Category Archives: Traffic Generation

Aurora Review + My Bonuses | Jono Armstrong’s Aurora

Welcome to my Aurora review. I’m here inside of the front end members area and also the pro version members area and during this review, I’m gonna give you a full demo of exactly what Aurora is and what it does now in a nutshell. First of all, I know what it’s like when you just start off trying to make money online. There’s a lot of things that you need to get your head around. There’s […]

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Ultimate Guide To Sitemaps And How They Affect SEO

‘Create and submit a sitemap’ – you can see this advice almost everywhere from SEO guides to webmaster forums. A sitemap is an essential element of website optimization, which can help a lot if used properly.

Sitemap creation and optimization is not rocket science but has its peculiarities as much as anything else. In this post, you will learn what sitemaps are and how to optimize them to improve website crawling.

1. What Is a Sitemap and Why You Need One

A sitemap is a file that collects all essential pages of your site that you want to be indexed by search engines with a bit of additional data about them like last modified data, change frequency, or alternate language versions.

All publicly available pages on your website will be eventually found by search robots irrespective of whether they are present in your sitemap or not. Though, if your site is big enough, discovering individual deep pages may take more time due to a limited crawl budget.

In layman’s terms, using a sitemap, you provide search robots with direct page addresses to prioritize their crawling and indexing.

Sitemap abd website

From the image above, it’s clear that to find blue houses at the very bottom, search spider needs to pass through several green ones spending its resources. A sitemap allows locating all the houses on a single street.

It’s important to realize that while a sitemap helps search engines crawl your pages more effectively, it does not guarantee they will be indexed eventually. Search robots will evaluate those pages just as any other pages on the web and decide whether they are good enough to be shown in search or not.

1.2. When Exactly You Need a Sitemap

While a sitemap is undoubtedly a useful tool, it’s worth mentioning the specific cases when it’s essential.

A website should have a sitemap if:

  • It’s new and lacks external incoming links (backlinks from other sites). How should robots discover your pages if they don’t have backlinks from elsewhere on the web?
  • It’s huge and/or is regularly updated. Massive websites need to use crawl rate effectively to avoid spending it on low-quality and utility pages. Using a sitemap, you can also tell search engines about pages that got recently updated.
  • It has a complicated internal structure, deep and orphaned pages. Keep in mind that in this case, a sitemap is not a magic pill, you still need to work on proper website architecture and internal linking.
  • It contains rich media content. There are specific sitemaps for news, videos, and images.

According to Google: ‘In most cases, your site will benefit from having a sitemap, and you’ll never be penalized for having one.’

2. Types of Sitemaps

In previous paragraphs, I used ‘sitemap’ as a collective term. In reality, there are several types of sitemaps made for different purposes. Here are the most popular ones.

XML Sitemap

XML stands for Extensible Markup Language and is similar to Hypertext Markup Language (HTML). On the contrary to HTML which is made to display data, XML can only store it.

An XML sitemap is the most widespread type which is usually meant when talking about sitemaps in general.

Example:

<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”UTF-8″?>

<urlset xmlns=”http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9″>

<url>

<loc>http://www.example.com/</loc>

<lastmod>2019-12-12</lastmod>

<changefreq>monthly</changefreq>

<priority>0.9</priority>

</url>

</urlset>

Alternate Language or Region XML Sitemap

If your website has pages available in several languages or made for specific regions, they should be correctly optimized for search engines. There are multiple ways to specify alternate versions of a page, and one of them is using a sitemap and the ‘hreflang’ attribute.

Example:

<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”UTF-8″?>

<urlset xmlns=”http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9″

xmlns:xhtml=”http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml”>

<url>

<loc>http://www.example.com/en/page.html</loc>

<xhtml:link

rel=”alternate”

hreflang=”de”

href=”http://www.example.com/de/page.html”/>

<xhtml:link

rel=”alternate”

hreflang=”en”

href=”http://www.example.com/en/page.html”/>

</url>

<url>

<loc>http://www.example.com/de/page.html</loc>

<xhtml:link

rel=”alternate”

hreflang=”de”

href=”http://www.example.com/de/page.html”/>

<xhtml:link

rel=”alternate”

hreflang=”en”

href=”http://www.example.com/en/page.html”/>

</url>

</urlset>

Each page language version must link to other language versions and to itself. Learn more about hreflang.

