Author: Nadya Khoja

How to Identify Which Keywords to Rank For

If you know anything about SEO and getting organic traffic, you know that ideally you want to get traffic that will convert into paying customers.

So what do you do?

You try to identify which keywords are most relevant to your company or product, and you try to optimize your site and build links for those keywords.

But what happens once you’ve started ranking on all of your top words, but you hit a plateau in the amount of quality traffic you’re getting? How do you figure out which keywords to target next? It’s not as easy as it seems, but hopefully this guide will help make the process a little bit simpler.

You’re probably already using a tool to monitor your SEO performance. Chances are, the tool you’re using is either Moz, Ahrefs or SEMRush. Congratulations, you’re already one step ahead. The only issue with these tools, is unless you have one of the pricier packages that can track and unlimited amount of keywords, you need to be strategic with which terms you choose to keep your eye on.

Here are a few tips to help you strategize just which keywords to rank for:

Google Webmaster Tools Search Analysis

What Google’s Search Analytics tool does, quite simply, is analyze your performance on search.

Duh.

First:

Go to your Google Webmaster Tools dashboard. It will look like this:

search console

Then go to the drop-down  that says Search Traffic, and select the Search Analytics tab.

search console

You’ll see something that looks like this:

search console

Now, notice at the top, it says Clicks, Impressions, CTR and Position.

For now, I just want you to focus on the Clicks and Impressions tabs. Once you select both of those tabs for your site, with Queries selected, you will see a list of (most) of the keywords you are currently getting clicks and impressions for.

The number of Impressions simply mean the amount of time your site appeared before someone during a Google search. Clicks literally means the number of times someone clicked on your site instead of any of the other sites that appeared for that impression instead.

Makes sense, right?

This is what it will look like:

search console

 

So how do you now identify, based on this information which keywords to continue targeting, and which ones to add to your SEO strategy?

Well, I like to look at the Clicks over Impressions rate. There are a couple different factors to keep in mind:

  1. Volume of impressions versus volume of clicks
  2. Overall conversation rate

What do I mean by these two factors?

By volume of impressions versus volume of clicks, I mean that sometimes a word is worth targeting even if the number of clicks you are getting for the term is substantially lower than the number of impressions the term is getting.


This can be caused because of the location in which you are ranking for that keyword.

If your SEO strategy depends on only targeting the United States, for instance, the rate of clicks to impressions will differ drastically from the rate of clicks to impressions when looking at the keywords on a global scale.

In order to remedy this, just filter in the country you are targeting where it says Countries. Here’s what my list of terms looks like when I only look at the United States, which is the country that we spend most of our time targeting.

search console

The next factor is the overall conversion rate. This is calculated by following this very easy to remember formula:

Clicks / Impressions * 100 = Conversion %

So for instance, that first term on the list has a click conversion rate of 79%! Which is unbelievable, so we should definitely continue targeting that term.

If we look at the third term from the bottom, which has 1,475 clicks and 23,727 impressions, we know the click conversion rate is about 6%, which is still really good.

Depending on the level of competition and overall search volume of the term in question, I would recommend going after any term that has a conversion rate of over 4%, especially if you’re getting over 1,000 clicks to that term. If of course, you’re getting 20 clicks to your site, but the URL itself is getting over 50,000 impressions, you can probably remove that term from your SEO strategy altogether.

You can download the list of terms from Google Search Analytics and track your priorities in a spreadsheet.

Track Competitor Keywords

Another way to identify which keywords you can rank for is by tracking what your competitors are targeting. There are a few ways you can do this, but I recommend using one specific tool.

SpyFu is a tool that pretty much…spies on your competitors. Why this is amazing, is because you can learn just how many keywords those competitors are ranking for, which keywords specifically they are ranking for, and you can even see what their Google Adwords spend is, and which paid keywords they are targeting.

If you think this sounds super intrusive, it kind of it, but it can definitely be a tool to not only help you get ahead in your organic rankings, but work towards slowly crushing your competition.

You can go to SkyFu’s website to test out the product by pasting the URL of a site into the homepage.

search console

The tool starts at $49/month billed annually for the most basic feature, so it’s not necessarily cheap, but if you’re just trying to get a general idea of what to rank for, you can probably get away with just using it for one month.

Don’t think that these two options are the only ways to figure out what you rank for. If you have some other methods that you use to help you identify which keywords you are already ranking, please share them in the comments!

Choosing The Best Credit Card Reader for Your New Business

Part of the process of starting your own business is choosing the best service for accepting money, that will also save you money. If your brick-and-mortar business does not accept debit and credit cards, I’m sorry to say that you’re way behind the times.

But it’s very common for small mom and pop shops to either only accept cash, or charge a service fee every time a debit or credit card is used. This can be very problematic in an age where consumer convenience is at an incredible height. In our internet-driven society with sites like Amazon controlling the majority of the retail market, it’s too easy for consumers to find other alternatives to your inconvenient payment processing methods.

So what are some possible alternatives that you have?

Well for one, you can start out by choosing company that offers affordable rates on payment processing. I looked at a number of different alternatives and one of the best solutions I was able to find was from a company called Merchant Account Solutions.

Most major credit card providers like Visa, MasterCard and American Express charge an average fee of roughly 1.95% – 2%. The average cost for card-not-present businesses, such as online shops, is roughly 2.30% – 2.50%. In the short-term, this may not always seem like a substantial amount, but think of it this way; if you’re making 1 million dollars in revenue a year, and 80% of those charges are on one of the above credit card providers’ readers, you’re losing almost $17,000 a year.

Seems like a lot now, right?

But what if you could bring that rate down, to just 0.39% and got a free credit card terminal on top of that? For that same annual revenue you’d only be paying a little over $3,000 a year. Imagine what you could do with an additional 15K a year by choosing the right business credit card machine. Once you start thinking 5, 10 or even 20 years ahead, something as simple as a credit card reader can help you see a substantial increase in revenue.

Before making a snap judgement and following the status quo, consider doing your research to find more affordable alternatives so that your business can grow to its fullest potential.

Hiring Hustlers: How to Determine What Interview Questions to Ask

Hiring hustlers is not easy.

There really isn’t a simple way of identifying whether or not someone is a hustler at heart, neither is there a specific question you can ask a job candidate that will easily get them to admit all prior examples of hustle.

Why is it so hard to find hustlers?

I ask myself this question a lot, and it has lead to another question, which is “Can someone be trained to become a hustler?”

Personally, I think the answer to that question is no. Simply being that not everyone is particularly interested in doing what it takes to be successful, and not everyone comes away from failure a stronger person.

You also can’t ask someone if they are a hustler, because they will just tell you what they know you want to hear.

So how do you figure out if someone is a hustler while interviewing them for a job?

Here are a few methods that I’ve found have been pretty good identifiers:

 

Does the Candidate Accept Defeat?

When speaking to a potential “hiree”, ask them questions about their failures, their mistakes and their regrets.

Although this may seem counter-intuitive, if someone has previously failed and is still determined to succeed, it shows perseverance; a very important quality among hustlers.

