This is a great question, and I get it often. So often that I decided to write a blog post without first doing keyword research. To answer the question “if the .com is taken, should I settle for .co”, depends largely on the situation. To make things harder, the situation your business is in, changes over time. Therefore the decision you make today may prove to be wrong in a few years after the market conditions change. Here are some key factors I suggest you take into consideration before making a decision.
1. Is this a long-term project?
If this is a one-off thing or a side-hustle blog, you can certainly get by without investing a few thousand dollars in a good .com domain name. On the other hand, if this is your “baby”, and you plan to invest the next decade into building this project you may want to invest in a great name. This will spare you money and time you will have to spend later on rebranding.
Do you remember in school when there was a kid with a funny name? Everybody knows that kid, and that person is stuck with that name for the rest of its life. Don’t make that mistake. It is not easy being teased and calling you funny names all the time.
2. Is that particular .com domain name worth it?
If you go to Sedo, Flippa or any other domain name marketplace you will see a ton of domain names for sale. May are so overpriced it’s ridiculous. Mind you, I am not saying great domains are not worth the price, they sure are! What I am saying is don’t pay a ton of money for something that it just so happens you aren’t able to get for the base price. This is also called the “grass is always greener on the other side”. It happens to everybody! Yes, these 10 domain names that are available for registration are awful. But this one that is registered, oh, I like that one so much I’ll sell my kidney in order to get it. Don’t fall for that, and evaluate the real price of this domain name.
3. If the .com is taken, should I settle for .co?
This is the wrong question to ask because it presupposes these are the only two options out there. You need to get out of this frame of thinking! In my opinion, I would always go with a .com, unless I really like the name with the new TLD (like webmaster.ninja, vegan.club, check here some other nice combinations) and there’s no way I can afford the .com or if I conclude it is not worth it. The question you really need to be asking yourself is: “What is the very best domain name I can afford?”. Once you get inspired, you can check for domain availability here. That’s how I found a domain name for this website.
4. Am I thinking like an investor?
When you are buying a domain name, you need to be thinking like an investor. Yes, there are great courses to get you started and there are automated tools that help you evaluate the cost of a domain name but you should at least know what you are getting into to. Check services like Namebio to check other similar names, or even if your domain name has been sold in the past. You wouldn’t buy a plot of land without considering some serious thought, would you? Even domain names like Google.com, Youtube.com, and Instagram.com were at one point bought for $10. Sure, some found their new owners for hundreds of thousands of dollars (instagr.am became instagram.com), but at one point they were bought for the base price. I am not saying your company is going to grow like TheFacebook.com in the early days, but it is possible to avoid some pitfalls. The domain name can be a great asset or just some “address” that you type in.
5. I have a business and a name, it’s time to go online.
6. We are doing business locally, it’s time to go global
I put 5 and 6 together because it’s the same problem with different background. It essentially means you’ve built something from the ground, using a certain name built on a local TLD (or no domain name), and now you need to get a .com. In this scenario there are two options:
- You need to pay the money that’s being asked for the .com domain name and negotiate during that process. I’ve seen companies pay hundreds of thousands of dollars, giving equity in return for the domain ownership and other big leaps, just in order to get that .com domain name.
- Don’t like option #1? An alternative is to rebrand. If you are shifting gears from local to global, there’s a good chance you might need a rebrand anyway due to the language being used. If your car is called “Nova”, you don’t want to go with that name into the South American market. (Check that urban legend here)
- I thought I said 2 options? Well, I know some of you are going to hate the first two so much, you are going to disregard me as an expert. So, here’s a bonus option. Keep doing what you are doing without the website, until you have the money for a great domain name. There’s no point in going after the global market with a bad domain name. If you are going to save money on a domain name, you are probably going to tighten the budget on a website, and the social media accounts (the handle, such as facebook.com/ourcompany) are probably not going to follow the guideline Michael Cyger shared with us in an interview.
Ok, let’s recount the advice I’ve given here.
- Always register a .com domain name, unless the TLD really makes sense for your business, and is not local TLD
- When deciding how much you want to invest in a domain name, use tools such as Estibot, Namebio or go through a course like DNAcademy
- You will use this domain name for a long time in a lot of different places. Make your life easy by choosing a good name
I just realized I haven’t publicly posted an update, but as promised, back in mid-September I picked one person to coach 1 on 1. We’ve started the first week of October and will proceed until we reach a $100 / month for 3 months in a row. If we fail to do that, I will stop the coaching session on October 1st, 2019. Just as explained in my invitation.
Out of the people that signed up, I decided to coach Aigerim Bektemirova, a young lady from Kazakstan. She is currently working as a freelancer, mostly helping with mail marketing campaigns. That’s how I meet her a couple of years ago when we briefly worked together. The furthest she got with starting an online business is with a dropshipping business on Shopify. She shut it down after 3 months as it was wasting much more money, then it was generating.
How has the coaching with Aigerim started? And how can you start making money online?
Pick your passion that is enhanced by your skillset
I already wrote a huge post about finding your passion, and I really think it’s very important to find your purpose. Your reason. If you don’t have that, forget it, it will be hard to get out of the bed. Not to mention when some hardships come along, and hardships will come. But, as experience has taught us, passion is not enough. If you are passionate, but you are incapable… or to put it more bluntly, if you are an idiot, then you are just a passionate idiot. I think we’ve seen many of those in the world. So we need to have at least some level of expertise.
We don’t have to be an expert, or a guru or a ninja which in most cases (not all, but most), are just constructs fabricated by the world. You at least have to know a little bit more than the rest of the world. If you walked into a crowded cafe, can you with certainty say that you are the most knowledgeable about topic X? If so, that’s enough to get you started. Here’s a true story that will make you think. If you haven’t watched a movie inspired by a true story, “Catch Me If You Can, with Leonardo Di Caprio”, this will be new to you. Frank Abagnale said that “he worked as a sociology teaching assistant at Brigham Young University for a semester, under the name Frank Adams.“. This is interesting because this man was a con artist, and the college (obviously) denies that they hired him. However, he said that he was a teacher, and the way he was able to teach was that he learned the lesson just a little bit earlier than the students.
So, step 1: Create a list of ideas, products, companies, niches of your passions and preferably enhanced by your skillset. What is the thing you are doing on a Saturday morning? What are you daydreaming about? What was the topic you were talking about that other people weren’t excited about as much as you were? What was it that people were asking you to help them with? Is there something that people are constantly asking you? Once you have a few of those, it is time to hunt for keywords.
High demand, low supply
Same as anything else, this is valid for the traffic to your website. You are looking for high demand, low supply (or low competition). Depending on your skills, you may choose different sources of traffic. Strongest are search engine optimization, social media, email marketing, and paid traffic acquisition. Conversion or monetization comes next, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. I always start with SEO for numerous reasons, and since you are reading this, I’ll assume you know them. I’ll also assume you know that SEO splits into on-page SEO and off-page SEO. But before doing any on-page or off-page SEO you need to do the research. Keyword research to be more specific. Here’s why.
You want to know what people are searching. What problems are they looking to resolve? And where the solutions (displayed on the Google’s SERP) aren’t up to par. That way, you can create a superior: product, content, solution, recommendation, video, photo, enter your favorite word here ___________. There is absolutely no point in creating something that nobody needs. No point.
There are several tools that help you find keywords that are being searched a lot, with low competition. I personally use KWFinder, but, since I personally know the founder of LongTailPro (and you can read the interview with Spencer Haws here) I can confirm that both tools get the job done. For an in-depth comparison come back here on a later date I’d love to do a KWFinder vs LongTailPro post when I find some extra time.
