How To Build Up Recurring Income Streams Through Affiliate Marketing.

By Nicole Dean
https://nicoleonthenet.com/

My coaching clients know that I am wicked dedicated to helping them develop recurring income that they can count on from month to month so there is NO feast and famine (only feast!).

There are several ways they can accomplish this (which I’ll get into a bit) but my #1 and #2 “let’s do this” goals for them are to:

1. Earn enough to pay for their coaching. Because why not, right? I don’t want them in a financial pinch while we’re making progress.

2. Earn enough additional recurring income to pay for their business and base personal expenses each month. (Mortgage, car payment, utilities, etc.) I find it’s much easier to be creative when I’m not worried about if I can pay my bills to survive. (You think?!)

After that, it’s just fun to grow for the extra play money for travel, investing, etc. (I put several thousand each month into my SEP automatically – mostly from recurring income. I use this service to make it easy.)

So, HOW do you earn recurring income?

There are a bunch of ways but I’m going to focus on one today (one of my favorites). If you guys like this, I may get into a few more.

Promote Awesome (Recurring) Stuff as an Affiliate.

One of my favorite ways to grow recurring income streams is to find a awesome product or software that’s a recurring program – and see if it has a great recurring affiliate program.

In fact, I’m still getting monthly payments from two launches that I promoted back in 2005. Yes, you read that right. 13 years later, and money is still coming in. (To be 100% honest, it’s not as much as when I first promoted, but it is still coming in.)

No matter what niche you are in, there are membership site owners who need members.

If they’re smart (and a lot of them aren’t.. but I’ll save that rant for another day), they’ll offer a generous affiliate program that is recurring as long as the person who you referred remains a paying member.

They key notes to take from that part above is that:

The product or software should be something REALLY good.
It should be related to what your audience wants to hear about from you. (For instance, if I found a great program for a “Toupee of the Month” club, I would not promote it to my lists. You guys signed up to hear about leveraging your business and life – not for toupee resources.)
The owners / people in charge should offer an affiliate program that pays you recurring for people who you send their way.
The people who sign up through your link should be happy and want to stay!

Example 1: Software for Business

We all need and love software. Why do you think I keep telling you about my “Tools I Use to Run My Business” page? Because so many of the things I use and recommend are services that also happen to have recurring affiliate programs.

For instance, these all are recurring:

ConvertKit – I recently left the service I used since 2005 to manage all my newsletters, ecourses, and ezines. (If you get any emails from me, they now come through this safe list managing service.) They are marketing-friendly, easy to use, and I’m getting a lot of flexibility that I’ve always wanted.
Thrive Leads – I used to get really frustrated if I wanted to put an optin for in the middle of a blog post. Or I’d see all these other site with cool drop downs with freebies to get people to optin. Thrive Leads is how a lot of them are doing it. PLUS split testing is built in. (I use this WITH ConvertKit, rather than using the forms ConvertKit provides.) We just moved Beachpreneurs.com to Thrive Leads.
LeadPages – I love Leadpages. Honestly, though, for the cost and flexibility, look at Thrive instead. You get a lot more for less cost, with tons of added flexibility.
I recommend them because I use them myself.

Example 2: Cindy Bidar, Training Membership Site

My coaching client, Cindy Bidar, has been having GREAT success selling her marketing checklists and social media checklists.

People kinda love them. She had her highest month ever in August, but had a desire for a more steady income stream.

So, we brainstormed and decided to enhance her checklists concept into a monthly program.

She came up with something really special.

It comes with:

  • Training – a video training session covering a topic about marketing your business
  • Checklists – step-by-step checklists to make sure you don’t miss a step or get overwhelmed.
  • Templates – emails, pages, scripts, that you might need to do the monthly task.
  • A FB group where Cindy is personally actively answering questions.

You can check it out here.

You can BET I started promoting it the day it was ready.

Why? Because first of all, it’s Cindy, so it’ll be FREAKING awesome. I love her. I trust her. I value her knowledge. So, of course, I want to bring her in front of my audience.

Remember Rule #1? The product must be QUALITY before you promote it. 🙂

But also, because of what I just told you about. RECURRING INCOME for me!

Think about it. It’s $27/month, so that’s $13.50/month PER PERSON who signs up coming to me.

While $13.50/month may not sound like a lot, if I send her 100 members, that’s $1350/month of PURE profit for me.

Again, that may not sound like a ton of money in the scope of things, but that’s an extra $16,200 a year.

Just by telling my audience about something freaking awesome!

If you reach people who are interested in business, I highly suggest you sign up for Cindy’s affiliate program and start promoting her checklists which lead to the recurring program. 🙂

You may be shaking your head wondering why I would be telling you to sign up for an affiliate program that I’m promoting? Why would I want more affiliates (competition) selling the same thing I am?

I’ll tell you about that another day. It’s another form of passive and recurring income that brings in moola every day for me. Go sign up and we can both promote and profit.

Example #3: Coach Glue – Done-for-You Content

Of course, I would be totally silly if I didn’t tell you that my site, CoachGlue.com has several awesome recurring programs AND we have, if I can be totally honest, one of the best affiliate programs around.

If you have an established business with an audience, and a list, check it out here.

We have tons of free promo content that you can use to promote and you’ll get updates from me about all new programs. We love paying our affiliates. 🙂

Having an income base that I can count on has saved my sanity in so many ways.

When I’ve been sick and can’t work, I can stay in bed.

When I’ve struggled with depression, I could focus on self care.

While I’ve dealt with hurricanes, floods, and tornadoes, (yes, all three) – I can deal with the problem at hand.

And I KNOW that I have money coming in. Can I just check out, go to Italy for 5 years and never open my computer again? No. My income would drop.

But… it would take a while. 🙂

How to Monitor Multiple Social Media Metrics

 

  • August 8, 2016

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social media toolsDo you manage multiple social media profiles for your business?

Looking for an easier way to keep an eye on key social media metrics?

Setting up a customized dashboard lets you monitor and report on the performance of your social media platforms in one convenient place.

In this article, you’ll discover how to set up a dashboard to track key social media metrics for your business.

social media metric dashboard tools and set up

Discover how to use a dashboard to monitor multiple social media metrics.

#1: Choose a Dashboard Tool

There are a number of dashboard tools available. To select the right one for your business, you’ll want to consider cost, make sure the tool integrates with the platforms you use, and explore the interface for ease of use.

Here are four for you to consider:

Dasheroo

Dasheroo lets you create customized dashboards to view everything from Facebook and Twitter to Google Analytics and your email marketing metrics, all in one place. It integrates with more than 27 applications like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, PayPal, SurveyMonkey, Google Analytics, and more.

dasheroo

Dasheroo connects you to your data, whether you’re a solopreneur or a large team.

If you’re on a large marketing team, your group can access the same dashboards and add comments and notes on different metrics you’re viewing. It’s a great way to improve team collaboration.

dasheroo

Collaborate with team members using comments on the data.

With Dasheroo’s free plan, you can monitor up to 12 metrics (also known as insights). One of the cool things about Dasheroo is the ability to monitor individual insights. You can also use any of the tool’s popular templates or data mashups to compare channels.

If you want more dashboards and insights, upgrade to a paid plan starting at $19 per month.

Cyfe

Cyfe goes beyond social media to connect all of your marketing channels in one robust platform. Cyfe lets you use pre-built widgets for advertising, blogging, email, social media, SEO, and more. It natively integrates with 68 applications.

cyfe

Cyfe connects with dozens of applications to give you a well-rounded view of your data.

Cyfe’s free plan includes up to five widgets. It’s perfect for individuals or small businesses that need to track only basic analytics. There’s also a premium version that gives you access to unlimited widgets starting at $19 per month.

Klipfolio

With Klipfolio you get real-time access to your business metrics and analytics and can connect to all of the services you use every day. Starting at $24 per month for up to five users, it’s a great option for small- to medium-sized businesses.

klipfolio

Klipfolio allows you to access more advanced data sources.

Raven Tools

A great option for small- to medium-sized businesses, Raven Tools lets teams collaborate seamlessly on SEO, social, PPC, and content marketing campaigns all in one place. Reporting is easy and automated. With prices starting at $99 per month, it’s an affordable and effective option for campaign managing and reporting.

raven tools

Raven Tools offers more than a dashboard; you’ll get SEO scores, problem areas, and more.