Bill Walsh, previously the Head Coach of the San Francisco 49ers, and the one who lead them to multiple Super Bowl victories says that you can’t truly know success until you have known failure. And he’s not the only one who believes in this statement.

What does he mean by this?

Well, for one have you ever heard of a CEO, Entrepreneur, Musician, Actor, Director or anyone successful for that matter who got it right on the first try? Of course not! Most of the stories we hear about the world’s best leaders is how they overcame obstacles and learned from their mistakes. You need to fail in order to know what not to do the next time around.

By learning about the obstacles that job candidates have faced in the past, and what they have done despite those struggles, you will be able to identify just how determined and how much of a go-getter a certain person is.

Possible questions you can ask are:

  • Give me an example of a time where a decision you made turned out to be a horrible idea. What happened, or what did you do about it?
  • When is the last time something didn’t go as planned? How did you react?

questions for hustlers

Image made with infographic generator Venngage

Notice that these questions don’t directly require the candidate to tell you how they “turned the failure around”, but rather they prompt the candidate for their reactions to those failures. It frames the question as having no right or wrong answers, but will provide you with more of an opportunity to figure out whether the person is the right fit for your team.

Has the Candidate Been Successful With a Personal Project?

Every single one of the best hustlers I know has an origin story. I love hearing these origin stories because they always make it easier to identify whether the person is a risk-taker. For instance, a friend of mine, Ross Simmonds talks about how his first business venture was selling do-rags from his locker in high school.

My story origin story began in 3rd grade, when I took over the swingsets with my friends and charged the younger students a nickel for a ride on the swings. Another time I sold T-shirts that I had made myself and then donated all the profits to the Heart and Stroke foundation. I also made Christmas ornaments out of clay and sold them for a dollar each. I even started a secret underground restaurant in my own apartment that got national coverage. Did they all succeed? In their own ways, absolutely!

The point is that every hustler has an origin story of their own, and all hustlers will know exactly what that story is when prompted. Why? Because they are truly proud of their innovation and their success.

Possible questions you can ask are:

  • Tell me about a personal project that you are truly proud of.
  • What is one of the most inventive things you did as a child (or an adult) that you still talk about today?

questions for hustlers

Image made with infographic generator Venngage

If the candidate hesitates to talk about something truly inventive, or if you can see that they are talking out of their ass, it’s probably because they never discovered their origin story. Once again, these questions don’t have a right or wrong answer that can be identified by the candidate, but they will help you better identify what kind of person the interviewee is.

Has the Candidate Demonstrated Fast, Upward Motion?

There is a reason companies ask to see an interviewee’s college grades. If you have good grades, it means you are a hard worker and you’re smart.

Naturally, not all hustlers perform well in structured academia, but there are other ways to figure out whether a person is intelligent and hardworking.

One of the reasons hustlers are so hard to find is because they know how to climb the ladder of success. They don’t often remain in the same position with the same responsibilities for long. Every job they get is better in some way than the last position they had. For hustlers, there is no backwards, only forwards. More importantly, there is a constant thirst- a hunger for growth.

Look at the example of Richard Branson, who began his entrepreneurial endeavors by starting a student magazine. Later, he transitioned that business into a mail-order record company, despite not knowing anything about the music industry. That company eventually became Virgin Records and he continued to grow his business to what it is today. The point is, he didn’t just settle with the student magazine, or with the record business. He kept finding ways to grow and expand his projects and his ventures.

Possible questions to ask are:

  • Have you ever been promoted, why or why not?
  • Have you ever gotten a job for which you were not fully qualified?

questions for hustlers

Image made with infographic generator Venngage

I like the second question a lot because one of the greatest qualities of a hustler is that they believe they can figure out any problem. Although they may not be qualified for a specific role, they are willing to go for it and learn how to be the best at that role.

Most of the jobs I have gotten in life, I have had almost no prior experience. The same goes for most entrepreneurs and CEOs. Ben Horowitz’s beautifully articulates this in his book, The Hard thing about Hard things when he says that everybody learns to be a CEO by being a CEO. Hustlers realize that sometimes you need to throw yourself into the deep end and figure out how to swim.  

 

Do They Work Until The Task is Done or Until The Time is Up?

Finally you want to figure out whether the person you are interviewing works to get the job done, or just puts in their hours.

Whether you run a small business or a major enterprise, the goal is the same; you want to see positive results. You may have heard of the Vitality Curve, also known as the 80/20 rule. It means that 20% of your activities result in 80% of your outcomes. Jack Welch’s version of this same principal goes by the 20-70-10 ratio. It means that 20% of your workforce is the most productive, 70% work adequately and 10% are non-producers and should be fired.

Why is this important?

Well, it’s important because you need to identify if the person being interviewed will be part of the 20, 70 or 10 percent. Hustlers almost always makeup the 20%. The reason being, they work until a task is done, not just to log their hours. Hustlers get shit done.

Possible questions to ask:

  • Have you ever asked for an extension on an assignment or a task? Why or why not?
  • When was the last time, if ever, that you stayed late at the office or at school? What was it for?

questions for hustlers

Image made with infographic generator Venngage

What’s important to note about these questions, is that it doesn’t matter if they said yes or not. What matters is the why. If the candidate asked for an extension on an assignment because they waited until the last minute to even look at it, they may not fall into the 20% bracket. If they stayed late at the office to finish a task before a deadline, or better yet, to get a head start on another project, you know they work to complete the job and not just to log their hours. The why always outweighs the what.

 

Does the Candidate Truly Speak Their Mind?

There are two kinds of people who speak their minds. The first kind are speaking just for the sake of speaking. The second kind actually have something to contribute to the conversation.

Hustlers speak their mind. But only when there is something of value to add.

The other speaks because no one else is speaking. These are the douchebags of the world.

Hustlers back their suggestions with evidence, research and experiments. The douchebags make suggestions solely on speculation or to have the last word. Kind of like how Trump only spoke during the 2016 Presidential Elections to have the last word, despite saying nothing of value.

Hustlers are not afraid to tell their manager or their CEO that they don’t agree with something that has been said or with a decision that has been made.

Hustlers are not afraid to point out other people’s flaws, as well as their own flaws.

Hustlers are not afraid to be direct and are willing to tell the bad news as well as the good news. They are not overly optimistic when times are rough, and they can sometimes be pessimistic when things are going well. Meaning, they constantly believe that things can improve.

Because of their confidence and willingness to speak up, hustlers also make great networkers. They understand how to network and connect with the right influencers. They are not afraid of putting themselves out there.

Possible questions to ask are:

  • When looking at our company/product, what is something that you think should change? Why?
  • What is a question that I should have asked you during this interview but didn’t?

hiring hustlers

Image made with infographic generator Venngage

 

These two questions force the candidate to think critically not just about your business, but about the overall interview process. Both of these questions require the candidate to 1) do their research about company, and 2) listen carefully. The more specific the candidate’s responses and the more thought they put into their answers, the easier it will be to identify whether they speak to add value or speak empty words.

 

Holding onto Hustlers

Hiring hustlers, or “A-players” is not always easy because most of them either already have jobs, or run their own businesses. It’s also not easy to identify if someone is a hustler because most people will say they are if asked directly.

