Google Adwords PPC

How To Tell If Your Website Is Ready For Paid Traffic

Paid traffic is just one of those things Internet marketers, and all business owners who have gone online, “graduate” to. Initially, close to 100% of all those who go online look for free traffic methods.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, either. In fact, I know plenty of people who use just free traffic, and they make a living off of it. Search engine optimization, social media, forum marketing – there’s a whole lot of different traffic sources out there you can use that come with no price tag attached. Pretty cool, really.

The Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Use Free Traffic

Like with all free things, there’s a “cost” attached. And usually, that cost can even be monetary. For example, how much will not using paid traffic cost your business in terms of both instant revenue and buying customers in the long run? True, you might be able to sustain yourself with organic traffic right now, but think of the potential leads and prospects you could gain if you were to dive into the realms of paid traffic instantly, straight off the bat.

Right now, you might not be thinking of that cost, but five years down the road, you could be ruing not having gotten into PPC and Facebook ads immediately.

And then, there’s another, more important reason why free traffic isn’t always such a good option: it’s not very dependable. A proper SEO service, for the most part, will get your business where you want to be in the SERPs, but what if Google were to suddenly update their algorithm, and all traces of your website on Google were to be lost?

Just think of the damage it would cause if you hadn’t diversified. You could go from six figures a year to zero overnight. It’s happened before, in 2011 and 2012 when Panda & Penguin hit.

Of course, your business might not suffer much if you’ve diversified enough with different strategies so that there’s a steady flow of visitors from a variety of sources. But still, free traffic is simply not dependable.

Additionally, most of what you’ll get in the way of free traffic is “junk” traffic. They don’t click your ads, subscribe to your mailing lists, request quotes of your services, or buy your products. If you don’t do it right, you might be getting a lot of untargeted traffic that isn’t worth peanuts. All that does is increase your bounce rate, which never helps.

Reasons To Use Paid Traffic

On the other hand, there are a whole host of reasons to go with paid traffic. You get almost everything you don’t get with free traffic.

Paid traffic converts. If you target the right keywords, the right market, the right age group with the right interests, you could be looking at a sky-high conversion rate. Paid traffic is usually very targeted (although it may take quite a bit of trail and error to find the right market for your product), and thus converts much better than any free traffic source.

Paid traffic is interested in what you offer. If you run a blog on your site, then you will definitely benefit from paid traffic. Paid, targeted traffic is usually very interested in what you offer. If you consistently update a company blog with stuff relevant to your niche (and not just content relevant to your company), chances are that your paid traffic will stick and browse around your blog. That enables them to have a better chance to connect with you, which builds trust, and ultimately leads to more sales.

Paid traffic takes any business from a stand-still to a superstar. If you’ve just bought your domain, hired a developer, set up your sales funnel and got everything working and in place, then all you need to do is get people’s eyeballs on your offer, i.e. generate traffic. However, that’s not so easy to do right off the bat with free traffic – there’s quite a bit of growth hacking involved before you are actually able to make a living off free traffic. Using paid traffic sources, you could have hundred pairs of eyeballs visiting your offer within the next few hours.

That said, paid traffic also has a bit of a learning curve. As you’d expect, lots of marketers have also lost their shirts trying their best to figure out PPC and Facebook ads. You have to be careful to ensure that you are setting yourself up for a good ROI with paid traffic.

The Most Popular Paid Traffic Sources<

The most popular paid traffic sources are the ones that are the easiest to find, but not necessarily the easiest to start with. The following three are marketers’ automatic choice when it comes to paid traffic.

Google’s (or any other search engine’s) PPC. Pay-per-click is a simple idea. You pay every time someone clicks on your ads in the search engine results page. For low competition keywords, you’ll pay a few cents per click. Keywords like “car insurance quotes”, on the other hand (or usually anything to do with fitness, finance, and insurance) can cost you close to $50 a click. You might not want to think of PPC right away, but it’s definitely something to start working towards, as it truly can setup your blog for a crazy ROI when done right.

Google Adwords

Facebook ads. Of course you’ve seen these. Who hasn’t? Facebook pulls in billions of dollars annually through the ads that line their sidebar and occasionally appear in the middle of your feed as sponsored posts. One of the pros to using Facebook as a paid traffic source is the targeting you can do with it. Everything down to age, interests, geo location – nearly every aspect you can think of can be targeted. Needless to say, this allows just the right people to view your offer, which leads to a higher conversion rate.

Facebook Logo

Solo ads. Solo ads are sponsored e-mail broadcasts sent out from the owners of mailing lists to their lists. Using solo ads saves you from going through the trouble to building and profiting from your own list. They can also be excellent tools to build your own list, by directing solo ad traffic to your squeeze page. The downside to solo ads, however, is that mailing list owners often take advantage of buyers by sending automatic, robot traffic to your links. This increases the number of hits on your link tracker, but the reality is that you’ve got zero traffic (and if any, all of it was not targeted). You have to be especially careful with solo ads and only buy from those who have proven track records.

Are You Ready For Paid Traffic?

So, it all boils down to the question “Is your business ready for paid traffic?” Are you at that point where you can profit from your paid traffic investments, pull off a huge ROI, and make money like nobody’s business?

If you answer positively to the following questions, then that’s probably a sign that you are ready to dive into the realms of paid traffic.

Can you convert your visitors? Doesn’t matter whether those conversions come in the form of new subscribers to your mailing lists, new calls to your insurance company for quotes, clicks on your ads, or even sales of your product. Can your traffic convert? Do you have a system set in place so that you can make your traffic do a certain action that will benefit your business?

If yes, then move on to the next question. If no, then you had better start working on that, ASAP.

Can you recycle the traffic? Here’s a quick secret – you don’t want to pay for visitors who will come once to your site, and never visit again. No, that’s not very profitable to your business. What you want is to be able to get someone onto your site for the first time, then keep coming back again and again and again.

A few quick ideas to recycle traffic is to give them the opportunity to subscribe to a newsletter or mailing list of some kind, follow a social media page, or even regularly (even daily) add new, helpful posts to your blog that will want them to keep coming back for advice in your niche.

