ visits per month.

(Most of which came from SEO)

The best part?

All of these tools work GREAT in 2018.

Let’s get started…

25 Best Free SEO Tools
1. Answer The Public

Find 450+ of keyword ideas in seconds.

Most SEO tools get their data from the same place: The Google Keyword Planner.

Answer the Public is different.

This nifty tools finds questions that people asks on forums, blogs and on social media.

And it turns those questions into awesome keywords:

Best Feature: “Vs. Keywords”

You’d be surprised how many people search for “X vs. Y” keywords in Google.

(For example: “iPhone vs. Android”)

And Answer the Public has a section of the results dedicated to “Vs. Keywords”.

Which brings us to the 2nd tool on our list…

2. Woorank’s SEO & Website Analysis Tool

Get a list of SEO improvements in seconds.

This is a very handy Chrome extension.

First, you get an overall SEO score.

Then, the tool shows you EXACTLY how to improve your site’s SEO.

Best Feature: “Marketing Checklist”

Most SEO tools only tell you about problems… not solutions.

What’s cool about Woorank is that it hands you an actionable checklist you can use to fix issues that you run into.

And now it’s time for our next free SEO tool…


Get intel on your competition.

Detailed gives you a curated list of the most popular sites in your industry.

That way, you can size up your biggest competitors.

(And copy what they’re doing)

Best Feature: “Mentions”

This features shows you who recently linked to (and tweeted about) your competition.

4. CanIRank

Quickly answer the question: “Can I rank for this keyword?”.

CanIRank is a super-detailed keyword difficulty tool.

And unlike most tools, CanIRank doesn’t just tell you: “This keyword is really competitive”.

Instead, it tells you whether or not you can rank for that keyword.

Very cool.

Best Feature: “How can you better target this keyword?”

CanIRank isn’t just for sizing up the first page competition.

It also gives you in-depth suggestions to help you rank for that specific keyword.

5. Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test

Get your site ready for Google’s Mobile-first Indexing.

You might have heard that Google recently made a big change to their algorithm.

(This change is officially called “Mobile-First Indexing”).

The bottom line is this:

If your site isn’t optimized for mobile devices, you’re in big trouble.

Fortunately, you don’t need a full-time developer to get ready for this update. All you need to do is run your site through the Mobile-Friendly Test tool.

And it tells you whether or not your site is prepared for Google’s new algorithm:

Best Feature: “Page loading issues”

This feature shows you how you can improve your site’s code. That way, Google’s mobile crawler can find and index all of the resources on your site.

6. Seed Keywords

Find completely fresh keyword ideas.

Most keyword research tools work the exact same way:

Enter a seed keyword into the tool.
Get a list of closely-related terms.

The problem with this approach is this:

Everyone types the same seed keywords into these tools.

Well, Seed Keywords takes a completely different approach.

Instead of pulling seed keywords out of thin air, you ask your customers how they’d search for you online.

Then, type those seed keywords into your favorite keyword research tool.

Best Feature: “Submit Query”

Once the results come in, you can use SeedKeywords to do a Google search for the keywords that people gave you.

That way you can quickly scan the search results… and see how competitive that keywords is.

7. SEMRush

Copy your competitor’s best keywords.

SEMRush might be my all-time favorite SEO tool.

It’s got a paid plan with lots of awesome features.

But the free version is pretty cool too.

Whether you go with free or paid, SEMRush works the same way:

It finds the exact keywords that your competitor’s rank for.

Best Feature: Keyword Magic

Enter a keyword…and get a list of 78,350 keywords!


8. Seobility

Get a deep-dive SEO site analysis.

SEObility crawls your entire site and lets you know about search engine optimization issues like:

Slow loading pages
Blocked pages
Sitemap problems
Technical SEO issues
Lots more

You usually only get this type of stuff from paid SEO tools. So it’s really nice that Seobility gives you this data for free.

Best Feature: Content Report

This report hands you a list of pages that have content-related SEO issues.

(Things like: thin content, missing meta titles, keyword stuffing, and duplicate content)

9. Keywords Everywhere

Get keyword data from around the web.

Keywords Everywhere has quickly become one of my favorite keyword research tools.


Because it shows you search volume, keyword competition and CPC info… inside of your browser.

That’s right: you don’t need to login anywhere to get this data. You can see keyword info while you shop on, watch videos on YouTube and check your stats in the Google Search Console.

