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I Wish I Never Built a Personal Brand

I Wish I Never Built a Personal Brand

neil patel brand

Some of you who are reading this know who I am. And many of you don’t.

So, for those of you who don’t…

My name is Neil Patel, and I am the co-founder of an ad agency called Neil Patel Digital. I’ve also co-founded a few marketing technology companies.

I blog about marketing at NeilPatel.com, and in the last 31 days, I was able to reach 1,701,486 people through my blog.

traffic

I have a decent social following… 927,000 Facebook fans, 298,000 Twitter followers, 289,802 LinkedIn followers, and 159,588 YouTube subscribers.

And in the last 28 days, 43,196 people found me by Googling variations of my name.

brand queries

So, can you see the issue with everything I am doing?

It’s all tied to my name.

None of my companies have as much traffic, and they don’t have anywhere near the social following as my personal blog that you’re reading right now.

And that’s not even the biggest issue, which I will get into later on.

But before I go into why I wouldn’t build a personal brand again, let’s go over how it all began.

Why did I build a personal brand?

I never planned on building a personal brand. I started my career in marketing at the age of 16.

My first website was a job board called Advice Monkey (no longer exists) that I started when I was 16 years old. I had no clue how to generate traffic… I just thought that you put up a website and people visit.

Boy, was I wrong!

Eventually, I saved up enough money from picking up trash and cleaning restrooms at a theme park to pay a marketing firm.

They ripped me off and provided little to no results.

From being broke and frustrated I had no choice but to learn online marketing.

I got so good at it that Advice Monkey started to rank on Google for competitive terms like job board, job search, and tech jobs. In essence, I was ranking for so many job and career terms that Advice Monkey started generating well over 100,000 visitors a month.

I know that doesn’t seem like a lot of traffic, but for a job board with no listings, the Internet not being as popular 17 years ago, and for me being a 16-year-old kid, I didn’t do too bad.

But here is the thing, I was never able to make Advice Monkey work out. I just didn’t know how to monetize it.

So, like any other nerdy 16-year-old, I did what my parents wanted me to do, I went to college. And I know I was a bit too young for college as I was still in high school, so I took night classes at a college nearby my home while still in high school.

My first class was Speech 101, and I gave a speech on how Google worked. Funny enough, someone in the class worked at a company that was looking to hire someone that knew how Google worked.

He asked me if I wanted a consulting job… I said yes… they paid me $5,000 a month. I was able to help them generate well into the 8 figures of additional yearly revenue because of my work.

The owner of the company was impressed, so he introduced me to his son, who owned an ad agency.

Soon enough, he outsourced some work to me, which lead me to generate $20,000 a month in income.

The start of my personal brand

I was happy with the money that I was making for my age, but I knew it wouldn’t last.

Just because someone is paying you money right now, it doesn’t mean they will pay you next year or even next month.

I had to figure out how to generate customers.

I wasn’t the best at sales, I wasn’t well connected… so I did what I knew best. I created a blog that focused on the topic of SEO in hopes that it would generate leads and sales.

The blog no longer exists, but it was called Pronet Advertising. Here’s what it looked like:

pronet advertising

Over time, the blog started to grow in popularity and it would generate leads here and there. I never hit more than 150,000 monthly visitors, and I wasn’t satisfied with the results.

I wish I knew what I know now because I would have done simple things like leveraging exit popups and lead forms on the blog.

Seriously, I made so many basic mistakes back in 2006.

Because the blog wasn’t working out too well, I decided to speak at conferences in hopes that it would generate more clients. I literally applied to every marketing conference in hopes of landing a speaking gig.

The first conference I spoke at was Search Engine Strategies (it no longer exists). I was a bit nervous, but people enjoyed my speech.

I generated no new business from the event. 🙁

But that didn’t stop me, and I started to speak at more conferences and eventually, I drummed up business from a few events. Plus, I was building a personal brand in the marketing space (without realizing it).

Now when I say I started to build a brand, it wasn’t anything like it is right now and my goal wasn’t to build a brand… I just wanted to close new deals.

The software era

My ad agency grew to a few million a year in revenue, but by the time the recession hit in 2008, we started to lose a lot of clients.

Eventually, I shifted my focus to a marketing software company I co-founded, Crazy Egg.

At the same time, I stopped blogging on Pronet Advertising because it wasn’t generating any real income.

I started to focus all of my energy on getting Crazy Egg traffic and customers, while my business partner focused on making the product great.

At that time, Crazy Egg’s brand recognition was larger than mine. And I had no intention of growing my personal brand.

So, when I spoke at conferences, I talked about Crazy Egg. When I woke up in the morning, I spent my time trying to make Crazy Egg more popular.

As Crazy Egg was growing, I randomly decided to start a personal blog, Quick Sprout. I have no clue why I decided to do this… I just wanted a personal blog because I thought it would be a fun experience.

And if you are wondering why I didn’t name the blog Neil Patel it’s because I didn’t own NeilPatel.com at the time.

By January 2011, Quick Sprout grew to over 67,038 visitors a month:

quicksprout 2011

And by November of 2012 I was generating 112,681 visitors a month:

quicksprout 2012

My traffic was growing nice and steady at the time although my personal brand wasn’t really taking off yet.

But by January 24, 2013, my personal brand started to take off. That was when I started to publish in-depth marketing guides that were 20,000 to 30,000 words.

People thought I was crazy!

The first one was called The Advanced Guide to SEO.

advanced guide to seo

It did so well, my traffic jumped to 244,923 visitors a month.

quicksprout 2013

Once I realized that people loved these in-depth guides that were as long as a book, I kept publishing more and more. Eventually, I cranked out 12 of them and my personal brand started to skyrocket.

People would come up to me at conferences saying how they loved my content. People would even tell me how they would have discussions with their co-workers about my content. It was surreal!

Heck, it even got to a point where professors would email me asking if they could teach my content in their classrooms.

And luckily for me at that time, one of my Quick Sprout readers saw that the domain name, NeilPatel.com was being auctioned off for $900. Once I found out, I bought it. I didn’t do much with it… I just wanted to own my name.

Quick Sprout eventually grew to a point where it was generating over 500,000 visitors a month and I partnered with a few people to turn it into an SEO software company.

quicksprout 2016

Once I brought on a few business partners, it hit me that Quick Sprout was no longer just my blog. I had business partners, which meant it wasn’t just my blog anymore.

There was nothing wrong with that, but I wanted a personal blog as well. Somewhere I could write whatever I wanted and not worry about the “business” aspect.

The start of NeilPatel.com

I started this blog in August 2014. When I started this blog, my personal brand was just taking off.

According to Google Trends, I was at a 6:

2014 trends

And currently, it’s roughly at a 22. Which means it is 3 to 4 times larger now than what it was when I started this blog.

But here is the thing, Google Trends doesn’t paint a full picture. It just tracks how many people are searching for your brand on a monthly basis.

There are a lot of people who have known about me for years who don’t Google my name on a monthly basis.

My personal brand has grown for a few reasons:

  • I blog consistently – I’ve been blogging for years on many different blogs. From Pronet Advertising to Quick Sprout to NeilPatel.com, I enjoy blogging about marketing. Just on NeilPatel.com, I have published 4,868 posts.
  • I have a daily podcast – Marketing School generated 725,044 listens last month. If you haven’t, make sure you subscribe to it.
  • I produce weekly video content – from YouTube to Facebook to LinkedIn, you constantly see videos from me about marketing. My Youtube channel alone generated 566,816 views in the last 28 days. If you add in LinkedIn and Facebook, I’m hitting over a million video views a month.
  • I still kind of speak at conferences – I’ve slowed down on the speaking circuit as it got so exhausting because I used to speak at over 50 conferences a year.
  • I guest posted weekly – I used to blog on Entrepreneur, Forbes, Inc, and Fast Company as it helped spread my brand. Over the years I have written 1,831 guest posts in three different languages.
  • I expanded internationally – NeilPatel.com is now translated in 4 languages, and I continue to add more each year. This has been helping my brand grow.
  • I keep giving back – I’ve been making marketing tools free, such as Ubersuggest and Subscribers. Who doesn’t like free? 😉

In other words, I’ve built a decent personal brand by just being consistent and putting in long hours for over 16 years.

As I mentioned earlier, I wasn’t trying to build a personal brand… it just happened. It’s not huge, but it’s grown to a decent enough size where it’s larger than any of my corporate brands.

My personal brand has helped me generate millions in consulting deals, and I constantly get offered $25,000 to $50,000 for an hour speech at conferences each week.

So why do I regret building a personal brand?

Well, let me ask you this… think of a few of the brands you are very familiar with, which ones come to mind?

Apple?

Maybe Google?

Amazon, Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Nike, American Express, Tesla… the list keeps going on and on.

Did you notice that you didn’t really think about a personal brand?

