As Henry Ford once said: “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.”
In this post, I go into detail about my continuous learning (lots of room for improvement!). Over the past 4.5 years I have listened to hundreds of audible books (have 300+ books in my audible). When a student at Nebraska State asked Bill Gates and Warren Buffet the superpower question, Gates answered, “Being able to read super fast.” And Buffett echoed him, adding, “I’ve probably wasted 10 years reading slowly.” To help with this, I often listen to my audiobooks on 2x speed so that way I can use the time I have to read these books more efficiently. It takes some time to get used to that speed but once you do it really helps get through books quickly.
Each month I like to pick out 5 books to read for that month . Sometimes I don’t get to all 5 but it helps when I finish a book to have another one lined up as sometimes it can take a while to choose one to read.
I also believe books are a great way to provide training for team members. I often recommend for them to read a book and then discuss at our weekly 1:1 on the key takeaways from it.
Since I tend to listen to quite a few audible books, I have a VA create and update a spreadsheet each month of my favour books with a link to cheat sheets to go with them so I can remember what I have learned from each book.
The practice of going back and looking at the cheat sheet for a critical book has been an efficient method of increasing retention on key books.
Here are a few of the books I like along with their synopsis.
Here is the spreadsheet I use to keep track of my favourite books and a the summary of each for me to brush up on… here.
START WITH WHY shows that the leaders who’ve had the greatest influence in the world all think, act, and communicate the same way — and it’s the opposite of what everyone else does. Sinek calls this powerful idea The Golden Circle, and it provides a framework upon which organizations can be built, movements can be led, and people can be inspired. And it all starts with WHY.
Never Split the Difference takes you inside the world of high-stakes negotiations and into Voss’s head, revealing the skills that helped him and his colleagues succeed where it mattered most: saving lives. In this practical guide, he shares the nine effective principles—counterintuitive tactics and strategies—you too can use to become more persuasive in both your professional and personal life. I think of this as the hand-hand self defense for negotiation… best to set things up so these skills are not needed
Napoleon Hill, America’s most beloved motivational author, devoted 25 years to finding out how the wealthy became that way. After interviewing over 500 of the most affluent men and women of his time, he uncovered the secret to great wealth. By understanding and applying the thirteen simple steps that constitute Hill’s formula, you can achieve your goals, change your life and join the ranks of the rich and successful.
My recent new favourite is Traction! It feels like a combination of EMyth Revisited plus Scaling Up. Great for smaller companies looking to achieve high performance!
Continuous learning through books is about expanding your ability to learn by regularly upgrading your skills and increasing your knowledge. I never really have time to sit down and read so I solved this problem by listening to my books when I am in the car (without the family) or on long bike rides. There have been many great lessons that I have learned from these books that I have applied to my companies from the way the organization is made up to simple strategies we use when executing projects.
If you are a big reader/consumer of knowledge do you have any hacks for increasing retention?
It’s been a while since we’ve had a post like this. Your opportunity to join the team!
Over the past couple of months we’ve been sharing some more info about Content Refined. That business is in an interesting place right now, because we’re 2 successful years in and can now really find some solid footing for the future. We’re always trying new marketing initiatives, which will continue as we keep growing and building.
What we are most excited about is scaling a unique strategy to identify our ideal audience and a new offering we have already seen substantial product/market fit with!
We are seeing a lot of success and scalable potential in these Pareto Content Upgrades, which is what I went into detail about a couple weeks ago. I won’t go fully into the details again, but it’s really beneficial for clients to have their existing content worked on and improved for consistent and higher rankings. So we’ve developed a B2B-focused service offering based on that need. This high demand, systematized through our processes (which are proven to be effective), will allow Content Refined to continue to scale in the field that we know best: content marketing.
We’re at the point now where we have the processes, we have a system worked out, but we need help to scale. We are looking for someone to fulfill an enterprise-level sales role for this offering. So, if you want to get involved, or you know someone who would be awesome for this position, please check out the job description below and send a note to our acting Business Manager, Laura Day, at email@example.com.
ContentRefined.com is a growing content marketing company (HQ in Collingwood, Ontario, Canada) specializing in results-focused content marketing.
We are accountable to our clients for results and not just words!
Our unique focus on using data to predictably create content that will perform well for our clients is an exciting opportunity for an enterprise/B2B focused digital marketing sales rep.
We are looking to capitalize on recent success with a new system/offering and aggressively grow the business.
The role we are looking to hire for is an outside sales rep to take a proven strategy and grow it.
We look forward to hearing from you if you think you might be a fit!
Please email your resumé and cover letter to Laura Day at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s good to have a few trusted keyword research tools under your belt. Our teams at Content Refined are currently using two in conjunction: SECockpit by SwissMadeMarketing, and Ahrefs. We started using Ahrefs a while ago when SECockpit stopped returning results in certain fields and niches (i.e. we stopped getting results for cbd oil related keywords). Ahrefs has a ton of detail in their results, and I really like the way that they suggest alternatives.
So here are the basic steps for using Ahrefs to determine whether a keyword is competitive. For our purposes, we are looking for a few key metrics:
These are the tried and true metrics that Content Refined usually sticks to (unless there’s a unique site that needs something slightly different). We’ve talked about this before in an article about SECockpit. For that article the monthly search volume filter was set to ‘over 1000’. We’ve since found that over 500 is a valuable metric with more opportunities for a lot of sites.
For Ahrefs Keyword Research, follow these steps in this order:
I love finding new strategies and tricks for finding the best competitive keywords in any niche. For Content Refined we also go back once or twice a year and run some data analysis to see which tools are working the best. We did that last year around this time, and are currently in the process of running a new set of data analysis (I’ll be sure to share the findings for you guys).