These tools show you how much keywords in your niche are being searched, and how good the current top 10 results are. This is exactly what I explained to Aigerim today. How these tools work, and how to find good keywords for the niches she is passionate about. Hopefully, Google keeps allowing various SEO SAAS providers to scrape their SERP, so we will have these insights. Use them while you can.
Step 2: Find keywords that are high in volume, but with low competition. There are tools that tell you just that (mentioned earlier). Bonus tip. Keep in mind there are “purchase intent keywords”. Imagine someone holding a credit card in their hand, and they are ready to buy. They just need to find this one last thing before they do. Something like “Cheapest place to buy product x” or “product X coupon”. If you can’t find that, try to go lower on the scale where the buyer is still exploring options. Then we use keywords such as “Product X vs Product Y” or “Product X review” or “Best in category for product x”.
In our quest in building a profitable website, many will think the work starts with registering a domain name. However, as Spencer Haws explained it, your first step is actually doing research and picking a niche. Once you are set on that, then you choose a (domain) name. So if you missed that interview I recommend you go back and read that first. Nothing worse than picking a wrong niche!
When it comes to choosing a domain name I invited Michael Cyger to join us and share his thoughts. Michael started a very popular domaining blog and podcast DomainSherpa.com back in 2010, and most people know him from there.
Recently he started DNAcademy which I attended and was able to learn a few tricks myself! I am thrilled to recommend it, so if you have any questions before signing up, let us know in the comment section. I am no newbie when it comes to domain names myself (I wrote a white paper on the topic), but it’s always to brush up on your skills, even if you don’t plan to become a domain name investor. These skills also come in very handy when:
- You are evaluating a website for purchase / investing
- Plan to own / build more than 1 website
- Protect your brand online
Goran: Michael, can you tell us a little bit about how you got into the domaining business in the first place? What were your first wins and loses?
Michael Cyger: In 2000 I started an online media company on the side while working full-time at General Electric. I needed a domain name but as all entrepreneurs find at one point or another, all the obvious good domain names were registered—most notably, the exact-match domain and the domain with an “e” in front of it (which was popular at the time)—but luckily the exact-match domain with an “i” in front was available so I hand registered it. (Goran: Just for you non-domainers out there. Hand-registering a domain name means buying several domain names one-by-one via a domain registrar for the base price. Some domainers use software for registering a ton of domain names in bulk without looking at exact domain names they are registering. And now, back to Michael.). It was the first of hundreds of domain names that I would later own for my media company, for ideas I had for new ventures, and for investment.
I remember one time back in 2004 when I wanted to buy a defensive domain name for my media company and discovered that while it was already registered to someone else it was expiring soon. Trying to “catch it” when it expired, I paid $70 to Pool.com but ultimately was unsuccessful in securing the domain. I was discouraged, but I had a $70 credit that I had to use within a year or lose it. Months later, on a long list of domain names that were expiring soon, SunPill.com caught my eye. I placed a backorder for it and got it. I figured someday someone would invent a pill that you could take to look suntanned without having to go out in the sun and worry about skin damage or cancer. About two years later I was contacted by the founder of Banana Boat sunscreen, who told me he had invented a pill to provide sun protection from the inside out. I loved the idea and agreed to sell him the domain name for $7,500 plus a case of Banana Boat sunscreen.
As for first losses, I’m sure I purchased plenty of domain names in .net, .mobi and with hyphens that I later dropped because they were worthless in all respects – like domain-sherpa.com and ctqmedia.net. As an entrepreneur and eternal optimist, I tend to forget the failures and focus on the positives – but the lessons learned stick with me.
Goran: I am going to play devil’s advocate with this question, so bear with me. I know plenty of successful million-dollar businesses with lousy domain names. How do you explain that, and where is the leverage in a good domain name?
Michael Cyger: Of course any business can launch on any domain name. Pick the worst domain name imaginable. Yes, you can launch and build a business on that. But it’s going to cost that business time, resources and money to do so over the long term. Let me explain…
I typically see startup businesses selecting a domain name that’s available for hand registration because they say that they don’t have a budget to buy a better one. They end up with a domain name that’s hard to spell, fails the “radio test,” is long and prone to spelling errors, has a top-level domain that people aren’t familiar with, is “gimmicky” with repeating letters or missing vowels, or is easily confused with other businesses.
Recently I discovered a company called Snyk.io that has raised $32 million to date. Cool company that is focused on enterprise security. But let’s say I was talking to you about the company so you only heard its name. If you wanted to check out more about it, it’s unlikely you’d know or remember to spell the company snyk, much less that the top-level domain is .io.
I can guarantee you that at some point someone is going to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or some variation of that. Without clear knowledge to the contrary, most people simply default to .com.
Now consider if they selected a real word like “deadbolt” for their enterprise security company and paired it with the .com top-level domain. No confusion in any of those areas, and it’s easily spelled correctly. It also connotes a sense of security, like the deadbolt on your home’s front door.
I’m going to guess that snyk.io was registered for the regular registration fee of $20-30 initial cost. But how much is it costing the company when customers and suppliers ask them to repeat their email address spelling or when they don’t receive the emails they expected? How much is it costing them when they go to a tradeshow and buyers later visit snyk.com only to find a website in Japanese?
These companies are trading the up-front cost of buying a premium domain name for years of hidden costs, not just from a lack of productivity in communications but also from being associated with a weak brand. And we haven’t even talked about the authority upside a premium domain name lends a business.“These companies are trading the up-front cost of buying a premium domain name for years of hidden costs, not just from a lack of productivity in communications but also from being associated with a weak brand. ”Click To Tweet
Companies with weak brands and confusing domain names in highly regulated fields like healthcare or financial services pose a particular problem. Imagine if your healthcare or banking records were emailed to the wrong address because of spelling, top-level domain confusion, or a typo—unfortuantely, it’s happened.
So to answer your question, there are exceptions to every rule, including successful companies that are built on a lousy domain name. But in most cases, a weak brand is like a weight around a company’s neck, keeping it from reaching its full potential. As my friend Andrew Rosener of MediaOptions likes to say, “It’s like trying to build a skyscraper on top of a bed of sand.” Choose the bedrock of a strong brand and domain name if you have the ambitions to build that high.
Goran: What tools and tactics would you recommend to someone who is looking for a great domain name in a small niche?
Michael Cyger: If it’s a small niche, you can usually secure a premium brand and matching domain name for a few thousand dollars. Over the lifetime of the business, it’s a very small portion of expenses and it’s an asset that endures.
For example, when I launched DomainSherpa in 2010 I brainstormed many different names but I settled on DomainSherpa.com. It had the keyword “domain” in the name, included my vision (a “sherpa” who helps you navigate dangerous terrains with skill and knowledge), wasn’t too long or easily misspelled or confused, and was in the .com top-level domain space.
Of course, DomainSherpa.com was registered by someone already and I could have easily found an alternate brand that I could newly register for $10. But by negotiating with the then-owner, I was able to secure it for around $500—a bargain for the domain name that would be used to generate five to six figures in annual revenue for many years.
For companies targeting millions in revenue, I would suggest that they look at their company brand and domain name in perspective to that revenue. They could purchase a single dictionary word in .com for tens of thousands of dollars.