#2: Tie in Facebook Metrics

With Facebook, monitor your page impressions, fan count, new fans, and overall clicks, shares, likes, and comments. Also look at your average daily engagement rate and your most engaging posts.

Add these Facebook insights to your dashboard: overview, engagement rate, and highest engagement. Here’s an example of what your Facebook dashboard might look like:

facebook dashboard

Focus your Facebook dashboard on engagement to find out what content is working.

#3: Include Twitter Metrics

If you’re using Twitter, be sure to monitor your total number of followers, following, and tweets. Also track your average daily retweets, replies, mentions, and likes, and your most engaging tweets.

Add these Twitter insights to your dashboard: overview, engagement, and highest engagement. Here’s an example of what your Twitter dashboard might look like:

twitter dashboard

Look at the engagement level for your Twitter content using this type of dashboard.

#4: Set Up Pinterest Metrics

For Pinterest performance, you’ll want to monitor engagement rate by board, best-performing pins, and overall engagement rate. Also track total repins, likes, and comments, and the total number of followers, boards, pins, repins, likes, and comments.

Add these Pinterest insights to your dashboard: overview, engagement, engagement rate, best-performing pins, and engagement rate by board. Here’s an example of what your Pinterest dashboard might look like:

pinterest dashboard

Focus your Pinterest dashboard on the performance of your pins and boards.

#5: Connect Instagram Metrics

For Instagram performance, monitor your total number of followers, following, and posts. Also track your total number of likes and comments, most engaging grams, and (potentially) your most engaging hashtags.

Add these Instagram insights to your dashboard: overview, engagement, highest engagement, and hashtag leaderboard. Here’s an example of what your Instagram dashboard might look like:

instagram dashboard

Monitor the engagement of your Instagram content and your top hashtags.

#6: Incorporate LinkedIn Metrics

For LinkedIn performance, keep these metrics on your radar: your overall engagement rate, most engaging posts, and total likes, comments, shares, and clicks.

Add these LinkedIn insights to your dashboard: total followers, engagement, engagement rate, and updates with the highest engagement. Here’s an example of what your LinkedIn dashboard might look like:

linkedin dashboard

Keep tabs on the performance of your LinkedIn content with this dashboard.

#7: Integrate Google Analytics

With Google Analytics, keep an eye on your total sessions, top pages by sessions, top sources by medium, and top referrers. If you’re more advanced and have set up goals within Google Analytics, track goal performance as well.

Add these Google Analytics insights to your dashboard: total sessions, top sources by medium, top pages, all traffic, goals comparison, and goal performance. Here’s an example of what your Google Analytics dashboard might look like:

google analytics dashboard

Monitor the performance of all of your content by seeing how it’s impacting traffic to your website or blog.

#8: Integrate Email Marketing Metrics

If you’re measuring your email marketing performance, keep an eye on your email open and click rates, as well as the health of your email list(s).

Add these email marketing insights to your dashboard: engagement (last 30 emails), engagement by list, list health, and health by list. Here’s an example of what your email marketing dashboard might look like:

email dashboard

Get a quick look at your email performance to see what content is engaging your subscribers.

Conclusion

Dashboards come in many shapes and sizes, which makes them perfect for marketers under time pressure who need to manage multiple accounts. Plus, dashboards are a great way to keep a finger on the pulse of your marketing channels.

Whether you’re working alone or as part of a larger marketing team, dashboards help you get more done and improve your marketing efforts. It’s all about finding the right tool for the job.

Build a Data-Driven Content Strategy

Build a Data-Driven Content Strategy by Yourself, for Free, in 1 Day

Content-Marketing-Dan-McGaw-Cover
You can have a solid content strategy up and running in a day. OR, you could trade it all for what’s in this box.

Content marketing isn’t the next big thing. It’s here, it’s happening now, and if you aren’t using content to grow your audience, you’re losing them to competitors who are.

But building a content strategy is a ton of work, particularly if you’re a small team – perhaps even a team of one. Right?

Dan McGaw doesn’t think so. In his recent Unwebinar, The Facts & Fairytales of Conversion-Driven Content, he outlines a detailed framework for building a content strategy in little more than half an hour.

And he has the results to prove that it works: it’s the same strategy that he and his agency Effin Amazing employed to increase ChupaMobile’s organic traffic by 19%, and revenue by 38%.

It can be done by a single person in just one day, all with free tools from Google and a bit of research.

It all starts with finding out what people are already looking for.

Use Google Keyword Planner to assess demand for content

One of the “fairy tales of content marketing” that Dan described is that producing content is an art that is informed primarily by gut instinct. But as Dan put it:

If no one is looking for your content, no one will read the content you write.

So how do you write the kinds of content that your target audience is looking for?

Google’s Keyword Planner is a powerful go-to tool for pay-per-click marketers, who use it to measure search volume for specific keywords and plan their campaigns. But it’s not only useful for PPC. Dan explained that it can be used to learn what kinds of content your prospective audience is demanding in just a few simple steps:

  1. Enter keywords relating to your product and industry. This includes the names of competitors or types of services that might overlap with yours.
  2. Create a list of the highest-volume keywords. Google will let you know the monthly average searches for every term you search. Depending on how niche your subject matter is, what constitutes an acceptable level of traffic will vary, but Dan sets the threshold for content that people care about at 10,000 monthly searches minimum.These high-volume keywords form the core of your content direction, since it’s the type of content that your audience is likely to search for.
  3. Generate keyword ideas based on the highest-volume keywords. Take the list of high-volume keywords you created and enter them into the Keyword Planner under Search for new keywords using a phrase, website, or category. Google will use its omniscient cloudmind to discover related keywords and hand them back to you.

Working these keywords into your content will be critical for generating organic traffic. But the research doesn’t end here; the keywords are just the key.

Generate even more keywords with predictive search results

Now that you have your list of totally-targetable keywords, it’s time to check out the competitive landscape with some good old Googling. But make sure you’re using Incognito mode, or whatever your browser’s private browsing mode is called: Google personalizes search results based on your history, and you don’t want that interfering with your research.

You can then start performing searches of your keyword list, and you’ll realize something wonderful happens: Google will tell you exactly how people are phrasing their searches by displaying the most popular searches as recommendations.

dan-mcgaw

This is the information that will inform you on what specific subjects people are interested in. After all, “analytics” is just a keyword, but “how to add google analytics to WordPress” is nearly a fully-formed post idea.

Plus, knowing exactly what people are searching for will also let you know exactly what they find.

Content audit your competitors

This is one of the most time-consuming aspects of crafting your content strategy, but it’s also one of the most important. If you don’t know what your competitors are doing, how can you out-do them?

Dan suggests performing searches using your list of keywords and the recommended search phrases, and take note of what pieces of content appear on the first page of results. Then:

  • Read the three most recent articles on the first page. You’re likely to see articles that are anywhere from a few months to many years old. Focus on the most recent ones.
  • Write down three things that suck about each of them. And that doesn’t mean poor formatting or ugly images (though those are important to get right). This is not about being self-congratulatory, but about finding opportunities to capitalize on. If there’s some crucial fact or brilliant revelation missing from your competitors’ content, you want it to be in yours.
  • Then write down three ways your content piece could be better. This can be elaborating on a subject that your competitors glazed over, introducing a new bombshell piece of information, or experimenting with formatting in a way that makes content more engaging.

But you don’t have to stop here. By combining your keyword research with defined goals based on your audience’s needs, you can extrapolate your keyword research into even more content ideas.

Create new content ideas based on your keyword research

These are the tactics that Effin Amazing used when they took on client ChupaMobile, a marketplace for app templates that can be re-skinned and released as new apps. Ultimately, they formed four core blog topics addressing the wants and needs of their audience:

  • Hiring a mobile developer
  • How to launch a mobile app
  • How to make money from apps
  • Building apps with no code

And with the knowledge of both the highest volume keywords and the specific phrases used to search those keywords, they were able to create a series of blog post ideas addressing exactly the questions people were searching for.

Dan-McGaw-Blog-Post-Ideas

And you can do the same.