Best Feature: Bulk Upload

Want to get data on a massive list of keywords?

Well, you can upload a list of up to 10k keywords…

…and get data on every single one:

10. SEO-Browser

See your site through the eyes of a search engine.

As it turns out, search engines see your site VERY differently than you do.

And SEO-Browser gives you the type of x-ray vision that search engines have.

Best Feature: Show Alt Text

Alt text are text-based tags for images.

(Moz has a great primer on Alt text that I recommend checking out)

And one of the cool things about SEO-Browser is that you can see all of a web page’s alt text in one place.

11. Ubersuggest

Scrape Google Suggest for hundreds of keyword ideas.

Ubersuggest is simple:

Type in a keyword.

And Ubersuggest scrapes HUNDREDS Google’s autocomplete keywords for you.

(You also get info for each keyword… like CPC, search volume and more)

Best Feature: Negative Keywords

This feature lets you filter out terms that you don’t want to see.

For example: filtering out keywords that use the term “free” or “paid”.

12. Google Search Console

Get SEO help straight from Google.

No list of free SEO tools would be complete without the Google Search Console.


The GSC is a VERY feature-rich piece of SEO software. And unlike pretty much every other tool on the market, you know the data is legit.

(After all, it comes from Google)

For example, you can use the Google Search Console as a rank tracker to check your site’s rankings in the SERPs.

Best Feature: Index Coverage Report

The Index Coverage Report gives you a list of pages on your site that aren’t getting indexed.

You can also see how you can get things back on track.

13. Keyworddit

Scrape keyword ideas from Reddit.

Keyworddit is pretty darn cool.

This nifty little SEO tool scrapes terms that people use on specific subreddits.

And if you spend a few minutes with this tools I can almost guarantee that you’ll uncover a handful of excellent keyword ideas.

Best Feature: Context

This feature gives you a list of Reddit threads where that keyword was used. That way, you can see how people use that keyword in their online conversations.

14. Screaming Frog

Find and fix technical SEO issues in seconds.

Let’s face it:

Finding technical SEO problems on your site can be a HUGE pain.

Enter: Screaming Frog.

This nifty tool crawls your site using a Google-like crawler. And it generates a report of potential issues (like HTTP header errors, javascript rendering issues, bloated HTML, and crawl errors).

Best Feature: Discover Duplicate Content

As you might have heard, Google HATES duplicate content.

Fortunately, you can use Screaming Frog to quickly ID pages with duplicate content.

15. Google Analytics

See how people find and interact with your site.

Google Analytics isn’t really an SEO tool.

But it’s almost impossible to run an SEO campaign without it.


You need the data in Google Analytics to see whether or not your SEO efforts are paying off.

I’m talking about data like:

Organic traffic
Bounce rate
Traffic sources
Time on site
Page speed

Best Feature: Google Analytics and Google Search Console Integration

Google Analytics is super powerful on its own.

But when you combine it with the Google Search Console?

It’s even MORE powerful.

Linking your GSC account with GA hooks you up with helpful info, like the keywords people use to find your site, your organic CTR, and more cool stuff.

16. Keys4Up

Generate a list of untapped keyword ideas.

Keys4Up uses a proprietary algorithm to generate “lateral” keyword ideas

For example, when you type “Content Marketing” into the tool, you DON’T get a list of variations of that term.

(Like: “Content marketing strategies”).

Instead, you get keywords that people would associate with that term:

Best Feature: Keyword Export

The one downside of Keys4Up is that you don’t know how many people search for the keywords that it gives you.

Fortunately, you can export your keywords to a CSV… and upload that CSV to another SEO tool that does provide monthly search volume.

17. Yoast WordPress Plugin

The best SEO plugin for WordPress.

If your site runs on WordPress, you need to install Yoast ASAP.

It’s by far the most robust SEO plugin on the market.

The best part? It’s 100% free.

Best Feature: XML Sitemap Generator

Sitemaps help Google and other search engines find, crawl and index all of the pages on your site.

And with the Yoast plugin, you don’t have to tinker with your sitemap every time you add a new page to your site.

That’s because Yoast updates your sitemap automatically. Cool.

18. Panguin Tool

Get to the bottom of a rankings drop.

This tool correlates your search traffic with known Google updates.

Why is this helpful?

Well, if you notice that your rankings dropped around the time of a big Google update, you can figure out what went wrong… and fix it.

