10 Google Analytics Dashboard Customizations to Try Now

December 28, 2016

Google Analytics dashboards are terrific resources that bring together a wealth of data and information to help you see the big picture and make improvements in very specific ways. While they may sound overly technical, Google Analytics dashboards are simply groups of widgets you create yourself or import from other sites and then customize or tweak for your own purposes.

 

For those who are just getting started, I always recommend importing or downloading pre-designed templates that can be adapted to your particular business objectives and goals. Later, with a bit of experience under your belt, you can begin to design and build your own dashboards.

 

Here are 10 Google Analytics dashboard customizations you can try now. Click on each graphic to be directed to the site where you can find each one:

General Analytics Dashboard

 1

What it Does: Gives you a glimpse of your overall SEO performance, referral traffic and more. Its metrics include:

 

Content Marketing Dashboard

02

What it Does: Measures how well your site’s content is performing and lets you measure content effectiveness by taking a look at:

 

Brand Monitoring

 03

What it Does: Monitors your brand across social media sites. It includes information on:

 

Social Media Dashboard

 

04

What it Does: Helps you track effectiveness of your social media strategy. Metrics and dimensions include:

 

Personal Blogger Dashboard

05

What it Does: Gives you basic information about your blog. It covers:

 

Tech Dashboard

06

What it Does: Lets you determine how to best optimize your site. This dashboard’s widgets cover visitors that are arriving on your site based on:

 

AdSense Overview

07

What it Does: The seven widgets give you an overview of well your AdSense campaigns are performing and describes:

 

Mobile Ecommerce Dashboard

08

What it Does: Provides easily digestible tablet and mobile commerce data:

 

Visitor Insights Dashboard

09

What it Does: Gives you visitor data, including the following:

 

Pay-Per-Click (PCP) Dashboard

10

What it Does: Lets you take a quick snapshot of your PPC campaigns’ overall performance by:

 

 

Remember, although these dashboards are comprehensive and informative, you’ll probably need to give them your personal touch by tailoring them to your brand’s specific needs. You may need to add different widgets and remove ones that you don’t need.

 

Your ultimate goal should be to develop your own customized Google Analytics dashboards that reflect your own key performance indicators. As with many things in digital marketing, creating your own dashboards will be a process of trial and error. But once they’re in place, you’ll quickly realize the time spent tweaking and tuning was more than worth the effort.

 

Do you have your own favorite Google Analytics dashboards? Have you mastered the art of customizing your own dashboards? I’d love to hear about it – why not share your comments below?

Science Says: 7 Data-Backed Content Marketing Best Practices to Adopt Today

November 25, 2016

If you’re new to the content marketing sphere, you may be wondering what all the hype is about.00

 

Frankly, content marketing is all about providing information to customers in a way that draws them into your sales stream without the high pressure outbound tactics of years past. Instead, content marketing relies heavily on building a trusting relationship with customers and inviting them to join you in learning about your products, services and industry in a safe, non-threatening way.

 

But while content marketing may sound simple, it’s often easier said than done. Want to do it well? Here are seven tips for building an effective content marketing strategy today:

 

Get to Know Your Customer

 

The only way to truly provide valuable content to customers is to know what they want. Most companies track data about their customer bases such as: age, social status, income, etc. Use this information to create a variety of different personas that represent different parts of the intended audience.

 

For instance, Susie is a married mother of four with a household income of $85,000 a year. She has a busy schedule and needs products that add convenience and efficiency to her life.

 

By contrast, Dan is a single male in his mid-twenties. He is an early adopter of all the latest tech gadgets. He wants something that he can show off and see a future in.

 

By creating content to serve targeted demographics, content marketing campaigns have proven two to five times more effective than traditional advertisements.

 

Prioritize Your Content Outlets

 

It’s no secret that social media is here to stay. Given that sites likes Facebook that have 59% of the internet users in North America signed up, this is an easy way to reach a huge audience.

 

Your marketing budget should go towards the outlets that are most likely to gain momentum first. In fact, companies that prioritize social media are 1.5 to 2 times more likely to expect growth than companies that do not have a social media goal.

 

Use the Buyer’s Journey

 

Timing is everything when it comes to building a successful content marketing campaign. Understanding how individuals and businesses make purchasing decisions will allow content to be directly aimed at each stage in the buying process.

