Backlinko http://backlinko.com Wed, 17 Sep 2014 13:07:08 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0 Viral Marketing Case Study: How a Brand New Blog Generated 17,584 Visitors In One Day http://backlinko.com/viral-marketing http://backlinko.com/viral-marketing#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 17:03:52 +0000 http://backlinko.com/?p=4222 viral marketing case study image

Today I’m going to show you how one entrepreneur used The Skyscraper Technique to generate 17,584 unique visitors to a brand new blog.

In one day.

Oh, and he accomplished this despite having:

Zero connections.

Zero Twitter followers.

Zero marketing budget.

In this case study I’ll walk you through the EXACT step-by-step process that he used.

How The Skyscraper Technique Generates Links, Traffic and Social Shares

Let me break this down for you:

The Skyscraper Technique is about publishing content based on a PROVEN framework.

In other words:

Find old content that did well…and crush it with something even better.

If you want the full story of how I generated traffic with The Skyscraper Technique, check out my post,”Link Building Case Study: How I Increased My Search Traffic by 110% in 14 Days“.

skyscraper technique post

As a quick recap, here’s the 3-step Skyscraper Technique process:

1. Find content that’s performed well in your industry

2. Identify gaps in that content…and make something that fills in those gaps (today’s post has INSANE detail on how to do this)

3. Promote your content like a madman

The best part?

This strategy works even if you’re in a super-competitive industry.

Just ask Chris Gimmer…

How Chris Gimmer Used The Skyscraper Technique to Get 17,584 Visitors (In One Day)

Chris Gimmer is the founder of BootstrapBay, a new marketplace for themes built using the popular web development framework called Bootstrap.

bootstrap bay homepage

Make no mistake:

The Bootstrap theme niche is REALLY competitive with dozens of entrenched competitors.

We’re talking keywords with search volumes like this:

keyword search volume

And this:

keyword search volume 2

It gets worse:

Chris wasn’t some hotshot startup founder with years of experience under his belt.

In fact, Chris recently left his 9-5 gig in the finance world to start BootstrapBay.

But he did have one thing going for him:

Chris realized that his competitors were sleeping on content marketing and SEO.

In Chris’s words:

Even though our competitors had huge user-bases, they weren’t actively marketing their sites with SEO or content. I saw this as a golden opportunity for BootstrapBay to quickly grab some market share.

Chris Gimmer

That’s when he decided to try The Skyscraper Technique

Here’s what happened…

Now, Let’s See The Results…

Before I reveal the step-by-step process Chris used, I want to show you his results.

To date, Chris’s piece of piece of Skyscraper Content has been shared over 240,000 times on social media:

social share count

That content also brought in 17,584 visitors in one day (more on that later):

traffic spike

Chris’s Skyscraper content has generated over 204,000 total visitors over the last 4-months.

total traffic to a landing page

Here’s what’s interesting:

That huge traffic spike never fully died down.

Before the massive traffic surge, BootstrapBay was averaging around 150 visitors per day.

Now they average over 2000 visits per day.

Here are the traffic numbers from last month:

monthly traffic stats

Bottom line: One piece of viral content can make a huge long-term difference in your site’s traffic.

IF you have a system in place to turn that traffic spike into evergreen traffic.

It can even turn a past spike (something went viral months ago) into more traffic today and the future.

You’re probably wondering:

“OK, so how do I do that?”

It’s a little thing called SEO…

It Gets Better…Here’s How SEO Kept the Party Going

Because Chris got so many eyeballs on his content, he inevitability generated backlinks to it.

Here’s a graph of the links pointing to Chris’s Skyscraper Content:

backlink graph

As you can probably guess, these were grade-A contextual backlinks, like this:

image of a backlink

And this:

contextual backlink screenshot

These contextual links bumped up BootstrapBay’s domain authority….

…which boosted the rankings for every page on Chris’s site.

Here’s what I mean:

Not only does the Skyscraper content rank #7 for the keyword, “free stock images” (18,000 monthly searches)…

google search results 2

Thanks to its ramped up domain authority, the BootstrapBay homepage is ranking #9 for “bootstrap themes” (12,100 monthly searches)

google search results

(The site also ranks for dozens of long tail keywords, like “best stock photo sites”)

All of these first page rankings led to a 457% organic traffic increase in only 30-days:

organic traffic increase

Now that you’ve seen Chris’s amazing results first-hand, it’s time to walk you through the 3-step process that he used to dropkick his competition.

Step#1: Find Content With a Proven Track Record of Success

The secret to publishing content that people want to share is this:

Base your content on something that’s already proven to work.

That may sound intuitive. But I see lots of people publish content that they THINK will do well.

Sometimes it does…

…but more often than not, content that’s not based on a framework proven falls flat.

Fortunately, Chris had already read about the Skyscraper Technique before starting BootstrapBay.

And when he stumbled upon a post on Medium.com called, “Stock photos that don’t suck…

medium dot com post

…he knew he just struck gold.

Despite being a bland list of links to stock photo sites, that Medium.com post racked up an impressive number of social shares.

social shares

It also received more than 290 upvotes on Reddit (r/graphic_design):

reddit thread

Chris knew that his target audience of graphic designers, web designers and bloggers hang out on that subreddit.

And they were freaking out about the Medium.com post:

reddit comments

After reading that Medium.com post, Chris thought to himself:

“If that list of links got people that excited, what if I made something way better?”

And that’s exactly what he did…

My 3-Step Workflow for Finding Proven Content Ideas Every Time

You may be thinking: “How can I find content that’s already done well in my niche?”

Here’s the exact 3-step workflow that I use. And it works like a charm.

1. First, I head to BuzzSumo and enter a VERY broad keyword.

Let’s say you had a fitness blog. You’d want to use a general keyword like “weight loss”, “burn fat” or “dieting”.

buzzsumo search

Then I look for content that’s racked up a lot of social shares.

social shares in buzzsumo

I add those to my list.

2. Next, I find the words and phrases in the results that people might use in a Google search.

For example, here are some potential keywords in the BuzzSumo list:

keyword list

Then I mash those words up into Google searches.

google research

I add any promising results from Google onto my list.

3. Finally, I enter a few of my competitor’s homepage URLs into OpenSiteExplorer.

Open Site Explorer

And click on the “top pages” tab (this shows you their most linked-to content):
top pages

And I throw those pages onto my list.

Now you have a long list of proven content ideas.

Nice! Give yourself a high-five (and move onto step #2).

Step 2: Improve On The Content That You Find

This is important:

The idea behind the Skyscraper Technique is to make strategic improvements to the content you found in Step #1.

It’s the same approach that pioneers like Steve Jobs, Ray Kroc and Henry Ford used to build their empires:

Take something good…and make it great.

But the question is:

HOW do you make good content great?

Here are the 6 techniques Chris used to dramatically improve the base content he found:

1. He turned the content into a full blog post with an introduction, body and conclusion

The Medium.com article lacked the meat that makes a blog post great.

In fact, it was really just a list of links:

Medium Blog Post

Chris rounded out his content with a strong intro and conclusion that made his blog post feel more like, well, a blog post.

Blog Post Intro

Here’s what he did next:

2. He outlined the different types of licenses (in plain English)

Because Chris works with a lot of graphic designers, he knew that the same question about free images popped up over and over again:

“What do all the different licenses — like creative commons and copyright restriction — actually mean?”

This isn’t trivial stuff. If you’re going to use a free image on your site you’ll want to know what license it falls under.

That’s why Chris added a section that outlined the different licenses in words anyone could understand.

Blog Post Section

3. He indicated which license each website used

I’m going to tell you a little secret about link building:

Forget link bait.

The fact is, people love to link out to insanely useful stuff.

Believe it or not, but creating something super-useful isn’t that hard.

You just need to give your content that extra umph that most people are too lazy to add.

Case in point: Chris’s post.

Chris told people the exact license each free stock photo site had:

liscence info

That way you don’t have to hunt around to find that info.

It only took Chris an hour to figure out which license each site used. And it made his content 10x more useful.

4. He wrote a brief description of each free photo site

Chris added a brief description of each stock photo site, like this:

Blog Post Descriptions

Obviously, all this meaty content helps with on-page SEO.

But it also saves people precious time.

Chris’s to-the-point descriptions tell you whether or not a stock photo site is right for you QUICKLY.

Don’t want nature photos? Then you should skip SuperfamousStudios.com.

On the hunt for vintage pictures of people doing old-timey things? NewOldStock.com is right up your alley.

This is a super-helpful feature that the Medium.com post didn’t have.

5. He added sample pictures from each resource

A text description is nice and all, but nothing beats seeing the images in action.

That’s why Chris included a sample image from each stock photo site.

Sample Image

Adding images seems like a no-brainer. But a fair share of “here’s a list of free stock photo sites” articles don’t feature images (including the Medium.com post).

6. He curated a better list of resources

Chris realized that bells and whistles — like descriptions and images — weren’t going to put him over the top.

So what did he do?

He put the stock photo sites listed in the Medium.com post to the test.

Then he weeded out any that weren’t up to par.

He also added a bunch that weren’t on the original list…including a few left by people that commented on the post:

Blog Comments

The result? 12 Amazing Sites With Breathtaking Free Stock Photos.

post screenshot

At this point, you’re probably wondering:

How long did all these improvements take?

Chris must have handcuffed himself to his laptop and worked non-stop for 87 days.

Actually…it took Chris a grand total of 6-hours to create his epic resource.

Here’s the breakdown of those 6-hours:

  • 1.5 hours to search the web for additional resources
  • 1 hour to determine which license each site falls under
  • 1.5 hour to gather all the pictures
  • 2 hours to write the post and put it all together

So at this point Chris had an epic piece of content live on his site.

But with no following and no connections, how could he get the word out?

Keep reading…

Step #3: Promote That Content

I’ve written about this before:

If you want your content to get results, you can’t rely on the ol’ “Publish and Pray” approach.

The fact is: there are 2 million blogs posts published everyday.

And NO ONE will see your content unless you get off your butt and promote it.

So…

How did Chris promote his Skyscraper Content?

I’m glad you asked…

First, Chris submitted his post to a place that his target audience hangs out

Web designers make up a huge chunk of Chris’s target audience.

And where do they hang out?

The web design sub-reddit on Reddit. So he decided to share his content there.

As you can see, his Reddit thread quickly racked up 180 upvotes:

subreddit screenshot

Upvotes are great and all…but what about TRAFFIC?

That single Reddit thread drove 2,168 visitors to Chris’s content overnight:

reddit traffic

It also generated some early buzz and traffic from social media:

Social Media Traffic

Next, Chris shared a link to his post on StumbleUpon.

