Here’s How to Perfectly Optimize Your Infographic for SEO

Infographics are amazing!

Besides being one of the best ways to explain a complicated topic with ease, they make information come alive.

Research found,

people following directions with text and illustrations do 323 percent betterthan people following directions without illustrations.

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Maybe that’s why infographics are ‘liked’ and shared on social media 3x more than any other type of content.

And the concept of relaying information through visuals is nothing new.

If you think about it, cave paintings and hieroglyphics dating back to 30,000 BC accomplished the same thing.

They were far less sophisticated but demonstrate just how hard-wired we are when it comes to visual information.

So it’s easy to see why infographics have become so ingrained in content marketing.

They get results!

Unbounce even went so faras to say infographics are the most powerful tool in your content marketing arsenal.

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And like with any piece of content you create, you’ll want it to be SEO friendly.

But here’s the thing.

Doing SEO for an infographic demands a slightly different approach than the one you would use for a conventional blog post.

In this post, I explain the most vital components of infographic SEO to ensure yours gets proper visibility in the SERPs.

The biggest hurdle

Let me start by saying infographics are technically just images.

They are typically saved in image formats such as JPEG, PNG, GIF, etc.

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Of course, they’re much more robust and contain far more information than a regular image, but that’s how Google views them.

This is important to know because Google can’t read images like it can text-based content such as a blog post.

Fortunately, there areseveral other elementsthat you can optimize.

Start with keyword research

You won’t be able to take advantage of keywords in the actual body of an infographic, but there are a few areas where you can insert keywords.

That’s why you’ll still want to do some keyword research to identify a primary keyword phrase as well as a couple of secondary phrases to target.

Let’s say I was planning on creating an infographic about productivity hacks.

A quick search on the Google Keyword Planner shows me that productivity hacks is low competition, which is good.

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The only issue is that it’s a short-tail keyword with only two words.

But I could still probably make it work, especially if I added infographic to the end of productivity hacks.

In terms of secondary keywords, there are a few possibilities.

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The bottom line here is to perform keyword research like you would for any other type of content.

The only difference is how you go about inserting those keywords.

File name

Selecting the right file name is vital.

This is one of the main factors that Google will analyze to determine what your infographic content is about.

You need to get it right.

I shouldn’t even have to say this, but you’ll obviously want to stay away from anything generic like Image001.png.

This tells Google absolutely nothing and is going to be a strike against your infographic SEO.

A better choice would be something like productivity-hacks-infographic.png.

It’s short and sweet and lets Google know exactly what your content is about.

Just make sure you’re not doing any keyword stuffing, using the same phrase multiple times or anything else that’s spammy.

But you already know that.

Alt text

Equally important is your alt text.

This is the text alternative of an image that lets someone know what an image contains in the event that it doesn’t load properly.

Screen readers for the blind and visually impaired will read out this textand thus make your image accessible.

More importantly, this gives you another opportunity to explain to Google what’s in your infographic.

Just follow best practices for your alt text and describe as succinctly as possible what your infographic is about.

In this case, I might want to use Infographic explaining 15 productivity hacks.

URL

Your URL is important for obvious reasons.

As I mentioned in a post from NeilPatel.comthat referenced Google’s top 200 ranking factors from Backlinko, when it comes to the significance of URLs, here is what we know:

  • URL length is listed as #46
  • URL path is listed as #47
  • Keyword in the URL is #51
  • URL string is #52

I’m not going to cover the nuts and bolts of URL optimization here.

You can find that in the post I just mentioned.

But I will tell you that you want to aim for a short URL that contains three to five words and a max of 60 characters.

This advice comes directly from an interview with Matt Cutts, so you know it’s gold.

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When it comes to keywords, be sure to include one or two of them in your URL.

Research from John Lincoln and Brian Deanfound that this is the sweet spot and considered as part of URL keyword best practices (at least for the time being).

H1 tag

Although you can’t capitalize on the H1 tags (or H2s, H3s, etc.) in the body of your infographic, you can still place one above your infographic so Google can read it.

Here’s an example:

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See how the same keyword phrase that’s in the actual infographic is used as an H1 tag at the top?

This is a simple yet effective way to give your infographic a bit more SEO juice.

While H1s may not be as big of a ranking factor today as they were a few years ago, they certainly don’t hurt.

And they can be especially helpful for infographics where you have a limited amount of text to work with.

Meta description

Ah, the good ol’ meta description.

Here are a few best practices to adhere to when creating one for your infographic.

  • It should be between 135 and 160 characters in length.
  • It should include your keyword phrase (once).
  • It should accurately describe the content within your infographic.
  • It should have a CTA at the end to encourage search engine users to click on your content.

Getting it just right should make your infographic go further with Google and help you rake in more organic traffic.

For more on creating a killer meta description, I recommend reading this post from Yoast.

Supporting text

I really like hacks, shortcuts, loopholes, etc.

Call them what you will, little tricks like these are what help you gain the edge on the competition.

And there’s one specific hack I would like to point out in regards to infographic SEO.

It’s simple. Add some supporting text at the beginning.

Here’s a great example of what I’m talking about:

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Notice that it’s nothing fancy.

It’s just a few paragraphs that expound upon the infographic and offer a quick preview of what it’s about.

This is helpful for two reasons.

First, it provides a brief description for human visitors, which should hopefully pique their interest and make them want to check out the infographic.

Second (and more importantly), it supplies Google with additional text to crawl and decipher meaning from.

This helps your infographic get found and increases the likelihood that it’s indexed under the right keywords.

So it’s a win-win situation.

There’s no reason to go overboard and write 1,000 words of supporting text, but 100 words or so can be a great help.

An added plus is that you can throw in a couple of internal links to relevant pages on your website.

Don’t force it, but try to work in some internal links as well.

Load time

Back in 2010, Google announced that page speed was a ranking factor.

Content that loads quickly will get preference.

Not only that, a faster load time tends to translate into a lower bounce rate, more time spent on your site and so on.

The point I’m trying to make here is that you should be conscious of how long it takes your infographic to load.

Keep in mind that infographics are fairly bulky images, so this can definitely be a concern.

Generally speaking, PNGs, GIFs, JPEGs, BMPs and TIFFs load the fastest, so keep this in mind when choosing a file format.

You can also test the loading speed of your infographic with this free tool.

Just type in the URL.

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Then click Analyze.

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Google will analyze it and grade it.

If there are any issues, Google will provide you with specific advice for speeding it up.

Conclusion

Doing SEO for an infographicisn’t dramatically different from doing SEO for any other type of content.

It incorporates many of the same techniques and strategies.

The main thing you have to work around is the fact that an infographic is an image and therefore Google can’t read it like it can regular text-based content.

Fortunately, there are several ways to get around this and ensure your infographic is perfectly optimized for search engines as well as humans.

By covering all the bases, you’ll position it to climb the rankings and achieve maximum visibility in the SERPs.

Do you have any other recommendations for doing SEO for an infographic?

6 Ideas You Can Try Today to Boost Your SaaS Growth and Retention

Growing a wildly successful software as a service (SaaS) business is a game of numbers.

More new customers than canceling customers? You’ll grow.

If not, you’ll stagnate, and the competition will gobble up market share right in front of you.

At the same time, not every new idea for boosting growth and retention will be feasible with the resources you have.

Your product team is busy working on ideas to build a SaaS product that is 10x better than what’s on the market. Your engineering team is building next generation technology that will give a crucial edge of the competition.

It’s not always strategic to pull them off core functions to work on the latest growth idea.

So, while they are busy working on the product, there’s still room for low-cost, easy-to-implement techniques to improve the growth and retention of your SaaS product today.

Think of these ideas as low hanging fruit you can get started on today to see results in the coming months.

1. Call New Prospects Immediately When They Sign Up

This is an idea that I first heard from Steli Efti. He makes the bold claim that if you’re a B2B SaaS startup you need to be calling all your free trial signups within the first 5 minutes.

You might be thinking whether spending time on the phone is a good use of your team’s time. It’s definitively not scalable once you’re getting hundreds of new trials per day.

The benefit is that as an early stage company, every phone call is an opportunity for customer development. Because the person on the other side just went through your marketing funnel, you’ll get feedback on whether your website is performing well.

It can also act as an early warning system for poorly targeted ads. You’ll potentially save a lot of money if you realize that your AdWords are attracting the entirely wrong set of audience based on the conversions you’re having with new signups.

The downside is that you’ll have to add a phone number input to your form, which may reduce your sign up rate slightly. You can make it optional so people can self-select whether they want to hear from you via the phone or not.

In my experience, people are generally happy to hear to from you if you call within minutes of signing up to welcome to the service and let them know if they have any questions you’re happy to talk.

The insights you learn from these calls can be turned directly into hypotheses for experiments to run on your SaaS onboarding funnel. For example, you might find out that many of the signups are using a specific piece of legacy software, so you can adjust the funnel to highlight how easy it is to move over to your product.

2. Offer a Weekly Webinar

Some of the best, stickiest SaaS products will be become deeply woven into the fabric of your customers’ lives, saving them countless hours or helping them generate more revenue.

But it’s often hard for people to see the improvements your product will bring when they are looking at the empty state of your app after they’ve just signed up.

In Elements of User Onboarding, Samuel Hulick refers to this concept as helping your users envision their improvement.

Webinars are an opportunity to give them a glimpse of how your product will look in action after they’ve been fully onboarded.

Once they’ve seen with their own eyes how easy your product makes it to get a specific job done, they’ll have a reason for why they’re going through the hard process of trying something new and investing in learning your product.