Can you profit from your visitors? They can’t just convert – you need to be able to make money from them after they convert. If the conversions you were aiming for were product sales, then get them onto a list where you sell higher and higher ticket products to them, so that you’re still making money off of them multiple times. If the original plan was to get them to subscribe to your mailing list, then you need your autoresponder series to be already in place and ready to go.

In any case, you need to be able to make money off your visitors. That means selling to them. Getting money in your bank account. If you aren’t able to do those two things yet, you shouldn’t even be thinking about paid traffic, ’cause all you will end up doing is lose your shirt (or at least tear it pretty bad).

 Profiting From PPCDo you have a testing/tracking system in place? Eventually, with paid traffic, you want to get yourself to a place where you are spending the least amount possible for the most profit possible. Essentially, what that means is that you should have a huge ROI. On the first day with paid traffic, however, you can hardly expect a 541% ROI. In fact, you’ll probably be lucky to break even.

The only way you’ll be able to progress beyond 110% yields or less is to split-test. That means tracking each and every visitor that enters your blog, seeing what they do and why they don’t convert. Then, change the conditions to make them more conversion-friendly and spend another $5 on clicks. See what happens there, and adjust once more. And again … and again … and again. You get the point – return on investment doesn’t come overnight.

If you have answered with a resounding “yes!” to these questions, hook up a paid traffic source right now, and get into it.

Things To Remember When Using Paid Traffic

Here’s a few quick hints, tips, and tricks to get you started on your way with paid traffic.

Hire a specialist. Yes, this means that your investment will probably be considerably higher, but the fact is that specialists help you to get a bigger ROI overall. And don’t skimp here either – go for the best, just as if you were choosing an SEO service.

Find something that works, and keep doing it. If you were to give me $10, and I was to give you $50 back, wouldn’t you be handing me ten dollar bills all day long? Because if the roles were reversed, I sure would!

Once you find something that works, stay with it, and go big. Yes, we did just talk about the potentially disastrous results that could occur if you don’t diversify, but remember that’s only with free traffic. Paid traffic is considerably more reliable than free traffic. As long as the vendor of that traffic is making a decent profit as well, chances are that it isn’t going anywhere.

Investing In Paid TrafficKeep in mind that ROI is everything. Don’t jump for joy because you were able to get 1,000 visitors to your blog in one day. Jump for joy because you were able to make $500 off those 1,000 visitors by spending only $100 to get them to your blog. There’s a significant difference between the two.

Go high ticket. It’s not impossible to get rich selling $0.10 paper clips, but it’s a lot harder than selling $2,997 coaching programs. High ticket offers may not convert as well as low ticket, but in the long run, you’ll see that lower conversion rates are well worth it in the profit you generate. Of course, that also depends on how good/bad your product is (or how good/bad the affiliate product you promote is).

Summing Up

Paid traffic is definitely something that you will want to consider for your online business as it expands. But keep in mind that ROI is everything. If you’re getting hoards of people to visit your blog, but you’re making nil off of them, something’s wrong (aside from the fact that you are probably losing your shirt).

But master PPC, and you could be looking at a comfortable, automated business that generates decent profit for you for a long time.

Images courtesy SXC.HU.

Forum Marketing Guide

Forum Marketing – A Comprehensive Guide To Generating Traffic From Forums

Forum marketing is one of the most underrated traffic generation methods. It’s free, it delivers targeted traffic, it brings conversions, and has a whole host of benefits that accompany it.

Some marketers, however, are a bit wary of forum marketing. Unfortunately, the term “forum marketing” and “spam” have become somewhat correlated, especially since spamming forums is relatively easy to do. The truth is, when forum marketing is done ethically, it benefits three people: you, forum readers, and forum owners. Win-win-win.

If you don’t know how to market yourself effectively on the forums without spamming, you’re at just the right blog post.

Forum Marketing Benefits

It’s a good idea to know why you’re doing something before you invest a lot of time into it, so here’s a quick look at the benefits you get from forum marketing.

Targeted traffic – this is probably the first benefit that came to your mind – traffic. Leveraging the traffic of a very popular existing forum turns about to be rather simple. Additionally, you’re not getting just any traffic. You’re getting targeted traffic – the type of traffic that brings conversions, sales, and revenue.

Branding – one of the best free branding techniques is to build a name for yourself and your band is to get on the forums and regularly contribute. By using your logo as your profile image, you are increasing your brand visibility and leaving a lasting impression on viewers’ minds. The next time they see your logo, they’ll know it.

Lead Generation

Authority – this one is probably my favorite benefit. Authority. As you regularly contribute helpful, meaningful posts and threads that not only teach readers but also engage users and create more talk on the forum, you’re building a name for yourself as an authority in your respective niche. However, you must be careful with this, as what you say and do on forums can go both ways.

How To Find Forums In Your Niche

If you don’t already know a few of the popular forums in your niche, then you don’t know your niche very well.

Luckily, forums are rather easy to take over in the SERPs, so if your primary keywords consistently get forums topping the search results, chances are that the keyword will be rather easy to dominate.

To find a list of popular forums in your niche, search Google for “your niche keywords” + forum. Include the quotes around “your niche keywords”, but replace them with your actual niche keywords, of course.

Filling Out Your Profile

If you’re looking more to build your brand rather than to build your name, then you should use your company’s logo as your profile image. Never leave the profile picture empty – pictures help to build connections with other forum members and they also set your posts apart from the rest of the members’ who don’t have images.

Fill out your bio – it should be a short, elevator-style pitch with a link to your main website, blog, and/or social media profiles.

Use either your real name, your company’s name, or the nickname you’re using for all your branding. It’s important to be consistent, so make sure that what you use on the forums is same as or similar to what you use with the rest of your branding and traffic generation methods. In any case, your username should be easy to remember and brandable.

Adding Your Signature

Some forums don’t allow links in their signature. If this is the case, you do not want to waste your time on them. Even though you might get the branding and authority benefits, you won’t get any of the targeted traffic or conversions you would from a forum that does allow sig links.