 

Overall, companies that align their marketing with the buyer’s journey see a 45% increase in the lead generation ROI. They also see 47% larger purchases from customers that were pushed along the process through nurturing at each stage.

 

Be Creative

 

Customers get tired of searching through lengthy blog posts for the information they really need. Instead, they want short and sweet posts that can easily be scanned through. This includes short video clips and infographics that present the information in an efficient way.

 

Some sites report that the use of infographics generates a 5-15% increase in traffic, because these types of media can easily be shared on social media sites at a glance. As a result, they make a much bigger impression than a blog.

 

Optimize, Optimize, Optimize

 

Search engine optimization (SEO) depends on customers being able to find what they’re looking for with a single search, as approximately 63% of all customers click on one of the top three results when they search for a specific product or term. The only way to get to that place is to optimize content so that it includes relevant keywords, highly valuable information, and strong industry connections.

 

Without proper optimization, your content will linger lower in the search rankings and generate far fewer leads.

 

Plan Long-Term

 

Content marketing is a long-term strategy, but it provides organic results that last. One of the biggest benefits of content marketing is that there’s more lead generation created per marketing dollar than in traditional outbound marketing campaigns.

 

Nevertheless, even a good content marketing campaign will likely take three to six months to really gain steam. During this time, it is possible to use a combination of paid lead generation tools alongside SEO, but the ideal situation is to allow the content to speak for itself.

 

Update Regularly, Go Deeper

 

With so many companies relying on content marketing these days, the fact is that information gets stale quickly. The only way to earn and maintain high rankings is to update on a regular schedule.

 

However, customers want to get to the meat and bones of the industry, so content updates need to be meaningful. They should also continue to go deeper into the use, design, and development of products and services. Surface level content will not continue to engage customers that are already familiar with products, so the only option is to continue drawing them in with more details and facts as you go.

 

These seven tips have shown that they produce real results in any content marketing strategy. By taking the time to understand what makes content valuable to customers and how customers use that information, the overall effectiveness of your media, writing and presentation can be better suited to what your audience expects.

 

What other suggestions do you have when it comes to running a successful content marketing campaign? Share your best tips by leaving a comment below:

 

Image: Flickr

 

 

Effective SEO for All Stages of the Conversion Funnel

November 8, 2016

 

According to MarketingSherpa, a whopping 79% of leads do not successfully sail through the conversion funnel, leaving only a mere 21% to sales. Essentially, you’re only capitalizing on a fifth of your business’ potential. Imagine what you could do if you could realize even half of your possible sales. Impressive, huh?

 

So, what could be the main hindrance to your success? What could you be possibly doing wrong? Is your marketing strategy seriously underperforming?

 

Contrary to popular belief, marketing isn’t usually to blame. As a matter of fact, marketing has helped you identify prospects and subsequently turn them into leads. But unfortunately, that’s where it ends. As much as we might hope for a comprehensive marketing process that simply and efficiently brings us sales, it’s just not possible.

 

The principle goal of marketing is brand and market awareness; the best it can do is generate warm leads and subsequently pass them to your lead nurturing process. Unfortunately, 65% of businesses have yet to establish such a framework that effectively moves their leads through the conversion process. That alone places them way below the 21% successfully converted leads level.

 

There are many strategies to building an effective lead nurturing and conversion framework. And since there’s no way we could cover them in a single post, we’ll begin with one of the simplest, most effective methods which can be implemented by both large and small businesses: SEO.

 

Search engine optimization isn’t just for waving a flag to get your site noticed by search engines – it’s also a tool, which if leveraged correctly, could significantly boost your success at converting leads. Ideally, you’ll be able to seamlessly move more visitors from visiting, through to the checkout process and ultimately finalize with actual sales. If your strategy works, you could even induce additional loyalty, and subsequently achieve what more than 95% of other SEO users are already trying to accomplish.

 

Since this strategy ought to be implemented systematically, we’ll discuss it according to the four main stages of the conversion funnel:

 

Awareness

 

Creating awareness of your products and services is usually the first step of the conversion funnel. Giving your visitors a rough understanding of what you do will prompt them to proceed to subsequent steps of qualification. To further define this, let’s look at an example of a fictitious car sales company, Automot, which – unlike its competitors – strives to deliver more personalized services by delivering vehicles right to their owners’ doorsteps.

