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Students Meet the Danish Prime Minister While Participating in One of Denmark’s Largest Democracy Festivals

Students Meet the Danish Prime Minister While Participating in One of Denmark’s Largest Democracy Festivals

Active Citizenship in Denmark focuses on the concept of democracy through different lenses: democracy as ‘a way of life,’ how social cohesion and civic engagement develop in the individual, and the Danish Concept of the ‘liberal mind.’ To better understand democracy within the Danish context, DIS faculty Ditte Marie Egbjerg-Rantzau and Mette Jungersen took their students on a Field Study to celebrate Grundlovsdag – Denmark’s Constitution Day – at a democracy festival, also attended by many Danish politicians.

At the festival, DIS students and Danish students from The Independent Academy for Free Schools set up a conversation stand where festival guests could ask them about democracy and active citizenship within both the American and Danish contexts.

In the afternoon, two DIS students got the chance to say hello to the Prime Minister, Lars Løkke Rasmussen, and ask him a couple of questions.

Learn more about the summer course Active Citizenship.

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The Secret Behind My 1,866,913 Monthly Search Visitors (It’s Not What You Think)

The Secret Behind My 1,866,913 Monthly Search Visitors (It’s Not What You Think)

secret

How many visitors do you think NeilPatel.com generates each month?

Maybe a million… maybe 2 million?

I bet you’re going to guess 1,866,913.

If that’s what you guessed, you are wrong. This blog actually generated 2,530,346 visitors. 1,866,913 is the number that came from search engines.

google graph

So, what’s the secret to my ever-growing Google traffic?

Sure, I have optimized my on-page SEO, I’ve built links, written tons of blog post… I’ve done all of the stuff that most of my competition has done. But doing the same stuff as your competition isn’t enough.

My secret sauce is that I optimize for user signals.

Last week, I broke down some of the user signals Google looks at, as well as providing benchmarks to aim for if you don’t want to be penalized by Google.

If you aren’t familiar with user signals, check the article I linked to above.

So, how do you optimize for user signals?

Well, I know everyone has different types of websites, so I thought I would share the process I use to optimize NeilPatel.com.

Are you showing people what they want?

Google Analytics is an amazing tool. I’m so addicted to it that I log in at least 3 or 4 times a day. Heck, I even log in on weekends.

But here’s the thing, it only tells you half the story. It gives you numbers, but it doesn’t help you visualize what people are doing and what they aren’t.

For example, here is what my main blog page looked like according to Crazy Egg:

blog heatmap

What’s wrong with the image?

Everyone is going to the blog to learn more about marketing. Above the fold, I have a box that showcases an SEO Analyzer. But there is one big issue: it’s barely clicked compared to the drop-down that lets you filter the blog content.

The SEO Analyzer had 128 clicks versus 359 clicks to the content filtering option.

Because you didn’t care for it as much, I removed it from the main blog page. And now when you head to the blog page you can see the filtering options above the fold.

new blog

I am looking to see what you click on and what you don’t. Simple as that.

If I keep showing you something you aren’t clicking on, I am wasting the opportunity to present you with something you do want to see. Which means I either need to adjust it or delete it.

Now, let me show you my current homepage:

homepage

What’s wrong?

Go ahead, take a guess…

Well, looking at the image you’ll notice there are tons of hot spots in the footer. That’s where the navigation is. With there being all of the clicks on the navigation, I should consider adding a navigation menu bar in the header.

Are you getting the hang of how to make your website more user-friendly? Well, let’s try another one.

Here’s an element in the sidebar of my blog posts:

blog sidebar

That element only has 1 click. That’s terrible considering that the blog post generated 10,016 visits. And to top it off, that click came from a repeat visitor.

My goal is to convert more first-time visitors into leads, which makes up the majority of my visitors, but they are the lowest percentage of my leads.

new visitors

So, what did I do? I deleted that element and you no longer see it in my sidebar.

Are you optimizing for mobile?

Let’s face it, more people are visiting your site using mobile devices than laptops or traditional computers.

If that’s not the case, it is just a matter of time.

So, have you optimized your site for mobile? And no, I’m not just talking about having a responsive design because everyone is doing that these days.

mobile homepage

If you look at the image above, you’ll notice that I removed the image of myself and a few other elements. This helps make the loading experience faster and it helps focus people’s attention on the most important elements.

Similar to the desktop version, my mobile homepage has a 24% conversion rate. When my mobile version included a picture of me above the fold, my conversion rate dropped to 17%… hence there is no picture of me. 😉

Now, I want you to look at the mobile version of my main blog page and compare it to my homepage.

mobile blog page
Do you see an issue? The blog page generates a lot of clicks on the 3 bars at the top… that’s my navigation menu. My developer accidentally removed that from the mobile homepage, hence the contact button in the footer of the homepage gets too many clicks.

Hopefully, that gets fixed in the next day or two as that could be negatively impacting my mobile rankings.

On top of optimizing the mobile experience, you need to ensure your website loads fast. It doesn’t matter if people are using LTE or 4G, sometimes people have terrible reception. And when they do, your website will load slow.

By optimizing it for speed, you’ll reduce the number of people who just bounce away from your site.

If you want a faster load time, follow this.

And don’t just optimize your site for speed once and forget about it. As you make changes to your site, your pagespeed score will drop, which means you’ll have to continually do it.

For example, you’ll notice I have been making a lot of change to NeilPatel.com (at least that is what the heatmaps above show). As I am making those changes, sometimes it affects my pagespeed score negatively. That means I have to go back and optimize my load time again.

A second in load time delay on average will cost you 6.8% of your revenue.

Are you focusing on helping all of your users?

Not every person who visits your website is the same.

For example, a small percentage of the people who visit NeilPatel.com work at large corporations that are publicly traded and are worth billions of dollars.

