In the past, I broke down the most vital SEO strategy I learned, which came from a Google employee. This time I thought I would do something similar and share the 7 biggest SEO lessons that I learned from a Google employee.
Some of these things you may already know, but most you probably aren’t too familiar with. And of course, I am not telling you anything that would jeopardize my relationship or the career of the Google employee.
And if you are struggling to build links, here are the tactics you need to follow… even if your website, product, or content aren’t as good as your competition, these tactics will work.
Tactic #1: Link Intersect
If you email a site asking for a link, the chances are they are going to ignore it. I get these requests all the time… and I ignore them too.
But on the flip side, if you emailed someone that linked to 3 or 4 of your competitors there is a good chance they will also link to you.
When someone links to a few of your competitors, this tells you that they don’t mind linking to sites within your industry and that they are more open to linking to more sites as they already link to 3 competitors.
So how do you find sites who link to at least 3 of your competitors?
The way you do this is by heading over to Ahrefs and selecting their “Link Intersect” feature (it is under the “more” navigation menu option).
You’ll want to enter your 3 closest competitors and then your domain at the bottom. This will generate a report of sites that link to your competition but not you.
From there you’ll want to drill down to specific pages to see what pages are linking to your competition.
As you find common sites that link to a few of your competitors, you’ll have to dig in to figure out in what context they are linking out.
For example, if someone is linking to all of your competitors’ blogs in a resource page, you have to make sure you have a blog before hitting them up. Because if you don’t, why would they add you to the list?
Once you find a handful of sites that are a good fit, you should email the site owner, build a conversation, and then ask for a link.
Here’s an example that my team used for a site that I own:
And here was the response we got:
We use this tactic at scale. For every 100 websites that we emailed we picked up 9.7 links. We got this ratio for sites in a competitive niche and we aren’t using my name.
As you’re blogging, you should consider using custom images on your site. If you aren’t a great designer, no worries, you can just use tools like Canva. Or if you have a bit of money to spend, you can always head to Fiverr and spend a few bucks paying someone to create custom images.
A good example of this is how I created a handful of custom graphs about Facebook for this blog post. The graphs look something like this:
Over time, you’ll notice that other sites will take your images without linking to you. This may sound bad, but in reality, it is great because you can reach out to each of those sites and tell them to give you credit and link back.
Note, I am not telling you to “ask,” I am telling you to enforce that they need to link back to you.
Here’s how you find all of the people who have taken your images.
Once you click it, you’ll see a box that looks like this:
From there you will either want to paste in the URL with your custom image or upload it. And once you hit search you’ll see a list of sites who have taken your image.
Some of these sites will have linked to you while others may have not. For the ones that have not linked to you, email them something that goes like this…
Subject: Copyright infringement – [name of their site]
Hey [their first name],
I noticed on this url [insert the url on their site that has used your image without linking back] you used an image that I created, and the rights of that image are owned by me.
I don’t mind you using it, but please link to back to [URL on your site where the image could be found] and give me credit. I spent a lot of time and money creating the images on my site, and I would appreciate it if people knew that it was originally created by me.
Please make this change in the next 72 hours.
[insert your name]
Out of all of the link tactics mentioned in this post, this one has the highest success rate. It’s close to 100%.
If you email someone and they don’t link back, try them a few more times.
As your site grows in popularity, more people will steal your images, which will make it easier to build backlinks.
Tactic #3: Link reclamation
As your website gets older, you’ll notice that people will naturally mention you and your company. But when they mention your company name they won’t always link to you.
So why not email all of these people and ask them to turn the mention into a link?
It’s a simple strategy, and it works really well.
Just think of it this way, if someone has mentioned you or your company without you having to convince them, it typically means they already like what they see.
So, when you email them, not only will they feel flattered, but there is a high probability they will respond as well.
This means it will be easy for you to convince them to link to you.
But when you shoot off the email, I highly recommend that you also share the content that mentions you on the social web and let them know that you did this.
Here’s an example email:
Subject: I’m honored, thanks [insert their first name]
Hey [insert their first name],
I’m flattered! I really appreciate you mentioning me on your site [insert link to the article that mentions you but doesn’t contain a link].
I just wanted to let you know that I shared your article on Twitter to show my appreciation.
On a side note, I would appreciate it if you adjusted the mention of my name, “[insert your name]” and turned it into a link that pointed people to [URL of your site].
[insert your name]
PS: Let me know if I can do anything for you
Your success rate should be well over 50%. For me, my rate is close to 83%, but again a lot of people in marketing know who I am, so your success rate will be lower.
The key to leveraging this tactic is to email people right when they publish a post that mentions your site but doesn’t contain a link.
If you ask people to add a link to a post that is older than 6 months, you’ll find yourself generating only 1 link for every 5 or 6 emails you send.
In other words, if you want a high success rate, you need to be on top of it. The easiest way is to create alerts using Buzzsumo.
Just sign in and click on “monitoring.” Then click on “create new alert.”
Then click “brand mentions.”
Fill out the name of your site or company. Make sure you also add any misspellings.
Select how you want to be notified anytime someone mentions you.
