Tag Archives: General

How Many Links Should You Build to Your Website?

backlinks

What makes a great link?

One that’s natural, not rich in anchor text, comes from an authoritative site, and is relevant, right?

Well, you already knew that. It’s a topic that’s been beaten to death. Heck, I even have a 30,000 plus word guide that teaches you all about link building.

But what about link-building velocity? How many links should you be building, and how fast should you build them?

Don’t fret—I’m going tell you how many links you should be building and at what rate you should be building them. 

How many links should you be building?

The more links you have pointing to your website the better, right? There is a big misconception that more is better.

No matter how many links your competitors have, you shouldn’t focus on quantity. You should focus on quality. A link from a site like CNN, assuming it is coming from a relevant section and article, will carry much more weight than 10 links from mom and pop sites.

In essence, I’m telling you that you should try to build as many high quality links as possible—ideally to internal pages versus your homepage.

Why internal pages? Well, it’s easier to build them to deep pages than to your homepage. Just think about it… would you rather link to an educational content piece published on an internal page or to a homepage that is selling a product or service? An internal page, right?

As for quantity, you won’t beat out sites that have 10,000 links using this tactic, but you will have many more authoritative links, which will help you outrank your competition.

And here is how you will build these links: through outreach, press, and connecting with writers.

How fast should you be building links to your website?

Assuming the links you are building are clean, you typically don’t have to worry about velocity. Even if you build many links fast, you should be fine in general.

But over the years, I’ve noticed a trend…mainly with new sites or websites with fewer than 100 links. If you build 500 links in the first 30 days to a brand new site, or to a site that doesn’t have more than 100 inbound links, you’ll notice that your rankings may drop temporarily.

Eventually, they’ll move up to a higher spot than their initial placement, but building too fast is unnatural. I don’t know how Google’s algorithm is programmed to deal with velocity, but this is at least what I have noticed over the last four to five years.

So if you have a new site or an older site with very few inbound links, consider building 5 to 10 during the first 30 days. Over the following few months, you can ramp it up. Here’s the velocity I would shoot for:

  • Month 1 – build 5 to 10 inbound links (ideally to your homepage)
  • Month 2 – build 10 to 15 inbound links (mix it up between your homepage and internal pages)
  • Month 3 – build 20 to 30 inbound links (mix it up between your homepage and internal pages)
  • Month 4 – build 30 to 40 inbound links (focus on internal pages)
  • Month 5 – build 40 plus links a month (focus on internal pages)
  • Month 6 – build as many high quality links as possible (focus on internal pages)

As you can see, the first few months, you are focusing on building links to your homepage and to your internal pages, but later you shift your focus purely to internal pages.

Why? Because it’s not natural to have the majority of your links pointing to your homepage. Just look at Quick Sprout… I don’t build links to the blog, and here is the total number of links pointing to the whole site:

9,143…

And of those 9,143 links, only 19.8% point to the homepage.

link stats

In essence, over 80.2% of my total link count is going to internal pages.

If you have an older site with over 100 inbound links, you can build as many links as you want each month. The reason I’m saying this is that it is very unlikely that you’ll be able to build more than 50 a month.

Not only does it take time to ramp up your link building, but it’s really hard to get over 50 new links in a month, unless you are buying them or you’ve written a blog post that goes viral.

What happens if you build too many links too fast?

If you’ve built too many links too fast, don’t worry. You shouldn’t get hit with a Penguin penalty or anything like that, assuming your links are high in quality, relevant, and aren’t rich in anchor text.

The only thing that might happen is that your search traffic might stay flat for a few months or maybe even dip a bit, but after three months, you should see a sharp climb in search traffic.

If you aren’t seeing a sharp climb in search traffic, it means either the links you built aren’t high in quality or you have thin content. If it’s neither of the two, then you need to add more pages to your website and adjust how you cross-link your internal pages.

Nonetheless, those are simple fixes that should lead to more traffic. Just don’t get nervous if you don’t notice an increase in traffic right away.

Even when you build high quality links, it usually takes three to six months for the results to start showing up. So if you are investing a lot of man-hours into link building, don’t get nervous or quit if you don’t see results within the first two or three months.