Best Feature: Switch Updates On/Off

Panguin makes it easy to zero-in on a specific update.

For example, if you’re a local business that focuses on local SEO, you can only have Panguin ONLY show you Google updates that impacted local results.

19. Wordtracker Scout

Steal your competitor’s keywords.

Wordtracker scout takes a unique approach to keyword research…

Instead of entering keywords into a tool, Wordtracker shows you the most-used terms on a page.

That way, you can go over to one of your competitor’s pages… and grab the keywords they’re using in their content.

(Note: This is only available as Chrome extension and isn’t supported for Firefox)

Best Feature: Opportunity

Shows you which keywords on your list has the best ratio of search volume and competition.

20. Lipperhey

Powerful website analyzer.

Lipperhey is a full-featured SEO analyzer that doesn’t cost a penny.

Best Feature: Keyword Suggestions

Get a list of keywords to add to specific pages on your site.

(Which can help you get more organic traffic from long tail keywords).

21. Bing Webmaster Tools

Optimize your site for Bing.

Bing Webmaster Tools is basically the Google Search Console… but for Bing.

So if you want to get your site indexed (and ranked) in Bing, Bing Webmaster Tools is a must-have.

Best Feature: Keyword Research Tool

Get keyword ideas (and data) straight from Bing.

And unlike the Google Keyword Planner, the data from Bing is strictly for organic search (not Bing PPC or Adwords).

22. Dareboost

Analyze your site for speed, SEO, security and more.

Dareboost isn’t strictly an SEO tool.

But it does analyze your site for things that indirectly impact SEO, like your site’s loading speed and security.

Best Feature: Priorities

Let’s you know where to start first. Helpful if you’re strapped for time.

23. Siteliner

Get a full SEO report for free.

Siteliner scans your site for SEO problems (like blocked pages, messed up redirects and broken links).

Best Feature: Comparison with Other Sites

This lets you compare your site’s loading speed and page size to other site’s in Siteliner’s database. Helpful for benchmarking.

24. KWFinder

No-nonsense keyword research tool.

The best part of KWFinder is how darn easy it is to use.

But don’t less this fool you into thinking KWFinder isn’t powerful. It’s a legit keyword tool that lots of pros use.

Best Feature: LPS

LPS=Link Profile Strength.

This feature basically tells you how many links you’ll need to rank for that keyword.

So if you find a keyword that has a LPS of 50+, you know that you’ll need to do some serious link building to rank for that term.

25. Varvy SEO Tool

Get a free SEO site checkup.

Varvy is an extremely cool SEO audit tool.

Most SEO analysis tools only give you surface level info.

But with Varvy, you get access to data that most other free tools don’t show you… including mobile-friendliness, missing alt text, HTTPS setup, robots.txt analysis and more.

Best Feature: Google Guidelines

Varvy doesn’t just hand you a list of SEO problems.

It also gives you specific recommendations that you can implement to fix them… straight from Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

Bonus #1. Bulk Google Rank Checker

Simple and accurate rank checker tool.

If you want to see where you rank for a specific keyword in Google, you definitely want to use a rank tracking tool.

This free tool makes the process a cinch (and you can check up to 10 keywords for free).

Best Feature: Search Engine Rankings

See where you rank in the SERPs… and where your competitors rank.

Bonus #2. LSI Graph

Advanced content optimization.

LSI keywords can help take your on-page SEO to the next level.

And that’s exactly what LSIGraph is designed to do: it creates a list of LSI keywords that you can sprinkle into your content.

Best Feature: Analysis

Analysis lets you dig deep on an LSI keyword from your list. That way, you can find even MORE awesome LSI keywords to use.

Anything I Missed?

So those are my favorite free SEO tools.

And now I’d like to hear from you:

Are there any tools that you love… but didn’t see on this list?

Or maybe you have a question.

Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below right now.

The post 25 AMAZING Free SEO Tools [2018 Reviews] appeared first on Backlinko.


Subconscious Selling: Your Customers Won’t Buy Without These 3 Elements

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Your customers are social, plugged-in, and savvy.

Selling to them (even with high-impact direct response) isn’t easy. Which is why today, I’m giving you some contrary advice…

Stop focusing on features and benefits. Stop hyping up your copy. Instead, sell your product on a subconscious level, and you’ll have customers drooling with desire before they know what hit them.