Image XML Sitemap

Together with schema markup, image sitemap is made to provide Google with additional information about images on your site, optimizing them for image search. It helps search robots find images that are shown using JavaScript and can contain up to 1,000 images per page.

You can either create a separate image sitemap or include images in your regular sitemap. Images located on another domain can also be added if both domains are verified in the Search Console.

Example:

<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”UTF-8″?>

<urlset xmlns=”http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9″

xmlns:image=”http://www.google.com/schemas/sitemap-image/1.1″>

<url>

<loc>http://example.com/sample.html</loc>

<image:image>

<image:loc>http://example.com/image.jpg</image:loc>

</image:image>

</url>

</urlset>

You can also specify optional tags like:

  • <image:caption>
  • <image:geo_location>
  • <image:title>
  • <image:license>

Image sitemaps are pretty much unnecessary nowadays unless your website is heavy on images (photo aggregator, stock). If you take a look at the set of metadata you can specify using ImageObject schema, you will see that it’s much more extensive.

Video XML Sitemap

Similar to the image sitemap, a video sitemap provides additional info about video content on your site and can be either separate or embedded in a general sitemap.

Example:

<urlset xmlns=”http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9″

xmlns:video=”http://www.google.com/schemas/sitemap-video/1.1″>

<url>

<loc>http://www.example.com/videos/page.html</loc>

<video:video>

<video:thumbnail_loc>http://www.example.com/sample.jpg</video:thumbnail_loc>

<video:title>Sitemap optimization guide</video:title>

<video:description>Our senior specialist shares tips on sitemap SEO</video:description>

<video:content_loc>

http://streamserver.example.com/video.mp4</video:content_loc>

</video:video>

</url>

</urlset>

Optional tags can be found here.

You can add multiple videos within one page in your sitemap, but make sure they are relevant to the page. VideoObject schema is what should also be used to describe videos to search engines.

News XML Sitemap

This sitemap type is created specifically for websites included in Google News. It allows getting the latest news published on your website crawled much faster and is essential for news sites and aggregators.

Google recommends adding up to 1,000 URLs per each sitemap, including news published in the last two days.

Example:

<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”UTF-8″?>

<urlset   xmlns=”http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9″

xmlns:news=”http://www.google.com/schemas/sitemap-news/0.9″>

<url>

<loc>http://www.example.org/search/news.html</loc>

<news:news>

<news:publication>

<news:name>Breaking News</news:name>

<news:language>en</news:language>

</news:publication>

<news:publication_date>2019-12-12</news:publication_date>

<news:title>Google increased number of ads on the first page to 10</news:title>

</news:news>

</url>

</urlset>

XML Sitemap Index

A sitemap index file is a file collecting multiple sitemaps. Why is it needed? The thing is that each sitemap is limited to 50,000 URLs and 50MB. If your sitemap exceeds the limits, it should be divided into multiple documents collected into a sitemap index file.

Example:

<?xml version=”1.0″ encoding=”UTF-8″?>

<sitemapindex xmlns=”http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9″>

<sitemap>

<loc>http://www.example.com/sitemap1.xml</loc>

<lastmod>2018-12-12T15:22:19+00:00</lastmod>

</sitemap>

<sitemap>

<loc>http://www.example.com/sitemap2.xml</loc>

<lastmod>2018-12-12</lastmod>

</sitemap>

</sitemapindex>

The sitemap index file can contain sitemaps of different domains in case they are all verified in Search Console.