 

When Tom, our fictitious customer based in Chicago, thinks of buying a car, he’ll skip the hard part by trusting Google with the search process. By searching “car dealer in Chicago”, he’ll get instant results on various dealers within his locality, as well as what they offer. And that’s exactly where SEO comes in.  By building their landing pages around keywords like “cheap car dealer in Chicago” or “car sales and delivery Chicago”, Automot could capitalize on these search queries to create awareness of their unique package of products and services.

Now that the customer is beginning to develop interest in the company, Automot has ignited a process that could see them increase their opportunities of making sales by 20%. Going further, a particularly holistic approach could involve providing brief, but comprehensive information within the site’s landing pages to make the consumer fully aware of what he/she is dealing with before proceeding. Additionally, it should provide quick links to other pages where customers can find important information relating to the company and their products/services.

 

Interest

 

Tom is now aware of a car sales company that can save him the trouble of visiting the yard by offering to ship any car to his home. Of course, just like most buyers, he’ll probably still have additional questions especially regarding the special services – in this case, vehicle delivery. He’ll then turn to Google and type “vehicle delivery” to learn more about it. By this time, our customer has moved to the interest stage of our conversion funnel – he’s aware of your business and related products, but still needs additional information.

An effective SEO strategy at this stage would involve providing informative content that’s optimized for keywords relevant to your business. For instance, your blog could provide further information on what delivery entails, its benefits and related costs, plus other critical dynamics of buying a car. According to 53% of marketers, this strategy alone has proven to be the most effective SEO tactic, meaning that it could subsequently have the biggest impact on your lead generation process.

 

Unfortunately, it’s also the stage where you could lose a bulk of your leads, especially if you don’t provide a rich source of information. Imagine seeking information on a product, only to be forced to scroll through several web pages, all seemingly advertising to you without providing actual concrete information. You’d leave the page, right? Your readers will too, so roll up your sleeves and get your content game on.

 

Consideration

 

At this stage, Tom will have been intrigued by the information you’ve provided, and is consequently seeking a company that he could proceed with. He loves the idea of having his cars delivered right to his doorstep, but he still hasn’t made up his mind on which company he can trust. As a result, just like 78% of internet users in the United States, he’ll turn to Google to compare different brands according to their reviews and packages to get a clearer picture of what’s actually out there.

 

Now, we all know that internet surfers like getting things the easy way. So, instead of Googling “vehicle dealers delivering cars to buyers” and subsequently clicking on the top results to review the companies individually, he’ll most likely search for something like “compare vehicle dealers delivering cars to buyers”. With that as your main SEO keyword, you stand a good chance of winning Tom over again.

 

But not so fast – that still doesn’t guarantee you a nurtured lead. You still have to convince him to trust your brand by cleverly and strategically reviewing and comparing your company against main competitors. Outline all the benefits of relying on your company and include a couple of testimonials, especially from past customers placing you ahead of your competitors. The more realistic the reviews seem, the higher your chances of bagging Tom as a customer.

 

Conversion

 

This is the final – and definitely my favorite – stage. It’s where you get to make the big bucks. But unfortunately, it’s not that easy. Since actually driving a prospect to convert to a customer is a particularly delicate process, there are countless mistakes you stand to make.

 

Tom has successfully sailed through the preceding stages and is now sure that he wants to go ahead and commit to your company. According to a research conducted by Earnest Agency in 2014, purchase cycles don’t just flow smoothly and concurrently from start to finish. In fact, 81% of buyers initiate it with a web search and consequently carry out research, as expected during the three preceding stages of the conversion funnel. Then, 90% of them leave it at that and only come back when they are ready to buy. So it’s only fair to make it easier for Tom when he comes back to buy from you.

 

In terms of ability, human minds are far from computers. So unless Tom has bookmarked your site, he’s most likely to have forgotten your domain name. In a bid to recover from where he had previously left off, he’ll pose “Buy From Chicago Auto Dealer Providing Delivering Services” as a query and hope your site will pop up among the results.