VERY IMPORTANT: You should not, for any reason, use your keywords as anchor text for your signature link. Instead, include your keywords before or after the link, but the actual anchor text should be one of the generic phrases, such as “click here”, or “learn more” or something of that sort.

Use formatting (bolded and centered) to make your signature stand out from the rest. If allowed, include your logo once more or an image somehow related to the services or goods you provide.

Your signature must draw viewers in and induce clicks. The higher the clickthrough (clicks per post), the more attractive your signature is. Give a small hint at what you do, and lead them in to click on your signature and learn more. The following is an example:

We build your authority, increasing your search engine rankings, and improve your traffic & visibility all at the same time. See how we can help you.

Your signature is the most important aspect of forum marketing, so you want to make sure that you get it right. Split test, see which versions receive more clicks, and keep testing.

Creating An Introduction Post

Quite a few forums will have an introduction thread, where all those who are new to the forum drop by and introduce themselves with a line or two. If there is no such thread, create one introduce yourself in the off topic forum. You can say something along the lines of:

Hi there! My name is JR John and I’ve just joined this forum! I look forward to contributing my knowledge in <forum niche> and learning from fellow members and getting to know all of you.

If any people respond to your thread, say hello and thank them for the response. When you do that, you begin to build connections with members right away.

Posting In The Right Boards

Forums are split up into different boards, or subforums. For example, in the average Internet marketing forum, you’ll find individual boards discussing SEO, advertising, conversion rate optimization, copywriting, etc. and a main forum for all things Internet marketing that don’t fit anywhere else.

If you’re a copywriting firm, then you should be mainly posting in the copywriting board. This does two things – it builds your brand better than if you posted in any other forum, and the resulting traffic is a good deal more targeted.

However, if you are look to market your actual service and not just generate traffic, then you’ll have to expand your posts to other boards as well. The reason for this is because mostly copywriters will be posting in the copywriting forum. They aren’t prospective leads – they’re competition. On the other hand, if you were to post in the advertising forum, you might get a few more conversions as a result, since the people posting there are unlikely to be skilled at the service you’re offering.

Make sense?

Thread Replies

Replying On ForumsThe majority of your posts on a forum will be replies, obviously. Whenever you reply to a forum, you should make sure that you’re not restating something that has already been said or saying something irrelevant. Make sure you read the original post a couple times through.

Spend a little bit of time on each post to ensure that it truly is helpful.

 

Creating New Threads

Creating a new thread gives your signature link far more visibility than if you were to merely post the 51st reply to a topic. The reason for this, as you would expect, is that everyone who views the thread has to view your post, and therefore, your signature link.

If your post was the 51st reply though, chances are that very few of those who viewed the thread viewed your signature link.

Create threads in moderation – posting five one-liner new threads a day is likely to get you banned before you can say “SEO Service Group”. Whenever you post a new thread, you should be either offering advice (builds your authority and generates traffic), asking questions (don’t do this often, as it makes it look as if you don’t know the niche), or sharing an interesting article/video you might have on the web somewhere (as long as it’s not from your blog).

Forum Marketing Tips & Tricks

Helping On ForumsAlways be helpful – if you don’t have anything to say … don’t post on forums. Don’t try to increase your post count with weak posts, outdated info, and one-liners. If you’re going to contribute to the forum, contribute something useful.

Be the first to reply – either that, or get there as soon as possible. The fewer posts it has, the more visibility your post gets.

Be controversial – don’t just say what everyone else is saying. Make a name for yourself by standing out of the crowd, and testing something thoroughly before buying into it.

Be nice – this goes without saying. Be polite and professional.

Pick your forums carefully – only post on the best. You might think that you’d get extra exposure on forums that have lesser members, but the truth is that you get much more exposure when you go for the forums that have been around for a long time, and regularly figure in the SERPs.

Concentrate on a couple – it’s very unwise to try to post on any and every forum you come across. Rather, spend your time building a reputation and increasing your post count in a few forums. Don’t spread yourself too thin.

Outsource – for the most part, forum marketing is both easy and menial. If you do take the outsourcing route, you’ll find yourself with a lot more time to complex on the more complicated ways to market yourself. However, be very careful when you choose the person to run your forum profile. If your employee builds a bad reputation for you on the forums, it’ll be very hard to clear your name and regain the credibility you might have once had.

Summing Up

Forum marketing is definitely one of the easiest traffic generation methods out there. Plus, it’s free, so you can’t argue that you’re not getting bang for your buck.

To recap – find and target high-traffic forums, complete your profile with a high CTR tried-and-tested signature + link, be helpful, be ethical, DON’T spam and make money!

All images courtesy SXC.HU.

Blog

Content Marketing Do’s And Don’ts

Content marketing is rapidly becoming a very popular method to build authority, rank in the SERPs, and increase traffic. As content is, beyond the shadow of a doubt, the core of every good online business, it should definitely be high on your list of webmaster priorities.

High quality content is an absolute must for any SEO campaign – it’s a must of any marketing campaign, for that matter. Excellent content builds the necessary foundation for online success.

Now that we’ve understood that content marketing is a powerful business asset, let’s take a quick look at the do’s and the don’ts of any successful content marketing campaign.

Do Update A Blog Regularly With Researched, Valuable Content

Blog

Image credit(s): Stock.xchng

Blogs (just like this one), are very important assets, both for online and offline businesses. Originally, the term was weblog, i.e. a web log. The concept started out as an online journal of sorts, but has since then quickly evolved into a very valuable marketing asset.

Blogs are an excellent way to connect with your customers and clients on a regular business. Moreover, they’re also excellent channels by which to gain new prospects and leads. For example, if you are able to rank your blog posts on the first page of Google every time (you might need our help for that), then you’ll be able to generate a lot of traffic.

If you blog on topics relevant to the products/services you offer, then the traffic you get will be very targeted, and therefore very interested in what you offer. I’ve seen just how a blog attracts clients in my own experience countless times.