Click finish, and you’ll then see see a report that shows you how many mentions there are over the last week, month or even 2 months. As well as a list of sites that mentioned you.
Again, I can’t emphasize this enough, but you should try and email people within 24 hours of having a brand mention. That’ll give you the highest chance of generating a link.
Tactic #4: Performance-based press
Do you want mentions on sites like TechCrunch and Entrepreneur? And no, I am not talking about guest posts.
Well, of course, you want to be mentioned on those sites. But how?
There are companies like PRserve that offer performance-based press. If they get you press, then you pay. If they don’t, you won’t spend a dollar.
The cool part about PRserve is that it is a real legitimate PR agency. They don’t sell links, they aren’t familiar with link building, and they don’t leverage author accounts or guest posts. They pitch editors to write about you and your company.
These editors will either say yes or no. If they say no, again, you don’t pay a dollar. If they say yes, PRserve charges you a performance-based fee that ranges depending on the site (you’ll negotiate this rate with them in advance).
Now, there is one big thing to note about PRserve. There is no guarantee that when they get you an article there will be a link to your company. For example, if they convince TechCrunch to blog about you, there is no guarantee that TechCrunch will link to your site. They will mention you, but again there is no guarantee of a link.
But if you take this strategy and combine it with tactic 3, you should easily be able to turn that mention into a link.
As for all of the tactics, this one is my favorite. The reason being is that it drives revenue.
When sites like Venture Beat and TechCrunch cover you, expect to get more leads, sales, and traffic.
The guy I’ve dealt with at PRserve is named Chris. He typically knows before taking on a project what he can produce and how long it will take. As a heads up, things move a bit slow, but that is because he is actually pitching editors of big publications who tend to have busy schedules.
Tactic #5: Infographics
You’ve heard me talk about infographics before, but this tactic has a slight spin.
See, whenever you create content (whether it is blog posts, videos, podcasts) there is no guarantee that it will do well.
Here’s a screenshot of some my latest blog posts…
As you can see from the image above, some posts have done much better than others. You can tell by the number of comments on each post (the higher the comment count, in general, the more popular the post was).
Can you guess why some posts have done better than others?
I put in a lot of time to each of my posts, so that’s not it. To be honest, no one really knows the answer. Content marketing tends to be a hit or miss, in which some of your content will do really well and others won’t.
You are going to have many more misses than hits, which is why I am about to explain a strategy that will only produce hits (at least from a link perspective).
I want you to go to Ahrefs, click on “content explorer,” and type in keywords related to your space.
Ahrefs will show you all of the popular articles based off of social shares and links. Look for articles that contain at least 100 backlinks.
Here’s an article I found in the content marketing vertical that has over 3,600 backlinks.
What’ll you’ll want to do is read that post and turn it into an infographic.
You’ll need to cite the original source. You can easily do this by adding their logo to the footer of the infographic and include the text “data provided by.”
If you don’t know how to create an infographic, you can pay people on Fiverr or you can use tools like Infogram.
Once you create the infographic, publish it on your blog and, of course, link to the original source. Now you’ll want to email each of the sites that linked to the original article and mention how you have turned it into an infographic. You’ll even want to give them the embed code.
The email would go something like this…
Subject: I think you need to see this
[insert their first name], would you agree people are more visual learners?
Well of course you do. We all tend to learn better from looking at visuals than reading text. 🙂
I noticed you linked to [insert the article they linked to] and I get why. It is an amazing resource for your readers. I also enjoyed it, which is why I turned it into an infographic.
[insert link to your infographic]
If you think it will help your readers digest the information, feel free to embed it within your blog.
Oh, and if you are wondering where you linked to [name of the article they linked to], it’s here [URL of on their website that links out].
[insert your name]
PS: Let me know if I can do anything for you.
This approach to link building requires a bit of work, but it works really well. The reason being is you are taking out the guesswork of what people love.
As long as you pick informational articles that can be turned into infographics and these articles have at least 100 links, you’ll be able to generate links.
Again, I can’t emphasize this enough, but you need to go after articles with at least 100 links. Some of the sites linking in will be junk and not everyone will embed your infographic… so going after a site with 100 links, in general, should help you build 16 or 17 links.
Do you know how many businesses shut down each year? I don’t know the exact number, but it has to be a lot because 7 out of 10 businesses fail.
When these businesses shut down it opens up a lot of link opportunities… hence broken link building exists. But today I’m not going to teach you about broken link building as you are already familiar with it.
Instead, I am going to share with you a similar strategy, that has a slight twist, called the Moving Man Method. It was created by my friend, Brian Dean and it has helped him generated high domain authority links.
If you want to leverage the Moving Man Method, you need to find businesses who:
Changed their name
Stopped updating resources
Discontinued products and services
Are slowly letting their business die as they are running out of money
Have announced that they are going out of business (but haven’t yet)
Brian used this strategy to get a DA 87 link.
If you want to leverage the Moving Man Method you need to first find sites within your space that have done one of the 5 things above.