Combining all of the previous research you’ve done, you’ll now have both a clear list of both which existing pieces of content you need to compete with and what types of new content to create to attract your target audience.

Converting through content, via landing pages

Once you’re growing traffic through smart content production, what do you do with it? Is there a clear pathway from your content to conversion?

Dan recommends an approach we also use here at Unbounce: designating a specific piece of gated content (like an ebook) per post, building a landing page for each, and directing to those landing pages with various calls to action in each post, like at the end of the post or with an exit intent overlay.

Dan-McGaw-CTA

It’s not about exerting pressure, but about creating an opportunity. If you don’t ask, you cannot receive. Create great content, link to relevant “content upgrades” with dedicated landing pages, and nurture the leads you collect from said content. (You can learn more about the nurturing part in the full webinar.)

5 Surefire Ways to Increase Customer Engagement on Your Company Facebook Page

Facebook engagement

 

With approximately 900 million unique visitors every month, Facebook is the undisputed king of social media sites. (For comparison, Twitter only gets about 310 million visitors every month.)

So of course you’ve heard that Facebook is vital to your marketing and business success. After all, anyone can create a Facebook page for their business, and dream about engaging millions of fans on their new page.

But, not everyone can engage their customers and establish real relationships with their audience. Creating a Facebook page that inspires and engages readers can seem daunting, even impossible.

So how do you actually establish relationships and actively interact with your audience – and your customers – on Facebook? Here are five tips you can use to strengthen and build customer engagement on your Facebook page.

Tip#1: Don’t Blatantly Advertise – Offer Great Content Instead

Social media marketing is unique in that it allows real discussions to develop between you and your customers. However, there are businesses who treat their Facebook pages like print ads in the local phone book.

Let’s get something straight: Social media is no place for advertisements, at least not in the traditional sense. No one is going to be interested if your status update says “Buy (your service or product) here.” In fact, many potential customers will lose interest in your company the moment they think that you’re trying to sell them something.

Instead, build your Facebook engagement by focusing on providing valuable, useful, or entertaining content in the form of images, memes, how-to’s, links to blog posts, interactives, infographics, etc. This is actually not that difficult to do. Simply ask yourself what the your audience wants, and then try to fill that need.

Take the home automation company Vivint, for example. Their Facebook page is filled with links to articles such as “5 Steps to Protect your Identity,” and “Community Service: 4 Ways to Give Back.”

Facebook engagementThis kind of content addresses customer needs and interests, and thus is valuable and appreciated.

Should you also try to sneak in some mention of your product or service while you do so? Sure. It’s your company’s Facebook page. But avoid posting content that only talks about your product or services. And only do it if your product or service is actually related to whatever you’re sharing.

Bottom line: If you can provide great content, then your customers will be interested enough to seek you out; you won’t have to go looking for them.

Tip#2: Post Engaging Content Consistently

Creating an engagement on your Facebook page isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon. Actually, that metaphor falls short because even marathons eventually end. When it comes to customer engagement over social media, there is no finish line. At no point can you sit back and say, “Done!”

Every amazing piece of content that you post is only a precursor to the next amazing piece of content, which is (hopefully) already in the works.

Facebook posts are temporary things, and within a few days (or even hours), they will have gotten buried under newer posts. They’ll no longer appear on the newsfeed, so you need to post frequently, and you need to be timely and relevant with those posts.

Facebook engagementOld Spice somehow manages to deliver fun and interesting images and other content almost every day, and the fact that they have over 2.5 million likes shows just how successful their consistent posting is. They’ve established themselves as kings of quirky humor advertising, and posting funny content consistently is one way they have stayed actively engaged with their customers.

Tip#3: Create Shareable Content

The end goal of your Facebook engagement campaign isn’t for you to reach your customer with your unique content; the goal is for your customers to reach each other with your unique content by sharing and reposting it. When this begins to happen exponentially – which is to say that every new person who sees your content shares it several more times – then your post has gone “viral.”

A piece of viral content is the holy grail of content marketing: it provides maximum exposure at a minimum of effort.

If you really want your readers to share your article or post, make sharing effortless for them. Include social sharing buttons along with your content, and customize your sharing buttons for your audience. This way, your customer’s ability to share your content will only be a click away.

Facebook engagement

Tip#4: Respond to Customer Comments, Both Positive and Negative

Many people – both companies and entrepreneurs – tend to dread public customer interaction. They’re afraid that if they allow viewers to comment directly on posts, then those viewers will address potential problems or create negative publicity. And guess what? They’re absolutely right; that does happen.

However, customer interaction isn’t a bad thing. When customers come to you with their problems, it puts you in a unique position to solve those problems and to retain the offended customer.

At the same time, responding to comments and creating a conversation is a great way to establish a strong customer relationship, and will also lead to valuable product feedback. Make sure to always keep your interactions respectful and appropriate. More than one business has seen its reputation crumble after engaging in an online flame war with an angry customer.

Just look at Amy’s Baking Company. After a May 2013 episode of Gordon Ramsey’s Kitchen Nightmares cast the restaurant in a negative light, their Facebook page was attacked with criticism. The owners responded by going completely insane and attacking their attackers, comment for agonizing comment. The end result is that even a year later, their Facebook page is literally filled with negative comments by viewers.

Tip#5: Host Awesome Contests and Giveaways

As ironic as it is, people are generally willing to put in a surprising amount of effort in order to get free stuff. Use this knowledge to your advantage, and offer contests and sweepstakes through your Facebook page.

The simplest way to go about doing this is to offer a prize, and have the entry requirement be nothing more than a like and a share. However, it never hurts to get your audience a bit more involved. Consider posting an image and holding a caption contest, or asking for the best personal experiences from customers who’ve used your product or service.

Facebook engagementEggo waffles saw amazing success with a contest that it hosted in which viewers could submit their own waffle recipes for a chance to win $5,000. When customers see that you’re willing to pay them back for their interaction, then they’ll be more eager to check your page regularly for updates.

Ready, Set, Engage!

When it comes down to it, having a Facebook page is not enough to reach your customers. You can build a Facebook audience that interacts with your brand, but you’ve got to go one step further than just existing on Facebook.

Give your audience a reason to engage with you and your brand by creating shareable content with your customers in mind, responding to your customers’ questions, concerns, or reviews, and hosting giveaways to engage your customers.

How have you increased customer engagement over Facebook? Share your success stories in the comments below!

About Alex Moscow

Alex is the owner of 9mm Public Relations, a boutique consultancy that helps the owners of B2B businesses to build profile, pipeline and profits. By helping his clients to demonstrate the value of their skills, knowledge and expertise, he’s helped build pipeline worth hundreds of thousands of pounds. Alex has published 3 eBooks aimed at helping business owners to generate media coverage for free, develop killer case studies that attract more leads and create persuasive presentations that pull prospects to their business.

Home Page Content for Conversion

The Ultimate Guide to Fixing Your Conversion-Killing Homepage

Written by Neil Patel on October 24, 2015

homepage

The heart of your site is the homepage. It’s the gateway to every other page. It stands to reason that mistakes on this page can kill your conversion rate.

When people search for specific keywords on a search engine, they’re essentially looking for the right information, and they want it fast.

Yet, a statistic shared by Crazy Egg revealed that 63% of marketers optimize sites based on their intuition, not on tried-and-tested best practices.

In the past, having an attractive site was all that you needed. But, today we’re playing a far different game. These days, your homepage must convert visitors into customers.

That’s why more marketers are paying attention to homepage optimization in order to increase conversion rates. According to a 2012 research by Econsultancy, a paltry 22% of marketers are satisfied with their current conversion rate.

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Getting visitors to your site is relatively easy compared to converting them into customers. Yet, Eisenberg Holdings found that companies typically spend $92 to bring customers to their site for every $1 spent on converting them.

What does all this mean? In a nutshell, it’s crucial to optimize your homepage and stop killing your conversions through neglect or ignorance.

Is your home page cluttered with unnecessary elements? Check out these 7 homepage mistakes you need to avoid in order to improve your conversion rate.

If you’re wondering how to improve your conversion rate, look out for these 7 homepage mistakes and avoid them at all costs. 