At the same time, webinars can be operationally challenging. Live webinars, in particular, pose problems. You’ll need a soundproof studio with someone to keep an eye on the chat box while another person walks people through the product demo.

And then the problems start: the wifi is patchy, your product doesn’t respond as expected while live on air or your mic suddenly stops working.

It’s tough to stay calm on camera!

Therefore, Intercom took a hybrid approach to product demos. They showed pre-recorded demos interspersed with live Q&A and discussion.

They automated the part that could be automated, such as showing how to do a particular job in their app, while they kept that part that couldn’t be automated: live feedback from a product expert.

Personally, I was skeptical when I first heard of this hybrid approach, but I decided to give it a whirl.

For the first version, you can use something like Screenflow or Camtasia to quickly record your screen coupled with a decent mic such as the Samson Meteor Mic to get good audio.

I was worried that webinar attendees would be disappointed that the video wasn’t live. However, those fears turned out to be unfounded. In fact, because I could concentrate on the questions coming in via chat, I could give better answers to questions and quickly pull up the relevant documentation to send to them right there.

I’d particularly recommend this approach if you want to offer multiple webinars a week for different time zones.

3. Try Out a Win-Back Offer for Expired Trials

When you first launch your product, users may like your MVP product, but not pull the trigger on moving over to you, just yet. However, as you develop your product into a more fully featured solution, those initial prospects might just be ready to move over.

I’ve noticed that several SaaS providers send out win back emails to dormant trial accounts after a year, offering them another 30-day trial while highlighting what’s changed in the meantime.

Here’s an example from Front:

winback email

The great thing about this tactic is that it’s so easy to implement. You can manually pull a list of these accounts every month to start. If the tactic works well for you, you can move to an automated email.

4. Send a Summary of What Happened This Week in Your SaaS via Email

I first heard this idea put into words by Patrick McKenzie, a serial SaaS entrepreneur:

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Many SaaS products work day in, day out on your behalf. For example, monitoring services such as StatusPage test your services every minute to make sure all services are operating as expected. Other examples include connecting services such as Zapier, which let you link up data from various services.

These services work for you in the background. In best case scenarios, you might not log into these products for months on end.

A monthly report card listing what the app did for you each month will clearly demonstrate the value you’re getting from that particular SaaS. In the next financial meetings when ongoing subscriptions are put under a magnifying glass, your customers will be able to defend their monthly subscription to your service to the accountants.

An even better approach is to put a dollar number to the value you provide, as Nickelled does:

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Depending on what your application does, you can send out emails highlighting number of issues closed, number of conversions tracked or leads generated. The closer you can get to a metric that managers care deeply about, the better this tactic works.

5. Retarget SaaS Trials with Customer Success Content

Retargeting is a powerful way to reach out to your past visitors to get them to come back to visit your site. In fact, there’s nothing right now that can work as well as retargeting (for your non-identified users).

Often, SaaS companies use retargeting to get past visitors back to their site so they sign up.

But you can also use retargeting in a myriad of ways to drive better retention of users.

For instance, you can target people within your free trial period with an ad for your webinar. Facebook Lead adverts make it so easy to sign up to the webinar with pre-filled fields. Just two touches and you are signed up, even on a mobile device.

Facebook lead ad exampleMocked Up Example of a Facebook Lead Generation Ad

Alternatively, you can advertise customer success stories that highlight the type of value that people can expect to get from your product.

Once customers have activated and are paying customers, you can even take retargeting a step further and start targeting customers that look like they might be in danger of churning based on the data you see in Kissmetrics.

You can export a monthly segment of users that are danger of churning and target them with ads on more advanced features they are missing out on or strategies for getting more value from your product.

6. Offer a Done for You Data Onboarding Package

Depending on your SaaS, your customers may need to move a lot of data over to your app before they can get started. Particularly if you’re starting out, this roadblock may get in the way of many of your customers using your product.

Offering a done for them data onboarding package to new customers can be a way to smooth the path.

In many cases, this data will have to be moved over from one of your competitors. Other times you’ll be faced with a collection of excel sheets, CSV files, or SQL dumps. The result is that you’ll be faced with importing data from a myriad of different software, including custom in-house solutions.

This diversity of data sources makes it difficult to offer an entirely automated import flow that your customers can carry out themselves. Even importing something as simple as a CSV file can be fraught with issues, as Patrick McKenzie points out.

Typically, enterprise customers won’t bat an eyelid at paying for this service, whereas an upfront charge can be a barrier for many SMB customers.

Test Out New Ideas On a Regular Basis

Small improvements in your growth rates and churn rates can have a big impact on your bottom line. Each optimization in your funnel results in more customers using your product, more word-of-mouth referrals and higher customer lifetime value. The revenue this generates means you can invest more back into product development and growth, accelerating the growth loop.

Do you have some ideas on how to boost growth and cut churn? Let me know in the comments!

About the Author: Thomas Carney has worked for tech companies in Munich, Paris, and now Berlin. When not on a computer, he’s at CrossFit or trying to brew the perfect coffee with an Aeropress coffee maker. He writes about marketing for SaaS at ThomasCarney.org.

Don’t Interrupt Me! How to Engage Your Customers Without Annoying Them

Are you annoying your customers?

Probably so.

Inundating your audience with multiple messages at inconvenient times isn’t helpful. Therefore, it’s important to know when and how to engage with consumers.

Marketing is your way of connecting with your customers as well as a way to convey your business’ personality and values it’s an essential channelEven companies with the best of intentions can often manage to annoy their target market, writes Jennifer Warr, former engagement and awareness cell leader at Klood.

Let’s explore what you can do to market your brand without being a nuisance. Here are five strategies to stop your annoying behavior:

1. Prioritize Your Customers’ Needs

Customers are the primary asset of your company. If you don’t prioritize their needs, everything else falls apart.

This principle is especially true when engaging customers. People can easily recognize when your intentions aren’t authentic.

If you’re not focused on what matters to them, your brand comes off like a car salesman pushing the purchase of an unwanted product. Then, the customer reacts by ignoring your messages and possibly going to your competitors.

Start approaching the customer relationship with respect. As a trusted advisor, you want to communicate the most relevant information.

To avoid the common myths around customer needs, analyze your behavioral data, including website and email activity, to learn your customers’ habits, priorities, and desires. Their actions will help you identify how to craft the conversation.

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If your data shows that your customers love matching your blue T-shirts with green shorts, you could send a post-purchase email with a discount for the shorts. In this case, you’re not annoying your customers. You’re providing valuable content.

There’s no good reason to annoy your customers. Learn their needs to become a trusted resource, not a recurring burden.

2. Stay Away from Information Overload

It’s important to educate your customer. However, don’t overload your audience with too much information at once.

When people see lots of text, a couple of questions pop into their minds: How long will it take to read this? Is this even worth my time? These are the initial hurdles facing companies producing content.

To address the first question, you need to be mindful of the customer’s time. She’s juggling multiple tasks and wants you to get straight to the point.

For instance, when visitors land on your website, they should know immediately how your product benefits them. That means decluttering your website by removing the multiple pop-up screens and sidebars.

When arriving to Instapage’s site, it’s easy for consumers to figure out that this brand offers landing page software that increases conversion rates.

instapage guarantees to increase conversion rates

The second question is where some companies struggle. For any content to be worth your customer’s time, it must offer some type of instant value to the person. It should directly highlight their pain points or lead them to a specific solution.

Let’s say you’re writing a case study about how a customer achieved success with your product. It isn’t good enough to just talk about the outcome. The value in a case study comes from emphasizing the problem, the process, and the result.

Customer engagement is effective when you leave out the unnecessary information. Try producing straightforward content that offers a solution.

3. Convey Every Message Differently

As an experienced marketer, it’s likely that you’ve heard about the rule of seven. It’s the assumption that consumers need to see your offer at least seven times before taking action.

It’s not an exact science, but the rule gives you a foundation on how many times to engage with your customers.

What’s frightening is how companies implement this principle. For some companies, it’s sending the same email multiple times to a subscriber until the person clicks the link in the message. Or it’s copying and pasting the words in a blog post into a SlideShare.

Repeating the same message over and over isn’t useful. It becomes noise to the customer, and that noise becomes annoying.

Instead, every piece of content should not center around the sale. Here’s Susanna Tarrant, a digital marketing coordinator for Marketing Copilot, thoughts on the topic:

Rather than trying to close the deal too early, you should create content filled with information for your audience. A useful content marketing strategy changes the conversation. It makes it about your customer and not about you or the sale.

For example, if you’re planning a five-day email campaign, introduce your brand in Email #1, talk about the problem in Email #2, highlight a case study in Email #3, discuss the negative consequences of inaction in Email #4, and present your product solution in Email #5.

Every message doesn’t need to talk about your product. Craft your content around the customers’ needs and the sales journey.

4. Avoid Inconvenient Surprises

Somewhere between rewards and hidden fees, marketers got confused on what types of surprises customers desire. It’s becoming the norm to not tell consumers the whole truth until checkout.

This practice is not healthy for the brand-customer relationship. Hiding the fine print about upcharges or credit card fees only builds a barrier.

Your customer will have one more reason to not trust you. Plus, these unexpected markups can lead to more abandoned shopping carts, negatively affecting your sales.

customer surprises to avoidImage Source

But it doesn’t stop there. Other less known surprises include a 404 page to a critical resource, slow response times with customer support, and payment processing errors.