For example, in the marketing space, Search Engine Watch used to be a popular research site within the marketing community, but since they got bought out years ago the current owners haven’t done much with it. The business isn’t doing well, and they don’t put much time into it.
And Blueglass was once a popular SEO agency until they shut down their main US operations. Here are some sample emails Brian sent to gain links.
In most cases, people respond because you are helping them ensure their site stays up to date by not linking to URLs that won’t benefit their readers and, secondly, you are giving them a new option to link to, so they don’t have to waste time finding a replacement.
And here’s the response Brian got:
This strategy works similar to broken link building. All you have to do is take the link that meets one of the 5 requirements above and put it into Ahrefs.
I know link building is hard. I’ve been where you are today. You spend countless hours trying to build links, but for some reason, you just can’t convince anyone to link to you.
No matter how tempting it sounds, don’t take shortcuts by buying links. Focus on long-term strategies as it will ensure that you will do better in Google in the long run.
And if you are struggling, start off with the first tactic I mentioned in this post. It tends to be effective and you can leverage it at scale.
Tactic 2 and 5 take a bit more effort, but they also work really well. For example, the infographic I showcased in tactic 5 has more backlinks than the original article. 😉
Tactic 3 and 4 also work, but they won’t generate you hundreds of backlinks. You should still leverage them as the more links you get the better off you are. You just have to be patient with these two.
And lastly, tactic 6 works well too, but you can’t always control the timing. Reason being is you have to wait for sites within your industry to meet one of the 5 requirements I gave you in tactic 6.
If you are struggling to build links, use all of these tactics. They work well and you’ll notice results within 30 days.
Are you struggling to build links? Have you tried any of the tactics I mentioned above?
I know what you are thinking, this isn’t impossible.
Because the more content you have and the more links you have, the higher your rankings will be.
Although that is true, it doesn’t mean that content marketing and link building are the only ways to increase your rankings.
It doesn’t matter what update Google rolls out, I’ve found that there are a few hacks that consistently work to boost your rankings without creating more content or building more links.
So, are you ready to find out what they are?
What does Google want to rank at the top?
Before I get into the exact “hacks” and tactics that can boost your rankings, I want to first help you change the way you think about SEO.
Do you think Google really cares about on-page SEO and link building?
Sure, it matters to some extent, but that’s not what Google cares about the most.
Google wants to rank websites that people love. If they ranked websites that you hated, then you would slowly stop using Google.
And if people stopped using Google, then there would be fewer people to click on their ads, which means they would make less money.
That’s why Google cares about what you think and they ideally want to rank the websites that you love.
Now let’s dive into some hacks that will make people love your site, which will boost your rankings.
And don’t worry… I am not going to give you some fluffy tactics, I have data to back up everything. 😉
Hack #1: Optimize your click-through-rate
Let me ask you this:
If 10,000 people performed a Google search for the term “SEO” and clicked on the number 2 listing instead of the number 1 listing, what would that tell Google?
It would tell them that the number 2 listing is more relevant and that Google should move that listing to the number 1 spot.
Rand Fishkin ran an experiment where he told all of his Twitter followers to perform a Google search for the term “best grilled steak” and to click on the first listing, hit the back button, and then click on the 4th listing.
Within 70 minutes the 4th listing jumped into the top spot.
And that page even started to rank at the top of page 1 for the term “grilled steak”.
The ranking eventually slipped back down because people didn’t really feel that the listing was that great compared to some of the other listings.
Instead, it only climbed because Rand has a loyal following and everyone helped trick Google to believe that it was more relevant (at least in the short term).
But this should give you a sense that Google cares what you think. So much so that they will adjust rankings in real time because they don’t want to show you pages that you feel are irrelevant (no matter how many backlinks the page has or how well its on-page code is optimized).
And Rand wasn’t the only person who tested out this theory. It’s been done a countless number of times and each time it produced similar results.
You want people to click on your listing more than the other ones out there. It’s that simple.
If you can generate more clicks (in a legitimate way) than the listings above you, eventually you’ll notice your rankings climb without having to write more content or build more links.
So, how do you get more clicks?
Well, you have to adjust your title tag and meta description tag to be more appealing.
Anytime you perform a Google search, you see a list of results. And each result has a title, URL, and description:
The link part is the title (also known as the title tag), then there is the URL (which is green in color), and lastly, there is the description (black text… that is also known as the meta description).
If you are running a WordPress blog, you can easily modify your title tag and meta description using the Yoast SEO plugin.
There are a few ways you can generate more clicks on your listing over the competition:
Include keywords – people tend to click on listings that include the keyword or phrase they just searched for. Make sure you are using the right keywords within your title and description (I will get to this in a bit). This may sound basic, but when your web pages rank for thousands of terms, which one do you include in your 60-character title tag?
Evoke curiosity – titles that are super appealing tend to generate clicks. For example, if the keyword you were going after is “green tea,” a good title would be “11 Proven Benefits of Green Tea (#6 Will Shock You)”. I know it may seem a bit long, but it works because a lot of people will wonder what number 6 will be.
Copy magazines – anytime you see a magazine, you’ll notice that they have appealing titles and headlines on the cover. A lot of their titles contain “how to” or are list oriented. Look at magazines for inspiration.