Mistake #1:  Adding Company News to the Homepage

Keeping your audience informed about recent developments in your business will further increase the trust they have in you.

Company news items help attract investors and customers. According to etoro, business news is critical because it can influence your market.

Do you know why CNN reaches over 7.5 million people and generates millions of pageviews each month?

Well, one of the main reasons is that CNN is adept at giving the latest information about entertainment, politics and business, both locally and at the international level.

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So, without a doubt, company news is important. But, it shouldn’t be on your homepage.

A lot of software companies give updates on a regular basis, but they do it through their blogs. A typical example is Evernote. Each time a new feature gets added to its software, the company announces it on the Evernote blog.

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Evernote also have a navigational menu item for “news,” but it doesn’t display news on the homepage.

Why not? Simple: because homepage news items can kill conversions.

Imagine a potential customer visits your site, intending to subscribe to your email list or buy your product. But, when they arrive on the homepage, they find only your company news blurbs.

Of course, your company news may interest or even excite them, but that won’t matter. Why? Because the primary purpose of your business is to consistently attract customers and increase revenue – not to get people interested in your news.

On your site homepage, you want to eliminate distractions – even seemingly benign ones. If you’ve built an active community around your blog, then share your company news as a blog post or create a new landing page for it.

Your homepage should be professional and aimed at leading visitors straight into your funnel. Myemma.com, an email marketing software company, understands how to create a clean, focused homepage, the sole objective of which is to get you to click the “Request a tour” button.

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Mistake #2: Cluttered Homepage With Unnecessary Text and Images

A research study by Kinesisinc found that 75% of your site visitors form judgments about your business based on your site design and 94% of a user’s first impression of your business is design-related.

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With that in mind, it’s high time you declutter your homepage. Having too much text and too many images on your homepage can actually hurt your conversion rate.

The question then becomes: “How much is too much?”

According to NNGroup study, cutting the words on your page by half causes a 58% rise in usability. In other words, concise web copy helps optimize your page for conversions.

Admittedly, there’s some professional disagreement about this point among copywriters. While some people believe that “short and sweet” copy converts better, others believe that the more copy a page has, the better your odds of converting a visitor into a customer.

The reality is that both sides have a point. When it comes to your homepage, you have to make sure that there’s enough text so that search engine spiders can index it. But, too much text distracts your visitors from the core goal.

On your homepage, you’ve got to consider your site visitors above all else. Giving them a great experience should be your top priority. Make sure that your most important text is placed above-the-fold, because 80% of site visitors spend most of their time on that section.

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In addition to clearing your homepage of superfluous text and images, you should also avoid advertising that will only compete for your visitor’s attention.

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Use only relevant images and make sure that they help you convey your homepage message more effectively, instead of distracting viewers from the page’s purpose. Remember, your visitors are human and their brains process visual information 60,000x faster than plain text.

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When do images overpower the homepage? There’s no hard and fast rule, but the moment your image begins to compete with or draw attention from your headline, subtitle, bullet points or the solution that your product provides, it’s time to pull back a bit.

Chris Ducker understands how to combine compelling copy and trust-building images on his homepage, without coming off as overly promotional.

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Why is Chris’ homepage so effective? I believe he’s doing a lot of things right. As a renowned blogger, his authority also plays an important role. But, the most striking element on this homepage is the human picture.

After conducting a series of tests, Highrise discovered that a background image of a customer performed better than a white background and increased conversion rate by 102.5%.

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Images of happy people build trust.  Websites with images that include facial features or characteristics are more positively received than images without recognizable facial features.

It’s no longer a surprise that many brands use pictures of people on their homepage to build that initial relatable impression. But, the images should be relevant to the product/service and the outcome. For example, Freshbooks has successfully blended human images and text on this page:

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Although I haven’t been using my personal picture on my homepage – just in my sidebar – I’ve seen successful digital marketers use this approach for a long time.

Noah Kagan, founder of AppSumo and OkDork, understands how to streamline and build trust with his personal picture, a striking headline and a compelling opt-in box:

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What’s the right size for your homepage image? What’s the optimal amount of copy for your homepage? There’s only one way to find out for sure and that’s by conducting split testing.

Mistake #3:  Too Many Calls-to-Action on the Homepage

Are you making it easy for your customers to move from Point A to Point B? I strongly believe that you should pay adequate attention to this one objective on your homepage.

Out of the 200 small business websites evaluated by Online Marketing Coach in 2013, 70% failed to display any clear calls-to-action on their homepages. Only 47% of websites displayed a clear call-to-action button that took users 3 seconds or less to spot.

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The easier and more quickly your customers can find exactly what they’re looking for on your site, the more readily you’re providing them immense value.

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Too many calls-to-action on your homepage can kill your conversions. That’s because presenting too many options leads to customer paralysis.

Your CTA is the tipping point between bounce and conversion. In other words, your CTA will lead visitors either into your funnel or off your site entirely.

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Get to know your customers and what they want. That’s the simple way to avoid choice paralysis. Are your target audience members beginners or are they more experienced? Have they purchased from you in the past or are they predominantly fresh leads?

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What exactly do you want your customers/site visitors to do when they get to your homepage? Should they try your free demo or view your special pricing plans? Do you want them to purchase your product right off the bat, or would you rather they subscribe to your email list first?

Remember that when it comes to converting customers, the secret to more sales and repeat purchases is as simple as understanding exactly what your customers want and giving it to them.Dr. Robert Cialdini, Professor of Psychology at Arizona State University, published a research study on customer paralysis. The study examined the donation process of the American Cancer Society.  Specifically, he looked at how a minute change delivered a terrific result.

The research revealed the importance of analyzing why people say “no” to offers.

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What was the result of the study?

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In the same vein, too many calls-to-action on your homepage will dilute your page’s effectiveness. Dayne Shuda says that too many buttons vying for your user’s attention will actually discourage them from making any choice at all.

It can also make your visitors unhappy, because you’ve failed to meet their needs. Oddly enough, too many choices leaves your customers feeling stranded and they’ll end up doing nothing.

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Of course, you can have the same CTA appear a few times on your homepage, if it’s a long one. But, you should never confuse people with several CTAs like this:

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Xero is a popular accounting software tool, but its homepage is a little cluttered. Yes, hundreds of accountants trust Xero because it’s an effective, amazing tool that makes life easier for them.

However, if you’re just starting out or you haven’t built a strong brand for your business, your homepage should be simple, clear and direct, with a single major call-to-action. Here’s an example from Instapage:

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When you use a call-to-action on your homepage, make sure that you tell users what they’ll get. When they can visualize and expect a specific type of value, they’re more likely to click the CTA button.

A typical example is Skype. You get to download Skype and nothing more.

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Avoid using generic calls-to-action on your homepage. For instance, instead of using “submit,” change the text on your button to something more compelling.

Clearbooks uses the phrase “take a tour” on its CTA to encourage prospects to click.

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Reckon tells the user that the introductory video will only last 1 minute. When the button is clicked, the customer gets to watch the 1 minute video before moving on.

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Remember that the location of your call-to-action matters. You may want to split test a few options – right side vs. left side, above-the-fold vs. below.

Again, there’s no single rule that’s set in stone. The CTA that works for me may not work for you. That’s why split testing is the only way to ascertain what works and what hurts.

Mistake #4:  Not Giving Your Blog Priority

87% of organic search results are blog posts and 70% of the links users click on are organic results, not paid. Search engines love blogs more than a static website.

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If you’re not giving your blog priority on the homepage, then you’re making a big mistake. In my experience, it’s very difficult (if not impossible) to build an active community around your site without a frequently-updated blog.

Blogging is an indispensable tool for every business. Whether you’re a B2B or B2C marketer, you can blog your way to more leads, more brand recognition and more sales. Statistics show that B2C companies that blog, for example, generate 88% more leads per month than those that don’t.

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Other forms of inbound marketing – social media marketing, for example – can be very effective, too, but, ultimatel,y blogging is more cost-effective. In fact, a majority of content marketers who were surveyed reported that blog leads are cheaper than social media and SEO combined.

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Through blogging, a company can establish trust with potential customers. I successfully grew several software companies with my partner Hiten Shah over the last decade through blogging. By blogging consistently, we’ve generated over 800,000,000 wallet-out leads, both to our own sites and to those of our clients.