 

As a strategic entrepreneur, you should use SEO to ensure such a page exists to direct Tom right to your conversion page. In addition to a streamlined checkout process, you should provide a search tool that he could use to crawl through your stock to identify his choice vehicle. To make a sale, ensure that the interface is simple, intuitive, straightforward and user friendly.

 

With effective SEO, therefore, you’ll not just invite prospects to your site, but also push them down the conversion funnel to ultimately convert them into sales. Unless you’re an advertising website, your traffic is barely an indication of the quality of the prospects you attract. Success is only measured by the number of leads you nurture and eventually convert.

 

Do you approach SEO in this strategic way? If so, share what particular approaches have proven effective for your company by leaving a comment below:

 

Images: Flickr, Flickr

 

 

 

 

 

 

45 Questions To Ask Yourself Before Publishing a Blog Post

October 15, 2016

 

 

With 81% of U.S internet users trusting blogs for advice and information, it’s not such a huge surprise that 61% of them are subsequently converted thanks to blogging.  As a matter of fact, due to such success rates, 37% of marketers believe that it’s indeed the most effective type of content marketing across both B2B and B2C platforms.

 

As a result, 33% of businesses are currently using blogs to reach out to their prospective customers, who, according to Dream Systems Media, use more than 20% of their total internet usage time on blogs.

 

Unfortunately, this success is not replicated across the board. While 30% of marketers – those who have consistent content strategies – continue to make a killing, others are still struggling to find their footing in the world of blogging. If you’re one of the marketers who fall in the latter group, you need to begin reassessing your overall strategy.

 

First of all, no – the internet is not overcrowded with blogs. As a matter of fact, going by its potential, it’s severely underused. The only thing that sets the leaders ahead of the rest is quality. You have to publish outstanding pieces to effectually engage with your audience and subsequently set them through the conversion funnel.

 

To help you build and maintain that quality, here are 45 questions you should use to evaluate your blog post before you even think of hitting that all-important ‘publish’ button:

 

1.      Who am I targeting with this post?

 

Define your target audience down to the last detail, according to their information needs and the type of content that will resonate with them.

 

2.      What is the purpose of my blog post?

 

Your blog post could either be used to teach, ignite a discussion, solve a problem, or entertain your audience.

 

3.      Is my blog post topic relevant to my niche?

 

All your blog posts should be focused on your business niche to attract your target prospects, and subsequently kick-start the conversion process.

 

4.      What is unique about my approach?

 

Of course you wouldn’t want to sound like millions of other blog posts out there. You need a special, original angle to attract and engage your audience.

 

5.      Have I comprehensively researched my topic?

 

Research your topic thoroughly to draft an exceptionally informative blog post.

 

6.      How can I effectively present my points?

 

You have a variety of creative options to comprehensively pass your message on to your audience. For instance, you could format your text, embed social media, or use audio, infographics, video and images.

 

7.      Will my target audience search for my headline on search engines?

 

Well, your blog post would pretty much be pointless if your own target audience does not pose related queries, particularly to the headline, to search engines like Google.

 

8.      How attractive is my headline?

 

A great headline evokes curiosity. It makes you want to click on the article, even when you weren’t initially searching on the subject.

 

9.      How clear is my headline?

 

As much as you’d like to evoke curiosity, don’t go overboard. Keep it precise, simple and clear

 

10.   Have I included my main keyword in my headline?

 

Including the relevant keywords on your headline is an increasingly effective SEO strategy that will help push your blog post to the top of the search engine results when a related query is posed.

 

11.   Does my headline reflect the content?

 

Your headlines and subheadings should be directly linked to your content.

 

12.   Is my content engaging my readers?

 

A genius headline will amount to nothing if it’s not accompanied by equally engaging content. You’ll significantly increase your overall click through rate by hooking your audience.

13.   Does my text have some flair?

 

Consistent plain text is extremely boring. Introduce some vibrancy and flair to your blog posts with images, videos, and graphics.

 

14.   Have I over-formatted my text?

 

Avoid fancy fonts and text colors that risk repelling your readers.

 

15.   Have I used relevant subheadings to break up my post?

 

Most readers won’t just begin reading every word when they land on your post. Before going into the actual details, they’ll prefer to skim through the entire piece with the help of your subheadings.

 

16.   How short are my paragraphs?

 

Don’t overwhelm your readers with text blocks of paragraphs exceeding five lines.