Improving your search listings isn’t rocket science. Where most people mess up is that they pick the wrong keywords or they are terrible at writing copy. Remember, humans are reading your title tag and meta description tag, so they need to be appealing.
Log into Google Search Console, then click on “Search Traffic” and then click on “Search Analytics”:
You’ll see a page that looks something like this:
Scroll back up to the top and click on the “pages” radio button and “CTR” checkbox:
You’ll see a list of results sorted by your most popular URLs and their respective click-through-rate (also known as CTR):
Look for pages that have high traffic but a CTR of less than 5%.
Click on one of the listings with a CTR of less than 5% and then click on the “queries” radio button:
You’ll then want to look for the keywords with the highest amount of “clicks” and the lowest CTR.
Those are the keywords you want to focus on in your title tag and meta description.
Remember, your title tag is limited to roughly 60 characters, which means you won’t be able to fit more than 2 or 3 keywords.
So, you want to pick the keywords that typically have the most clicks. They should also have a low CTR because you selected pages with a CTR rate lower than 5%.
By adjusting your title tag and meta description to include the right keywords and by evoking curiosity, you’ll be able to increase your clicks. This will get you more search traffic in the short run and boost your rankings over time.
Here are 3 tests that worked well for me when I adjusted my title tag:
I noticed I was getting a lot of traffic for the term “marketing digital” from countries outside of North America on one of my posts.
So, I adjusted my title tag from saying “digital marketing” to “marketing digital” which took my CTR from 3.36% to 4.45%. It also increased my search traffic by 1,289 visitors a month.
With the key phrase “social media marketing,” I adjusted my title tag based on an idea I got from a magazine. My CTR went from 2.38% to 2.84%. In total, that increased my traffic by 932 visitors a month.
With my social media marketing title tag, I added the phrase “step-by-step guide.”
This lets people know it is a how-to related post and it is action oriented. I also added the word “social media” a few times within the meta description.
And with the query “Google AdWords,” I noticed that Google announced that they are switching their ad platform name from Google AdWords to Google Ads, so I did the opposite and focused more on the term “Google AdWords” because very few people knew about the name switch.
This helped drive an extra 1,355 visitors per month.
I’ve also had instances where the changes I’ve made had hurt my Google traffic.
So, whenever you adjust your title tag and meta description, mark that date down and look at the data within Google Search Console after 30 or so days to see if it hurt or helped.
If it hurt, revert it back and wait another 30 days. It can hurt your rankings if you continuously test. So when you have a losing variation, no matter what, wait 30 days as it will stabilize your rankings.
If the change helped boost your CTR and rankings, then you are off to a good start.
Now that you’ve optimized your click-through-rate, it’s time for you to optimize your user experience.
Hack #2: Show people what they want when they want it
If you go back to the experiment Rand Fishkin ran above, you’ll notice he told people to click the “back” button.
You don’t want people going to your site and clicking the back button… it will hurt your rankings.
People tend to click the back button because they don’t like what they see. If you can optimize your website for the optimal user experience, people will be less likely to click the back button.
I do this through 2 simple steps.
The first is to use Qualaroo and survey people. By asking people (right when they are on your website) a simple question of “how can I improve this page,” you’ll get tons of ideas.
You can even use Qualaroo to find out why people are visiting your website, which again will help you understand the type of people visiting your site. This will allow you to tailor your experience to them.
I ran a Qualaroo survey on my main blog page. The biggest feedback I got from you was that it was hard to find the exact content you were looking for.
And I know why too. It’s because I have marketing related content on everything. From ecommerce to SEO to content marketing…
I decided to try something out where when you land on the blog page, you can select the type of content that piques your interest and then all of the content gets tailored to your needs.
I also ran a Crazy Egg test to ensure that you like the change I made. Based on the Crazy Egg heatmap below, you can see that it was successful.
The bounce rate on my blog page dropped by 21% as well. 🙂
I then looked at the Crazy Egg scrollmap to see which elements/areas of the page have the most attention. This helped me determine where I should place the content filtering option.
The Crazy Egg scrollmap of my blog page shows that the content filtering option generates 70% of the page’s attention.
Placing the filtering in a place where there is a lot of attention ensures that I am giving you what you need in a place that is easy to find.
After you optimize your user experience, you want to focus on building a brand.
I recommend that you look at the pages on your site with high bounce rates and consider running this process in order to improve the user experience. When selecting the pages, make sure you are also picking pages that have decent traffic.
Hack #3: Build a brand
If you build a brand like Facebook or Amazon or any of the popular site, you’ll rank higher.
Brands are the solution, not the problem. Brands are how you sort out the cesspool.
I ran an experiment, which helped build up my brand and my search traffic skyrocketed (unintentionally).
My traffic went from 240,839 unique visitors per month in June 2016:
To 454,382 unique visitors per month by August 2016:
Once I realized the power of branding, I started a podcast called Marketing School, and I started to publish videos on YouTube, Facebook, and LinkedIn multiple times per week.