While your team may see these as minor glitches, your customers perceive them as another reason not to do business with you. Your customers want you to live up to your brand promise.

Somewhere between best intentions and actual staffing, budgets, and IT limitations lies the real world of customer interactions. Don’t tell your customers you value them and then banish them to an automated system or place them on hold for 30 minutes while they wait for a rep, states Samuel Greengard, contributing writer at CMO.com.

Unwanted surprises shouldn’t interrupt the customer experience. Work with your team to identify which ones annoy your target audience.

5. Engage in a Timely Manner

When you engage with customers is just as important as how you engage. The right message at the wrong time still equals an interruption to the recipient.

Most content splits into two categories: evergreen and seasonal. Evergreen content is information that continually remains relevant. Seasonal content is information with a finite endpoint.

You’ll notice lots of businesses posting evergreen content at random times with a mix of seasonal content, like news jacking pieces. Their strategy is well-founded, but not necessarily results-driven.

The alternative is to send timely content that fits the customer’s current needs. An evergreen blog post isn’t timely if it doesn’t solve the present problem. A seasonal message doesn’t help the customer if he wants his year-round issues solved today.

To send timely content, you must understand your customers’ behaviors. You’re aware of what type of lead magnets they download, how many times they visit certain pages, and the purchasing history with your company.

Triggered email marketing campaigns are one solution to sending timely and relevant content to your audience. With automation and if-then logic, customers can receive messages based on their behaviors.

For example, if a customer doesn’t repurchase a product in 60 days, you can send a retention email. Kissmetrics Campaigns makes it easy to create these behavior-based messages.

Are you engaging with timely content, or just interrupting? Reevaluate when you communicate with your audience.

Stop Annoying, Start Engaging

It’s definitely possible to irk your customers with unfavorable marketing habits. Engagement is a better method for connecting with your audience.

Start by learning and prioritizing your customers’ needs. Deliver different messages based on the customer journey. Also, don’t surprise your customers with hidden charges.

Treat your customers well. Start engaging with them.

About the Author: Shayla Price lives at the intersection of digital marketing, technology and social responsibility. Connect with her on Twitter @shaylaprice.

How to Get Your Content to Rank for Seasonal Keywords

When you hear the phrase seasonal keywords, what comes to mind?

Is it Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas and general holiday-related keywords?

Well, that’s definitely part of it.

Of course, you’ll want to put the extra energy into optimizing your keywords for the holidays.

After all,

holiday retail sales during November and December brought in $658.3 billionin 2016.

This translates into holiday retail sales representing 20%of total retail industry sales.

But there’s a lot more to it than that.

When I say seasonal keywords, I’m referring to any particular time of the year when there’s a spike in a particular search phrase and when there’s a predictable increase in sales in a given niche.

Some examples include:

  • Valentine’s Day
  • Mother’s Day
  • Father’s Day
  • 4th of July
  • Back to school
  • Halloween

You get the idea.

See, there are opportunities abound throughout the entire year for SEO marketers.

It’s simply a matter of capitalizing on trends and using seasonal keywords to your advantage.

I would like to share with you a formula I’ve developed for identifying seasonal keywords and getting your content to rank for them.

This way, big opportunities for increasing your overall sales won’t be wasted.

Use Google Trends for research

The first thing you’ll want to do is go to Google Trends.

It truly is a marketer’s best friend and is jam-packed will all kinds of helpful insights.

To begin, type in the seasonal event you’re interested in.

I’ll use Father’s Day as an example:

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After pressing Enter, here’s what I get:

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Scroll down just a bit, and you’ll see two important sections: Related topics and Related queries.

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Both serve as a great starting point because you can look at the data from previous years to determine what types of Father’s Day-related searches people use the most.

Click on the right arrow at the bottom to browse through the rest of the list:

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This will quickly give you a sense of what people are interested in and searching for as it relates to a particular seasonal event.

For instance, I might be interested in Father’s Day gifts:

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It could serve as a topic I could potentially create content around.

Plugging a broad keyword into the Google Keyword Planner

Let’s say after a little research on Google Trends, I’ve found a broad keyword I’m interested in.

I know for a fact people have searched for it in the past, so I know they’ll be searching for it this year as well.

What you want to do now is plug that broad keyword into the Google Keyword Planner for a larger list of keyword ideas.

Type it in under Your product or service.

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Click on Get Ideas at the bottom:

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Here’s what I get:

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The first results don’t look all that great because they’ve all got a high competition level.

That’s a problem for many industries, so I’ll need to do some extra searching to find the diamond in the rough.

After scrolling down some more, I begin to see some keywords with lower competition, like this one:

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Ideally, you’ll choose long-tail keywords because this means less competition and often a higher conversion rate.

This is the heart of smart keyword research.

And remember: 70% of all search traffic involves long-tail keywords.

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That’s almost always your best bet.

This is a really simple example, but this formula will work for virtually any seasonal event.

Just start with Google Trends to find a broad keyword.

Then plug it into the Google Keyword Planner to fine-tune it, and find a long-tail phrase you have a strong likelihood of ranking for.

To cast a wider net, you may want to repeat the process a few times until you have a handful of keyword phrases at your disposal.

Using Ubersuggest

Here’s another tip.

Ubersuggest has a nice little feature that can give you some additional ideas.

Here’s how it works.

Go to the Ubersuggest homepage.

Type in the seasonal event.

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Click suggest.

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You’ll see this:

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Now click on Word Cloud.

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Here’s what I got:

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This is another simple way to see which keywords related to your seasonal eventare commonly searched for.

The bigger the word, the more often people include it in their search queries.

I find this can be a nice way to round off your keyword research, and Ubersuggest will provide you with just a bit more data.

Sometimes, you can insert one or more of these keywords into your overall keyword phrase.

Creating your content

At this point you should have an understanding of what some of the most popular searches are and have at least a few long-tail keywords.

Now, you’ll want to base your content around those searches and keywords.

I probably don’t need to say it, but you’ll want to create robust, comprehensive content that’s better than that of at least 90% of your competitors.

You’ll also want to include plenty of images and data whenever it makes sense.

I suggest doing a quick Google search to see what you’re up against to ensure you kill it with your final product.

In terms of content length, you can use this post from NeilPatel.comas a reference point.

It highlights how long your blog articles should be by industry.

You may also want to learn about the skyscraper techniquefrom Brian Dean if you haven’t done so already.

And don’t think you have to limit yourself to a conventional blog post.

There are plenty of other content options.

Here’s what’s trending with B2B marketers in 2017:

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Video marketing is scorching hot right now and is a medium I suggest experimenting with.

Knowing when to post your content

Besides simply finding the right seasonal keywords and creating killer content, it’s essential you post your content at the right time.

This is a biggie, and you need to strike while the iron is hot.

But how do you know when to post?

To find out, you’ll need to go back to Google Trends and do the following.

After searching for a seasonal event, you’ll see a series of options directly above the graph.

Click on the down arrow beside Past 5 years.

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This will allow you to set the date and choose how far back you want to go.

I recommend searching last year’s results because it’s an easy way to tell when people really start searching hot and heavy.

Click on the Past 12 months.

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Here’s what pops up:

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All I have to do now is determine when the trend in Father’s Day-related searches begins.

In 2016, things started picking up between May 7 and May 13 and peaked between June 11 and 17.

This tells me my content needs to be ready to go by May 7 in order to take full advantage of the spike in searches.

But, of course, I’ll want to have it posted at least a couple of weeks in advance.

That’s because it can take Google anywhere from four days to four weeks to index content.

So, you’ll want to give it some time to simmer.

I tend to err on the side of caution, so I would probably aim for posting my content somewhere around April 7.

This should ensure everything has time to get indexed and claim its rightful place in the search results.

However, if you were in a crunch, you could push it to the beginning of May.

But keep in mind this could reduce your content’s impact and probably wouldn’t bring nearly as much organic traffic as it would otherwise.

Planning in advance

The key to targeting seasonal keywords successfully and raking in big traffic is to stay ahead of the game.

You don’t want to dothis at the last minute.That’s only going to minimize your impact.

If possible, do some initial planning a few months beforehand.

In the case of Father’s Day, which occurs in mid to late June, I would want to start planning sometime around March or April.

This would ensure I have adequate time to perform my research, select my keywords, create my content, post it and allow Google to index it.

That way, I don’t have to rush or stress myself out.

Do whatever makes the most sense to you, but try to think ahead.

Otherwise, it’s like cramming for a huge test the night before.

Seldom does it end well.

Conclusion

Seasonal keywords are a gold mine.

And remember: this goes way beyond just the holiday season.

Depending on your niche, there are opportunities to crush it year round with seasonal keywords.

The best part is the formula is quite simple.

It’s a matter of gauging interest, figuring out popular search trends and doing keyword research like you would for any other piece of content.

From there, you just need to be sure you publish your content with enough time for Google to index it and before people start searching on a mass scale.

Have you ever cashed in on seasonal keywords before?

What a Baby Clothes Blog Can Teach You About 991% YoY Growth Using Paid Acquisition

Spearmint LOVE started off as a baby clothes blog less than five years ago.

Founder Shari Lott had already built up a strong online presence with her popular mommy blog of a similar name, SpearmintBaby.

The premise was simple.

She’d feature and share products she thought other moms would like.

One day, in search of the perfect Swiss Cross blanket for her daughter’s room, she was inspired to expand her vision into a little ecommerce site.

Now, just four years later, it’s the only baby and children’s clothing online store that was picked to be a part of Facebook’s 2017 U.S. Small Business Council.