Keep me updated about what tools and strategies you guys are currently using in the comments below!
I am excited to share a post like this… it has been awhile since I shared a detailed data driven tip on a new strategy that drives IMPRESSIVE results!
The team at ContentRefined has been doing some very impressive work lately performing what we are calling a Pareto^2 Content Upgrade and making the articles pop in terms of rankings and traffic.
This strategy is all about taking what is already working (your 20% of articles driving 80% of your sites traffic) and applying advanced tools/strategy at the right leverage points to make them perform even better!
The Pareto principle (also known as the 80/20 rule, the law of the vital few, or the principle of factor sparsity) states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the effects come from 20% of the causes.
Here is the procedure ContentRefined uses to further apply this principle with content marketing and shared for you to use on your sites! As always if you want to do it yourself we show you the results and the exact steps… however, if you want to have the team at ContentRefined upgrade some of your most important articles then contact them here.
Book a call with Laura here and receive a free consultation/report to identify which of your pages are the right pages to apply the Pareto Upgrade to!
Solid and concise keyword research is arguably one of the most important and crucial process for any money site. This is why we’ve spent a lot of time and resources trying to execute the best procedure possible to ensure that we are using the best tools on the market to help with finding keywords. Although it’s not perfect, our keyword research process is getting more refined as we use and test many different tools. We have done many case studies on the different tools we use and the predictability of ranking for that keyword given a few data points, that article can be found here.
Although SECockpit is one of the slower tools, it gives a good variety of keywords and also shows the details of the top 10 sites that are ranking for that keyword which is good when you are doing a competitor analysis for that keyword to determine what it would take to beat them (more on this below). I usually don’t just use one tool when determining the keywords I want to rank for but rather take the keywords and plug it into multiple different tools (LongtailPro, SEMRush, CognitiveSEO as well as SECockpit) and see which ones hit all the preset metrics I have chosen in each tool. This usually takes a very large list of around 300 and brings its down to under 10.
To get into the nitty gritty of how SEcockpit works, and how we’ve used it to systematize our keyword research, check out step by step procedure how SEcockpit works.
Login to SEcockpit and go to the dashboard and click on the key symbol to search for your first keyword.
This is where it gets interesting. Type in a keyword of your choice that is relevant to the your site and look at your options.
I instruct my team to select the Google Adwords ideas that are closely related and to select ‘Append’, ‘Prepend’, and ‘Add Words in Between’. This increases our chances of coming across a great related keyword. We also change Min Monthly searches to 200 but if you are going after bigger priced items that don’t get as many searches then you should adjust this.
Make sure you’ve inputted your keyword and that you’ve selected your search criteria and then click on Save and Close for the search to begin! This tool can sometimes be slow, so be patient, go make a coffee and some food and come back 🙂
We like to set the competition score to less than 30 with this tool. Ideally if you can get to under 25 that would be great.
Then, as you can see here below, we have our comprehensive list of keywords that meet our metrics:
So this is where you need to do some more digging. With this view, it looks like all of these keywords are great, but you need to click on the keyword to view a full keyword analysis which will give you more information on the other sites that are ranking for it, which, will help you determine if it’s a viable keyword for your article and whether you think you can beat those other articles.
Let’s look at the Keyword “Charcoal Pills” which has 40,500 monthly searches and only 17.25% competition score. This generally looks like a pretty golden keyword and at first glance it looks like a no-brainer to go after it.
With this comprehensive keyword analysis, the top 2 things that we look at is the DA (Domain Authority) and the Top 10 websites. As you can see below, the DA is really high, which means that the competing websites are ranking very well and getting a ton of traffic according to google. You can also perform a backlink analysis as well on your site and compare it to those other sites to see if you can beat them.
If our site is not an authority site in it’s space (which in general, most are not), then it would be a bad idea to go after this keyword because our domain will not be able to compete with the authority domain in that space. For example in this case WebMD and other very well known sites in the space.
Let’s try another keyword on the list, here I’ve chosen a Keyword that was provided to us by the tool based off of the “closely related words” function of the search criteria.
Keyword: Activated Carbon Filter – which has 5400 Monthly Searches and has a competition score of 27.39.
When we click on it for the Analysis, we can see right away that this will be a more viable option to go after than the last keyword as the DA for the competing sites are lower in general (usually is you can find 3-5 sites that have a DA less than 30).
Here, I have checked a couple of the domains and I have determined that I can definitely compete with a few of these sites as their DA is low, and traffic to their site is relatively low on SEMrush. This isn’t to say that they won’t be hard to beat, but they are not out of our reach and they are a similar site as the one we have. I’m confident that with the use of SEcockpit, I’m able to find the best keyword using its rankings, but also it’s analysis on who/how others are using this keyword in their niche.
Now that we have our Keyword (Activated Carbon Filter), we want to make sure that we have a good title for the article. Now I’ll create an article title called “Best Activated Carbon Filter for Tap Water”.
Place the competitive keywords and all of the metrics that you’ve found into the spreadsheet for that site! You can download a template of the spreadsheet here.
After I have a bunch of keywords that meet the criteria set above, I like to cross verify with a few other tools before I get the article created. No tool is ever perfect but if a keyword meets the metrics that I have set for the different keyword tools then I find that it’s very likely that I will be able to rank for that keyword with hopefully not a lot of effort. If you have any other tools we haven’t talked about or haven’t tested that you would like us to try out, please let me know!