And a much larger percentage of my visitors own small and medium-sized businesses. These people are trying to figure out how to grow their traffic and revenue without spending an arm and a leg.

And the largest percentage of my visitors don’t have a website and they are trying to figure out how to get started for free.

In a nutshell, I have three groups of people who visit my website. The first group tends to turn into consulting leads for my agency, but they make up the smallest portion of my traffic.

One could say that I should only focus on helping them and ignore everyone else. But I can’t do that for a few reasons…

  1. I started off with having practically no money and people helped me out when I couldn’t afford to pay them. I love paying it forward and helping people who can’t afford my services because I have been there, and I know what it’s like.
  2. If I only focused on the large companies, who would link to my website and promote my content? You can bet that Microsoft isn’t going to link to me on a regular basis. If you want to generate social shares and backlinks you have to focus on the masses.
  3. Little is the new big… if you can please the masses, they will make noise and the big players will eventually hear about you. So, don’t just treat people with deep pockets kindly, treat everyone the same and truly care about your visitors.

Once you figure out the types of people coming to your website (and if you are unsure just survey them), go above and beyond to help them out. Create different experiences for each group.

On NeilPatel.com, I’ve learned that people who work at large corporations are busy and they want to listen to marketing advice on the run. For that reason, I have the Marketing School podcast.

And a lot of beginners wanted me to break down my steps over video, so they can more easily replicate my tactics. For that reason, I create new videos 3 times per week giving marketing and business advice.

Many of you want to attend the conferences that I speak at, but can’t afford to buy a ticket. For those people, I create weekly webinars that are similar to the speeches I give at conferences.

And best of all, I know the majority of you find it hard to follow along with all of these tips as it can be overwhelming. So, I created Ubersuggest to help you out.

ubersuggest

In other words, I try to go above and beyond for all of my visitors.

Yes, it is a lot of work, but if you want to dominate an industry it won’t happen overnight. Expect to put in a lot of time and energy.

Are you taking feedback from people?

You are going to get feedback. Whether it is in the form of email or comments, people will give you feedback.

It’s up to you if you want to listen… but if a lot of people are telling you the same thing you should consider it.

For example, I get a ton of comments on YouTube from people asking me to create videos in Hindi.

hindi

And…

hindi

Now, I am not only working on adding Hindi subtitles to my videos, but I am also working on translating my blog content to Hindi.

hindi content

I’m not doing these to make more money… I’m not doing this to become popular… I’m just trying to do this to help out more people.

It’s the same reason why I have Spanish, Portuguese, and German versions of this website. I had enough requests where I pulled the trigger even though I am not focusing on generating income in those areas.

But here is the thing that most people don’t tell you about business. If you just focus on helping people and solving their problems, you’ll notice that your income will go up over time.

Businesses make money not because their goal is to make money… they make money because they are solving a problem and helping people out.

Another piece of feedback I have been getting recently is that my blog is too hard to read on mobile devices.

hard to read

For that reason, I’ve assigned a task to one of my developers to fix this.

trello

Conclusion

Traffic generation is a business. It’s not a hobby. It’s competitive, and it’s difficult to see short-term gains.

If you want to rank at the top of Google, you can’t treat your website as a hobby. You have to treat it like a business.

And similar to any business, you won’t succeed unless you pay attention to the needs of your customers. That means you have to listen to them. Figure out what they want and provide it.

That’s what Google is trying to do. They are trying to rank sites that people love at the top of their search engine. If you want to be one of those sites, then start paying attention to your visitors.

Show them what they want and go above and beyond so that they will fall in love with your website instead of your competition.

If you aren’t sure if you are making the right changes, monitor your brand queries. The more people that are searching for your brand terms on Google is a big leading indicator that people are happy with your website.

Just look at NeilPatel.com, I get over 40,000 visitors a month from people Googling variations of my name:

search console brand queries

And I generate over 70,000 visits a month just from people searching for my free tool, Ubersuggest.

ubersuggest

That’s how I’m continually able to make my traffic grow. Yes, I do pay attention to what Google loves, but more importantly, I pay attention to your needs and wants.

Are you going to start optimizing your website for user signals?

The post The Secret Behind My 1,866,913 Monthly Search Visitors (It’s Not What You Think) appeared first on Neil Patel.

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What Do Sites That Have Never Been Penalized by Google Look Like?

What Do Sites That Have Never Been Penalized by Google Look Like?

google love

User signals!

It’s the one thing SEOs don’t optimize for.

I don’t know why most SEOs ignore this metric considering how important it is to Google.

See, Google doesn’t care to put the website with the most backlinks at the top or the best on page SEOthey want to put the website that you and other people love at the top.

That’s why they look at user signals.

Now, if you aren’t familiar with user signals, check out this experiment by Rand Fishkin that I discussed in a recent article.

It shows that if everyone performed a Google search and clicked on the 4th listing instead of the first one, the 4th skyrockets to the top spot almost instantly.

I’m not saying you should tell your users to click on your listings over the competition. Instead, you should focus on the user. Because if you can make users love your site, then you will rank higher over time.

So, my team and I thought it would be fun to look at the Google Analytics accounts of websites that have never been impacted negatively from a Google algorithm update to see what type of sites Google loves to rank (and their user signals).

By looking at metrics related to the user such as bounce rate, time on site, pageviews per visitors (and 5 other signals), we were able to come up with benchmarks that you should aim for.

We ended up analyzing 518 sites. But before we go into our findings, here are some notes about the data:

  1. Each website had to have been around for at least 3 years. We didn’t look at any brand new websites because they wouldn’t have been around long enough to figure out if Google loved or hated them.
  2. Each website had at least 5,000 monthly visitors a month from Google.
  3. We excluded sites there were in Alexa’s top 1,000 list. Plus we didn’t really have any data we could share from any of those sites.
  4. We exclude any company that was generating over $100,000,000 in revenue. I know that seems high, but we needed a ceiling. When you start looking at data from extremely popular companies, it really skews the data.
  5. We bucketed sites into 10 different categories and we looked at both B2B and B2C sites.
  6. All of the data was gathered using Google Analytics and Google Search Console.

