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Summer Content Plan Failure and How to Fix!

Summertime is around the corner. For me this usually means long weekends at the cottage, outside activities with my wife and kids- like hiking, biking and boating and also just some general vacation time. I’ve always been an outdoorsy guy so the summer is a great time to recharge and reap the benefits of our area, especially since it doesn’t last too long here in Canada!

Although the down time is really nice, it unfortunately has come at the expense of some of my businesses- especially the ones that are relatively low maintenance and are easy to fall off my radar.  I’ve had a long history of taking my foot off the gas pedal during the summer when it has come to my content sites, which for some sites has lead to irreversible traffic declines and lost revenues!

Over the years I have noticed a consistent decline starting in or around June and July which coincides with the beginning of summer. If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you’ll know I’m a guy who is pretty data oriented and systems focused- so this predictable decline is annoying to me. What’s more annoying is that it is entirely my fault. If I had just taken a little bit of time to get in front of my content strategy and systematized the content creation process then I could have saved myself (and my sites) the hit that we ended up taking.

Take a look as some of these screenshots- none of these sites have recovered fully from these declines!

So what are my takeaways for this year? I’m going to get in front of my content creation strategy and systematize the content creation and publishing on my money sites so that I don’t even have to think about it this summer while I’m taking some time off. I’ve leveraged my team at Content Refined come up with a great plan that they will execute over the next 5 months so that it’s completely hands free for me.

Take a look at my spreadsheet for all of my money sites for the summer! I’ll quickly use one of my sites as an example to show you what I’ve done. And hey don’t steal my Keywords! 🙂 I’ll give you this sheet or free at the bottom of this article so that you can create your own plan!

Step 1:

Figure out how many articles you want published on a monthly basis. For this particular site, I have steady traffic already and am just looking to maintain. I figure 6 articles per month at 1000 words each will be sufficient in keeping the momentum I need around this size of site.

Current Traffic:

2. Conduct Keyword Research for your Niche.

The Team at Content Refined has engineered my site and separated it into the pillar topics. This is to make sure that every section of my site will get some content throughout the summer. They’ve picked the keywords and assigned the month of production to each

Step : 3 Make sure the metrics are understood and aligned with your goals!

Search Volume and competition are super important when it comes to picking keywords that will predictably rank on search engines. The gold standard that Content Refined uses is searches above 500 per month with a competition of under 30% are most likely to rank top 10!

We leverage other tools such as marketmuse to pull the average content score and the average word count that we should be targeting for each article. This way the writer assigned to each article knows how long it should be and what kind of content score we expect when we run it though marketmuse. If an article exceeds the average content score it is more likely to outrank the competition !!!

Step 4: Pick your plan!

I’ve opted to have the team at Content Refined deliver these on a monthly basis and update the spreadsheet accordingly. Alternatively I could have had these articles created all at once and then scheduled out on a weekly basis. The team is pretty flexible and can work with your budget and needs.

Now I’ve got my summer content plans ready to go and a system in place to make sure that my content creation strategy doesn’t fall off the priority list. I’m really stoked that I got in front of my content marketing goals for the summer and I think this will help avoid the trend. So what are you waiting for?

Download my spreadsheet for free: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1DjC0ir8UqigcXwa-nJrPTt2Mz2UPG_Vqk_Psy0PWz64/edit#gid=0

To have your summer content strategy taken care of, visit https://www.contentrefined.com/summer-special/ and have a chat with them on how they can do this for your sites!

3 Actionable Steps to Take Today to Improve Your Content Plan

Hey everyone.  The Content Refined team recently released an article and a few videos about how they perform content audits for their clients.

(Jump to the video here.)

Today I’ll summarize 3 of the most important takeaways from their study that you can apply today to your site!

  1. Use SEMRush (or Google Analytics) to see what existing pages on your site are bringing in the most organic traffic and focus on improving them by adding more content to them:

This feature is great because you can clearly see which pages you need to be maintaining.  So you can take the top 5, or 10, or 50 (depending on your site) and keep them updated. Change to the current year, update with new resources, add some new content, etc.

2. MarketMuse can be used to assess your content gaps and flesh out existing content.

In this example you can see how they’ve typed in one phrase, ‘content marketing service’, and all kinds of related phrases have come up.  This can act as a high-level overview to show that if you’re talking about a content marketing service, you need to be mentioning all these other things.

I’ve been really happy with MarketMuse for functionalities like that.  You can go into more detail with it to get more actionable insights, but even the high-level stuff like this is awesome.

3. Auditing your competition’s content for ideas

Even without SEMRush and MarketMuse, you can get some good insights into your content needs by looking at your competitors.  It can be as simple as some basic research:

  • Plug their site into Google (using the ‘site:domainname.com’ format) and check how many pages they’ve got indexed
  • Check how easily navigable their site is
  • See what sorts of categories and subcategories they have for their field/niche
  • Check the articles to see how in depth they are

Chances are you’ll have some work cut out for you at the beginning.  You’ll need some long-form content about the major topics in your niche just to start out.  Then you can branch off from there.

Content audit website

Final Thoughts/Resources:

The gals at Content Refined can help you out if you have questions.

Book a call with Madeleine here: https://contentrefinedmt.youcanbook.me/

Email her at maddie@contentrefined.com

Or jump ahead and purchase a content audit here: https://jonhaver.zaxaa.com/o/9664490654241/3.

Once you sign up, either Madeleine or Laura will be in touch with you within 24 hours.

Leave your comments on quick tips for website/content audits.  Always looking to hear feedback from you guys because I know you have some awesome experience.