If you do find a strong hustler and happen to hire them, you need to make sure you are keeping them happy. The second they find a better opportunity elsewhere, they will leave you. So when you find the right hustler, never let them go.

 

How To Network With Influencers at a Conference

Attending a conference can be extremely beneficial when it comes to growing your business. The opportunities to network and connect with influencers are endless, and the benefits of solidifying a business relationship in person far outweigh the types of connections you can make online. But the unfortunate truth is that many people do not take full advantage of what a conference has to offer and end up returning home with no new contacts, and hardly any new valuable knowledge.

If at the end of a conference you find yourself with hardly any new leads or new relationships, don’t fret. Here are a few ways that you can make the most of your next conference and boost your networking potential.

Go Alone

The number one mistake people make when going to a conference or a networking event is attending it with their whole team. For some companies, this doesn’t prove to be a big issue because everyone in the team is independent and uses a divide and conquer strategy. In many cases, however, it’s easy to get trapped in the comfort of your own friends and coworkers. Rather than going to networking parties, you go out with your own team. Instead of doing the morning group walks, you sleep in with your team.

By sending only one person to a conference, or by attending alone, you have no option but to converse with others and learn about their business strategies. The benefit of attending a marketing conference, is that the vast majority of people there are outgoing by nature and are looking to meet new people as well, so you shouldn’t hesitate to approach them.

Make a Game of It

Nervous about walking up to a stranger and putting yourself out there? It’s normal. In fact according to the National Institute of Mental Health, roughly 18% of the population actually suffers from social anxiety.

chart maker

Made with chart maker Beam

The fact is, introducing yourself to someone new can be a very daunting task. I like making a game of the networking process. Give yourself a quota of business cards you need to collect every day. I usually give myself a goal of 20, but that can be a bit much. Start by challenging yourself to meet 10 people on the first day, 15 on the second and 20 on the third day of the conference. You can also invite others to participate in this challenge with you, inspiring them to have fun with the networking experience as well.

Schedule Meetings

Many conferences, such as the Inbound Marketing Conference hosted by Hubspot, or the Social Media Marketing World conference hosted by Social Media Examiner have an online schedule that you can access from your mobile device. Usually, these apps also list all of the confirmed attendees, or they at least have a Slack group to promote conversation among attendees.

Use these groups as tools for scheduling meet-ups and meetings with multiple people. The meetings don’t always need to be professional in nature. Chances are many attendees come from around the world and will be looking for an opportunity to sneak in some sight-seeing.

There are usually a couple of networking parties scheduled for attendees as well. Make it a point to attend these (and don’t be afraid to have a couple of swigs of liquid courage to make it easier). Find opportunities to talk to people about their work, and learn if they would be interested in any future collaborations or co-marketing initiatives. Ask people about past successes and fuel their egos a bit during these meet-ups.

Don’t Always Talk Business

Naturally at a conference your go to strategy is to talk business, but keep in mind that a lot of the individuals you meet have been networking all day and learning about various companies and business strategies. Instead, differentiate yourself from the crowd and steer away from the work banter. Legitimately try to get to know some people and build a friendship with them. After all, who are you more likely to trust and work with, a friend or a stranger?

Some of the best professional partnerships I’ve formed at conferences came from getting to know people on a more personal note. Don’t hesitate to ask individuals about their interests outside of the workplace. You might find out you share some common hobbies.

Conclusion

Although many conferences offer a wide selection of great breakout sessions, the fact remains that a lot of that information and guidance offered can be found in blog posts, podcasts and videos online. The best thing you can gain from an event is the networking possibilities. Take advantage of the opportunity to market yourself. No relationship is as valuable as one that has been solidified in person. When someone has met you and remembers your face, there is a much better chance that they will choose to open your email over the hundreds of faceless contacts in their inbox.

How to Market Yourself if You’re Not a Marketer

Are you struggling to market that project and get people excited about it?

Well, lately a lot of my friends in other professions have been asking me for tips on marketing their own businesses and personal ventures. They’ve seen that I’ve managed to get a decent amount of press on my side-project called Chez Lisgar, a trade-based dinner party I host in my own apartment, and I’ve even helped increase blog traffic for Venngage (my day job) by over 400% in less than a year.

Many of them congratulate me on the spontaneous attention and success I’ve seen. They think that I was “discovered” simply because of the idea of Chez Lisgar. But the truth is that I didn’t just get press for my underground supper club. I had to do a lot of initial outreach and pitch the idea to various websites and newspapers. I had to sell them a story.

Unfortunately, most people who do not have any experience working in tech or in the online space will have some difficulty figuring out how to market themselves. It’s not necessarily an intuitive process but it’s also not a very complicated procedure once you get the hang of it. I’ve decided to put together this basic resource to help non-marketers, market their own brands.

To give you an idea of the type of projects I’ve been approached to help out with, here is a list:

  • Musicians looking to launch their first EP
  • Theatre majors and actors looking to promote a web-series
  • Food and beverage startups looking to get press
  • A modeling agency trying to boost their web traffic
  • A designer trying to master social media conversions

Now I’m going to walk you through step-by-step exactly how to get your personal project off the ground and into a business that people know and love.

Step 1: Make a Website to Market Yourself

You’re probably rolling your eyes at me right now because this seems like the most obvious thing anyone could say. But the sad truth is, many of you guys reading this right now probably don’t have a site at all, let alone a decent one. If you are one of the few who does have their own site, give yourself a pat on the back.

For anyone trying to make a name for themselves, it’s absolutely crucial that you have a website. In 2016, the vast majority of individuals look to Google when trying to find a resource. In fact, 67% of individuals use Google for all their search queries.

That’s a huge percentage of the market!

 Looking for some new music to listen to? You Google it. Looking for a new place to eat? You Google it. Wanna find a new TV show to watch that has good ratings? You Google it.

By creating a website you open up thousands of doors for yourself. If you’re worried that you know nothing about hosting and setting up a site, don’t worry. There are hundreds of choices that are also very affordable. I recommend finding a hosting platform that supports WordPress since  it will make your life 100 times easier and you won’t need to worry about learning and mastering too much code.

Here are a few that I suggest looking into:

SiteGround:

This is a good choice, especially for beginners. It costs less than $4.00 a month and you get a free domain name included in the fee. This will host your site for you for up to 10,000 visitors a month. If you’re new and not established, I can guarantee you will not need more than that. If you do need more bandwidth as a new company, give me a call. I want to learn what you’re doing that I’m not.

BlueHost:

BlueHost is another great hosting site starting at $3.50 a month. It basically includes all the same features as SiteGround and has 1-click WordPress installation.

GreenGeeks:

I use GreenGeeks and haven’t had an issue. The setup process can be a little complicated, but they have great support to help you if you need it. It may take some messing around with to figure out exactly how it works, but they also support 1-click WordPress installation.

When you finish setting up your website and installing WordPress, it’s easy to pick out a free theme for your site.

The next step is optimizing your site for SEO and installing a few Google Webmaster tools. This will basically tell Google that your site exists so they can keep crawling it for new content. You’ll also want to set up Google Analytics so you can track how many visits you get, and where traffic is coming from. This might not seem as glamorous as you hoped, but gosh darnit it’s important!