This is where things REALLY took off.

The StumbleUpon community went absolutely nuts over Chris’s post.

To date his StumbleUpon post has over 242,000 views and 16,000 likes:

stumbleupon screenshot

StumbleUpon is largely responsible for the 17k traffic spike I talked about earlier.

And get this:

Even though that spike was over 3-months ago, StumbleUpon STILL sends over 22,000 monthly visitors to BootstrapBay:

stumbleupon referral traffic

I should point out that StumbleUpon traffic isn’t super duper high-quality traffic.

For example, Chris’s StumbleUpon traffic has a bounce rate of 95.61%.

And time on site is what you’d expect from a bowl of goldfish:

Average Session Duration

So…

What’s the point of all this traffic if no ones buys anything…or even reads the article?

Because a good chunk of those people will share your content on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

(And if they write for a blog, they’ll link to it too)

Chris’s StumbleUpon traffic started a wave of social shares and links from platforms that DO convert, like Twitter.

Including two tweets from people with over 100k followers…each.

Twitter tweet

Twitter tweet 2

Finally, Chris submitted his content to a bunch of web designer communities

Chris realized that the web design subreddit was just one of MANY places that his target audience hung out.

So he submitted his content to web design communities, like LayerVault.com (basically GrowthHackers.com for web designers):

LayerVault Screenshot

That single LayerVault submission has brought in 1,915 visitors:

sessions in google analytics

Not bad for a 11-second submission to one community.

Your Content Can Go Viral Too…

…but you need to take action on what you’ve just read.

Fortunately, I’ve got just the thing for you.

A Skyscraper Technique bonus area.

In this bonus area you’ll get instant access to 3 awesome resources:

1. 9 “plug and play” strategies that make your content stand out from the competition.

2. A comprehensive checklist that walks you through the critical points from this post.

3. The exact email outreach template I use to promote my Skyscraper content (and get links).

Click the link below and enter your email for instant access:

skyscraper bonus area

Now I want to hear what you have to say:

What’s the #1 takeaway point you got from today’s post?

Leave a comment below right now.

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How To Boost Conversions by 529% in 45-Minutes (Two Step-By-Step Case Studies) http://backlinko.com/conversion-optimization http://backlinko.com/conversion-optimization#comments Wed, 27 Aug 2014 16:19:16 +0000 http://backlinko.com/?p=4319 content_upgrade_case_studies

conversion optimization blog post imageThere’s a ridiculously simple way to increase your blog’s conversion rate by 529%.

And once you know what it is, and how it works, you’ll want to kick yourself for not trying it sooner.

In fact, this technique (The Content Upgrade) has flooded my business with thousands of new subscribers every month.

And today I’m going to show you how two Backlinko readers  — a pro golfer and a life insurance agent — used this strategy to boost their blogs’ conversion rate by an average of 529%.

I’ll also reveal the two bizarre twists they added to The Content Upgrade that made this strategy (somehow) even more powerful.

But First, a Quick Backstory…

A few weeks ago I cleared my calender so I could focus on ONE thing:

Implementing The Content Upgrade on every post at Backlinko.

The result?

I added Content Upgrades to 15 blog posts.

And — BAM! — my site-wide conversion rate increased by 185%.

(From 1.19% to 3.34%)

Conversion rate in GA

And when you look at the conversion rate of some of the blog posts that I added Content Upgrades to, we’re talking even crazier numbers.

Like this:

Google Analytics Conversion Rate Screenshot

And this:

Google Analytics Conversion Rate Screenshot

Here’s the 3-step process I used for every post…

Step #1: I Used Google Analytics to Identify Blog Posts that Brought In the Most Traffic

To do this yourself, just go to Behavior–Site Content–Landing Pages in the Google Analytics sidebar:

Google Analytics Landing Pages

Your pages will automatically be sorted by sessions (also known as unique visitors)

Top Landing Pages

I recommend starting at the top and working your way down the list.

Step #2: I Created a Resource that Would Make Each Blog Post Even Better

My go-to Content Upgrade resource is the trusty checklist.

Simple.

Easy to make.

High perceived value.

For example, you may have seen my post from last year, YouTube SEO: The Ultimate Guide.

YouTube SEO Post Screenshot

Like most of my guides, this one has A LOT of information. I cover keyword research, video development, video SEO and more.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed.

That’s where my checklist comes into play.

The checklist cuts out the detailed descriptions and gives you ONLY the critical action steps.

Here’s what the checklist looks like:

YouTube SEO Checklist

Looks pretty nice, right?

To sweeten the deal, I included two bonus YouTube marketing strategies at the end of the checklist.

checklist bonus materialSo you have a Content Upgrade ready to rock.

Nice work. Give yourself a high five.

Now it’s time for THE most important step in the process:

Turning your Content Upgrade resource into more subscribers.

Here’s exactly how to do it:

Step#3: I Offered the Checklist In the Post

This one-two punch converts beautifully:

First, I added a yellow box after the post’s introduction that pitches the checklist.

Blog Post Box

(As you can see, I mention the two bonus strategies in the yellow box. More on that later.)

Then I turn my blog post conclusion into a description of the checklist.

Blog Post Graphic

If you click on the link in the yellow box or the big cloud download image, a LeadPages box appears.

leadpages in action

With an insanely-targeted offer like a YouTube SEO checklist, it’s no wonder that my post converts 3.3% of it’s visitors into subscribers.

Fun fact: That’s 3x higher than before I implemented The Content Upgrade.

At this point you may be wondering:

“Sure, Brian, The Content Upgrade works for you. But will it work for me?”.

Well you’re in for a real treat.

Because today I have not one — but TWO — step-by-step case studies for you.

Both case studies will show you how Backlinko readers used the Content Upgrade to dramatically improve their site’s opt-ins.

Let’s jump right in.

Case Study #1: How Josh Used The Content Upgrade to Boost Conversions of MyGolfTutor.com by 459%

Josh Thompson is a former pro golfer with several tournament wins and course records under his belt.

Josh Playing Golf

He’s also the co-founder the golf blog, MyGolfTutor.com.

My Golf Tutor

Josh’s traffic was growing steadily.

But he was having a REALLY tough time turning that traffic into email subscribers.

Or as Josh put it:

Even though MyGolfTutor.com’s traffic was growing fast, we struggled getting that traffic to convert. We tried popups, popins, sidebar forms, featureboxes. You name it, we tried it. But nothing worked as well as we had hoped.

Josh Thompson

Keep in mind that Josh was throwing the kitchen sink at his conversion problem.

He had a very nice FeatureBox on every post:

website featurebox

An opt-in form in his blog’s sidebar:

Sidebar Optin

And an attractive squeeze page:

Squeeze Page Example

He also used the excellent Sumome popup:

golfpopup

Despite all that effort, his average blog post conversion rate was stuck at .59%.

Blog Post Conversion Rate

That’s when Josh decided to give the Content Upgrade a shot.

How did it go?

His most popular post’s conversion rate went from 0.64%…

Conversion Rate in Google Analytics

to 2.94%.

after conversion rate

For those of you keeping score at home, that’s a 459% lift.

After about an hour.

(Yes, you read that right)

Here’s exactly how Josh did it:

First, Josh used Google Analytics to find the post on his blog that brought in the most traffic

That post happened to be “How to Hit a Draw in 3 Simple Steps”.

Golf Blog Post Screenshot

For those of you that know nothing about golf (like me), a draw is a type of shot. Who knew? :-)

Anyway, once Josh identified his top post, Step #1 was officially in the books.

Next, Josh created a valuable Content Upgrade resource specific to that post

I can’t emphasize this enough:

The Content Upgrade works well for one simple reason: It offers your readers something intimately related to what they’re reading.

Josh could have offered a generic free report, like “10 tips to lowering your handicap”.

And that probably would have helped…a little.

But Josh realized something important:

Someone that reads a post about hitting a draw wants more information on (wait for it) hitting a draw.

So he fired up Google Docs and created this simple, yet high-value checklist:

Golf Checklist

The checklist gives golfers the core info they need to remember when practicing their draw. Nothing more, nothing less.

Finally, Josh offered the checklist to readers of that post.

He followed the same 1-2 punch that I outlined earlier.

A yellow box at the top of his post…

Yellow Box

…And a download image at the very end.

End of post pitch

As soon as the yellow box and cloud image were live, conversions increased by 459%.

How long did that entire process take Josh?

  • Creating the Checklist: 30-minutes
  • Uploading checklist to Leadpages: 5-minutes
  • Creating the Leadbox and Implement on Blog: 10-minutes

Grand total: 45-minutes.

Stop and think about that for a second:

Josh was able to increase his conversion rate by 450+%…from 45-minutes of work.

That’s how insanely effective The Content Upgrade is.

Pro Tip: Create a Mental Movie of Your Content Upgrade Resource in Action.

For example, you may have noticed that I say “Easily save as a PDF or print for daily use” in all of my LeadBoxes.

leadbox screenshot

I do that so potential subscribers picture themselves printing out the checklist and using it as a reference.

(Shout out to Noah Kagan for that specific wording)

Josh brilliantly uses the same technique in his Content Upgrade pitch.

Note how he says: “This is great to take to the driving range and practice”.

top of blog post pitch

When you read that sentence, a little mental movie plays in your head.

You can actually picture yourself taking the checklist out of your pocket before your next shot.

It’s a powerful mental image that makes the checklist seem more real.

Trust me, this little trick increases conversions A LOT.

Since the massive success of The Content Upgrade on his “hit a draw” post, Josh has added The Content Upgrades to several other posts.

And the boost in conversions have been just as substantial.

So that’s Josh. A relatively green internet marketer who tripled his conversions in 45-minutes.

Not too shabby if you ask me.

Next up we have Christopher Huntley, a life insurance agent based in San Diego.

I’m going to show you the creative approach Christopher took to The Content Upgrade…

…an approach that turns over 6% of his blog post readers into loyal subscribers.

Case Study #2: The Step-By-Step Process Christopher Used to Turn His Blog Post Into a Lead Generation Machine

Christopher isn’t your average life insurance agent.

Sure, he can give you a quote on a policy just like any other agent. But what sets Chris apart is the fact that he’s a razor-sharp internet marketer.

In fact, his site eLifeTools.com teaches life insurance agents how to get more business from the web.

ElifeTools Homepage

As you can see in the screenshot above, Christopher’s homepage was optimized REALLY well for conversions.

He had a strong offer, with his “New Agent Guide”. He also threw in a nice testimonial from the founder of EQUOTE.com.

