As we close off another year, it's always a healthy habit to review the good, the bad, and the ugly from the past year.
This one is no different.
I'd say “the good” for HPD fell into 2 major categories:
1) Our portfolio of sites grew quite a bit because of new partnerships. We hit some scaling issues but nothing we haven't overcome before.
– One of our own sites got hit with the quality update in July but It's recovering nicely now and this is mostly due to the lessons we picked up from the CMSEO conference.
We've done everything we spoke about in that article, except for an TF*IDF optimization.
– We made some tweaks in the final quarter of the year to another site and added a bunch of content, plus changed the ad settings.
– Another win for us came when we merged a struggling blog with quality content with another bigger site that had a stronger SEO profile.
Both had similar content and we created a new silo in the stronger blog to incorporate the new content.
Traffic immediately picked up piggybacking off the older domain's authority. This also resulted in more revenue 🙂
Not only are we hitting our stride with economies of scale but our partners are beginning to refer us too.
2) The HPD community has grown a lot through our expansion towards bigger markets.
For example, we've been very focused on the world of Amazon affiliate marketing and we generally meet people when they already know what “affiliate marketing” is, but this year we tried to get more traditional PR to educate the greater world of “blogging” about our model and it's worked out quite well.
We've noticed that most bloggers don't really understand how to monetize their blogs properly so we're here to make sure they don't waste any more time.
You'll also be hearing Bryon on a few of the bigger podcasts for entrepreneurship and introducing HPD to their audience.
Affiliate marketing can sometimes have a negative connotation and we're here to make sure that changes.
Alright… Now it's time for the bad and the ugly!
Below, we've listed out a few new habits of our own but we also included a few tips from others at different stages. Some are just starting out, while others are even more advanced than ourselves.
Let's see what's in store!
1) Always Review Your Content On Mobile
You just spilled a glass of red wine and this time it's REALLY bad.
It's even on your stucco ceiling.
You've cleaned everything up but your ceiling is stained!
Maybe there's some sort of product specifically for this… So you Google “how to remove stains from stucco ceilings” and you see an article that was published 2 weeks ago – perfect!
But… The article looks terrible on your phone. So you bounce and check out the next article.
That's minus one point for your content.
The only reason you're up on that first page is likely because there's very little competition so Google gave you a shot by adding your article first and then asking questions later.
AKA seeing if your content is up to par.
Google's begun switching over to it's Mobile-First index so this has to be your biggest habit to keep going.
To check your content for 80% of the devices out there, go to the inspector window of Google Chrome & check out how things look there.
It's not perfect, but it's a baseline step to ensure your content looks descent on mobile.
Next, check it on your own phone.
Finally, review your content here: https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly
This doesn't apply to only new content either, so be sure to audit your old content for it's viability on mobile.
2) Perform Due Diligence Before Updating
The Yoast fiasco this year reset a site's XML file (aka sitemap) to include all types of content, regardless of the settings prior to the version update.
This mistake ruins the attempts of SEO's to manage their crawl budget better and now they've lost a bit of trust in the community.
(Plus, every version update takes away a tiny bit more from their freemium level.)
In the case of other plugins, I'm sure you've updated one before only to open it up and say WTF.
It happened with us with both Thrive Themes and Yoast recently.
However, to give them credit, we use both tools religiously so it's easier for us to react when it affects so many of our sites.
We're not dumping either of them though, we just want to remember to review the updates first and see what the community is saying.
The only plugins I wouldn't do this for is security plugins such as WordFence.
3) Monthly Reviews of Keyword Cannibalization
It was a big topic last year and as any site grows, it'll start to see this problem more and more naturally.
The key is to be aware of this issue arising and to let your editors know as well.
Unfortunately, HPD has been experiencing a bit of it ourselves since the site is so big and we've been talking a lot about the same subjects for years.
Which means we've spent a fair bit of time this past year trying to re-sculpt our organic traffic and will continue doing so this new year.
4) Think Back To Search Intent
Applying proper SEO is how we like to build sites. It's an easy process to replicate and we're getting to people's pain points at the exact right time.
The key words there are “pain point”.
If you aren't already, consider exactly why someone is searching for that keyword and what they see when they first arrive. First impressions really do matter.
Here's an example, when I'm not sure whether my dog can eat something, I hop onto my phone and look it up.
(Or I might say “OK Google!”)
That means whenever I'm writing content like that, I think about how this person is searching and what the heck they want to see the quickest.
Then I put all my chips on that reason and structure the article with that imaginary interaction in mind. It's just copywriting, right?
5) Know Thy Products!
When you know why someone came (aka search intent), you can build up a case for why they should check out a particular product, over the others.
It could be perfect for their lifestyle, interests, age, sex, size, weight, etc.
This helps you segment people coming to your page, plus gives you extra gun-powder when it comes to conversions.
The easiest & fastest way I know to dissect Amazon products is to use Amasuite's review analyzer (see our review here.)
You basically scan all the reviews of a specific product and get a quick pros and cons list going.