Don’t Blog Low-Quality Content

It’s all very well to have a regularly updated, search engine optimized blog. But, if the content you publish is of low quality, and does not really add value to the Internet, then you are missing the point.

Customers should come to you because you provide value. However, before they buy from you, they need to know that you have a track record for providing value. If all you blog about are the exact same, rehashed topics that have already been blogged about on the existing plethora of weblogs, then you are not giving your customer reassurance that your product or service is unique, valuable, and useful.

If you publish low quality content on your blog, that could well turn away potential prospects.

What you should do is research every post, discuss an original topic or throw a new light on an old one. In any case, the level of English (or whatever language you choose to blog in) should be the highest possible.

Do Make Content Syndication A Focus

Content syndication happens when bloggers see fantastic blog posts, copy them, and post them on their own blog with attribution to the original source. The original blogger gets targeted traffic plus a backlink, while the syndicater gets free content for their own blog.

In 2014, content syndication should definitely figure high in your content marketing strategy. Indeed, syndication is bound to be the future of SEO. Just one fantastic article can get syndicated many times over to different networks.

Unlike what you might have heard, posting duplicate content on your own blog does not hurt your search engine ranking. In fact, approximately three quarters of the web is made up of duplicate content (according to Google). What does hurt rankings, however, is if duplicate content has been posted several times over on one blog.

Be forewarned: only the best articles are syndicated. Also, syndication will require some very active promotion on your part. That includes constantly e-mailing webmasters in your niche to find out whether or not they would like to syndicate your content.

Don’t Go Crazy With Article Directory Marketing

Content Marketing

Image Credit(s): bigevil600

Anyone who tells you that submitting articles to article directories in exchange for a backlink is a great SEO strategy is still living in 2007. It simply doesn’t work like that in 2014 and beyond.

In 2011, a Google update killed article directories – it basically spanked them off the face of the SERPs. Article directories do NOT bring any sort of traffic to your site. And the backlink? You’re more likely to get penalized by Google for having a backlink from a penalized site.

The real use of article directories was actually never to drive traffic to your site. Rather, they were meant to be a place where webmasters can scout around for useful content that they can syndicate on their own blog. In essence, submitting articles to directories is merely a way to get your content syndicated and improve your blog’s visibility and authority.

Do Create Press Releases

Press releases are an excellent way to create a buzz around your business in a short time. They’ve just grown to be popular in Internet marketing circles in recent years. Although there is no proven SEO benefit from press releases, the resulting branding benefits are huge.

Press releases, however, are not meant to be completely centered around your product or service. Each press release should discuss a unique topic. If you do offer a bit of a “generic” product or service that a thousand other marketers are selling, do your best to do something that hasn’t really been seen before.

Use statistics and other relevant information from reputable sources to backup your claims as to why prospective clients need your service/product. Don’t turn it into a sales pitch, but do your best to create as much awareness of your product as possible.

Do Create & Publish Infographics

As opposed to text-based blog posts, infographics are much more syndication ready and shareable, due to their visual nature. Not only so, but infographics are great ways to make readers love your blog. They are quick and easy to read, easy on the eyes, they cooperate with the short attention span we humans have, and they’re persuasive.

Keep in mind that infographics can be very expensive to outsource, and quite time-consuming when you don’t know how to create one.

Don’t Let Your Blog Be Based Totally Around Infographics

Yes, infographics are great ways to build your brand, increase traffic, and generate awareness, but they are a tactic that should not be overused.

Infographics are quite special. The publication of one on your blog should be a special, almost sacred event. Besides that, some people like to read some good ol’ text – don’t let images completely dominate your blog.

Do Guest Post

Guest posting is probably the best ways to increase a relatively new blog’s exposure due to their nature. The concept behind it is simple – you publish a post on a popular blog in exchange for a link to your site/sales funnel/squeeze page. They are the perfect way to grow brand-spanking-new blogs to superstars in a matter of weeks.

You should definitely be guest posting, and doing quite a bit of it if you are new to Internet marketing.

Don’t Guest Post Just For Links

What Are Backlinks

Image credit(s): Stock.xchng

Nothing irritates a blogger more than to know that someone is just trying to take advantage of their PR for their own site. Don’t guest blog for the backlinks. Rather, guest post for the resulting traffic, branding, authority, and even money (if you link to your sales funnel and set it up right).

Don’t make your bio overly promotional, either. Just a quick few words about what you do is quite enough – most bloggers won’t allow any more than that.

Do Track Your Content Marketing Efforts

Every guest post, syndication, link, and so on should be recorded and tracked. Recording your content marketing data allows you to come back to it, find out what you did wrong, and remedy it in the next steps of your campaign.

Don’t Just Haphazardly Waltz Through Content Marketing With No Tracking

If you don’t track your content marketing efforts, then you essentially don’t know if you’re making process, or if you’ll ever get where you want to be.

A simple Excel sheet and a few extra minutes per day is all it takes.

Do Outsource Content Marketing

For all its benefits, content marketing is still a very time consuming and very difficult project to undertake. Fortunately, there are literally hundreds of Internet marketers out there who understand content marketing a whole lot better than you do, and some of them offer content creation services.

If you are not able to sustain content creation in-house, then you should definitely start thinking about expanding and outsourcing the “menial” tasks, such as writing the content, promoting it on other blogs, and getting it syndicated.

You should look at outsourcing not as a cost for your business, but rather as an investment. If a single 2,000 word article cost $200 to outsource, but was syndicated many times over and ended bringing you $100 in revenue every month, then you’re looking at a 600% ROI per year. Wouldn’t you make that investment again … and again … and again?

Don’t Hire “Just Anyone”

Outsource Content Creation

Image credit(s): Stock.xchng

The fact of that matter is, you’ll find that every Tom, Dick, and Harry all offer writing services. Of that trio, however, the reality may be that only Tom actually has a halfway decent writing ability – Dick and Harry falslely advertise their services.

That reality is only too true in the Internet marketing realm. You’ll find literally tens of thousands of “writers” out there. You’ll also find that upwards of 95% of them are nothing but hoaxes.