So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that his homepage converted at a hefty 5.5%.

There was only one problem:

What about visitors that didn’t land on his homepage?

In other words, traffic that came from Google, social media and email newsletters and landed on one of his blog posts.

In Christopher’s words:

My homepage was already converting really well. But I wasn’t having much luck with my blog posts. It seemed that
most people would read the content and then click away.

Christopher Huntley

When Christopher says he wasn’t having much luck with his blog post conversion rate, he wasn’t kidding.

His average blog post conversion rate was around 1%.

Christopher isn’t alone here. As you’ve probably seen firsthand, most of your visitors probably land on one of your blog posts.

And VERY few of those blog post readers ever go to a high-converting homepage or squeeze page.

Bottom line: Squeezing more conversions from within your blog posts should be a top list building priority.

Fortunately for Christopher, he realized the same thing. And it made a big difference in his conversions.

Here’s what he did:

Step #1: Christopher Found His Highest-Trafficked Blog Post

Like Josh, Christopher had a post on his blog that brought in the lion’s share of his traffic.

That post was: “How My Sites Generate 700 Leads Per Month Using Compulife’s Quote Form”.

elife tools blog post

This post reviews a piece of life insurance quote software called Compulife, which insurance agents use to generate leads from their site.

Christopher’s post provided a ton of value for agents that were on the fence about buying Compulife.

But his post was lacking something BIG.

Something that people were desperate to know more about.

What was it?

Keep reading.

Step #2: Christopher Created a Killer Content Upgrade Resource

Christopher’s post talks about why insurance agents might want to use Compulife on their site.

But Christopher realized that his post didn’t outline the very important next step…

…a step that a most readers would want to know:

How to actually USE the software.

So Chris created a killer, 7-page PDF tutorial that teaches people how to set it up.

compulife checklist

This is the type of high-value Content Upgrade that put a huge grin on my face.

Why?

Because it makes subscribers absolutely LOVE you.

Sadly, most marketers treat their email lists like a piggy bank. They hit them up with offer after offer.

But when you send people something outstanding like Christopher’s checklist, you’ll turn skeptical subscribers into raving fans.

Pro Tip: Give People 100% Exclusive Content in Your Content Upgrade Resource.

A checklist or a PDF of your post is nice and all…

But it’s NOTHING compared to exclusive content that readers can only get from your Content Upgrade.

For example, you may remember that I include two bonus YouTube marketing strategies in my YouTube SEO checklist.

Well it turns out that those two exclusive strategies make a MASSIVE difference in conversions.

According to LeadPages, my YouTube SEO Content Upgrade is the #1 best-converting on my entire site.

In fact, 76% of the people that click on my Leadpages link end up signing up:

Leadbox Conversions

Now compare that to my Social Squeeze Page Content Upgrade resource.
Content upgrade checklistIt’s a really nice checklist…
ssp checklist…but it doesn’t give you any brand new information.

That’s probably why only 52% of the people who see that Leadbox pull the trigger and sign up.
Leadbox ConversionsBottom line: Offer something exclusive — like a some bonus tips, a tutorial video or a template — that people can’t get from the post itself. More exclusive content=more conversions.

Step #3: Offer The Checklist

Like I recommend to everyone, Christopher leveraged the standard yellow box/download image formula in his post.

But he also tried something really creative that bumped up his conversions even more…

What was it?

Christopher mentioned his PDF tutorial inside of the post itself.

Here’s an example:

in post pitch

When you click on that link, you’re taken to the bottom of the post.

That’s where he has more information about his bonus resource (and a download link).

Cloud Download Image

That clever tactic is one of the reasons that this post converts at an incredible 5.9%…

google anaytlics blog post conversion rate

a 600% improvement than before The Content Upgrade.

In fact, Christopher’s post now converts better than his homepage.

Ready To Rock? This Will Help:

I probably don’t need to say this, but I will anyway:

If you’re serious about building your email list you NEED to try The Content Upgrade.

To make the process super-simple for you, I’ve created a special bonus area just for this post.

The free bonus area includes:

1. A step-by-step PDF checklist that shows you EXACTLY how to implement The Content Upgrade.

2. 17 “plug and play” Content Upgrade resource ideas that you can give away on your site.

3. 5 more real world examples of The Content Upgrade in action.

Click below to access the special bonus area:
List Building bonus

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17 Insanely Actionable List Building Strategies That Will Generate More Subscribers Today http://backlinko.com/list-building http://backlinko.com/list-building#comments Thu, 17 Jul 2014 17:46:26 +0000 http://backlinko.com/?p=3732 list building imageImagine if you could make one simple tweak to your website, and see an instant boost in email subscribers.

Or even better:

What if there were 17 of these tweaks…

…and each of them could generate more leads for your business?

You’d probably be pumped to read about them.

Lucky for you, that’s exactly what I’m going to share with you in this post:

17 insanely practical list building strategies that you can use to build your email list TODAY.

1. Use Content Upgrade Popups

Look:

Love ‘em or hate ‘em, popups work.

For example, a few months ago I added the free SumoMe popup to Backlinko.

Here’s what the popup looks like:

SumoMe

That popup form may look simple, but it converts at an impressive 3.42%.

And it took my subscriber numbers from 35/day to 75/day.

In fact, that simple-looking popup has added over 3600 new subscribers to my email list over the last 3-months.

SumoMe

Although I’m happy with those results, I’m excited to tell you that I’ve discovered a way to make popups even more powerful.

How?

By adding The Content Upgrade to the mix.

Never heard of the The Content Upgrade? No worries.

This post will show you how I used The Content Upgrade to increase conversions by 785%.

How I increased conversions

As you saw in that post, page-specific offers convert WAY better than something generic (like “free updates”).

For example:

In my Google Ranking Factors post, I give away a checklist that makes the information from that post much more actionable:

Content Upgrade Offer

And then it hit me:

Why would I offer someone something VERY specific with The Content Upgrade…

…and then turn around and make a generic offer in my popup?

That doesn’t make any sense.

So I decided to create a page-specific popup using Optin Monster that pitched my Google Ranking Factors checklist.

Ranking Factors Popup

The result?

A 65% increase in conversions vs. the generic offer.

Imagine how many A/B tests you’d have to run to increase conversions by 65% (hint: a lot).

Why would waste time testing button colors when you can do something like this that’s almost guaranteed to generate results right away?

Speaking of a strategy that gets results right away…

2. Hack Qualaroo To Build Your List Fast

Here’s one of the most creative list building strategies I’ve ever seen:

You may already be familiar with Qualaroo, a survey tool that asks live questions to visitors on your website.

Qualaroo Example

While Qualaroo is great at surveying your site’s visitors, you may not know that you can ALSO hack this tool to build your list.

In fact, The University of Alberta recently used this same hack to boost subscribers by more than 500%.

Here’s how they did it…and how you can do the same thing on your site.

The University was looking to increase conversions on their email updates page, which you can see here:

email_signup_page

Instead of using Qualaroo to poll their visitors, they had the tool encourage people to sign up to their email newsletter:

Alberta Qualaroo

In fact, they set it up so you can literally subscribe directly through the Qualaroo form!

Qualaroo Email

Did it work?

In a word: YES!

This Qualaroo form pushed their signups from a sad 1-2/day…
to a respectable 12-15/day without making any other changes to that page.

3. Optimize This Often-Ignored Page and Increase Your List By Up To 25%

I’ve got good news and bad news…

First, the bad news:

If people double opt-in to join your list, up to 25% of your subscribers may be falling through the cracks.

Aweber Double OptIn

Leaving this button “on” may lower subscribers by 25%.

Why?

Sometimes your “Confirm your subscription” email gets caught in their spam filter.

Sometimes they change their mind.

Sometimes the dog poops on the rug and they forget to confirm.

Now for some good news:

You can significantly boost your subscriber numbers by getting more of your opt-ins to actually confirm their email.

How can you do that?

Optimize your confirmation page.

I’m happy to say that my confirmation page loses VERY few people. Here’s what it looks like:

Almost Done Page

Let’s break down the 3 reasons this page works better than most confirmation pages.

First, I re-iterate the benefits of subscribing.

I quickly remind you why it’s worth going through the trouble of confirming your email.

The second line on the page is:

Benefit Confirmation

Most people say something like, “in order to subscribe to our newsletter, you need to confirm your email”.

What’s more likely to motivate you to double opt-in?

Free updates, strategies and tips…or subscribing to a newsletter? Thought so.

Second, I include a strong call to action that asks them to confirm right away.

Time Specific CTA

This is HUGE. If someone doesn’t confirm right away they’re MUCH less likely to ever do it.

In fact, Ramit Sethi actually has a countdown timer on his confirmation page. Awesome.

Ramit Confirmation Page

Third, I visually walk you through the exact steps you need to take in order to confirm your email.

confirmation page

Even if you’ve already signed up to 100 lists, the visual cues reinforces what you’re supposed to do.

(It also shows that you’re a helpful person)

4. Make Users Feel Like Idiots for Not Opting In

Which sounds better to you?

Making millions from the stock market…

…or being lazy and eating Cheetos on your couch?

I know, it’s a silly question.

I only ask because those are the two options Timothy Sykes offers on his his squeeze page’s exit-intent popup.Timothy SykesYou may have seen other “Powered By Bounce Exchange” popups around the web.

Although each Bounce Exchange popup has a unique design, they have one thing in common:

They make you feel like an idiot for not opting in.

For example, here’s a Bounce Exchange popup from MensHealth.com (note the “No thanks, I’m not looking to lose weight” option):

Bounce Exchange Example

You might be asking yourself:

“Why would they give someone a stupid option like that?”

The simple answer to that question: scientific research shows that two options convert MUCH better than one option.

In a recent study published in the Journal of Consumer Research, Professor Daniel Mochon of Tulane University uncovered a phenomenon known as “Single Option Aversion“:

Single Option Aversion

Here’s what went down:

Mochon asked 3 groups of research subjects to imagine that they were in the market for a new DVD player.

Mochon gave one group of people information about JUST a Sony DVD player. Here’s what that information looked like:

Single Option Example

He gave a second group information only about a Philips DVD player (that looked similar to the above example).

And a third group received information on both the Sony AND Philips DVD player:

Both Options

What happened?

When presented with JUST the Sony or Philips DVD player information, approximately 10% of subjects said they’d be ready to buy right away.

Here’s the interesting part:

33% of subjects presented with both Philip and Sony DVD player options said that were ready to make a decision right then and there.

That’s 3x more than people that only saw one option.

conversion increase

Bottom line:

Including a second option (even a silly one) will convert more people into email subscribers.

