Eight years ago I did search-engine optimization (SEO) where you could rank one in Google simply by using <meta keywords="your keywords" />. You could have a million-dollar business just from that one tactic. Today doing such a thing does not make a dollar.
To be heard online today is tough. Google changes every day. You get new competitors who hire tech gurus putting up new sites each week to outgun competitors. I helped run one of James Schramko’s workshops in Sydney where the list of online marketing tasks for a basic website is mind-numbing.
There is so much unnecessary advice on blogs that advise how to increase website traffic and boost sales. Amongst all this competition and confusion, the simple principles I’m about to share with you below attract millions of visitors to websites each month and create envy-inducing conversion-rates for clients, friends, and myself. The principles are like the commandments of online marketing – forever directing what is right in a so-called “changing environment”.
I’m here to tell you to stop making search-engine optimization and online marketing difficult. SEO should be invisible. Invisible SEO and similar online marketing is the equivalent of good copywriting where the reader does not feel sold to.
The best on-page and off-page SEO does not look like SEO to the expert eye. Your brand, the user experience, and your offer should take superiority over finding another way to jam a keyword on the page to “boost rankings”.
The commandments of online marketing became apparent to me when reading Timothy Ferris’ 4-Hour Chef. To do something well, you need to:
1) Deconstruct what is important
2) Select what is important
3) Sequence what is important
4) Put Stakes on actions to execute the plan
By following these four steps, you unlock the most efficient actions to get maximum results. What this means for you as you read this article is the four online marketing lessons I’m about to share with you should occupy 90% of your work focus and time. Do this and your company site will dominate.
We begin with the simplest and most powerful marketing questions to ask yourself then work our way to specific tools and techniques to use.
1. The 3 Biggest Marketing Questions to Ever Ask Yourself
Brand management, consumer behavior, real-time marketing and other marketing jargon shouldn’t cross most business owner’s and manager’s minds. It’s probably irrelevant to you. If it does matter, it produces little to your bottom-line
What matters most to you is three questions. Ask yourself these key marketing questions I learned from Eben Pagan:
- Is my prospect experiencing irrational passion of an issue my product or service solves?
- Is my prospect searching for a solution?
- Does my prospect have few or no perceived options?
Get all three right and you have a killer business. Have two and you can succeed. Nail one and I wish you good luck. Miss all three and you will tear your hair out for years trying to market with the latest techniques making no progress. If you get the market right, the marketing becomes easy.
When working with an established company, it can be tough adhering to the three marketing questions because most owners and people you report to want an existing product or their great idea to work. Not fun.
In terms of implementing these questions online, the first can be answered immediately by someone experienced in the market. The second answered by good keyword research and market breakdown. The third with competitive analysis. Theme Zoom have done a good job describing implementation in more depth.
2. Create Amazing Value… Then Give it Away
What you think is valuable may be worthless to your market. You could give away a $10,000 ride-on mower for every garden your team renovates, but if your market of gardeners are in the city wanting to learn about herbs and indoor plants for their cemented balconies, you can do a lot better.
Focus on what is termed “perceived value”. By definition perceived value is relative. Knowledge is useless if it does not match a person’s experience. This is good for you because simple adjustments make what you create more cherished.
The reason for giving away something of high value is simple. This thought gets implanted in your prospect’s mind: if I receive this for free, the thing I can buy must be amazing. When you give something they love, whether it be a basic version of your product or tips that gets your prospect a desired result, you get more leads and boost sales.
Here are my quick tips to create amazing value:
- My most important tip is to give your readers what they want. Do this by “piggybacking” popular content (how to do so is revealed in the next commandment), survey your market, and study your analytics to see what visitors search for. In dating for men, it could be how to handle the first kiss. In travel, it could be how to save $100 on any flight. Find what your market wants most then tell them the secret.
- Name the techniques you give away. There’s the Sedona method, Atkins diet, and the fast phobia technique (taken from an NLP book I just read). Instead of “a tip to save $100 on any flight” (which is still good because it is specific and benefit-oriented), you could call it the “1-minute loophole of cheaper flights”. You now have a technique to refer to in other materials that becomes a proprietary way to attract leads.
- Invest in your skills if you create content alone or in a small team. Know how to create decent graphics, audio, and video. I love Lynda and Tuts+ Premium. Presentation boosts value.
- Learn copywriting. Know how to grab the reader’s attention online then keep it. Even if you’re not selling a thing, in this day and age you need to retain your market’s attention in anything from a landing page, article, or video. Study the late Gary Halbert, David Ogilvy, and the Copyblogger. Write what they have written. Overtime your style will emerge and their expertise will superimpose onto you.