I’ve also worked with Gawker Media to grow its traffic to 5 million within 6 months. I’m not saying this to brag, but to help you understand just how powerful blogging is and what it can do for your own business.

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Don’t make the mistake of hiding your blog link on your homepage. It’s so frustrating when you’re excited about a brand and eagerly visit its homepage – only to search in vain for a navigational link to the brand’s blog. If a user has to scroll to the footer section to find the blog link, you’re undoubtedly losing valuable leads.

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Site visitors and customers should be able to find your blog easily on your homepage.

That’s one thing that differentiates Shopify from other SaaS companies – it puts a lot of emphasis on blogging. That’s because the company knows that blogging is a major factor in its success.

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No matter what product you’re offering for sale, buyers have to make the decision to buy. On the internet, these buyers may have never heard of you before. Yet, even then your blog content can speak for you. If you invest in creating useful content, you’ll find potential customers taking the right actions, based on your blog articles alone.

According to See Why, 99% of prospects won’t buy on their first visit to your site. 75% of them may intend to come back, but if you don’t have a blog where you publish useful and interesting content regularly, how do you nurture these people and give them a strong reason to come back for more?

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Blog articles can heavily influence many aspects of the purchasing decision. So give your blog the attention and focus it deserves.

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Marcus Sheridan was once a drowning pool guy (pun intended). He owned a fiberglass swimming pool company that was struggling to attract clients and increase revenue.

When Marcus discovered the immense power of blogging, he embraced it. He began to create useful articles answering the questions that potential customers were asking. He also made sure that his blog was highly visible in the navigational menu bar.

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Interestingly, Marcus researched and wrote a blog post that became so popular, it wound up generating $2 million in sales for the company. The blog post is titled “How Much Does a Fiberglass Pool Cost?

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It may seem like a simple article, especially when compared to the 3000+-word articles I publish here. But, this article helped a lot of people. It answered their questions. And, ultimately, it helped them decide whether to get a fiberglass pool or not.

Writing an in-depth article can help search engines discover, index and rank your content page for several long-tail keywords, but that doesn’t mean you should put length first and quality second.

On the contrary, focus on giving people answers to their questions. Look at experts like Seth Godin. He’s a prolific writer with over 20 bestselling books. But, most of his viral blog posts aren’t more than 100 words. Here’s an example:

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When you make your blog a priority, it means that you can get feedback from your customers. According to Seth Godin,

Taking feedback doesn’t have to be the same thing as resolving feedback.

Collecting feedback in the form of questions, complaints and suggestions is crucial to your business. You may not resolve all of those issues at once, but it’ll give you a direction to follow when you create your content.In their book, Problogger: Secrets for Blogging Your Way To Six Figure Income, authors Darren Rowse and Chris Garrett said that the secret to building a strong brand online is not advertising, but rather community building through a blog.

Blogging goes beyond writing. Your content has to be strategic, so that it can lead visitors into your funnel, make them aware of the problems/challenges they’re going through, build their interest, help them evaluate what they want and get them to buy. That’s the true essence of blogging.

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A lot of people have used blogging to build their businesses. For example, Alborz Fallah makes over $100,000 monthly from his Car Advice blog. He updates his blog on a daily basis. Over time, investors were drawn to his brand, resulting in sponsorship deals worth $30,000 per month.

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Canva, a graphic design software company, saw a 226% increase in site traffic by combining blogging, email outreach and social media.

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Since 75% of internet users typically avoid paid search results, focus on blogging because that would earn you a spot in the organic listings easily.

If your homepage is static, like mine, then you’ve got to make your blog prominent. Don’t hide it in a single drop-down menu that your visitors will have to hunt to find.

Blogging experts such as Yaro Starak, David Risley, Brian Clark, Michael Stelzner, Pat Flynn and several others earn sizable incomes through blogging.

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Do you know why their blogs receive thousands of visitors on a daily basis? Obviously, it’s because they have valuable content that’s updated regularly. But also, it’s because either their homepage is a blog or because they make their blogs highly visible on the homepage.

Mistake #5:  Homepage That Loads Very Slowly

How fast is your site homepage? If your page is slow to load, it’ll hurt your conversions. Even Google recognizes site speed is important to users and is on a mission to make the web faster.

Recent statistics found that 51% of online shoppers in the U.S. say that site slowness is the core reason they’d abandon a purchase.

A study by Beta Out found that 67.45% of shopping carts end up abandoned, for one reason or another.

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Does your site load quickly or is it as slow as a snail? Google is obsessed with site speed for one simple reason: because your users are, too. In truth, Google will always follow your user’s behavior, because users are the reason why search engines exist.

Google has made it clear that it’s using site speed as a web ranking factor – although it won’t weigh as much as the page’s relevance.

According to KISSmetrics, a delay of even a single second in a page’s load time can lead to a 7% reduction in conversions. What does that mean in concrete terms? Well, if an e-commerce site is bringing in $100,000 a day in sales, that 1-second delay could potentially cost the site $2.5 million in lost sales annually.

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So, the bottom line is to make your site load up insanely fast and ensure that your content is relevant to your users.

So, how do you find out your homepage’s load time?

Follow these simple steps:

Step #1: Go to Pingdom Website Speed Test Tool. Plug in your site URL (e.g., mindtools.com) and click the “Test Now” button:

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Step #2: Analyze your site load time. Although the tool checks the speed of your site, not just the homepage, this will still give you an idea about whether or not you need to work on your site speed.

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From the screenshot above, you can see that the load time for Mindtools.com is 1.30 seconds. This is great, because the average load time is 2 seconds. That’s important to know, because the average user’s attention span is 8 seconds – that’s 1 second less than that of a goldfish.

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Do you know what slows a site down? According to Econsultancy, here are some of the more common offenders:

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Once you’re able to fix these problems, your site speed should greatly improve and so will your revenue.

For example, a major young adult retailer had a conversion rate of 7% and a site load time of 6 seconds. By decreasing the load time to two seconds, the retailer increased its conversion rate to 8.3%, corresponding to nearly $3.5 million in sales.It could be that your homepage isn’t converting visitors into buyers because it doesn’t load quickly. Consequently, potential customers click the back button without thinking.

If your homepage load time exceeds 2-3 seconds, use the resources below to improve it:

Mistake #6:  Autoplay Audio or Video Content

Audio and video on your homepage can increase your conversions. If you want to stop telling weak stories and begin to influence buying decisions, podcasts or video marketing could help.

In this age of intense competition, you can use podcasts or videos on your homepage to create an even stronger impression on your users, the way Switch Video does. Take a look:

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Podcasting, which is basically a recurring format of audio content, is growing rapidly and marketers are embracing it. According to Kapost, “a podcast is more like a TV show that offers a weekly reason for listeners to come back and allows hosts to break content up into key talking points to expand on throughout the show.”

Recent statistics tell us that while only 3% of marketers currently use podcasting in their marketing plans, over 30% have a desire to learn how to create podcasts. What’s more, 23% have plans to increase their podcasting efforts in the coming year. And, 17% of U.S. adults have listened to a podcast in the past month.

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But while video and audio are highly effective marketing tools, you’ve got to be careful how and where you use them.

Have you ever visited a homepage only to hear sound playing seemingly from nowhere? If so, then you know how distracting and even annoying this can be. If your user has loaded several tabs in their browser window, it can be a mad hunt to find which tab is responsible for the autoplaying video or audio file.

It annoys customers, because they hate it when decisions are made on their behalf. Your customers want to make decisions themselves. The choice of playing a video, audio or any media clip is theirs. That’s why autoplay audio or video can kill your conversions.

Podcast experts such as John Lee Dumas, James Shramko and others produce a lot of audio and video content. But, they make sure that if users want to see the video or listen to the audio, they have to click the play button.

Getresponse uses an introductory video on its homepage, but it allows users to play it. There is no need to autoplay and annoy users.

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Some people might argue that autoplay doesn’t annoy site visitors. Even if some visitors don’t mind, enough will that it’s simply not worth the risk.

YouTube has an autoplay feature as well. On the right side, you can set the Autoplay feature to “off” before you embed the video on your page.