This has led me to generate 40,412 brand queries per month:
I’m even getting 3,806 brand queries per month on YouTube alone:
But as you know, producing good content doesn’t guarantee that your brand will grow.
Even if you build tools like me and release them for free (like what I did with Ubersuggest), it still won’t guarantee success.
But the one thing I have learned that works is the rule of 7.
When someone hears your message 7 times or sees it 7 times, they are more likely to resonate, build a connection, and continually come back.
So how do you get people to come back to your site?
The simplest solution that I’ve found to work is a free tool called Subscribers.
It leverages browser notifications to get people to “subscribe” to your website. It’s better than email because it is browser-based, which means people don’t have to give you their name or email address.
And then every time you want to get people to come back to your website, you simply send them a notification.
Look at how I’ve gotten over 42,316 people back to my site 174,281 times. That’s roughly 4 times per person.
Based on the rule of 7, I only have 3 more times to go. 😉
The way I use Subscribers is that I send out a notification blast every time I release a blog post.
The push looks something like this:
And instantly I’m able to get people back to my site:
When you start using Subscribers you won’t see results right away. It takes time to build up your subscriber base, but it happens pretty fast.
Typically, you’ll generate a browser notification subscriber three times faster than an email subscriber.
If you only focus on things like on-page SEO, link building, or even blogging, you won’t dominate Google.
Because that is what everyone else focuses on. You have to do more if you want to beat the competition.
By doing what’s best for the user, you’ll have a better chance of beating everyone else.
Just look at me, I do what every other SEO does plus more. Sometimes this causes my traffic to dip in the short run, but in the long run, it generally climbs.
From creating compelling copy so people want to click on your listing, to optimizing your user experience, to building a brand… you have to go beyond the SEO basics.
SEO has become extremely competitive. 5 years ago, it was much easier to rank at the top of Google.
If you use the 3 hacks above, here’s how long it will typically take to notice results.
Optimizing title tags – assuming you run successful tests, you can see small results in 30 to 60 days. Over time the results get even better.
Improving user experience – making your user experience better will instantly improve your metrics such as bounce rate, pageviews per visitor, time on site, and conversion rate. As for search rankings, it does help, but not instantly. Typically, it takes about 4 to 6 months to see results from this.
Brand building – sadly it takes years. Sure, tools like Subscribers will instantly grow your traffic, but it won’t impact your search rankings right away. You have no choice but to build a brand.
So which one of these hacks are you going to test out first?
I don’t think I am the best SEO out there. And I am not the most well-known SEO.
But when you have been doing SEO as long as I have, eventually you meet most of the players in the space.
And over the years, I’ve met a lot of Google employees. Some of them were in high positions, while others were not.
Out of all of the Google employees I met, none of them told me anything that shouldn’t be made public. And I also never put anyone in a position that would compromise their job.
But what was crazy is that the SEO advice I got on August 4, 2015, from a Google employee changed my life.
And what’s even crazier is that the advice I got on that particular day, is probably known by almost every SEO out there, but I bet less than .01% of SEOs use this strategy.
In other words, a Google employee shared knowledge that was readily available on any major search blog, yet I was too lazy to implement what I already knew.
So what did I learn?
Well, before I go into what I learned, lets first share the results of this one SEO tactic. The reason I’m doing this is that if I just share the tactic with you, most of you are going to ignore it like I did.
But if I share the stats with you first, hopefully, you’ll be more open to implementing what I am about to teach you.
So here are my traffic stats from August 2015 for NeilPatel.com:
And here are my traffic stats for the trailing few months after I had learned this new strategy:
As you can see from the image above my traffic was growing. I went from roughly 100,493 unique visitors a month to 144,196. Not too bad.
But here is the thing… my traffic was naturally growing from all of my other marketing efforts. And I didn’t even start implementing what I learned from Google until November 28, 2015.
And the results didn’t kick in right away. It took over a year before I really started seeing growth. But once I hit the 21-month mark, things really started to skyrocket.
So, what was the big lesson?
Well, maybe you’ll be able to figure it out by looking at the screenshots below. What’s the big difference in the screenshots below?
Here’s the first one from NeilPatel.com:
And here’s one from the KISSmetrics blog (which I now own – I’ll blog about this another day):
And here’s one from my older blog, Quick Sprout:
What’s the big difference between them?
All three of the blogs are about marketing. The content is similar… so what’s the difference?
KISSmetrics and Quick Sprout generate their traffic from roughly the same regions. But NeilPatel.com, on the other hand, generates traffic from regions like Brazil, Spain, and Germany at a much higher percentage.
So why is this?
Google told me to go multi-lingual
It’s hard to rank on Google.
No matter how many blog posts I write about SEO, most of you won’t rank well because it takes a lot of time and countless hours of work (or money).
But as my friend at Google once told me…
There is already a lot of content in English but not enough in other languages even though the majority of the people in this world don’t speak English.
On November 28, 2015, I published my first article in Portuguese (if you click the link there is a good chance it keeps you on the English site, so you may have to click the flag next to the Neil Patel logo and select Brazil after you click on the link).