Conclusion

Using the formula above, I’ve ranked for dozens of competitive terms on the web. For example, I used to run a blog called Online Poker Lowdown, and within six months, I got to page one of Google for the term “online poker.” All I did was follow the six-month plan above.

Sure, the site doesn’t rank anymore, but it’s because I sold it and stopped working on it years ago.

As you start link-building using the formula above, you’ll find that your website will rank for more long tail terms. Over time, you’ll also rank for more head terms, but the majority of your search traffic will come from three- or four-word search phrases.

When leveraging links to grow your search traffic, keep in mind that the easiest form of link-building is through content marketing. By creating really good information, instead of begging for links, you will increase the likelihood of people sharing and linking to your content.

It’s the main reason why I produce so many infographics on Quick Sprout.

How fast have you been building links?

A Setback on the $100k a Month Challenge

Thank you for addressing your concerns. If you scroll to the bottom of the post, you’ll see an update. On Monday I’ll be publishing a more detailed post on the changes… you’ll be happy with the changes. :)

setback

A few months ago, I wrote a blog post about how anyone can make $100,000 a month in revenue within 12 months. And to show you how it’s possible—and so you can achieve similar results—I decided to blog about my journey. 

Launching the blog

On April 1st, I started a nutrition blog called NutritionalResource.com. It took me a couple of weeks to get started, but by April 15th, I was up and running.

During the last couple of weeks of the month, I published four blog posts and was able to drive a considerable amount of traffic.

april traffic

I received 35,419 visitors in two weeks, which is really good considering that I only published four blog posts.

I also learned how easy it is to generate traffic in a B2C vertical since there’s a much larger audience than in most B2B verticals.

As you can see from the graph below, most of the traffic came from a single post.

traffic spike

I don’t know how or why this blog post went viral, but it got over 1,000 Facebook shares.

How I generated my traffic

Facebook has been the main source of traffic. I started a fan page, and within 30 days, I have gained over 50,000 fans. Every time I share a link, I get an instant boost of traffic.

First, I kicked off the page with some Facebook ads.

facebook ad

The image above shows the ad I ran. I targeted mainly an international audience as the cost per like is cheaper, and I made sure the countries I was targeting had English as one of their main languages.

On average, I ended up paying 3 cents a like during this campaign, which drove 3,282 likes.

ad stats

However, as you can tell, the likes I received weren’t generating much engagement. Only about 6% of my fans actually liked the posts I was sharing, which is about a third of what it should be.

Once I got enough likes, I paused the campaign.

I then approached other Facebook fan pages that had 30,000 or fewer fans and offered a shout out for shout out deal: I told my fans to follow those other Facebook fan pages, and they told their fans to follow my page.

I only keep these messages live on my fan page for a few hours before I remove them as I don’t want my page to seem too promotional.

As my fan base grew, I started doing deals with larger fan pages. If you replicate this, you’ll quickly learn that most people will ignore your shout out for shout out requests, but about one in 10 pages will accept it.

Although this helped me skyrocket my fan page growth rate, I ended up growing my fan page at a much faster rate just by posting good content. I used Buzzsumo to help find this content.

I typed in keywords related to my space, and Buzzsumo showed me the posts that generated the most Facebook likes. I then shared those content pieces since Facebook users clearly like that content. This is the main reason why all of my social media postings did so well.

By only sharing content that people enjoyed, I helped my Facebook page to grow more quickly, and I gained new fans each day.

Link building

I linked to NutritionalResource from Quick Sprout, but one or two links won’t give me a huge edge over the competition.

Instead, what helps the most is my years of experience with link building.

To build links, first I Googled the phrase “resource page nutrition.” This helped me find some pages that were linking out to nutrition sites.

I then used Ahrefs to see who links to my competition. Once I created a master list, my intern Lisa started emailing each of those site owners from her email address, begging for a link.

The email template I used was pretty simple:

Subject: I think you are missing a link

Hey [insert their name],

I noticed you are linking to a handful of nutritional sites and blogs, but you aren’t linking out to NutritionalResource.com.

Have you seen it yet? It provides a ton of nutritional value to anyone who is looking to live a healthier life.

Hope you’re having a lovely day! Keep up the good work, I really enjoy [inster their site name].

Lisa

Overall, this has been a huge success, and I’ve generated a handful of links, including some educational links. Here’s an example.