5. Use This Simple Trick to Solve The “Social Proof Paradox”

There’s one piece of conversion advice that drives me nuts.

“If you want more people to subscribe to your email list, use social proof. Show people how many subscribers you already have.”

That sounds great in theory…

But what if you only have 354 people on your email list? How is that going to boost social proof?

It’s what I call the “Social Proof Paradox”.

You need social proof to get subscribers. But you need subscribers to get social proof.

It’s a classic chicken or the egg problem.

So what’s the solution?

Testimonials.

Here’s an example from my newsletter sign up page:

Twitter Testimonials

And here’s another example from Nevblog.com:

Newsletter Testimonial

See that?

You don’t need a 30,000-strong email list to demonstrate social proof. A single testimonial is enough.

(In fact, I’ve found that a single glowing testimonial is often more powerful than “I already have 9,541 subscribers”)

6. Use BuiltWith.com To Steal Your Competitor’s Best Conversion Tools

What’s the fastest way to find the best conversion tools for YOUR business?

That’s easy:

Use the same tools that your competitors use everyday.

But how?

Well you could look at a competitor site’s source code and try to piece things together…

Source Code

(Good luck with that)

Or you can use this little-known tool called Built With that shows you the EXACT tools your competition uses to build their email list.

How does it work?

First, enter the homepage URL of one of your competitors into the tool:

BuiltWith Homepage

The tool will show you competitive information, like links and traffic sources:

BuiltWith Results

But you want to focus on the “Analytics and Tracking” section:

Analytics and Tracking

That box will show you every tool that your competitor’s site uses…including tools that they use for split testing and list building.

Pretty awesome, right?

7. Use The LPF Technique to Turn More Blog Traffic Into Subscribers

Quick question:

What’s the #1 page you want someone to visit to when they come to your blog?

If your answer is, “one of my best blog posts”, you’re missing out on HUNDREDS of potential subscribers.

So…what’s the right answer?

You want your visitors to go to pages designed to collect emails. In other words, landing pages.

As you may have read in my recent post, How to Create a Page That Converts at 21.7% (Step-By-Step Case Study), I recently created a Social Squeeze Page on my blog that converts at (you guessed it) 21.7%.

Here’s what the page looks like:

Social Squeeze Page

Problem is:

How do you get your site’s visitors to land on your best-converting landing pages?

It’s actually pretty simple: strategically funnel your blog’s traffic using the Landing Page Funnel (LPF) Technique.

The 2-step LPF technique is very simple.

  1. First, you identify landing pages that convert well on your site.
  2. Second, you design your site to funnel people to those high-converting pages.

Here’s an example of how I use the LPF technique at Backlinko:

As I mentioned, my Social Squeeze Page is the best-converting page on Backlinko. So that’s one high-converting page.

But I also have a newsletter sign up page that converts at 10%.

Newsletter Page

So for me, my Social Squeeze Page and my Newsletter page are my top 2 best-performing pages.

Step #1=done.

Next, I added links around my site that point to those two pages.

Like in my site’s top navigation:

Navigation Bar

And as a “Helpful Resource” in the sidebar:

Sidebar Banner

And a text-based link under the “Popular Articles” section of my sidebar:

Sidebar Links

Michael Hyatt uses the LPF Technique in his blog…

Michael deftly includes a “Learn more…” link inside of his blog’s sidebar optin form.

Michael Hyatt Sidebar Optin

That way, if someone isn’t sure about signing up, they can click on the “Learn more…” link to go to a page with more information.

It just so happens that the “Learn more…” link takes people to an attractive squeeze page that no doubt converts extremely well:

Michael Hyatt Newsletter page

Very smart.

8. Turn Your LinkedIn Group Into a List Building Fire Hose

A few weeks ago I stumbled on a brilliant list building strategy using the untapped power of LinkedIn.

Here’s what happened…

There’s this group on LinkedIn called the Sports Industry Network:

LinkedIn Group

Like most LinkedIn groups, the Sports Industry Network sends you a “Welcome to the Group” email after you join.

Here’s the email that they sent to me:

LinkedIn Group Welcome

As you can see, the group asks you to “confirm your membership” to access to exclusive content.

And where does that link in the email lead to?

You guessed it:

A well-designed landing page.

Landing Page

Brilliant.

If you run a LinkedIn group, you can easily do the same thing by going to Manage–>Temples–>Welcome Message:

LinkedIn Group Message

And add a link to your squeeze page in the welcome message that goes out to new members.

9. Use These 8 Words to Dramatically Increase The Value Of Your Giveaway

I’m pretty sure you’re with me on this one:

“Featured Download” sounds MUCH more appealing than “Sign up for our newsletter”.

That’s probably why the HubSpot blog uses that exact pitch on their site (and has over 225,ooo subscribers to show for it).

If you read the the HubSpot blog, you may have noticed a banner that slides in from the bottom right-hand corner of the page.

Here’s an example:

Featured Download

And when you click the “Download Now” button, you’re taken to a landing page:

HubSpot Squeeze Page

What makes this approach so effective?

The simple answer: traditional pitches like, “Sign up to my list and get a free ebook” don’t get the job done today.

But when you describe your opt-in bribe (like a free ebook) with value terms, it adds rocket fuel to your offer’s perceived value.

Direct mail marketers have used these words for decades to increase the perceived value of their offers…

…and you can do the same.

Here are value terms you can use to make your giveaway more enticing:

  • “Featured”
  • “Exclusive”
  • “Advanced”
  • “Download”
  • “Secrets”
  • “Access”
  • “Special Offer”
  • “Limited Time”

In fact, I use several value terms on my newsletter squeeze page:

Value Buzzwords

Even though I don’t give anything tangible away on that page, these value terms bump up the perceived value of my newsletter.

A word of warning: you don’t want to use more than 3 of these in a single offer.

“Exclusive Access to a Featured, Limited Time Download” is a little overboard :-)

10. Giveaway a Bonus For YouTube Videos

When it comes to marketing on YouTube, there’s one thing that almost everyone can agree on:

YouTube click through rates are HORRIBLE.

In fact, some estimates put the average YouTube CTR at 0.72%.

Knowing that, how can you get your YouTube viewers to click over to your site and sign up for your email list?

The same thing you’d do on your blog: give something away!

Brandon from Sold With Video is one of the few people on YouTube applying the tried-and-true giveaway formula to YouTube.

For example, at the end of his video about getting more YouTube views, he pitches a free mini-course to help people with YouTube SEO.

YT Giveaway

And when you click on the yellow “Get Access Now” button you see above, you’re swept away to a squeeze page.

Squeeze Page

How can you do the same thing?

First, think of a giveaway that viewers of that video might be interested in.

For example, if you had a video about building bigger biceps, you could offer a free Excel spreadsheet that helps people track their workout.

Next, add a button to your video that stands out.

The big yellow button above works well, but I prefer to use something a tad more subtle:

Backlinko YouTube Video

Finally, add an annotation link that points to your squeeze page:

YouTube Annotation

And you’re set.

11. Use “Readers” or “Visitors” to Generate Social Proof

I already told you about the “Social Proof Paradox” and the dead-simple technique you can use to solve it.

Skipped that one? Go back and check it out. It’s #6 on this list.

What I haven’t told you is that there’s another easy way to make your blog look like a thriving community…

…even if you only have 134 email subscribers.

How?

Feature your blog’s monthly visitors.

If you’re like most people, your total monthly visitor count is larger than your Facebook fans, email subscribers or any other traditional form of social proof.

That’s why you want to feature THAT number on your blog.

Here’s an example from Backlinko:

Monthly Readers

Even though Backlinko gets more than 60,000 monthly unique visitors, I first used this strategy when the site was averaging only 8,000 monthly visitors.

And it still worked.

The only time I wouldn’t use this technique is if you’re getting less than 5,000 monthly visitors.

In that case, you want to focus on reader and subscriber testimonials until your traffic climbs to 5000+ monthly uniques.

12. Pitch Your Email Newsletter to Twitter Followers

You may think that most of your Twitter followers are also on your email list…

…but you’d be wrong.

And if you don’t pitch your email list to your Twitter followers, you’re missing out on some of the easiest subscribers you’ll ever get.

After all, your Twitter followers are people that already like you. That makes your email list an easy sell.

For example:

Two weeks ago I tweeted this out:

Backlinko Newsletter Tweet

And that tweet very quickly added a handful of subscribers that I otherwise wouldn’t have had.

Because it’s so easy and effective, I plan on pitching my email list on Twitter, Facebook and Google+ on a regular basis from now on.

13. Surprise New Subscribers With a Free Bonus

Have you ever heard this classic business quote?

“It’s 5x cheaper to keep a customer than to gain a brand new one.”

Well it’s the same story with your email list:

It’s MUCH easier to prevent someone from clicking “unsubscribe” than it is to get a new person to fork over their email address.

But how?

That’s easy: give your subscribers an unannounced bonus for signing up.

For example, I give new subscribers a free unannounced ebook, “How to Get 25,000 Visitors Per Month” immediately after they confirm their email:

Ebook Giveaway

Make no mistake:

This ebook is 25 pages of pure awesomeness.

Ebook Excerpt

The content in that ebook is as good — if not better — than anything I’ve published on the blog.

And I’ve received emails from (literally) hundreds of subscribers telling me that they’ve learned a lot from it:

ebook testimonial 1

ebook testimonial

Ebook Testimonial 3

Not only do these emails give me a warm fuzzy feeling inside, but they let me know that my ebook is turning casual fans into lifetime subscribers.

(Want to read “How to Get 25,000 Visitors Per Month”? Download the ebook here)

You can easily set this up yourself:

Just create a high-quality report, ebook or checklist.

Then, give your resource to subscribers right after they sign up.

And — KAPOW! — you’ll make an awesome first impression with everyone that signs up for your list.

14. Use a Blog Post Teaser

You probably already know that “fear of loss” is a HUGE motivator.

When you’re afraid of missing out on something it lights a fire under your butt that gets you to ACT.

The question is:

How can you leverage fear of loss to build your list?

After all, if someone doesn’t want to sign up today they can always come back and sign up tomorrow.

Well I’d like to tell you about something I tried last week that was a little bit weird…

About 2-months ago I published the first post in a new training series called “How to Increase Conversions (Without A/B Testing)”.

The post is called: “How to Create a Page That Converts at 21.7% (Step-By-Step Case Study)“:

Social Squeeze Page

Because I didn’t have a Content Upgrade ready for that post, I decided to let people know that this was the first post in a new series.

