Getting Serious With Outreach

by Spencer Haws

Hey there!
Now that you’ve had some time to digest the last lesson, here’s a short action plan and a couple more resources with more detailed information.

Action Plan

  • If you don’t remember, there are lists for a lot of these in the previous email.
  • Submit to 5-10 great paid directories
  • Submit to 5-10 great blog aggregators
  • Create an infographic and submit it to 10-20 infographic sharing sites, listing your site as the source
  • Create a piece of audio and submit to 10-20 audio sharing sites, listing your site as the source
  • Submit to 5 1-800 number or business directory sites
  • Write 10 high-quality blog comments on highly relevant blogs in your niche, linking to several good resources, including your site
  • Write 10 high-quality forum comments in highly relevant forums, linking to several good resources, including your site

Keep an eye out for the next lesson here in a few days!

Building Your First Links

by Spencer Haws

Building links is hard.

It’s been a weird, hard part of SEO for a long time. However, we used to be able to get away with slightly easier, slightly shadier tactics.

Back in the day, you used to be able to rank a site by setting up some special parameters on some software and pushing a button. Literally.

When people started getting penalized for those tactics, a big portion of the SEO community turned to private blog networks (PBNs), including us.

And it wasn’t long before the big Google hammer pounded us into oblivion!

So now, we’re doing link building the right way. It’s a bit harder, and it takes a bit more work, but in the end, it’s much, much more effective, and it’s much, much better business.

So what works now?

There are a few things that work now.

The first and most important thing to remember is that outreach will be the cornerstone of any link building efforts.

Outreach includes guest posting, the skyscraper method, and basically anything where you’re building a relationship with someone to get a link.

We’ll cover outreach in our next lesson.

Today, we’ll talk about the first piece of the puzzle: a good set of base links.

What are base links?

Base links are a set of links that will get your site a bit of authority, relevance, anchor text diversity, IP diversity, brand recognition and link juice.

Typically, they’re not going to get you to the top of the SERPs. They will give you just a tiny bit of momentum, though, and they’ll be a really great foundation to build on.

Base links have the following characteristics:

  • They’re fairly easy
  • They’re clean
  • They’re diverse

When you build a set of base links, you don’t want to have to work super hard. You just want some good links pointing to your site.

In total, you should shoot for 30-100 base links.

That’s not a hard and fast number; it’s just a rough guideline, and the ease at which you’ll be able to get links will depend largely on your market and your existing connections.

Where do you get base links?

The idea behind a set of base links is that you get them from anywhere as long as it’s relatively easy and 100% clean.

So, while I’m going to give you some ideas, if you know of another good, clean, easy place to get links, go for it!

Here’s a few links I like to get as base links…

1. Infographic links. These are really easy, since there are a number of different infographic directories, and plenty of them will give you a dofollow link. Here are just a few:

  • Visual.ly
  • Topinforgraphic.com
  • Coolinfographics.com
  • Nerdgraph.com
  • Infographicsonly.com
  • Dailyinfographic.com

2. Directory links. Directory links are tricky, since some of them can be kind of spammy. However, there are plenty of good directories out there, and they can give you some surprisingly powerful links. The most important thing to remember here is to only have your links listed n relevant pages. Here are a few of the directories I recommend most:

  • Best of the Web
  • Moz
  • Better Business Bureau
  • Hot vs Not
  • JoeAnt

3. Blog aggregators. Blog aggregators are pretty much exactly what they sound like: sites that aggregate blogs in a bunch of different topic areas. You have to be careful here, too. First, some are spammy. Second, some are picky, so you have to have some good content on your site before you submit. The good news, however, is that these are totally free. Here are a few good ones:

  • Alltop
  • Technorati
  • Blogarama
  • Bloghub
  • Regator
  • Icerocket

4. Business and 1-800 number listing sites. You can get a 1-800 number for a few bucks. This makes it pretty easy to get a few good base links from sites that compile lists of businesses and their phone numbers. Here are a few good business directories and 1-800 listing sites you can submit to:

  • Crunchbase.com
  • Activerain.com
  • Kudzu.com
  • Biznik.com
  • Inter800.com
  • Intertollfree.com

5. Sharing sites. These days, there’s a sharing site for pretty much everything: images, audio, logos, infographics, video, etc. Most of these sites let you have some kind of link in your profile, and some will allow you to stick dofollow links in the descriptions of your stuff. There are tons of these out there, so don’t be afraid to poke around. Here are a few, though:

  • Yourlisten.com
  • Reverbnation.com
  • Podcastdirectory.com
  • Designshack.net
  • Styleboost.com
  • Logogala.com

6. Ask people you know for links. This is about as simple as it gets, but these links can be clean and easy, and they can be powerful to boot, especially if you have web-savvy friends. Of course, these links work best if you can get them on relevant pages, but take what you can get.