First things first, get Google to know that your site exists. How do you do that? It’s very easy. Just follow this link and submit your site’s URL. It looks like this.

Screen Shot 2016-08-01 at 8.22.15 PM.png

You’re done. Easy, right?

Next, you need to create a Google Analytics account.

Once you’ve made an account, go to your Admin Panel. It looks like this:

Screen Shot 2016-08-01 at 8.24.35 PM.png

Under the drop-down that says “Account”, create a new account and add all of your website information.

google analytics create new

Then when that account is created, select it and then create a new “Property”.

new property

What this will do is provide you with a very important tracking number. You will need that tracking number to add to your site.

When you get that tracking number, download the WP Google Analytics Plugin onto your site. Go to the “Settings” section of your dashboard and simply add the tracking code. This will install analytics to your site. That way when you log into your Google Analytics dashboard in the future, you can see how many people are visiting your site, and where they are finding it. This could be through a referral from another website, or from organic traffic. But we will get to that in more detail later on.

Now that your site is all set up, it’s time to start creating killer content!

Step 2: Create Killer Content for Your Site

What exactly defines killer content? Well, it’s content that follows the rules of P.E.A.C., which stands for Practical, Entertaining, Awe-inspiring and Credible.

Whether you choose to blog, start a podcast, or produce a web-series, if you want it to stand out from the rest of the content out there, it has to be P.E.A.C. content.

Here’s what you can do.

One.

Start by creating a list of possible content ideas. These should be topics that you personally would benefit from learning about. What are you struggling with or what is your audience struggling with? Find the answers to those questions.

Why did I choose to write this guide? Because I knew that my friends, some of which make up my audience, are struggling with the basics of marketing. By acknowledging and answering these questions, you are providing practical value to your readers, listeners and/or viewers.

Two.

The next step is ensuring that your content has an entertaining tone to it. There are about 3 million blog posts written a day! That’s a hell of a lot of content. If you are just following the same boring recipe that everyone else is using, you’re quickly going to get drowned out.

You need to engage your audience. One way to do that is write at a 6th grade level. A study that was conducted which analyzed What Makes an Article Popular on Medium  found that easy to read sentences resulted in 43% more recommendations. So forget everything you learned about writing essays in school. Most people don’t actually enjoy reading highly academic papers. The truth is, most people like reading magazines, or Buzzfeed. Why? Because it’s easier and more natural to read!

And you know what else?

When an article is easy to read, it usually flows better. You don’t need to stop and go over the same sentence twice. And when something typically flows better, it holds onto your attention longer!

Meaning?

It’s usually more entertaining to read. Furthermore, don’t hesitate to inject your personality in the content you produce.

Three.

Jonah Berger is an author who wrote a book called Contagious. In this book he analyzes what makes something go viral. One of the elements of virality according to his findings, was to make the content awe-inspiring. Essentially, does the article or video make you want to say “Wow”? Is there an “Aha” moment?

I’m going to use Harry Potter as an example because it is one of the most viral forms of content this world has ever seen. One of the reasons for this is because the world that J.K. Rowling created was so awe-inspiring, but also very relatable. She took a normal boy- someone each and every one of us could identify with on some level, and placed him in an unlikely situation. This is one of the fundamental aspects of storytelling that so many great authors implement. How does your content, or your story evoke this same sense of awe? Are you addressing a problem that many people identify with, and are you offering an unlikely or unique solution to that problem?

Four.

Lastly, is your content credible? Is what you are saying valid, or backed up by reliable data in any way? Or are you making it all up? Part of the reason that bloggers link to content in their articles, is to reinforce those points as credible. Unless you are, as an individual, a credible source for the information you impart on the world, you need to reinforce what you are saying with concrete data.

If you can manage to create something that follows the rules of P.E.A.C., you are one step closer to getting your stories heard.

A great guide I recommend for scheduling your content and boosting your site’s traffic is this one by Nat Eliason, a former SumoMe Content Marketer.

Step 3: Optimize Your Site’s Content for SEO

Once you’ve decided on what content to produce, and you have it scheduled, it’s time to create it. While you are producing your content, it’s extremely important to ensure that you optimize it for SEO.

What does this mean?

The whole point of creating content is to get people to see it, right?

Well if you’re not optimizing your content for search, it’s going to be very hard for it to rank on Google. And if it doesn’t rank on Google, you’re going to have a hard time getting it seen organically.

I can talk about SEO all day, but instead of going into too much detail right now, I’m just going to cover the basics.

1.  Deciding on keywords

The first thing you need to do is decide on a keyword you want to rank for. I’ll use an example from an article I’ve written.

My article is about “Increasing blog traffic”. I wanted to target the keyword increase blog traffic. All this means is that when people are Googling the term, “increase blog traffic”, the goal is for mine to appear.

You can use Google Keyword Planner to figure out which keywords have a high search volume and which one’s are a relatively low competition.

2. Headers and URL

Once you’ve figured out which keyword you want to rank for, you need to make sure that you include that term in the title of your blog post (preferably early on in the title). With my article it looks something like this:

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 6.06.33 PM.png

You also want to make sure that the keyword appears in your subheaders:

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 6.07.34 PM.png

What this does is help Google figure out what your article is really about. If it sees the keyword filtered throughout your blog post relatively often, it will know what your article is about, and make it easier for you to rank higher on that term.

You should also make sure your keyword appears in the URL of your article:

Screen Shot 2016-08-22 at 6.10.39 PM.png

This will probably not boost you right to the top of Google for that term, but it will give you an initial boost, and make ranking a little bit easier.

3. Use a plugin

The easiest way to make sure your content is fully optimized for search is by using a plugin. I recommend downloading the Yoast SEO plugin. It will automatically scan your article and provide you with a list of tips for better optimization. On top of that, the UX is very easy to follow. If the red light comes on, your content needs more work, if it’s green, you’ve done a pretty decent job getting your article ready for SEO.

Step 4: Pitch Your Content to People

Once your killer content is produced and published, you can just wait for the traffic to roll in, right?

Wrong.

If you don’t tell anyone about the content you just created, it’s going to be very hard for anyone to see it. This holds true especially if you are a new site with very little street cred.

You have to pitch your stuff to people who care.

So how do you find these people? And how to you frame your pitch so they care?

I’m going to tell you exactly how I managed to get Chez Lisgar featured on sites like CBC News, Global News, The Huffington Post, Blog TO, Toronto Star and a ton of other sites!

1. Find the right writer

You can’t just reach out to info at huffingtonpost dot com and hope for the best. No, you need to find the right writer. That means doing your research.

For Chez Lisgar, I wasn’t just pitching any old restaurant. My restaurant had a few unique characteristics that others don’t:

  • It started out on Bunz Trading Zone
  • I traded people for dinner instead of charging money
  • I only hosted dinner once a week
  • My dinners took place in my apartment
  • I only invited two guests at a time

The next step was finding authors who have written about similar concepts, or who might be interested in writing about similar concepts. First I made a list of potential sources I hoped to be featured on.