Now tell me one personal brand that’s bigger and more successful than any one of the companies I mentioned above?

Whether you pick Tony Robbins or famous athletes like Cristiano Ronaldo or reality TV stars like the Kardashians, none of them will ever be bigger than the companies I mentioned above, at least from a financial perspective.

And what’s sad is when the face of a personal brand passes away, in most cases so does the income. For example, Tony Robbins does well because he is Tony. But if Tony wasn’t around, who would speak on stage on his behalf?

It wouldn’t be the same if his company replaced him with someone else.

But on the flipside, look at Apple. Steve Jobs was the visionary who helped build this amazing company we all love, but since he passed away, Apple’s stock price has gone up roughly 4 times.

They are now worth a trillion dollars. That’s crazy!!!!

Yes, Steve Jobs was an amazing entrepreneur, but Apple has grown without him and has continually improved their products.

In other words, Apple will continually live and hopefully grow because it isn’t reliant on any one individual.

Now my company is named after me. I’m not the only person within the company… the team is what makes the company amazing, not me. If I wasn’t here tomorrow, the company would still be around, but it probably wouldn’t do as well.

Not because the team isn’t capable… the team does amazing work and they are better than me in many ways. It’s because, without me, many companies wouldn’t come on board as clients.

If I changed the name of the company it also probably wouldn’t do as well because my personal brand is influential within the digital marketing world.

And here’s the kicker: It’s also harder to sell a company when it is named after a person. And if you are one of the lucky people who are able to sell a business based off of a personal brand, the multiple won’t be as great because the buyer knows that when the personal brand leaves, so will some of the revenue.

I’m not saying it’s impossible… just much harder.

That’s why you see companies like GitHub being purchased for $7.5 billion when most people haven’t even heard of it (outside of the tech world).

Conclusion

If I took all of the time I spent building a personal brand into building a corporate brand, I would have been worth a lot more money.

I know money isn’t everything in this world, but in business, it’s the scorecard that everyone looks at.

If you want to build a lifestyle business then consider building a personal brand. It’s easier to build, and you can make good money from speaking, consulting, or partnerships.

But if you want to build something big, something that will continually live and move on without you, then focus on building a corporate brand.

I’ve slowly been transitioning. That’s why I spend more time building up the Ubersuggest brand than I spend building the “Neil Patel” brand. And I know my ad agency Neil Patel Digital is based on my name, but I’m ok with that as I never plan on selling it.

Now in an ideal world, what you want to do is leverage personal brands to grow your corporate brand. For example, Beats by Dre leveraged strong personal brands like Lebron James and the Kardashians to grow in popularity.

beats by dre

It’s a smart model because this made it so the company isn’t reliant on one brand, such as Dr. Dre. A lot of companies, like Pepsi, Nike, and Coca-Cola do this.

Even B2B companies do this… who wouldn’t want a testimonial from Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerburg, or Elon Musk. It’s probably harder to get their endorsement as they don’t need the cash, but you can get micro influencers within the B2B space.

For example, I was discussing with my business partner that we should hire a lot of the popular personal brands within the marketing niche and bring them under the Neil Patel Digital brand. That way the company isn’t as reliant on me.

When you also build a strong corporate brand you’ll notice that it may indirectly help you build a strong personal brand. But that shouldn’t be your goal as your company won’t be worth as much if it is fully reliant on your brand.

So, are you going to build a personal brand or a corporate one?

The post I Wish I Never Built a Personal Brand appeared first on Neil Patel.

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Environmental Philosophy in the Local News

Environmental Philosophy in the Local News

DIS students and their faculty were recently featured in the local paper called Hvidovre Avis during their Environmental Philosophy course’s Field Study to Køge Bay Strandpark. While on the trip, they toured artificial coastal islands made of dredged sand and dune plants and visited the Hvidovre windmill cooperative. They also met with former MP and Copenhagen mayor Per Kaalund, who supervised the Køge Bay Strandpark project, and spoke to retired politician Erik Frølund-Thomson, who chairs the Hvidovre windmill cooperative.

The Environmental Philosophy course looks at sustainability through the Scandinavian and philosophical perspectives. It asks students to identify the major ideologies at play in environmental policy debates, as well as reflect on their own beliefs on significant environmental policy questions. In addition to the Field Study in Hvidovre, the course also visits a sustainable collective called Svanholm Gods.

Read the Hvidovre Avis Article
(if you wish to read the full article in English, copy and paste the URL above into Google Translate)

Learn more about Environmental Philosophy

photo credit: Hvidovre Avis

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Summer Architecture and Design Final Showcase

Summer Architecture and Design Final Showcase

Last week, 153 students in this summer’s Session 4: Architecture & Design displayed their final projects at the annual Architecture and Design Final Showcase.

50 pieces of newly designed and built furniture, and close to 150 boards with projects from architecture, interior architecture, graphic design, and urban design, were shown:

The Summer Session 4 in Architecture and Design is a crazy one – in seven weeks, furniture students design and produce fully prototyped pieces of furniture and students in architecture, interior architecture, graphic design, and urban design produce projects ranging from a public library to new graphic design for Thorvaldsen’s Museum to renovation of a typical Copenhagen courtyard to make it more people friendly.”

–Henning Thomsen, Program Director for the Architecture & Design, Furniture Design, and Graphic Design Programs

The projects were a culmination of what the students learned from class discussions, professionals on Field Studies and Study Tours, and hands-on studio work. 21 faculty and workshop assistants guided the students through the summer.

Learn more about Summer at DIS
Learn more about Summer Session 4: Architecture & Design
Hear about Summer Writer Anuradha’s experience in Interior Architecture Studio

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How to Get Around Google’s Latest Algorithm Change

How to Get Around Google’s Latest Algorithm Change

google logo

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…

twitter update

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.

google ad revenue

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:

2017 search traffic

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.

feb 2017 traffic

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.

april 2017 search

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.

Ouch!

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

2018 search traffic

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:

2018 search traffic

I’ve already beat my 2017 numbers!

5,017,790 is the number of unique search visitors that have come to NeilPatel.com 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 NeilPatel.com (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.

all time traffic

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):

  1. 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.
  2. Add in traffic per page – I then log into my Google Analytics account and list out how much traffic each URL is generating.
  3. And then I add in backlinks per page – I put each URL into Ahrefs to see how many backlinks each URL has.
  4. 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:

prune and crop

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:

languages

And here is the GDP per country:

gdp

And here is the population per country:

countries

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.

traffic by country

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.

search console error

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.

search console 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.

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).

Conclusion

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.

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DIS Faculty’s Article Featured as the Cover Story in Time Magazine

DIS Faculty’s Article Featured as the Cover Story in Time Magazine

The August 6th issue of Time Magazine leads with DIS Faculty Lisa Abend’s article focusing on how record numbers of “vacationers are threatening to turn Europe into a theme park” and thereby pushing locals out of the city centers, and how “the continent is pushing back”. Abend identifies the causes for this increase in tourism: from the growth of low-cost airlines and cheaper airfares, to the expanding cruise-ship industry, to Airbnb providing cheaper accommodations, among others. She also highlights what municipal and state governments are doing to deal with increased tourism – such as raising tourist taxes and limiting the number of daily visitors at tourist attractions.

Abend has been with DIS since 2014. She teaches Creative Nonfiction Workshop in the semester, and the summer course Food and Identity, which explores how food and culture shape each other. The class looks at Denmark and Spain as case studies, and specifically dives into how molecular gastronomy and New Nordic cuisines have redefined food culture and national identity in Spain and Denmark, respectively.

Even in these touristy times, it is more important than ever for students to study abroad and gain an in-depth experience of getting to see their host city’s culture alongside locals. Abend makes sure that her students avoid tourist traps by having them meet with and learn from locals while on Field Studies and Study Tours:

For my Food and Identity class, I’ve led Study Tours to Barcelona in the middle of high season, where there are parts of the city that are nearly impassable due to the quantity of tourists. But we try to be good visitors by going beneath the surface to really learn about the local cultures. At the Boqueria market, for example, we not only meet with the director to talk about how the market is trying to preserve its identity in the face of these challenges, but hold a scavenger hunt of sorts in which students have to track down – and purchase – authentic, regional products”

Abend is an American expat living in Denmark. She received a Ph.D. in European History from Harvard University. She spent several years in academia and then became a journalist. Currently, she is a correspondent for Time Magazine. She contributes to other magazines and newspapers, and has written the book, ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentices: A Season in the Kitchen at Ferran Adria’s elBulli.’

Read “The Tourism Trap”

Learn more about Abend’s Semester Course

Learn More about Abend’s Summer Course

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Why Content Marketing Works for Me and Not You

Why Content Marketing Works for Me and Not You

neil patel content

It’s funny, when I meet people who are leveraging content marketing, they always tell me one of two things…

Either they can’t figure out how to generate traffic (no matter how many blog posts they publish)…

OR

They’ve figured out how to generate more traffic, but the traffic hasn’t turned into any sales or new customers and they can’t figure out why.