And for companies looking to become the next “unicorn” with $1 billion valuation, then think just as big with your brand…Box.net upgraded to Box.com, UberCab.com upgraded to Uber.com, and SlackHQ.com upgraded to Slack.com. Big vision companies need a big brand.
Goran: If I found a great domain name for my niche, but it is taken, how do I proceed? How can I get the domain that is already registered? And how can I find good alternatives if I can’t afford the one already registered?
Michael Cyger: First, you should make sure you’re on the right order of magnitude when pursuing a domain name for purchase. See the HowMuchIsADomainNameWorth.com Price Guide for guidelines. (Will these guidelines work in every case? No. Are they a rough estimate for reasonable owners interested in selling a domain name? Yes. But remember, even though you’re offering fair market value doesn’t mean that someone is obligated to sell.)
Now, do a whois lookup and reach out to the domain name owner to ask if they would consider selling their domain name. If they respond affirmatively, then start negotiating. If they fail to respond, email or telephone again, and again. Noah Kagan pursued the owner of Sumo.com for 7 years before finally purchasing the domain name for $1.5 million. I pursued the exact match domain name of my media company for 5 years before the previous owner finally decided to retire and accepted my offer. Persistence pays off.
But so does financial creativity. Kagan didn’t just pay $1.5 million in cash up front, he set up a payment plan that allowed him to finance the purchase of the domain name through the cash flow of his business. And UberCab purchased Uber.com by offering 2 percent of the company.
Sometimes the whois record will be under privacy, or General Data Protection Regulation redacted, or the contact information will be outdated. In that case, using a historical whois service like DomainTools.com or domainIQ.com can come in handy. And in some cases, looking at the Internet Archive Wayback Machine might point you to a name or functioning email address. I’ve even known founders to hire private investigators to track down the contact information of people based on previous whois addresses.
If you don’t want to pay more than $10 for a domain name no matter what, then it’s time to get creative. Try some domain name spinners, ask your significant other and friends for ideas, or take your most creative colleague out for a coffee. There is power in the crowd. Make sure you create one big list of options that you can then compare and contrast. You might also want to consider which brands have available domain names and matching social media handles. (Goran: here’s an exact example of how a domain name with matching social media handles that’s for sale looks like.)
Goran: Where do you buy domain names, and why there? Would you recommend the same registrar to someone who owns less than 20 websites?
Michael Cyger: I buy my domain names at two registrars: GoDaddy and Uniregistry.
I like the Domain Transfer Validation Service that GoDaddy offers their premier accounts (those customers with about $5,000 spend per year through all products at GoDaddy), because they have to call me and voice verify that I approve a domain name being moved out of my account for any reason. That ensures that my company’s domain name assets are being kept safe.
I also have quite a few domains at Uniregistry and enjoy their two-factor authentication and their up-to-date and user-friendly interface.
I highly recommend that entrepreneurs keep their domain names at a registrar that focuses on domain names, rather than a company that is focused on hosting. You can always point your DNS anywhere you want, but when you decide to change hosting platforms, which inevitably happens, you’ll be glad you have a separation between the two so there’s less confusion about who is controlling what.
Yes, you can get the ball running in a single day. If you have to, make it a home-made 24 hour hackathon! Either way, we are here to help you get your website online today! The title does say “get your website online today”, but we want to deliver more on that promise. It’s a very special moment in time when you launch your website, not to mention when you launch it for the very first time!
Step 1. pick the right domain name
It all starts with a domain name. Domain names are important when it comes to bringing your company online, but that is also just the first step. In case you are not sure where to buy a domain name check our post on where to buy domain names. Picking the right domain name can also become an issue due to trademarks, .com availability and practical things like pronunciation. So more on this soon!
Step 2. pick the right web hosting
Do you want to create a WordPress website? Would you like cPanel as a control panel for your web hosting? Space, lots of space? The questions don’t stop there. Putting a website online shouldn’t be the end goal. You probably want to increase sales, connect with your clients, provide better support, improve brand awareness, reach potential international clients. This list could go on and on. In essence, you want a fast website, with plenty of disk space with good local support.
Step 3. set clear goals
After reading the last paragraph you could have seen this step coming. Setting clear goals matters in any project, and especially for getting your website online. So why not begin with the end in mind? That’s what Stephen Covey would advise in 7 habits of highly effective people. So why not become effective and apply this principle to creating your website.
Step 4. pick the right technology
Do you want to install WordPress, or a build a custom CMS (Content Management System)? What is your budget in this regard? Can you afford a WordPress theme or do you want a custom-tailored design for your CMS? Don’t worry, if you need help making a decision, don’t hesitate to leave a comment. Or maybe you want to go with a website builder and have somebody else worry about the web hosting?
Step 5. get your website online
After you’ve completed the first steps you have to fill the website with content (text and images) and your website is ready! Don’t be fooled, now is not the time to rest. That is day one! Now you have to do search engine optimization, promote the website on social media and even advertise on search engines to get first website visitors. Another great way to keep communication channels open is to host a newsletter and reach out on a regular basis to your clients.
Step 6. install an SSL certificate
More and more SSL certificates are gaining importance. This is true due to several reasons. Websites are e-commerce oriented, with various forms and enhanced communication between the user and the website. This is also interesting to criminals, so it is important to protect ourselves by installing an SSL certificate. Google, in particular, understands and supports this behavior, so they have decided to update their algorithm and position website with HTTPS on a higher position. For a full list of benefits, check this post.
Step 7. setup website monitoring
After getting your website online, either with a website builder, a WordPress or some other method, we need to set up website monitoring. I know, I know, this one is a bit self-serving, but the cost really makes up for the advantages! Let’s face it, domain names and SSL certificates expire, we get blacklisted for spamming, our web hosting goes down, our website speed decreases… all this and more needs to be monitored and we need to take proper action as soon as possible!
You may think that picking the best email address for your company relies heavily on a great domain name. What if I told you other factors come into place as well? I’ve encountered the last example this very week! I bought a book 500 Social Media Marketing Tips by Andrew Macarthy. As much as the author’s knowledge of social media is exemplary, and has a great domain name for his online presence (AndrewMacarthy.com) where he dropped the ball, in my opinion, was at the end of the book. There he invited his readers to write to him at email@example.com. This is just the latest example where I’ve seen an expert not getting all the possible benefits.
Looking for a shorter way to find out how to pick the best email address for your business? We’ve created this special presentation just for this occasion!
There are countless times where I’ve seen dentists use a free email service address on their business card, construction workers putting a sticker on their truck or business owners just telling you this awkwardly long email address from a free service. Free doesn’t have to do anything with the wrong choice, everybody loves free, but can you imagine Jeff Bezos operating from a “firstname.lastname@example.org” email address. Surely, there’s a way for him to send and receive emails from @amazon.com? You don’t have to be a billionaire to do the same!Imagine Jeff Bezos operating from a 'email@example.com' email address. Surely, there's a way for him to send and receive emails from @amazon.com? You don't have to be a billionaire to do the same!Click To Tweet
Why waste time finding the right email address?
I am not exaggerating when I say I received hundreds of offers in my inbox for various services. Web design, SEO, domain registration, social media, copywriting, and can you guess what gives the spammer away each time? Their email address! Here are just some of them: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com… I could go on and on. Do you want your clients to perceive you as a spammer?
Imagine having an email address on a premium domain name. Better yet, I’ll share a story. One time, someone contacted me from a two letter .com domain name. I dropped everything and ran to read what the email was about! Obviously, this was a person and a company of great importance, so I will keep their details private (since the nature of the email was private as well). People still check where the message originated from (including newsletter, autoresponder and marketing automation) and I think it is safe to assume you will get more replies to a legitimate sounding email address. For example, if you cold-email a potential investor or client, do you think they would be more inclined to answer firstname.lastname@example.org or “email@example.com”?