Next, I simply Googled “Bunz Trading Zone”. I figured if people had written about Bunz already, maybe they would be interested in writing about something that started on Bunz. I copied these links and put them into a spreadsheet. I then looked at who wrote these specific articles and reached out them specifically.

For some other sources that hadn’t covered Bunz before, I tried to find writers who had written about the “sharing economy” or food related startups.

Once I had compiled a list of writers who could be interested in my concept, I started emailing them.

2. Sell your story

The news covers stories that sell. Meaning, your pitch needs to be compelling. You have to position your business or product at an interesting angle.

The subject line of my email pitches was: A Restaurant That is Only Open Once a Week And Doesn’t Accept Cash.

Naturally the initial reaction to this subject line was, HUH?! Remember what I talked about above in terms of creating content that is awe-inspiring. Your pitch needs to make people go wow.

You also need to show the person you are pitching to that there is a lot of interest surrounding your business model. For me, it was the fact that we had been booked solid for the next 4 months, and the fact that all of our open slots were filled in less than 2 hours. What this does validate your idea, and presents it as a necessity. If so many people want in on what you are offering, clearly it’s newsworthy.

Ask yourself how you can present your idea in a way that begs attention.

3. Keep it short

Lastly, when pitching a writer, keep in mind they get pitched left, right and centre. They don’t want to read a novel. All they care about is your idea. Try to keep your pitch to a few sentences.

Just make sure you:

  • Say hi.
  • Comment the writer.
  • Compliment a previous article they have written.
  • Present your project.
  • Show them why it’s a great story.

If you don’t hear back from the writer in 3-5 days time, I recommend sending a follow-up email to ensure that you are still on their radar. Like I said, they are busy and get tons of emails so it’s important to remind them that you are serious about being heard.

Marketing Yourself Doesn’t Have to be Hard

Remember that just because you don’t have any formal education in digital marketing, business or computer science, doesn’t mean you aren’t cut out for it! If you’re just in the beginning stages of getting your project up on its feet, chances are you can’t really afford to hire external help. You’ve got to hustle and figure out how to market yourself. This guide is in no way a masterclass, but it does provide you with the basics. If you are interested in a one on one consultation or sitting in on a webinar just enter your email here and I will be in touch!

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What Does it Take Get Your Slide Deck Featured on SlideShare?

If you haven’t attempted taking advantage of SlideShare’s 70 million monthly visitors, then it’s about time you stopped wasting time and get on it!

SlideShare is a segment of LinkedIn, and if you know anything about LinkedIn, you know that the most active members are business people. For an online marketer, this group is of extremely high value, because they are the most likely to engage with your “boring” marketing related content.

Let me give you an example of the vast potential you are missing out on by not publishing content to SlideShare.

Eugene Cheng is what I would like to call a SlideShare pro. Over the past 3 years he has gotten over 2 million views across 16 of his SlideShare presentations. Just from SlideShare he gets 400 new email leads a month. Again, that’s just from one social platform.

Now I’m going to let you in on a little secret. I actually have no idea how to prosper on SlideShare. Apparently it doesn’t just come down to publishing a deck and waiting for the traffic to roll in. If you really want to make use of SlideShare’s organic traffic, you’ll have the best luck by .

Another thing to keep in mind, is you get a lot of views from other people embedding your presentations on their own blogs, but how does that happen? Well you need people to see your SlideShare. How do they see your SlideShare? By visiting the homepage…

See what I’m getting at?

Rather than testing out the process for myself, and doing real work, I thought I would just ask people who have succeeded in the past.

Here are the exclusive tips I gathered from 13 SlideShare experts:

 


 
SlideShare Infographic

Why These 7 Factors Will Explain Why You Clicked This Title

Recently, I’ve been thinking–the time I spend online is perhaps only 50% productive. The remaining hours I’m either on Facebook, watching videos of cute animals on YouTube or doing a Buzzfeed quiz to try and figure out what food best matches my personality. It’s sushi, by the way.

Screen Shot 2016-02-14 at 9.09.18 AM

As a result, I’ve come to realize just how monotonous my life has become. When I was younger I used to read all the time, or go outside! Now my weekends roll around and I have to force myself not spend half an hour reading about how an Instagrammer Matches Makeup To Snacks (which is actually pretty cool, I encourage you to read it).

My conclusion is that the many clickbait articles that exist now function as a drug. You can’t just stop reading them, or you might die. Rather than attempt to avoid the power of clickbait articles, however, I decided it might be best to understand them. That way, the next time I find myself trying to figure out what kind of grilled cheese I am, at least I can figure out exactly what elements about the quiz or article I find compelling, and use it against other people!

Analysing the clickbait title

So how exactly does one understand a clickbait title? What do you use to measure its clickbaitiness**? Well there are some tools that exist which aim to tell you just how clickbait a title is, but I found that they can be somewhat inaccurate and a bit too simple.

I started my research by using CoSchedule’s headline analyzer to assess the top performing articles from the past three months that were featured on 24 high-traffic sites known for producing particularly clickbait titles, such as Buzzfeed, Upworthy and Cracked.

Here is a list of those titles:

Screen Shot 2016-02-17 at 3.40.04 PM

Some of these sites had as high as a million shares for a specific article in under 3 months! Surely the title should score 100% on the title analyzer, right?

Well, no. In fact it only scored a 23…

Screen Shot 2016-02-14 at 9.30.23 AM

Clearly this title analyzer did not accurately reflect what kinds of titles result in social shares. The means of measuring how shareable a title can be is just too subjective, and has a lot to do with current affairs or what is being covered in the news.

In fact, the correlation between number of shares per article and the CoSchedule ranking was very random:

coschedule ranking vs shares

I used Buzzsumo to collect the data for analyzing the various titles and to see the number of shares the most popular article from each site received. My goal in doing so was to discover exactly what it would take to boost blog traffic with a single headline.

To analyze the titles of these articles, these are the questions I asked myself:

1) Was the title a list?

As might be assumed, a list-based article is something along the lines of 18 Photos That Won’t Make Sense To Sisterless Families, which is a common style for Buzzfeed articles and considered one of the most popular types of content on the internet.

2) Was there a mention of “You” or “I” or a personal story aspect to the title?

In his book Contagious, Jonah Berger expresses the importance of using stories to engage people with your content. Why do you think case studies are so popular? Because if something can affect another person, it means there’s a chance it can affect you too! Titles that mention or hint at a personal story get clicks.

3) Was there an animal mention?

 I don’t know about you, but anytime I see or hear mention of a story about a dog or a cute panda sneezing or a hippo farting, I get excited and immediately need to read or see more. Chances are if the title mentions an animal, there will likely be a picture in the post. Cute animals get people excited. Look:

 

 4) Did the topic receive recent media attention, or was it a news piece?

 As you probably could have guessed, trending topics in the media gain a lot of attention, so if your title mentions a recent event, you will likely see it receiving a lot of attention. This exact thing happened with a few of our blog posts at Venngage. When Star Wars: The Force Awakens was coming out, we did an infographic about the movie. When there was a lot of media coverage about the Syrian refugee crisis, we created some data visualizations to comment on the subject. Both were very popular!

 5) Was there a pop-culture or food culture reference?