HTML Sitemap

An HTML sitemap is a webpage which contains hyperlinks to all important pages of your site with descriptive anchor text. On the contrary to the XML sitemap which is made for search robots, the purpose of HTML sitemap is to help users navigate through your site.

In an ideal world, your site should have a logical website structure where users can access all pages without a hitch. The reality is lots of sites have complicated structure, deep pages, and no internal search. In such case, an HTML sitemap may help.

PayPal sitemap

An HTML sitemap doesn’t bring much benefit from the SEO point of view and is pretty simple to set up, so let’s focus on the XML sitemap next.

3. XML Sitemap Tags

As you can see from the examples above, there’s a bunch of metadata that can be specified in different kinds of sitemap. Some of the tags are a must, and some are optional. Let’s have a quick look at the main tags and their relevance.

XML Sitemap Tags

Required Tags

Tags highlighted in green are compulsory and serve as the specification of a sitemap version, encoding, protocol, and address of each URL.

XML sitemaps must be UTF-8 encoded, and all the data inside them must be escaped following the standards. <urlset> opens a sitemap and specifies the protocol it uses.

The <url> tag specifies each URL entry. It’s a parent tag that has a bunch of children tags depending on a sitemap type.

<loc> is the primary and obligatory tag for each URL which shows the address of a page. Each tag must contain a full page URL (including http/https and trailing slash in the end if you have one). In other words, if you want a search robot to be able to crawl the page, make sure the address is correct.

Optional Tags

Tags highlighted in red are optional and provide search engines with additional information about each URL.

<lastmod> shows page’s last modified date and time that must be specified according to W3C Datetime format. Google uses this to identify the original author and recrawl pages if they have been recently changed. While John Mueller from Google confirmed they use the lastmod tag, don’t think you can abuse it by updating it each time you made some insignificant changes.

<changefreq> is a tag that describes how frequently the page is getting updated. You can set the following values:

  • always
  • hourly
  • daily
  • weekly
  • monthly
  • yearly
  • never

This tag is not a directive to search robots, so don’t expect robots to recrawl your pages each second if you set ‘always’.

<priority> specifies the priority of a page compared to other pages on a site. The value from 0.0 to 1.0 can be set where 1 is the highest priority.

According to several Google representatives (John Mueller and Gary Illyes), both <changefreq> and <priority> are not used by Google anymore.

4. How to Optimize XML Sitemap

A sitemap is not a ranking factor itself, and your rankings won’t skyrocket as soon as you create it. You won’t be penalized for not having one on your site. That being said, a sitemap is still super essential for SEO. Let’s see how to make it work.

Add Only Important and Compliant Pages

There’s no point in stuffing your sitemap with absolutely all pages from the website. Add only relevant pages you want to appear in search. Another key takeaway is to make sure all URLs in a sitemap are compliant. In other words, they should be accessible for search robots.

Make sure there’s no:

  • Broken pages (returning 4xx-5xx status codes)
  • Redirect pages (returning 3xx status codes)
  • Canonicalized pages
  • Duplicate and thin content pages
  • URLs with parameters, internal search pages, print pages, etc. (all these pages should already be hidden from search bots)
  • URLs blocked by robots.txt, robots meta tag, X-Robots-Tag
  • URLs present in another sitemap file
  • Utility pages (terms of use, contact, privacy policy pages, etc.)

Categorize Your Sitemaps

If your site has 500+ pages, they are probably divided into several categories like product pages, blog posts, or whatever you want. There’s no issue in placing all these pages in a single sitemap, but this way you are losing an opportunity to better analyze your sitemaps in the future.

Let me explain what I mean. When you submit a sitemap in Google Search Console (I’ll show how to do it a little bit later) it shows you a report on issues and the number of discovered and valid pages. Having a separate sitemap for product pages, you can track data that is specific to them.