Your business stands a better chance if you conduct all your communication on your company’s domain name. Not to mention if you go ahead and promote your email on business cards, stickers, and ads.
Choosing the right domain name
There are countless articles online about choosing the best domain name, and they can surely help you since the domain name is an essential part of picking the right email address. In this post, I will focus on the email, and I will dive deeper into domain names another time. In short, the domain name should be:
- Exact as company name
- Short, memorable, pronounceable
- .Com domain extension (preferably)
Don’t take this as rules set in stone. Just the other day I’ve accidentally found about “MyWifeQuitHerJob.com.” This domain name obviously doesn’t fall into the category “short,” not even by a long shot! However, after I read some free content on that website, I got fantastic value! I also got the story and remembered the name in a heart beat! I just got it! His wife quit her job, and now they are making so much money, and they are blogging about it on “My Wife Quit Her Job”! Brilliant.
Your email doesn’t have to be on your website’s domain name
Here’s what I mean by that. Let’s say you have a long domain name like the one I just mentioned or something like FourHourWorkWeek.com. And let’s say your name is “Alexander The Great.” Your email shouldn’t be AlexanderTheGreat@FourHourWorkWeek.com. How is that going to fit your business card? How will someone write this down if you are sharing this over the phone or a podcast? What Alex needs to do here is register a domain name Great.com, and create an email “Alex@Great.com.” Or, if Alex, or in this case Tim Ferriss want’s to keep promoting FourHourWorkWeek.com, he can use contact@FourHourWorkWeek.com. Short first name, nickname or some other generic short word (info, email).
Using personal emails on company websites also makes sense with serial entrepreneurs, bloggers, affiliate marketers and online entrepreneurs. If you have ten websites that all generate a significant income for you, and you want everyone to be able to reach you. Surely, you can create emails on all ten domain names, and have them redirect to your best email address. Then later, you reply from that email address so that it appears like you are answering them from the address where the email came in (check “Send mail as” in a paragraph below). But here it also makes sense to use that same best email address on all ten websites, such as firstname.lastname@example.org
Which prefix do I choose for my best email address?
For example, my name is Goran Duskic. I own a domain name duskic.com. Now I can use my email email@example.com on all 10 of my websites, and it makes perfect sense. If someone wants to reach the owner of this website (webmaster.ninja), they can just write to firstname.lastname@example.org. Or email@example.com, and then just have those messages redirect to firstname.lastname@example.org. This way I am not promoting Webmaster.Ninja website, but if I own ten websites, it’s going to be very hard to have ten business cards, ten email addresses and ten of everything else.
In some companies, there are people with the same first name. Then you can add the last name to the prefix, and even separate it with a dot. Here are a few examples:
Another example is with positions that frequently have new employees. Therefore in some cases, it may be wise not to connect an email address to a particular person, and instead create an email for that department. Such as:
And of course, there are more generic examples that work well, like:
- Town@CompanyName.com or Country@CompanyName.com
If you are thinking technology is preventing you from using an email address on your domain name, that means that you’ve decided to use gmail.com, yahoo.com, outlook.com domains. Let me ask you, have you heard of “Send mail as”?
Send mail as
Inside of Gmail, there’s this option called “Send mail as,” that allows you to reply from the same address where the sender sent it to. There are some “SMTP steps” so we don’t have the time or space to go through that in this post, but if you want to set this up yourself, you can follow Google’s instructions on this post. What this functionality allows you is to send emails from your Gmail, but the receiver will get an email from “email@example.com” instead of “firstname.lastname@example.org”. Have in mind that this is different from installing G Suite or Office 365 on your domain name, which you have to pay. Think of “Send mail as” as the “free technology” + “my branding.”
Choose the right technology
This leads us to the choice of the right technology. Too often I encounter people with @gmail.com or @live.com emails. And then when I ask them why they don’t use their company’s domain name, the answer is “I am used to this service” or “I like Gmail’s functionality.” The two, do not have to be separated. As I have demonstrated in the “Send mail as” section, it is free, and it’s not that hard to set up.
Besides “Send mail as” feature, there are also solutions you have to pay for, as I already mentioned G Suite (previously known as Google Apps) and Microsoft’s Office 365. After you create a paid subscription, you need to install it on your domain name. This doesn’t interfere with your website in any way. I don’t want to get too technical on you, but let me just explain that the website runs on an HTTP or HTTPS protocol (you’ve seen that in the address bar of your browser), and the email operates through a POP3, SMTP protocol. After all, POP means “Post Office Protocol.”
Setting up a service like G Suite involves changing your MX records (Mail Exchanger), so it’s more complicated to set up than “Send mail as.” MX records are another type of resource record within the Domain Name System, also known as DNS. G Suite and Office 365 allow us to seamlessly send text messages from one email address to another, without touching the website server. That’s because MX doesn’t impact the website or even touching the dedicated server that hosts the website. Are you now beginning to understand why I am sharing this technical information? Just one thing though, if your domain name expires, your email will stop working, regardless of being separated from a different service from your website.
Google or Microsoft?
Having a separate email service (like G Suite or Office 365) means that if your website is unresponsive, your emails are still working! This isn’t the case with the “Send mail as” option. To receive the message, the original server hosting the website and email must send the message to your Gmail account.
I know this was a bit technical, but as I mentioned, too many times I’ve seen people blame technology as their cause for fumbling. Technology is here to help, not the other way around! Put your best foot forward and promote your company, not Gmail, Yahoo, MSN or your local telecom provider. I remember one time, a company owner shared his email address with me. Big mistake, it had a telecom provider’s domain name. I teased him by asking if he loved his telecom provider so much that he wanted to give them the extra promotion? He exclaimed how he, in fact, hated them because he has all these issues with them and then went on for five minutes listing issues with them, but he had no choice but to stay with them due to the contract. Don’t be that guy.
Are you spending too much time writing emails?
Before we part ways, I just wanted to mention one last thing when it comes to emails. Don’t become a slave to your inbox like I was. If you are having trouble handling mountain of emails coming your way, don’t stress! You are not alone in this! Here are several steps and ideas you can take to handle your inbox.
Let’s just sum up quickly what you’ve learned here today. The domain name is the most important part of your email (half of your email address is the domain name). It’s great if the domain name is short, but also to every rule, there is an exception. FourHourWorkWeek.com or MyWifeQuitHerJob.com. Whatever you do, don’t let that domain name be a service provider name. Put your best foot forward by promoting your company or one of your brands. Don’t let technology stop you! Use “Send mail as” option if you are tight on a budget, or get a paid solution with added benefits. For example, your email will work, even if your web shop, company website, blog) is down. And lastly, don’t become a slave to your email.
High-quality and engaging content plays a vital role in making a website successful. It is crucial for keeping visitors on the website and earning an excellent search engine ranking. Since many websites rely heavily on search engine traffic (sometimes as high as 90 percent), it makes the difference between success and failure. It is true that attractive design is important in making a first impression, but unique, informative website content will keep visitors coming back again and again. The leading and most reputable search engine, Google, is very particular when it comes to content on a site. If you have poor-quality content on the website, your website will not rank on Google – no matter how good your website looks to the visitors. It’s true – Google cares more about the content itself. That is why we are giving you these 9 freelance content writer tips.