I had an announcement at the beginning…

Blog Post Series Box

…and end of the post:

Blog post Series 2

Those are LeadPages links. When someone clicks on them, an opt-in box appears that highlights the potential loss of not subscribing:

leadpages leadbox

So how has this strategy performed?

Well the two links from that one post very quickly added 37 new subscribers to my list.

Not as amazing as The Content Upgrade, but I’ll take 37 extra subscribers any day of the week.

And if you scale this to some of your most popular blog posts, you’re talking dozens of extra subscribers every month.

Not bad at all for a few minutes of work.

15. Use Weird Call to Actions on Buttons

How many times has this happened to you:

You’re about to enter your email address too get your hands on free report…

…and at the very last second, a voice in your head screams out “Don’t do it!”.

So you click away, never to return.

You’re probably wondering:

“How can I prevent that from happening to my potential subscribers?”

Here’s how:

You may have noticed that my SumoMe popup’s button says “Let’s do this!”

Submit Button

And my homepage form button says “I’m in!”

Homepage Button

Why don’t I use traditional button copy, like “join” or “submit”?

Two reasons:

1) Words like “submit”, “register” and “join”make you feel like you’re committing to something serious.

Not good.

2) Boring terms make your button blend in with the 256,000 other buttons online that use the same 5 words.

On the other hand, whimsical phrases like “Sounds good!” and “Let’s do this!” stand out and put people at ease.

Pat Flynn does a great job of this at Smart Passive Income. His email opt-in form’s button says “Get Started!”.

SPI Optin

“Get Started!” sends the message that you’re about to start something exciting…

…not just sign up for yet another email list.

16. Turn Blog Comments Into Email Subscribers

Did you know that there’s an easy way to turn blog comments into email subscribers?

Well there is. And it only takes a few minutes to set up.

In fact, it’s is something I’ve recently tested here at Backlinko:

Comment Subscribe

When someone checks that box and leaves a comment, they’re automatically added to my email list.

Although I’ve only had this feature live for a few weeks, it’s already added 214 subscribers to my email list.

Comment Subscriber Count

Why does this work so well?

When someone leaves a comment on your blog, it usually means that they enjoyed what they just read.

(Or it means they hated what they just read. But haters aren’t going to sign up anyway, are they :-) ?)

In other words, commenters are VERY primed to sign up to your list. They just need a little nudge.

If you’re a WordPress ninja, you can set this up manually. I personally use a plugin called Subscribers Magnet.

Turning commenters into subscribers works like a charm, but I’ve saved the best technique for last…

17. About Page=Squeeze Page

If you’re like most people, you think your about page is a place to tell the world who you are and why you started your blog.

And that’s it.

Well I’ve got news for you:

If you’re not using your about page to ALSO collect emails you’re leaving hundreds (if not thousands) of email subscribers on the table.

After all, your about page is probably one of the most visited pages on your blog (Skeptical? Check your Google Analytics right now).

Like with a blog commenter, someone that takes the time to read your about page is VERY likely to sign up to your list.

That’s why I have not one — but TWO — optin forms on my about page.

One smack dab in the middle of the page:

About Page Form

And another at the bottom of the page:

about page form 2

These two forms convert EXTREMELY well.

In fact, my About Page converts at 5.81%:

about page conversion rate

It converts so well that I actually use the Landing Page Funnel Technique (#7 on this list) to funnel more traffic to my About page:

Sidebar Funnel

Bottom line?

Sprinkle in at least two opt-in forms in your blog’s about page.

Here’s How to Get Even More Subscribers

You’re probably saying to yourself:

“Brian, this is AWESOME information. What’s the easiest way to put this into practice?”.

Well I’ve got something special for you.

A free step-by-step checklist that includes actionable steps for all of the 17 strategies here…plus a bonus list building strategy that I didn’t have room for.

Click the image below to download the free checklist:

List Building Checklist

Once you’ve done that, take a second and leave a comment.

I’d love to know what to you thought of the post.

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Case Study – How I Increased Conversions by 785% in One Day (Without A/B Testing) http://backlinko.com/increase-conversions http://backlinko.com/increase-conversions#comments Wed, 18 Jun 2014 16:40:16 +0000 http://backlinko.com/?p=3620 increase conversions bannerIf you want to grow your email list (FAST) there’s one thing you need to know:

Traditional bribes like free reports and email courses don’t have nearly the same juice that they used to.

So…

What CAN you offer that gets people to fork over their email address?

The Content Upgrade.

It’s a simple strategy that instantly increased my blog post conversion rate from .54%. to 4.82%.

And in today’s case study I’m going to show you the exact step-by-step process that I used.

Exclusive Bonus: Download the step-by-step checklist that will show you how to build your email list with The Content Upgrade.

No One Wants Your Free Report (And What They Want Instead)

A few weeks ago I told you about The Social Squeeze Page, a simple page you can add to your site that converts like a champ:

SSP Post

While there’s nothing wrong with a page that converts at 21.7%…

…a single page — even one that converts at 21.7% — isn’t enough to build a thriving email list.

After all, as you can see from my Crazy Egg data, only 2% of my visitors click on the sidebar banner that takes them to the Social Squeeze Page:

CrazyEgg Date

Which got me thinking:

“How can I convert the 98% of people that DON’T go to my Social Squeeze Page?”

That’s when I noticed this weird thing Kim Roach was doing on her blog.

Instead of offering readers something vague — like free updates — she gave away a resource that was unique to each blog post.

Let me show you what I mean…

A few months ago, Kim’s published a post of the top 10 Fiverr gigs for small business owners.

Buzzblogger Post

“But wait, there’s more.”

When you scroll down to the bottom of the post you’ll notice that she has a link where you can download the top 20 Fiverr gigs:

End of Blog Post Bonus

If you click on that link, a box appears that asks you to opt-in to her email list:

Leadbox

A few days after reading Kim’s post, I noticed Bryan Harris doing the exact same thing on his blog.

For example, Bryan recently published a post that teaches people a productivity technique called “The Zero Based Calendar“.

At the end of that post Bryan offers access to a “bonus lesson” on productivity.

VideoFruit Bonus

Like Kim’s post, you need to subscribe to get your hands on Bryan’s free resource.

That’s when I said to myself:

“Brian, building your email list is a top priority. You NEED to try this at Backlinko.”

(Yes, I talk to myself. Doesn’t everybody? :-) )

What happened next made my jaw practically hit the floor…

One Day. Two Links. 785% Increase in Conversions.

I decided to see if giving away a post-specific resource would increase conversions on my blog post: Google’s 200 Ranking Factors: The Complete List.

(I’ll show you why I chose that post a bit later)

Before implementing the Content Upgrade, that page was converting at .54%.

Ranking Factors Conversion Rate

Not horrible for a blog post…but not great either.

On June 1st I created a checklist and added LeadPages links to the top…

Leadpages Link

…and bottom of that post.

Bottom of Blog Post

The result? A 785% increase in conversions (compared to the previous month).

Conversion Rate Increase

Keep in mind that this isn’t a flukey conversion increase like you might see with an A/B test that only lasts a few days.

I’ve had over 4700 unique visitors and 370 conversions on that page since implementing the Content Upgrade. The sample size is more than enough to conclude that this data has legs to stand on.

Plus, as I’ll show you at the very end of this post, I’ve tested The Content Upgrade on three other posts…

…and it’s significantly boosted conversions on those posts too.

Here’s The Craziest Part…

If you count all of the opt-in forms that I have on the Backlinko blog, like in my sidebar:

Sidebar Optin Form

On my homepage:

Feature Box

And at the bottom of every blog post:

Bottom Of Post Optin Form

I have a grand total of 54 opt-in forms on my blog.

The two little LeadPages links that I added to my Google Ranking Factors post now account for 30% of all new subscribers.

Think about that for a second.

Those two links bring in more subscribers than SIXTEEN opt-in forms.

Crazy, right?

How to Get More Subscribers Using The Content Upgrade

At this point you’re probably wondering:

“OK, I’m ready to try the The Content Upgrade. How do I start?”

Here’s a breakdown of the 5-step process:

Step 1: Find a high-traffic page on your site

Step 2: Identify a resource that would make the content better

Step 3: Create that resource

Step 4: Add the resource to your site

Step 5: Get more email subscribers

Now let’s dive into how you can add this list building machine to your site.

Step #1: Find a Page on Your Site That Gets a Lot of Traffic

This may sound simple, but stay with me.

If you want to maximize the number of subscribers that you get from The Content Upgrade, you need to start with a page that has the most potential for generating email subscribers.

In other words, blog posts on your site that bring in the most traffic.

Make sense?

You can easily find your most popular pages by going to Behavior –> Site Content –> Landing Pages in Google Analytics:

Google Analytics Landing Pages

As you can see from that screenshot, my Google Ranking Factors blog post was the most popular page on my site.

So I started with that.

Once you’ve identified your site’s most popular page, it’s time for step #2…

Step #2: Identify a Resource That Will Make Your Content Even Better

This may not be easy to hear, but here it goes:

No one wants your free report.

Well, maybe that’s not 100% true.

If you give away something for free on your site, SOMEONE will sign up to get it.

But 99% of people won’t.

Why not?

Because your report has nothing to do with what that person wants at that moment.

It’s like if you walked into H&M for a new belt and the salesperson said: “Would you like to see our new dress shirts that just came in?”. No, you wouldn’t.

The bottom line?

When you offer your visitors something that’s a perfect fit for what they came to your site for, they’re MUCH more likely to opt-in.

For example, I noticed people leaving comments on my Google Ranking Factors post like this…

BlogComment2

…and this:

BlogComment2

These people were basically telling me in black and white:

“Brian, this is a great post. But it’s an overwhelming amount of information. How can I actually put this stuff into practice?”

That’s when I realized that a checklist that listed the 10 most important factors — along with practical tips for implementing them — would add a lot of value to that post.

Another example:

James at SuperFastBusiness.com gives away text transcripts of his podcasts:

PDF Transcript

What do you think happens when you click on that purple box?

You’re taken to a squeeze page where you can download the PDF:

Squeeze Page Screenshot

Other things you can give away as a Content Upgrade:

  • A set of bonus tips
  • Downloadable PDF version of the article
  • A video tutorial that dives deeper into one section from your post
  • An interview with an expert on your post’s topic
  • A visual guide to your post (for example, a mind map or infographic)

The possibilities are endless.

Now that you’ve decided on what you’re going to give away, it’s time to get this party started.

Step #3: Create Your Content Upgrade Resource

Here’s the deal:

When someone first signs up for your email list they’re actively looking for reasons to opt out…

…and if you give them one, they’ll take it.