Let’s start.

User signal #1: Bounce rate

You’ve heard the term bounce rate before. And you know that you want to get it as low as possible. But before I get into that, let’s break down the definition:

The percentage of visitors to a particular website who navigate away from the site after viewing only one page.

We found that Google loves sites that have a bounce rate between 26% and 69%:

bounce rate

Based on the type of site you have, you should aim to have a bounce rate as close to (if not better than) the sites above.

If you have a bounce rate that is higher, just follow these 13 steps to help reduce it.

User signal #2: Mobile friendliness

Roughly 60% of all searches take place on a mobile device.

Because more people search Google using a mobile device and due to the fact that they have a mobile-first index, we thought it would be wise to see if sites that are in the good graces of Google have a mobile-friendly site.

mobile friendly

As you can see, all 518 sites had a mobile-friendly site. In almost all cases, they didn’t have a “separate” site just for mobile, instead, their website was responsive.

This also makes sense because these days you have to think mobile first when you are designing or creating any website.

If your website isn’t responsive, you should get that fixed ASAP.

And I know some of you are probably wondering about AMP. Most of the sites we looked at were not leveraging the AMP framework as they weren’t all blogs.

User signal #3: Average load time

This is the only metric we didn’t leverage from Google Analytics or Search Console. Instead, we ran each website through Pingdom.

average load time

In general, the faster your website loads the better off you are. Why would you want people to have to wait 5 or 10 seconds for your site to load? I know I don’t like waiting.

Google not only uses it as a factor within their algorithm but the slower your site loads the fewer sales you will generate.

If an e-commerce site is making $100,000 per day, a second in load time delay will roughly cost you $2.5 million in lost sales each year.

If you want to improve your load time in the eyes of Google, check out this Page Speed Insights tool that they have. It breaks down exactly what you need to fix.

Don’t worry about getting a perfect score, just get as high as possible.

User signal #4: Percentage of repeat visitors

No one really knows the exact factors Google uses in their algorithm.

And no one has proof if Google is using data from Google Analytics, Chrome, or toolbars (as far as I know). But if I had to guess, I would say there is a high chance they are assuming it is legal.

One of the signals I would look at is repeat visitors. The fact that someone keeps going back to a website tells Google that it has loyalty and people love it.

repeat visitors

As you can see from the graph above, websites that have done well on Google have anywhere from 16% to 45% repeat visitors.

When you are starting off, your repeat visitor count is going to be extremely high because it’s going to be you and your friends continually going back to your site.

But as you grow, you’ll notice that it will drop to less than 10%. To get visitors continually coming back to your website, you’ll want to use tools like Subscribers.

It’s a simple tool. It uses browser notifications to get people back to your site.

push traffic

As you can see from the screenshot above, I used Subscribers to get 42,316 people back to my site 174,281 times.

User signal #5: Percentage of search traffic from brand queries

I’ve blogged about this in the past and have even shown you how my search traffic started to climb as my brand queries grew.

Just as a quick recap, I found that as more people Googled “Neil Patel” or variations of it, Google started to rank my site for other terms like “online marketing.”

Once I learned that brand queries help, I spent more time on building a brand. Now during any given month, I generate roughly 40,412 visitors per month from brand related terms:

brand queries

I even generate 3,806 brand queries on YouTube:

youtube searches

It’s not just me either. Sites that continually dominate Google also have brand queries as a portion of their search traffic.

brand searches

And these sites aren’t just getting people to search for their brand, but a high portion of those searches land back to their site. In other words, their brand queries have a high click-through rate.

brand queries ctr

If you want to dominate Google, you need to build a brand.

The bigger your brand and the more loyal people are to it, the more search traffic you’ll get over time.

If you aren’t familiar with how to build a brand, check out hack number 3 in this article that I recently wrote.

User signal #6: Click-through rate

Speaking of click-through rate, we thought it would be interesting to analyze everyone’s Google Search Console to see the click-through rate these sites had.

search traffic ctr

Most of these sites had click-through rates between 1.9% and 3.1%.

If your website has a low click-through rate, you can improve it by following these 13 steps.

My best advice is to continually A/B test your title and meta description tag to see if you can make it more appealing so that more people want to click on your search listing as opposed to your competitor’s.

User signal #7: Pageviews per visitor

If someone continually browses your site and visits many pages, you are usually doing something right because it means that people like your content, product, service, or whatever else you are offering.

Of course, you can game the system by writing a really long article and only putting a few hundred words on each page and make people click a “next” button to keep reading more.

But that’s a terrible user experience and you don’t want to do that.

You want people to naturally want to visit tons of pages on your website without having to trick them.

So how many pageviews per visitor do high ranking sites have? Well, here’s the average:

pageviews per visitor

If you want to boost your pageviews per visitor, just follow the tips in this article.

User signal #8: Average time on site

You don’t want people to leave your site… unless they are going to buy something or click on ad.

You want them to stay on your site as long as possible.

time on site

As you can see from the chart above, websites that ranked well on Google were able to keep people around for at least 1.6 minutes if not all the way up to 5 minutes.

Now the 5-minute number is going to be a bit tough, but if you can keep people on your site for over 2 minutes you are going to do well.

Plus, you’ll have fewer chances of getting hit by a Google Panda penalty.

This article will teach you how to keep people on your website longer (without tricking them).

Conclusion

To dominate Google, you need to think like Google. It’s not just about gaming the system and tweaking your site so that Google loves you.

It’s more about understanding their main objective, which is to put the user first.