Go to ‘Index’ then ‘Sitemaps’. Here you will see all submitted sitemaps, their status, and the number of discovered pages. Click on the icon next to the number of discovered URLs to see the detailed report on each sitemap, including the number of valid pages (indexed), excluded pages, errors, and warnings.

submitted sitemaps

You can also go to ‘Index’ then ‘Coverage’, and filter the view by the corresponding sitemap.

submitted sitemap

Filter by ‘All submitted pages’ to see the report on all pages you added in your sitemaps.

Use Dynamic Sitemap

An XML sitemap is not something you can create and forget if you are planning to update your site, add, or remove pages. You need to refresh your sitemap after every significant change.

When you have a small site, this is not an issue at all. However, if you operate a relatively big e-commerce project or informational portal, it’s nearly impossible to create a new sitemap every time.

There are a bunch of plugins that dynamically create a sitemap for WordPress users such as All in One SEO Pack, or Yoast SEO. If you are not a WordPress user, you can ask a developer to create a custom script for you.

Everything in a Sitemap Will Be Spotted Faster

Remember what I said on avoiding 3xx and 4xx pages in a sitemap? This is still a rule to follow in 99% of cases. Though, if you want search engines to find that a specific page is no more available or redirects to another one, a sitemap can speed up this process.

According to this tweet by Gary Illyes, anything you put in a sitemap will be picked up faster. That’s why you can create a separate sitemap where you will specify fresh redirects, 404 pages, etc.

Moreover, you should avoid having broken or redirecting links on your site as it hurts your UX, so sitemap is the best place to show search robots these changes.

5. How to Create XML Sitemap

Here we come to the most crucial part – sitemap creation. There are several methods you can use to complete this task:

  1. Create a sitemap manually or using custom coded scripts. If you have some technical knowledge and want to rise against the machine, you can code your own sitemap (or ask a developer) which will be the most suitable for you.
  2. Use plugins in your CMS. Plugins like Yoast SEO and Google XML Sitemaps do a pretty good job creating and customizing XML sitemaps.

XML Sitemap

  1. Using web-based generators like XML-Sitemaps. They usually have free limited versions that allow creating sitemaps up to a certain number of pages.
  2. Using a built-in XML sitemap generator in an SEO crawler (e.g. Netpeak Spider).

All options are suitable for small and medium websites. Though, if you want more flexibility, a web crawler and custom script are more appropriate.

Using the crawler, you can get all website pages and break them down into several segments like landing pages, blog posts, images, etc. Then create a sitemap for each segment.

Tip: compress sitemaps into a .gz format using GZip to save some space, but keep in mind that an unzipped file must not exceed the 50MB limit.

Most of the tools will also allow you to validate your sitemap to make sure it complies with the standard.

Add Sitemap to the Root Folder and Robots.Txt

Once a sitemap is successfully created, upload it to the root folder of the site just as you usually do with other files. It has to be like this – yourbeautifulsite.com/sitemap.xml.

Next, go to the robots.txt file and add a line with your sitemap address so that search robots will be able to spot it each time they address the file. If you have multiple sitemap URLs, just add each from a new line.

Root folder and robot

6. Submit Sitemap to Search Engines

The last step is to submit created sitemaps to Google and Bing Webmaster Tools.

Let’s start with Google:

  1. Open Google Search Console.
  2. Go to ‘Index’ then ‘Sitemaps’.
  3. Enter sitemap URL in the address bar and click ‘Submit’

Sitemap submission on search engines

Submit to Bing:

  1. Go to the ‘Sitemaps’ widget on the dashboard.
  2. Click ‘Submit a Sitemap’ and enter your sitemap address.

Ping Sitemap Through an HTTP Request

There’s an alternative and more technical way to notify search engines of your sitemap. It can be done using an HTTP request.