Always go for writers who speak flawless English (it doesn’t matter if they are natives, so long as their level of English is as good as or better than a native’s), who have their own website, a proven track record (past achievements are a must), and nothing but positive feedback for clients.

Also, don’t try to skimp here, because you’ll only end up paying for it in the future. That might come in the form of a decrease in reputation (due to low quality content), a low ROI (vs. a higher ROI had you paid more), or a poor experience with the employee.

Summing Up

Content marketing is, quite literally, the new SEM in 2014. If you haven’t already got a move on in your content marketing efforts, then it is most certainly time you did.

Content marketing is certainly not easy, and will require a lot of planning, tracking, and yes, even money. In the end, however, you’ll find that your benefits are quite worth it.

Conversion Rate

16 Reasons Why Your Blog Doesn’t Convert

Conversions are just about everything in Internet marketing. If you’re not making conversions, you’re not getting subscribers, sales, or revenue. You might be able to drive hoards of traffic, but in the end, you won’t make any money since your visitors aren’t converting.

Here’s a bit of troubleshooting as to why you’re not getting the conversions you need.

1. Not Giving Something Away

If you want opt-ins, if you want user engagement, if you want conversions, you need to give something away. And you can’t just be “giving” away rebranded PLR. Whatever you give needs to be of high value, and needs to be something that your readers will actually appreciate.

First off, your blog (if you have a blog) needs to be of the highest quality content possible. It should really help people out, and not just restate what you can already find plastered all over the Internet.

Secondly, if you’re looking to increase your opt-ins, i.e. subscribers, make sure that you have an incentive to subscribe. Give them free access to an eBook, video tutorial, interview or something of that sort after they subscribe.

2. Not Building A Relationship

If you want to take your readers to a point where they do more than just reading your e-mails/blog posts and they actually buy your products, then you need to have a relationship building process going on first.

You can build a relationship by interacting with your readers. Not just in the blog comments, but also in their e-mail inbox (respond as fast as possible if they ever ask you a question), on social media (thank & follow them if and when they share your post to their network), and wherever else you can think of.

All the while, be thinking of how you can build a relationship with your viewers and how you can get closer to them and build trust.

3. Your Blog/Website Is Not Reader-Friendly

Color Conversions

Courtesy Doug88 via Flickr.

There are user-friendly blogs, and then there are NOT user-friendly blogs. The former gets a whole lot more conversions than the latter.

Typography (your fonts and how they look) play a huge role in conveying messages to your readers. HubSpot showed colors play a huge role in conversions – a red call to action button converted 21% better than a green one did.

Pick your design and colors very carefully.

4. There’s No Opportunity To Interact With The Site

Probably the worst things you could do to hurt your conversion rate is to have comments turned off on your blog posts or to have no social sharing plugin setup that makes it easy to share your posts/website.

The more you can do to interact with your viewers, the better.

5. There’s No Picture Of You

How Faces Impact Conversions

Photo courtesy Epsos via Flickr.

People feel much better buying from a real person rather than from a faceless mask behind the computer. Use a professional, smiling photo of yourself on your blog and watch your conversions skyrocket.

Again, you’re building a connection with your readers. An emotional and physical connection – your face is now registered in their brain. Needless to say, that’s a good thing to happen.

6. You Talk In The 3rd Person

Always, always, always use the first person point of view in your blog posts. The only instance where you might not want to use first person (and 3rd person instead) is if you’re blogging/writing for a major company like eBay, Amazon, Apple, or that sort. If you are an Internet marketer selling a service, or if your brand isn’t that big yet, go first person.

Using words like “I, you, we, us” helps to build a connection with your readers and interact with them.

7. You Don’t Look Cool

A sleek blog design that makes everything easily accessible and “just a click away” helps readers to navigate your system. Also, people like to look at a cool design, increasing engagement and decreasing bounce rate.

Yes, that means investing in a premium theme or even a custom blog design. Be sure to use one that fits in well with the message you want your blog to convey. For instance, if you sell comics, your blog design will be drastically different from what you’ll want if you sell packaging equipment.

8. People Don’t Practice What You Preach

Or, in other words, other people haven’t got results from your services/products. If you’re selling an eBook guide, and people aren’t actually implement the techniques/strategies discussed in the eBook, why should others buy it?

If you don’t have proven results from people who have practiced what you preach, then you can count on a <1% conversion rate.

9. You Ask For Too Much Private Information

If you’re trying to build a list, the only piece of information you really need is their e-mail address. Believe it or not, but their first name is completely unnecessary to market a product to them.

True, asking for a first name and using it in your autoresponder messages might help you build a better connection with your list, but the decrease in conversion rate isn’t worth it in most cases. The less forms people have to fill out, the more likely they are to fill out the essential ones.

10. Where’s Your Track Record?

Where’s your proven track record backing up your product? Going back to the hypothetical case where you’re selling an eBook – you need to have case studies and experiments to back up your strategies that say “hey, my strategies really do work. By doing XXX I was able to increase my revenue by $X,XXX every month”.

It’s great to have testimonials from former clients, but your own track record should reflect what you teach positively.

11. Your Traffic Has No Focus

The moment anyone visits any page or post in your site you should have a specific purpose for them. In most cases, that purpose will be for them to subscribe to your mailing list. If that’s your goal, then everything your viewer does from the point he steps onto your site should be concentrated on getting him/her onto your list.

On the other hand, if you want to start selling and profiting from them right away, then channel your traffic straight into your sales funnel. But whatever you do, your traffic has to have a focus and purpose.

12. Traffic Targeting Is Everything

That said, some traffic converts better than other traffic. If you sell skateboards, 50 year old females won’t convert as well as 18 year old males.

SEO traffic is reputed to have high conversions. Traffic from social bookmarking (think StumbleUpon, Reddit, Digg), on the other hand, is notorious for low conversions and high bounce rates. Target your traffic so that you are only getting the highest quality traffic that is very relevant to your offer.