Have you ever watched any of Buzzfeed’s Tasty videos? They’re addictive, right? Sometimes I watch my roommate spend hours on Tumblr just looking at pictures of food. This was her Facebook cover photo for over a month.

 

Food is simply irresistible and so is pop-culture. As of late I can’t seem to get enough of 90s throwback references! The fact that Netflix decided to remake the show Full House as Fuller House should come as no surprise. Anything older than 10 or 15 years suddenly becomes iconic and novel, and thus evokes from people a strong desire to click.

 6) Was there an unknown or new concept mentioned in the title?

 Introducing a new idea or suggesting an element of mystery makes it very difficult to resist clicking on a title. Here’s an example: between the following two titles, which are you more likely to click?

question pollInfographic

 You probably chose the second. Why? Because who wouldn’t want to know why the duck crossed the pond? The answer is unrevealed and as a result, you can’t help but wonder what it is.

7) Was there an element of shock or excitement?

Shocking and exciting your reader is another powerful method to convince them to click. Let’s go back to the example with the duck crossing the pond. The first title example might actually work in this case if we rephrased the end result. So instead of the title being This duck just swam across this pond to get to the other side, it might be more shocking if the title was This duck just swam across this pond to save a man from a burning building!

It’s shocking because it’s highly unlikely that a duck would be able to save a human from a burning building. If your title contains an element of shock to this extent, you will peak the reader’s curiosity.

 

Also here’s a video of another cute dog:

 

A video posted by Michael Tully (@tullstoy) on

 

The results of my labor…

 So after many grueling hours of calculating the data (it only took this long because I suck at math), here is what I learned:

chart maker

Made with chart maker Beam

Of the top performing clickbait articles:

  •  17% were listicles.
  •  29% of the most shared titles mentioned “you”, “I” or hinted at a personal story.
  • Only 8% mentioned an animal.
  • 63% made a pop-culture reference or mentioned food.
  • 63% also mentioned recent events in the news and media.
  • 67% contained an unknown or new concept.
  • An overwhelming 79% of the articles contained an element of shock.

chart maker

Made with chart maker Beam


Of the articles analyzed, this is how many contained more than one of the clickbait factors listed above:

4% of the titles assessed contained only one of the 7 factors.

8% of the titles contained two clickbait factors.

46% of titles contained 3 of the factors.

42% contained 4 of the clickbait factors mentioned in this article.

None of the articles assessed contained 5 or more of the factors. Of all the titles, the majority with more than 200,000 shares contained exactly 3 of the 7 factors. Shock value was the highest performing factor.

So now what?

Do you ever find that after you study a subject in school for very long time you can’t help but analyze everything about it for the rest of your life? I’ll give you an example–I did my undergraduate degree in theatre and now every time I go to see a show I can’t help but speculate on the production choices, the blocking choices, the design choices and the transitions.

The reason this happens is because once someone brings a fact to your attention, it’s almost impossible to unsee or unhear it. Like if someone points out to you that your girlfriend has a lazy eye, you may have never noticed it before, but once it’s pointed out to you, that’s all you see. What I’m getting at is by reading this recipe about the factors that make for a perfect clickbait title, you will become better at spotting them on a more frequent basis. As a result, when it comes down to forming attractive headlines for your own content, you will face zero struggles.

As a conclusion, I leave you with a challenge. Everytime you come across a new article, whether it’s one on your own blog or one that someone shares with you, analyze it and track whether it contains any of the factors listed above. As you continue to produce new content, aim to reach that target of hitting three of the seven factors. Hopefully you’ll notice a massive jump in social shares and become a millionaire overnight (well, the first part, at least)! 

If not, keep hustling.

 

**Clickbaitiness: Defines to what degree an article is considered clickbait on a scale of 1 to 10. This does not include articles which are not deemed clickbait at all. Lastly, this is a word I made up, but feel free to reference it.

 

 

Article originally published by me on Venngage’s blog.

How We Got 46 Experts To Share Their Exclusive Tips For Addictive Content [INFOGRAPHIC]

“Addictive Content” is the new term for 2016 that all content marketers need to pay attention to. Creating consistent and engaging content is no longer enough, it needs to become addictive- a drug that can’t be dropped. Is there a formula or a recipe for creating this type of content? Who better to ask than the experts who are achieving just that?

I’m going to tell you how myself and the team at Venngage managed to get 46 pro marketers to share their tips and tricks for creating truly great content that is almost impossible to resist.

1) Coming up with an original concept

If you’ve written hundreds upon hundreds of marketing related content like I have, then you know just how difficult it can be to come up with a concept that is considerably more original than the last. In fact, it can become so tedious and dull to write yet another article that simply reiterates facts you’ve communicated so many times before. The process for coming up with an original concept, that still caters to the tastes of a particular niche can be overwhelming. Even after you decide on something that seems exceptional, you realize that 500 other people have already beaten you to the punch.

So what do you need to do? How can you ensure that you are creating something that no one else will create before you do? At Venngage, the majority of the content we work on is based off of original research. If the research you are doing has not been done before, the chances that someone will take the same angle when creating content, drops substantially.

At the start, we knew that we wanted to produce something marketing related (I know- very vague). We decided to focus on content marketing since infographics fall beautifully within that niche. The next step was deciding on something to create that was practical, entertaining, awe-inspiring and credible. Simple, right? We asked ourselves “What is the secret to creating content that was…addictive?” That was it! We were going to research how to create great and irresistible content, and in order to do so we needed to get some first-hand and exclusive advice from the ones already creating it.

2) Creating an outline and plan

This part of the process is the research part. It can last anywhere between 1 week, to a few months, depending on how much time you dedicate to it, and of course the nature of the research itself. In our case, we needed to compile a list of people to include in the post, and find blog posts that popped and were engaging.

Our goal was to include approximately 50 experts in our guide, which meant reaching out to at least 100 (since it was not likely that everyone would respond to us). Using specific Google searches, and targeting the appropriate keywords, we managed to find a solid and diverse group of professionals. We entered the data into a spreadsheet. We found names, websites, specific blog posts, email addresses and twitter handles.

We developed a simple, yet open-ended question to ask each marketer and prepared the perfect email template. Once all the grunt work was done we were ready to do some outreach.

3) Outreach, outreach, outreach

At first, our outreach process proved relatively useful. The first batch of emails we sent out yielded original responses from 23 different experts. Some of them were long and up to 500 words. Others were just a couple of words. But even after 2 weeks, we still hadn’t reached our target of 50 experts. Emailing was clearly not working, we needed to try a new tactic.

I started tweeting at the experts that weren’t responding, and some other experts whom I thought would be good additions to the post. The most difficult person to get in touch with was Neil Patel. I emailed him 4 times, and also reached out to him using a contact form on one of his sites. I also tweeted him. Needless to say when I finally did get a response, it was short and to the point. No hi, no bye, just the answer to my question. Don’t worry, Neil, I still love you!

I continued to tweet to influencers until I got into a mild twitter debate with a CEO of another company. Even though he mocked my process for outreach and accused me of spamming people (which I am happy to debate) I emailed him anyway and got a tip from him. What did I learn? Persistence works. If you ask someone enough times, eventually they will answer you (even if it’s just to get you to shut up). I won’t say who it was, but if you are really curious feel free to creep my twitter conversations.