Ping Google: http://www.google.com/ping?sitemap=URL/of/sitemap

Ping Bing: http://www.bing.com/ping?sitemap=URL/of/sitemap

Sitemap Best Practices

Now that you’ve learned sitemaps from soup to nuts, let’s summarize what you should remember about sitemaps:

  • Sitemap improves crawling of your website
  • It does not guarantee your pages will be indexed
  • Keep your sitemap up-to-date
  • Add only compliant pages in a sitemap
  • Don’t forget about the limits
  • Use hreflang for localized page versions
  • Create separate sitemaps for images, videos, news
  • Don’t focus on the <priority> and <changefreq> tags
  • Categorize your sitemaps
  • Create a sitemap index
  • Compress your sitemaps
  • Submit them in Webmaster Tools
  • Add sitemap address in robots.txt
  • Analyze sitemap indexing and fix possible issues

Keep your maps clean and feel free to ask your questions in the comments.

The post Ultimate Guide to Sitemaps and How They Affect SEO appeared first on The TechWyse ‘Rise to the Top’ Internet Marketing Blog.

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This Week: Google Searches, Keyword Research Tools, Facebook Reach and User Intent

Happy Tuesday!

This week we are back again with more internet marketing news; we’ll get into why organic search clicks out-number paid, why agencies are backing content marketing, 8 free keyword research tools for SEO, Facebook’s comment reach in newsfeeds, and how to understand searcher intent to boost SEO rankings!

49% of all Google searches are no-click, study finds

To all the marketers out there, we have some news data provided by marketing analytics firm Jumpshot. In their latest estimate, it was shown that zero-click searches on Google have steadily risen over the past three years.

This article guides us through the latest statistics on organic-click erosion, click-through rates, and why mobile organic search is affected compared to desktop.

User click after searching google

The data here shows that in the first quarter of 2019, 41.45% of Google searches resulted in organic clicks to non-Google sites and 5.9% of searches ended with the user heading to another Google-owned website. Unfortunately, if you’re in a field that Google is in as well, like travel, then Google is likely dominating your marketing and getting those clicks.

Agencies see growth in Content Marketing Business

This article provides us with insights about why agencies are putting their efforts towards growing their content marketing. Out of the companies that offer content marketing services, over half of them reported that 50% of their business is comprised of content marketing.

Content Marketing

Read the article to learn more about the changes in content marketing and how they influence agencies!

8 Free keyword research tools for SEO

To find the ideal keywords, you need to search out all the possible variations from multiple data sources. So, finding the right keyword may seem very confusing and complicated at first. If you do a Google search SEO tools, you’ll see a lot of options in the market now, but all of them differ in features, amounts and sources of data, as well as prices. But which of them do you really need? And, most importantly, do you need to fork out hundreds of dollars a month, or is there a way to cut the costs?

Keyword Research

This article explores 8 of the best free keyword research tools. Each of them best fits a specific keyword research task and does the job just as well as their paid alternatives.

Facebook changes the reach of comments in the news feed

You’ll still find your best marketing opportunities on the world’s largest social network, so needless to say, spending time learning Facebook marketing is worth the investment. Everyone wants to get maximum reach, so this article will provide you with the information on Facebook’s new algorithm that has affected the comment reach on a post. Comments that have specific quality signals will be highly ranked, and low-quality comment practices may result in less reach. Read the article to learn more!

How to understand searcher intent to boost SEO rankings

When we talk about using SEO to gain more organic traffic or to increase conversions for your PPC campaign, it’s important to stop depending strictly on the usual keyword with the most searches. It’s time we dig deeper to help determine user intent so you can not only improve rankings, but also get higher-quality of clicks.

User Intent

This article tells us why it’s important to constantly think about the intent of your potential customers and what will drive them to your website. Let’s explore user intent and find out how we can use this complicated system to help improve your website’s ranking!

The post This Week: Google Searches, Keyword Research Tools, Facebook Reach and User Intent appeared first on The TechWyse ‘Rise to the Top’ Internet Marketing Blog.

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5 Inbound Lead Generation Strategies (& How To Make Them Work!)

Outbound marketing is the best way to get leads quickly.

Let’s say you pay for a commercial to run during the Super Bowl. Potential customers see those ads, and then a tiny fraction of them buy your product. It’s simple, right?