13. It Isn’t Easy To Convert

If there’s a bug in the system, or if there is something that somehow stops your visitor from being able to do what you want him or her to do (i.e. subscribe to your list or buy your product), then you are losing out on a hefty percentage of leads.

If subscribers are your goal, ensure that opt-in boxes are pretty much all over the place. They should be able to get into your funnel process with just one click.

14. Your Name Doesn’t Carry Any Authority

Michael Schumacher’s name carries authority. Rand Fishkin’s name carries authority. Muhammad Ali’s name carries authority. Does your name carry authority in your niche?

If you haven’t been able to brand yourself to a point where you’re held in high esteem by the people you want to market to, the best way to build your authority is to leverage the existing authority of others. Interviewing people in high places, guest posting on their blogs, and doing whatever you can to associate your name with theirs does wonders to increase your authority and popularity.

15. Your Site/Blog Is Very Vague About What You Do

The very first moment someone steps onto your site, they should know what your site is all about. For example, on our site, our domain name, our logo, and our homepage lets visitors immediately know that they are visiting the website of an SEO service provider.

If you provide business consultancy, don’t blog about anything other than business consultancy (yes, that means you can’t blog about your pets). Don’t stray from your topic – keep your entire site laser focused to your purpose.

16. You Haven’t Split Tested

If all else fails, then it is time to turn back to good ol’ split testing. See what version of your sales page converts. See what doesn’t.

See how the color of your call to action button impacts your conversions. See how your typography, logo, theme, blog posts, etc. impact your conversions.

Test, test, test, then test a bit more.

Summing Up

If your website isn’t converting, and if you are not making money yet, you are doing something wrong. Probably one or more of the above sixteen problems.

Concentrate on fixing them, and you will be good to go for countless more conversions.

Competition Analysis

17 Unfortunate Reasons Why Your Competition Gets More Traffic Than You

Probably one of the worst and most discouraging things in blogging is to know that your competition gets much more traffic than you do, even if they’re not as experienced or haven’t had their blog up for as long as you have.  Looking at your competition and realizing how much better they are than you is one of those things that brings you close to wanting to simply drop everything and quit Internet marketing.

But never fear! Just remember that if they can do it, so can you. Like as not, they’ve probably done these seventeen very important things to make their blog work, while you didn’t. Follow up on these, and you might just find yourself nosing ahead in the race pretty soon.

1. They’ve Analyzed Their Competition

Competition Analysis

They know who their competition is. They know how their competition works, and what makes them tick. They’ve researched everything about it, and done everything they can to make sure that they prey on their competition’s weaknesses, and copy their strengths.

If you haven’t analyzed your competition yet, then it’s high time you did. Once you track your competitors, that’s when you can destroy them and leave ’em in the dust in the SERPs.

Here’s a comprehensive guide on analyzing your competition to get you started.

2. They’re Proactive On Social Media

Facebook LogoConsidering that 25% of the seven billion – that’s nearly 2,000,000,000 people – use social networks (eMarketer), branching out into social media just might be a good idea. Scratch that. It IS a good idea – one of the best decisions you could ever make for traffic to your online business.

When I started out on my own blog, nearly 60% of my traffic came from social networks (the majority of which came from Twitter). Although the Twitter traffic didn’t convert nearly as well as SEO or referral traffic, it still got the job done to boost my Alexa rank and more importantly, give me, a newbie, confidence to go on. 

If you’re gonna do social media marketing, make sure you do it right. Social media is just one of those things that can backfire if you offend someone or some group of people. Additionally, there’s a fine line between promotion and spamming. Make sure you stay on the white side of that line.

3. They Hired A Professional SEO Service

SEO-in-2014

There are some things you just CAN’T do manually. A complete SEO package is one of them. If you don’t have the hours or the skills it takes to make a blog shine in SERPs, hand the job over to someone who does (yes, that means doling out your hard-earned cash).

An SEO service takes care of everything for you – onpage & offpage optimization, keyword placement, anchor text, etc. They go over your site with a fine-toothed brush taking care of things that you might have never thought about, even though they play a big role in Google’s algorithms.

Psst! Ours is one of the finest search engine optimization services out there!

4. They Regularly Publish High Quality Content

Page Load SpeedNo, not once a month. Not even twice a month. And certainly NOT whenever they “feel like it”. Your competition regularly, consistently publishes content on their blog.

And remember – they’re not just publishing any ol’ content. Every single time, they’re actually adding value to the blogosphere. They only send out high quality stuff – not the boring, repeated trash that you’ll find on most “generic” blogs. They put a new light on old subjects, and constant come up with innovative new headlines that people actually want to read.

They have a posting schedule, and they stick to it like glue, come what may.

5. They Guest Post

Guest posting has been proven again and again to be one of the fastest ways to grow new blogs into high authority Internet resources that command respect from a huge, devoted readership. Guest posting leverages the targeted traffic of an existing popular blog and channels that traffic to your own.

Even though landing guest posts and actually writing them are quite a bit of work (especially if you go after the popular blogs right from the get go), the results make it all worth it. Ryan Biddulph from Cash With A True Conscience reported a spike of 20,000 visitors after publishing a guest post on ProBlogger, as well as seven times the visit-to-subscriber conversion rate. Even one guest post can have a huge impact on your blog, as Ryan saw. With that in mind, just think about what ten guest posts across popular blogs could do…

Your competitors make it a point to guest post, get out of their own little shell on the blogosphere, and get noticed on the popular blogs. They leverage each and every guest post to the maximum. Copy them.

6. They Use Multiple Streams Of Traffic

SEO is great. But you know what’s better? SEO AND forum marketing AND social media marketing AND guest posting AND content syndication AND solo ads, etc.

Relying on one single source of traffic is one of the most foolish things you could ever do (unless you’re buying traffic, in which case that isn’t much of a problem). If that traffic source was to somehow fail, you’re sunk. I always say if there’s any ONE thing that can make or break your blog, then you’re doing everything wrong and need to completely rewrite your game plan.