Shari had an excellent eye for design.

And it didn’t hurt that she also had an excellent husband, John Lott, who just so happened to previously run a $23B dollar hedge fund.

Together, they’ve masterminded a 991% YoY growth with a 33.8x return on Instagram ad spend, 47% decrease in cost per purchase, and an incredible $0.11 average cost per conversion.

Here’s how.

1. Multi-Channel Expansion

Marketing used to mean something.

Before PR and prior to advertising, it also meant Product, Pricing, and Place.

That last one, known better by Distribution today, is about making products available for people where they already shop (roughly speaking). Practically speaking, that means convenience.

Spearmint LOVE went from two SKUs to over 5,000 SKUs in just three years.

When did Spearmint start hitting the big numbers? You guessed it when they started to give customers more ways to buy.

We feel really good about how we’re positioned in the market, John said. We’ve given our customers nearly every conceivable way to buy from us. They can do Buyable pins. They can buy on a Facebook page. They can buy on their mobile phone. They can use their computer. They can buy however they want to.

spearmint ventures pinterest

But scaling to multiple channels takes some finesse and strategy.

Getting a handle on one channel can be difficult enough. Then adding more to the mix means extreme coordination and resource management. Spearmint had to evaluate its readiness for that kind of growth and make sure it was even the right time to scale.

Here are the four biggies to consider when you want to expand to multi-channels:

1. Do you have the manpower for customer service?

More channels means more sales means more questions from more customers. And more customers might even be coming from different timezones around the world.

A retooling of current customer service practices could be in order, like adding more people to the team, switching up or extending hours, retraining on the product and businesses, and even considering outsourcing the customer service operation.

2. Do you have enough inventory?

Remember those increased sales? That means you have to have enough inventory to cover them. And you have to get the delivery time under control, too.

You can stock and/or drop ship your inventory, but you need to make sure products are getting to the customer as quickly and efficiently as possible. Management of the product means keeping accurate tabs on counts, sources, and allocation.

3. Can you fulfill the orders?

Are you currently handling all fulfillment in-house? When expanding to multi-channels working with a fulfillment house might be the way to go to handle the increased orders.

4. Is your tech ready?

You’ve now got more channels, more customers, and more staff. That means you now need better software to communicate with everyone, manage inventory, and all your outsourced operations.

Figure out what you’re gonna need here: sorting and routing orders to and from multiple suppliers? Product ID coordination on all your channels? Proper integrations? Reporting?

And what’s your budget?

With some software, the price goes up with every additional SKU or number of processed orders.

So keep in mind you’re often going to be outlaying cost – for increased labor, inventory, promotion, and technology – before ever seeing a dime on these new sales.

2. Intimately understand your cost per acquisition

John came on board to work with his wife, Shari, in 2016.

It just so happens that his hedge fund expertise complements her design eye and customer-intel.

Being a numbers guy, he went straight for the data, and immediately started focusing on their cost of acquisition as the accelerator (or roadblock) to scale.

For him, this is where to build the company’s success. Driving down the cost of customer acquisition first buys you more time to focus on the other side of the equation: Increasing the lifetime value of each customer via upsells and cross-sells.

For Spearmint, less than $10 per customer is the goal. The closer they get to $5, the happier they are (more on that below).

John refers to this as the tip of the spear in understanding business success.

We decided very early on that we weren’t going to raise any outside money at all, John said. I pay very close attention to what the self-funding growth rate of the company is. If I get customer acquisition costs right, then I’m making sure I’m doing the right thing from a cash perspective.

The $5 platform for Spearmint? Facebook.

And how does he keep costs so low? John reportedly checks this metric every.single.day.

So on a daily basis he’s scrutinizing: What’s the cost of acquisition of the active campaigns?

Then he’ll switch gears on longer intervals to ask:

  • What’s the audience growth across channels? (Weekly)
  • What’s the aggregate return rate of customer acquisitions? (Monthly)

He takes all of this data to see if they are growing if their growth has slowed why either is happening what’s causing it etc, etc, etc.

In other words, they intimately understand the math behind each and every conversion.

They know when A/B tests are lying. They know when new customer data is ‘leaking’ outside of their funnel.

And if something’s not working? They’re not afraid to pivot.

3. Be prepared to change course

Everybody has a plan until you get punched in the mouth.

Sage advice from a wise old man.

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See, scrutinizing data and reading every blog post imaginable is nice. But things will never play out like you think they will. Like, never ever.

So you gotta adapt.

In 2016, Spearmint LOVE’s revenue grew by 1,100%. Sounds impressive now, after the fact.

But hindsight’s 20/20 they say.

The picture wasn’t so rosy in the Spring of 2016. ROI kept dropping. Nobody could figure out why.

First, John assumed that their ad wasn’t fresh any more, and that Facebook’s algorithm meant it wasn’t being shown as much. Ad fatigue is a thing.

more ads fewer ctrImage Source

So they updated their ads, giving them new photos and copy. Still, the ROI didn’t budge. No sign of the up-and-to-the-right picture it is today.

About six months into freshening up the ads, the answer hit John while on a walk.

It wasn’t the ad at all. Rather, it was the audience.

They weren’t in the market for the same thing anymore.

It’s like this:

Six months after an ad goes live, Spearmint LOVE’s target audience (new moms), now have a baby/toddler/child that is six months older. They aren’t looking for that product anymore.

Babies, apparently, don’t stay babies forever.

So Spearmint LOVE now tailors its ads to the different stages of a mom shopper:

  • Pregnancy,
  • Birth,
  • 1st birthday, etc.

At every stage, shopping habits shift. And at every stage, Spearmint LOVE now has a different ad.

So it wasn’t the ad creative after all. It was the ad targeting that was influencing their ROI.

4. Targeting Ads, Then Targeting Even More

What was happening was the people were changing, John said.

The mom who was buying that product was no longer in the same life stage. I had to adjust my custom audiences to be attentive.

The ROI dropoff was simply a reality of Spearmint LOVE’s ever-changing audience and industry. To combat the problem, John realized they needed more dynamic ads to continue attracting their evolving audience.

This is where Facebook’s Custom Audiences come into play. You can group audiences based on their levels of product awareness and intent to buy based on a number of criteria, like:

  • Website visits
  • Product views
  • Page engagements
  • Video views
  • Products added to cart
  • And more

Facebook custom audience ad setting

Custom Audiences give an upclose view of customers by dividing them up into segments, and giving them the message that is right for them.

Depending on where the customer is in their buying journey (are they brand new, cold prospects? Or are they on fire and ready to buy?), you are looking at three different things here: (1) separate ads/offers for (2) separate groups of people in (3) separate groups of custom audiences.

Like this:

klientboost channel temperatureImage Source

Here’s how that looks as you go down the sales funnel.

Ice cold (top of the funnel)

You can’t do custom audiences for these newbies, but you can get to know them better to eventually place them into a group. And, you can’t start moving them through the funnel to get them into custom groups.

Entice them with an ad and get them to your website to learn more, for instance.

ecommerce advertising on FacebookImage Source

You can even create custom audiences based on Facebook engagement (if you don’t have a site that typically generates high-traffic). If a customer likes or comments, clicks on a CTA, or saves a post, they can be added to this list.

Lukewarm (middle of the funnel)

After making people more aware of the product through web visits and Facebook engagement, you can move them down the funnel into action territory.

This means, opting-in and handing over some of their contact info. Dangle a little lead magnet, why don’t ya?

lead magnet paid advertisement

Offer a free course. How about some actionable items for the customer to take to let them know just how useful the product is?

Each separate opt-in option has its own custom audience. You can break these down even further by what the opt-in service offers, or by simply creating a custom audience for each lead magnet.

Fire hot lava (bottom of the funnel)

The chilly customers are getting the new lead offers like the freebies. Once you have them converted, you can continue to engage them with additional email campaigns or webinars to get them primed to buy.

Now, you can combine Dynamic Product Ads to target customers who have viewed specific site pages or products with custom event combinations.

Make rules for your custom audiences that will allow for an additional set of options. What was the dollar amount of their abandoned shopping cart, for instance? Did they select hundreds of dollars worth of goods? That might be warrant its own audience group.

During Thanksgiving, for example, Spearmint Love focused on users who had been to the website in the last two months, but hadn’t made a buy. They took the ads right from the product catalog, showing users what they had already look at on the website, and nudging them to make the purchase with Dynamic Product ads.

onesie facebook ad

And this level of granularity allowed Spearmint LOVE to generate a 14.2x return on their ad spend.

5. Focus on Retaining Old Clients Rather Than Getting New Ones

Shari ran her Spearmint LOVE blog for three years to successful results, building the brand, and building her customers – before expanding into all of these multiple channels.

This blogging background also allowed Shair to connect with wholesalers and distributors to expand Spearmint’s inventory and product.

She used her photography skills to create high-quality pictures featuring her product and drawing in nearly half a million followers. Because she had been the voice behind the brand for so long, she was able to connect with customers in a way that matched what they were looking for.

I sell a feeling in a photo and make it easy for every customer to make that photo her family reality, Shari said. I put up a photo of not just a shirt or shoes, but of an entire outfit. And moms will come back to the site and buy everything in that picture.

Ok. Cool. But why is any of this soft, intangible crap worth mentioning?!

Because your existing customers – not your new ones – are the most profitable.