Content issues

As of now, the blog has four blog posts. As many of you know, nutrition isn’t my background, so I have been learning a lot about it over the past few weeks.

I recruited a few writers from California State University of Fullerton to help with content creation. They gladly helped me out for free, but the quality of the content sucks. Sure, I should be writing my content on the nutrition blog, but I am still learning about the subject, and I don’t have the time. Even if I made $100,000 a month from it, I would lose money since spending that time on my other businesses would yield me more money.

Here are some of the issues I am having with the content writer:

  • Too much fluff – if you look at the posts, you’ll see they contain way too much fluff. Instead of getting to the point, the writer rambles a bit too much.
  • Very little data – each blog post makes claims about what is or isn’t healthy for you, but the writers haven’t been including stats and data to back up their main points.
  • Grammar errors – you would think people majoring in journalism would be great at grammar, but they aren’t. I need to either get an editor to review each post or find another intern to help them out.

It will take me a month or so to get the content fixed. I won’t be fixing the older content, but I will be fixing newer blog posts. This is actually one of the main reasons I stopped posting on the blog.

On the bright side, the images on the blog are extremely good. I have a corporate Fotolia account under one of my businesses, and I have been using it to find images for NutritionalResource.com. However, Fotolia isn’t the only factor that makes my images great.

I found a kid on Craigslist who is into photography and Photoshop. I gave him a $500 camera in exchange for his help. He not only takes pictures for me but he also takes the images from Fotolia and modifies them in Photoshop to make them look better.

The big misconception

Now that you know how I gained over 30,000 visitors in two weeks, let’s go over a big misconception. A lot of you have emailed me to tell me that I am cheating by using my name on this new blog.

Well, I tested having an apple as my blog image, having no bio, or having my photo.

apple

The results did not differ. Why? Because no one knows me in the nutrition space.

It’s not my name that gives me the advantage—it’s my experience. I’m probably better than most marketers are at building links, running social media campaigns, and writing content. I know what works because I have been leveraging content marketing for over nine years, and I’m really good at growing blogs.

My big setback

The big mistake I made—which I shouldn’t have made, considering how long I’ve been working in the SEO space—is that I bought a premium domain name without doing any research on it.

I spent $1,889.62 on the domain name without doing a backlink check. If you run it through Ahrefs.com, you’ll notice that a ton of spam sites and reciprocal link pages link to it.

That’s likely the main reason the site is probably penalized and doesn’t rank for its own name. I only figured out something was wrong when, after two weeks, the site still didn’t rank for “nutritional resource” in Google.

I haven’t checked Webmaster Tools to see if there is a penalty, but I know something is off. So instead of wasting months trying to fix it, I’m going to switch everything over to Nutrition Secrets—a new domain name I bought.

This is a huge setback that will cost me more than a month’s time as April is now a write-off and I have to start all over again.

But because I have a fresh start, I think I can grow the new blog at a faster pace. Google traffic will eventually kick in because the new domain name doesn’t have any links pointing to it.

Conclusion

Many of you emailed me saying I am cheating by using my name or by writing about my new blog on Quick Sprout. While this does help out a bit, it’s not the main advantage I have, as I discussed above. It’s my experience that gives me a leg up.

As for using my name, I do it for branding. If I am going to create a blog that generates millions of visitors, I might as well use it to help me grow my personal brand.

Many of you also said that I shouldn’t be blogging about this experiment for another year and that by writing about it I am cheating. But I am writing because I hope these blog posts are helpful to you—even if I have a bit of an advantage over you.

What do you think of this experiment so far? Are these monthly blog posts helping you out?

Update

Based on your feedback I am making a few changes.