Fast forward to today and I have 4,806 blog posts published on NeilPatel.com of which 1,265 are in Portuguese, 650 are in German, and 721 are in Spanish.
I slowly starting to go after more languages because the strategy is working. Here are my traffic stats in the last 31 days in Brazil:
And here are the stats for German:
And Neil Patel Spanish:
It takes time to do well within each region when you localize the content, but it’s worth it because there is literally no competition.
Seriously, no competition!!!
And I know what you are thinking… people in many of these countries don’t have as much money, so the traffic is useless and won’t convert.
If that’s what you are thinking then let me be the first to tell you that you are way off!
The data shows the majority of the world doesn’t live in the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, or Australia.
There are so many other countries to focus on.
Not only is there a lot of people in regions like Brazil, but their GDP isn’t too bad. And yes, there isn’t as much money to be made in Brazil as there is to be made in the United States… but in the U.S. you have a lot of competitors.
While in Brazil, it’s much easier to dominate, which means you can probably make as much money in Brazil as you do in the U.S.
To give you an idea, when my ad agency expanded to Brazil, we generated over a million dollars in revenue in less than 12 months when I can’t even speak one word of Portuguese.
Well, technically that’s a lie. I know enough Portuguese to order a water and tell the waiter that I don’t want salt on my food 😉
If you want to grow fast like Amazon, you have to start thinking big.
And international expansion should be one of those big thoughts.
Even if you aren’t able to service some of these regions, what’s the harm in spending money to first build up your company’s brand and traffic in those regions? You can then worry about monetization later on.
But you better hurry… time is running out.
It’s like the wild west
During one of my trips to Brazil, I had a meeting with Andre Esteves. The meeting was only supposed to be an hour, but it lasted almost 3, which is a very long time considering he’s worth $2 billion.
In that time, we talked shop, we shared stories from our personal life, he convinced me to stop investing in hedge funds, and to put all of my money back into the web… and best of all — he explained how regions like Brazil are the wild west.
But he didn’t mean that in a negative way. The opposite really.
Instead, he was just explaining how regions like Brazil have little to no competition and are growing fast. Those who are patient will make a lot of money in the long run.
He was spot on!
It’s why Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, and Microsoft focus heavily on internationalization. They all know you can’t build a gigantic business if you only focus on the English-speaking market.
To give you an idea on how much energy these companies spend on globalization, one of my Microsoft friends (who’s an executive), broke down why Microsoft is trying to stop piracy in China.
If everyone in China stopped pirating Microsoft products and paid for them instead, it would add roughly 138 billion dollars to their market cap (according to him).
Now, of course, if they stopped privacy, not all of those people will pay for their products. But still, it just shows how much more money is to be made by Microsoft in China.
There is even a ton of money to be made overseas for you. You just have to be willing to make the bet.
You’ve already seen my traffic stats and you know I’m growing fast overseas. I’m not monetizing in enough of those regions and that will change as time goes on.
But I made the internationalization bet years ago, and I keep increasing the amount I spend each year.
Here’s how you expand internationally
I’ve done better in Brazil than Germany and all of the Spanish markets. It’s not because I started to go after Brazil first, it’s because I had people on the ground in Brazil from day one.
It took me too long before I started to add people from those regions to the team and expand.
If you don’t speak the language and you don’t understand the culture you won’t do well no matter how good you are at marketing.
This was my biggest lesson I learned, you need people on the ground!
The second lesson I learned is translating your content isn’t enough.
Even if you adapt the content to the region by adjusting everything, you still won’t be successful because people within each region maybe looking for something else.
For example, in the United States, companies are looking for me to write more advanced marketing content. In parts of Latin America, on the other hand, people are looking to learn the fundamentals of online marketing.
For that reason, my team had to start creating new content just for regions like Brazil. This helped tremendously.
As you can see from the screenshot above, the most popular piece of content written for Brazil wasn’t a translation (it’s number 2 on the list, number 1 is a tool).
I rank #2 (behind Wikipedia) and before the YouTube results for the popular search term portfolio:
And that image above also gets me to my last point. You need to really build a brand in each region or else you won’t do well.
I speak at more conferences in Brazil than I do in Germany or any Spanish country.
Although people believe there isn’t much money to be made from Brazil, I get paid $25,000 to $50,000 for an hour speaking spot every time I fly out there.
Eventually, I learned better ways to grow my brand internationally than speaking (as that isn’t scalable).
I acquired the tool Ubersuggest for $120,000 as it has a lot of traffic from different parts of the world. Now I am improving the tool and expanding its functionality betting that in the long term it will bring me even more traffic and awareness.
I know the advice my Google friend gave me wasn’t rocket science, but hey, it worked really well.
We tend to forget and even ignore the things that are staring directly at us.
We all know the majority of the world doesn’t speak English, yet we all focus our marketing efforts on the English market.
If I were starting all over again, I wouldn’t create a website in English. Instead, I would pick a region in Europe, like France or Germany, where it isn’t as competitive and where their currency is worth more than the dollar.
Not only would I see results faster, but I would make more money because there wouldn’t be as much competition.