Now, I know what you are thinking… there are so many companies that make millions from content marketing that there must be a way to make it work.

But here’s the thing. Because of my ad agency, I am able to talk to thousands of companies each year and dig into their marketing. And of the ones that leverage content marketing, most aren’t able to generate even one sale from it.

In other words, it’s not working for them.

It’s not because content marketing is flawed. It’s that most people don’t fully understand it.

Why doesn’t content marketing work for most businesses?

What most people don’t realize is that all visitors are not the same. And I’m not talking about demographics and income, I’m talking about intent.

When you land on a web page that ranks on Google because of content marketing, your actions are going to be different than if you clicked on a paid listing.

And it’s not because one is paid and one is organic… here’s what I mean.

When you do a search on Google for the term “auto insurance” you’ll see a search results page that looks something like this:

google search

And you’ll either click on a paid listing or an organic one.

Here’s what one of the paid listings looks like:

AAA

And here’s what one of the organic listings looks like:

nationwide

As you can see, the organic listing contains a lot of content… including information about the city where I performed the search, insurance options, and why I should choose Nationwide.

To some extent, it is educational and salesy all at the same time, but I’m not being sold as hard as the paid listing from AAA.

The AAA landing page only has 73 keywords. That’s it… a measly 73 keywords.

In other words, if you land on the AAA landing page you are going to click on one of the two insurance options.

On the other hand, if you land on the Nationwide site (who leverages content marketing), your eyes focus on the text instead of filling out the auto insurance lead form.

And that’s what I mean by intent.

Even though I performed the search “auto insurance,” I’m more likely to buy from the AAA site because it’s a more aggressive landing page. The Nationwide site puts me in a more educational mindset, in which I am going to read and do some research versus just getting a quote.

And Nationwide isn’t doing this because they want to educate. They are doing this because it is really hard to rank organically without providing tons of content.

Google loves content, hence the average web page that ranks on page one contains 1,890 words.

content length

That’s why Wikipedia ranks for everything under the sun.

If you are going to leverage content marketing, you have to keep in mind that when people land on your site it will put them in the mood of reading and learning instead of buying.

So, does that mean content marketing doesn’t work?

Content marketing is amazing, and it still works really well. It doesn’t produce as many conversions as paid advertising, but you can also build up massive amounts of traffic without burning a hole in your wallet.

Let’s look at NeilPatel.com and how I leverage content marketing.

Over the last 31 days, this blog has generated 2,510,893 visits of which 1,609,314 were unique. And those visitors generated 5,890,103 pageviews.

np traffic july

That’s not bad, especially if you consider that I am not really leveraging paid ads (other than the few blog posts I modestly boost on Facebook each month).

And during that time period, we generated 1,942 leads within the United States of which 262 came from companies who were spending over $5,000 a month on marketing.

july

Most leads don’t turn into sales within 30 days as our sales cycle is longer, but so far those leads have generated $972,860 in contract value (we haven’t collected all of that money yet, but we will over the next 12 months).

The number I shared above is just revenue, it’s not profit. That number, of course, will go up as many more of the leads will turn into contracts but at the same time, my expenses will go up too.

So, can you guess how I generated almost a million dollars in new contracts in just 30 days.

Well first off, it wasn’t me… I have an amazing sales team lead by a guy named Nick Roshan. And we have an amazing fulfillment team that helps the sales team close more deals.

But the lead generation is all me… and that came from content marketing.

In other words, content marketing works… as long as you think about it the right way.

So how should you think about content marketing?

The first part is traffic. You need traffic before you can do anything else.

How do you build up traffic via content marketing?

Well, you need to write blog posts. I won’t go too in-depth on how to write blog posts as I have tons of blog posts already on that.

If you are going to take the route of hiring other writers, make sure you tell them the following rules:

  1. You and I – use the words “you” and “I” to make the blog posts seem like a conversation. For example, “Don’t you hate it when people tell you that some things just aren’t possible? I know I do.” You see how that sounds conversational?
  2. 3 sections – a blog post should be structured with 3 main sections: Introduction, body, and conclusion. By structuring every one of your posts the same way, your readers will know what to expect and it will make it easier to skim your content. (The majority of your website visitors will skim and not read.)
  3. Conclusion – the conclusion should be labeled “Conclusion.” The reason you want to do this is that roughly 8% of your readers will scroll down to the bottom of your blog post to read the conclusion. If they like the conclusion they will scroll back up and read the rest. (The 8% stat is from NeilPatel.com. I’m not sure what the percentage will be for your blog but I used Crazy Egg to figure this out.)
  4. Subheadings – the body should contain subheadings, that way it is easier for people to skim. The subheadings should describe what the section is about and if you can naturally place keywords within it, feel free to do so. Just don’t force it.
  5. Short paragraphs – try to keep the paragraphs less than 5 or 6 lines. It’s easier on the eyes, especially on mobile.
  6. Facts and data – use stats and data to back up your talking points. Feel free to reference other sites and link to them. This will validate your content and also brand you as an authority over time.
  7. Images – use screenshots and photography to help get your point across. Some people are visual learners, so use images when it makes sense. If you are using someone else’s images, look for copyright information and make sure you cite your sources.
  8. 2,000 to 3,000 words – it varies per industry, but if you are in a competitive industry, consider making your blog posts 2,000 or more words. I showed you earlier in this post how Google prefers ranking content that is at least 1,890 words on page 1. If you are not in a competitive industry, you can write content that is less than 1,000 words. Over time you can go back to the blog posts that are gaining traction and expand them.
  9. Headlines have to be amazing 8 out of 10 people will read your headline but only 2 out of 10 will click through and read the rest of your article. Before you hit the publish button, check out these stats from Buzzsumo on writing appealing headlines.
  10. End with a question – wrap up your conclusion with a question. People are more likely to leave a comment when you ask them a question. Make sure you do this as you want engagement.

Now that you have the writing process down, it’s time to come up with topic ideas. The easiest way to figure out what’s hot is to just type in keywords within your space on Buzzsumo.

buzzsump

You just insert a keyword and Buzzsumo will show you all of the articles around the web that are popular related to that keyword.

By doing this you will see what people like in your space. I’m not saying you should copy these articles but instead to use them for ideas. The last thing you want to do is write content that people don’t care to read.

In addition to typing in a keyword, you can also type a URL into Buzzsumo. For example, I typed in Hubspot.com and it shows me all of their top articles.

buzzsumo hubspot

This will give you an idea of what is working for your competition.

Now that you have some topic ideas, it’s time for you to write a blog post (or pay someone to write it for you). Just keep in mind your content has to be better than your competition. If it isn’t better than what they have, it will be hard for you to get more social shares or outrank them.

When I publish a blog post, I like asking myself the following questions:

  1. Is your blog post more actionable than your competitors? (If not, fix it.)
  2. Did you write on something unique or provide a different perspective than your competition? (If not, fix it.)
  3. Would you be embarrassed if a friend or co-worker read your article? (Don’t ever publish something you wouldn’t want others to read… fix your content.)
  4. Would you be willing to ask other people to share your content on social media and link to it? (If not, make your content better.)
  5. Did you come up with 10 headline variations? (Don’t settle on your first headline, try to think of better ones.)

Assuming you passed all of the questions, it’s time to publish your content and generate some traffic.

So how do I generate traffic?

Sadly, there is no quick way to grow your traffic. It’s a slow grind, but over time your traffic will go up.

Here’s the traffic to the NeilPatel.com blog when I first started:

neil patel blog post

As you can see I generated 9,065 unique visitors in my first month back in August of 2014. I generated those visitors from the 4 strategies that I will break down in a bit (they still work).

And if you fast forward to the 1-year mark, I was able to 10x my traffic by August of 2015.

one year

My traffic has continually gone up over time as well, which you can see by scrolling back up towards the beginning of this post (I’m now at 2,510,893 monthly visits, yay!).

So how do you generate more traffic?

Well, first off you need to be patient. Don’t expect the same results I achieved. Marketing is what I do, and I’m willing to dedicate more time and energy than most people.

So here are the 4 strategies I used when I started NeilPatel.com (and I still use them today).

Keep in mind that these tactics work for all types of sites and I’m assuming here that you don’t have a social following, so I won’t be giving you basic advice like “share your article on LinkedIn”.

Strategy #1: Boosting posts

Still to do this day I boost my posts on Facebook. It worked even better when I was starting off, but it still works well today as it helps generate traction.

boosted posts

As you can see from the screenshot above, I boosted my last week’s post. I tend to boost all of my posts, which is roughly 4 times a month.

I spend $400 per post. I pick the regions: United Stated States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom when boosting.