  1. A special thanks to Kim for letting me know I can get into legal trouble with this project as I am not a nutritionist.
  2. I don’t want to provide content that is false or inaccurate. So I fired all of the interns who were producing content for free. I too won’t be blogging as I don’t know enough knowledge about nutrition.
  3. I’ve partnered up with a nutritionist who’s photo is now on the Facebook page. I have known them for a while and they will be creating the content. I am going to have to teach them how to blog and help edit the posts. They will not be getting paid to write content or anything like that… I just have to partner with someone who understands nutrition as I can’t risk taking on a legal liability.
  4. I will break down on Monday on how I am going to teach Mike how to blog. You can copy my formula so you can product content that sounds like me.
  5. The nutritionist isn’t going to get paid, instead they will be keeping 20% of the money generated from the project. 80% will be donated to charity. (Not sure which ones yet)
  6. This should please some of you as you didn’t want me to use my face or name on the blog.
  7. The content is being cleaned up. From the Facebook page to the blog, everything that the nutritionist doesn’t agree with is being changed or deleted. That way people won’t be misinformed.
  8. I will provide a much more detailed update on Monday.

How to Avoid a Google Penalty

Are you worried about getting an algorithmic or manual penalty? In most cases, you shouldn’t, but if you are dabbling in SEO, you need to make sure you aren’t breaking any rules.

To help you avoid any current or future Google penalties, I’ve created an infographic that shows you what you should and shouldn’t do.

Click on the image below to see a larger view:

How to Avoid a Google Penalty

Click here to view an enlarged version of this infographic.

Conclusion

To summarize, if you want to avoid a penalty, you should avoid a few things:

  • Duplicate or thin content – make sure your content is adding value to your readers.
  • Rich anchor text – when building links, make sure your anchor text isn’t keyword rich. Ideally, you should focus on creating valuable content instead of building links manually. Valuable content will generate natural links on its own.
  • Focus on relevance – when building links, make sure you get them from relevant sites.
  • Use the “nofollow” tag for paid links – if you are guest-posting or buying links, consider using the “nofollow” tag for those links.

How else can you avoid a penalty?

Embed This Image On Your Site (copy code below):

Why Do Sites Rank High on Google When They Aren’t Optimized?

why rankings

Have you ever wondered why some sites rank high on Google when they aren’t optimized for search engines? Or even worse, when they barely have any backlinks?

I’ve been asked this question a lot over the last few months, so I thought I would write a blog post explaining why that happens.

Here’s why some sites rank high when they aren’t optimized: 

Reason #1: Click-through rate

Part of Google’s algorithm looks at a click-through rate. It calculates it as a percentage, reflecting the number of clicks you receive from the total number of people searching for that particular phrase you rank for.

The higher the percentage, the more appealing your listing is compared to the competition. And if your click-through rate is higher than everyone else’s, Google will slowly start moving you up the search engine results page as this algorithm factor tells it that searchers prefer your listing.

Looking at the click-through rate isn’t enough, however, as people could create deceptive title tags and meta descriptions to increase their results. So Google also looks at your bounce rate.

It assesses the number of people who leave your page by hitting the back button to return to the search listing page. If Google sends 1,000 people to one of your web pages and each of those 1,000 people hit the back button within a few seconds, it tells Google your web page isn’t relevant.

A lot of the websites that are ranking well on Google that don’t seem to be optimized have a high click-through rate and a low bounce rate. And that helps maintain their rankings.

For example, if you look at this guide, you’ll see it ranks really high for the term “online marketing,” and the ranking very rarely fluctuates as my click-through rate according to Webmaster Tools is 31%.

Here’s another example. This post ranks well for “best times to post on social media.” It would be hard to outrank this listing as my click-through rate is currently 52%.

ctr ranking

If you want to see your click-through rates, log into Webmaster Tools, and click on your site profile. If you don’t have a site profile, that means you need to add your site to Webmaster Tools and wait a few days.

Once you are viewing your site in Webmaster Tools, click on the navigational option “search traffic,” and then click on “search queries.”

If you need help increasing your click-through rates, read this post as I walk you through the steps you need to take.

Reason #2: Age

One of the big factors that cause some sites to rank well is their age. Most of the sites that rank high are at least a few years old.

Sure, most of these older sites have more backlinks and content as they have been around for longer, but not all of them.

What I’ve noticed is that if you take a brand new website, build tons of relevant links, and add high quality content, you still won’t get as much search traffic as older sites will.

There is not much you can do here other than just give it time. The older your site gets, the more search traffic you will generally receive, assuming you are continually trying to improve upon it.

Reason #3: Backlinks

Google doesn’t just look at the sheer number of backlinks a site has—it also looks at relevancy and authority.