7. Blog comments. You don’t want to spend too much time commenting on blogs, since almost all blog comments links these days are no-follow. However, they can still provide a bit of anchor text diversity, and it’s one of the few linking opportunities that can refer visitors to your site. They’ll also have a pretty high relevancy score if you comment on good, relevant pages.

8. Forum links. Forum links are similar to blog comment links in that many of them are going to be no-follow. They also have the additional downside of typically having a low page authority. However, the relevance is typically off the charts, and you can totally control the anchor text. The key here is to actually provide value to a forum, so you don’t get deleted by the moderators.

Wrapping it up!

There you go! That’s 8 solid strategies that can get you a handful of clean, easy links fast. If you can get 5-10 links from each, you’ll have a pretty solid set of base links to work off of!

Up next…
Advanced link building with outreach.

 

Advanced Content Building for Insane ROI

by Spencer Haws

In the last lesson, we talked a bit about the best practices for writing your first piece of content and getting on-page optimization right.

Today, we’re going to take it a step further. We’re going to talk about writing absolutely AMAZING content.

If you’re asking, “Spencer, why should I even be interested in spending time on perfecting my content?” I’ll tell you: it’s probably one of the best possible things you can do for your revenue.

Great content converts like crazy.

1. Shoot for a friendly and personal—but expert—tone.

This is something I learned from my sales days at Wells Fargo.

Personal, friendly writing converts much, much better than cold, awkward “professional” writing.

Don’t get me wrong: your writing should be professional (more on this in a second). You just don’t want it to be totally weird.

If you’ve ever heard that old adage that people don’t buy products, they buy the person who is selling it, that’s just as true in blog content as it is with in-person sales.

You need to know enough to appear as if you’re an expert (or at least know more than your reader), but you need to be personal and friendly first.

The tone you should be shooting for can be pretty well summed up in 4 words: friend you can trust.

2. Your content has to look clean and professional.

This is kind of what we talked about when we were discussing themes. If your content doesn’t look professional, people are going to bounce right off your page without clicking anything.

We don’t want that.

Your pages should appear clean, professional and aesthetically pleasing. They should not only be content. They should have all kinds of other elements, such as pricing tables, product tables, images, videos, calls to action, content upgrades, pages sections, countdown timers, and anything else that makes sense with a given article.

One way to get all of those things in one place is Thrive Themes & the Thrive Content Builder.

These are my personal favorite tools for crafting pages that look amazing. Plus, after you create an amazing page, you can just save it as a template and use it for all your other content, which speeds up the writing/posting process significantly.

It also makes posting much easier to outsource.

3. Your content should be highly skimmable.

This is one of the biggest lessons I learned.

Most people in the Internet don’t read every word on your page. In fact, very few of your readers are even going to read half of the words on a blog post.
And if they’re not reading, what are they doing?

Skimming!

A very large percentage of readers on any website will be skimming. This means they’ll be scanning the pages, finding headings or elements that look interesting, and then reading that section in more detail.

For that reason, your page should be structured in such a way that it’s easy for skimmers to find information.

What’s that mean? Basically, to make your content easy to skim, you should (more or less) follow these guidelines:

  • Your headings should have good information in them
  • Your headings should generally be sequential (or follow some sort of pattern)
  • Ideally, your headings themselves should tell a story
  • Your page should be broken up with images, tables, infographics and other informational elements
  • Your paragraphs should only be a few lines long (2-5 lines)
  • Your language should be really clean and very simple

4. You should provide lots of value.

This is super important, and if you’re only going to remember one thing from this whole email, it should be this: it’s much, much more important to provide value to your readers than it is to sell something to them.