That means that if you also put the user first, in the long run, your rankings should slowly climb.

Now, this doesn’t mean you can ignore normal SEO practices like on-page SEO and link building, but instead, you need to do all of that in parallel with focusing on the user.

So how do your metrics stack up with the benchmarks above?

The post What Do Sites That Have Never Been Penalized by Google Look Like? appeared first on Neil Patel.

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We Analyzed 5,860,631,392 Articles From 64 Countries. Here’s What Facebook Loves!

We Analyzed 5,860,631,392 Articles From 64 Countries. Here’s What Facebook Loves!

data marketing facebook

Facebook reach has continually declined over time.

Nowadays everyone tells me there is no point in even sharing content on Facebook.

But you know what? You can still generate traffic from Facebook.

Yes, traffic has declined. Even so, in the last 31 days, I’ve generated 20,420 visits from Facebook.

facebook traffic

That’s not too shabby considering I’m only publishing 4 articles a month. That’s an average of 5,105 visitors per article from Facebook.

And because I’ve been building the ultimate SEO tool, I’ve been gathering social sharing data on over 9 billion URLs.

database size

But a large portion of the URLs in our database aren’t articles. So, for this analysis, we looked at 5,860,631,392 articles.

Before I dive into what we have learned, there are few things you ought to know about the data:

  1. Technically we have gathered social sharing data on 11,721,262,784 articles. For each URL we gather data on the HTTP and the HTTPS version to get an accurate count as more sites have transitioned to HTTPS over time.
  2. We only looked at articles. A lot of URLs such as nike.com have over a million Facebook shares, but they aren’t articles.
  3. We looked at articles in multiple languages as English isn’t the main language everyone speaks in the world.
  4. When I say “social shares”, that includes reactions, comments, and shares from Facebook.
  5. We excluded scraper sites. A lot of the articles shared on Facebook are scraper sites. They barely have any shares and it skews the data.
  6. In total, the 5,860,631,392 articles came from 163,968,722 domains.
  7. Our list of articles started with Google search results. Because we have data on 507,348,976 search engine results from 64 different countries, we were then able to find the sites that you read on a regular basis, which then helped us crawl and find more articles that you may read.

Let’s dive into the learnings.

What type of content generates the most Facebook likes overtime?

There’s been countless articles published showing that list posts and infographics generate the most social shares.

And that makes sense because who doesn’t love a visual piece of content such as an infographic?

But what if you want social shares over time?

By looking at how many social shares each article generates on a monthly basis, we were able to see the growth rate and the types of article that generate the most social shares over time.

Here’s the share growth rate over time per article type:

how to

If you want a quick boost in Facebook traffic, consider creating infographics.

But if you want more consistent Facebook traffic each and every month, focus on “how to” articles. They don’t do as well right off the bat, but over time they produce more consistent Facebook traffic.

how to trends

The reason for this is that infographics are harder to rank on Google because they don’t contain a lot of text.

By creating content like “how to” articles that tend to get searched frequently, you can get consistent traffic to your articles which will cause more social shares.

How long (or short) should your headlines be?

Do Facebook users prefer short or long headlines? If you had to take a guess, what would you think?

Most people think the shorter the better…

Let’s look at the data:

headline length

Users prefer headlines that are roughly 7, 8 or 9 words.

You can’t really explain what an article is about in 4 words. By having your headline long enough, it will allow you to be more descriptive.

Don’t focus on making your headlines as short as possible, focus on making them descriptive.

How do images impact shares?

You already know people love images. If they didn’t, Facebook wouldn’t be as popular.

But the question is, how many images do you really need per article to get the maximum number of social shares?

images shares

In general, the more images the better.

The one thing to note is that a lot of the articles that had over 7 images weren’t really articles per say.

A lot of them were articles that have a clear objective of getting you to browse through an image gallery, such as someone showing off stunning images of the Milky Way or image galleries of silly cats.

When writing content, consider including images to describe your message. The more the better.

How long should your lists be?

Based on our data, most people prefer writing list-based articles with the number 10. In other words, their lists only have 10 items.

When we looked at the average share count based on list size, it was clear that lists that were 10 items long won.

But there is a problem: the data is skewed because everyone focuses on smaller lists.

When we started to look at the median share count per list size, the data got interesting.

list length

The more detailed the list, the better.

If you ever decide to write a list-based post that is over 100 items, there is a good chance people will share it assuming it is super detailed.

Shortlists have been beaten to death for years. That’s why longer ones that leverage the skyscraper technique perform better these days.

How long should your articles be?

Should you write short articles or long ones? And how sort or long should they be?

This question has been asked and discussed in marketing circles for years.

content length

The data shows, the longer the better.

If you were to write 10,000-word blog posts that are super actionable, you would generate more social shares than if you wrote 2,000-word blog posts.

I know I’ve mentioned in the past that writing super long content is like throwing money out the window. And it is especially true when it comes to Google traffic.

So for a nice balance, I would still stick with the advice I gave in that article, which is to write roughly 2,000-word blog posts. Then expand upon it over time. And every time you expand upon the article, you can share it again on Facebook.

If you don’t care about Google and you only want to focus on Facebook, then just go for that 10,000-word article.

You’ll also notice that 1,000-word articles generate more shares than 2,000-word articles.

We were curious why this was so we dug into the data a bit more and found that articles that contained less than 1,000 words in many cases contained more images than 2,000-word articles.

In addition to that, many of the shorter articles were also news based.

And speaking of news…

Is it better to write news-based content or evergreen content?

Over time, evergreen content gets more traffic. It’s not just because of Facebook, it’s that they rank better in Google and get more consistent traffic over the years.

No one is Googling about what happened in the news a year ago.