Many of these non-optimized sites that are ranking well have a few high quality backlinks pointing to the right internal pages. For example, if you have only few links—but they come from .edu and .gov extensions—your site will rank extremely well.

In addition to having the right backlinks, those sites also have a spot-on anchor text for these links. Most SEOs think you need rich anchor text links to rank well, but the reality is you don’t.

Google is able to look at the web page that is linking to you and analyze the text around the link as well as the text on the page. It helps Google determine if the link is relevant to your site and what you should potentially rank for.

Reason #4: Cross-linking

Even if you don’t have the best on-page SEO and a ton of backlinks, you can rank well from an overall site perspective if you cross-link your pages.

And it’s important not just from a navigational or breadcrumb perspective, but from an in-content perspective. If you can add in-content links throughout your site and cross-link your pages, you’ll find that they all will increase in rankings.

On the flip side, if you aren’t cross-linking your pages within your content, you’ll find that some of your web pages will rank extremely well, while others won’t. It’s because you are not distributing link juice and authority throughout your whole site.

Reason #5: Content quality

Since its Panda update, Google has been able to determine content quality of websites. For example, it can determine whether a site is too thin or has duplicate content, allowing for a much better analysis of content quality than before.

A lot of these well-ranking older sites have extremely high quality content. You may not think so, but Google does.

Why?

Because Google doesn’t just look at the content on a site… It looks at the content on one website and compares it to others within that space. So if you have higher quality content than all of your competitors, you are much more likely to outrank them in the long run.

Reason #6: Competition

The beautiful part about ranking for certain keywords is that they are low in competition. And some of these low competitive terms don’t get searched often.

From what I’ve seen, the results pages for these low competition key phrases aren’t updated by Google as often as some of the more competitive terms are. Why? Because more people are viewing the competitive terms.

If you were Google, wouldn’t you focus your resources on ensuring that popular terms and results pages are updated more frequently than phrases that aren’t searched for very often?

Reason #7: Growth rate

What should you do if you want to rank really high for a keyword? Build a ton of relevant backlinks and write a lot of high quality content, right?

Although that’s true, what happens is a lot of webmasters grow their link count a bit too fast…so fast that it seems unnatural. And chances are it is.

Google is smart enough to know this as it has data on a lot of sites within your space. For this reason, you see a lot of older sites ranking well as they are growing at a “natural” pace versus one that seems manufactured.

Conclusion

There are a lot of reasons why sites that don’t seem well-optimized rank well. The seven I listed above are the main reasons I’ve seen over the years.

So the next time you are trying to figure out why a certain site ranks well when it shouldn’t, chances are it’s because of one or more reasons on the list.

As a website owner, you shouldn’t focus too much on your competition; instead, you should focus on improving your website. In the long run, the company with the best product or service tends to win.

Why else do you think non-optimized sites rank well on Google?

How to Grow Your Blog Traffic by 20,000 Visitors a Month

website traffic

Around eight months ago, I started a new blog in the marketing realm. When I first started out, my traffic was flat.

But around four months ago, I figured out a process that has allowed me to grow my traffic consistently—a process I could replicate. I am now at a point where I am adding about 20,000 new visitors each month.

Best of all, I’ve been doing it without spending a dollar on marketing.

The tactics I’ve been using will work for anyone. They work so well that the results I’m experiencing with my nutrition blog are even better, which is crazy since I don’t have a brand in that space and I don’t have many assets I can leverage to help it grow. (I’ll be updating you in a week on my journey to $100,000 monthly income).

So, how did I achieve those results, and how can you gain similar ones? 

Collect emails

I’ve mentioned this in the past, but chances are you still aren’t collecting emails from your blog. Other than search traffic, it’s the most consistent form of traffic you can get.

Just look at NeilPatel.com. Here is the email traffic I’ve received over the last 30 days:

email traffic

That’s not too bad, considering my list size is currently at 3,612.

So, how do you collect emails? The simplest ways are through page takeovers, interstitials, sliders, and bars. The beautiful news is you don’t have to be technical to use any of those features…you can just use Hello Bar, which is free.

hellobar

In addition to using Hello Bar, you should consider using Thrive Leads, which allows you to offer bonus content.