John put his previous financial expertise to good use by creating a vintage analysis of Spearmint’s customers to help the company identify any trends or potential success of additions to the brand. Spearmint uses this to evaluate their customers’ lifetime values in a fancy table like this:

cohort for ecommerce storeImage Source

The end goal is a cohort analysis, where they’re essentially:

  1. Tracking each customer using their order ID.
  2. Then separating them into groups, or cohorts, based on the month of their first purchase.
  3. From there, analyze how each cohort acts over time (i.e. What are the patterns of when they made their first purchase, and then their next purchase?).

We know on average our typical customer will convert again in X months, John said. We can predict when that next order might be and we can time our marketing based upon those types of insights.

You can use this information to target each cohort based on their buying habits and timelines. For Spearmint, this looks like a personalized shopping experience through custom windows that adapt based on the different behaviors of moms as they go through the stages of pregnancy through birth and beyond (see point #3 above).

  • Window 1 is the period of time that includes six months before the baby is born until six months after.
  • Then, Window 2 is for when the baby is 6-18 months old. Spending for moms remains high in this window, but not as high as in Window 1.
  • Window 3 captures 18-30 months, and
  • Window 4 is anything beyond 30 months. Each of these windows, or cohorts, gets their own engagement, ads, and interactions to match their interests at that time.

This is important because even a (relatively minor) customer retention rate bump of just 5%, you can increase your profits by 25% to 95%.

By shifting focus to current customers by just a teeny bit, you’re finding a bigger payoff long term. (Which then allows you to spend less on new customer acquisition as well.)

What’s more, online companies have to spend even more (20-40%) than brick and mortar stores. What’s that mean for online stores? They have to keep a customer around for longer just to get back their original ad spend.

Image Source

For Spearmint, this means they focus on keeping ad spend as low as possible.

If you’re selling things at 25% margins, you’re going to need a higher return to make that make sense, John said. For us, we’re looking at ad spends where we’re getting at least $5 of revenue or more, preferably closer to the $10 mark for every dollar of ads spent.

They put to use all of those tips we talked about: targeting, custom audiences, etc, and then they recoup their money spent on the ad buy.

Conclusion

It’s not every day a mommy blogger can turn her site into a business and find 991% YoY growth. In 2015, sales stood at $150,000. In 2016, that number skyrocketed to $1.5M.

Combining clever distribution (i.e. multiple channels) and capitalizing on social media engagement helped Spearmint LOVE to grow (its already sizable customer base) 38% YoY conversion.

Then with uber-targeted ads and custom audiences to meet the evolving needs of their customers, they pull in 94% of their total sales from Facebook and Instagram alone.

They say that necessity is the mother of invention.

Years ago, before all of this, Shari Lott was a mother then in need a blanket. And she just so happened to have found a booming company in the process.

About the Author: Brad Smith is the founder of Codeless, a B2B content creation company. Frequent contributor to Kissmetrics, Unbounce, WordStream, AdEspresso, Search Engine Journal, Autopilot, and more.

Activity Report: Drill Down to See What is Actually Happening With Your Site or Product

A part of using analytics is knowing what user behavior is driving what action. Most tools only give you surface-level data. For example, you’re aware that signups decreased last week, but you won’t know which segments are behind any trends in your KPIs. And that makes it pretty useless.

Activity Report is our approach to solving this. With this report, you’ll look at specific events (say, user signups) over a period of time (week, month, etc) and then drill down to see what’s driving the trends. This helps you understand the why behind any meaningful trends.

Let’s see how this report works.

Product Marketers: See Which User Segments Are Driving Product Adoption

As product marketers, we’ll want to make sure our users are using product features, new and old, and staying engaged with the product. We can track this engagement and what’s driving it in the Activity Report.

You can set up an event to trigger anytime someone users a feature in your product. For simplicity in this post, we’ll have an event that triggers when someone uses feature A. We’ll set the date range to the last 30 days.

product adoption graph

793 people have used the feature in the last 30 days. We see our usual dips that occur during the weekends, but quickly recover on Mondays.

To see who is using this feature, we’ll drill down by selecting account status. This will show us how many are current, paying users and how many are trial users.

segmentation first level activity report

This shows us very clearly that the bulk of people using this feature are paying users. Our trial users are significantly fewer, and they use it less times than our paying users. Our free users have low engagement, about 2 times per person, far fewer than the 18 and 25 we have for paying and trial users.

Let’s look at the plan tier for our paying users. This will help us answer the question are our enterprise users using the app more? Or is it the small or medium users?

account status propertyproperty values table in kissmetrics activity report

This shows us that users on the medium plan type are the ones who are, by far, using this feature the most. They’re driving the engagement, or lack thereof, of the feature.

So now that we know this, what’s the next step? What can we do with this information?

We know the user behavior our enterprise and small customers aren’t engaging with this feature as much as we’d like. Wouldn’t it be nice to send an email to these users to get them familiar with the feature and to give it a try?

Good news we can do this quite easily. And we won’t have to leave Kissmetrics to do it.

With Kissmetrics Campaigns, we can send email messages to anyone in our user base. We’ll simply set the criteria for the users in the small and enterprise plan who haven’t used the feature and send them a message giving the background on this feature and the primary benefits.

https://fast.wistia.net/assets/external/E-v1.js

Marketers: Understand What’s Influencing Signups

You sit down on Friday afternoon to write your weekly report, and pull up the Activity Report to see that signups have been plummeting all week.

We went from 36 signups on Sunday down to just 7 on Thursday.

What’s causing this drop? Let’s drill down to see.

We’ve been running a lot of ad campaigns lately, so let’s split these signups by marketing channel : origin. This will show us the original marketing channel they come from (ie organic, paid, social, etc) and then origin will display the referring URL or the Campaign Name that was used in the UTM parameter.

channel origin kissmetrics

Here’s where our customers are coming from:

where customers are channels

To visualize this data, we’ll scroll up to the graph:

visualization activity report graph

We can see what’s driving the slump in signups. The blue line, representing our adwords traffic, is almost perfectly correlated with our drop in signups for all channels. Now we know the channel that’s causing the drop, but to investigate further, let’s drill down into our adwords channel to see what ads are specifically leading the drop.

We’ll select the UTM Campaign Terms to see which ad group is responsible for the drop.

And we have our answer. Adwords-group-3 is the primary driver of the poor performance. We’ll have to turn this ad group and create new ads that convert better.

So to recap we saw our signups plummet in one week, we drilled down by the marketing channel, and the origin. We saw that AdWords was responsible for the drop, but because we have multiple ad groups we didn’t know which segment was responsible. So we drilled another level down into Campaign Terms and got our answer. And we did this all with a single report, and we got the insight in a couple minutes.

Growth Teams: See Which Segments Are Outperforming and Underperforming in A/B Tests

Growth teams rely on constant experimentation and learning to drive growth for their companies.

What we’ll do here is look at a conversion event, signed up, then drill down into which a/b test they were in, then see what referrer they originated from.

So we’ll select our event, signed up and see how it’s performed over the last 30 days:

activity report metric 30 days

Looks like it’s holding steady. Now let’s drill down to our recent a/b test and view the variants in this group:

activity report and ab tests

Wow it looks like variant group 1 received significantly more signups than original and the people that weren’t in the a/b test. Let’s look further at our winning variation by seeing who referred them to our site:

activity report km referrer drill down

We have 70 different referrers, but let’s focus on the top 3.

Looks like our social media mentions and views on Hacker News and Inbound received the most views and brought the targeted traffic that ended up converting to signing up.

What can we learn from this? Our traffic coming from these sources is targeted towards the right audience that is interested in our product. We should to get more traffic coming from these channels.

While we can’t advertise on Hacker News or Inbound, we can on Facebook and other places where our audience frequently visits. To get on Hacker News, Inbound, and other places we’ll have to release features that capture that audience’s attention or write influential, thought-provoking pieces that are worth sharing. Easier said than done, but now we know what brings qualified traffic.

Video Demo

More of a video person? We’ve created this short video demo that explains Activity Report in under 2 minutes.

https://fast.wistia.com/embed/medias/ddrualj5y7.jsonphttps://fast.wistia.com/assets/external/E-v1.js

Conclusion

Often times in analytics you’ll need to drill down to see exactly what’s driving what. That’s what Activity Report does. Pick a KPI, and drill down to see what’s driving the growth or contraction. Request a demo to see how it will work for your company.

These Are the Best Ways I’ve Discovered to Get More Facebook Followers Free

Facebook marketing is somewhat of a double-edged sword.

On the one hand, Facebook had 1.94 billion monthly active users as of Q1 2017.

That’s the most users of any social network by far.

On the other hand, its organic reach is lousy.

According to a study by Social@Ogilvy,

Organic reach has declined to just six percent.

Organic Reach Chart

This means that out of 100 of your followers, only six will actually see the content you post.

Screen Shot 2014 04 14 at 1.43.59 PM

That’s not ideal.

This means one thing.

You need to grow your following.

If you apply Social@Ogilvy’s findings:

  • having 100 followers means six people would see your post
  • having 1,000 followers means 60 people would see your post
  • having 10,000 followers means 600 people would see your post

and so on.

Although the interaction rates across social platforms naturally decline as followings grow

Engagement rate by number of fans by channel.pngt1498054648929width433height376nameEngagement rate by number of fans by channel

it’s obviously beneficial to have a large following.

That’s how you make real headway, generate leads and boost sales.

With years of Facebook marketing under my belt, I’ve learned a thing or two about building a following.

Here are some of the best ways I’ve discovered to get more Facebook followers free and grow your network organically.