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That also will take effect the next time you visit YouTube while you’re logged in to your account – the videos will no longer autoplay and you’ll have to click the play button.

Most marketers prefer to use video on their homepage, which means that you could stand out if you start using a podcast. Apple has surpassed 1 billion subscriptions for podcasts and that figure is only growing.

Sites like Powtoon use explanatory video on the homepages without enabling autoplay.

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Bottom line: give users the control over the video they watch and the podcast (audio clip) they choose to listen to.

Mistake #7:  Poorly Designed or Overlapping Navigation Elements

Your navigation is your user’s gateway to all of the important pages on your site.

And, as a result, when you fail to optimize your navigation menu correctly, your conversion rate suffers. Even the most stylish navigation menu won’t help if it doesn’t appeal to the user.

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Everything about your website is connected to and affected by the navigation.

First and foremost, your visitors expect to find horizontal navigation across the top or vertical navigation down the left side. So, don’t put your navigation menu anywhere else. Non-standard locations may showcase your creativity, but they’ll frustrate and annoy your users.

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Drop-down menus are also annoying, according to usability studies from NN Group. The reason why most people hate drop-down menus is because they’re typically designed for the site owner’s convenience, rather than user experience.

Keep user psychology and behavior in mind when you’re creating your site’s navigation and layout. You might expect your users will move the mouse more than they move their eyes. But, in reality, it’s the other way around – users move the eye more than the mouse.

An overlapping navigation menu simply means any navigation menu that interferes with your content. A drop-down menu obscures your content, which is why you should avoid it if you want to make the right impact and boost your conversions.

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Amazon, Ebay and other top shopping brands may have tons of items on their navigation menus, but you shouldn’t. They can survive because most people already trust those brands. No matter how awkward or overwhelming their navigation options might be, consumers will continue to use them.

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As with so much that we’ve already discussed, there’s no single hard-and-fast rule about the size and scope of your navigation menu. However, a good rule of thumb is to restrict your menu to 4 – 6 items. This usually converts fairly well for most sites and blogs.

Whenever you remove an item from your navigation bar, the remaining items become more prominent and you’ll reduce the risk of overlap with your content. I have 5 items on my navigation menu bar. Take a look:

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On my authority blog, I allowed 6 items on my navigation menu bar. One of the reasons why is because I want to emphasize the QuickSprout University and consulting service pages. Otherwise, I would remove both items, making the rest more visible.

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My favorite navigation menu is the one on Social Triggers. Derek Halpern is a highly skilled blogger who runs a 6-figure software company that helps internet marketers create and launch an online course.

Looking at his navigation menu items, you’ll notice that he included only the 2 most important items: Blog and About pages. Other menu items, such as contact and careers pages, are hidden inside the “menu” tab.

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Derek understands the power of blogging. He makes his blog prominent on the homepage. The reality is that he doesn’t want new visitors to do anything other than to subscribe to his email list, get to know him or read his blog.

In addition to limiting the number of menu items, your navigation should also be clear, simple and blended well with your template or WordPress theme. A perfect example of a professional navigation menu with all these characteristics is Marieforleo.com:

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Note that the order of your menu items matters. For visibility and a higher click-through rate, you should put your most important items at the beginning of the navigation and the least important items following thereafter.

“Contact” and “Careers” probably should be the last items on the list – not because they’re unimportant, but because new visitors to your site may not want to contact you or apply for a job right off the bat.

So, put the least important items at the far right in top-level horizontal navigation.

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Conclusion

In order to increase your conversion rate, then you must split test your homepage elements such as headlines, call-to-action, subtitles, videos, navigation menu, etc.

If you study your Google Analytics properly, you’ll notice that your homepage receives more traffic than other pages. It’s true for QuickSprout.com and NeilPatel.com – it’s true for just about every site.

This means that you should pay more attention to your homepage optimization.

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An effective marketing campaign is one that puts the user’s needs at the forefront and proves you can meet those needs.

Your homepage must be designed for the user, not for aesthetics. When users come to your site, they may have been enticed by your design, but if they don’t find what they need and want, they’ll leave.

For Google, user experience (satisfaction) is the #1 ranking factor. If your site can provide a top notch experience for the users, no matter how they came to your site (SEO, referral, social media, advertising, etc.), you’ll begin to see a rise in organic traffic, an increase in sales and growth in your customer base.

So where do you go from here? Simple: design your homepage for the user and consistently create useful and interesting content that will address their needs and nurture a relationship.

Which of these homepage mistakes have you made in the past? Did you notice a drop in your conversion rate?

 

Link Development & Content Marketing: Why, When and How?

Lead Development and Content Marketing
   March 15, 2016 Link Building

It’s a well known fact that acquiring high quality, relevant links to your website is an important part of an SEO strategy. But, what about your content marketing strategy? Does building links belong there as well? The answer is, yes! Content and links can’t function without one another. Links are the way people share and find content; together they make up the entire internet.

Despite its importance, link development is often a forgotten component of a content marketing strategy. Having a plan to acquire high quality, relevant links to your content has never been more important than now. According to Content Marketing Institute’s annual research, 50% of B2C marketers say they will increase their content marketing budget in 2016, compared to 51% of B2B marketers who said the same. Meaning, there will be even more high quality content created in the year to come.

So, how can you set your content apart?

One way to boost your content’s authority is through link-building. Link building, put simply, is the process of acquiring links from external websites to your site. Links are votes of popularity from one site to another; they’re indicators to search engines that someone has found something of value on your site. Something valuable enough to link to it.

Why acquire links?

If you’re still unsure whether developing a plan for link acquisition is right for your content marketing strategy, take a look at the possible benefits that links can have:

Links can increase organic traffic and referral conversions.

By creating more ways for visitors to access your content, you increase your odds of potential leads finding you. By tracking referral data in Google Analytics, you can cross reference the links that you’ve built with sources of referral traffic to identify which links are driving the most traffic and conversions for your business.

The graph below shows the impact that one link can have on your traffic and conversions. In this example, we built a link for a client on a reputable news source within an article that was extremely relevant to our client’s site. This one link was able to drive 128 new visitors, and 10 conversions over the course of a few months time.

 

Google Referral Traffic

Manual outreach can help to gain insight and feedback.

Through manual link outreach, you are often starting conversations with others in your industry. It’s amazing what people will tell you about your content if you ask, sometimes even when you don’t. If you can identify common objections to your link outreach, you can also identify possible issues with your content.

It’s amazing what people will tell you about your content if you ask.
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Sometimes a small improvement can create superior content. For example, if one of the common objections to your outreach is that your content is “too promotional or branded,” it might be as simple as changing your call to action, or toning down mentions of your brand within the content. Try to track feedback you receive during link outreach as it can be of value to the the continuous improvement of your content.  This can be done simply by keeping a spreadsheet of suggestions and feedback you receive during outreach, or making a separate folder in your inbox for responses that could be helpful.

Links can boost your content’s rankings

It’s a common goal in both SEO and content marketing to have content rank highly in the SERPs for intended keywords or search queries. In a recent study by Backlinko, 1 million search results were analyzed to measure correlating factors for first page rankings. Their findings supported that the number of linking domains to a page positively correlated with its rankings, meaning that increasing the number of authoritative referring domains to your site can positively impact your rankings.

Ranking and Referring Domain Comparison

Source: Backlinko

The key word here is authoritative. Google’s Penguin algorithm update worked to discount spammy, unnatural links, making it harder for black hat SEO’s to abuse link-building through unnatural tactics. This is a great thing for those of us acquiring links the right way, however, it makes having a strategy for link development even more important.

Won’t content just earn links?

Link earning is a very similar term to link-building, however, link earning differs in its assumption that if your content deserves links, it will earn links naturally. Yes, high quality content on it’s own will gain some backlink momentum, but there is still a need to promote and distribute content, especially if your site is newer.

You can’t assume that just because people are sharing or engaging with your content that it will also get links. BuzzSumo and Moz paired up to analyze the links of 750,000 well-shared posts. They found that 50% of those well-shared posts had zero external backlinks. This implies that it’s much easier to obtain social shares than it is to obtain backlinks, and that just because you promote socially doesn’t mean backlinks will come from that effort. The image below is a great representation of this, while some content falls in that “sweet spot” for both links and shares, most has no correlation.