Keep reading and I’ll give you 3 ways to do just that. Plug these essential elements into your marketing to drive customer sales naturally and easily.

1. Social Proof

Think benefits sell? Think again. To sell your product, you need to build trust. Seth Godin says it well:

Without trust, marketers know that there are no sales. Trust means the prospect believes not only that the product being sold will actually solve his problems, but that if for some reason it doesn’t, the company will make good on its reputation of performance.

Today’s consumers assume marketers are trying to take advantage of them, so it’s important to establish credibility in all your marketing. But here’s the thing: You don’t actually have to prove you’re trustworthy if you can show that other people already trust you.

This concept, called social proof, was made popular by Robert Cialdini in his book, Influence. In it, he explains that we “view a behavior as more correct in a given situation to the degree that we see others performing it.”

To see how powerful this concept is, we have to take a quick dive into biology.

In 1992, scientist Giacomo Rizzolatti noticed that monkeys’ brains would fire not only when they performed an action, but when they saw someone else perform that action too. He later discovered the same tendency in humans.

Sell your product on a subconscious level, and you’ll have customers drooling with desire before they know what hit them.

This phenomenon, dubbed “mirror neurons,” explains why you laugh when everyone else in a meeting laughs (even if you didn’t hear the joke), and why you wince when someone falls or hold your breath when your kids are learning to swim underwater.

It also explains why, when you see an actor dressed in the newest fashion, you want to wear something similar. When you see them getting second glances, your brain starts firing as if you were getting those looks. And your subconscious brain tells you that you’ll be just as sexy and successful if you wear the same type of clothes.

As Martin Lindstrom says in his book Buy-ology, “It’s as though you’ve just bought an image, an attitude, or both.”

What This Means for Marketers

Social proof isn’t just smart marketing, it’s a mandate if you want to more customer sales. And it’s as easy as showing other people enjoying or benefiting from your products. While there’s no limit to the number of ways you can do this, 3 come immediately to mind.

a. Case Studies

Share stories of real people using and enjoying your product. How you tell the story doesn’t matter: use written case studies, videos, and interviews. What’s important is that you show how your product or services are helping people reach their goals.

The secret to powerful case studies is this: site real numbers and specific details. Notice the headline in this case study for LinkedSelling. It doesn’t site “massive growth” or “impressive returns.” It spells out “400% ROI.”

b. Endorsements & Testimonials

Make it a regular practice to ask customers for a testimonial. Then use them liberally to sell your product.

Ideally, you’ll collect enough to create a “Reviews” page. This one, from Boom! by Cindy Joseph, starts off with text reviews…

…followed by a collage of images showing how well the product works on real women:

When you get a testimonial from someone with celebrity status—either because their name or the company they work for is easily recognizable—by all means, feature it. On Single Grain, this testimonial by the Director of Marketing for Amazon Alexa carries weight because we believe anyone who works for Amazon knows their stuff.

As you can see, when other people show confidence in you—especially if it’s someone well-respected by your community—it’s easier for others to trust you too. That makes it easy to push people off the fence and increase customer sales.

c. Customer Logos

Another way to communicate trust is to pull back the curtains a bit and let prospects see who else uses your product. When they see brands they respect on the list, you gain instant credibility.

For example, this impressive list shows you how many big brands trust Single Grain.

Notice the link to “view case studies” prominently displayed below the graphic. This makes it easy for prospects to get even more details about how Single Grain works.

PRO TIP: Any time you can add specifics to your marketing, you boost your credibility. So turn all general statements into specifics by adding precise numbers, brand names, and facts.

2. Scarcity

As soon as you hear something is off limits, you want it.

Cialdini calls this “The Rule of the Few.” He says:

The idea of potential loss plays a large role in human decision making. In fact, people seem to be more motivated by the thought of losing something than by the thought of gaining something of equal value.

It’s true. As soon as you hear something is off limits, you want it. If a book is going out of print, you want to buy it. And if a product is only available until midnight tonight—even if you don’t need it right away—you’re inclined to buy it… just in case.

That’s how scarcity drives customer sales. It makes you aware that you might miss out if you don’t take action.

What This Means for Marketers

Consider Black Friday offers that promote just 100 electronics at 75% off or an 80% discount only till 10 am The fact that the offer is limited drives people to stand in line for hours before the store opens or to physically wrestle with one another for the prize.