At last, we had 46 expert tips. We didn’t push for the last 4 because something about the number 46 stuck with us (but we could have if we wanted to). Now that we had all the content we needed, it was time to do some design.

4) The design phase

Initially we were only anticipating to do a blog post and an infographic. When we outreached to the experts, we asked for just a sentence or two to include in the post. But like I said, some of them had a lot more to say. We decided to make an ebook as well as a blog post and infographic. The biggest issue we faced was creating an infographic that would hold 46 tips without going on forever and exceeding our export size. The next challenge was settling on an ebook design that worked well with some of the longer worded tips, but also with the ones that were just a sentence.

The overall process to design (and edit) took about a week and a half. Even now that the post is published, we keep finding little points here and there that need to be changed. So the editing process seems to be never-ending.

5) More outreach

Once the post was finally published, it was time to let people know. First I began by individually emailing each expert who contributed. You might be wondering why I wouldn’t just do a mail merge and get it all done in one go.

Two reasons:

The first one is that as a marketer it is very easy to know when you are being grouped and bundled like a school of fish caught in a net. I didn’t want to come off as lazy or spammy (again).

Secondly, by sending individual and direct emails, you can avoid the possibility of being marked as spam or appearing in someone’s junk box.

Frankly, I wanted to come off as sincere, and make sure that each expert knew they were being thought about individually. It also made it easier to personalize the messages I sent them.

Once the outreach to the experts was done, it was time to email the second group of people: the skyscraper group.

The skyscraper group is the group of responses I got almost two weeks ago. These are individuals who showed interest in the infographic after I outreached to them using a technique called The Skyscraper Technique. It’s a technique I picked up from Brian Dean at Backlinko. I highly recommend this read if you haven’t already checked it out.

Basically it means outreaching to potential readers before the post is even published. Build up anticipation for your content! I simply sent out an email blast to gage interest after scraping a few lists that featured the keywords “Content Marketing”, “SEO” and “Link building”. Chances are anyone who is blogging about those subjects would be interested in getting some first hand advice from the pros.

Here is what my email looked like:

email outreach skyscraper

Sure enough within a few days I had a long list of interested bloggers who were prepared to share and repost my content!

email outreach response

Within an hour of posting the article, and with limited outreach we had over 70 shares (keep in mind that this is without any email blasts to our database, or any additional outreach). The reason it jumped so quickly was because I had specifically asked each influencer to share it on their networks. It only takes a couple well-known marketers to tweet something before you start seeing the traffic increasing.

So how do you create addictive content? Well why not just ask the experts! You can check out the full post on the Venngage blog and download the ebook (no email/lead gate either) for the complete list of tips.

Addictive Content Infographic

Infographic made with Venngage

How You Can Make A Great Infographic Without A Designer

You’ve been reading plenty of blog posts and noticed that everyone is making use of infographics. They seem to perform very well and you can’t help but wonder if you should be incorporating infographics into your own content marketing. The only issue is, you don’t have a huge budget, so you can’t really hire a designer, but you yourself aren’t particularly skilled in Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator. So what do you do? Don’t get stressed out just yet. There is hope for you. Read on and soon you will have all the knowledge necessary to create your own beautiful infographics without anyone else’s help!

 

1) Find the right infographic tool

It should come as no surprise that there are plenty of online infographic tools available for use. Most have free trial versions so you can test them out before you decide whether or not to commit wholeheartedly. I use Venngage* because not only is it free to use for life, but you can share your infographics privately with anyone, even if they are not a Venngage user. There are hundreds of templates available and also plenty of great resources on their infographic blog in case you are struggling with the tool, or are facing any basic design challenges. The premium version removes all Venngage branding from the infographics you create and lets you download your visual content as a high-quality PDF or PNG. There is also the option to add multiple pages to a PDF in case you are hoping to make a visual ebook.

create infographic with venngage

Once you have found the right infographic tool for you, you will need to familiarize yourself with it. Have patience, because most of these tools require at least an hour of testing before you really get the hang of it.

 

2) Pick out the best infographic template

Since you are making an infographic without a designer, it’s important to note that different types of content require different style templates. There are approximately nine styles of template that you can choose from:

Statistical Infographics: This style of infographic depicts a summary or overview of data and contains one or more charts, tables or lists. This style is perfect if you are attempting to visualize the results from a survey or census.

Timeline Infographics (time-oriented): A timeline infographic outlines information in a progressive fashion over a period of time. If the theme of your infographic is to highlight the influence of a historical event, or to depict a chronological process, you want to stick with this style of infographic.

Process Infographics: Process or list-based infographics are often used to demonstrate a list of steps, or the flow of an event. If you’re trying to depict how something works, or to visualize a guide, this style is your best bet. Process infographics are some of the most common styles used by marketers. Here’s an example of a process infographic outlining how you can get your site indexed on google. Click the image to see the full infographic on Hiverhq:

google indexing infographic

Informational Infographics: If you have a text-heavy topic you are trying to repurpose into an infographic, you might want to go with an informational infographic. This style is used primarily to summarize a topic or theme and provides some added insight for the reader. The National Geographic uses a lot of informational infographics to provide a more visual explanation of various animal species, or to teach their readers about the design of a certain buildings.

informational infographic
The Anatomy of Speed by Jason Treat at National Geographic.

 

Geographical Infographics: Geographical infographics are often used to display location based data, and usually include maps. Again, the National Geographic uses a lot of geographical style infographics. These are useful if you are showing trends across the globe, or you want to depict demographic information. Geographical infographics can also be cross-referenced with statistical infographics.

Compare/Contrast Infographics: Pretty self-explanatory, but compare and contrast infographics are used if you want to- well, compare two or more opposing viewpoints. For instance, you might use it to compare apples to oranges, or Moz to Ahrefs.

Hierarchical Infographics: This style of infographic is usually used to demonstrates a chart with levels, or to depict a flow of authority or power. Usually this is done using a funnel chart or a pyramid chart. They can be used in conjunction with timeline infographics.

Interactive Infographics : Interactive infographics aren’t particularly popular as of yet, because they can be a bit tricky to put together. Some tools do possess interactive elements like embeddable videos, gifs, polls and forms, or animated charts and maps. They give viewers the control to modify the infographic and are usually web-based. Ceros and Neomam are examples of two companies that make use of interactive infographics.

Word cloud Infographics: You’re probably familiar with a word cloud, but in case you aren’t let me refresh your memory. A word cloud displays a cluster of words to show associations between different words and concepts. More influential and common words stand out as larger amongst the cluster to depict dominance or authority. Here’s an example of a word cloud infographic I made using Jason Davies’s word cloud generator, which is based off of this exact section on template styles:

word cloud infographic

Great, so once you’ve decided on which style of template is appropriate for the type of content you plan on including in your infographic, it’s time to move on to the next step: the design process.

 

3) Designing your infographic

If you’re starting out with a premade template like the example below, you will still want to modify the design to your tastes, or to match your brand style.