Your competition doesn’t just rely on Google for their traffic. They’re also heavily into YouTube, blog commenting, forum marketing, and the works. Are you gonna be left behind?

7. They Set Goals

Product CreationIf you don’t know where you’re going, how on earth do you expect to get there?

Your competition has set specific goals. They know what they want to achieve, be it a specific number of monthly visitors, conversions, subscribers, sales or dollar dollar bills y’all.

They know exactly where they are headed, and they know exactly what they want to do with their blog. Not having a game plan is like trying to win a rugby game without a play. You have no strategy.

If you haven’t created your goals yet, drop everything (even stop reading this post – but don’t forget to come back) and do so. Get out the old-fashioned pen and paper, and list ten things you want to see your blog do in the next month. Ten things in the next six months. In the next year. In the next 5 years, and so on.

8. They Have A Work-Till-Ya-Drop Mentality

Setting goals is only the start – there’s no point to it if you just write it down on a piece of paper, stick it in a file folder, and never see it again. You’ve gotta put in the work and time it takes to achieve those goals.

Your competitors work. And they work hard. They knew from the start that blogging, Internet marketing, and traffic generation wasn’t about “push button traffic”, traffic exchanges or anything of the sort that promises you hundreds of thousands of visitors a day with one hour of work a day.

Traffic generation doesn’t work like that. You have to work, and you have to work hard.

9. They Didn’t Get Discouraged

The problem that most newbies have is that they when they don’t see results immediately, as in the first day, they quit. They falsely believe that blogging just “isn’t for them” and only the “pros” would ever be able to get traffic.

Now let’s be honest. Your very first day, you probably won’t see a single visitor. You might not even get that first one to your site the whole first week. In most cases, you’ll take a good few months if you want to get anywhere close to that elusive 1,000 visits per day.

Your competition realized that right from the get go, and they didn’t worry about the lack of results in the beginning. They decided to pick up and just keep on doing what they had to do, and they were rewarded because of that in the long term.

10. They Engage With Their Community

You’ve got to give your community a reason to stay – otherwise, you might as well say bye bye to traffic and hello to a high bounce rate. Luckily for them, your competition engages their visitors. They build a community around their blog. They’re active in the comment section. They reply to user questions and they actually respond to contact form submissions.

11. They Make Return Visitors & Recycling Traffic A High Priority

In my book, a returning visitor is one of the highest achievements you could ever get to. The fact that somebody left your site, but decided to come back a day or two later to learn more speaks volumes about any site.

Your competition made return visitors a priority. They did everything they could to recycle their traffic – building an e-mail list, setting up an RSS feed, tweeting their links to their social media followers, etc.

And, most importantly, your competition gave visitors a reason to come back.

12. They’re Not Afraid To Invest

You have to have money to make money.

It’s not a lie. If you buy traffic (PPC campaigns with Google AdWords, direct advertising on similar sites, social media advertising, solo ads) you’ll get where you need to be a lot quicker for quite a few reasons:

The traffic is super-targeted, meaning you’ll get more conversions, more sales, and ultimately more revenue.

There’s no limit to the amount of traffic you can get – it all depends on your budget.

Once you find that you’re getting a comfortable ROI on a traffic investment (you spend $20 on traffic and earn $30 in sales), all you need to do is up your daily budget and suddenly, you’re rolling in cash.

Your competition wasn’t afraid to invest in traffic, a custom design, the fastest hosting possible, and everything else that makes a good website great.

13. They Create A Buzz Around Their Brand

Branding is quickly becoming one of the most important things in search engine marketing – Google rewards the sites that have built a brand around their blog/website. An excellent example of this Pat Flynn’s SmartPassiveIncome. In a few years, he’s becoming one of the biggest names in the Internet marketing industry, having built the SPI brand and gone to extreme lengths to create a huge buzz around it.

Do everything you can to make your blog more than just a blog. There are over 150 million blogs in existence today. Make yours a brand, and you’re suddenly in the next level up.

Your competition realized the importance of branding, while you still haven’t. Get on it today.

14. They’re Here To Help

Face it – the only reason you and me (and everybody else) started our blogs is to make money online. Fact.

Making money and “dollar dollar bills y’all” is probably the major driving force behind all your online efforts. Truth be known, there’s nothing wrong in that.

But don’t just be here for the money and nothing else. Whenever you take someone else’s money (a customer buys an (affiliate) product), make sure they’re getting their money’s worth in return. And, if they ever need help, make sure you’re only an e-mail away.

That’s what your competition has done and they’ve reaped the benefits of it in terms of traffic, sales, and revenue.

15. They’ve Identified Their Target Market

Your competition isn’t just aimlessly wandering around trying to find anybody and everybody interested in their niche. They’ve laser-targeted their efforts into a single specific group of people which bring them much more conversions than what they would get if they focused on the entire market.

On the other hand, you’ve foolishly focused on not just one specific subniche, but you’ve tried to go after the whole entire thing. Problem is, you’ve just become a generic blog focused on a generic topic, like 90% of the other blogs in your niche/market.

16. They’re All Over The Place

Your competition doesn’t just stay in their own little shell of a blog. They branch out. They make connections. They meet other bloggers and they build connections and relationships with the masters of their niche.

They comment on relevant blogs. Their feed is syndicated all over the place. Wherever you turn you see them.

This does two things. Firstly, it brings in a boatload of traffic since they’re all over the Internet and not just sitting waiting for traffic in one little corner. Secondly, they’re building that brand buzz.

Get out of your own little shell, and go meet new people!

17. They Took Action

Internet marketing forums are great. Traffic forums – awesome. There’s a ton of information in those forums and on other blogs about how to generate traffic, recycle it, and make money from it.

But if all you do is sit there and read, read, read and read some more, the end result is that you have a lot of knowledge, but you never take action. There’s no point in knowing the ins and outs of online business and traffic generation if you don’t put them to use.

