I will show you everything but my password! This site is dedicated to providing you USEFUL posts on how to build profitable authority sites. I share the systems I have setup to produce great content and properly use expired domains and private blog networks to rank quality sites.
Today Content Refined turns 2.5 years old and Maddie has recently shared a BIG post about the journey!
Plus they just had a video produced to help people learn more about Content Refined…
In this post I want to share 3 lessons I have learned from my position (idea identification, initial system architecture and assembling/stewarding the team).
In the summer of 2016 Maddie joined my team with the mandate of systematizing the content creation process for my portfolio of sites. She killed it!
From that effort we decided to launch Content Refined as a content marketing company.
I documented that launch when I announced it in this post – https://authoritywebsiteincome.com/content-marketing-strategy-launch-business/
It grew incredibly well, achieving 10% week over week growth for the first few months.
There have certainly been a fair number of challenges/opportunities and in this post I hope to share from my perspective what the 3 most significant lessons were.
For everyone that reads this site they know I LOVE systems. Systematized business processes and systematic solutions to problems are core values for the business.
However, despite the engineers desire in me to build a system that doesn’t require great people to run it never happens. Great systems allow great people to execute better.
As I significantly shifted my focus in 2017 to adbank my core businesses needed to be managed and any business where there was a manager responsible for running the business did well. However any business that was solely dependent on a system went off the rails.
Maddie grew the business, Laura managed it while Maddie was on mat leave and I have had limited ongoing involvement. No system could have been built to adapt to the changed and achieved what the team has achieved!
Content Refined has been a great business with significant initial success and very solid longer term performance. But as with any recurring revenue business that is non-essential, churn is the enemy!
Trying to keep growth moving while fighting churn is a never ending battle and can be very unmotivating.
Sometimes even solid months feel like this…
For anyone who ever wants to dig more into recurring revenue business models this is the best article on any subject ever and it focuses on metrics – https://www.forentrepreneurs.com/saas-metrics-2/
Congruent has been my favourite business word for awhile. Ensuring the people, value proposition and systems are all aligned congruently is critically important.
Building that congruence around the set of strengths that makes you unique and focusing on it has been where our biggest successes have come from and also, when we drifted, where our biggest failures occurred.
For Content Refined, the effort around data analysis (to determine what tools/metrics give our content the best predictive ability to perform well in Google) has been very rewarding. Trying to broaden and sell other services where our set of strengths didn’t align didn’t get off the ground in a significant way (for example, an email marketing service to existing clients).
Being accountable for results and not just words, as a content marketing company that uses data (and the thousands of articles we’ve already published) to continually refine what is working now, is what has Content Refined clients loving the service.
I hope my view on the 3 key lessons while stewarding the growth of Content Refined has been useful.
If you have any content marketing needs be sure to book a free call with Maddie or Laura… they often share some pretty incredible and specific to your site insights on those calls! You can book here if there is availability.
It has been a very busy 1.5 years in my business with the majority of my personal focus being on the blockchain ad tech project adbank.network. Today we have launched something new and I wanted to share the story behind it on the first day it launches (despite the ironic timing this is not an April fools joke).
You can see the result of the last year of work here – BLADE ad block & reward extension (just went live)
(note please use referral code – c0903255-a8b2-32f6-3466-7d96fce1b64f)
The total amount people will earn for browsing the web with BLADE installed is estimated to grow to ±$15/month – enough to cover a streaming services cost!
The rest of my businesses have mostly continued to run well (especially the ones where a great manager/team was in place – Kelley, Maddie, Laura etc). However, some of the projects have suffered… my personal portfolio has had some struggles with limited oversight on management (more on that in another post).
Today I want to share some of the exciting work that is being done by adbank and how we think it will change the landscape of digital advertising…plus how it can directly benefit you!
If digital advertising is the monster industry it is and you the end user/audience are a significant part of the value created why don’t you have any control over the process?
Seems like we should have more control over the process.
If you want to learn more about what BLADE is you can check it out here but here is the simple explanation…
The simple story is once you install the browser extension (BLADE) you will start getting rewarded for seeing ads in Cryptocurrency.
(note please use referral code – c0903255-a8b2-32f6-3466-7d96fce1b64f)
Free to download and use + earn crypto (ADB) for browsing the web like you normally do!
I often talk about incentive alignment when working on any business and really like what Charlie Munger says…
Within the BLADE ecosystem here is how each of the actors are incentivizes…
How Users / Audience (anyone who installs and uses BLADE) Benefit:
How Advertisers Benefit:
How Publishers Benefit:
For such a simple concept… ad block extension that rewards you for viewing ads… a lot has gone in to make it happen.
For those interested here are a few of the challenges the team overcame.
To give you a little behind the scenes on what we have built to make all of this work there are
Checkout BLADE on the first day it is live HERE!
Between my portfolio and the work that ContentRefined does we end up using LOTS of tools. In the past couple of weeks we have been in talks with Sam the CEO and founder at SECockpit reviewing the new features of SECockpit.
Learn more about Content Refined in this deep dive review of Content Refined as a business.
Maddie and I did some free training with Sam at SECockpit that I hope that will be of value to people – watch it here.