And trust me, if you go out of your way to provide tons of value to your readers, they’re going to buy from you anyway. Because they trust you.

Plus, people are smart. Don’t B.S. them. Write great stuff.

Wrapping it up…

Tools mentioned in this lesson:
Thrive Themes & the Thrive Content Builder

Writing Content & Getting On-Page SEO Right

by Spencer Haws

So you’ve got a domain, you’ve set up hosting and WordPress, and you’ve found a bunch of good keywords.

Now it’s time to write your first piece of content. Awesome!

However, that can be a bit daunting. I know this better than anyone.

Sometimes it can be difficult to enter a market that you don’t know a lot about.

If you’ve been a Niche Pursuits reading for a long time, you’ll know that this is exactly what I was doing when I started Niche Site Project #1. I was entering into a market I knew very little about(at first): survival knives.

How was I going to write about something I knew very little about?

Plus, I had to somehow write content that would actually get people to click on the stuff I wanted them to click.

Over the years, I’ve nailed down a pretty good system for writing fantastic content.

Today, I’m going to give you some short, simple best practices for writing great content. In a few days, after you’ve had some time to digest it a bit—and maybe even try your hand at writing—I’ll send you some more detailed blog posts I have on Niche Pursuits that covers this in a bit more detail.

For now, though, here are some best practices

1. Shoot for 1,000-3,000 words.

For most pieces of content on your site, you’ll want to shoot for 1,500 words or more. Most of my articles on most of my sites are between 1,000 and 3,000 words.

This is mostly because there’s a long of really strong evidence that longer pages rank better.

Now, that doesn’t mean that just making a long page is going to get you to the top of the search results. It just means that if everything else is equal, longer pages rank better than short ones.

They also attract more natural links because they look more authoritative.

2. Make sure your keyword density is less than 1%.

Back in the day, you could just stuff your pages full of your keyword and rank them super easily. That’s not the case now. Google has very sophisticated algorithms that penalize you for this kind of thing.

So, in the contemporary SEO landscape, we shoot for a keyword density less than 1%. And that’s especially true if the keyword is a long tail one—because who’s going to naturally mention “best safety razor for men” 10 times in an article? No one.

3. Find a few related keywords with very low search volume, and include those in the article (headings if possible).

After you’ve got your article, go back into Long Tail Pro and plug in your keyword. Set the parameters to look for keywords that get less than 500 searches (or even less!).

Poke around and try to find some that are very, very related to the keyword you’ll be targeting in your article.

For instance, if your keyword is “How to get rid of wasps,” your related keywords may be “get rid of wasps with wasp spray” or “burn wasp nest” (p.s. these are just examples—I haven’t looked these up; I just want to communicate the kind of relevance you want to shoot for).

Then, work these keywords into your article. Even better, use them as headings and craft sections around them.

The idea here is that Google will (1) see a bunch of highly relevant keywords on the same page, which lets them better know what your pages is about, and (2) rank you for more, small, related long tail keywords.

4. Use EasyAzon to easily put in your Amazon affiliate links.

As many of you know, some of my niche sites are monetized with the Amazon affiliate program.

However, if you’ve ever tried to manage Amazon affiliate links on a large niche site (or multiple niche sites), you’ll know that it can be difficult.

My preferred solution is EasyAzon.

It just makes the whole process super easy by letting your search for links directly in the WordPress editor. This one simple plugin has saved me hundreds of hours of work.

5. Make sure your keyword is in the title, URL, at least one image alt tag and at least H1 tag.

This is SEO 101, but I wanted to mention it again here.

You need to make sure your keyword is in each of those places. Usually, you want it to be towards the beginning, since Google gives less weight to words at the end of URLs and titles.

You also want your keyword to be in at least one image alt tag and at least one H1 heading. All of these things are signals to Google saying, “Hey, my page is about this keyword!”

6. Above all, write naturally.

Google doesn’t like you writing for search engines. It wants you to write for real people.

In the past, it wasn’t very good at telling which pages were written for people and which were just stuffed with keywords. But it’s getting a lot better at it.

So, in the long-term, you’ll be much better off if you write great content targeted at real readers. It’ll convert a lot better too!

 

Which Theme is Best for Your Site?

by Spencer Haws

I get this question a lot. A lot. More than you would imagine.
Choosing a great theme is really, really important. If you choose a bad theme, you might have a whole range of problems—from your site just not looking professional to serious technical issues.