Filling in the rest of the content with background stuff, features, and other details.
Shafi Khan, of BlogCharge, has a slightly different approach and I think it's worth highlighting. Shafi likes to focus on people's potential experiences with the product, instead of the features.
Here's the approach in his own words:
“Over the course of years, I have written a lot of product review articles and noticed one very important thing. If you sell the experience and benefits rather than features, your article will convert better.
Instead of focusing on a technical specifications sheet (which is already available on Amazon), try to create a persona and connect with readers.
Start with your problem and how it was affecting your life then go on to explain how the product has helped you have a better life.
By writing persona-based reviews, I have seen an increase of around 20% in CTR.
Also, social sharing is better as readers feel more connected to the story and relate to it.”
6) Progress = Focus
Humans can't multi-task, we can only switch back and forth between projects.
Don't build multiple sites until you have mastered one.
You can always try to build another, but I wouldn't work on two at the same time unless I've already hit my revenue goals with the first one.
We've always known this, but faced it again when it came too scaling our portfolio recently. To fix it, we simply dedicated a short period of time to the one site that absolutely needed it the most.
For those starting out, once you learn how to build a content business in one niche, you'll know what to do next time and what to look out for 10X faster.
Focus doesn't only apply to metrics like traffic, but can also apply to conversions and even business relationships.
Here are some pointers we picked up from Dean Gibbons of Park Savers, a website dedicated to Disney travel:
“Choose your top 2-3 programs and be loyal.
The more loyal you are as an affiliate, the better the relationship you have with them.
This makes a big difference in the long run.
Loyalty pays off.”
7) Automate Diversification
It's seriously so easy to automate things like your social media nowadays. If you have at least 24 articles on your site, then you can pre-schedule posts directly in FB pages now.
Start thinking about laying the bricks of your social pages foundation. Not only is it an easy win to gain social proof, but you'll get a tiny bit of traffic back from it.
One tip I'd say is to post info content and review content. You want to tell a story and if that means posting all your review articles and then adding content from other sites to supplement it, then that's ok too.
Use it as a reason to reach out to others in your niche too and tell them you're going to share the post.
This could all be done in 30 mins, or less, for the entire year.
Pinterest is another traffic source to automate as well.
Not only can you automate scheduling but you can create multiple images for the same posts and get more bang for your buck.
We talk about this strategy specifically in the Human Proof Method course here.
8) Utilize Social Q&A
Some niches have really active communities where people are always asking questions.
The key here is to keep an eye on topics that come up over and over again.
When you see the question, give your advice and drop a link.
We've noticed that a lot more likes come when the answer is really thorough and almost to the point of being too long.
(We know you SEO's have no problem writing extra long content :P)
If you're in our Facebook group, you'll see us employing this strategy from time-to-time but it definitely works in other niches too.
9) Improve Your Table Game
If there's one thing that should be standard for your “best” articles, it's a table!
There's no easier way to drop that cookie, right?
Marty, from the HPD community, has been tired of the boring spec-heavy tables and wants to breath more life into his posts.
He's looking to amp-up his tables this year and has already been looking into ways to customize them for his site.
Here are the words straight from Marty's mouth:
10) Build Linkable Assets
Once you start understanding your niche better, the idea of creating content that is very linkable and also viral becomes easier to think of.
If you don't know what a linkable asset is, it's simply something that inspires people to link back organically.
Often times, this falls under a research project for a popular topic in your niche. It doesn't have to be new because people will share things because they wish it existed when they needed it and just want to share the resource with friends.
The easiest way to reverse engineer linkable assets is to go into Ahrefs' content explorer, search for a keyword related to your niche and sort the content by the most referring domains.
Finding “linkable assets” to copy in your niche using Ahrefs.
This idea came back to our attention from Sadi Khan of RunRepeat, one of the biggest shoe review sites out there:
“Stop building links, start building linkable assets.
In the last couple of years, we have done multiple research studies and data analysis that were featured on mainstream sites like The Guardian, WSJ, NYT, and plenty others.
Some of these might have taken more than a couple of months but the natural backlinks that resulted have helped us outrank major brands.”
11) Go Fully In
Our community has grown quite a bit this year and we've been doing this affiliate marketing thing for long enough that we're already fully committed.
For those of you who are just starting out or spent the last year with only one leg in…
Put your other leg in and start swimming.
Build up those affiliate muscles.
Adrian, another member of our community, said it best when he recapped the year by highlighting the move to go fully in on this business model and network with everyone he can in the industry.
Honestly, the best thing you can to do when you're starting any entrepreneurial adventure is to surround yourself with people at every stage of that business model.
You yourself might be further ahead than some and end up being a mentor, or you might find someone who's much further ahead and also thinks a lot bigger than you too.
Either way, expand your network and pick up things from everyone. That's why the HPD community is so strong with its now 9,000+ members! (from the public and private groups.)
If you're not a member of our free Facebook group, then join it here.
BUT… If you're looking for something a bit more high-level…
Join our private community and get our world-class training with it!