Intro: Who we are (Content Refined)
Final thoughts: Who benefits from the new SECockpit functions? (And more promo details)
If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you know a few things about me:
At Content Refined, I think it’s pretty safe to say at this point that we’ve got content creation down to a science. We’re on top of trends, including what’s relevant in digital marketing now, what clients want, what clients don’t know that they want but actually need, and the data behind how it all works.
We’ve tested a lot of different keyword tools over the past few years even buying one and bringing it in house; we’ve used SEMRush, Ahrefs, KeywordFinder, CognitiveSEO, MarketMuse, SECockpit, LongTailPro, and more. Of those ones, we’re still using SEMRush, Ahrefs, MarketMuse, and SECockpit on a daily basis at Content Refined. They’re integral to our systems.
Today’s focus is specifically on SECockpit, because they’ve just updated a ton of features and our teams are super excited about some of them.
Keyword research is the first step in our content creation process. We look for opportunities within our clients’ niche to rank for certain keyphrases. There are a few metrics we generally stick to (bear in mind that these are flexible site-to-site depending on where you’re starting from with your sites relative strength):
If our keyword matches all of those metrics, it’s probably a good opportunity to build an article around.
Over the years, we’ve adapted additional strategies depending on our clients’ needs. Some examples of these strategies include the following:
It’s good to have all of these tools in our wheelhouse so that we can compete to the best of our abilities with any given website.
One shift in thinking about competition for keywords is to move beyond just looking at the number the KW research tool provides but also analyzing the strength of the competitions articles. If all metrics say a keyword will be easy to rank for but the top 10 current articles are all beasts written by experts and 5000+ words long…you are going to have a tough fight regardless of how “low competition” the tools saw the keyword is!
It’s a real process, so here’s our actual internal SOP that we’ve been using for completing keyword research with SECockpit. It involves having access to SEMRush as well, but it’s not completely necessary to have that access. You can do your research for your website with just SECockpit.
Basically, we search for a fairly general keyword, then filter the metrics to suit our needs. We go into each keyword that looks like a good option to assess the top competitors’ Domain Authority. If necessary, we’ll run an audit on a competitors’ website through SEMRush as well.
Here’s what it looks like when we search for a keyword in our client’s niche using the old version of SECockpit. In this example, I’m looking for phrases like “travel backpacks” and “suitcases”, but this of course can be custom tailored to your specific niche:
So you can see that it’s a little outdated looking. That’s okay, though. We check off all the necessary boxes and begin our search.
The results can take a while to come up, so just be prepared for that. Usually our Project Manager or Keyword Specialist (whoever is doing the keyword research) will have some other work to do in the meantime while they’re waiting for results. I’d give it a solid 5-10 minutes to fully search, update, and load.
Here’s what it looks like when the results come up:
We would also apply our specific metrics to get to the ideal monthly search volume and competition score.
From this list, we can go in keyword by keyword to see more details:
I’ve highlighted the Domain Authority list in red there. We want to see that the majority of those sites have a low-moderate domain authority. An average of about 40 or below should be a good option for us.
From there, we can create a title based around the keywords that suit our metrics. In this case it could be something like, “Best Travel Backpack with Wheels for 2019 Adventures”. We would drop all the information into our Client Dashboard. When our keyword research is complete, we send it to our client to see if they want to change anything up before it goes over to the writer.
Here’s an example of a content dashboard that you can use with your teams. It’s pretty simple:
So, now that I’ve walked you through that existing process, it’s time to share the exciting new updates that SECockpit just came out with.
We’ll have to update that SOP for the new SECockpit features, because I already know it’s going to simplify our lives a lot.
Right off the bat, it’s clear that they did a ton of updating to the overall layout of the platform.
Here’s how that main page looks when you’re searching for a keyword:
You can see it’s a lot cleaner looking. All the functions are the same on that pop up, but it doesn’t feel so overwhelming and cluttered.
The other big thing design-wise is that they’ve made it mobile-friendly. Here’s a screenshot from my phone:
For digital marketers who are constantly travelling or running to different conferences/meetings, this is huge. You can quickly pull up SECockpit on your phone and find your data that way. Really impressive.
Now, here’s the most exciting part to data nerds like me.
Here’s how it looks when those keyword results come up in the new platform:
Notice anything different?
There are a few things.
If you click on that little gear in the top right, all of these new options come up:
For our purposes, those ‘DA Avg’ and ‘DA Max’ filters under the Off-Page options are amazing!
Now, instead of having to go into each keyword one by one, we can actually just filter the Domain Avg. to be less than 50!
Game changer. Now we have a list of keywords that meet all of our desired metrics. Monthly search volume, competition score, and low-moderate domain authority.
Some of these other filters are really exciting for us, too. Did you notice they now have Adsense Value? This is going to be huge for a lot of our clients:
I also really like some of the content specific filters like “Title Keyword”, which shows how many of those top 10 competitors have the exact keyword in their article title. This gives us an edge in content creation:
Clearly, some massive improvements have been made here. This was already a great tool for us, but now, especially with the Domain Authority and Adsense Value filters, we’re going to be able to deliver so much more relevant data to our clients.