None-the-less, let’s look at the first hour of when an article is published.

news shares

News based articles win in the short run. I already discussed above how “how to” articles will get you the most consistent search traffic over time, but if you want a quick hit, consider covering news related topics.

Do emotions affect social sharing?

I used to love writing articles that pushed fear because they generated a lot of traffic for me. But the issue with doing this is that I used to get emails from people asking me if I was depressed or needed help.

I’ve always been fine, but many of you told me how you don’t like when I push fear in my articles. So, I naturally stopped.

And although fear is an effective way to generate more social shares, it isn’t the most powerful emotion (at least when it comes to Facebook).

emotions

People love content with laughter, awe, and joy. Or at least, that’s what people prefer sharing, as opposed to fear.

You can clearly see by the image above that people prefer laughter roughly 3 times more than they prefer fear.

When should you post your content?

Writing an amazing article isn’t enough. If you write content on a bad day and release it during a time when no one is online, then you won’t go viral on Facebook.

day of week

People prefer sharing content on Tuesday over any other day.

If you are going to write only one article a week, release it on Tuesday. If you are writing multiple articles a week, focus on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday as they are the most popular days.

And as for the time of day…

time of day

You tend to share content between 11 am and 1 pm.

That’s right before you are about to leave for your lunch break and it’s right when you come back. A lot of people get tired during the middle of the day and they need a break.

That’s why you will see many people within your office on Facebook during the afternoon.

If you miss the 1 pm publishing window, you can always shoot for the 6 pm slot. The share count goes back up around the time people are finishing up with work.

Conclusion

Yes, it is hard to get traffic from Facebook. They do limit your reach compared to 4 or 5 years ago because they don’t want you driving people from Facebook off to your website. That and they want you to boost posts to increase your reach (and their revenue).

The longer people stay on Facebook the more money they make. That’s why they love video content.

But that doesn’t mean you still can’t do well. If you follow the data above it will give you the best shot of getting the most traffic from Facebook.

What do you think about the data and stats? Are you going to follow it?

The post We Analyzed 5,860,631,392 Articles From 64 Countries. Here’s What Facebook Loves! appeared first on Neil Patel.

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How I Boosted My Rankings Without Creating Content or Building Links

How I Boosted My Rankings Without Creating Content or Building Links

seo hacks

I know what you are thinking, this isn’t impossible.

Because the more content you have and the more links you have, the higher your rankings will be.

Although that is true, it doesn’t mean that content marketing and link building are the only ways to increase your rankings.

It doesn’t matter what update Google rolls out, I’ve found that there are a few hacks that consistently work to boost your rankings without creating more content or building more links.

So, are you ready to find out what they are?

What does Google want to rank at the top?

Before I get into the exact “hacks” and tactics that can boost your rankings, I want to first help you change the way you think about SEO.

Do you think Google really cares about on-page SEO and link building?

Sure, it matters to some extent, but that’s not what Google cares about the most.

Google wants to rank websites that people love. If they ranked websites that you hated, then you would slowly stop using Google.

And if people stopped using Google, then there would be fewer people to click on their ads, which means they would make less money.

That’s why Google cares about what you think and they ideally want to rank the websites that you love.

Now let’s dive into some hacks that will make people love your site, which will boost your rankings.

And don’t worry… I am not going to give you some fluffy tactics, I have data to back up everything. 😉

Hack #1: Optimize your click-through-rate

Let me ask you this:

If 10,000 people performed a Google search for the term “SEO” and clicked on the number 2 listing instead of the number 1 listing, what would that tell Google?

It would tell them that the number 2 listing is more relevant and that Google should move that listing to the number 1 spot.

Rand Fishkin ran an experiment where he told all of his Twitter followers to perform a Google search for the term “best grilled steak” and to click on the first listing, hit the back button, and then click on the 4th listing.

best grilled steak

Within 70 minutes the 4th listing jumped into the top spot.

best grilled steak 1

And that page even started to rank at the top of page 1 for the term “grilled steak”.

grilled steak

The ranking eventually slipped back down because people didn’t really feel that the listing was that great compared to some of the other listings.

Instead, it only climbed because Rand has a loyal following and everyone helped trick Google to believe that it was more relevant (at least in the short term).

But this should give you a sense that Google cares what you think. So much so that they will adjust rankings in real time because they don’t want to show you pages that you feel are irrelevant (no matter how many backlinks the page has or how well its on-page code is optimized).

And Rand wasn’t the only person who tested out this theory. It’s been done a countless number of times and each time it produced similar results.

You want people to click on your listing more than the other ones out there. It’s that simple.

If you can generate more clicks (in a legitimate way) than the listings above you, eventually you’ll notice your rankings climb without having to write more content or build more links.

So, how do you get more clicks?

Well, you have to adjust your title tag and meta description tag to be more appealing.

Anytime you perform a Google search, you see a list of results. And each result has a title, URL, and description:

title description

The link part is the title (also known as the title tag), then there is the URL (which is green in color), and lastly, there is the description (black text… that is also known as the meta description).

If you are running a WordPress blog, you can easily modify your title tag and meta description using the Yoast SEO plugin.

There are a few ways you can generate more clicks on your listing over the competition:

  • Include keywords – people tend to click on listings that include the keyword or phrase they just searched for. Make sure you are using the right keywords within your title and description (I will get to this in a bit). This may sound basic, but when your web pages rank for thousands of terms, which one do you include in your 60-character title tag?
  • Evoke curiosity – titles that are super appealing tend to generate clicks. For example, if the keyword you were going after is “green tea,” a good title would be “11 Proven Benefits of Green Tea (#6 Will Shock You)”. I know it may seem a bit long, but it works because a lot of people will wonder what number 6 will be.
  • Copy magazines – anytime you see a magazine, you’ll notice that they have appealing titles and headlines on the cover. A lot of their titles contain “how to” or are list oriented. Look at magazines for inspiration.