The problem is that it’s also an insanely expensive way to put your offer in front of your target audience. While most viewers expect and even enjoy the commercials during the Super Bowl, when it plays again and again interrupting other games or favorite TV shows, it’s just disruptive. Outbound marketing tactics are always disruptive.

But what if, instead of pushing your offer onto people when they haven’t asked for it, you could use valuable content to draw them in, when they want to come to you?

You can: It’s called inbound marketing. Sure, it takes a while to get going, but once you have an engaged audience of potential customers who trust you, generating leads becomes much, much easier—let me explain.

Inbound marketing: What you need to know

Inbound marketing relies on quality content, whether it’s in the form of articles, emails, videos, podcasts, or books. However, the content landscape is getting more and more competitive due to a virtually unlimited amount of quality content out there. In fact, Mark Schaefer argued back in 2014 that content marketing is not a sustainable strategy and that we are in the age of the so-called content shock.

content shock definition

Image via Mark Schaefer

Schaefer predicted that there would inevitably come a point at which producing content that can compete with what’s already out there will simply become too expensive to be a viable marketing strategy.

Take a look at this graph that he used in his post:

content shock graph

Image via Mark Schaefer

If you think about how the content landscape changed in the five years since Schaefer wrote that article, you’ll quickly realize that he did predict the future accurately.

Sure, in 2014 it was already competitive, but now you have seven-figure companies pouring their vast resources into creating in-depth articles with cutting-edge insights, extensive reports with original research, professionally produced videos and podcasts—you name it.

Now, Schaefer’s final prediction hasn’t come to fruition yet, and content marketing is still a viable strategy. However, if you decide to use inbound marketing to generate leads, you have to go into the arena with your eyes open. You have to become obsessed with producing top-quality content and providing as much value to your audience as humanly possible. And you have to be patient because you won’t break through the noise overnight no matter how great your content is.

That is the only way you will be able to compete with the established players out there.

You’ll also need to understand that inbound marketing is an indirect way of generating leads. You aren’t going to potential customers and pitching your product, you are encouraging them to come to you by offering them free, valuable content.

And when they do come to you, you don’t try to sell to them straight away. You encourage them to take the next step in your sales funnel by subscribing to your email list. And once they are on it, you keep providing value via email newsletters, but now you occasionally mix in sales pitches.

Basically, your aim should be to gain the potential customer’s trust and build a relationship with them. That way, when they are ready to purchase a solution to their problem, your product will be the first thing that comes to their mind.

This approach requires a lot of patience because you have to play the long game—but if you can play that game, it’s worth it.

5 strategies for better inbound lead generation

Let’s take a look at the top five inbound lead generation strategies that you can use to build an engaged audience.

1. Grow your email list

There’s a common misconception among people who aren’t marketers that email is an outdated technology. It’s better to invest in social media, right? Wrong.

According to DMA’s Marketer Email Tracker 2018” report, in 2017, the average return for each £1 spent on email marketing was £32.28. That’s a pretty crazy ROI if you ask me.

It’s great to have a blog, a YouTube channel, a podcast, or a best-selling book, but the most valuable online marketing asset you can have is an email list.

That is why you need to make sure that you are using all the other inbound marketing methods to draw people to your email list. You can do that by adding opt-in forms to your website and encouraging people to subscribe. You can even make it mutually beneficial by offering something in exchange, like an ebook, video course, or a webinar.

And once you’ve grown that list? Remember that no one wants to be spammed with endless sales pitches, so make sure that your emails add value. One company that does this really well is a male grooming brand Beardbrand.

inbound lead generation email sign up

Image Source

This company sends their subscribers a mix of helpful grooming tips, interesting grooming-related content, and promotional emails. Now, when a subscriber of theirs who enjoys their emails wants to buy, say, beard oil, who will be the first company that comes to his mind? Beardbrand.

So figure out what your subscribers want and give it to them. What problem do they have that you can offer a solution to in the form of an email?