For example, if I wrote a blog post on 11 marketing tips that will double your traffic, the bonus content could be two extra tips that weren’t mentioned in my post. In order for you to receive that bonus content, you would have to give me your email address.

Sure, this type of email collection takes a bit of time, but it will account for 50% of the emails you collect.

Once you have a list, every time you write, email to your list subscribers letting them know about your latest post. Here is the email template I use:

Subject: Title of your blog post

Hey,

I just wanted to share with you the latest [Insert your blog name – and make this a link to your post] blog post. Let me know what you think.

[Insert the title of your blog post – and make this a link to your blog post]

[Insert the first paragraph from your blog post]

[Insert the second paragraph from your blog post] Click to continue [make the “click to continue a link]

Thanks.
[Insert your name].

P.S. [Add a promotional message here]

Just in case the template is confusing, here is an example of a recent email I sent out, based on this template:

Hey,

I just wanted to share with you the latest Quick Sprout blog post. Let me know what you think.

Why You Need a Social Media Calendar and How to Create One

You’ve heard of social media calendars before, but do you know what they are and how to use one?

Chances are you don’t. And that’s okay… I didn’t either when I entered the realm of social media marketing. But once I learned about it and how to use it, it change how I marketed my businesses on the social web. [click to continue]

Thanks,
Neil.

P.S. If you want to see how I can help you grow your traffic and revenue, go here.

Write extremely detailed content

The average blog post on my NeilPatel.com blog ranges from 4,000 words on the low end to 8,000 words on the high end.

I know what you are thinking: that’s a lot of text. And it is.

On top of that, each post contains tons of screenshots and images. If you don’t have time to add images, you can always pay someone to do it—like I do.

But just look at my search traffic for the last eight months:

  • September – 2,017 visitors
  • October – 3,952 visitors
  • November – 4,087 visitors
  • December – 5,572 visitors
  • January – 9,029 visitors
  • February – 13,783 visitors (only 28 days in this month)
  • March – 20,543 visitors
  • April – 24,540 visitors (projected)

How have I been able to increase my search traffic on a consistent basis? Is it link building?

Nope!

It’s purely by writing extremely detailed content. This allows me to get ranked for thousands of long tail keywords that aren’t competitive.

If you are going to write content, consider writing extremely detailed content. Write something so detailed that people wouldn’t dare to copy you—that’s when you’ll know you have done a good job.

Building a fan base

Fan base? I know what you are thinking: why would anyone want to be your fan, right?

Well, you need to stop thinking that way. Everyone has fans.

How do you build a loyal following? You can start by trying to help everyone out. I know I’ve mentioned this in the past, but are you actually responding to each and every comment you receive on your blog?

Probably not…

And when your readers email you, are you taking the time to email them back? You should care about your readers and do whatever is in your power to help them out. And they will keep coming back.

Just look at Randy, who comments on every single NeilPatel.com blog post:

randy comment

He continually comes back because I truly care to help him. And sometimes he helps me out by pointing out things I wasn’t familiar with.

Strike partnerships

Business development may not sound sexy, but it works well. There are already people in your space with whom you can potentially work because they are not your direct competitors.

For example, I just struck a deal with Cyberchimps, who provide WordPress themes. Some of their themes are paid, while others are free.

Together, we will be offering more marketing-friendly themes—not just from a code perspective but also from a design perspective. It will take six months for this deal to fully go live, but once it does, it will help me generate more traffic.

This partnership will allow them to attach “marketed by Neil Patel” links to the bottom of each of their themes. To ensure that I don’t get penalized by Google, the links will be “no-followed,” but they still should drive good referral traffic.

How did I get this deal? And, more importantly, how can you get a similar deal? Well, I emailed around 30 people in the space telling them that I have an idea that will help them grow their businesses faster.

Some people responded, while others didn’t. I got on the phone with those who responded and pitched my idea to them. I broke down how it would separate them from other theme providers, and I even explained the benefit to me.

Once I had all the conversations and a few people said yes, I decided with whom I wanted to work.

Write more often

I used to publish blog posts on NeilPatel.com once a week. Over time, I ramped it up to twice a week.