 

17.   Have I made any grammatical errors?

 

Proofread your entire article a couple of times to get rid of possible grammatical errors.

 

18.   Is my content personalized?

 

Engage your readers with personalized content that uses a conversational tone and words like “you” and “I”.

 

19.   Am I using stories and illustrations to hook my audience?

 

Use interesting stories, illustrations and examples to keep your readers hooked and entertained.

 

20.   Is my blog post concise?

 

Demonstrate that you value your readers’ time by going straight to the point and avoiding fluff.

 

21.   Am I using an authoritative tone?

 

One of the easiest ways to lose an audience is acting smart and talking down to them. Use a respectful tone, and they’ll love you.

22.   How timely is my content?

 

Use current events, trends, examples and statistics to create content that’s relevant to the reader’s current interests.

 

23.   Am I appealing to an emotion?

 

Put your readers through an emotional roller coaster by choosing an emotion like humor, and subsequently sticking with it through the piece.

 

24.   Will my piece offend anyone?

 

Unless your marketing strategy involves being intentionally offensive, avoid racism and other controversial subjects which could easily offend part of your audience.

 

25.   Have I formatted my text accordingly?

 

Bold words, italicize sections, break your text into bullets and blocks, and use other formatting tools to edit your content into digestible pieces.

 

26.   Have I linked to authority sites?

 

Search engines like Google are particularly generous to sites with content that’s linked to other authority sites.

 

27.   Have I backed up my claims?

 

Although you probably trust yourself as an expert, your readers may not share the same sentiment. You should, therefore, back all your claims with relevant stats and quotes from other industry experts.

 

28.   Have I concluded my piece with a question?

 

The main purpose of your blog post isn’t just to pass information. It should also ignite a conversation – and there’s no better way of doing that than concluding with a question.

 

29.   How juicy is my conclusion?

 

Your conclusion is certainly as significant as your introduction. Be creative and add some flair to create something your readers will remember.

 

30.   What time and day should I publish my blog post?

 

Assess your target audience’s online patterns and publish your post during their peak times.

 

31.   On what site am I publishing my post?

 

Of course the piece is yours, but that doesn’t necessarily limit your potential publishing locations to your site. You could also take advantage of other high authority sites and feature it as a guest post.

 

32.   Have I included social sharing buttons in my post?

 

Give your readers the chance to share your great ideas and subsequently win you more leads through social media.

 

33.   Is my blog post building up to my next piece?

 

A good blog is governed by an overarching content strategy with posts that are linked in terms of ideas and concepts.

 

34.   How do I plan to promote my blog post?

 

Your promotion strategy should dictate the type of content you publish, plus where and how you post it.

 

35.   What actions do I want my readers to take after reading my blog post?

 

This will help you systematically arrange your content to draw your audience towards a certain set of actions.

 

36.   How do I measure my post’s conversion success?

 

Leverage a tracking tool to measure the success of your post through a set of predetermined KPIs.

 

37.   Is my post really helpful to my readers?

 

Don’t just write a blog post for the sake of posting. Provide value to your readers and they’ll stick

around.

 

38.   Have I over-used any phrases or words?

 

A powerful piece flows with synonyms and creative language to avoid constant repetition and monotony.

 

39.   Would I be interested in reading this post?

 

 

Put yourself in the shoes of your readers to understand how attractive and informative your blog post is.

 

40.   Who am I competing with?

 

It’s a straightforward tip, but one that’s ignored all too often: you should only publish content that exceeds the quality of blogs that could potentially steal some prospects from you.

 

41.   Have I copied or plagiarized anyone’s work?

 

Listen to your high school English teacher. To avoid getting blacklisted by search engines, don’t copy and paste someone else’s content.

 

42.   Is my piece timeless?

 

Although it’s a good idea to write about current events occasionally, the most effective posts contain content that remains relevant for at least a couple of years.

 

43.   Have I factored in feedback from another party?

 

Since blogging is an art, you should consider sharing it with other parties, just to get their opinions before posting. You never know what a second set of eyes will catch.

 

44.   What tools could I leverage to optimize my post?

 

Consider leveraging tools that could improve the user experience and search engine ranking.

 

45.   Is my post on a single page?

 

I know it can help you rack up extra clicks, but no one likes being directed to a separate web page just to get the missing half of your content.