You should pick the regions where most of your ideal customers are (ideally, I should only be boosting within the United States) and make your boost lasts 2 weeks as the clicks will be cheaper than if you spent it all in one day.

If you continually do this your traffic will grow over time and you will also get more organic Facebook traffic by boosting.

If you aren’t, that means people don’t care for your content… which means you need to go back and adjust your content with the tips I broke down above.

Strategy #2: Email everyone you linked to

Within your blog post, you should have linked to other sites. As I mentioned above, you want to cite your sources and link to places where you are finding data/stats.

Every time I link to a website, I will go to their site and try to find the email of the website owner so I can let them know I linked to them.

But before I share with you an email template to send, keep in mind that you will have to modify it for your website. I can’t emphasize this enough.

And I know some of you don’t think emailing works because you get so many link building requests, but if it didn’t work you wouldn’t be getting all of those emails. 😉

I typically send an email that goes something like this…

Hey John,

Thanks for taking the time to come up with stats around XYZ. I know it’s hard work, but bloggers like me appreach it. I just borrowed some of your stats for my latest blog post and of course I linked to you and gave you credit.

[insert link to your blog post]

Feel free and check it out and let me know what you think.

Cheers,

Neil Patel

PS: If you like the post, feel free and share it on your favorite social network. 

PPS: If you ever come up with any other cool research, let me know. I may want to include it in a future post.

You need to customize the email template because the more customized it is, the better it will do.

I’ve found that if I email out 20 people, 4 or 5 usually will email me back saying thanks.

When emailing people, keep in mind that there are GDPR rules. So, you may be better off going through the contact forms on people’s website versus just sending them a cold email.

If you aren’t sure if you are breaking any GDPR rules, check with a lawyer as they’ll know much more than I will.

Strategy #3: Top sharers

One of my favorite features of Buzzsumo is that it shows you all of the people who shared your competition’s content.

All you have to do is type in the URL of your competition and click on “view sharers.”

view sharers

From there you will be presented with a list of people who shared that content.

sharers

You’ll want to go to each of their Twitter profiles (or do some Googling) to see if you can find their email address or website.

Similar to the previous strategy, you’ll want to email them something that goes like this:

Hey Amanda,

Hope you are doing well.

I noticed that you tweeted out [insert the title of the article they tweeted] by author [insert author name].

It’s a good article, but it doesn’t discuss [insert what the article is missing].

Because of that, I wrote a similar article that’s more complete and up-to-date.

Let me know if you would like to check it out.

Cheers,

Neil Patel

You’ll notice that I didn’t link to my article. I first wait for their reply as I have found it to produce better results.

Typically, they will email back with something like:

Sure, I would like to see it.

And then you’ll respond with:

Here you go:

[insert link]

Feel free and share it if you like it 🙂

Cheers,

Neil

PS: Let me know if I can share anything for you.

It ranges depending on which industry you are in but typically 9% to 30% of the people you email will share your article out as well.

If you are getting a percentage that is lower than that it means that your content isn’t that great or the people you are emailing tweeted the original article out years ago instead of recently (people forget what they tweeted over time).

Again, make sure you follow GDPR rules with this tactic (feel free and consult a lawyer). You can always message people through their website contact form as well.

Strategy #4: Beg for links

The last thing I like to do within Buzzsumo is to see who linked to my competitors. You can click on “view backlinks” to see who links to similar articles from your competitors.

view backlinks

From there you will see a list of backlinks pointing to your competition:

backlink list

And just like the previous strategies you can do some manual outreach and send them an email that goes something like:

Hey John,

Hope you are doing well.

I was reading [insert URL of the page on their site that is linking out to your competition] and I noticed you mentioned [competition’s name].

The problem with the link is that you are pointing your readers to an article that isn’t complete. It doesn’t discuss [talk about why the competition’s article isn’t as useful and thorough].

If you want to fix this, check out my article below as it addresses everything I mentioned above.

[insert link to your article]

Cheers,

Neil Patel

PS: If you want to provide more value to your readers, feel free and link to my article.

PPS: Let me know if I can do anything for you.

The email template is a bit generic, but if you modify it, personalize it, and adapt it to your business you’ll see decent results.

If you email out 100 people you should get at least 4 to 6 links.

Again, make sure you check in with a lawyer about GDPR rules as you don’t want to get in trouble for sending off cold emails to people that you shouldn’t be.

You can also send the message using the contact forms on peoples’ websites.

Now that your traffic is growing, let’s focus on building up a community.

How to build a community

A blog without a loyal fan base is tough to monetize. Without this, you won’t do well. This is the big reason that most companies I talk to never do well with their content marketing.

They just lack a community.

This doesn’t mean you won’t be able to monetize if you don’t have a community, it just means it will be harder.

But before I go into building a community, you’ll want to leverage social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn. Just remember that as they continually adjust their algorithms, it will be harder to rely on them.

For that reason, I like focusing on the tactics below.

Tactic #1: Subscribers

Some of you may have noticed that every time I publish a new blog post you get a browser notification telling you about it.

Just through browser notifications, also known as push notifications, I am able to generate an extra 42,316 visitors per month.

push traffic

The way I do this is through a free tool called Subscribers.

Once you sign up for Subscribers it will give you a JavaScript or a WordPress plugin to install. Every time someone goes to your website they will then receive a notification through their browser that looks something like this:

push optin

And over time your subscriber count will continually increase:

subscribers dashbaord

As you send out push notifications, you’ll see that people will “unsubscribe” themselves, similar to email, which is fine. But in general, it is the most effective way to boost your traffic.

All you have to do is hit the “send a notification” button within your Subscribers dashboard and you will see a screen that looks like this:

subscribers send

You can even add UTM codes, which will give you tracking within your Google Analytics.

You can pick what image you want to include with the push notification (as well as see a preview of it on the left side) and you can schedule it if you want it to go out at a later time or day.

Once you hit send, your subscribers will get a notification that looks something like this in their browser:

neil test sub

Whether you decided to use UTMs or not, you can always see your stats for each push within your Subscribers dashboard.

subscriber stats

Even though I don’t talk about push notifications much, it really is the easiest way to build a community and get people to come back to your site.

There is only one issue when you use tools like Subscribers, you have to be patient. You won’t have a big list of subscribers from day one. It will take months before you see it really kicking in.

It’s more effective than email marketing and best of all Subscribers is free.

Tactic #2: Collect emails

Similar to tactic number 1, a lot of you are on my email list. I received 37,726 visitors from emailing out blog posts over the last 31 days.

email stats

Although that number may not seem high, emails make up one of my most loyal segments. If I do an email blast selling a product or service, I can instantly generate $100,000 (seriously).

And similar to Subscribers, I use a free email collection tool called Hello Bar to collect emails and build a community.

You can go, signup, add your website, and install the WordPress plugin they give you (or JavaScript).

Once you are up and running I would create an exit popup similar to what I have on NeilPatel.com.

exitpopup

I know most of you don’t like exit popups, but they are really effective. I collect over 1,000 emails a day from my exit popup.

As long as you are providing value and giving away something people will love, then they won’t mind entering their email address.

There are two cool parts about Hello Bar that I love:

  1. It’s GDPR compliant – they have GDPR settings in there.
  2. It has custom targeting settings – you can pick who sees your optin and when they see it. For example, I only show it to people once and only when they are leaving the site.

Once you log into Hello Bar, you’ll see a wizard that looks something like this:

hello bar wizard

You can choose from tons of different templates and designs. You can even upload a custom background image if you want (for this purpose I just picked the most basic template to show you how it works).

wysiwyg

And once you pick a template you like, you can easily modify the design or image using the WYSIWYG editor.

If you also have traffic from different sources like I do (mobile, tablet, desktop) you can pick different layout types and designs for each device type.

You can also create different popups for different regions. For example, here is my Hello Bar exit popup for Brazil:

brazil popup

Out of all the methods I’ve tested for email collection, exit popups work the best.

But if you really don’t want to use them, you can create sliders, bars, and other forms of email collection boxes using Hello Bar that aren’t as aggressive.

Now that you have an email list going, you’ll want to send out an email blast to your list every time you publish a blog (or every time you publish an amazing one if you blog too often – you don’t want to clutter people’s inbox).

What I’ve found is that I generate more comments and social shares from my push notification and email list than any other channel.

To give you an idea, over the last 31 days, push notifications made up 38.5% of my blog comments and email has made up 32.3% of my comments.

It’s crazy… they beat out every other channel by far.

So, what’s next?

Well, assuming you are growing your traffic, collecting more subscribers and emails… you should be building a nice solid user base to monetize.

You have a few ways you can monetize.

The first is to just sell more products. A great example of this is Legion Athletics. It’s an 8-figure business that started with content marketing.