Our teams will still go in and look at each keyword individually. It provides more insight on our competitors for each keyword.
Here’s what it looks like when you go into an individual keyword in the new platform:
We see the exact information for each of our top competitors.
We can also see the Google Interest Trends for our keyword over the previous 12 months:
With this information, we can make the best decisions for keyword opportunities for our clients.
If we wanted to pull some quick data and give our clients a bigger overview of a bunch of keywords at once, it is now so much easier to do so. By adding in those extra filters, we can pull data straight from those results into a spreadsheet.
It would look something like this:
Right away, we have a list of 20+ viable keyword options. That’s just from one keyword search!
Now, keep in mind that these results will vary from site-to-site. Not every niche is going to have great keyword opportunities with one search. Sometimes you have to get creative with it. Find an angle that works for you, and/or flex the metrics until it’s more appropriate for your niche or field.
Well clearly, we do. I think that was made obvious.
But seriously, these are huge improvements for anyone who really wants to more predictably rank in Google. Through using this real data, you gain so many advantages over your competitors. A lot of people will blindly produce content that they think is relevant to their audience, but they don’t actually have the real insights to show what content is necessary for their niche or field.
If you invest in consistent, quality, data-driven content marketing, you will see the results. The measures that we go to at Content Refined have proven that time and time again. It’s even working for our internal marketing efforts, as you can see here:
Consistency and quality are key when it comes to content marketing.
So, definitely check out the new features of SECockpit and let me know your thoughts. I want to hear feedback from all the data nerds like myself.
Also, insider tip: They’re actually doing an exclusive offer that’s only valid until the end of March. April 1st, prices are going up. There’s a 30 day no-risk guarantee, and once you sign up you’ll be locked in at this lower rate for life (unless you cancel at any point). Take advantage! Here’s the link they sent me.
If you have any questions about our processes or want some insights on how we can help your content strategy, reach out to our Co-Founder and CEO, Madeleine Lambert. Her email is email@example.com, or you can book a quick virtual meeting with her here.
I always get emails from potential clients asking about PBNs and whether or not they still work in today's day and age. The last time I did one of these updates was back in 2017, which you can find here. However, I decided to do a little test with one of my sites to see how it reacts to PBNs in 2019. During this test, I decided to try and improve 6 keywords by pointing 1 PBN link to each. Below are the results, most of the results were positive however there are a few that had little improvement. This could be due to competitiveness of the niche or that it may need a little more time to pass the link juice onto that keyword.
Keyword #1: This keyword was stuck around the 38-40 rank but within 2 months of the PBN link being live, it bumped up to #7.
Keyword #2: This keyword lost its rankings back in October, where it fluctuated between 55-60. I wanted to try and bring it back to life as it was a high volume keyword. The link went live on Feb 20th so less then a month later it popped back up in the charts at 48. I am hopeful that after a few more weeks it will move a little more.
Keyword #3: This keyword is one where it either may need a bit of time or it may need more links in order to help it move more in the rankings. The PBN link was added Jan 5th, it did drop its rankings in October and the link seemed to help it gain back its rankings. Hopefully in a few more weeks it will move a bit more.
Keyword #4: This keyword was consistently sitting at 5 in Google for a long time. After getting a PBN posted on Jan 3rd, the keyword took a bit of a ranking hit but soon increased its rankings and is now sitting at 1 for a keyword with a volume of 2K/month and is a buyer intent keyword as well.
Keyword #5: This keyword was sitting at 4 for a while. After the link was posted, the keyword lost its rankings completely, however about a week later the ranking came back and within 2 months, the keyword bumped up to #1.
Keyword #6: This PBN link was posted on Jan 10th, it initially had some good traction and climbed to 29th but then dropped to 32. It would of been nice for it to stay up but it is ranking higher than it was prior to the link, so although not a huge push, it still moved a bit.
PBN (private blog network) are sites that are built up with the intent to link to your site. We find expired domains that still have quality links pointing to them, build a similar website on the expired domain and link to your money site. The end result is you can create network of high authority and relevant sites linking back to your money site and increasing its rankings in Google.
There are two approaches you can take when building PBN links. One is to create your own sites, which I have created a how to guide here. The other is to use services such as LightningRank who will do everything for you.
This is a very hard thing to judge as there are so many factors that are involved in the process. What we usually like to do is look at a few similar sites that are ranking higher for a particular keyword and look at how many links are pointing to that page in Majestic. If there are 10 links but 7 of them are very low quality (ie TF<10 and CF<10) we do not count them. So we would only count 3. Meaning we believe that we would roughly need about 3 links to rank that keyword similar to that site.
Just like any links on the internet, there are risks associated with using PBN links. You must decide if the risk is worth it to see if you can improve your rankings. We do keep up with Google algorithms and make changes to our process so that we keep up with building sites that are able to mostly withstand Google.
You don’t need to wait 3-6 months to make money like other new builds. Since these are sites from my own portfolio, they have been making reliable money for a few months. This means that when you buy the site, you are already going to be making a return from day 1. These sites are also already ranking for hundreds of valuable keywords.