Unaltered template:


Template unaltered

Modified template:


modified template

The trick with designing your infographic does not depend so much on simply changing the colours and icons, but knowing which colours function together, and which icons are appropriate representations of the text you are using.

Choosing fonts:

It may come as a shock to you, but in a study that analyzed how people responded to serif fonts versus sans serif fonts, serif ones performed better, particularly in terms of believability. This fact comes off as particularly mind boggling since sans serif fonts are a much more modern style, and used more frequently in infographics than sans serif fonts. Maybe the infrequency of use has something to do with their popularity, but nonetheless, serif fonts remain the font of preference for many.


infographic fonts

 

Choosing colours:

Colour selection is one of the more challenging parts about infographic design. There is an infinite possibility of colour pairing options, but the trick is to find combinations which the human eye finds harmonious. How can you do this? Well generally colours that are contrasting, ie. fall on opposite ends of the colour wheel, tend to achieve this.

colour wheel

 

There are also many colour picking tools that exist, like Paletton, which provides you with various colour schemes to use.  

Another thing to keep in mind is the layers of text over coloured backgrounds. Avoid using dark text on a dark background and light text on a light background. It makes it very difficult to read. You want the text and icons to jump and pop, and contrasting colours will do just that.

Spacing and layout:

For many non-designers it’s not always easy to understand the importance of negative space. What is negative space? Well it’s the area around the object of interest or focus. This infographic on the design principles from Star Wars perfectly sums up everything a beginner should know about spacing and layouts.

infographic design principles

For a more detailed approach to infographic design for beginners, check out this article on Maximize Social Business.

Creating your infographic

Now that you have the basics under your belt, you’re ready to create your own infographic without a designer. Remember to have patience, because becoming a pro at infographic design takes practice. I recommend looking at Pinterest or other infographic curation sites for inspiration and try to mimic the style and layout (to a certain extent). Sometimes that can help you see something you weren’t aware was an option. Of course, if you have any questions about infographic creation or promotion in general, feel free to contact me.

 

 

*Disclaimer: I am the Director of Marketing for Venngage

 

 

Can you boost your SEO with an infographic?

Everyone knows that one of the best ways to boost your SEO is with quality backlinks on reputable sites. But actually acquiring these types of solid links can be excruciatingly difficult, especially if you are a smaller company or a start-up (and if you’re a start-up, then you need those links more than anyone). You likely reach out to as many influencers as possible who you imagine might be interested in your services or product, but in reality the rejection you face can be quite devastating and discouraging. So how do you provide those influencers with an opportunity they simply cannot reject?

Every marketer has one thing in common- they are looking for content. In fact, according to Neil Patel, the two biggest struggles that marketers have is producing engaging content and producing enough content. That being said, it makes sense that if you provide these influencers with a piece of engaging content that they can use or repurpose, you highly increase your chances of getting a link. Infographics are an excellent example of the kind of content that can be re-posted multiple times. Do you see where I’m getting at?

If creating great, link-worthy content is a marketer’s greatest obstacle, then you need to make sure that the time you’re spending on researching and producing that content will result in something highly optimizable. Long-form thought pieces and case studies are great, but if you also have a way of providing your readers with an easily digestible take-away, like an infographic, they will be more likely to link back to your site by repurposing the visual.

So:

Before you even begin creating your infographic, you need to start off by figuring out what kind of content people actually want. Naturally, you’re going to want to create an infographic that still appeals to your niche. If you’re the in the “Health and Wellness Blogging” niche, for instance, you will want your infographic to focus on something that people are searching for within that area.

Once you know which keyword you are tracking you can use a tool like FAQFox to find questions that your target audience is asking online.

FAQFox image

Just plug in your main keyword and enter a few forum sites so that the tool can scrape them for questions. I usually use Quora and Openforum because of their popularity, thus ensuring that I will get a wider range of potential questions.

quora questions image

If you want something more narrow, you can search through a specific health blog’s forum. A quick Google search will show you a vast number of potential forums to scrape through.

The next step is to contact influencers and bloggers who are interested and who write about the subject matter. I generally use Moz’s Fresh Web Explorer or Buzzsumo to find relevant leads. Brian Dean of Backlinko suggests sending your leads an email to gage their interest letting them know about the content you are producing. Keep it relatively short so as not to lose their attention. Here’s an example Brian lists in one of his articles of an appropriate initial email:

email outreach image

 

At first, don’t ask for a backlink. Rather, try to sell the idea of your content and its value to the blogger or influencer. Once they respond, you know you’ve grasped their interest and you can follow up by sending them a direct link to your article, as well as the embed code for the infographic you created. More on that in a bit.

Now:

Now that you’ve gaged their interest, you can get started on your infographic. There are a couple of ways that you can choose to create an infographic. The first option is to contract a designer or an agency, but this can cost you anywhere between $250 to $5000. If you are a bootstrapped company or an organization on a budget, this can be quite costly. Another option is to create your own infographic using an online infographic tool. Many tools available have a wide variety of free and paid infographic templates to choose from. Make sure that when you are creating your infographic, you include your logo and a link back to your site at the footer.

Finally, once you publish your design on your blog along with your article, ensure that you include the embed code for your infographic at the end of your post, directly underneath the infographic. Feel free to use the one below and format it as needed:

<a href=”PUT THE URL YOU WANT YOUR IMAGE TO LINK TO HERE“><img class=”alignnone size-full wp-image-3047″ src=”PUT THE IMAGE LINK HERE” alt=”PUT THE KEYWORD YOU ARE TARGETING HERE“/></a><p style=”text-align: center; font-size: 14px; padding-top: 4px;”> <a href=”PUT YOUR SITE URL HERE“>PUT MAIN KEYWORD HERE</a></p>

Not only does including the infographic embed code make it easier for people to add the image to their own sites, but you can therefore ensure that the alt tags and URLs included are all pointing back to you.

Next:

You need to promote your infographic. The great thing is you already have a list of awesome leads that you can reach out to. You already know that everyone who replied back to your original email showing interest will be eagerly awaiting your follow-up with the finalized post. Once again, send them the link to your blog post, and include the embed code in the email so that all they have to do is copy and paste.

After that, syndicate your infographic to as many sources as possible. If you are a contributor to any marketing blogs, you can easily repurpose your infographic on those sites and link back to the original post. You should also post your infographic on Visual.ly. If they like your infographic, it can get selected as a staff pick, and is thus more likely to be featured on the home page. Companies like Fastcompany, Mashable, and TechCrunch sometimes find infographics on Visual.ly to include in their own content as well.

Finally:

About a week after your promotion, you can use Buzzsumo to check the backlinks from your original post, and also do a reverse image search on Google to see who might be posting your infographic on their site. If you notice that some people have posted the infographic, but haven’t linked back to your original post, you can reach out to those bloggers and request that they add a link back to you. The majority of the time they will respond and be more than happy to take you up on your request.

Unlike some articles and other written content, the best part about infographics is that you can repurpose them multiple times. Google won’t dock you points for featuring an image, as long as the accompanying text is unique. Infographics are a perfect way to summarize lengthy and complex information since they are so easy to skim. Optimize your content for SEO by incorporating a visual component, and open up the possibilities of acquiring backlinks to your site.