As a freelance content writer or a solopreneur that has create content for himself, you should focus on writing content that will boost your SEO rankings, gain traffic, and generate leads or sales! Google has made it very clear that they will penalize websites with duplicate content. In other words, they are going to reward good websites that have quality content. So, if you have high-quality content on your website, you will have good exposure on a search engine. And this will have a positive impact on your business.
It is obvious you will have content on your website for visitors and, ultimately, your business or if you are a freelance content writer, for your clients. So you need to do it right the first time. Here, we will share some tips for creating unique, engaging content that gets shared.
1. Develop original content
As we already mentioned, go with original content as it goes a long way with Google and with your visitors. Google will penalize your website if you have copied content, and this can impact your position in a big way. You should always have something useful for your visitors. If no one else covers that topic, even better! Do your research before writing anything. Find out what topic and point of view is original, and give that gift to your readers.
2. Focus on crafting strong headlines and punch lines
A strong headline or punch line will attract your visitors’ attention. It will invite your readers to invest time to read what you have to say. It is the first thing that will grab the attention of the readers. So, invest time in crafting attractive and meaningful headlines. If the headline doesn’t attract readers, it doesn’t matter how good the rest of the copy is. What’s that? Were you never good at writing headlines? Don’t worry, Pauline Cabrera from Twelweskip.com has your back. Check out hers: “100+ Blog Post Title Templates That Grab Attention.” Yeah, that is a great title, and we know you are going to click on that one. That’s exactly what you should be doing.
Learn why “will make you” is the best headline – Research by Buzzsumo
3. Create actionable content
Your content should be meaningful for your readers. It should give help them understand how to apply the information you have provided them. When you are creating a blog, give users tips on applying what you are offering them. Your focus should be on creating something that will spark ideas for the users. This will also help you avoid passive voice. Remember, your content cannot contain more than 10 percent content written in passive voice. There are SEO WordPress plugins like Yoast SEO that you can install that automatically track passive voice percentage for you.
4. Show accuracy in reporting and sourcing information
Imagine a situation here. You have written a blog post and the information in it turns out to be inaccurate. What impact will it have on your business reputation? People will stop trusting you. So be accurate in reporting as well as sourcing your content. If you are linking to other websites, ensure they are quality websites. This will help you earn trust from your readers – just like we did before with the Buzzsumo research. If you link to a bad website, not only can Google associate you as a bad website, but also if that page is deleted, you are sending your readers nowhere. That is not good for your readers, for your business, or your website.
5. Craft thought-provoking content
An engaged audience will take interest if your content is engaging and thought-provoking. You can make your content thought-provoking by leaving your users with questions and using a promising introduction. Creating appealing stories will also help because people love to read stories. These introductions can be used in social media, ads, and at the beginning of a blog post. Here’s an example.
Sorensen Communications forgets to renew their domain name. Ends up paying a fine of 3 million dollars! – Read here who else had similar misfortune, and why Sorensen Communications had to pay such a hefty fine.
6. Use images, videos, tweets and other embeds
It has been observed that people are more attracted to images and videos, and they learn better by hearing or seeing visuals. Use images, diagrams, and videos as they will help you illustrate your point. Whatever the topic, add pictures and videos as these days no one is interested in reading a long, boring paragraph. It also helps to use third-party embed options like tweets, Quora questions and Quora answers! This helps spark debate or provides an alternative opinion from an objective source (someone you don’t personally know).
— є ℓ у ѕ є ✺ (@elyseperez06) November 8, 2017
7. A great freelance content writer writes a short and crispy content
Nothing is better than short, crisp content. As a freelance content writer, you need to write to the point and fill your blog with lots of information your users are interested in. Avoid long sentences and make the content scannable. That way, someone with a short attention span or very little time can get value out of your post.
So don’t take the job of writing content for your business lightly and use correct grammar, title, and format your content properly. More on this in point number nine. You can write content in various formats besides our central topic here (content writing tips for your blog). You can write content in the form of long- and short-form blogs, articles, infographics, whitepapers, e-books, presentations and more. I’ve tried all of them and each is different and unique.
8. Different types of content – Long- and short-form blogs
Long blogs are blogs with more than 1500 words. They are more popular as they contain a lot of information and help solve many questions for the users. If they contain great value, they are considered pillar content. Even SEO experts prefer long blogs because in most cases they rank better in Google search results. Short blogs have a word limit in between 250 to 1000 words. As the length of this kind of blog is shorter, the content should be good enough to engage the audience. I like to stay between 1000 and 2000 words. In most cases I manage to write what’s on my mind, but not have to spend a lot of time creating the content. Once upon a time, I wrote a blog post with 5000 words titled “Is this your online marketing grind?”. Suffice to say, it took me a while.
- Videos: people love digital content in the form of videos. If you have an appealing video, your job is done. It will work wonders.
- Infographics: are a visual representation of information. It is one of the most shared content types as compared to other types of content.
- E-books: are an effective way of sharing your information with others. When you are writing an e-book, ensure you divide all the information into small topics so that readers can easily grasp what you want to say.
9. Use translators, proofreaders or advanced tools
If like me, you were not born in an English-speaking country, but you want to write in English, you’d better make sure your writing level is higher than that of a 10-year-old. For example, I have been writing and speaking in English intensively for six years straight, and still I pay my proofreader to check my text (bless you, Robin, for checking up on me, like you are doing right now), and recently I installed a tool called Grammarly that follows me everywhere I go, and reminds me when I wrote “then” instead of “than” or when I misspell scannable, as I did just a moment ago. In my opinion, this is a must for any freelance content writer.
We know there are many more content writing tips. Which ones do you think we missed?
Need even more to improve your content writing skills? Check out this resource I found for you on Quora!
The Internet really is a crazy place. If you just stop for a second and think about it you risk a mindblowing moment. So many domain names are being registered, new websites, new pages of content, new backlinks… that at this point in time, you would probably have to be mad to start tracking all that.
One of the wealthiest company in the world, Google, as other smaller search engines are doing just that. Obviously, that’s working out fine for them, but what about us? What about webmasters, SEOs, and other digital marketing experts? How are we suppose to find out which websites are ranking high, which have the best backlinks, which pages are getting the most search engine traffic and other juicy data that can help us make a difference to our website?
Luckily, companies like Ahrefs are doing the heavy lifting for us. In a recent interview posted here on Webmaster.ninja, Glenn Allsopp recommended Ahrefs, and I can also relate, as I have been using them for years. On and off I was a paying client because for some projects I couldn’t afford them (hey, they only have to pay 2500 servers to keep the thing running). But their free account is super, super useful!
Not only that, but Tim Soulo from Ahrefs has produced some really insightful content over the years. You can see me raving about it on Twitter just below. The data (as of September 2018, total content index size = 975 million pages) they gathered certainly did not go to waste.
— Goran Duskic (@duskic) May 7, 2018
Goran: Hey Tim, thank you so much for taking the time to answer a few questions for the loyal readers at webmaster.ninja. Can you share with us just a little bit on how and why you joined Ahrefs, and why you think the work at Ahrefs is so important to the community?
Tim Soulo: Hey Goran, thanks for having me!
I joined Ahrefs back in 2015 and it actually happened almost on accident. I was doing outreach for one of my projects and got in contact with Ahrefs’ CEO Dmitry. He offered me to do a bit of freelance marketing work for Ahrefs, which almost instantly turned into a full-scale product/marketing consulting. And after just a few weeks of working together, Dmitry offered me to become a marketing director for Ahrefs and move to the head office to Singapore.