Links and Shares Comparison

Source: Moz

That’s where manual link outreach becomes hugely important. After you’ve created content worthy of linking to, then make link acquisition a part of your promotional strategy.

When to think about links

Unlike the “chicken or the egg” conundrum, there is a clear answer to what comes first between links and content. Content comes first, always. A primary part of content marketing’s definition is based on providing useful information to your visitors, so hopefully you’ve already got content on your mind. If you haven’t built a foundation of content yet, then now might not be the best time to start building links.

Before jumping in to create a link development strategy, ask yourself the following question: is my content worthy of links?

Ask yourself the following question: is my content worthy of links?
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It’s tough to be unbiased about this—it’s very easy, and common, to think that your content is “link-worthy” when it may not be. Not all content will perform well for links, and that’s okay! Not all content should perform well for links. But what content is more likely to? Let’s take a look.

Content that is likely to be linked to is:

  • In-depth. Creating long form content that is well researched, in depth, and covers a specific topic is best for gaining both links and rankings. In the previously mentioned study done by Moz and BuzzSumo, their findings supported that content receives more shares and links if it is 1000+ words. Searchmetrics’ research on ranking factors found that the average word count for pages ranking in the top 10 was 1285. There is no magic number, but the data leans towards long form content being beneficial for both links, shares and rankings.
  • Useful. If visitors can take something away from your website and put it to use, then they are far more likely to share and link to that content. Great examples of this type of content are checklists, white papers, free guides, infographics, templates and other practical content forms. And again, the more in-depth the better.
  • Not self serving. People rarely want to share a sales pitch. Develop content that serves others, not yourself. It’s extremely hard to pitch your services page, or other promotional pages to a webmaster in an effort to build links. You’ll face a lot of objections that way. That’s not to say that having detailed content answering questions about your specific services or products isn’t essential. It is. But, the content that performs best for link development is usually not at the decision stage of the buyer’s journey, where your product or service information tends to live.

People linking to your site have found your content to be comprehensive, valuable and non promotional.

How to create a link development strategy

As with any other component of content marketing, link development requires a plan of action. It takes a finely tuned process for link development to be most successful. Here are six key questions to consider when creating a link development process.

Who will build the links?

You’ll want to figure out who will be building links for your site; is it you, a teammate, or an external expert?. If you’re looking to designate this to one of your current team members or add someone to your team, then we find that people who have some sales experience tend to have the best match of skill set. Primarily, because this work requires prospecting, pitching and organizational skills that usually go hand in hand with that type of work.

What linkable assets does your site have?

It’s best to go into link development with a clear plan for what content you hope to leverage in your outreach. Choose which pieces of content you would really like to focus your efforts on. We’ll call these your “linkable assets.” Remember these are often not your products or services pages unless you are looking to find unlinked brand mentions of your business.

What goals do you hope to achieve with link development?

There are tons of great reasons to build links, but try to define a primary goal of your efforts. Maybe that goal is simply to increase the number of high quality referring domains to your site, or to increase your brand awareness. Knowing what you want to accomplish will help you determine what types of opportunities you should pursue.

Define a primary goal of your efforts: why are you acquiring links?
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What is your link quality criteria?

Set a baseline for quality of the sites you will be reaching out to. You don’t want your site to be linked from “bad neighborhoods,” or in other words, spammy or low quality sites. Three simple steps to QC an opportunity before reaching out are:

  1. Do a site search for spammy keywords such as “payday loans” “porn” “pills” or “online casino.” If there is spam present on the site, then avoid it. You don’t want your site associated with that.
  2. Download the Moz Bar and check the site’s metrics. The higher the domain authority of the linking site, the better. Also if the specific page you are hoping to have link to you holds authority, that’s another great indicator of quality.
  3. Do a relevance check. Is the domain relevant to your industry… what about the page?  Relevancy matters in the eyes of search engines, and users.  If the link wouldn’t make sense for the audience of the page, then it probably doesn’t belong there.

At Vertical Measures, we qualify links by looking at all of the above to ensure they are quality. We also have a checklist that we use to determine how likely a link from a specific site might be. While no (natural) link is 100% guaranteed, if a site meets at least 2 of the following criteria, it may be more likely to link to your site.

  • Outbound Links: External links are listed on the page.
  • Similar Links: There are related websites linked on the page (EDU, commercial sites, etc).
  • Brand Mention: Your brand is mentioned on the page.
  • General Website Relevancy: The theme of the website is related to the content being pitched.
  • Competitors: There are direct competitors of yours listed on the page, and no affiliation between them and the site.
  • Locality: The page is local to your business, and it makes sense for a link to be present.

Link Development Checklist

How will you track outreach and follow up?

It can be hard to track what sites you’ve reached out to, and whether they’ve responded. It’s best to keep a log of of this information. Below is a simple example of how you can set up an outreach tracking sheet. Log important info like site metrics, date you reached out, the contact you emailed and any notes. This makes things easier to follow up and also to measure results of your efforts. Also, color coding can help you differentiate sites that have put up your links, declined your request, or have not yet responded. Here’s a screenshot of a link acquisition tracking sheet we’ve used for Vertical Measures. Want to use this template for your own acquistion tracking? Get it here.

Link Prospecting Worksheet

How will you measure your results?

Based on your defined goals, develop a plan for measuring the results of your work. Ideally you should be monitoring Google Analytics data for traffic, tracking changes in your site’s authority, and monitoring for keyword rankings. Other measurement efforts will all depend on what you were hoping to accomplish from the beginning.

Know that link development isn’t a short term plan; it’s an ongoing, long-term process and it takes time to figure out what works and to see results. As more and more marketers turn their eyes to content marketing, links will continue to be a factor in how search engines analyze content’s popularity. So, leave a seat at the table for links in your content marketing strategy; they’re not going anywhere.

Know that link development isn’t a short term plan; it’s an ongoing, long-term process.

Yikes, are you killing your business with this huge SEO mistake?

Yikes, are you killing your business with this huge SEO mistake?

by | Jun 20, 2014 |

 

Yikes, are you killing your business with this huge SEO mistake?

You know what I’m sick of? What really gets my goat?

So-called Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) experts telling unsuspecting business owners that to succeed with SEO you just need to install a plugin, fix your bugs, write some blogs and send a few tweets.

Why? Because it’s bullshit (sort of).

Unfortunately there’s much more to SEO than this.

Now I’m not saying that you don’t need to ensure your site is crawlable and technically sound.

And yes, creating quality content regularly is a powerful way to engage customers, just as social media is a cool way to share and promote your brand.

But links still matter and not keeping track of your backlink profile could be a huge SEO mistake.

Let me tell you right now. You can post awesome infographics, videos, how-to blogs and heartfelt sob stories until you’re purple in the face. But it won’t matter a hill of beans if you have an appalling backlink profile. What’s worse, is that if you have a whole heap of terrible sites linking to you, you could even get slammed with a Google penalty.link fork

SEO is a bit like a fork

It might help to think of SEO like a fork (I know it’s a big ask, but stay with me) – You have to have all four prongs to spike your food, right? A fork with just one prong is not really a fork. Right?

Well SEO is a bit like that. Sort of.

 

Not all links are created equal

You may think any link is a good link. But sadly, that’s not the case. One good link from a high-authority website is worth far more than 200 crappy ones. And bad links can even kill your website.

Link diagram

The more backlinks the better right?

kate-toon

Not necessarily

 

But isn’t all backlinking bad?

Yes, everyone is scared stiff of linking since Google started updating their algorithms. We’re fearful of signing up to directories, we’re scared to guest post. And posting a press release? Forget it.

But there are still plenty of places to get good backlinks.penguin

There are heaps of legitimate directory sites to register your site. (They’re great for local SEO, too.) You can also reach out to associate companies for links, or create partner programs.

And you can still guest post as long as your posts are legitimate and worth reading.

Of course, writing that amazing blog content is just half the story. Getting it out there is the hardest part of the battle. Sharing on social media is often not enough—you need to actively reach out to other websites as well.

Check out Brian Dean’s website Backlinko for some insanely clever backlinking ideas.