When you go to Legion’s blog, you’ll notice that they do a few things…

First, they try and push you into taking their quiz as it is a great way for them to make product recommendations based on your needs.

legion quiz

Once you start taking the quiz, they’ll ask you personalized questions so they can direct you towards the right supplements for you.

quiz questions

It’s one of the best ways to convert blog readers into customers. And if you don’t know how to create a quiz, just check out Lead Quizzes. It’s a software that does it for you.

It works so well, I even have a quiz on NeilPatel.com.

neil patel quiz

In other words, quizzes work well for both B2B and B2C sites. It doesn’t matter if you are selling a product, service, or info product, quizzes work.

Heck, at one point I was able to grow my lead count by 500% through quizzes.

Now going back to Legion, they also do a few other things really well.

They notify you every time there is a new purchase made on their site. (Timothy Sykes also does a great job with this.)

buyer

And they have different types of exit popups depending where you are on their site.

Some of them sell products:

product

And some focus on collecting emails (they do something smart, which is they ask you a question before asking for your email… typically converts better):

exit email

By showcasing all of these examples from Legion, I am trying to show you that content marketing does convert if you focus on the conversion aspect.

Remember how earlier I talked about how when people go to websites with content they are there to read and learn? That doesn’t mean you can’t convert them into customers. You just have to put in a bit more work than just telling them to buy your product.

Legion grew to 8 figures a year using these tactics, which means it works. Sure, you all know I can do it, but the Legion team isn’t made up of marketers, it is made up of fitness fanatics.

Even Timothy Sykes, he generates 61% of his sales from content marketing. That’s a business that makes well into the millions of dollars per month.

So what’s my secret sauce?

I showed you how Legion monetizes their blog, now I want to show you how I monetize my blog.

I use 5 main channels to convert my content marketing traffic into leads and then my sales team converts those leads into revenue.

But before I go over them, keep in mind this will work if you have a personal blog or a corporate blog. And it will work if you are in B2B, B2C, selling products, collecting leads, or selling a service. In other words, it pretty much works for all blogs. 😉

Let’s go over each of them…

Tactic #1: Exit popups

I showed you my exit popup above and that’s I how I collect most of my emails. Once I collect an email, I send off an email that looks something like this:

[insert first name], as promised, here is the cheat sheet that breaks down how I ranked on page 1 of Google for terms like “online marketing” and “SEO”. (I hope you enjoy it… I spent a lot of time creating it.)

Just as a heads up, the cheat sheet is advanced, but if you follow it you’ll do well.

It goes over the tactics I personally use and over the next few weeks, I’ll also share a few marketing hacks that you won’t find anywhere else. 😉

Now, if you need more help, feel free and check out my ad agency, Neil Patel Digital, where we can do everything for you.

And if you have any questions, just hit the reply button and ask away. It’s my personal email and I am here to help you.

Seriously, don’t be shy.

Cheers,

Neil Patel

If you look at the email above, you’ll notice that I link to my ad agency.

That email helps collect a solid portion of my qualified leads. It doesn’t bring in the majority, but I’ve found that people on my email list are 278% more likely to turn into customers.

When you collect emails, don’t be afraid to promote your product or service. It doesn’t have to be in your first email, you can do it over time.

For example, Ramit from I Will Teach You to be Rich, usually waits 30 days to promote his products. You typically have to be on his email list for at least 30 days before you see any promotions.

Tactic #2: Lead flow funnel

On NeilPatel.com, you’ll notice that I have a few different URL optins.

On my homepage, I ask you for your URL:

home page

And I push you through an analyzer that looks like this:

analyzer

And then I collect a lead that gets passed to my sales team:

lead form

I have a similar flow on every page. For example, on blog posts, I have a top bar:

top bar

I also have them within the sidebar of my blog posts:

blog sidebar

That simple analyzer that I am pushing traffic to accounts for over 90% of my leads. It works that well. Just look at how much revenue my sales team closed in the last 31 days (I shared it above).

You have to get creative with your funnel. If you are unsure of how to create a funnel, check out this blog post.

Tactic #3: Webinars

Once you are on my email list, you will see the opportunity to join my webinar.

From there I pitch you on my agency. If you are wondering how a webinar funnel works, you should read this blog post as I break it all down in there.

When I used to sell info products, for every 100 webinar registrations I was generating 3.6 sales. Each sale is worth $997. After refunds, the 3.6 sales would turn into $3,050.82.

I eventually ditched the info product webinar and focused on collecting consulting leads.

If you want to see my latest webinar presentation (feel free and use my slides and modify it for your business), you can download them here.

Tactic #4: Thank you pages

Have you seen my thank you page?

Everyone who opts into my email list sees it. I talk about my ad agency in a short video and it helps drive leads.

thank you

Tactic #5: Blog mentions

The last tactic I use to generate sales from content marketing is to just mention my business within my blog post.

How many times do you think I mentioned my ad agency, Neil Patel Digital, in this post?

Probably enough to generate an extra 500 to 1,000 visitors to my agency site.

analytics

The last time I did it, the agency had an all-time high of 970 visitors in one day. That’s not too shabby.

Sometimes it generates qualified leads and other times it doesn’t. But it’s a numbers game.

Conclusion

It’s much easier to grow traffic to a blog than it is to monetize. Content marketing is effective as long as you can drive qualified traffic and you can convert those visitors into customers.

For example, on NeilPatel.com I have a lot of posts about Instagram and how to grow followers. Although this Instagram post is one of my most popular pieces of content… in multiple languages

instagram analytics

Those visitors will never convert into qualified leads.

Before you do any form of content marketing, make sure you are really going after an audience that will buy your products and services.

Once you’ve got the targeting down, then start cranking out content, promoting it and building a community.

In general, it will take you a year to see decent results in traffic. And I would recommend that you avoid monetizing within the first 12 months. You could try to monetize earlier, but I’ve found it to slow down traffic growth.

So, I prefer investing in pure traffic growth during the first year and then slowly transitioning into monetization in year two. And to clarify, I don’t slow down on traffic growth and marketing, instead, I focus on both traffic and conversions.

Do you see why content marketing works for me and not most people? So, what are you waiting for… are you going to implement what you just learned?

The post Why Content Marketing Works for Me and Not You appeared first on Neil Patel.

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DIS Faculty Member Publishes Book on Urban Green Spaces

DIS Faculty Member Publishes Book on Urban Green Spaces

Our local expert on all things gardening, DIS Faculty, Toby Musgrave, has published a new book Green Escapes: The Guide to Secret Urban Gardens. The book explores over 260 green spaces – parks, courtyards, terraces, and community gardens – in cities around the world. The book functions as a guide of not only what these green sites are and where they exist but also looks into the design and function of the spaces. The book is a culmination of Musgrave’s own knowledge, as well as information collected through research and his social and professional networks.

Musgrave has been a lecturer at DIS since 2010. His elective course, Garden Art in European Culture, explores the garden as an art form, how gardens have been depicted in art, and how gardens have influenced other art forms. The course goes to Frederiksborg Palace Garden and explores the green spaces along Copenhagen’s medieval Fortification Ring on Field Studies. This Summer, Musgrave also taught European Greenspace, which went on Study Tour to Nijmegen, Netherlands – European Green Capital for 2018.

Musgrave received a Bachelor’s of Science in Horticulture and a Ph.D. in Garden History from Reading University in the United Kingdom. He is an author of 11 books as well as over 100 periodicals and 500 newspaper articles in Britain and Denmark. He has been a major contributor on five books, appeared on television and radio programs, and worked as a consultant for the BBC shows How to be a Gardener and Royal Gardens. Musgrave has also worked as a consultant garden historian at the Lost Gardens of Heligan in Cornwall, developing restoration policy and replanting plans.

Last February, Musgrave was elected as a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London, which is England’s second oldest learned society. This honor is regarded as recognition of significant achievement in the fields of archaeology, antiquities, history, and heritage. Among the Society’s 3,000 other international fellows are naturalist and broadcaster Sir David Attenborough, gastronome and author Lloyd Grossman, and Queen Margrethe II of Denmark. The Society’s mission is to promote the understanding of the material remains of the past, while also working to prevent the willful destruction of archaeological and historic sites and the illicit trade in antiquities.

For more information on Green Escapes: The Guide to Secret Urban Gardens

For more information on the DIS semester elective course Garden Art in European Culture

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The Future of SEO: It’s Not What You’re Expecting

The Future of SEO: It’s Not What You’re Expecting

future of seo

What do you think the future of SEO is?

And no, I am not talking about what Google will look like 10 years from now… I’m talking about how you’ll be able to rank your site in the future.

You know, that one thing that’ll just skyrocket your rankings.

So, what do you think it is?

I can tell you this… it’s not link building and it’s not on-page SEO.

Sure, those things help, but they don’t skyrocket your rankings. When you build links, it can take months if not a year for them to kick in.

And everyone is doing on-page SEO, so there is nothing unique about it anymore.