Which I did 🙂
Goran: I’d like to ask you something I already asked you privately. I think that most businesses and webmasters struggle with this a lot, so I think it’s very much worth repeating. Every day we are bombarded with the mantra “content is king”, and we are inclined to generate as much of it as possible. How do you create content that’s shared, that converts and that people are “looking for”? How do we avoid generating content, for the sole purpose of content generation?
Tim Soulo: Well, if you don’t want to “create content for the sake of creating content,” you need to have a very specific goal in front of you.
- Do you sell banner ads and you need the kind of content that will generate huge traffic?
- Or do you want to grow your email list, and you need the kind of content that will effectively convert readers into email subscribers?
- Or maybe you want to sell your product, and you need content that will persuade readers to buy it?
- Or maybe you’re just looking to share your thoughts with the world and educate people in your niche, with a goal of becoming a well-known thought leader in your industry?
See where I’m going with this?
Depending on the goal that you want to achieve, you will have to create a different kind of content.
Goran: That makes sense, so a website owner has to have a strategy in place or a plan about doing things before diving in. We can talk a lot about this and go in many directions, but I don’t want to ask a broad question, so let’s focus on one of those. How do you create content that will persuade readers to convert?
Sure! That is one of our main priorities at Ahrefs Blog actually.
In essence, all you need to do is pick the right topic. When we do keyword research for Ahrefs blog, we don’t only look at the search traffic potential of a keyword, but we also assign each topic a so-called “business potential.”
We like to use a simple scale from 0 to 3:
- “3” – our product is an absolutely irreplaceable solution for the problem that people are looking to solve;
- “2” – our product helps quite a bit, but it’s not essential to solving the problem;
- “1” – our product can only be mentioned fleetingly (mostly for “brand awareness,” rather than “sales pitch”);
- “0” – there’s absolutely no way to mention our product.
My favorite example is this article on Hubspot blog on the topic of “how to make a GIF image.”
If you were in charge of content marketing at HubSpot, how would you rate the business potential of this topic?
Let me ask a more direct question: How easy would it be to pitch HubSpot marketing software to a person who is looking to make a GIF image?
I’d say the business potential here is 1 at best. And only because this article has some downloadables that generate leads for HubSpot sales team.
And once you find a topic with a high search traffic potential where your product can be mentioned as an irreplaceable solution – it is a real breeze to convert readers into customers.
Goran: What are three tools that help you bring traffic to Ahrefs.com or that help you grow the business? How big of a role does Ahrefs (the tool) play at Ahrefs and bringing traffic to your site? More importantly, does Ahrefs explode, after you type in ahrefs.com into ahrefs.com search bar?
Tim Soulo: Ahrefs is the marketing tool that I use 90% of the time.
After the GDPR hype, we had to remove Google Analytics from our website. And you know what? I don’t feel helpless without GA as long as I have Ahrefs. I get enough insights from our own tool to know if our SEO/content strategy is working and if we’re succeeding at it or failing.
Other than Ahrefs, I might use SimilarWeb from time to time, as they provide some cool traffic data that we don’t have in Ahrefs.
As for our marketing team, they enjoy using Buzzstream for doing outreach (PitchBox is awesome too btw) and they also use some social-media automation tools like Buffer, MeetEdgar, Hootsuite, etc.
Goran: How does your process at Ahrefs work for growing traffic? I remember seeing some at the Blogging For Business course that’s being sold for $799 at the moment, so perhaps we can give some insights for free to our readers?
Tim Soulo: I’m afraid there’s no silver bullet that I could give to people. Our SEO strategy is very conventional and straightforward:
- Keyword research – finding awesome topics with solid search traffic potential (that are relevant to our business)
- Creating amazing content – we always try to create something original, that would be based on our own experience. Rehashing content from other people will get you nowhere.
- Promoting content – we promote content to existing Ahrefs audience, we put some money into Facebook/Twitter ads and we try to distribute our content to all sorts of communities. The more eyeballs you’re able to get on your piece of content, the higher the chance that some of these people will link to it naturally.
- Building links – if we see that content promotion didn’t bring us enough quality links to rank well in Google, we might do some targeted outreach to relevant people who might link to that article. We also have a small guest blogging team who try to feature our content in their guest articles.
Goran: In an interview with Spencer Haws, Spencer says that niche selection and keyword selection is the most important step. This is essentially your source of traffic and hopefully revenue, so of course you need to know the demand before diving in. How can Ahrefs help us in finding what are some keywords with high volume?
Tim Soulo: Yes, knowing what people are searching for is where SEO actually starts.
Ahrefs has a great tool called Keywords Explorer. All you need to do is type any “general” type of keyword (like “cats”) and this tool will show you all search queries that contain your word in them.
That’s over a million keywords that contain the word “cats” in them.
But let’s say “can cats drink milk” keyword piqued your interest. It gets 3,500 searches in the US according to Ahrefs. But how much traffic are you going to get if you rank for it?
Well, if you put this keyword into Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer and scroll down, you’ll see this:
This is called “SERP overview” report, which pulls the top10 ranking pages for your keyword and shows you how many links each of them has and how much traffic each of them gets from Google in total.
I mean we all know that a page doesn’t rank in Google for just a single keyword alone. It automatically ranks for all sorts of relevant search queries (see my research here).
So by looking at the total search traffic to each of the top-ranking pages, you can make a rather accurate prediction of how much traffic you’re going to get to your own page, should it start ranking for that keyword.
When we look for topics for our own blog, we rarely look at the search volume of an individual keyword (here’s why), but we rather open the SERP Overview report and examine how much search traffic the top ranking pages get in total.
Goran: That just blows my mind. I recommend the pages you shared there so that the reader can better understand what is going on behind the curtain! Just this one sentence I found sums it up nicely and would make everyone think about their content strategy: “According to our data, almost 75% of pages that rank in top10 for a given keyword doesn’t have even a single mention of that exact-match keyword anywhere on the page.”According to Ahrefs data, almost 75% of pages that rank in top10 for a given keyword doesn’t have even a single mention of that exact-match keyword anywhere on the page.”Click To Tweet
Last question. Where do you see SEO and website creation, in general, going to be in 5-10 years from now? Is the direction security, privacy, speed, UX, owner reputation, or something else without me listing many possibilities? Do you see websites losing ground compared to various social media platforms? What kind of impact do internet penetration and generation change have on this?
Five years is a VERY long time, so I prefer not to plan this far and just roll with whatever the industry will throw at us.
As for “websites losing ground compared to various social media platforms” – yes, this is definitely happening to a certain extent. For example, I’ve seen a ton of cases where people would build an entire business off their Instagram account, and they don’t really care about launching a website.
But overall my prediction is that websites aren’t going anywhere in the next 5-10 years. 🙂
I bet you had this experience at least once in your life. You stumble onto something by chance, and somehow this becomes your habit, and ultimately it changes your life. I don’t like saying a single thing changed my life, but Niche Pursuits podcast definitely put me on a different path. For years I thought about going into affiliate marketing and making money online with AdSense. For years I thought about buying profitable websites (even after I got burned on my first try, and more on that some other time). But after I listened to a few episodes I was hooked. Driving in my car and listening to all those people that left their jobs, or just making some additional money from their hobbies, it was super inspiring!
Today you get to meet Spencer Haws, host at the Niche Pursuits podcast, owner at NichePursuits.com website (highly recommended), and the founder of Long Tail Pro and owner of many niche websites.