Strive for transparency

There’s no lack of megalithic, faceless, overly corporate brands these days.

They’re a dime a dozen.

But these aren’t usually the types of brands people connect with and relate to.

If I had to use one adjective to describe what people love and admire in a brand, it’s transparency.

I don’t care how far we advance as humans and how much technology is integrated into our lives, we all have a deep, innate desire to connect with others.

And let’s be honest.

It’s hard to do that when a brand shares nothing about its philosophy, values, culture and general underpinnings of its activities.

But what does create a connection is being honest, straightforward and transparent.

This is what gets results.

Take TOMS for example.

They posted this video snippet featuring their founder Blake Mycoskie talking about the darkest period of his life, his fear of failure and how it helped motivate him in his business.

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He clearly expressed his vulnerability, which is something we all feel at some point.

Needless to say, content like this was an asset to TOMS.

Just look at their massive following.

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This isn’t to say you need to take it to this level and discuss your deepest, darkest fears or anything like that.

But it goes to show that putting yourself out there has its benefits and can help you build your following.

I’ve made it a point to incorporate this formula into my Facebook marketing, which is evident in several of the pictures I’ve posted.

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And just look at the engagement levels.

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Rock solid.

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And this is no coincidence.

I don’t care how serious or formal your brand is, a little transparency goes a long way.

Make it a point to throw in some behind the scenes posts every now and then.

Post videos

Don’t get me wrong, posting good old-fashioned articles is fine.

I do it all the time.

But that’s what everyone is doing.

Most people get tired of the same old format, and their interest gradually wanes.

I’ve found posting alternative types of media, and video in particular, is a great way to spice things up and get people excited about my content.

Let me give you an example.

On average, the posts on the Neil Patel Facebook page receive a reasonable amount of engagement by most brand’s standards.

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Not too shabby. I’ll take it.

But in terms of comments, it’s a little lackluster.

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Don’t get me wrong, I’ve posted multiple articles on Facebook that received numerous comments.

But take a look at what happened when I posted a video recently.

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There was solid engagement in terms of likes and shares.

But check out the comments.

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There’s no comparison.

The point I’m trying to make here is that people love video.

They eat it up.

Just look at how the number of Facebook daily video views grew in just one year.

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It’s ridiculous!

As engagement increases, so do your odds of gaining more followers.

I know I’ve had tremendous success with video and can say with certainty it’s been a contributing force in helping me gain over 900,000 followers.

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Video is definitely something you’ll want to incorporate-if you haven’t done so already.

It’s just starting to hit its stride and is poised to dominate social media (and the Internet in general) over the next few years.

Promote your Facebook page with a Follow button

Think of all the different ways your audience interacts with your brand.

There’s your homepage, landing page, personal email, newsletters, social networks and so on.

Each of these presents an opportunity to grow your Facebook following.

It’s simply a matter of making it as convenient as possible for people to follow your Facebook page.

I recommend creating a Follow button and installing it everywhere where it makes sense.

It looks something like this.

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Creating a button is fairly simple, and this guide from CCM will walk you through the process step by step.

Once you’re done, you’ll get a piece of code to copy.

All you have to do then is paste the code into the source code of your site or wherever you want to feature your Follow button.

That’s it.

What I love about this tactic is that it doesn’t require any additional effort once you’re set up.

Anyone who comes into contact with your content instantly becomes a potential Facebook follower.

With a single click, they’re following your brand.

If you want to increase the odds of someone following you even more, include a Follow button on a popup.

That’s what Wishpond did, and it seemed to work for them.

follow buttons popup

However, I would use caution if you go this route because over-the-top interstitials can result in penalties from Google, especially if they dramatically diminish the user experience.

You can learn more about it inthis article from Search Engine Land.

But as long as you’re not obnoxious about it, you should be good to go.

Utilize Facebook groups

As of early 2016, there were one billion people using Facebook groups in some capacity.

And I can see why this number is so high.

Facebook groups are a great way to exchange thoughts and ideas with other like-minded people.

Each group focuses on a very specific niche so users can get great input from experts and enthusiasts.

Here’s the Being Boss group-a community for creative entrepreneurs and business owners.

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As you can see, it’s got a sizable number of members.

Groups also present an excellent marketing opportunity and are perfect for getting more followers.

There are two ways to go about leveraging Facebook groups.

Option #1

One way is to simply join groups relevant to your industry and area of expertise.

This tends to be the easier route because you can join a group that’s already well established and has plenty of followers.

What you want to do is get in the habit of consistently engaging with the group by leaving great comments.

It takes some time, but believe me, people will take notice.

After a while, you’ll be on the radar of other group members.

You should inevitably pique their curiosity enough so that they check out your Facebook page.

Many of these people will ultimately follow you.

Option #2

The other option is to create your own group from scratch.

I’ll be honest with you.

This takes a significant amount of time and energy.

Generating initial interest and getting the ball rolling can be difficult.

But the payoff is huge if you can get solid membership.

Just think about it.

If you’re the admin of a group, you’ll get an immense amount of exposure.

After all, your profile is one of the first things people will see when landing on the group page.

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You also have a high level of control.

You make the rules and can share files and tag various members to spark a discussion.

And generally speaking, you can expect a considerably higher level of engagementwith a Facebook group than you would with a typical Facebook page.

The bottom line is building a thriving Facebook group is going to increase your visibility in a big way.

More people will end up landing on your brand’s page, and your following should increase.

For me, it’s worth putting in the time when you look at the long-term impact.

If you need some direction on how to grow a Facebook group effectively, check out this post from NeilPatel.com.

Conclusion

Facebook’s reach isn’t exactly stellar.

But you can jump over that hurdle by simply growing your following.

While there are a myriad of ways to go about this, the points I mentioned in this post are the ones that have worked the best for me and my clients.

This will provide you with a framework for gaining more followers organically without having to invest any money into paid promotions.

What’s your number one strategy for increasing your Facebook following? What are your favorite free methods?

How to Combine PR with SEO for the Biggest Success

It used to be that PR and SEO were two very different marketing tactics with virtually zero overlap.

With roots going all the way back to the founding of the colonies in the New World in the 16th century, PR is like a grizzled old vet,

while SEO is more of a young whippersnapper with a history that reaches back a mere 25 years at best.

Traditional PR is based on old-school, offline techniques, while SEO has been completely digital from the start.

But in the late twenty-teens, it’s apparent there’s now a high degree of overlap between the two.

Just think about it on the most basic level.

One of the top ranking factors of SEO is links from high-quality, relevant websites.

A sound PR strategy can be the catalyst for gaining these links and thus improving search rankings.

When you think of it like this, it’s clear that PR and SEO are two marketing strategies you should focus on simultaneously.

When you’re able to get them working in tandem, you can accomplish several important things.

You can:

  • improve your reputation
  • build trust and authority
  • increase your brand equity
  • expand your reach to a larger percentage of your target market
  • improve search rankings
  • drive a higher volume of organic traffic to your website
  • crank up sales

In this post, I’m going to highlight some strategies that will allow you to effectively combine PR with SEO for maximum success.

I will also mention some specific outlets I’ve had success with.

Let’s get right down to it.

Create an overarching persona

I’m sure you’ve heard me talking about personas before.

You know the vibe.

Personas are a fundamental element of customer segmentation and key for getting the right marketing materials in front of the right leads.

SEO is big on using audience research to unearth information about your customer base and segmenting them accordingly.

PR involves doing media research to determine which outlets are best for reaching your target audience.

For instance, a tech startup might be interested in media outlets such as Wired and TechCrunch.

A vital first step of the process involves combining SEO audience research and PR media research to create an overarching persona.

This will encompass your audience as a whole and will help guide you throughout the rest of the steps.

Develop a list of keywords

I think we can all agree keywords play a significant role in SEO.

Back in the day, simply using the right keyword density could often propel your content to the first page of the SERPs (or even the number one spot).

Although they may not have the same level of impact they did several years ago, recent research from Backlinko explains that keywords are still important.

Among Google’s 200 ranking factors, the following factors involve keywords:

  • keyword appears in top level domain
  • keyword as first word in domain
  • latent semantic indexing keywords in content (LSI)
  • LSI keywords in title and description tags
  • Quantity of other keywords page ranks for

Here’s a pie chart from Moz that shows the different ways keywords impact SEO:

So, yeah, they’re still a big deal.

Although you may use a wide variety of keywords, depending on the topics you’re covering in your content, I suggest condensing them into a handful of keywords for PR purposes.

You can think of it as a master list.

Why is this important?

To combine PR with SEO effectively, you need to have a finite number of keywords to target.

You’ll use variations of these keywords in a variety of settings:

  • in press releases
  • during interviews
  • in guest posts on industry publications
  • in executive bios
  • in social media bios
  • for brand mentions

As a result, those keywords will become synonymous with your brand.

Reporters will use them when mentioning your company; your demographic will associate them with your brand; and so on.

When it’s all said and done, when people enter these keywords in their searches, your brand should appear in the SERPs.

The bottom line is you want to choose your keywords carefully and make sure they fully describe your brand.

Align your message

Just like you’ll want to achieve consistency with your keywords, you’ll want consistency with your overall brand message.

You want to make sure whoever is representing your company understands your brand’s core message and relays it to the outlet they’re using.

Whether it’s an executive having an interview with a news outlet or your content team writing a guest post for an industry publication, there needs to be a sense of cohesion.

I recommend creating a formal document that outlines your target keywords and brand message you’re looking to get out there.