Improving your search listings isn’t rocket science. Where most people mess up is that they pick the wrong keywords or they are terrible at writing copy. Remember, humans are reading your title tag and meta description tag, so they need to be appealing.

If you are struggling writing appealing copy, read my ultimate guide to copywriting.

Now let’s go over the exact steps you need to take to get more clicks.

The first step is to use Google Search Console.

Log into Google Search Console, then click on “Search Traffic” and then click on “Search Analytics”:

google nav

You’ll see a page that looks something like this:

search console

Scroll back up to the top and click on the “pages” radio button and “CTR” checkbox:

pages nav

You’ll see a list of results sorted by your most popular URLs and their respective click-through-rate (also known as CTR):

search console ctr

Look for pages that have high traffic but a CTR of less than 5%.

Click on one of the listings with a CTR of less than 5% and then click on the “queries” radio button:

search console queries

You’ll then want to look for the keywords with the highest amount of “clicks” and the lowest CTR.

low ctr

Those are the keywords you want to focus on in your title tag and meta description.

Remember, your title tag is limited to roughly 60 characters, which means you won’t be able to fit more than 2 or 3 keywords.

So, you want to pick the keywords that typically have the most clicks. They should also have a low CTR because you selected pages with a CTR rate lower than 5%.

By adjusting your title tag and meta description to include the right keywords and by evoking curiosity, you’ll be able to increase your clicks. This will get you more search traffic in the short run and boost your rankings over time.

Here are 3 tests that worked well for me when I adjusted my title tag:

marketing digital

I noticed I was getting a lot of traffic for the term “marketing digital” from countries outside of North America on one of my posts.

So, I adjusted my title tag from saying “digital marketing” to “marketing digital” which took my CTR from 3.36% to 4.45%. It also increased my search traffic by 1,289 visitors a month.

social media marketing

With the key phrase “social media marketing,” I adjusted my title tag based on an idea I got from a magazine. My CTR went from 2.38% to 2.84%. In total, that increased my traffic by 932 visitors a month.

With my social media marketing title tag, I added the phrase “step-by-step guide.”

This lets people know it is a how-to related post and it is action oriented. I also added the word “social media” a few times within the meta description.

google adwords

And with the query “Google AdWords,” I noticed that Google announced that they are switching their ad platform name from Google AdWords to Google Ads, so I did the opposite and focused more on the term “Google AdWords” because very few people knew about the name switch.

This helped drive an extra 1,355 visitors per month.

I’ve also had instances where the changes I’ve made had hurt my Google traffic.

So, whenever you adjust your title tag and meta description, mark that date down and look at the data within Google Search Console after 30 or so days to see if it hurt or helped.

If it hurt, revert it back and wait another 30 days. It can hurt your rankings if you continuously test. So when you have a losing variation, no matter what, wait 30 days as it will stabilize your rankings.

If the change helped boost your CTR and rankings, then you are off to a good start.

Now that you’ve optimized your click-through-rate, it’s time for you to optimize your user experience.

Hack #2: Show people what they want when they want it

If you go back to the experiment Rand Fishkin ran above, you’ll notice he told people to click the “back” button.

You don’t want people going to your site and clicking the back button… it will hurt your rankings.

People tend to click the back button because they don’t like what they see. If you can optimize your website for the optimal user experience, people will be less likely to click the back button.

I do this through 2 simple steps.

The first is to use Qualaroo and survey people. By asking people (right when they are on your website) a simple question of “how can I improve this page,” you’ll get tons of ideas.

You can even use Qualaroo to find out why people are visiting your website, which again will help you understand the type of people visiting your site. This will allow you to tailor your experience to them.

qualaroo

I ran a Qualaroo survey on my main blog page. The biggest feedback I got from you was that it was hard to find the exact content you were looking for.

And I know why too. It’s because I have marketing related content on everything. From ecommerce to SEO to content marketing…

I decided to try something out where when you land on the blog page, you can select the type of content that piques your interest and then all of the content gets tailored to your needs.

I also ran a Crazy Egg test to ensure that you like the change I made. Based on the Crazy Egg heatmap below, you can see that it was successful.

crazy egg heatmap

The bounce rate on my blog page dropped by 21% as well. 🙂

I then looked at the Crazy Egg scrollmap to see which elements/areas of the page have the most attention. This helped me determine where I should place the content filtering option.

crazy egg scroll

The Crazy Egg scrollmap of my blog page shows that the content filtering option generates 70% of the page’s attention.

Placing the filtering in a place where there is a lot of attention ensures that I am giving you what you need in a place that is easy to find.

After you optimize your user experience, you want to focus on building a brand.

I recommend that you look at the pages on your site with high bounce rates and consider running this process in order to improve the user experience. When selecting the pages, make sure you are also picking pages that have decent traffic.

Hack #3: Build a brand

If you build a brand like Facebook or Amazon or any of the popular site, you’ll rank higher.

Eric Schmidt, the ex-CEO of Google, once said:

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

I ran an experiment, which helped build up my brand and my search traffic skyrocketed (unintentionally).

My traffic went from 240,839 unique visitors per month in June 2016:

june traffic

To 454,382 unique visitors per month by August 2016:

august traffic

Once I realized the power of branding, I started a podcast called Marketing School, and I started to publish videos on YouTube, Facebook, and LinkedIn multiple times per week.

This has led me to generate 40,412 brand queries per month:

search console brands

I’m even getting 3,806 brand queries per month on YouTube alone:

youtube searches

But as you know, producing good content doesn’t guarantee that your brand will grow.

Even if you build tools like me and release them for free (like what I did with Ubersuggest), it still won’t guarantee success.

But the one thing I have learned that works is the rule of 7.

When someone hears your message 7 times or sees it 7 times, they are more likely to resonate, build a connection, and continually come back.