How can you do this in your digital marketing? Check out this email from DigitalMarketer’s Founder and CEO, Ryan Deiss:

Ryan is a master at leveraging scarcity in his marketing. Look at how he piles it on in this email:

There’s a “special link” that gives you a discount. “Special” makes you believe it’s not available to everyone, which creates a feeling of exclusivity.
The discount is only available through Monday at midnight. So there’s a time limit pushing you to respond now.
Seats sell out every year. If you don’t act quickly, you could miss your chance to attend.
And if you don’t honestly believe the event will sell out, you might be motivated by the “best seats” reference. Again, a bit of exclusivity makes you feel you might miss something if you don’t click through and buy your ticket.

Scarcity can be achieved through limited inventory, a deadline, or making something only available on certain dates or times. You can use it in emails to make people click through, in your sales pages to make people take action, and as a value-add offer before or after purchase.

PRO TIP: Any time you can reduce or reverse risk, you’ll improve response rates. Absorb as much of the risk as possible with a strong guarantee, lengthy trial period, or ridiculously low price.

(NOTE: Want more clicks from Facebook, Twitter, and your own blog? Copy and paste these 72 proven headline formulas and get more clicks to your content now. Plus, get 3 simple hacks to optimize any headline in 12 seconds or less. Learn more now.)

3. Sensory Language

Deep in your brain’s temporal lobe is an almond-shaped cluster of neurons that some experts call your lizard brain. Known as the amygdala, this primitive part of your brain is both pre-verbal and pre-logical. So it can trigger action before you have time to think about it.

Neuromarketers also call it a “buying brain,” because pushing its buttons leads to a Buy Now response that’s almost instinctive. Here’s how Dr. A. K. Pradeep says it in his book The Buying Brain:

The basic lesson is that human brains process much of their sensory input subconsciously.

Our senses are taking in about 11 million bits of information every second.

Our thinking brains—that part of thinking in which we are aware of thinking—can only process, at best, 40 bits of information per second.

The subconscious level of the brain is where elements that are essential to marketing success such as initial product interest, purchase, intent, and brand loyalty are formed, and where they reside.

In other words, spark desire by connecting with people’s primitive brain, and you can generate a buying response without manipulating anyone. People want to buy without knowing why.

The result? More customer sales.

What This Means for Marketers

Research shows that mirror neurons (that’s the monkey-see-monkey-do thing we talked about a few minutes ago) can be stimulated by reading as well as observing. For example, read this:


Just reading the word makes you want to yawn.

That’s especially good news because you can’t pump smells and velvety softness over the internet. But you can stimulate the subconscious with sensory words.

Engaging the buying brain is as simple as tickling the five senses in your writing. Sight is easy (pictures). But you can also evoke scents, touch, sounds, and taste. Let me show you what I mean in this example from Lawrence Bernstein.

“Like the windows in a store” creates a mental image. (I visualize a big display window with mannequins in high-fashion dresses.)

“Created on the fly” gives you a sense of speed or motion.

Circled words—melt, explosive, verbal dynamite—are sensory. You can see, feel, or hear them.

He could also have said something like this:

“Pepper your writing with these irresistible words and your prospects will feel compelled to buy.” (Taste)
“Build a rock-solid foundation for your sales pitches by using words that hit hard as nails.” (Touch)

Now notice how naturally these words fit into the copy. Sensory writing is nothing more than good writing. It reads naturally and isn’t likely to be perceived as hype or manipulation. But it excites people’s primitive brain and makes them more likely to respond.

PRO TIP: After you’ve written your sales page, go through it to find places where sensory language could be added naturally. In particular, replace being verbs (is, was, are) with active verbs and make sure you help people see themselves using your product.

Selling to the Subconscious

Your customers may love to buy, but they don’t want to be sold.

Your customers may love to buy, but they don’t want to be sold. Your job, then, is to sell your product to the subconscious brain, so you trigger desire before they know what hit them.

Fortunately, it’s easy if you sprinkle your sales copy with social proof and sensory language, then mix in an element of scarcity.

Before you know it, you’ll have people drooling over your products without ever knowing why.

(NOTE: Want more clicks from Facebook, Twitter, and your own blog? Copy and paste these 72 proven headline formulas and get more clicks to your content now. Plus, get 3 simple hacks to optimize any headline in 12 seconds or less. Learn more now.)

The post Subconscious Selling: Your Customers Won’t Buy Without These 3 Elements appeared first on DigitalMarketer.