Here is my monthly traffic when I was posting once a week:

once a month

And here is the traffic after I started posting twice a week:

twice a month

As you can see, the more frequently you post, the more search traffic you will receive, assuming your content is high in quality. My goal is to ramp up my personal blog to three posts a week as that will help me hit the 100,000 monthly visitor mark really fast. The only issue is finding the time…

Conclusion

Growing your blog traffic doesn’t have to be rocket science. Follow the steps above, and you too will be able to get more traffic.

Sure, your growth rate may not be as rapid as mine (as I am able to leverage my name to get certain deals done), but still—you should see more traffic.

If you had to pick just one thing to follow, consider writing long, detail content. What I learned by blogging on NeilPatel.com is that content that’s between 4,000 and 8,000 words does extremely well in search engines.

How else can you grow your blog traffic?

Why You Need a Social Media Calendar and How to Create One

You’ve heard of social media calendars before, but do you know what they are and how to use one?

Chances are you don’t. And that’s okay… I didn’t either when I entered the realm of social media marketing. But once I learned about it and how to use it, it change how I marketed my businesses on the social web.

Here’s why you need a social media calendar and how you can create one:

Click on the image below to see a larger view:

Why You Need a Social Media Calendar and How to Create One

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Conclusion

A social media calendar can help you consistently promote high quality content, cut down on the amount of time you waste, and organize and curate content.

If you aren’t using one, you should reconsider. It’s helped me almost double my Twitter engagement over the last six months.

So, what do you think? Are you going to use a social media calendar?

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How to Be a Successful Marketer if You’re not Super Smart

seo neil patel

I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I’m not that smart, and yet I’m a pretty good online marketer. I am actually probably one of the better ones out there.

So, how’s that possible? Well, you don’t have to be smart to be the best marketer. Instead, you need to be creative, execute well, and continue to learn from others.

Here’s the process I used to become a great marketer, and here is how you can follow in my footsteps:

Don’t be afraid to bug people

When I first started out in the world of online marketing, I didn’t know anything about it. I didn’t know how to edit HTML; I thought MSN was a bigger search engine than Google; and I had no idea where to start.

But the one thing I did know is that there are marketers out there who are already good. Or if they weren’t good, they at least knew something, which is better than nothing (which is how much I knew back then).

What I did was I Googled terms on the web that were competitive in the marketing space. For example, I may Google “seo company” as a lot of the people who rank for those terms are small businesses.

seo results

What you want to do is click on the listings of companies that look small, call their numbers, speak with the founders of the businesses, and offer to work for them for free in exchange for knowledge.

You’ll be surprised how many people will take you up on this offer. All you have to do is help them out part-time for a month or so, and you’ll be able to soak up a lot of their knowledge.

Pay to learn

Another thing I did when I started out was I paid a few companies to help me with my website. One of the businesses was Stepforth, and the other was SEO Matrix.

I paid them each a few thousand dollars and soaked up all their knowledge and tactics. Back then, I was mainly trying to learn SEO, but you can do the same for content marketing, social media marketing, paid advertising, etc.

When paying other companies, make sure you are picking those with good reviews and no BBB complaints.

I picked those two companies over 10 years ago because they both used to rank well on Google for competitive terms. To me, that showed that they knew what they were doing.

Network with experts

One of the best things I did when I was younger was attend industry conferences. It was one of my best investments—and still is. From Search Engine Strategies to SMX, there were tons of conferences back then, and there are even more now.

When I was at these events, I did attend the sessions, but that didn’t help me learn much. Instead, I made sure I stayed at the conference hotel and spent as much time at the bar as possible.

Every time I recognized a speaker (most conference sites list their speakers with their photos), I would buy them a beer and food. It was very rare that someone would turn me down.

When buying these experts beers and food, I never really picked their brains or tried learning from them. Instead, I just did some small talk and chatted about anything that was of interest to them.

This helped me build friendships with industry experts. I then traded contact information, and I would follow up after the event and pick their brains from time to time.

This one tactic led me to learn how to build links, how to write sales copy that converts, and how to leverage Reddit. Heck, it even helped me build friendships with a few Reddit power users, and they gladly submitted my content for free.

Learn multiple trades

Marketers specialize in different tasks. For example, some are great at SEO, while others are better at content marketing or conversion optimization.

So I would find experts who were the best at each of those skills.

The way I would learn from them isn’t by just reading their blog content, but by dissecting their own marketing.