On the other hand, everything is easier and more effective with a great theme.

Luckily, there are about a million good themes out there. So, in this lesson, I want to talk you through what I look for when I’m looking for a theme that fits my site.

1. Trust your first impression.
As your browsing for themes, your very first impression is going to tell you a lot about how good a theme is—at least aesthetically. If it stands out to you and looks professional, it will probably seem that way to your readers, too.

2. Consider what type of site you’re building, and pick a theme that makes sense.

Are you building a store? Get a good eCommerce theme.

Are you setting up a huge authority site that provides timely information on new products/research/sales/etc.? Then you probably want to look into a good magazine theme.

Is your site going to be more personal, and will you be selling yourself as part of the brand? Go for a good blogging theme.

Basically, it just has to make sense.

For example, Perrin started a shaving site in Niche Site Project 2. He was adding content in batches of about 20, and most of those pieces were covering different products and providing reviews, but none of those products were new. He was also getting a few interviews and guest posts from people in his market.

Lastly, he was updating on a fairly regular basis, but he wasn’t posting enough to really be a news site.

So, Perrin went with a good blogging theme. It just made the most sense. And, in that case, it worked out really well.

As another example, just look at Niche Pursuits. I also chose a blogging theme. I update on a fairly regular basis, and I sell myself as part of my brand.

So a nice blogging theme makes a lot of sense.

I’m not trying to say blogging themes are the best themes, though.

We use a magazine theme on our new authority site because we create lots of content and post fairly often. Lots of authority sites do the same—even those that only post every week or two.

So it’s really up to you, and it’s going to be something of a judgment call. But the point is that not every theme fits every site. Every site is different, and your choice of theme should be part of your branding process.

3. Choose a theme with lots of flexibility.

There is nothing worse than wanting to do something on your blog but having a theme that doesn’t support it.

One of the themes I look for in my themes is a ton of flexibility. I personally like Thrive Themes because you can basically do anything you want with any of their themes.

Tables, landing pages, call out boxes, countdown timers, etc. It just has tons and tons of amazing features, which translates to tons and tons of flexibility.

And, to me, that’s important. I don’t want to have to write code to put in a button. I just want to drag-and-drop it in. Thrive lets you do that.
Whatever theme you choose, just make sure it’s robust and has a lot of options. If you’re not sure, here’s a small checklist:

  • Does it have a lot of reviews?
  • Is it made by an active developer?
  • Is the developer active in the comments?
  • Does it have an easy-to-get-to support page?

You want to be answering “yes” to all of these questions before you settle on a theme.

4. Pick a theme with good support.

Listen. You’re not going to install a theme and have it work just the way you want it to.

It’s not going to happen.

I’m telling you: something will go wrong.

It’s happened with every theme I’ve ever installed.

So, one of the most mission-critical features of any theme is an active, live support structure.

I’m not talking about some orphan FAQ page here. I’m talking about a real person who will actively answer your questions. This is really, really important.

Believe me.

I’ve wasted a lot of money on themes that looked good but had dead support. It’s almost always a waste of both time and money.

And that’s another reason I usually use Thrive Themes. Their support typically responds in a few hours—not days. Because I’m trying to use my site to make money, having an active support structure lets me implement new features and fix bugs sooner, making it extremely high value.

5. Pick a lean, fast theme.

You don’t want a theme with a bunch of convoluted code adding several seconds onto your load time.

That’s a recipe for a high bounce rate.

You want a theme that loads fast. I won’t go into site speed here, but there are plenty of guides out there to help you understand what to look for.
Again, I prefer using a set of themes I already know works really well, but if you go a different route, this is something to research.

Wrapping it up!

Don’t skimp on themes!

A good theme is NOT expensive. A few bucks a month can get you a fast, flexible, professional theme. It’s a small-dollar expense that can make you a TON of money. So remember, if I see you using the default WordPress theme, I’m going to be angry! 🙂

Tools mentioned in this lesson
Thrive Themes

Up next…
I’ll give you a day or two to digest this, and then I’ll follow up with you and give you (1) a checklist for looking for a theme and (2) a few blog posts to help you if you want to read a bit more on this topic.