I can’t remember how I found out about Niche Pursuits, but after being bombarded with success and topics that were music to my ears, I started investing, building and improving some of my old niche websites on my own. It was love at first sight and I was hooked.
Spencer is also no stranger to Amazon FBA. He started that business from scratch and selling it for nearly half a million dollars. In his podcast, Spencer goes deep, and I have to say, it is super weird when you are listening to a podcast episode of someone starting a business, taking it to thousands of dollars of monthly profit, and ultimately selling it for what some would describe as a dream amount.
I’ve asked Spencer to start us in this series of “How to build a profitable website” because, in my opinion, he is the “niche selection guy”. Spencer went so far as to create a tool called Long Tail Pro to help him find the keywords in the niches he wants to fill. These keywords have low competition and are easier to rank for, bringing you much needed first visitors.
If you liked the interview, please don’t forget to share and comment.
Goran: Spencer, thank you so much for doing this, let’s kick things off from the start – niche selection. Without a shadow of a doubt, I believe that niche selection is the single most important thing when starting a project. I am sure that readers have different thoughts on how to go about this, but perhaps you can shed some light on the subject. In my opinion, it is at the intersection of “supply and demand”, meaning how big of a demand there is currently online, and how good I am at meeting that demand. Do you have some strategies, tactics, and tools that can help with that?
Spencer Haws: I agree that niche selection is very important. The ideal niche can be found is at the intersection of these 3 things: low competition keywords, money in the niche, and your interests.
If you can find something that meets all 3 of those, that’s ideal.The ideal niche can be found is at the intersection of these 3 things: low competition keywords, money in the niche, and your interests.Click To Tweet
Goran: I suppose that Long Tail Pro and SEMrush can mostly assist with finding low competition keywords and competition in general. Do these tools also help with finding out how much money is in a particular niche? How do we know which 1000 searches are worth more?
Spencer Haws: The tools can help you find out if there is money in the niche, but you also need to use your intuition. First, Long Tail Pro has a column for how much “advertiser competition” there is. If there are lots of advertisers, you can be sure that there is plenty of “money in the niche”.
Another way is to use your intuition. Is the keyword product focused? Are there products or services being sold on Amazon or other places where you can be an affiliate? For example, “how to tie a tie” might get lots of searches, but there’s not real money to be made there…since my intuition tells me that the searcher just wants to learn how to tie a tie, not buy a tie.
Goran: Moving from there, I think that psychology plays a huge part. Let’s say you picked a niche you are passionate about with a ton of demand, and competition is not so cutthroat, but after 3,6 or 12 months (depending on the individual) of abysmal results you are thinking about throwing in the towel. How do you turn things around? Do you improve your “niche seeking skills” or do we focus on learning where we missed the point or something else?
Spencer Haws: I think it’s important to remember that if you are trying to rank in Google, it can take almost 6 months before a new site will gain any real traction. So, if someone is throwing in the towel before that amount of time, they are potentially wasting all the time and effort they’ve already put in.
I would focus on how you can fix what you already have and see if you’ve missed something. Perhaps you need to see what your competitors are doing. Is your content longer and better than theirs? Do you need to focus on acquiring a few more links? Do you need to consider alternate traffic sources such as Pinterest or other social media?
Goran: In one of your podcast episodes you share how you bought a website that was getting traffic mostly from Pinterest. What are your thoughts on diversifying your traffic from Google to various social media, your email list, paid traffic? Should we improve our skills in one area until we reach superiority and grow from there? In line with that, do you believe that some people are more “social” and get better results on Instagram, while some B2B companies are better tailored for search traffic?
Spencer Haws: I think you should only take on tasks that you are able to complete. It’s possible for someone to get overwhelmed and perhaps not get very good at anything if they attempt all strategies: ranking in Google, link building, Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, paid ads, etc.
So, I would only attempt what you are able to feasibly accomplish or can afford to outsource to others.
For many people just producing great content for SEO and a little bit of link building is all they can handle. For others, they might be able to add Pinterest or other social strategies. I think so much depends on the individual and the time and money that they have.
Goran: What advice would you give to someone who is passionate about a niche that’s really competitive with not so many long tail keywords with a low KC score? Find the best ones (although hard) and keep punching above your weight until you get somewhere, or picking a different niche, a different spin or go for something completely different?
Spencer Haws: I would personally go with a different niche, but that’s just me and my personality. Some people are able to stick it out for a couple years before seeing many results in a competitive niche, but I’m not sure I could do that.
If I don’t see many keywords that are low competition in the niche, I would strongly consider moving on.If I don’t see many keywords that are low competition in the niche, I would strongly consider moving on.Click To Tweet
Goran: Do you think there are some personality types that do better than others? Or that there are some personality types that just can’t live this lifestyle and have to have a boss in order to function?
Spencer Haws: Sure, I don’t think everyone can be an entrepreneur. It takes someone that does well directing their own activities. If you are not self-motivated, you likely won’t see much success in this business.
Goran: What lead you to the idea of ranking for the low hanging fruit when you were starting out, the long tail keywords that weren’t getting many searches? And how has that changed your perception of creating niche websites?
Spencer Haws: I had created a couple of sites where I didn’t really understand how Google worked and I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t getting much traffic. This led me down the rabbit hole of reading lots of blogs and other forums.
Somewhere along the line, I decided to just try super low search volume and of course low competition type keywords to see what would happen. To my surprise, I started ranking quickly for keywords and getting much more traffic than I expected.
This revelation was really what led me to create “niche sites” in the first place, and I still follow this strategy, now many years later.I decided to just try super low search volume and of course low competition type keywords to see what would happen. To my surprise, I started ranking quickly for keywords and getting much more traffic than I expected.Click To Tweet
Goran: Being so long in the lifestyle of creating, buying and managing niche websites, and seeing the changes that come and go (PBN, the importance of authority, the rise of the mobile-social-local) where do you see this going, and how do we stay ahead of the curve?
Spencer Haws: Google is clearly moving towards higher quality and more search query intent results. So, I do think it’s important to focus on quality content and really doing a great job of answering the searcher’s questions.
I think that some searches will get more and more difficult for the average person to rank for (like Medical questions for example). However, the comparison, reviews, and other typical affiliate type queries will continue to be filled by affiliate type content in my opinion.
While I don’t know how long Google will exist in its current form, I do think it will be a while. At the same time, the smart entrepreneur would also be building up their own audience via an email list and other methods to ensure that if Google ever changes how much traffic your site is getting, you still have an audience.
Today I have a real treat for you! I am thrilled to introduce you to a guy who has been at the forefront of the SEO world as long as I can remember. Glen Allsopp is one of those guys you read about years ago in places like The Guardian telling a story of a prodigy who is somehow being able to make money in the weirdest places, like the Internet simultaneously traveling. Crazy, I know. However, take into consideration this was almost a decade ago.
I’ve first heard about Glen through one of his websites, viperchill.com something like a decade ago. I remember like it was yesterday, a friend came along running and raving about this SEO wizard spraying SEO tips on his website like they were dime a dozen. Today, he is literally making Google take action after he publishes the research on one of its loopholes. This happened twice.
As you will see from the interview, Glen will share with you which tools help him with SEO most, and how to deal with hate comments and negative SEO. To warm you up, with start with some motivation and reasons why you should build your own website portfolio, and what to do when it’s search traffic is in jeopardy after a Google update. If you liked the interview, please don’t forget to share and comment.