For example, Frank Kern is one of the best copywriters I know of. So instead of just hearing him speak at conferences or reading his blog posts, I subscribed to his email list and eventually bought his products. It’s not because I wanted the products, but because I wanted to learn how he is selling.

And by going through his sales funnels, I am able to learn the tactics he is using.

Now imagine doing that with every expert within your space. You’ll end up learning a lot.

For example, Frank indirectly taught me about copywriting. Column Five taught me about infographic marketing. Patrick Gavin from Text Link Ads taught me how to build links. Brian Clark and Darren Rowse taught me how to blog.

If you want to learn from the best, don’t just read their stuff. Analyze how they market to you and others. You’ll learn way more from that than you will from their blog content.

Practice makes perfect

You won’t ever become great by just reading and analyzing other marketing campaigns. You have to put what you are learning into effect.

How do you do this? You start a website, and you market it yourself. When doing so, set goals such as hitting certain traffic numbers each week or each month.

Or you can start off with something even simpler such as writing a blog post once a week.

If you don’t practice on your own site, you won’t learn how to execute fast. The key with this approach is to set timelines.

For example, with my NeilPatel.com blog, my goal was to reach 100,000 visitors within 12 months. At this pace, I’ll achieve it within 10 months, if not 9. How? Because I keep pushing myself to execute faster and gain more visitors.

My goal this month is to hit 80,000 visitors, and next month—100,000. Who knows if it will happen, but setting aggressive goals continually pushes me to think of creative ways to grow my traffic.

Don’t be afraid to experiment

Experimenting is what will help you sharpen your skills and stand out from the crowd. By doing crazy marketing experiments, not only will you learn more but you will eventually stumble upon some ideas that will revolutionize your marketing.

For example, I’ve experimented with Instagram; I’ve played around with lifestyle marketing; and I even adjusted how I dressed.

And now I’ve been playing around with bus ads, which I should write about soon. In addition, I’ve been toying around with marketing automation a lot.

For example, having you to opt in to receive my emails allows me to send you a customized email that tells you that I wrote a letter just for you. But because I don’t have your mailing address, I’ve emailed it to you instead.

So assuming I know your name, I end up adding an image to the email with me holding up an envelope with your name on it (I dynamically add your name to it).

seo letter

Then in the email, I link you to this letter, which pitches you my services.

If you read the letter but don’t complete the purchase, I follow up with an email that contains the subject line “About Neil Patel.” The sender of the email is one of my co-workers, Nate. He politely mentions the fact that you have read the letter but didn’t complete the transaction and asks you if there is anything wrong.

He mentions that he is my right-hand man and even includes this funny picture of us within the email to try to get you to click on this link.

seo nate

Don’t be afraid of scummy industries

The marketing world, especially the online one, has a bad name. It’s mainly because of people who sell get-rich-quick schemes or who employ forced continuity.

These marketers who are selling these products or breaking the law in many cases are creative. So I try to dissect everything they are doing and then take their creative marketing tactics and apply them to a legitimate business.

By no means do I recommend that you follow in their footsteps and do anything unethical, but I do recommend that you learn the tactics they use and see if you can leverage them in an ethical way.

I’ve learned a lot over the last year from the diet and brain pills industry as they have some of the most creative marketers I have seen. If only they applied themselves to legitimate businesses!…But that’s a different blog post.

Attend exclusive events

Some of the best marketing knowledge gets passed around at exclusive events. The people who attend these events not only teach you these tactics but they also help you implement them.

For example, I met Frank Kern at War Room, which is probably my favorite marketing event, and he not only taught me about copywriting but he also gave me his copy and said I could use it whenever I wanted.

If you attend normal marketing conferences, you will learn surface-level information and hear pitches to buy products and services. When you attend high-level events, you’ll learn specific marketing tactics that will help you grow your business.

The hardest part about these events is getting in. Even if you have the money to attend (they are expensive), you still have to go through a long interviewing process to get in.

Conclusion

The steps above are how I learned to be a great online marketer. They are so effective that I still leverage them.

You don’t have to be the smartest person in the room to be a good marketer—you just have to be creative and learn how to execute fast. Once you get those two things down, you’ll be dangerous.

How else can you learn to be a successful marketer?