 

Answer these 45 questions, and you’ll save yourself a tremendous amount of post-publishing regret.

 

Have another question to add to the list? Share yours by leaving a comment below:

 

Image: jisc.ac.uk, Flickr

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Complete Guide to Reverse Engineering Great Content

October 2, 2016

Arm-Wrestling, Indian Wrestling, Competition, Fight

What’s your relationship with your competitors like? Do you shake your fist when you see one of their articles doing well online? Do you get jealous of their successes?

You shouldn’t. Every time your competitor produces a successful piece of content, it’s an opportunity for you to get some easy insight into what you can do to produce great content yourself.

I’m not talking about stealing ideas or ripping off existing successes: when your competitor posts a stellar piece of content, you can learn from their efforts to make sure your own content is perfectly targeted to your audience.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/d9/Tennis_shake_hands_after_match.jpg

You can learn key lessons from looking at existing content, such as what topics perform well, how to format your content, and which influencers will be most likely to share your content furthest.

There’s a lot of great information you can learn from quality content that’s already out there. Let’s take a look at some simple techniques you can use to reverse engineer the success of other pieces of content.

The SkyScraper Technique

One popular technique for reversing great content is Backlinko’s Skyscaper technique. Brian Dean, the creator of the technique, has explained how using it has led to a massive increase to the number of backlinks to his site – in one case, it even doubled his traffic over a two-week period.

organic traffic increase google analytics

The Skyscraper Technique has three key steps to it:

  1. Find link-worthy content
  2. Make something even better
  3. Reach out to the right people

A lot of marketers rely on these simple three steps to produce and distribute shareable content.

At the same time, though, there’s a fair amount of criticism for this approach: especially from marketers who feel that by simply copying existing content, it’s impossible to stand out from the crowd.

Ultimately, using a formula to produce knock-off content won’t work: what many marketers fail to understand is that it’s the originality and quality of your content that’ll turn heads and get people’s attention.

I’m going to add a few clarifying steps to help explain what you can do to make quality, unique content that will share just as well (or better!) than your competitors’ work.

The Key Steps to Reverse Engineering Content

While the skyscraper method can have its benefits, I’d recommend breaking down the process even further:

  1. Research your competitors
  2. Research influencers
  3. Make high quality content
  4. Publish and publicize
  5. Start again

Steps, Staircase, Climbing, Steps To Success, Stairs

The focus of these steps shouldn’t be on finding something popular and making more of it. Instead you should be:

Here’s how this should play out if you want to reverse engineer your competitors’ successes, while making something unique enough to stand out:

Step One: Researching Your Competitors

The first step to reverse engineering anything is to take a good look at the original. And to do that, we’ll first need to identify what content works.

There are a variety of online tools available for locating the most successful pieces of content in your field. All of them work slightly differently, but each one has the same basic focus: helping you spot subjects, topics and individual pieces of content that people are reading and sharing.

BuzzSumo

One of the most useful tools out there for quickly and easily spotting killer content to reverse engineer is BuzzSumo.

It’s exceptionally easy to use: just type in a relevant search term and boom – you get a page of articles that are highly relevant and broken down by how many social media shares they’ve received.

 

 

Now obviously, social media isn’t everything when it comes to traffic, but this site can give you a quick and easy way to spot which websites – and, in particular, which individual pieces of content – you should be looking at for inspiration.

 

BuzzSumo can happily handle even obscure phrases and topics, so it’s worth playing around with and seeing what you can discover, and which articles are getting the most attention online.

Ahrefs

Ahrefs is a tool that focuses primarily on link building. Through Ahrefs, you can identify key backlinks in a variety of pieces of content, where the links are coming from, where they’re going, and how successful different traffic sources are.

 

https://ahrefs.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/sadler-sports-backlink-profile.png

This tool can tell you a lot about a piece of content and how you can go about reverse engineering it, including:

If you’re interested in raising the profile of your content and tailoring articles to make sure they get picked up by influencers, this is a useful tool for analyzing the specific content pieces you’ll want to reverse engineer.

Social Crawlytics

If you’d like to see a greater breakdown of which articles are performing best on social media, Social Crawlytics might be helpful for you.