So, what do you think it is? Shall I give you a hint?

The accidental SEO hack

I stumbled on the “future” of SEO by accident. Back in March 2016, I was able to take my traffic from 185,980 visitors a month to 195,596 a month.

And it all happened within 30 days.

Here was my traffic in February 2016:

feb traffic

After I ran my accidental marketing experiment, my traffic grew by 9,616 visitors (to 195,596 monthly visitors in March).

mar 2016

I know what you are thinking… there are more days in March than February. And although that’s true, the majority of those additional 9,616 visitors came from search.

So what happened?

As I mentioned above, I accidentally stumbled upon this.

But once I noticed that the side effect of this marketing experiment was that it increased my search traffic, I ran it again.

And this time, on a much larger scale.

Let’s look at my traffic in June 2016:

june traffic

And now let’s look at July 2016:

july traffic

And now look at August 2016:

august traffic

That growth rate is ridiculous! I grew my traffic to 454,382 visitors a month in August from 240,839 in June!

See, during that time period, I wasn’t trying to figure out any cool SEO hacks that would boost my rankings… it just accidentally happened. And it happened because I was running a marketing experiment that wasn’t related to SEO, but funny enough, it impacted SEO (in a major way!).

As you can see from the graphs above, I was able to drastically boost my rankings and search traffic over time.

So, can you guess what it was?

Let me give you a hint…

How Google deals with the Internet cesspool

The EX-CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt, talked about how the Internet is becoming a place where false information is thriving. Essentially, the Internet is becoming a cesspool.

He went on to discuss how brands were becoming more important signals whether or not content can be trusted.

And in his words:

Brands are the solution, not the problem. Brands are how you sort out the cesspool.

In other words, if you want to do well in the long run, you have to build a brand.

When you look at Google you can see clearly that it’s dominated by big brands. From Huffington Post to Wikipedia to CNN… the list goes on and on.

Sure, these sites have a lot of content and backlinks, but they also have huge brands.

When my traffic grew from 185,980 visitors a month in February 2016 to 454,382 visitors in August, it was due to one thing.

My brand kept growing!

Just look at the brand queries for my name over time according to Google Trends:

google trends

Over time, my brand has grown in popularity. And as it’s grown, so has my traffic.

In the last 28 days, 40,412 people found my site by Googling variations of my name.

search console

That’s a lot of people!

But what’s cool is, the traffic increases didn’t mainly come from people Googling “Neil Patel.” It mainly came from an increase in rankings for non-branded terms like “online marketing.”

It’s so effective that I generate over a million visits from Google each month now:

google traffic

To clarify, the way Google looks at brands is that if a website gets a higher amount of brand queries than their competition (the number of people searching for your website name each month), it tells Google that people prefer that one brand over another.

And when Google is determining where to rank a website for all of the terms they are optimizing for, they give more preference to the ones with the most popular brands because those are the sites that people prefer more.

So why does Google put so much emphasis on brands verus other search signals?

Why Google loves brands

Just think about it, it’s the hardest thing to manipulate.

You optimize your on-page code with very little effort these days.

Heck, if you have a WordPress blog you can just use the Yoast SEO plugin and it will do a lot of the work for you.

And when it comes to links, it is harder, but not impossible. You can do email outreach, guest posting, buying links, reciprocal link building, content marketing

Now, I am not saying you should leverage all of these link building tactics because Google frowns upon many of them and they are short-sided (always think long-term).

You get the point… it’s not that hard to build links these days if you know what you are doing.

But the one thing that is hard to build, no matter how good of a marketer you are, is a brand.

Even if you do massive PR stunts, which causes everyone to know your brand and search for your brand on Google (that’s how they measure it), it won’t help you in the long term.

And trust me, I’ve tried it all.

I even tried to get people to search for my name by having famous people hold up signs with my name as it causes others to wonder “who is Neil Patel” and perform a Google search. I also did that throughout the world in different languages.

I even had Larissa Manoela, a famous Brazilian actress, post this on her Instagram account for her 15+ million (million!!) followers.

who is neil patel

The concept behind this marketing stunt was that no matter what industry you are in, everyone follows celebrities (or at least knows about them). And if you can get these celebrities to talk about you, it will create buzz and get new people to learn who you are and potentially become an avid follower. Or at the very least, search for you in Google.

And if you can get a lot of celebrities (or social influencers) to talk about you during the same time, it will create even more buzz and potentially cause newspapers and news websites to talk about you as well.

Now I didn’t have enough money to pay A-list celebrities, so I took Internet celebrities (and a few big names in countries outside of the US) and got them to hold up signs with my name on both Facebook and Instagram.

This created buzz, which then caused more people to Google my name. This, in turn, increased my popularity over time. And the end result was that I increased my rankings for non-branded terms (like “online marketing” and “SEO”).

That’s how I got the big boost in traffic from February 2016 to August 2016.

Although that will help boost your search traffic in the short run, it won’t last long unless you continually build up your brand. Google is looking to see how many people are searching for your brand name on a daily basis… and ideally, they want to see this increase over time.

In other words, if you can’t maintain your brand’s popularity, your search traffic will die off if you use short-term strategies as I did. That’s why you see huge spikes in my brand when you look at the Google Trends image below.

google trends

But if your brand continues to grow in popularity, so will your search traffic for all of your non-brand related terms.

It’s hard to see it in the chart above, but before I focused on building my brand, I was only generating 18,304 brand queries per month, versus 40,412 that I am generating now.

So how do you build a brand?

As I mentioned above, you need people searching for your brand name on a consistent basis.

The only way to really do this is by creating value.

Just look at me… I blog on a regular basis, produces educational videos, I have a daily podcast, and I even speak at conferences.

All in all, it has caused my brand to grow over the years.

And this works even better for corporations. If you create an amazing product or service, people will love your brand and keep coming back.

I learned this from my Ubersuggest acquisition. When I bought the brand and merged it into my website, my number one search query become the term “Ubersuggest” and variations of it.

most popular term

People love the tool… so much so that they access it by Googling the brand name. Sure, the tool has more direct traffic, but people also go to sites using Google.

But to get back to the question of how you can build a brand?

Well, there are no very detailed strategies I can give you as it will range from business to business. I can give you an overview of strategies that have worked for me though, as well as some stats to go along with it:

Blog weekly

I’ve found that if you blog on a regular basis you get more brand queries.

When people are expecting content from you on a regular basis, they’ll Google your brand to come back to your blog and read your latest content.

When I blogged daily, I generated 11% more brand queries than when I blogged once a week. This is why sites like CNN, Huffington Post, Business Insider, and every other news site generates a lot of brand queries… they blog numerous times per day.

Create videos

You don’t have to copy my YouTube strategy, but you should create some sort of videos related to your product, service, or industry. Not because of Google or YouTube, but because of social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn love video content.

So much so that it’s easier to get eyeballs on Facebook and LinkedIn for video content than it is on YouTube.

This will cause more people to see your brand, and build a relationship with you or your company.

What I’ve found is that the more videos I create the more brand queries I get. Just look at the screenshot below:

youtube brand queries

The screenshot shows how many views my videos received on YouTube over the last 28 days from people searching for my name. It’s 3,806 visitors to be exact.

I know YouTube brand queries doesn’t mean more brand queries on “Google.”

But if you can push out video content on YouTube, Facebook, and LinkedIn, it can’t hurt. It will cause more people to see your brand, and eventually, this should cause more people to Google you.

Now, the reason I am emphasizing LinkedIn and Facebook is that it is easier to generate views on those two social networks for video content. I know they count views differently, but there is a huge difference (and even if there weren’t, it’s extra views).

Just look at my YouTube views for my video on GoogleRank Brain, it has 10,010 views:

rankbrain youtube

And on Facebook it has 31,000 views:

facebook rankbrain

And on LinkedIn it has 29,506 views:

rankbrain views

So if YouTube is creating roughly 3,806 brand queries per month when it’s generating fewer views than Facebook and LinkedIn, just imagine what these videos are doing for my brand.

Sadly, Facebook and LinkedIn don’t share stats in the same way as YouTube, but you can come to the conclusion that it probably helps in a similar fashion.

That’s why you need to create videos in order to promote your personal or corporate brand on all social sites (you can use the same content, just upload it to each social network).

Speak at conferences

Every time I speak at conferences I see an influx of brand queries.

It’s harder for me to see these days as I already have a lot of brand queries, but I used to see big swings in my brand queries when I was starting out because of my participation at conferences.

Every time I spoke at a conference with at least 300 attendees (the number of people attending your speech, not the total number of people registered for the event), I would see an increase in brand searches within 24 to 48 hours of my talk.

Each speech would typically bring me 110 to 180 extra brand queries. Although that seems high, you have to keep in mind that reporters also sit in on speeches and are blogging about your speech. This creates more press related to you and your company, which helps with brand queries.