And yes, it did take me a while to see results, but since then I have run many more experiments and if I had to start over again I would:
Create separate sites per region – it’s easier to rank a localized site that is hosted within that country than it is to rank a global site. If you already have strong domain authority like me, don’t use subfolders, you are better off using sub-domains (I did this wrong). To give you an idea, when we create brand new sites with their own domain, focused on one region, we typically are able to climb to the top of page 1 within 3 to 4 months.
Use hreflang correctly – there are many ways to use hreflang tags. If you aren’t familiar with what they are, in essence, it tells Google which pages focus on which regions. What’s tricky about hreflang tags is that you can either focus on a specific region or language (or both). You have to make sure you pick the right one.
Buy instead of creating – if you really want to grow fast, just buy sites within that region that aren’t making much money and then fix them. This is the quickest way to grow.
And I will leave you with one final thought…
Google doesn’t penalize you for duplicate content. Translating your content and using hreflang won’t get you penalized.
Now, if you use an automatic translation software and your translations are done poorly, your user metrics will probably suffer and there is a higher chance you’ll suffer from a Google penalty. So translate your content manually.
Are you going to go global? Or are you going to stand on the sidelines and watch others pass you by?
See most marketers start their keyword research with tools like SEMrush or Ubersuggest and they type in a keyword like “SEO”. You then get a list back with hundreds of keyword suggestions with cost per click and competition data.
And once you have a list of keywords you like, you probably do what most marketers do, which is to start inserting them into your website or creating content around the keywords.
Does this process sound familiar?
Well, of course, it does because that’s what everyone has been teaching you to do.
But what’s wrong with this?
This process is like gambling… there’s no guarantee that you’ll rank for these new keywords. And even worse, those keywords may not generate you any leads, sales, or revenue.
But thankfully, I have a process for you that will not only help you rank for thousands of keywords, but it will also ensure that this new-found traffic converts into leads, sales, and more revenue.
Here’s the 5-step process that helped me rank for 477,000 keywords.
Step #1: Focus on the pages that drive revenue
Going after the right keywords won’t guarantee you success.
If you rank a page that isn’t converting well, you’ll get more traffic, but your revenue won’t go up.
This will lead you to a report that looks something like this.
You’ll then want to click on the “Pages” option as it will sort the results by top pages.
At this point, you’ll have to go through your list of pages and find them within Google Search Console.
Once you find one of the pages, click on the URL and then select “Queries” at the top.
This will give you an overview of the specific terms that generate traffic to your high converting pages.
Now let’s download the data in CSV format and open it with Excel.
Once you load it up, it should look something like this.
I want you to first sort the data by impressions. Look for the keywords that are generating the highest impression count as those keywords have the potential to drive the most traffic.
If you feel those keywords are relevant to your product or service that you are offering, make sure you include them within the title tag of your website.
You won’t be able to add all of the keywords to your title tag because it is limited to roughly 60 characters, but adding a few of the most popular terms will ensure that you are going to get higher click-through rates, which will boost your overall search rankings.
Once you’ve adjusted your title tag, let’s do the same with your meta description.
Meta description is longer than the title tag. Google is ok with roughly 156 characters. So, feel free to sprinkle in a few more keywords, but make sure your meta description still flows in a readable sentence.
And before we get back to the Excel sheet, let’s expand your content by adding in some of the keywords you don’t rank high up on page 1 but should.
You can do this by adding more content to your page, or if you can insert the keywords without “stuffing” them in (just make sure your content flows and provides value).
Now let’s head back over to Excel. You should see a filter icon that looks something like this:
Select column E, as this will select all of the keywords based on their rankings. Then click on the “sort & filter button” and then select “filter”.
You’ll see a table that pops up. Unselect any numbers that are 1, 2, or 3.
You’ll also want to unselect any number that is 11 or greater. This will show you all of the keywords ranking on page 1 that are NOT in position 1, 2 or 3.
By, having a list of keywords that are in position 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10… you can now focus on moving them up.
You’ve already done the hardest part which is getting on page 1. It’s not that much more work to get into the top 3 spots (at least for most keywords).
You’ll want to take all of the keywords that are relevant to your page and see if you can blend them into your content or headings without ruining the user experience.
This may mean that you’ll have to re-write your content and make it double the length.
Or if you have a product or service page that you are trying to rank higher, it may mean that you can’t include all of the keywords as it will ruin the user experience and hurt your conversion rate (but you can probably include a few more).
Over time you’ll find that your rankings will slowly climb for keywords that will bring in more revenue.
Step #3: Add in related keywords
You know what’s one thing I love about Google? They are really generous when it comes to giving marketers data. From Google Analytics to Google Search Console… Google has some amazing tools!
Another product I love (technically it’s more of a feature) is that Google shows you all of the related keywords to the ones you are already ranking for.
This is going to be a manual grind, but it’s worth it.
Log into Google Search Console and look at the top 10 keywords that you rank for. You can get this data by clicking on “Search Traffic > Search Analytics”.
Make sure you exclude any branded terms and compile a list of your top 10 terms.
Now go to Google, type in each of these keywords manually and scroll to the bottom where it says, “related keywords”.