On the other hand, if you wow new subscribers with a GREAT first email, they’re much more likely to stick with you for life.

(You know what they say about first impressions…)

That’s why I decided to set aside 5-hours to outline and write my Google Ranking Factors checklist.

But I took things one step further.

After I finished writing the checklist, I sent it to a professional graphic designer on Elance.

She turned my checklist from this…

Ranking Factors Checklist Rough Draft

to this:

Checklist Designed

Needless to say, this professional design makes a HUGE difference in how people perceive the value of my checklist.

When someone receives a high-quality resource in their inbox (like this checklist), they think to themselves:

“Hey, this was pretty cool. I’ll make sure to keep an eye out for their next email.”

In fact, because you’re sending new subscribers a top notch resource, you’ll actually get messages from people that say they’re looking forward to future emails from you.

For example, this is an email I recently received from a subscriber that just finished reading my Google Ranking Factors Checklist:

Email

Having a high-value resource in hand is great…

…but it’s not nearly as important as the next step in the Content Upgrade process.

 Step #4: Give Your Resource Away 

Like anything in conversion rate optimization, HOW you present your Content Upgrade is key. In fact, your pitch is 10x more important than the resource itself.

Here’s what I mean…

As I’m sure you’ve seen yourself, lame pitches like “sign up for our newsletter” and “download our whitepaper” aren’t effective anymore.

To put it another way, you really need to sell your Content Upgrade.

Here’s the approach that worked best for me.

First, I added a yellow box at the end my blog post introduction:

Blog Post Intro

My old blog post conclusion asked people to leave a comment. I swapped that conclusion out with a pitch to download the checklist:

Bottom of Post

When someone clicks on the link in the yellow box or the download image at the end of the post, a LeadPages box appears that asks them to opt-in:

LeadPages Box

According to my Analytics, 65% of people that see that box enter their email and opt-in:

LeadPages Analytics

Because it converts so well, I recommend using LeadPages to giveaway your Content Upgrade resource.

If you’d prefer not use LeadPages, you can create a normal opt-in form in Aweber or MailChimp.

For example, you can embed a normal opt-in box like this into your blog posts:

Opt In Form

(You’d just want to replace the generic “Free Updates” with a description of your Content Upgrade resource)

Pro Tip: The Power of The Yellow Box

Here’s one of the most surprising things I learned from this campaign:

The simple yellow box I added to my blog post grabbed A LOT of attention.

Just look at how many people clicked on the little yellow box vs. the massive download image.

Yellow Box:

Crazyegg Screenshot

Huge download image:

Download Image

As you can see, people’s eyes (and cursors) naturally gravitate to the yellow box.

I highly recommend using a yellow box on your site so that you maximize the number of clicks and opt-ins that you generate from your Content Upgrade.

Here’s the code you can add to your theme’s “functions.php” file (or “custom_functions.php” on Thesis) to create a yellow box:

function make_yellowbox($atts, $content = null) {
   return '<p style="background: none repeat scroll 0 0 #ff9; clear: both; margin-bottom: 18px; overflow: hidden; border: 1px solid #e5e597; padding: 13px;">' . do_shortcode($content) . '</p>';
}
add_shortcode('yellowbox', 'make_yellowbox');

Once the code it added, any text wrapped inside of this shortcode will appear in a yellow box.

[yellowbox]Here is the text in the yellow box[/yellowbox]

Step #5: Get More Email Subscribers

Now that you have the Content Upgrade set up, you should notice a massive increase in subscribers coming from that page.

But don’t stop there.

I’ve since added The Content Upgrade to three additional posts at Backlinko. Like with my Google Ranking Factors post, conversions on those other page have shot through the roof.

In fact, The Content Upgrade has brought in an EXTRA 655 subscribers in only 18 days:

Aweber Subscribers

Because it works so well, The Content Upgrade is going to be the focus of my list building from now on.

So I recommend repeating The Content Upgrade process on other high-traffic pages on your site. The more you scale this process, the more opt-ins you’ll get.

Here’s The Next Step:

If you’d like to see another case study of this technique in action, you’re in for a treat…because I’ve got an excellent Content Upgrade for this post :-)

It’s a free step-by-step checklist that shows you the exact step-by-step Content Upgrade process.

Click the link below and enter your email to get access to the free video checklist.

Content Upgrade Checklits

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How to Create a Squeeze Page That Converts at 21.7% (Case Study) http://backlinko.com/social-squeeze-page http://backlinko.com/social-squeeze-page#comments Thu, 22 May 2014 17:13:36 +0000 http://backlinko.com/?p=3513 Social_Squeeze_Page

social squeeze pageI think you’ll agree with me when I say:

It’s REALLY hard to convert ice cold traffic into email subscribers.

Or is it?

Well, it turns out, you can dramatically increase your site’s email signups by adding one simple page to your site…

…a page that’s converting 21.7% of my traffic into new email subscribers.

And in today’s post (and video) I’m going to show you what that page is…and exactly how you can easily add one to your site.

Bonus: Download a free checklist that will show you exactly how to create your own high converting squeeze page.

How I Accidentally Discovered The Secret to High Converting Pages

Before I show you my high-converting page, let me share a quick story with you.

Backlinko’s traffic has grown consistently over the last 6-months:

Backlinko Traffic

While I was (obviously) happy with my traffic, there was one VERY important area of my business that I wasn’t as happy with: conversions.

Contrast the traffic chart above to my blog’s average conversion rate over the same time period:

Backlinko Conversions

As you can see, my conversion rate had all but flat-lined.

But here’s the thing:

I already had the old internet marketing adage “the money is in the list” seared on my brain.

I just didn’t know HOW to build that list…

…without bribing people with a free ebook or annoying them with distracting popups.

Here’s what happened next:

Landing Pages Don’t Work Unless They Have This

Think about it:

How many times have you landed on a landing page that screams: “I’m going to twist your arm until you give me your email address”?

And how often do you actually hand over your email?

Hardly ever, right?

That’s why I was reluctant to put a traditional squeeze page on Backlinko: I knew that today’s visitors cling to their email address like a $100 dollar bill.

And the promise of a free ebook wasn’t going to loosen their grip one bit.

Then one day I stumbled upon a page on CopyBlogger called How to Write Magnetic Headlines.

Magnetic Headlines

This page is designed to do one thing: collect emails. In other words, it’s a squeeze page.

But unlike most squeeze pages, it’s beautifully designed and optimized for social sharing.

That’s when it hit me:

The squeeze page isn’t dead…it just needs to be adapted for 2014.

And by adding a few strategic tweaks to the Magentic Headlines model, the Social Squeeze Page was born.

Here’s the live page:

Social Squeeze Page

Over the last 8-months that page has boasted an insane 21.7% conversion rate.

And added 812 highly-targeted subscribers to my email list:

Aweber List

Here’s how I did it…

How I Turned 21.7% of My Traffic Into New Email Subscribers

This video will show you the exact 3-step process you can use to publish a high-converting Social Squeeze Page on your site:

Now that you’ve watched the video, you can see why this page sucks up emails like a vacuum cleaner.

Now let’s dive into each of the 3-steps…

Step #1: Choose Your Social Squeeze Page’s Topic

This is HUGE.

Unlike a traditional squeeze page, your Social Squeeze Page’s topic can’t simply be “sign up and get a free ebook”.

Instead, you need to find a topic that your target audience is desperate to know more about.

In other words:

Unless someone is starving for information, they’re not going to give you their email address.

In my case, I knew that my target audience (entrepreneurs, professional SEOs, and bloggers) were fed up with vague nonsense like “write great content”.

My audience wanted to get their hands on actionable information that they could leverage for higher rankings.

That’s why I made the topic of my Social Squeeze Page (SSP) a real-life case study:

Social Squeeze Page Topic

Here’s another example from a landing page on Ramit Sethi’s IWillTeachYouToBeRich.com, a popular blog in the personal finance space:

Ramits Opt In Page

Ramit understands that good chunk of his readers are bored with their job. They want a career that’s better paid and more fulfilling.

Although there’s already plenty of information out there about getting ANY job…there’s hardly anything about finding a dream job (big difference).

And Ramit knows that people are happy to fork over their email if it means they can get their hands on information that will land them a job they’ll love.

Bottom line: Choose an in-demand topic that your audience has trouble finding reliable information on.

Once you’ve decided on your topic, it’s time to get cracking on step #2…

Step #2: Create Your Social Squeeze Page

Once you have a topic in hand, the next step is to turn your topic into a Social Squeeze Page.

There are 8 components to the Social Squeeze Page.

No worries, they’re all easy :-)

Here’s an infographic that will show you how the 8 elements look on an actual page:

SSP Infographic

(You don’t necessarily need to use all 8 elements on your site. But the more you use, the better your page will convert)

With that, it’s time to break each of these elements down and show you exactly how you can add them to your site.

1. Benefit-Driven Headline

The headline that you use for your Social Squeeze Page is REALLY important.

The good news is, creating your SSP headline is straightforward.

You just need to state a clear outcome that people will get from your page. That’s it.

For example, the headline in my SSP starts off with, “How to Rank for Any Keyword”:

SSP Headline

It’s hard to write a benefit that’s much clearer than that :-)

2. Open an Information Gap in Your Headline or Subheadline

Unlike a blog post, a benefit-focused headline isn’t enough for a SSP.

Your headline (or subheadline) needs to contain a crystal clear benefit…AND an information gap.

Here’s why this is so important:

When there’s a gap between what we know and what we want to know, it’s called an information gap.

Several scientific studies have shown that people hate information gaps…and will do almost anything to close them.

Buzzfeed and other “viral news sites” are grand masters of information gaps, as you can see with this headline:

viralnova headline

Bottom line: information gaps draw people into your Social Squeeze Page, which makes them more likely to watch your video and join your email list.

On my page, I created a powerful information gap with the second part of my headline:

(This is The Exact 1-2 Punch I Used to Rank #5 for “Backlinks”)

Note how I mention — but don’t elaborate on — the 1-2 punch:

Subheadline

When someone reads about a mysterious “1-2 punch”, it opens up a mile-wide information gap that compels them to learn more.

But sometimes, visitors need a little extra push.

Which brings us to the next step…

3. Clear Call to Action

Now that you’ve hooked your visitor with a benefit and information gap, it’s time to hold their hand and tell them exactly what they need to do next.

In other words, a call to action.

On my page, I have a fluff-free call to action that says, “Click the play button to see the EXACT step-by-step process”

CT!

Look at how specific that CTA is.