- Make a guarantee that lets your customer get their desired result 100% of the time. If they don’t save $100 on a flight, the customer is assigned their very own consultant who gets them that result (of course, you better be able to back up the result otherwise legal issues follow). Speak your guarantee in tangible, specific terms. Doing so adds enormous value creating persuasive power. If the tip you give away reduces the cost of flights by $100, you setup a perfect guarantee for your prospect: “Save another $200 on accommodation in your next travels and discover many other traveling secrets by ordering the travel tips guide now for $47. If you don’t save $200 on accommodation, get a refund and keep the guide.”
Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, StumbleUpon, and Reddit all at some time have changed online marketing… Or have they? These tools merely empower you to share what you deem valuable. Sure, you need to learn a little about how they work, add a social media button, or setup a Facebook page. This is simple. Online tools and Google continue to leverage value – where your focus should be – in a variety of ways from creation to sharing.
Ever since 2000 when website owners began to game Google’s ranking system all the way up to the recent Panda update, Google have fought content manipulators. From hidden keywords where the color of a font is the same as the background color, to the more recent analysis of low-quality content, you bet 100s of engineers can figure out how to calculate what is valuable with semantics, sharing, and other technologies.
Google are making their search algorithms more transparent because it is more difficult to game the system. In a way, it is becoming its own self-managed system. If a crappy video or article with poor advice ranks high for a keyword, visitors will quickly hit back on the browser and not share the content causing the page to eventually vanish off search results. Good value in the eyes of your market will always reign supreme.
3. Piggy Back Top Competitors
What if you knew how to get number one in Google for your most desirable search term? What if you know where to attract traffic, get free leads, and jump start your sales? What if you could write an article you knew was going to be a hit before you released it? You can do all this with the concept of “piggybacking” to get more traffic and sales.
This is a way of thinking described by John Reese from Income.com in his Traffic Secrets 2.0 course. Here’s how you can apply this concept to easily gain more traffic and sales:
- Build links on sites where your highest ranking competitors have links. I like Market Samurai. You type in a competitor’s site then Market Samurai tells you the location of competitor links. No matter what changes in Google, you know the right actions to take with this principle.
- Write articles on topics related to a competitor’s most popular articles. Some sites have a most popular tab. For sites without such a feature, use the Facebook recommendations box to discover most liked articles.
- Create videos similar to the most viewed videos on YouTube by your competitors.
- Use PPC keywords of your competitors. A tool like KeywordSpy.com can give you all the keywords and ad copy your competitors are using! A competitor may have tested 10 ads to get their current top-performing ad. Save yourself reinventing the wheel if you have a good performing competitor in Adwords.
- Recruit affiliates of competitors for your affiliate program by making them a better offer. They already show interest in affiliate marketing and know how to do it. This saves you time in persuading and educating them on how to do affiliate marketing.
A backlink profile can be mimicked to produce a similar result in the search engines. When you implement product features because a competitor did, you tread on dangerous ground. Who says the feature you decide to create because a competitor has it, is what the market wants? The best piggybacking originates from hard data you cannot argue with.
4. Measure and Refine
King of modern management Peter Drucker said, “What gets measured, gets managed”. In the internet marketing space, we are lucky to be in an industry where almost anything can be measured in real-time then managed.
One of the most important pieces to measure and refine is your website. Cheetah’s are one of the most successful hunters in the animal kingdom. They are mobile, fast, and camouflaged. You think they would kill most prey. but researchers who tracked a Cheetah’s hunting success rate discovered it to be 50% (kill prey in 1 out of 2 attempts). Less gifted hunters like Tigers have a 10% success rate. Most hunting in the animal kingdom fails.
The same is true for most marketing. Headlines fail, images fail, and call-to-actions fail to convert all the time no matter how good you or your team is at marketing.
The solution to this is split-testing. The most basic split-test presents one message to 50% of the audience and another message to the other 50%. When you split-test, don’t be shocked if changing one headline triples sales. I’ve seen it happen many times.
There are amazing technologies online that allow you to alter headlines, link text, images, and anything else you want with multiple variations… and have it all statistically tracked.
It sounds complex at first if you’re new to split-testing but it’s really simple with the right tool. I use and love a tool called Visual Website Optimizer. Create a free account right now then you can setup a basic test of any page for your site in one-minute. Give it a try.
Google Analytics is another must-have tool to measure results. Other analytic programs will do for most websites. The key metric to look for is the traffic sources. What keywords or websites get you traffic and sales? You may have spent 10 hours getting links on websites to discover that 20-minutes you spent getting 2 links brought in 80% of traffic in that link building campaign. Do more of what works!
One other key metric to track is your search rankings. Use Market Samurai to track your rankings in Google for your main keywords. If you drop from the first-result of Google for “free travel guide” to the second page, you see when the dropped occurred and can estimate what caused the decline. Did you try a new link building campaign? Did an algorithm change that week? If you track a competitor, you can learn from them. Sneaky.
Apply the four online marketing lessons to other areas where you can. They get you the greatest traffic and sales in the least amount of time with minimal effort… and will continue to do so in years to come.