Providing this to your team should minimize any confusion and ensure everyone is on the same page.

Identify optimal channels

Let me recap what I’ve discussed so far.

You’ve created an overarching persona, established a list of keywords to target and developed a unified message for your PR and SEO teams to use.

At this point, you’ll want to research potential channels (online and offline) you can use for your combined PR/SEO campaign.

Ideally, you’ll target a variety of different channels so you can achieve a nice balance and reach the largest possible portion of your demographic.

Here’s an illustration to give you some ideas:

This shows the multitude of ways you can go about it.

But for maximum effectiveness, I recommend narrowing it down to a manageable list of just a few channels initially.

You don’t want to spread yourself too thin or risk diluting your brand message by trying to be featured on a million outlets.

Keep in mind you can always expand later, once you’ve got things popping.

With that being said, there are five specific outlets I suggest focusing on right off the bat.

I’ve had tremendous success with all of these, and I know you can benefit from them as well.

Leading publications

If you can land some real estate in a major publication in your industry, the world instantly becomes your oyster.

Like I mentioned before, getting featured in Wired would be huge for a tech startup’s PR.

And the link could take its SEO to the next level.

Not to mention the surge in referral traffic it could generate.

I suggest identifying a handful of leading publications and pitching them your ideas.

Social media influencers

Did you know that 71% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase based on a social media reference?

Getting key influencers to endorse your brand can send your brand equity soaring through the roof.

Check out this post I wrote to learn the fundamentals of getting promoted by social media influencers.

Major bloggers

It’s amazing the influence today’s top bloggers have and how much money is generated from their blogs.

For instance, Brian Clark’s CopyBlogger earns around $1 million each month!

I’ve always been a sucker for guest-posting and recommend reaching out to major bloggers as an initial first step in your PR/SEO conquest.

Besides the valuable links and instant exposure you’ll get, this can have an impact on your branded search volume as well.

People will naturally be curious about your brand, and many will search for you.

Interviews

Interviews are a huge reason why I’ve gotten to where I’m today.

For instance, this interview on Groove HQwas a tremendous help.

It’s well worth the time to seek out interview opportunities.

If you’re not sure how to go about this, check out HARO.

Speaking events

Believe it or not, I’ve spoken at hundreds of conferences.

I’ve spoken at Tech Cocktail Celebrate, Conversion Conference and Affiliate World Bangkok Asia, just to name a few.

And you know what?

It’s had a profound impact on my brand.

While not every conference will be worth your time, the PR boost can be dramatic.

Check out this resource from Famous in Your Field for information on finding speaking opportunities.

Conclusion

It’s interesting how PR and SEO have evolved over the years.

Though they were once disparate marketing tactics, they now overlap in a big way.

When you get right down to it, PR often impacts SEO.

As your link profile grows and expands, your rankings climb and improve.

But this doesn’t just happen on its own.

In order to combine PR with SEO, you need to have a solid strategy and know which direction you want to take.

You need to know which underlying persona you’re looking to reach, which keywords you need to target and which outlets enable you to gain the publicity you’re looking for.

But once you break it down, the formula is fairly straightforward.

This infographic from Moz sums up the process of integrating PR and SEO quite nicely:

With proper planning and execution, you can rev up your PR while stepping up your SEO.

Which areas of PR do you think have the biggest impact on SEO?

Here Are 6 Arguments That Will Get Your Boss to Double Your CRO Budget

It might come as a surprise to you, but not everyone is completely sold on conversion rate optimization.

Let’s say you want to double your CRO budget.

Shinier tools. More data. Expert analysts.

These things will improve your CRO efforts.

Aaaaaandthey cost money.

So you have to convince your boss to shell out more money on something that she doesn’t know much about.

That’s not easy.

It’s not because your boss is a bad person. She’s smart, capable, intelligent, and wise.

But you’re the one who’s on the front lines of this CRO deal. You know how much value you could derive from better data, more team members, or more expensive tools.

How do you convince your boss to double, or hey why not even triple, your CRO budget?

I’m convinced that it’s possible.

Assuming that your boss is an intelligent human being, you can make a strong case for a CRO budget increase.

And you probably won’t have to fake tears to do it.

1. Understand Where They’re Coming From

One of the most successful forms of argument is simply understanding.

You want to find out where your boss is coming from.

Why might he not want to increase your CRO budget?

Hint: It wouldn’t hurt to ask.

Understanding the why behind leadership’s opposition does two things:

  1. It softens them to accepting and understanding your position.
  2. It conveys the basis of their opposition, which allows you to respond with the right arguments.

In my experience, there are two main types of opposition to CRO.

  • First, your boss may be opposed to increasing your CRO budget because of ignorance.
  • Second, your boss may be opposed to increasing your CRO budget because of some ingrained subjective opposition.

I’ll deal with both of these in order.

First, your boss may be ignorant regarding conversion rate optimization.

I mean nothing unkind at all by this remark.

They aren’t necessarily opposed to conversion rate optimization, they just don’t fully understand it.

Therefore you’re going to be hard pressed to get them to double down on investments in your strategy.

If your boss remarks, We just don’t have the budget right now, it may convey a lack of understanding regarding how CRO works, what it does, and why it’s a logical investment.

What should you do?

I’ll give details in the points below, but basically, you want to show off the current methods used for improving conversion, how effective they are, and take the time to explain your strategy for more improvement.

most used methods marketers use to increase conversionsImage Source

What about the second type of opposition?

If you’re trying to get a budget increase and you’re facing off with subjective opposition, then you may need to settle for a stall.

Changing someone’s mind can be a difficult task, even if you have initial buy in on CRO.

The opposition could stem from a variety of things; ego, prior results (or lack thereof), and even emotion.

It’s downright impossible to turn someone’s opinion when it’s emotional for whatever reasons but the following arguments can help you win leadership that is resistant to a larger CRO budget.

2. Show Them What the Competition is Doing

The growth we have is sufficient can be a frustrating statement from leadership when you’re trying to grow your optimization efforts.

When leadership feels comfortable in the current position, they can see little reason to change.

Change, in a business context, usually requires more work, which in effect costs money.

Even promises of improved revenue might not be enough.

Why not? Because growth takes time. (And time is money.)

In the hustle of daily business, decision makers are sprinting for short-term quarterly gains.

The wispy hope of a small uptick in the next six months isn’t going to cause them to spring into action.

What will get them to jump?

Telling them what the competition is up to.

This is a good time to let them know that someone else is doing it, and doing it better.

It might be the one reason that influences leadership to make a change.

Perform a competitive analysis, using tools that can reveal the types of apps or services other companies may be investing in.

Most companies don’t have a line item for conversion rate optimization.

most companies don't set a budget for CROImage Source

Besides, your competitor isn’t going to tell you even if they do.

However, platforms like BuiltWith and Datanyze can reveal telltale signs that reveal how much your competitors are spending on conversion optimization.

The more investments the competition has across their domains, the more involved they are with optimization, and the bigger your company’s push should be to avoid being left behind.

Consider also that many organizations don’t even have a budget for CRO. Push for an increase in your budget by highlighting how much you can overtake the market with continued focus in conversion optimization.

If you don’t think they’ll be moved by competitors, then do a similar analysis of companies your leadership team closely monitors or respects. When they see a friendly organization making larger investments, it could move them to take action.

3. Explain the Importance of Improving User Experience

Customer retention is typically a focus of any organization, so turning the conversation in that direction can be a smart move.

This is especially true if leadership is opposed to a budget shift because funds are being put into customer acquisition or retention programs.

Show them how CRO is all about improving the user experience.

The whole principle of conversion optimization is to make the buy-in process easier for a prospective customer.

You’re improving design elements and adjusting steps to make for a more pleasing and straightforward experience.

When you improve the user experience to boost conversions, the company meets other customer-related goals.

Instead of focusing on a budget boost for your specific department or role, you’re showing a broader business-wide impact.

Here are some of the other benefits of CRO expenditure.

  • Cost reduction By streamlining the conversion process, there are fewer support requests. This load reduction on support staff brings down overhead costs.
  • Greater exposure When you create an enjoyable experience for the customer, they’ll share that experience with their friends and family. Basic word-of-mouth marketing improves your exposure and brand visibility.
  • Improved acquisition A greater investment in CRO means improved conversions, which translates to improved customer acquisition. You see an increase in revenue, new customers, and likely a reduced customer acquisition cost.

The impact on your user experience can be measured through reductions in customer churn as well as with a net promoter score.

Monitor those metrics before and after campaigns for an easy way to sell greater investments in your CRO budget.

4. Show Them Fresh Opportunities in Your Existing Strategy

Leadership is ultimately going to question the need for an expanded budget.

Just showing off current success may not be enough.

When they ask you why, be prepared to showcase the areas where conversion optimization has not been implemented.

Remember that they’ve already bought into CRO, and you can use areas where no improvements have been made to show off the contrast of your current campaign successes.

return on conversion rate optimizationImage Source

For example; if you’ve been able to boost the conversion of landing pages for specific PPC campaigns with great success, but the vast database of products has not yet been adjusted, this can be shown as a huge opportunity for improvement.

Come ready with a complete list of opportunities and draw the attention of leadership to these gaps in your growth.

By documenting the process, you can present a plan that prioritizes improvements, forecasts outcomes, and projects returns based on successes you’ve already had.

Be sure to focus on revenue gain, not just improved conversion percentages. Percentage increases look good, but when making a presentation using a graphic like the one below it’s not easy to equate a win with revenue figure.

ab tests need revenue winsImage Source

5. Present Them With the Revenue Gains

In many cases, companies throw a substantial portion of their marketing budget at customer acquisition through methods like social, PPC, events, or traditional media purchases.