It says “click the play button”…

…NOT the much more vague “watch the video”.

Direct response marketers have known this for years:

The more specific your CTA, the more likely someone will follow it. So don’t be shy about telling people the EXACT next step you want them to take.

To give you another example of how specific your CTA needs to be, take a look at the CTA Optimizely uses on their homepage:

Optimizely Homepage

Note that they don’t say wishy-washy things “sign up for a free trial” or “get started”.

It literally says “Type in a URL”.

That’s how specific your CTA needs to be.

4. Add an Awesome Video

There’s no other way for me to put this:

For your Social Squeeze Page to work it needs to add as much — if not more — value than a blog post.

And the best way to do that?

A 3-10 minute video.

Why 3-10 minutes?

A 1 to 2 minute video looks like a hard-sell squeeze page video. With a 10+ minute video, people will get bored and close your page.

At around 9 minutes and 30 seconds, my video is a bit on the long side:

SSP Video

But my #1 goal is to provide so much value that people can’t help but move their mouse cursor to my signup form and type in their email.

In other words, you don’t need to fixate on your video’s length. Your #1 priority is to make an awesome video.

The way I see it, the type of person that stops watching a video packed with INSANE amounts of value because it’s a few minutes “too long” isn’t in my target audience anyway.

A longer video gives me the opportunity to drop more value…which brings in more conversions from people that actually care about my message.

And as you can see from my video’s retention stats (courtesy of Wistia), the video has a huge drop off of in the first minute…

…but stays remarkably stable after that initial drop.

Wistia Stats

In fact, even at the 6-minute mark my retention rate is more than 50%…which is head and shoulders above most online videos.

Video Retention

You might be thinking to yourself:

“That’s nice for you Brian, but how can I create a video that people not only watch…but gets them to opt-in?”

Well, my video happens to be case study.

I probably don’t need to tell you that real-life case studies work REALLY well in every niche.

So I recommend making your SSP video a case study where you show people an outcome you (or a customer) achieved…and how you did it.

If you don’t have a case study to show people, no worries. You can use the next best thing: a step-by-step tutorial.

Make a tutorial that shows people how to install WordPress, how to plant a tomato garden or how to do a bench press.

For example, I recently made this video tutorial that teaches people how to execute 5 untapped keyword research strategies:

Because it’s a step-by-step tutorial, that video could EASILY be used on a Social Squeeze Page.

But if you’re serious about converting video viewers into subscribers, there is one extra step that I highly recommend you take…

(Optional) Use Wistia Turnstile

This might sound crazy, but here it goes:

Despite all of the strategically placed opt-in forms on my Social Squeeze Page (more on that later), more than half of my SSP’s conversions come from within the video itself.

You see, when people reach the halfway point of my video, the video stops and they see this message:

Wistia Turnstile

That’s a live Aweber form. And when people enter they’re email, they’re added to my email list and the video continues to play.

It’s a feature of Wistia video hosting called Turnstile.

That form currently converts at an insane 29% for me. Crazy, right?

And the Turnstile is super-easy to set up. Just choose when you want the turnstile to appear, add some text, and you’re good to go:

turnstile

Pro Tip: Your turnstile message should mention that you’re going to send them something via email. Otherwise people will put in a fake email just to watch the rest of the video.

When I added “I’ll also email you part 2 of the case study” to my turnstile page…

Turnstile Highlight

…the number of fake emails dropped to almost zero.

It goes without saying, but you should actually send people what you promised them :-)

5. Add Opt-in Boxes Below Video

A you just saw, you’re Turnstile will attract emails like a magnet…

…but it’s not enough.

To extract the most value out of your SSP, you need to add an opt-in form right below your video, like this:

SSP Optin Form

The reason for putting an opt-in form below your video is simple:

When people watch videos online, their eyes don’t stick to the video the entire time…they drift around the page.

And when you put massive opt-in form below your video, that’s what they’ll see when their eyes drift away from your video.

As you can see from my Crazy Egg eye-tracking heatmap, people’s eyes naturally gravitate to my opt-in form. CrazyEgg HeatmapNot surprisingly, that form all pulls in a fair amount of emails.

I also recommend adding at least one more opt-in form to your page.

I recently added another form to the very bottom of my Social Squeeze Page (right above the comment form)…

Opt-In-Form

…and it bumped up conversions by around .5%. Not amazing, but every little bit helps.

6. Add Social Sharing Buttons and Encourage Comments

Here’s the “social” element of the Social Squeeze Page.

When visitors see your sharing buttons and comments, they’ll think to themselves: “wow, this must be an awesome page”.

In other words, your page WON’T give people that slimy feeling that they get from traditional squeeze pages.

For example, I include prominent social sharing buttons at the top of my SSP:

Social Buttons

I also encourage comments by replying to every single comment that comes in.

Blog Comments

You should do the same.

Step #3: Promote your Social Squeeze page

Here’s where things get sticky…

Like any piece of content, if you want people to see and share your SSP, you need to hustle and promote it.

Because your SSP contains awesome video content, it has the potential to generate serious traffic.

In fact, my page has brought in almost 6,000 unique visitors:

Landing Page

Obviously, like any traffic that hits your SSP, traffic from social media, forums and blogs will convert really well for you.

But there’s another reason to put some muscle behind your page’s promo: the more people that share your page, the more social proof it accumulates.

Think about it this way:

When someone lands on a page with dozens of Tweets, Facebook Likes and comments, they instinctively view the page as high-value.

Social Proof

That means they they’re less likely to bounce and more likely to watch your video.

In other words, the more social proof you generate, the better your page will convert.

Here are 3 simple ways to get more eyeballs (and social proof) on your Social Squeeze Page…

1. Announce The Page to Your Email List

Remember:

Because your SSP’s video is overflowing with valuable content, your existing email subscribers will want to check it out.

Subscribers already like your content (or else they wouldn’t have subscribed in the first place). That means that they’re MUCH more likely than the average visitor to share and comment on your page.

As you just learned, that type of activity on your page boosts social proof and conversions.

Here’s what my email looked like:

Email Broadcast

As you can see, I pitched the page as just another piece of high-quality content (which it was).

Comments, Tweets and Google+’s started pouring in a few minutes after sending this email out to my list.

2. Share the Page on Social Media

I also shared the page on Twitter, Facebook and Google+.

Video Tweet

Which got shares by some big names, like Sujan Patel:

Tweet Screenshot

3. Add a Prominent Sidebar Banner

Now that you’ve generated some social proof, it’s time to funnel blog traffic to your SSP.

The easiest way to do that?

Add a banner in your blog’s sidebar that links to your SSP, like this:

Sidebar Banner

That way, people see that banner from every single page on your website.

Pro Tip: Include a video play button on your banner.

As you can see from this heatmap, people’s cursors are attracted to the play button like a moth to a flame:

Play Button

Once you’ve added your sidebar banner, you’re set. Nice work :-D

So, here’s what I want you to do…

If you’re ready to turn more of your blog’s traffic into email subscribers, then you need to create your very own Social Squeeze Page today.

To make the process easy, I put together a free step-by-step checklist for you. This checklist will show you EXACTLY how to create a Social Squeeze Page on your blog.

Click the image below to access the free checklist:

social squeeze page download image

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Ecommerce SEO Case Study: White Hat Link Building Without Any Content http://backlinko.com/ecommerce-seo http://backlinko.com/ecommerce-seo#comments Tue, 08 Apr 2014 10:03:30 +0000 http://backlinko.com/?p=3486 ecommerce SEO case studyMost people tell you that the secret to Ecommerce SEO is to “create a blog and publish great content”.

Are they right?

Well, to be honest with you….no.

Here’s the deal:

I’ll be the first to tell you that rocking content makes a HUGE difference.

(In fact, I can draw a direct line between the effort I put into my content and tens of thousands of unique visitors)

The thing is, content is just ONE piece of the SEO puzzle.

And today’s guide I’m going to pull back the curtain and reveal the OTHER pieces that you might be missing.

Specifically, I’m going to show you a case study of a Backlinko reader that built 7 contextual links…

…without publishing a single word of content.

Free Bonus: Download a step-by-step checklist that will show you how to use this strategy for your Ecommerce site. The checklist includes two bonus Ecommerce marketing techniques that I didn’t include in this blog post.

How Chris Built 7 Contextual Backlinks to a Brand New Site…Without Any Content

A few months ago, Backlinko reader Chris Laursen had a problem…

His new client recently launched an ecommerce website in Denmark called JustBuyIt.com:

JustBuyIt

Like most ecommerce sites in the consumer electronics space, JustBuyIt was about to stand toe-to-toe with heavyweights like Amazon, Best Buy and Ebay.

I don’t need to tell you that ranking above multimillion dollar brands like Amazon is NO joke.

I mean, just look at the SERPs for just ONE of the products that JustByIt sells, the C-Pen for Android:

GoogleDK_SERP

The average Domain Authority of the first page is…57. Yikes.

As Chris told me:

Because JustBuyIt is starting from scratch, the focus has been on driving referral traffic from sites that review the products that they sell. The challenge has also been that it’s currently only an ecommerce site. There is no content yet, which makes it extra tough to build links.

Chris Laursen

No content you say?

How could Chris possibly build white hat links without any content?

Keep reading.

Here’s What Happened Next:

Fortunately, around the same time Chris started working with JustBuyIt, he read a post on Backlinko called “How to Get High Quality Backlinks (Without Guest Posting)“:

Backlinko Blog Post

In that post I outlined a scalable and effective white hat link building technique called The Moving Man Method.

New to The Moving Man Method? No worries.

I shot a video the other day that explains the entire process step-by-step:

Now that you’ve watched the video, you can see why Chris was PUMPED to use this SEO strategy for his ecommerce SEO client.

And it’s time to share his results with you…

So Chris Applied The Moving Man Method For His Ecommerce SEO Campaign…

After spending about an hour on email outreach, the number of links pointing to his client’s rose dramatically:

Referring domains

Sure, it was great that Chris built so many backlinks…

But the TYPES of links that he was able to develop — contextual links from highly-relevant sites in the consumer electronics industry — is the real story here.

He got links from…

A DA68 consumer electronics product site:

JustBuyIt_backlink

A popular Danish Mac news site:

Editorial Backlink

And an editorial link from an online electronics magazine:

Editorial Backlink 2

Even better, several of these links point directly to product and category pages, like this one from the trusted and authoritative (DA66) MacNews.com:

Product Page Link

If you run an ecommerce site you KNOW how hard it is to build links to product and category pages.

Well, now you have your answer :-)

This Might Be Even Better…

As you can see, Chris focused on links from sites where his target audience hangs out (like tech blogs).