So how do you get people to come back to your site?

The simplest solution that I’ve found to work is a free tool called Subscribers.

It leverages browser notifications to get people to “subscribe” to your website. It’s better than email because it is browser-based, which means people don’t have to give you their name or email address.

And then every time you want to get people to come back to your website, you simply send them a notification.

Look at how I’ve gotten over 42,316 people back to my site 174,281 times. That’s roughly 4 times per person.

push traffic

Based on the rule of 7, I only have 3 more times to go. 😉

The way I use Subscribers is that I send out a notification blast every time I release a blog post.

The push looks something like this:

neil test sub

And instantly I’m able to get people back to my site:

subscribe stats

When you start using Subscribers you won’t see results right away. It takes time to build up your subscriber base, but it happens pretty fast.

Typically, you’ll generate a browser notification subscriber three times faster than an email subscriber.

Conclusion

If you only focus on things like on-page SEO, link building, or even blogging, you won’t dominate Google.

Why?

Because that is what everyone else focuses on. You have to do more if you want to beat the competition.

By doing what’s best for the user, you’ll have a better chance of beating everyone else.

Just look at me, I do what every other SEO does plus more. Sometimes this causes my traffic to dip in the short run, but in the long run, it generally climbs.

traffic overview

From creating compelling copy so people want to click on your listing, to optimizing your user experience, to building a brand… you have to go beyond the SEO basics.

SEO has become extremely competitive. 5 years ago, it was much easier to rank at the top of Google.

If you use the 3 hacks above, here’s how long it will typically take to notice results.

  • Optimizing title tags – assuming you run successful tests, you can see small results in 30 to 60 days. Over time the results get even better.
  • Improving user experience – making your user experience better will instantly improve your metrics such as bounce rate, pageviews per visitor, time on site, and conversion rate. As for search rankings, it does help, but not instantly. Typically, it takes about 4 to 6 months to see results from this.
  • Brand building – sadly it takes years. Sure, tools like Subscribers will instantly grow your traffic, but it won’t impact your search rankings right away. You have no choice but to build a brand.

So which one of these hacks are you going to test out first?

The post How I Boosted My Rankings Without Creating Content or Building Links appeared first on Neil Patel.

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Less is More: Why I Wish I Never Wrote 4,784 Blog Posts

Less is More: Why I Wish I Never Wrote 4,784 Blog Posts

blogging

Can you guess how many blog posts I have on NeilPatel.com?

Well, if you guessed 4,784 you’re wrong. 😉

Technically I just published this blog post, which makes it 4,785.

That’s a lot of content! Especially considering that the blog has been around for roughly 4 years. That means that I am publishing an average of 3.27 blog posts per day.

I know what you are thinking… seems a bit too much content for one person to write.

Well, let’s first go over how I published 4,784 blog posts in 4 years.

Did you really write all 4,784 posts?

Just look at the screenshot below:

4784 posts

As you can see there really are 4,784 blog posts published on NeilPatel.com.

But here’s the thing: If you look closely at the image you’ll notice that some of the posts are in different languages.

There’s content in German, Spanish, Portuguese, and English. And no, I don’t know how to fluently speak all of those languages.

Which means I only wrote the English posts.

In other words, I paid people to manually translate my content into multiple languages.

In addition to that, I acquired the KISSmetrics blog and their 1,313 blog posts got merged into NeilPatel.com.

So, I only wrote 862 blog posts myself. The rest are from the KISSmetrics blog and translations (not all of the content has been translated).

Considering that I didn’t have to write all of the 4,784 blog posts, you are probably wondering why I regret it.

Why wouldn’t you write all that content?

More content doesn’t mean more traffic. It’s really that simple.

Sure, if you blog 100 times a day like those news sites your traffic should go up. But there is no guarantee because there are 199 other factors that Google is looking at.

Plus, it would be really expensive to produce 100 pieces a day!

Let’s look at the traffic on NeilPatel.com:

traffic

As you can see from the image above, my blog generated 1,701,486 unique visitors and 5,948,818 page views. Now let’s look at what pages are generating the visitors.

top 10 pages

You’ll notice that my homepage generates a lot of page views. A large portion of that is bot traffic that is coming from Turkey. Don’t ask me why!

So, let’s look at the “unique page views” number as that number excludes most of the bot traffic.

The top 10 pages account for 29.23% of the traffic. But what’s crazy is that 5 of the 10 most popular pages are tools. (That’s why I switched my SEO strategy to spend more time and money on technology.)

But I love blogging, so I wouldn’t just stop writing.

Now, let’s look at the top 50 pages:

top 50 pages

The top 50 pages make up 45.75% of my traffic. As you can see, each post starts driving a lot less traffic when you go past the top 10 pages.

top 250 pages

And the numbers get smaller as you keep going down the list. The top 250 pages make up 64.49% of my traffic. The top 500 pages make up 72.96% of the traffic. And the top 1000 pages make up 80.99% of the traffic.

In other words, most of the content doesn’t even generate that much traffic. More than half of my content doesn’t even generate 83 visits a month.

Read that again:

More than half of my content doesn’t even generate 83 visits a month!!

There are a few popular posts and pages that do extremely well and then there is a huge long tail, in which the rest of the content barely generates any traffic.

And I am the unique case because I know SEO, social media marketing, and content marketing better than most people. I am able to generate more traffic to my unpopular posts than most blogs.

To prove it, I analyzed data from 11 blogs that generate anywhere from 1,301,492 to 24,502,503 unique visitors a month. And these blogs have anywhere from 5,592 to 29,095 blog posts.

Let’s look at what portion of their traffic comes from their top 10, 50, 250, 500, and top 1,000 pages.

traffic top pages

You’ll notice that their top 10 and even top 50 pages don’t make up as high of a percentage of their total traffic compared to NeilPatel.com, but you have to keep in mind that none of these blogs have tools. People love tools.