Your competition took action just as soon as they had enough information to go on. Yes, they made mistakes, but they were able to recover quickly and keep on going, no matter what.

prevent penalties

This Isn’t An Insult

This isn’t an insult, so don’t take it as such. This is merely a wake up call to all the webmasters and bloggers out there. These seventeen things your competition does better than you is something that you need to reign in and master yourself. Take action. Get out of your shell. Build your brand. Create a buzz.

Generate traffic. Make money.

The Ultimate Guide To Analyzing SEO Niche Competition

If you don’t analyze your SEO competition, there’s no chance that you’ll be able to beat them in the SERPs. You need to prey on their weaknesses, understand and work around their strengths, and even take a few leaves from their book if you really want to succeed in search engine optimization.

Here’s the ultimate guide on how to analyze your SEO competition in any niche in a few hours.

Find Out Who They Are

Duh.

It’s common sense to know who your competition is if you’re gonna beat ’em. Find out who the big names in the niche. If you’re in a rather popular niche, you might even find a ready-made list of them. Simply search Google for keywords like “best <your niche> websites” or “best <your niche> blogs”, or even “list of <your niche> blogs”.

Since creating a list of popular blogs in your niche is an excellent traffic strategy, chances are that a fellow blogger has already done all the hard work for you to find your competition.

Additionally, you can take a look at SitesLike – a free website that shows you similar sites. For example, visit their site homepage and and type the URL of one of the biggest sites in your niche in the provided search bar. You’ll be presented with a list of relevant websites (usually some of the bigger names in the industry). Alternatively, you can search by keywords and categories. Sites Likes is quite a valuable resource when finding your SEO competition.

Compile a list of 20-50 (more if you’re in a high competition niche) of established blogs and websites in your niche in Micrsoft Excel. Usually, marketers are hesitant to do any sort of real, hands-on tracking of their competition. You need to write it down!

Competition Analysis

Find The Biggies In The SERPs

Search Google for the highest traffic and most searched keywords related to your niche and track which websites constantly appear close to the top. In a new column in the excel sheet, note how often each of the websites appears on the first page – very often, often, sometimes, rarely, and none.

The very often ones, as you might expect, are the ones you’ll want to concentrate on overtaking – the ones that you’ll be examining in very close detail.

List Their PR (Page Rank)

Page rank is determined by the quality and sheer number of backlinks pointing a certain blog. Anything with a PR above 3 usually means serious business.

As a new site, you will start out with a PR of zero, and you’ll have to work your way upwards. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see results in the first month or two – page rank usually takes a few months to update, and achieving a PR of 2 in half a year or more is usually considered to be quite an accomplishment.

Use PR Checker to check the Google Page Rank of any site. List it another column next to each website. The lesser the PR of each, the better. Ideally, the top competitor wouldn’t have a PR above 2.

Find Out Their Domain Age

One of the often overlooked, yet vitally important, aspects of any site’s ranking in the SERPs is the age of their domain name. As you could probably guess, the older a domain name is, the better favor it has in Google’s eyes.

Once your domain has been established for a good amount of time, Google’s crawlers give it prior over newer sites since you’ve been around for a while. You have a reputation with the crawlers to regularly update with decent content, and your domain name is trusted. You can see the result of that in your search engine rankings.

Use this free tool from WebConfs to check the domain age of any site. The cool thing about this tool is that you can calculate the age of multiple domains at one time. Copy/paste the list of domains into the search bar (one per line), and the domain name of each will show up in a few seconds. Record the data in a new column in your Excel sheet.

Use Moz To Find Their Domain Authority

Rand Fishkin and his team over at Moz.com have a great repertoire of SEO tools, both free and paid, available to marketers. One of their most popular free tools is the domain authority calculator, which calculates the domain authority of any site using a unique algorithm they came up with it.

Although there is no proof that Moz’s domain authority has a role in Google’s algorithms, but you’ll find that most of your top competition will have a higher authority (100 is best, 0 is worst) than the websites that figure lower in the SERPs.

You can check out Moz and their tools here. Record the data in a new column in the spreadsheet.

Record Their Alexa Rank

Alexa RankAlexa rank doesn’t make much of an impact in SEO at all, but having a higher Alexa rank gives you more brag points, in a sense. More popular sites have a higher Alexa rank, and lesser popular sites have a lower rank.

You can either find it by going directly to the Alexa homepage and searching the domain name, or you can install their free toolbar which automatically shows the rank & the backlinks of a site without having to visit the Alexa website.

Check Their Backlinks

As you probably know, backlinks and backlink quality are probably one of the most important metrics in a site’s SEO. (tip – use SEOServiceGroup’s affordable backlink packages to get ahead of your competition). Read a full report on backlinks and how they work here.

If they have less than 100 backlinks to their site, you’re in business. Anything over 500 will be a little tough, while 1,000+ backlinks will require some serious SEO.

Use Alexa’s backlink counting as an easy way to find out the number of backlinks pointing towards any site.

A Few Things To Keep In Mind…

If forums, .blogspot or .wordpress sites, or abandoned blogs/websites entries are the ones that rank highest for your niche search terms, you’re in luck. That niche is obviously untapped and the organic traffic is yours for the taking. There’s few things easier in SEO than outranking forum threads and freely hosted sites.

Probably one of the best things you could ever do to get organic traffic is to target long-tail keywords. No matter what niche you’re in, there will almost always be enough long-tail keywords (search queries that are more than 3 words in length, get relatively low searches and have relatively low competition) you can write on to profit. In fact, you’ll probably find that ranking #2 for 35 long tail keywords will bring you in boatloads more free, organic traffic than ranking #1 for 1 high competition, high traffic keyword.

Long tail keywords are really where there is zero competition. Nobody else has written about it yet, or whoever has written on the keyword didn’t do a good job of it, and/or their site is unpopular, not SEO-friendly, and does not have many inbound links. The best kind of competition is no competition.

Summing Up

Remember – analyzing your competition is one of the most important proactive steps you can take as a new site in a new niche to begin ranking in the search engines right from the get-go.

Although you might be able to track a few of the competition metrics yourself, it’s important to hire a professional service from the long-term SEO experts who know what they’re doing if you REALLY want to make an impact in the SERPs.