 

Why should you check your backlink profile?

If you’ve left your backlinks in the hands of an SEO company, you may not know exactly what links are pointing at your site. And that’s dangerous. I believe that even if you’re using a third party company to help with your SEO you should still keep track of your link profile.
A poor link profile can lead to a Google penalty. And if that happens, you’re in a whole heap of pain.

Or you might be the victim of a negative SEO attack like me, where some random nasty dude pays someone else to drive 8000+ bad links at your website in the hope of crushing your business. (Nice, huh?)

If I hadn’t checked my backlink profile I’d have been none the wiser.

matt cutts

So what is a bad link?

Dodgy (and sometimes seemingly legitimate) SEO companies use various tactics to drive links. Two major ones are:

  • creating fake directories (or link farms)
  • using comment spam (writing fake comments on people’s blogs).

It’s a sweeping generalisation, but if you’ve ever paid for a link it’s probably dodgy.

A bad link could roughly be classified as a link from a site with a Domain Authority of under 15. But you probably don’t even need to think about the metrics.

Ask yourself a few simple questions:crappy directory

  • Does it look like this? >
  • Does the URL look peculiar?
  • Is it a thin site with no real content?
  • Would you ever visit this site, or share it with a friend?

 

How to check your backlink profile

If you’re working with a good SEO* company they’ll do your backlink checking for you. I always review a website’s backlink profile in detail as part of my Pick My Brain SEO audits.

But you can also do it yourself using various tools such as:

They all give a slightly different list of links, so checking a few different sites is the best way to get the full picture.
(GWT is free, and you can get limited free accounts with the other sites. But for serious link checking you’ll need to sign up.)

What to look for

As I said, I review a website’s backlink profile in detail as part of my audits. And what I find is often quite hideous. Like this:

negativeseo
See that rather dramatic leap in links? That’s negative SEO in action, without action this could get you the wrong kind of attention from Google.

Now check out this:

backlink profile

See the way the client is losing and winning links every day? That’s a bit odd, isn’t it? Surely if they were legit they wouldn’t be losing that many links in one hit.

And finally this:

check your back links

Look at the way the blue line (number of links) suddenly spikes. One domain is suddenly giving this site a lot of links—not necessarily bad, but certainly worth investigating.bad links

Once you’ve compiled a list of links, start reviewing them one by one.

Check out this list from a recent client. The yellow ones are dodgy, and some of the links that are left aren’t much better.

This client had been paying her SEO agency more than $1000 a month for four years And this is all they did for her! It makes me want to cry salty tears.

 

What about anchor text?

Anchor text is the text in your link (e.g. ‘copywriter Sydney’).

Including your chosen keyword phrases in your anchor text used to be the done thing, but not any more.

Instead, you should stick to naked URLs and your brand name.

So, once you’ve checked your link, the other thing to look for is the percentage of anchor text coming from commercial rather than branded keywords

As Andre Weyher from Marketing Director at LegalVision (and ex Google webspam fighter) told me

“A warning sign of bad quality for Google would be a large amount of links flowing in to your site that use commercial anchors. Under no natural circumstances would a travel website get 50% of their links coming in from anchors like “hotels in Sydney”.

Remember my negative SEOing friend? His goal was to knock me off the top spot for the term ‘copywriter‘, so all the links he’s driven to my site include the anchor text ‘copywriter’.

This means my anchor cloud now looks like this:

anchor cloud

That’s bad, and could result in Google smacking my bottom.

What next?

If you find bad links you have two choices:

1)    Ask the site to remove them (hard work, and often they won’t do it)

2)    Disavow the links (I’ll be posting a how-to on this soon).

But of course the best thing is not to get dodgy links in the first place.

 

How to avoid dodgy links in the first place

It goes without saying that you should never buy links. You should never submit articles to sites that don’t have an approval process, and always approach free directories with caution.

And if you plan to use an SEO agency, you should ask them how they build links.

Andre told me:

“Just ask them to show you examples of links they’ve built in the past. If the sites they’re coming from seem to look exactly the same, use a directory template, or offer no value to users on their own, then they’re likely to be risky.

If an agency is hazy about where they get their links, it’s a red flag.”

To summarise:keeping track of your backlinks is not something you need to do every day (unless something really odd is going on).

But it is  worth checking them out once in a while, or asking a reputable SEO dude to do it for you.

Over to you

Have you ever had a bad experience with bad links or negative SEO? I’d love to hear about it (and find out I’m not the only one!) Please comment below.
Oh, and if you like this post, please share it.

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 * P.S. If you need me to refer you to a SOLID ongoing SEO partner, let me know.

Creating Content

I seem to have hit a couple of roadblocks over the past few weeks.

  1. I am stuck on week nine of my Partnership to Success course which is based on defining my niche. So I am now some six weeks in arrears.
  2. I have not been able to come up with anything remotely useful regarding content for this blog which would provide value.

So, while I bite the bullet for item 1 I think that this infographic will be of great use to anyone who blogs and fits with item 2.

At least it will fill a gap while I concentrate on dealing with these roadblocks.
22 Ways to Create Compelling Content - Infographic
Like this infographic? Get more content marketing tips from Copyblogger.

Progress? – Week Eleven

A puzzle

A puzzle

The tasks and checklist for Week 11 of Partnership to Success have laid in front of me for five days – and I haven’t even completed Week 9.

From what I’ve read it seems that completing that week’s schedule is one of the most important items for success in Internet Marketing  – defining my niche.

John has laid out a series of things to do ranging from writing down things that I consider myself to be good at, to writing down 10 topics in which I am interested but don’t know much about yet; with three other tasks in between.

I can see that these tasks will guide me toward making this vital decision; but for some unknown reason I just can’t get started.

alone

I have also researched and read extensively on the subject and can’t see any other way that is an improvement.

So I must buckle down to doing it. Maybe tomorrow

Has anyone else had this problem?

 

How to Change WordPress URL Without Moving or Reinstalling

0034

Courtesy of the folks at TechBasedTraining

Imagine you installed WordPress on a folder named ‘blog’ and you like it so much you want to use it as your main website. Meaning, you want anyone going to yoursite.com to land on the WordPress site. It is actually super easy to do and you don’t have to re-install or manually move the whole installation. This checklist walks you through the steps you need to take.

1. Prepare The Index File

  • Download or copy the original index.php from WordPress onto your computer. If you want you can temporarily re-name it to wpindex.php.
  • Open the file and edit the line that says require(‘…’), make sure this points to the right place. In this
    example, WordPress is installed in /public_html/blog so you’ll want to make it require (‘blog/wp-
    blog-header.php’).
  • If you installed WordPress in a folder with another name you will need to adjust the path accordingly.
  • Save this file.
  • Upload it to your /public_html/ or /www/ folder.

2. Log In To WordPress Admin

  • Navigate to Settings >> General .
  • One of the options there are WordPress Address and Blog Address.
  • Change the Blog Address from http://www.yoursite.com/blog to http://www.yoursite.com .
  • Do not change the WordPress Address.
  • Save.

3. Rename The Index

  • Log in to your site via FTP or your web hosts’ file manager.
  • Rename your existing index.html/index.php etc – whatever your home page is to another name – this will take your home page down.
  • Rename wpindex.php (the file we edited and uploaded earlier) to index.php .

4. Visit Your Website In A Browser

  • Refresh so you will see the changes. If you don’t see it on the first refresh, try a couple of refreshes or clear your browser cache then visit your site again.
  • Your home page should now be the WordPress home page.

Tip #1:

You can use this same method to work in private mode. For example, if you have a live site and do not want to interfere with it, you can install it into a special folder and switch using the above steps when you’re ready.

Tip #2:

You can also do this in reverse. For example, install WordPress in /public_html/ or /www/ folder then make it appear in /blog/ or /whateverfoldername/. Just follow the same steps.

Want More?

If you found this checklist helpful, there’s a lot more where it came from at TechBasedTraining. They also provide technical training with special focus on Internet Marketing related tasks. Perfect for Virtual Assistants who want to upgrade their skills and Internet Marketers who would rather save time by letting the experts train their team.
Oh and feel free to pass it on to those you feel will benefit from it. Go ahead, you have our permission.