How to Use Ahrefs for Keyword Research

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:

  • monthly search volume over 500
  • keyword density under 30
  • most of the other top competitors have a low domain authority

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:

  1. Go to ‘Keywords Explorer’ from the headings.
  2. Search for the keyword. In this example, ‘ketamine infusion’.
  3. Scroll down to ‘also rank for’ and click on the ‘view all #’.Ahrefs keyword explorer
  4. Click on KD and put ’30’ in the “To” section. Click ‘Apply’.Ahrefs keyword KD to 30
  5. Click on Volume and put ‘500’ in the “From” section. Click ‘Apply’.Ahrefs Volume from 500
  6. Now you’ll have a list of keywords with good metrics.Ahrefs keywords with good metrics
  7. Click on one that looks good, in this example, ‘ketamine infusion therapy’.
  8. In the new page, scroll all the way down to the ‘SERP Overview’ section. There you’ll be able to see the Domain Rating (“DR”) of the top competitors’ websites. Make sure that the majority of these are under about 35. In the example ‘ketamine infusion therapy’, most of those DRs are low, which is good!Ahrefs keyword Domain Rating
  9. Determine whether this is a good keyword for your needs, and copy the details as needed into your keyword research plan.
  10. Begin search again with a new keyword, as much as needed, to complete your keyword research.

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!

Podcast PR Specialist – Marketing Hack of the Year for Young Businesses

Whenever I’m trying to gain some recognition for a young business, I put someone on my marketing team in charge of finding some low cost opportunities to promote the business online.  That person performs a deep dive into our content niche and sources opportunities to find backlinks, get mentions on other pages, build connections with others in the industry, etc.  It’s a time consuming effort, but in the long run it’s so worthwhile.

Take a simple backlink for example.  In this graph, check out those two spikes.  That’s from when we had new backlinks live from good authority sites.  Even though our traffic dropped back down, consistent links and mentions over a long period of time will build up our own recognition in the industry, reputation in the niche, and our website’s authority.

backlink organic traffic

A lot of the time, backlinks and mentions aren’t free.  Leaders in the industry and high authority website owners are savvy to their power, so they’ll often charge a fee for that outbound link.  This can range anywhere from $50 to $1000+ depending on the site.  It depends on things like their traffic, the page that the link is going on, if you’re asking for an image or other content to accompany that link, etc.  Sometimes you can get lucky, or you have a buddy with a high authority site that owes you a favor, but, more often than not, this is one more thing that you’ve gotta work into your marketing budget.  (P.S. Don’t spend $1000 on a backlink.)

And then we tried something new.

Podcasts.

Nowadays, it seems like every guy and his cousin run a podcast out of their garage. (“Hey, we are geniuses about Bill Murray movies and classic rock history—let’s start an Americana Movie & Music podcast!”)  An April 2018 news article from Fast Company states that there are currently “over 525,000 active shows, with more than 18.5 million episodes available, including content in over 100 languages.”  In the world of business, digital media, and marketing, there are literally thousands upon thousands of podcasts available.  Plus, most of those include interviews with leaders in the field.  So, with this in mind, my brain started spinning some ideas:

  1. Those podcast episodes are always published to an associated website, with a backlink to the guest’s website.
  2. Podcast appearances look great in a media kit.
  3. There have got to be people out there, already in some podcasting networks, who can help us get connected to podcasters.

I had to test it.  So I took to UpWork (my favorite place to find freelancers) and posted a couple of jobs.  This was an initial trial, so we wanted to cover all the bases; we needed someone with some podcasting experience, maybe some PR experience, and digital media connections.  Here’s the strategy: Offer this ideal person $50 for whatever podcast they can get us booked on.  For someone who’s in a network of podcasters, it’s easy money.

podcast specialist job description

After a couple of hours, there was radio silence (pun intended).  24 hours went by–still crickets.  So I started actively searching on UpWork for freelancers who fit the description.  I just searched for terms like “podcasting”, “podcaster”, “PR”, etc.  A ton of people with good looking experience showed up right away.  I invited them all to the job, and within about a day I had a few people working away!  I asked them to look for podcasts that were specific to our field (in this case, ‘digital marketing’, ‘entrepreneurs’, and ‘start ups’, etc.).

The person doing this outreach usually has a tracking system, like this spreadsheet, where they can keep a record of everything.  It’s a good way to make sure they’re following up with opportunities, getting things booked on schedule, and take notes of any new ideas.

Podcast Outreach Trials spreadsheet

Two months later, we’ve recorded FOUR podcasts!  There are a few of these ‘podcast specialists’ working for us, actively seeking new shows for us to record on, and they’re happy to get $50 per booking.  It’s perfect for us, because they do all the time consuming work, then we get our company name out there at a low cost, with in depth interviews about our company’s origin story.  We also get to add a new podcast appearance to our media kit, which looks great.  Plus, we get a backlink from the podcaster’s website.  All this for $50 each.

This podcast hack has gotta be one of my favorites.  If you give it a shot, leave me a comment about your experience!

ListingEagle Failure To Soar – A Case Study on a Failed SaaS Project

With the success of some of my recent projects and the income number I will be sharing next week I am always concerned that I present an inaccurate image of someone who has all this online business stuff figured out with few challenges and no failures. Todays case study of a failed SAAS business including all the details in the SaaS dashboard will hopefuly present another picture.

The fact is that some projects are definite successes but I have my share of failures as well! Anytime a project fails to hit the goals I set for it hurts but I am reminded of a favorite quote…Continue reading

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