Goran: Glen, before we dive into some of the strategies and tactics on creating a successful website, or should I say online presence that’s making money, let’s start off with a psychological question. Why build one in the first place? What was your force behind building your online empire? Did you want to be your own boss, travel, become a millionaire, what was it?
Glen: I’ll be honest, making money was definitely part of the equation.
When I first started out I used to read the income reports of Shoemoney and John Chow and saw how much money they were generating. I never thought I could get similar numbers but thought that even if I earned a small % of what they did it would have been a dream come true.
Honestly, my biggest motivation was not having to go into an office or any other workplace every day. When I started learning SEO I was working at a clothes store in England, spending my weekends scanning tags on items to see if their price should be reduced.
I just didn’t want to have a boss telling me what to do each day.
Freedom was (and is) far more important to me than any monetary amounts.When I started learning SEO I was working at a clothes store in England, spending my weekends scanning tags on items to see if their price should be reduced.Click To Tweet
Goran: When you start a project, how do you decide which traffic source you are going after? Do you always focus just on SEO, or do you work on projects where sales come from Social Media, email marketing, and other traffic sources, or should I say platforms?
Glen: I’m primarily always thinking about SEO because if you can figure that out you can always have a stream of visitors landing on your websites.
Even if your primary focus isn’t SEO, I think it’s important to keep in mind as it often determines site structure, pages to create, headlines and more. Or at least it probably should.
With my SEO clients, many of them actually primarily rely on PPC (Adwords) or social media advertising (mostly Facebook). Search is not a big percentage of their traffic at all when they contact me.
It’s often an afterthought, but once they have a converting funnel in place, then they want to look at getting free traffic from search.
If you can become profitable through paid ads, any traffic you can get from a search is really huge, “free” (besides paying your SEO / content team) source of visitors.
Goran: What are your 3 favorite SEO tools, and why? How do these help you get to #1 position, and why do you think that tactic is important.
Glen: ScreamingFrog’s SEO Spider is easily my favorite SEO tool.
It has helped me uncover issues with websites I just don’t believe I could find any other way. Fixing on-site issues is often the quickest and easiest way to improve rankings so anything that helps with that is a bonus.
It’s very reasonably priced as well at just $191 for the year.
My second favorite SEO tool is Ahrefs. I should add full disclosure here that I worked with them on a consulting / strategy basis once-off this year (and hope to again).
That said, I have been using and recommending their tools for years before ever working with them. They have the best interface, the freshest data and are constantly adding new features before other competitors.
They cover everything from link research, keyword research, content inspiration that could pick up links and shares and so much more. I’m still finding new things it can do every time I use it.
Three is hard to pick because I really spend 90% of my time doing things manually. I am a huge believer in knowing exactly how tools work so you don’t have to rely on them. When I do use any tools it’s usually always ScreamingFrog or Ahrefs.
If I was pushed to recommend another service it would be Spyfu. I love their ranking history data which gives you insights into why some websites have increased in rankings and why those have dropped.
That’s always useful if you’re trying to figure out the same for your own websites or clients websites.
Goran: What advice do you have for someone who is relying on traffic from Google, and the traffic drops 50% due to a Google update. There was again a big one at the beginning of August 2018, targeting mostly health niche. What do you do in those situations?
Glen: I think for the August update specifically it’s hard to say.
I think the first thing you have to do in any update is refuse to make any sudden changes. It can be very tempting to try and fix and work on every little problem on your site and take action straight away, but it is possible that changes can ‘roll back’ not long after an update so stay patient.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt to start looking at things you can improve. Do you have a lot of thin pages? Are you really the best result for a user? Does your website load slowly? Did you actually use the thing you’re reviewing? If you run a health site, did you consult with doctors or professionals before giving advice?
When you have obvious things you can improve and few quality links (at least compared to the competition), that’s actually a much nice position to be in when it comes to ranking drops.
If your on-site SEO is completely on-point, you have fantastic links and so on, then it’s much more confusing and frustrating to see rankings drop.
From there, find the winners and losers in your space and see if you can reverse-engineer anything they’re doing (the winners specifically) that you aren’t.
Finally, it doesn’t hurt to look into other sources of traffic if you’re highly reliant on SEO. I dabble quite a bit with Facebook ads for my own businesses and it’s something I’m always learning about.
Goran: Do you think it is possible to stay ahead of the curve with Google and anticipate their moves. If so, how do we do that? For example, we know that mobile, privacy and security are more important, and Google is rewarding HTTPS, mobile websites, etc. How do we stay at the top of our game?
Glen: Yes and no. You can follow their guidelines to the letter and still struggle to rank.
The best strategy is to think of things logically. Google needs people to use their search engine – and be happy with the results – for them to make money.
If the results showed nothing but spammy websites full of ads and pop-ups they would, in time, start to lose some of their massive market share.
It makes logical sense that they would want to present fast, ‘clean’, informative and authoritative websites in their results.
Anything you can do to fit the logical impression of what makes a great search result can only be a good thing.It makes logical sense that they would want to present fast, ‘clean’, informative and authoritative websites in their results.Click To Tweet
Goran: In a world where we are looking to get as much coverage and backlinks as possible, how do you fight your critics, bad press and negative SEO? Criminals go so far as let you know over email they “sent you 20 bad backlinks, and asking for a payment in a well-known cryptocurrency”? How do you protect yourself from that?
Glen: When I started gaining more popularity through my writing at ViperChill, it was actually quite crazy to watch my own emotions and see how I would react to negative comments.
I’ve had blog posts where I get 300+ comments of total praise, and then one or two which are just…harsh.
Of course, being the slightly flawed humans that we are, it tends to be that those 300 positive comments quickly go out of the window and it must be the two negative ones which we believe to be true.
I see this happen on a lot of blogs. Authors ignore a lot of the praise but always rush in to defend themselves against the critics.
One thing that helped me a lot with this was when I was researching one of my favorite authors, who I became pretty obsessed with at one point in my life, and reading all of their one-star reviews on Amazon. I just couldn’t believe they had any at all.
I like to think negative SEO attacks, in terms of “I’m going to fire 100,000 links at your site if you don’t do X” isn’t really that huge of a problem. I am not Google’s biggest fan, but they do a great job of protecting people from this for the most part.
(Of course, with billions of websites out there, there will be some exceptions).
Reputation management is definitely a big sector in SEO a number of companies focus on, just because of how much money CEOs and similar will pay to hide negativity, but sometimes it’s better to just focus on doing good and getting good results, rather than stressing about the hate.
Goran: Can you tell us a little bit about your current affairs? Where are you at the moment (which town) and what project are you currently working on, which one is making the most revenue for your business?
Glen: I’m always on the move to be honest with you, besides the last few months where I managed to break my ankle – ha!
Usually, I can be found somewhere in Asia such as Hong Kong or Singapore. I’m from England originally but moved to South Africa when I was 17/18 so it has been kind of normal for me to travel a lot.
Right now my primary focus is working with clients for my agency at Detailed.com. I’m focused on finding and sharing the type of SEO advice you won’t find elsewhere and like to think I’m delivering on that pretty well at the moment.
I also write about online business ideas over at Gaps.com. Because I spend my days reverse-engineering websites and their traffic sources, I also come across a lot of business opportunities, so Gaps is where I write them out and stop myself from being distracted.
I have a few other agency sites that target specific businesses where I look to help them grow their search engine traffic in specific markets.
I also have a few sites of my own – though many are mostly used for SEO testing – that I work on in my (very) spare time.
Thanks for your time, Goran!