When you throw metrics like PageRank and TrustRank out of the window — and focus on building links from relevant sites — you get a nice side bonus from link building: targeted referral traffic.

I’ve been saying this for years:

“The best backlink is one that sends you traffic.Click to Tweet This

And JustBuyIt’s boost in referral traffic shows you exactly why that maxim rings true today:

Referral Stats 1 Referral Stat Increases

Now let me walk you through the EXACT step-by-step strategy that he used…

…and show you how you can use The Moving Man Method to get more links and traffic.

Step #1: Find Outdated, Moved or Expired Resources

This is important:

Unless you have something that adds value to another person’s site, you might as well give up on link building right now.

Because the only way you’re going to convince someone to link to you is by making their site better.

But…HOW?

Well, you can straight up ask them to link to a resource on your site.

And because they’re linking to something that provides value to their audience, your link does improve their site.

Sure, that approach can land you some great links. But sometimes you need a bit of arm twisting to get the job done.

And that’s where step #1 comes in…

Step #1 is finding resources that are out-of-date, expired or not working.

Here are a few examples from the real world to show you what I mean…

A Few Real Life Examples

Because Chris was working with an ecommerce site, he zeroed in on companies that had recently gone out of business.

But no matter what you sell, there are businesses in your industry that have gone under…and have THOUSANDS of links pointing to their old site.

In many cases, the domain name actually expires. When that happens the entire site gets replaced with parked pages, like this:

Parked Page 2

Because pages on out of business websites are still technically working (they’re not 404s), broken link checkers can’t find them.

Although parked domains are harder to find than broken links, the advantage of using them is this:

They hook you up with link building opportunities that your competition doesn’t know about.

For example…

Blockbuster.com (175,000 followed links)

Blockbuster Announcement

You probably heard that movie rental giant Blockbuster closed its doors late last year.

Because Blockbuster Video is a household name, their site — Blockbuster.com —  generated A LOT of quality backlinks over the years…

…like this PR5 page from The University of California, Irvine:

Blockbuster Link

That’s just one of several thousand authoritative links still pointing to Blockbuster.com.

If you’re in the entertainment niche, Blockbuster.com is an absolute gold mine of link building opportunities.

Borders.com (800,000 followed links) Borders Bankrupt

Or how about the defunct book store chain, Borders?

Like Blockbuster, Borders has tens of thousands of authoritative links that point to a business that no longer exists.

(Most pages on Borders.com redirect to former rival Barnes & Noble…but some of the best one’s don’t)

For example, here’s a link from rowancountync.gov (DA56) pointing to a resource on Borders.com about children’s books

Borders Link

Today, that link redirects to a “This webpage is not available” page:

Dead Borders Page

But (and this is important), the link to Borders.com doesn’t show up as a dead link when you run a broken link checking tool:

Old Link

Let’s say that you run a site that sells books, ereaders, bookmarks, bookshelves or anything book related.

You could easily get a link from this page by creating a similar list of children’s books on your site.

Then you’d just need to let the person who runs that page know about the outdated link…and your similar resource.

But I’m getting ahead of myself :-)

First I need to answer the question that’s probably burning on your mind:

“HOW do I find resources in my niche that are gone?”

That’s what I’m going to cover next…

Strategy #1: Domain Aftermarket Sites

When an authoritative domain expires it’s usually picked up by a big domain auction site like GoDaddy Auctions, NameJet or even Flippa domain search (shout out to Marc for the heads up about Flippa).

GD Auctions

Domain auction sites have done a lot of the hard work of finding outdated resources for you.

They’ve found domains that had something going for them (either traffic, backlinks or both)…and they organize them in one place to make them easy to sift through.

Sure, you can find gems on the auction sites themselves. But I prefer to use ExpiredDomains.net.

This awesome (and free) site aggregates auctioned domains from several different places.

ExpiredDomains.net also gives you important SEO info, like PageRank, DMOZ listing and the number of referring domains:

Expired Domains

For example, let’s say that you run a coffee blog.

You’d head over to ExpiredDomains.net and enter the keyword “coffee” into the search field:

Expired Search

Then sort by “DP”. DP stands for “Domain Popularity”, which is the number of domains linking to the site.

Sorting by Domain Popularity

A PR4 domain with 244 referring domains jumps out at me:

PR4 Domain

Sure enough, soycoffee.com has a stunning link profile, including a PR3 page link from The Huff Post:

HuffPost Link

Not bad for a 2-minute search, eh?

Strategy #2: News About Business Closings, Rebrands and Mergers

Google News is a treasure trove of information about companies that close, rebrand or change domain names.

Just head over to Google News and use one of these search strings:

  • “Chapter 7” (Chapter 7 means the company dissolved. Chapter 11 means the company is restructuring)
  • “Business closes”
  • “Has closed”
  • “Out of business”
  • “Rebrands as”
  • “Bankruptcy”

Google News Search

Do you run a local business? Add cities and states to your searches to uncover local businesses that have recently closed their doors:

Bankruptcy Search

Strategy #3: Mine Yelp For Lists of Local Businesses That Have Shut Down Near You

When a business shuts down, Yelp keeps the page up. But they add “Yelpers report this location has closed” to the page.

Yelp Closed Page

And if the closed business had a website, Yelp lists the URL here:

Old Website

Just use this simple search string to find them:

site:yelp.com intitle:closed city + business type

For example, if you wanted to find closed book stores in Philly, you’d search for:

Yelp Search

Strategy #4: Find Parked Pages

As I mentioned earlier, parked pages are PERFECT for The Moving Man Method.

Here’s how to find them:

“This page is parked FREE, courtesy of GoDaddy.com” +”domain is for sale”

This brings up parked GoDaddy sites that are for sale.

Google Search String

You also can find niche-specific opportunities with the search string: “domain is for sale” + inurl:keyword.

Most of the results will be sites that are for sale, like this one:

For Sale Website

You’ll also come across press releases and announcements about sites that are for sale or have recently changed hands:

Domain Sale News

Strategy #5: Screaming Frog + Screenshot Tool Combo

I probably don’t need to tell you how awesome the versatile Screaming Frog SEO Spider is…

…or how many uses it has for boosting on and off site SEO.

For those of you that don’t know, Screaming Frog is a web crawler that scans your website just like a search engine spider.

It spots problems with your site like duplicate title tags, broken links — and as you’ll see in a minute — out of date pages.

Here’s what to do:

First, find a website in your niche that you’d like a link from.

Let’s say you run a baking blog and wanted a link from the PR3 EdibleCraftsOnline.com.

Next, put the homepage URL of that site into Screaming Frog and hit “start”:

Screaming Frog

Click the “external” tab, which will show you the outbound links on that domain:

External Tab

Export the list of external links to Excel:

Export Links

Grab those links and put them into the external link screenshot tool. Hit “Check Links”.

External Links Checker

This nifty tool will show you screenshots of the URLs you just gave it.

In our baking blog example, I found a number of links that weren’t quite right:

Screenshots

It may take a bit of digging…

…but if you look at enough screenshots you’ll find at least one link that you can use for The Moving Man Method.

Back to Chris

Chris actually used the Screaming Frog + Screenshot Tool Combo on JustBuyIt.

This is yet another way to tap into this technique: not only do you find outdated links on product pages and category pages, but you unearth Moving Man Method link building opportunities.

When he did, he noticed that they were linking to a parked domain, edge-design.com:

Parked Page

Edge Design used to sell customized iPhone cases…before closing for unknown reasons.

And it’s a product that JustBuyIt sells.

In fact, these iPhone cases are so popular that they still influence Google Suggest results:

Google Suggest

Chris thought to himself:

“If we’re linking to Edge Design’s website, I bet other sites are too.”

And he was right.

Which brings us to step #2…

Step #2: Grab a List of Pages Pointing to the Outdated Resource

Once you’ve identified a popular-but-outdated resource, it’s time to find sites that link to it.

Tools like Ahrefs, Majestic SEO and Open Site Explorer make this process a breeze (I’m going to use Ahrefs in this example).

First, grab the URL of the dead resource.

If it’s an individual page on a site (for example, a tool that’s not working anymore or a service that a company no longer offers), enter the URL of that specific page.

If the entire site is down, use the homepage URL:

Ahrefs Link Check

Glance at the number of referring domains (OSE calls them root domains). The more referring domains, the more link opportunities there are for you.

Referring DomainsPro Tip: Hit the “Top Pages” button before digging into their link profile.

Top Pages

This will show you the most authoritative pages on that site.

Top Pages Results

If you find a page with a lot of referring domains, head over to Archive.org and see what used to be on that page.

Then recreate that resource on your site.  Because you have a one-for-one replacement for the outdated page, the email outreach you do in step #3 will be crazy effective.

Next, export the list of external links:

ahrefs_export

And you have yourself a list of pages linking to the outdated resource that you found:

listoflinks

And this leads us to the last step.

But first, I want to show you something cool…

How to Find Even More Link Building Opportunities

If your outdated resource is a brand name (like “Edge Design” or “Borders Bookstore”), you can uncover even more link building opportunities with a simple Google search.

You see, when people mention brands online, they don’t always link to the brand’s website (this is called an “unlinked mention”). And because the mention isn’t a link, tools like Ahrefs can’t find them.

Here’s an example of what I’m talking about:

Unlinked Mention

Fortunately, you can find these unlinked mentions really easily.

How?

Just search for the brand.

For example, Chris searched for “Edge Design” and “Edge Design Alfa” (a popular Edge Design iPhone case).

He found a bunch of unlinked mentions like this:

Unlinked Mention

Boom. Even more places to reach out to.

Speaking of outreach…

Step #3: Send Emails, Get Links

You’re almost done.

Now it’s time to let people know about their outdated link.

The best way to do that? Email outreach.

Here’s a word-for-word script you can use (this is an actual outreach email that Chris sent out):

Outreach Email

As you can see, Chris didn’t just tap the person on the shoulder and let them know about the outdated link…

…he also gave them a replacement link.

It just so happens that the replacement is a page on his site :-)

When you send out brief outreach emails (Chris’s was only 21-words) — and improve other people’s sites — email outreach tends to convert REALLY well:

Response Email

What’s Next?

I’m sure you can see the potential of The Moving Man Method for generating high-quality links to your Ecommerce site.

If you’re wondering: “How can I use this technique for my site?”, then I’ve got just the thing for you…

A free step-by-step checklist that will show you EXACTLY how to use this strategy for your site.

Click the link below to get instant access to the free checklist:

Ecommerce Checklist

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