Using social crawlytics - The Tomorrow Lab

With this tool, you’re able to search an entire website to spot which pages are getting the most interaction on social media, helping you to spot which articles you should be copying. This can be useful if you’ve already identified which site you’d like to emulate, but you still want to find their most successful pieces of content.

 

https://cdn.rocketmill.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Social-Crawlytics-Dashboard1.png

Social Crawlytics is also useful if you want to spot the key influencers that send traffic towards the content you want to copy (more on that in the next step). You’ll also be able to generate graphs which tell you the social media platforms that you should be putting most of your focus on.

https://cdn.rocketmill.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/share-per-network.jpg

Social Crawlytics is a pretty simple tool to use – you just enter the domain of the site you want to research, and it’ll provide a detailed breakdown of the most popular pieces of content on the site.

Google Search

An alternative, very simple way of finding out the kind of content that resonates most strongly with your target audience is the humble Google search. This doesn’t take much effort at all: simply put in your search terms and see what comes up.

If you’d like to, you can set specific filters such as date settings so you’ll only see recent posts.

Google (and other search engines) won’t give you a detailed breakdown of the popularity of every piece of content, but it will point you in the right direction if you’re looking to find good examples of quality content.

Step Two: Researching Influencers

One thing I’d recommend doing differently to the Skyscraper Technique is not leave it until the end of the process to identify the key influencers you want to share your work.

Research is key to producing excellent quality work, and if you’re able to identify the influencers for a particularly topic, you’ll be able to take cues from the kinds of content they regularly share. This can mean making content that their audience will be guaranteed to enjoy, and it’ll mean increasing the chance that these influencers will feel your content is worth sharing.

As with researching content, there are plenty of tools available online to help you identify the influencers that you want to appeal to, and the kinds of content they regularly share.

Simply Measured

Once upon a time, there was a fantastic tool called Topsy which would search through social media for you to spot which influencers were most relevant to your topic. Sadly, this tool shut down at the end of last year, but there are other similar tools available.

With Simply Measured, you can search for a keyword to identify which social media influencers are making noise about it.

http://www.problogger.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/08/simplymeasured.png

You can see a detailed comparison between each influencer to spot who’s going to be the most helpful in spreading the good word about your message, helping you spot who to target your work towards.

Social Media

Sometimes there’s no better strategy for finding key influencers than taking to Twitter.

Run a search on the hashtags that are most relevant to your intended subject, and you’ll be able to track down the big voices online who are getting a lot of retweets and likes. These are the people you’ll want to contact to help you reverse engineer the viral success of the articles you’re copying.

This approach isn’t as nuanced as using some other available tools, but if you’re after getting a vague idea of the influencers you should be appealing to and the kind of content they regularly share (and doing all that for free), directly searching any social media tool will at least point you in the right direction.

Step Three: Make High Quality Content

With this step, there are no shortcuts: quality content takes time, effort, and resources.

Creation Of Man, God Finger, Michelangelo, 1508-1512

Remember that it’s not enough to simply copy the content that you’re reverse engineering: you need to break down a sample piece, see what works, and then use those parts to assemble something new.

Standing on the Shoulders of Giants

From your research you should have a solid list of good pieces of content that you want to reverse engineer. Now’s the time to start picking them apart and seeing how they work.

Digital Camera, Disassembly, Component Parts

Look really closely at the piece of content you want to emulate, paying particular attention to:

Make a list of all the positive aspects of the content that you think made an impact on its popularity.

I find that the attention-grabbing aspects of an article – its title, images and subject matter – tend to get people clicking, but it’s the actual content of the article that leads to social media shares, so it’s important to cover all bases and not focus on style over substance.

Appealing to Your Influencers

Mic, Microphone, Sound Check, Sing, Singing, Perform

In designing your content, if you’re really looking to reverse engineer success, look at the people who’ll hopefully be sharing your content.

The trick is to take ideas from the content you’re reverse engineering, and, in building another similar piece, make it more noteworthy for your influencers. If the influencers think it’s derivative or unoriginal, they won’t bother sharing it.

If, on the other hand, you can convince them that your new piece of content is superior and more relevant than the piece you’re drawing inspiration from, they’ll be likely to give it as much love and attention as they’ve given to the original.

Ultimately, if your content is of a high enough quality, it’ll stand out and influencers will want to share it.