And if the conference you are speaking at uploads the video of your speech to YouTube (or even live streams the event on Facebook) you’ll see even more brand queries.

The larger the audience the better as it creates more potential searches. If you don’t know how to get speaking spots, check this out.

And if you don’t have the time to travel, you can speak at virtual events. They won’t have the same effect, but it is better than nothing.

Build an amazing product or service

I learned this one from my Ubersuggest acquisition… if people love what you are building, your brand queries will really skyrocket. It’s so effective, that it has become my new SEO strategy.

ubersuggest google trends

As you can see, the better product you build, the more brand queries you’ll receive.

With Ubersuggest I took a simple approach, just take what my competitors are charging for and give it away for free.

And my brand queries don’t even compare to companies like Dropbox, Apple, Slack, and the loads of other companies that have built amazing products or service.

This strategy is easy to replicate and you’ll see the results fast as long as you take what your competition is charging for and give it away for free.

Just look at the chart above: it shows a huge spike in just 1 month. That was when I released more features for free.

Performance-based press

There are companies like PRserve that charge for performance-based press. If they get you press, you then pay. If not, you don’t pay a dime. It won’t cause tons of brand queries at first, but over time it will help.

If you want to do it yourself, here is an article I wrote breaking down how to get press. It takes longer and it’s harder than hiring someone, but as long as you are willing to put in the time, you will see results.

You can also check out sites like Help a Reporter Out, where journalists ask questions and people go to help them out. When you see a question related to your expertise or industry, you should respond and you can get free press.

Release a book

This works better for personal brands, but publishing a book is a great way to get more brand queries. There are even companies that can streamline the whole process for you.

When I released my book Hustle, I learned three important things:

  1. Don’t co-author a book – I love my co-authors, but I would have received much more of a brand boost if I self-authored the book.
  2. Write a book about your expertise – Hustle was a mainstream book that appealed to most people versus people who wanted to learn about marketing. If I wrote a book about marketing, which is where my expertise is, I believe my brand would have grown faster (even if fewer people purchased the book).
  3. Don’t focus on being a New York Times Bestselling author – I was on the list 3 weeks in a row, and I don’t think it did much for me. Focus on building a following within your space, versus just generating book sales from people who don’t care about your business.

Hopefully, the strategies above will give you a start on building your brand… it just takes time and a lot of elbow grease.

There is no quick solution and what worked for me may not work for you. So get your creative juices flowing and think outside the box.

Conclusion

Branding may seem like a waste of money, but it isn’t.

I used to think companies like Nike were wasting money with all of their TV ads when they could have focused on channels that produced a direct ROI like Google Ads.

But what’s funny is, when you think of shoes you naturally think of “Nike.” You don’t have to Google them, you just know about them because they’ve built a huge brand and are everywhere.

Same goes for Visa. When you think of credit cards, Visa comes to mind because they are accepted worldwide and run tons of ads.

The list keeps going on and on… from McDonald’s to Coca-Cola… the one thing you have to learn from these big companies is that you have to build an amazing brand. Not only will it create more brand searches, but it will help drive more revenue in the long-run.

Most of the companies I mentioned above don’t generate the majority of their sales from Google… they generate their sales from having a huge brand that people trust and love. The brand queries that they get on Google is just an added benefit.

And if that doesn’t convince you, here is an interesting stat. One of my friends works for one of the largest travel companies in the world. They are publicly traded and run television ads as well as spending millions on Google/Facebook ads each month.

When they run TV ads, their Google cost per click (CPC) goes down by roughly 20% because people are seeing their brand everywhere and are more willing to click on it. When they turn off the TV ads, they see the CPCs go back up.

They also own so many travel sites in the space, so they tested this out with a handful of them. Every time they saw similar results, no matter which travel site they tested it on.

More money spent on branding equals a cheaper CPC. When they don’t run TV ads, CPCs go up.

I know you probably don’t like the idea of branding because it isn’t something that is instant, and it is hard to manipulate. But that’s why creating a strong brand drastically increase your non-branded rankings.

So, what are you waiting for… are you going to focus on building a brand?

The post The Future of SEO: It’s Not What You’re Expecting appeared first on Neil Patel.

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DIS Refugee Program Launches with Great Success

DIS Refugee Program Launches with Great Success

In 2018, DIS launched the DIS Refugee Program. This new program is in cooperation with the Foreningen Nydansker which specializes in bringing highly skilled refugees into the Danish labor market, as this group usually struggles the most in finding relevant work in Denmark.

DIS welcomed two refugees: Tom, into our Academic Affairs Team, and Reem, into our Student Affairs Team. They started on April 1 and have now finished their three-month internships. The goal was to help provide work experience and insight into Danish workplace culture, improve language skills, and assist them in strategizing their own personal future career steps.

“It has been a very positive and rewarding experience for all of us at DIS to have refugee interns working with us. It has been a privilege to help such talented and motivated people get a better sense of what a Danish workplace is all about and how they might succeed in the Danish labor market. We have contributed and helped our refugee interns, but we have certainly learned a lot from them and benefitted from their skills and new ideas as well. It has been a good reminder about how much any workplace can benefit from having employees with diverse backgrounds and experiences.”
-Malene Torp, Executive Director

Tom and Reem quickly and easily fit into their teams and work culture, and at the same time shared their own history and experiences. They helped support ongoing administrative projects here at DIS and took on projects of their own. Tom, a graduate of Aalborg University with a Master’s in Development and International Relations, said he enjoyed working with people across different departments and still feeling like one team. And Reem, with a degree in Business Administration from back home, said she had never felt as accepted or appreciated in Denmark as she was by her colleagues.

Thank you to Tom and Reem for strengthening our team. We can only encourage others to hire highly skilled refugees to their workplace!

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Why I Spent $500,000 Buying a Blog That Generates No Revenue

Why I Spent $500,000 Buying a Blog That Generates No Revenue

neil patel
(If you are wondering, the image of me above was taken when I used to work at KISSmetrics with Hiten Shah… I used to have hair)

In early January 2017, I purchased the KISSmetrics website for $500,000.

If you go to the site, you’ll notice that it forwards here to NeilPatel.com (which I will get into later in the post).

The $500,000 didn’t get me the company, KISSmetrics, or any of the revenue streams. The parent company, Space Pencil, is continually improving and developing the product.

And on top of that, there are restrictions. I can’t just pop up a competing company or any company on the KISSmetrics site.

So why did they sell me the domain? And why would I pay $500,000 for it?

I can’t fully answer why they sold it, but I do know a lot of their customers came from word of mouth, conferences, paid ads, and other forms of marketing that didn’t include SEO or content marketing.

For that reason, the domain probably wasn’t as valuable to them as it was to me. And of course, who wouldn’t want extra cash?

I’m assuming they are very calculated because they are an analytics company, so they probably ran the numbers on how much revenue the inbound traffic was generating them and came to the conclusion that the $500,000 price tag seemed worth it.

Now, before I get into why I spent $500,000 on the domain, let me first break down my thought process as I am buying out a lot of properties in the marketing space (more to be announced in the future).

Why am I buying sites that aren’t generating revenue?

This wasn’t the first or the last site that I’ll buy in the space.

I recently blogged about how I bought Ubersuggest. And it wasn’t generating a single dollar in revenue.

Well technically, there were ads on the site, but I quickly killed those off.

And eventually, I ported it over to NeilPatel.com.

When I am looking at sites to buy, I am only looking for 1 thing… traffic. And of course, the quality (and relevancy) of that traffic.

See, I already have a revenue stream, which is my ad agency, Neil Patel Digital.

So, my goal is to find as many sites that have a similar traffic profile to NeilPatel.com and leverage them to drive my agency more leads.

How do you know you won’t lose money?

I don’t!

This approach doesn’t guarantee I’ll make more money.

I look at the business as tons of tiny experiments. You don’t build a huge business through one simple marketing strategy or tactic.

You have to combine a lot of little things to get your desired outcome.

And sometimes you’ll make mistakes along the way that will cost you money, which is fine. You have to keep one thing in mind… without testing, you won’t be big.

With my ad agency, we tend to mainly have U.S. clients. Yes, we serve other regions as well… for example, we have an ad agency in Brazil.

neil patel brazil

But I myself mainly focus on driving traffic to the U.S. ad agency, and the other teams just replicate as I don’t speak Portuguese, German, or any of the required languages for the other regions we are in.

So, when I buy companies, I look for traffic that is ideally in the U.S.

Sure, the ad agency can work with companies in Australia, Canada, and even the United Kingdom, but it’s tough.

There’s a huge difference in currency between Australia and the U.S. and the same goes for Canada.

And with the U.K. there is a 5 to 8-hour time zone difference, which makes it a bit more difficult to communicate with clients.

That’s why when I buy a site, I’m ideally looking for U.S. traffic.