2. Build a high-quality blog

Blogging is a great way to establish yourself as a thought leader in your field. For example, when Groove was struggling to attract customers, the company decided to bet everything on content marketing by building a blog.

As Groove’s founder Alex Turnbull recalls:

“We were only a few short months from running out of cash, and things didn’t look good. Our marketing efforts were failing, and nobody was visiting our site or signing up for our product. We were desperate. We were lost. And we were terrified. That was when we decided to finally get serious about content marketing.”

First, they reached out to all the content marketers that they respected and asked them for advice. A few responded. The Groove team was shocked by the feedback they got and realized they were doing it all wrong. They needed to find a unique angle for their blog.

email about blog

Image via Groove

The team started scouring the Internet trying to understand their target audience—small business owners—better. This wasn’t just passively observing relevant discussions, either. Groove proactively reached out to people and asked if they could pick their brain.

customer feedback email

Image via Groove

Eventually, the Groove team realized that people in their target audience were going through the exact same challenges they themselves were struggling with. So Groove decided to share their startup journey and launched a blog called “A SaaS Startup’s Journey to $100,000 in Monthly Revenue.”

blog redesign for Groove

Image via Groove

And it resonated with their target audience immediately: 1,000 email subscribers within 24 hours, and 5,000 within a month! Three years later, in 2016, the blog was getting over 250,000 unique visitors per month, and Groove was generating over $5M a year in revenue.

Pay attention to how Groove built this high-quality blog: market research, unique angles, and superior content. That’s what makes a blog a great lead-generation strategy. The Groove blog attracts small business owners, those small business owners join Groove’s email list—over time they start liking and trusting the company and eventually, once they need help desk software, they purchase it from Groove.

Want to do the same with your company’s blog? Analyze the market, find a gap in it, and then fill that niche the best you can.

3. Start a podcast

Podcasts have become an integral part of our daily lives. We listen to them while on the way to work, while doing chores, and while out for a walk.

This is especially true for young people. According to Music Oomph, almost a third of American adults between the ages of 25 and 34 are podcast listeners.

podcast demographics

Image via Music Oomph

A podcast can be a great way to generate leads for your business—as long as you can build a large enough audience.

For example, Tropical MBA, a popular business podcast that is focused on location independent entrepreneurship, allows the hosts Ian and Dan promote their membership website and grow the business.

podcast example

Image Source

They started their podcast back in 2009. At the time, they were running an ecommerce business and were just learning the ropes of location independent entrepreneurship.

Here’s how Dan and Ian explain it:

“Back then we hardly knew anybody growing a location independent business, especially one that had real physical products. It seemed to us that most of the websites and podcasts weren’t run by people with compelling business experience or insights. We wanted to meet others who we felt were legit. So we started sharing our story on a more or less weekly basis. Because of that, many of the episodes were just me and Ian sharing the stuff we were learning directly from our day to day work. That business taught us a lot. It started with—literally—a dream, and ended with a multi-seven-figure exit.”

As their podcast grew, a community of like-minded individuals formed around it, and the hosts leveraged it to launch their membership website, their business conference, and their remote jobs board.

Of course, in 2009 podcasts were a nascent medium. Since then, they have exploded in popularity, so if you launch one now, you are in for an uphill battle that Dan and Ian never faced.

However, what you can learn from them is that they found a unique angle, produced interesting shows, and kept going at it for a decade. With a loyal following, you can promote email sign ups to generate leads and sales for your business.

4. Upload video content to YouTube

Did you know that Youtube is the second biggest search engine in the world? You can leverage this massive platform to generate leads if you can rank for popular search terms related to your field.

For example, Brian Dean, the SEO expert behind the popular Backlinko blog, built an SEO-focused YouTube channel.

Backlinko on YouTube

But he admits that when her first launched his channel, he struggled to get any views.