Making Sure Your Content Stands Out

Red Tree, Green Tree, Grass, Stand Out, Different

So what can you do to make your content unique?

The important thing here is to make sure that, when someone reads your article, they don’t instantly suspect that you’ve just copied verbatim from another source. While no content is 100% original, the trick to making your piece come across as more than just reactionary is giving it your own personal twist.

SEOgadget Content Strategy Generator

Builtvisible’s SEOgadget has a lot of potential uses, but its main benefit in reverse engineering content is helping you to generate content ideas that actually build on and improve upon the original piece you’re borrowing from.

CSGT Search

 

The tool lets you break down existing content sources, popular sharing platforms and up to date news, to help you generate ideas.

 

trending

 

It also gives you trending topics that you can pay attention to, in order to make your take on the original piece of content as topical and relevant as possible.

Using it, you’ll be able to pull ideas from a variety of sources to combine the best bits from several high performing pieces of content, meaning that your new content will not only reverse engineer the success of previous pieces, but you’ll also be able to take it further to new audiences.

 

source-place

It also helpfully breaks down influencers, so you can see who’ll appreciate your latest creation. Clearly, this can be a helpful tool for anyone who’s after generating truly unique ideas that incorporate pieces of existing successful content.

Step Four: Publish and Publicize

When reverse engineering quality content, it’s not enough just to reproduce the content itself – you also want to be able to generate similar levels of public interest.

This is where all the research on your subject’s influencers becomes important. Hopefully, as you’ve produced your content, you’ve kept this audience in mind – now’s the time to share your content with the people who can make it travel just as far as the original article you’re working from.

Reaching Out to Influencers

In my experience, most influencers are generally pleased to see a piece of quality content. In my work as a writer, I’ve developed plenty of relationships with influencers through the up-front method of cold-contacting them and telling them about my latest piece of content.

When it works, it works well – if you don’t get a response, you haven’t lost anything and you can move on to new influencers.

Going back to the Skyscraper Technique, Brian Dean recommends sending out a simple template email to influencers alerting them to your content.

 

skyscraper technique outreach template

 

Using this template, Brian got 17 out of 160 influencers to share his link, which he felt was well worth his time as they all provided quality sources of traffic.

I wouldn’t recommend using such a strict template, nor would I try blanket contacting to many influencers at once. I find it’s better to send a direct, personal email or social media message to the most potentially helpful influencers, working not just to get a link from them, but also to take the opportunity to build a relationship. For Brian’s template emails, he received short and sweet responses.

Email Response

If you take the time to engage with your influencers, you’ll find they’re far more willing to chat. Bouncing emails (and content) back and forth enough, you’ll soon be able to count on them to share whatever content you’ve produced, which is far more useful.

Once you’ve written personally to the most important influencers, you can look at blanket messaging other, less notable influencers. The important thing to getting the most coverage, though, is making a personal connection.

Step Five: Start Again

That’s it. Job done.

You’ve analyzed what content is succeeding online at the moment.

You’ve tracked down key influencers.

You’ve made unique content that draws inspiration from the quality content you identified, and sent it out to the influencers who are going to make the most impact online.

There’s no time to put your feet up and relax, though – now it’s time to begin all over again and start work on your next piece of epic quality content.

Regroup, Analyze, React

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Just in closing, let me point out a simple but important step: Don’t forget what you’ve learned.

If you’ve found a site that’s producing high quality content regularly,take inspiration from it whenever you can.

If you’ve opened up a dialogue with a key influencer, keep talking with them – even if you don’t have content to share. You want to develop a solid relationship, and you don’t want them to think that you’re just using them for publicity.

Once you’ve had a big success with a piece of content, while you should keep reverse engineering other competitor works, you can also reverse engineer your own success.

In many ways, that’s easier: just wash, rinse, and repeat your initial successful strategy.

What other steps do you take to create high value content, whether by emulating others or starting from scratch? Share your best tips with me by leaving a comment below:

 

Images:

Pixabay, Wikipedia, Backlinko, Pixabay, Ahrefs, The Tomorrow Lab, Rocket Mill, Google, Pixabay, KissMetrics, Pixabay, Pixabay, Pixabay, Builtvisible, Backlinko, Flickr.