When I bought Ubersuggest it had very little U.S. traffic. Indonesia and India were the two most popular regions.

But I bought it because I knew I could build a much better tool and over time grow the U.S. traffic by doing a few email blasts, getting on Product Hunt, and by creating some press.

And I have…

ubersuggest traffic

As you can see from the screenshot above, U.S. is the most popular region followed by India and Brazil.

Over time it shouldn’t be too difficult to 3 or even 4x that number as long as I release more features.

Now, my costs on Ubersuggest have gotten into the 6 figures per month, and I am not generating any income from it.

There is no guarantee that it will generate any revenue, but I have a pretty effective sales funnel, which I will share later in the post. Because of that sales funnel my risk with Ubersuggest is pretty low.

As long as I can grow the traffic enough, I should be able to monetize.

What about KISSmetrics?

As for KISSmetrics, I mainly bought the domain for the blog traffic.

During its peak it was generating 1,260,681 unique visitors per month:

kissmetrics peak

By the time I bought the blog, traffic had dropped to 805,042 unique visitors per month:

kissmetrics purchase

That’s a 36% drop in traffic. Ouch!

And then to make matters worse, I decided that I wanted to cut the traffic even more.

There were so many articles on KISSmetrics that were outdated and irrelevant, so I had no choice but to cut them.

For example, there were articles about Vine (which Twitter purchased and killed), Google Website Optimizer (no longer exists), Mob Wars (a Facebook game that no longer exists)… and the list goes on and on.

In addition to that, I knew that I could never monetize irrelevant traffic. Yes, more traffic is good, but only as long as it is relevant.

I instantly cut the KISSmetrics blog in half by “deleting” over 1,024 blog posts. Now, I didn’t just delete them, I made sure I added 301 redirects to the most relevant pages here on NeilPatel.com.

Once I did that, my traffic dropped again. I was now sitting at 585,783 unique visitors a month.

kissmetrics drop

It sucks, but it had to be done. The last thing I wanted to do was spend time and money maintaining old blog posts that would never drive a dollar in revenue.

I knew that if someone was going to come to my blog to research Vine, there was little to no chance that the person would convert into a 6-figure consulting contract.

After I pruned and cropped the KISSmetrics blog, I naturally followed the same path of Ubersuggest and merged it in to NeilPatel.com.

The merge

The KISSmetrics merge was a bit more complicated than Ubersuggest.

With Ubersuggest, I didn’t have a keyword research tool on NeilPatel.com, so all I had to do was slap on a new design, add a feature or two, and port it over.

With KISSmetrics, a lot of the content was similar to NeilPatel.com. For the ones that were similar, I kept the NeilPatel.com version considering this blog generates more traffic than the KISSmetrics one.

As for all of the content that was unique and different, I ended up moving it over and applying 301 redirects.

If I decided to skip the pruning and cropping stage that I described above, the KISSmetrics blog would have had more traffic. And when I merged it in with NeilPatel.com I would have done even better.

But in marketing you can can’t focus on vanity metrics like how many more unique visitors you are getting per month. You need to keep your eye on the prize.

And for me, that’s leads.

The more leads I generate for my ad agency, the more likely I’ll increase my revenue.

Here’s my lead count for the weeks prior to the KISSmetrics merge:

hubspot leads

When looking at the table above, keep in mind it shows leads from the U.S. only.

The KISSmetrics blog was merged on the 25th. When you add up all of the numbers from the previous week, there were 469 leads in total, of which 61 were marketing qualified leads.

That means there were 61 leads that the sales reps were able to contact as the vast majority of leads are companies that are too small for us to service.

When you look at the week of the 25th, there were a total of 621 leads. 92 where marketing qualified leads.

Just from that one acquisition, I was able to grow my marketing qualified leads by 50.8%. 🙂

I know what you are thinking though. The week after the 25th (7/2) the leads tanked again. Well, you have to keep in mind that the table only shows leads from the U.S. and during that week there was a national holiday, the 4th of July. So, leads were expected to be low.

But still, even with the holiday, we generated 496 leads, 68 of which where marketing qualified. We still generated more marketing qualified leads than when we didn’t have the KISSmetrics traffic.

The early results show that this is going to work out (or so I hope). If you ever want to consider buying up sites that aren’t generating revenue, you need to know your numbers like the back of your hand.

My sales funnel

Some of you are probably wondering how I promote my agency from this site. As I mentioned earlier, I will share my funnel and stats with you.

The way I monetize the traffic is by collecting leads (and my sales reps turn those leads into customers).

On the homepage, you will see a URL box.

neil patel homepage

Once you enter a URL, we do a quick analysis (it’s not 100% accurate all of the time).

neil patel analysis

And then we show you how many technical SEO errors you have and collect your information (this is how you become a lead).

lead form

And assuming we think you are a good fit, you see a screen that allows you to schedule a call (less than 18% of the leads see this).

schedule call

From there, someone on my team will do a discovery call with you.

Assuming things go well, a few of us internally review everything to double check we can really help, we then create projections and a presentation before pitching you for your money (in exchange for services of course).

That’s the funnel on NeilPatel.com in a nutshell… It’s pretty fine-tuned as well.

For example, when someone books a call we send them text reminders using Twilio to show up to the call as we know this increases the odds of you getting on the phone.

We even do subtle things like asking for your “work email” on the lead form. We know that 9 out 10 leads that give us a Gmail, Hotmail, AOL, or any other non-work email are typically not qualified.

And it doesn’t stop there… there are lead forms all over NeilPatel.com for this same funnel.

If you are reading a blog post like this, you’ll see a bar at the top that looks something like:

exit popup

Or if you are about to exit, you will see an exit popup that looks like:

exit popup

You’ll even see a thank you page that promotes my ad agency once you opt-in:

video thanks

And if I don’t convince you to reach out to us for marketing help right then and there, you’ll also receive an email or two from me about my ad agency.

As you can see, I’ve fine-tuned my site for conversions.

So much so, that every 1,000 unique visitors from the U.S. turns into 4.4 leads. And although that may not seem high, keep in mind that my goal isn’t to get as many leads as possible. I’m optimizing for quality over quantity as I don’t want to waste the time of my sales team.

For example, I had 2 reps that had a closing ratio of 50% last month. That means for every 2 deals they pitched, 1 would sign up for a 6-figure contract, which is an extremely high closing ratio.

Hence, I am trying to focus on quality so everyone in sales can get to 50% as it makes the business more efficient and profitable.

The last thing you want to do is pay a sales rep tons of money to talk to 50 people to only find 1 qualified lead. That hurts both you and your sales reps.

Conclusion

The strategy I am using to buy websites may seem risky, but I know my numbers like the back of my hand. From an outsider’s perspective it may seem crazy, but to me, it is super logical.

And the reason I buy sites for their traffic is that I already have a working business model.

So, buying sites based on their traffic is much cheaper than buying sites for their revenue. In addition to that, my return on investment is much larger.

For example, if I wanted to buy KISSmetrics (the whole business), I would have to spend millions and millions of dollars.

I’m looking for deals, it’s how you grow faster without having to raise venture capital.

When you use this strategy, there is no guarantee you will make a return on your investment, but if you spend time understanding the numbers you can reduce your risk.

I knew that going into this KISSmetrics deal that I will generate at least an extra $500,000 in profit from this one acquisition.

Realistically it should be much more than that as the additional leads seem to be of the same quality, and the numbers are penciling out for it to add well into the millions in revenue per year.

But before you pull the trigger and buy up a few sites in your space, there are a few things you need to keep in mind:

  1. Don’t buy sites that rely on 1 traffic source – you don’t want to buy sites that only have Facebook traffic. Or even Google traffic. Ideally, any site you buy should have multiple traffic sources (other than paid ads) as it will reduce your risk in case they lose their traffic from a specific channel.
  2. Buy old sites – sites that are less than 3 years old are risky. Their numbers fluctuate more than older sites.
  3. Spend time understanding the audience – run surveys, dive deep into Google Analytics… do whatever you can to ensure that the site you are buying has an audience that is similar to your current business.
  4. Be patient and look for deals – I hit up hundreds of sites every month. Some people hate my emails and won’t give me the time of day. That’s ok. I’m a big believer and continually pushing forward until I find the right deal. I won’t spend money just because I am getting antsy.
  5. Get creative – a lot of people think their site is worth more than it really is. Try to explain to them what it is really worth using data. I also structure deals in unique ways, such as I gave KISSmetrics up to 6 months before they had to transition to a new domain (and to some extent they are still allowed to use the existing domain for their client login area). You can even work out payment plans, seller based financing, or equity deals… you just have to think outside the box.

So, what do you think about my acquisition strategy? Are you going to try it out?

The post Why I Spent $500,000 Buying a Blog That Generates No Revenue appeared first on Neil Patel.

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