But their top 250 pages make up 68.97% of their total traffic, their top 500 pages make up 81.45%, and their top 1,000 pages make up 86.88%.

Assuming your blog is large, you’ll find that it is hard to generate traffic outside the top 10% of your content. If you know SEO well, you can make those numbers a bit better like I have, but it isn’t easy.

So why would you want to write tons of content people won’t read?

So, what would you do instead?

As I mentioned above, I love blogging. So, no matter what, I wouldn’t stop. It’s not only about the traffic, it’s not only about the revenue, blogging is just fun for me.

But I would have adjusted my strategy earlier on.

I would use tools like Ubersuggest and Ahrefs to see the top pages of my competitors (the screenshot below is from the new Ubersuggest tool, which is not out yet).

backlinko

Then I would dig in and see what keywords are driving their traffic.

top pages

From there I would double check to make sure that that the page also is loved by people and not just search engines. I would do this by looking at the social share count, which you can also see in the screenshot above.

In other words, if people are sharing content heavily on social sites like Facebook, it means that they enjoyed reading the content.

Once you have a list of blog posts that do really well for your competition, from both a human and search engine perspective, you’ll want to create better versions of it.

That means you will want to make your content more in-depth, with better screenshots, maybe even include video tutorials, infographics, or whatever else you can think of that will make your post better than the competitions.

This way you are ONLY writing content that has a good chance of getting tons of traffic versus cranking out hundreds if not thousands of content pieces that very few people will ever read.

So, would you still translate your content?

Similar to how I would still blog, but just not write 4,784 posts, I would translate my content, but just not all of it.

When I started translating my content, I made a huge mistake.

Can you guess what it is?

It’s that I was translating my content.

Here’s what I mean…

Even if you hire smart people who know your industry to translate your content, it doesn’t guarantee success. What’s popular in one country isn’t always popular in another country.

For that reason, you have to use keyword research tools like Ubersuggest to see what keywords are popular in each country.

ubersuggest

My traffic in regions like Brazil didn’t start growing fast until we started to transcribe the content and adapt it to the region. And now I can generate over 209,949 unique visitors a month from Brazil.

top countries

Even if you focus on only writing content people love and if you ever decide to expand internationally there is one big issue that you are going to face.

More content means more maintenance

People don’t really talk about this, but if you write thousands of blog posts as I have your traffic will eventually go down if you don’t update and maintain your old content.

It’s different for news website because their content isn’t evergreen.

But assuming you are writing evergreen content like me your traffic will drop if you don’t continually update your old, outdated content.

With NeilPatel.com my traffic has continually grown over time because I constantly update my old content, but I didn’t do that with my previous blog, Quick Sprout.

quick sprout traffic

Quick Sprout peaked at around 518,068 unique visitors a month. New content is still published on the blog each week, the on-page SEO is fine and the number of sites that link to Quick Sprout has grown over time.

link count

Yet the traffic is continually dropping because I haven’t been updating the old content.

When you have a lot of content like I do, it is a huge pain to update thousands of blog posts each year.

Luckily for me, I have an amazing team that goes through each post at least once a year and figures out if it needs to be updated (and if it does, they update it).

Conclusion

If I were starting over, I would use the simple process I described above, in which I would only write new content based on what both people and search engines love.

I would figure out what that content is by using tools like Ahrefs and Ubersuggest. I would look at total search traffic each blog post gets as well as how many social shares it has.

And as for how many posts you should publish, it really depends on your competition.

For example, if no one in your industry is doing content marketing, I would start off with one post a week until you figure out what works and what doesn’t. Because you wouldn’t be able to use tools Ahrefs or Buzzsumo to see what’s hot in your industry due to no one doing content marketing.

On the flip side, if you are in a space where all of your competitors are doing content marketing, I would try to play a game of catchup and crank out a blog post a day based on what’s popular.

But I wouldn’t write more than one post a day because content marketing isn’t just about writing content, it’s also about promoting the content.

And it is really hard to promote more than one piece a day. That’s why I blog weekly now instead of daily.

If you are wondering what process I use to promote and market my content, I break it down here. Here is a quick overview of my process:

  • Boosting posts – I spend $400 to boost each of my posts on Facebook. I don’t know why I spend $400 instead of $100 or even $1,000… it’s just a random number that I am comfortable spending each week.
  • Email everyone I link to – the second step I take is to email everyone I link out to. I ask them to share my content on the social web. (I provide an email template that you can use in the original post that breaks down my process)
  • Top sharers – I look to see who shared competitor articles on the social web and I ask them to share mine. (I also provide instructions and a template for this in the original post)
  • Beg for links – see who links to your competition and ask them to link to your site. This will help boost your search engine rankings. (I also provide instructions and a template for this in the original post)

And if you are wondering how much time you should spend writing versus marketing, use the 80/20 rule.

20% of your time should be spent on writing content and 80% of the time should be used to promote your content.

Keep in mind the goal isn’t to write more blog posts than everyone else in your space, it’s to only write posts that generate high volumes of traffic.

Of course, when you are following this advice, you’ll still find yourself writing content that doesn’t do too well every once in a while. That’s ok and every blog has that issue… but overall you won’t be stuck with thousands of blog posts that generate little to no traffic.

If you look at the NeilPatel.com blog, you’ll also notice that I only blog once a week. It’s because I’ve found it more effective. Once I switched to the strategy of blogging less, my traffic started to climb faster.

traffic compare

Sure, it’s less content for Google to index, but I’m spending more time promoting the content, hence my traffic is 21.31% higher.

So how many blog posts have you written? Are you going to change your strategy of blogging less frequently?

The post Less is More: Why I Wish I Never Wrote 4,784 Blog Posts appeared first on Neil Patel.

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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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