It’s difficult to guarantee or count on a return from those channels because you’re not in complete control of numerous factors.

With conversion optimization, however, you’re working directly on something you have complete control over.

Remind leadership that investing in CRO gives you the ability to spend more time working on tasks that improve the revenue from the current traffic already coming to your website.

page variations revenue gainsImage Source

You have control over your site, so it’s simply a matter of expanding your efforts to convert people who are already, to some extent at least, prepared to do business with you.

This is the time to show off how even a small change in conversion rates equates to substantial revenue gain.

Take the revenue increase from previous campaigns you’ve run, and stack them up against case studies from other organizations.

Supplement that with financial projections for the campaigns you want to run, with potential revenue lifts as a result of expanding the CRO budget.

6. Just Give Them Data

One of the best ways to get initial buy in from resistant leadership is to simply run a test and show the results.

Obviously, you want to make sure that the results are positive.

Most sane business decision makers act in response to data.

No data is more convincing than that which shows an increase in actual revenue or other critical KPIs.

So if you can run a test, and show results like this, then you’re in good standing.

ab tests percentage increasesImage Source

Tommy Walker, former editor ConversionXL, talks about this in one of his posts as he shares input from Angie Schottmuller.

I’ve found the best way to introduce the CRO concept, is simply to remove subjectivity by proposing, let’s test it!

Most individuals support that approach and are intrigued by leveraging data to drive decisions. Tests with interesting results quickly get management attention, and an addictive demand for more testing invariably follows.

This is one of the most straightforward counterarguments that can be used for getting a boost to your CRO budget.

State it clearly: This is what we’ve done so far. These are the results.

No whining, wheedling, pleading, or tears required.

You should be able to provide proof that your efforts are worth the investment. And with a larger investment you can tackle more campaigns to see even better results.

Conclusion

When you present your arguments for increasing your budget, you won’t always get what you’re asking for. With CRO you take what you can get and work with it.

Start small with the budget you have and keeping racking up small wins.

That’s the great thing about CRO.

It’s one of the best and most straightforward ways to increase revenue without a massive outlay of funds.

In time, those wins will stack, and decision makers in your organization will be more likely to get excited at the idea of more testing and implementation to improve conversions.

Here Are the Research Hacks I Use to Come up with a List of Target Keywords Fast

Keyword research is synonymous with SEO.

I remember, back in the day, when keyword research was SEO.

The recipe was simple.

Use the Google Keyword Tool (now known as the Google Keyword Planner) to type in a broad search phrase.

Find a keyword phrase that receives a considerable number of searches with minimal competition.

Stuff the crap out of it in your blog post.

And voila! You’re on the first page of Google!

That was when SEO was pretty archaic and Google’s algorithm was much less sophisticated than it is today.

Back then, pretty much anyone could game the system with a little know-how.

Heck, I remember when people would actually spin articles and get solid rankings by keyword stuffing.

But Google obviously stamped that out with major algorithm updates like Penguin and Panda.

Nowadays, keyword research is a bit more complex, but many of the same principles still apply.

Over the years, I’ve come up with quite a few research hacks that help me come up with a list of keywords in a hurry.

In this post, I’ll point out some of my favorites that you can also implement.

Use Ubersuggest

This is a tool that’s not on everyone’s radar but is great for quickly amassing a list of potential keywords.

Here’s a screenshot of the tool’s description:

Let me say that it’s not as robust as the Google Keyword Planner, but it does offer a few different features I love.

Using it is simple.

From the Ubersuggest homepage, enter a broad keyword.

I’ll use 3D printer as an example.

Here’s what pops up:

Just like that, I have 361 different keyword ideas!

If you want, you can copy and paste some or all of these keywords into a file, spreadsheet, etc.

Just click on View as text.

Then you’ll see this:

This is a lightning-fast way to generate a huge list of keywords.

From there, you can pick and choose the ones you want to target.

But let’s say you want to expand on a particular keyword to come up with even more ideas.

Click on it:

Then click Expand this keyword.

You’ll then get another list of keywords based on the one you clicked on:

For this particular search, I got 217 additional keywords.

Another cool feature is that you can gauge interest in a particular keyword by seeing how it’s performing on Google Trends.

Just click on the keyword:

Then click on Google Trends:

From there, you can get a pretty good idea of whether it’s trending up, trending down or just neutral.

But wait, there’s more!

Ubersuggest has another feature, called Word Cloud, that will show you additional keywords frequently used along with the keyword you’re searching for.

From the top of the page, click on Word Cloud.

Here are the results I got:

The larger the word, the more searches the keyword phrase has received.

I love visuals, so this is an intuitive way for me to get keyword ideas without much work.

The only drawback of Ubersuggest is you can’t see the number of monthly searches a keyword receives or the competition level and suggested bid.

But you can always plug whatever keyword you’re interested in into the Google Keyword Planner.

Nonetheless, it’s a great tool for generating a big list of target keywords fast and has some great features that provide you with valuable intel.

Use BuzzSumo

Let me just say I love BuzzSumo!

It’s hands down one of the best tools for generating new content ideas, seeing how popular a topic is and even for finding influencers to reach out to.

But you can use it for keyword research as well.

Here’s what you do.

Type in your broad keyword:

You’ll get a list of content that includes that keyword.

Here are a few of the results I got for 3D printer. There were 882 results in total:

Now what you want to do is scan through the results and look for other keywords paired with your broad keyword.

Here are a couple of examples:

What I love about this technique is that I can tell how much interest there is in a particular keyword by simply looking at the amount of engagement the content has received.

For instance, the second keyword I highlighted-ultra high-def 3D printer-had 13.9k shares.

Of course, interest may have been piqued because the piece was about creating futuristic death masks, but there’s obviously some interest there.

I suggest browsing through the list and copying and pasting the keywords that catch your attention and are getting some buzz.

You can also get a few additional ideas by scrolling to the bottom of the page and checking out Related Searches.

Just click on a particular search phrase and repeat the same steps.

Use Google’s auto-complete feature

Google is the ultimate enabler for lazy people.

We don’t even have to type out our full search inquiry anymore.

Just type in a few characters, and Google will auto-complete your inquiry based on popular searches.

I use this all the time.

It also happens to be perfect for getting instant keyword ideas.

Here’s what pops up when I search for affiliate marketing:

Now, I realize this doesn’t give you a massive list of keyword ideas, but you can bet there’s a high level of interest for almost anything that pops up.

For something to appear on auto-complete, it obviously has to receive a high volume of searches.

You can also do this on Quora as well:

Check out related searches

Here’s another easy way to extract even more info from Google.

Enter a broad keyword phrase, and scroll to the very bottom.

You’ll see a section called Searches related to [your keyword phrase].

That right there will instantly give you eight keyword ideas.

But you can get more by clicking on an individual keyword phrase:

After scrolling down to the bottom again, here’s what I got:

You can go on infinitely to get as many ideas as you need.

Just follow the same sequence of steps.

FYI, you can do this on Bing as well.

Soovle it

If you’ve never heard of Soovle, it’s a sweet little tool that will give you keyword suggestions from popular sites like Google, Wikipedia, Amazon, Bing, etc.

And it’s incredibly easy to use.

Just type in your keyword into the search box:

Within seconds, the page will be populated with keyword ideas from each of these sites:

It’s pretty awesome.

If you want to do some more research, just click on the keyword you’re interested in.

I’ll click on 3D printer software from Bing:

This will show you the results so you can see what type of content competitors are creating and what’s ranking the best.

Scrape ideas from Bing ads

Bing is dwarfed in terms of its user-base when compared to Google.

It even fell behind the Chinese search engine, Baidu, recently.

That little red sliver of the pie chart is Bing’s search engine market share in 2017.

A mere 7.31%.

But who cares?

It serves multiple purposes from a marketing standpoint.

One is coming up with target keywords.

This hack I came up with is actually based on one of Brian Dean’s tactics for finding keywords for titles and description tags.

In his post, Brian talks about how you can scan through copy of Google AdWords ads to find potential titles and tags.

The only issue with this is that AdWords doesn’t always have an abundance of text-based ads.

See what I mean?

But look at what I get when I enter the same search phrase in Bing:

And that’s just part of it.

Scroll down to the bottom, and I get even more text-based ads:

All I have to do is look for keyword phrases.

Here are a few potential ideas:

Now, I’m not saying jam-packing ads like this into search results translates into a great user experience, but it’s perfect for coming up with target keywords.

And keep in mind that companies are funneling a considerable amount of time and money into these ads, which means they’ve done theirkeyword research.

Capitalize on their work, and you’re likely to get favorable results.

Conclusion

Keyword research has changed quite a bit over the past five or so years.

And it’s definitely become more sophisticated.

But at the end of the day, it still revolves around the same concept, and it doesn’t need to be unnecessarily difficult.

What I love is the increased number of tools available today.

You’re not limited to using only the Google Keyword Planner.

Don’t get me wrong. It’s great and all.

But everyone is using it, including your competitors.

So it’s best to come up with different, less common, approaches.

The research hacks I discussed here are all effective for unearthing keyword ideas and will help you create a list quickly and easily.

Using them should also give you an edge because most of your competitors aren’t aware of these tactics.

It’ll put you ahead of the game and will keep you supplied with high-quality keywords.

How big of a role does keyword research play in your SEO strategy?