Here are some of the tips Brian shared:

  • Use YouTube’s Search Suggest feature. Simply type in a word or a phrase into the search bar and look at the suggestions. These keywords are great because they are based on what people are actually looking for.
  • Analyze popular videos in your niche. This is great way to identify keywords for YouTube, and then you can optimize your own videos around the same keywords.
  • Identify the best keyword from the keyword list that you created. Look for low-competition keywords. You can do that by typing in a keyword and then checking the number of search results. The higher the number, the more competitive the keyword.

Now, Brian’s YouTube channel has 213,000 subscribers and generates leads for his business (he provides SEO training).

Your aim should be to convert YouTube subscribers to email list subscribers, so provide a link to an opt-in form at the end of your videos and encourage them to subscribe.

5. Write a book

Books might seem old school, but people still read them, and nothing gives you credibility like a book.

You don’t even have to sell your book in physical bookstores; it’s enough to simply put it on Amazon or even sell it as an ebook on your website.

Back in 2015, essayist and entrepreneur Taylor Pearson wrote a book called The End of Jobs, which not only made him a lot of money but also helped him to establish himself as an expert in entrepreneurship.

Taylor Pearson

This was Taylor’s first book and he sold more than 5,000 copies during the launch month. How did he manage to do that?

Well, he had a background in marketing, and he decided to run his book like a business.

What exactly does “run his book like a business” means?

It all boiled down to these two key ideas:

  • Allocate resources equally between product development and marketing. “As Gabriel Weinberg and Justin Mares point out in ‘Traction: How Any Startup Can Achieve Explosive Customer Growth,‘ almost every failed startup has a product. What failed startups don’t have is traction. Likewise, every author has a book. What most don’t have is marketing traction.”
  • Iterate quickly and publicly. “Startups release products quickly to ever larger groups of customers because it both improves the quality of the product faster (due to tons of feedback) and weaves that feedback into the narrative of the product in a way that makes customers feel a sense of ownership. I tried to do the same with the book.”

He gathered feedback by sending the first draft to five close friends, then by publishing sections of his book on his blog, and finally by sending the second draft to 70 early readers.

He also created a landing page for The End of Jobs around six months before launching it, and everyone who signed up got a free copy after the launch. That way, he built a community around the book, which was very helpful in terms of social media buzz, early Amazon reviews, and word-of-mouth marketing.

When he finally launched, he set the price as free, and the book was downloaded thousands of times on the launch day and hit #1 in Small Business Top 100 Free category.

However, Taylor didn’t stop there. He kept actively promoting The End of Jobs during the launch week, and then leveraged the success of the launch to gain even more exposure.

Not only did Taylor made a lot of money from his book, but it also opened many doors to him – the credibility boost of being the author of a best-selling book helped him get more speaking gigs and consulting clients, as well as sell his own products.

Want to publish a book? Learn from Taylor. Writing is only half of it. Marketing is the other half. You need both if you want to capture those readers and turn them into email subscribers.

Bonus tip: Have a clear call to action!

Inbound marketing is much less aggressive than outbound marketing. However, that doesn’t mean that you should be passive and just sit there, fingers crossed, waiting for people to sign up for your email list.

No, if you want them to take action, you need to tell them what they should do next.

So make sure that each piece of content you create has a clear call to action that encourages people to sign up for your email list.

It doesn’t have to be intrusive:

  • An opt form at the end of a blog post.
  • A link at the end of a video.
  • A reminder at the end of a podcast.
  • A link at the end of an ebook.

Just make sure that you clearly convey the value the person will get from subscribing. You can’t expect people to subscribe to your email list just because. You need to give them a reason.

What’s next?

It’s not 2009 anymore. It’s 2019.

This means that while inbound marketing is without a doubt still a viable lead generation strategy, it is also more competitive than it has ever been.

Want to succeed with it? Then be prepared to invest time, energy, and money into consistently producing top-notch content.

And don’t expect quick results. It takes time to build an audience. But time will pass anyway. Why not spend it on building assets that will generate leads for your business for years to come?

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