Google gives you a list of other popular terms that people are typing. What is beautiful about this list, is that these keywords are already related to the one you are ranking for and they are typically much easier to rank for.
So, for neilpatel.com, I already rank for the term “SEO.”
So Google is telling me that in addition to the word “SEO,” people are also searching for:
You should do the same. It’s an easy way to rank for more relevant keywords, boost your traffic, and, eventually, your revenue.
If you do this for your top 10 keywords, you’ll have an additional list of 80 keywords (8 keywords per term).
And by integrating these terms into your site (only when it makes sense, don’t spam) you’ll quickly rank on page 1 for dozens of other terms.
If you want to go crazy like me, you can do this for 1,000 terms, which will then give you suggestions for an additional 80,000 keywords!
But again, don’t force it and ruin your user experience. This will hurt your conversion rate. You should only add keywords when it is natural and makes sense for the user.
And hopefully, you selected keywords from pages that are driving your revenue (remember Step 1!). The last thing you want is to spend time increasing your rankings and find that your revenue isn’t going up.
Step #4: Go after the low-hanging fruit
Have you noticed that there is a huge difference in traffic between the pages on your site that rank on page 2 compared to the content ranking on page 1?
Like most marketers, you probably don’t notice it because your pages that rank on page 2 of Google don’t get much traffic… which causes you to forget about them.
It’s sad but true.
So, let’s fix this!
Log into SEMrush, type in your domain name, and click on “Organic Research > Positions”.
You’ll want to look for all of the terms that you rank number 11 or 12 for.
You can do this by using the filter setting (just copy the settings in the screenshot below).
You’ll have a list of keywords that are almost on page one.
Now just make sure those keywords are pointing to pages that are responsible for driving your sales, leads, and revenue (go back to step 1 if you don’t know how to do this).
For the keywords that aren’t driving sales or leads, you can ignore them for now.
For one the ones pointing to pages that are driving sales or leads, perform a Google search for each of those keywords.
Now compile a list of web pages that are ranking above you.
Take those URLs and plug them into Ahrefs. Once you plug in each URL, click on “Backlinks” in the left navigation bar.
This will show you a list of sites linking to your competition.
I want you to get in touch with each of those sites and beg for a link. Here’s an email template you can use (you’ll have to modify it to fit your site).
Hey [Insert website owners name],
I noticed that you are linking to [insert competing web page] from [insert the URL of on their website linking to the competition]. Did you know that the page you are linking to isn’t the best resource for your website readers?
It’s missing [insert multiple points on what that competing page lacks].
If you want to provide an even better experience for your website readers, you should consider linking to [insert your URL that you want to rank higher] as it has [insert why your web page better than the competition].
[Insert your name]
You’ll find that after emailing hundreds of sites that only 3% to 5% will link back to you assuming your page is comparable to the competition.
If you can’t get at least 3% to link back it means that you either didn’t do a good job modifying the email template or your page sucks compared to your competition. 🙁
I know this is tedious work, but it’s a great way to boost your traffic.
Step #5: Attract buyers before they are ready to buy
Another reason I love Google is that they have this neat tool called Google Correlate.
What Google Correlate does is shows you search patterns. In other words, they show you what your customers are typing in weeks or even months before they become customers.
And if you want to upsell your users, you can use Google Correlate to see what your customers type in weeks or months after they become a customer.
This will help you determine what products or services to offer assuming you want that upsell revenue.
Here’s how it works… let’s say you are selling beard oil. You type in “beard oil” into Google Correlate and you can see what people are typing in before they become customers.
As you can see some of the keywords people are typing in are…
best beard oil
sweater crop top
what is beard
To get those results I got, I selected “-3” weeks.
I am looking at what people typed in 3 weeks before they searched in beard oil. That’s why I put a “-” sign before the number 3 to see what they typed in before they searched for my main keyword.
If you want to attract more customers and build brand loyalty with people who may be interested in beard oil products, I would create content around the best beard oil or flannel outfits that go well with beards.
That’s what I got from the Google Correlate data.
And if I wanted to figure out what products to create in order to upsell my beard oil customers, I would perform the same search on Google Correlate but use a positive number such as “2 weeks.”
Based on the data above, I would consider offering beard balm as an upsell as there seems to be a strong correlation.
The cool part about Google Correlate is that you can do this for any keyword and sort the results by the country you are targeting.
I know my method of keyword search is a pain in the butt, but it works.
Just think of it this way…
Creating content on new topics is hard because there is no guarantee a new page on your website will rank for competitive terms.
But if you take web pages that already have traction and you improve them using the techniques I described above, it’s a guaranteed way to generate more search traffic.
Now if you want to create content that focuses on new keywords, by all means, you should do so!
I am not saying that creating new content is a bad idea… heck, I do it all the time.
But consider creating new content after you modify your existing pages that are already driving your traffic and sales.
And when you do go after new terms, don’t forget to use Google Correlate as it will help you gain the right type of traffic (plus your competition isn’t doing it).
So, what do you think of my keyword research and SEO process that I used to rank for thousands of keywords?