Hello everyone, I hope you've got over the fun and laughter of Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and whatever else is going on in your hectic lives right now. It's time for another episode of the case study. Can't believe we're nearly 2 months in!
If you've been following the dual site case study, you'll know that last week I set things in motion for publishing an expert roundup post on both sites. My homework was to find experts to ask, and questions to ask them, then reach out and start the process if there was time left over.
I've actually used two different methods to “prospect” for experts in the past, and this week I tried both. I'm going to give you a breakdown of the methods used here, and talk about my progress overall.
To keep things easier, I limited myself to finding 30 potential experts for each site, but if I was just doing one site, I'd probably go for 50 or more. Bear in mind that maybe only half of them (or fewer) will agree to take part, so the more you ask, the better it will be.
Also, the more participants you have, the more people will be sharing your post, and the more positive results you'll get. It just makes sense to ask more people.
The only time I'd suggest NOT asking as many as possible, is if you're planning to do a roundup post every month. If that's the case, you might want to rotate/stagger who you ask so that they don't get annoyed with you.
Here is how I went about finding my experts.
Method 1: The Slow “Manual” Way
The only real advantage of using this method is that it's free. All you need is a spreadsheet and Google, and some spare time.
What you want to do is type in some keywords for your niche into Google, and go through the websites that show up on the first few pages. Depending on the niche, you can often find quality sites as far back as page 5. It's just a case of checking them out.
You can also use Buzzsumo to see popular posts in your niche as well.
I like to open them all up in a different tab, and check out the sites. It's usually fairly easy to tell whether or not the site is an authority, but you can use things some questions to help you make a decision if you want.
Do they have a large site with many posts?
Are they updating regularly?
Do they get a lot of engagement and shares on their content?
Are you finding them ranking for multiple keywords in your niche?
Does their site look quality or spammy?
Would you like to build a relationship with them?
There are probably a few more questions to ask, and you don't need to ask them all. I can generally “feel” whether or not a site would be a good fit, but you might need more practice.
If I'm not 100% sure about a site, but interested to dig deeper, I might put the URL into opensiteexplorer.org or ahrefs.com and see if they have a spammy backlink profile.
I'll then copy the URL into a spreadsheet and also add in their email address or the contact form address for their site.
I generally also add a few notes about the nature of the site. For example if it is a magazine site with a huge team, it might be harder to reach out and get somebody to respond, or if it is a very popular blogger, it might be better to make contact via Twitter first and get yourself on their radar (more on this later and next week).
Once the list is ready, it's just a case of working through it and sending out the requests, again, more on this at the end of the article.
Method 2: Buzzstream (Not Buzzsumo)
Buzzstream is fantastic. When I signed up for the 14-day free trial, I knew almost immediately that I'd be paying for this service when the trial finished. It's such a powerful tool.
In a nut-shell, Buzzstream allowed me to quickly generate a list of sites to check out, then it let me view each site, and decide whether or not to add it to the project. On top of that, it also captured their email data if it was available and all sorts of other cool stuff.
I was able to use Google search and Buzzsumo to quickly get a list of 30 sites in each niche to reach out to, and then I was able to email the ones that Buzzstream had found using a template, while still personalizing each email. Crazy.
What's more (there's more), I was able to do cool things like assigning relationship statuses to each site, which really helps keep track of those who said yes or no to the request.
Even though I'm primarily using this outreach tool for the case study and for an expert roundup post, I'm pretty sure I'm going to be using it on a daily basis for HumanProofDesigns as well.
One of my goals for 2015 is more outreach and networking, and it seems Buzzstream is going to be a part of that.
By the way, I'm not an affiliate of Buzzstream. I know it comes across like I'm promoting it, and I guess I am, but only because I'm awed.
If you're doing a one-off outreach program, I'd probably recommend you try to complete it within the 14 days you get on the free trial. It's not worth paying the monthly fee unless you are planning to do this method a lot.
Bonus Method: My Service
A few weeks back I introduced a service where I would do an authority roundup post for anybody interested. I'd find experts in your niche, ask them the questions we decide, compile all the results and create the post, then all you have to do is hit the publish button.
I also offered this service half-price to the first people who signed up, and that offer is still available.
Even though I've just shown you a really cool tool you can use (Buzzstream), if you don't have the time, I'm here.
Choosing The Topic For The Post
Having a list of experts is great, and having an easy way to reach out to them is even greater, but none of this means much if you don't have anything to ask them, or anything that will interest people in your niche.
Choosing a question/topic for YOGZ was quite tricky at first.
I wanted to focus on home gyms, and was brainstorming “Home Gym Ideas” or “Essential Home Gym Equipment” and something along those lines.
The problem was that while “Best Home Gym Equipment” was a killer keyword with thousands of monthly searches, the page 1 competition was stiff. We're talking about sites with thousands of links going to the page. I just couldn't see myself getting to page 1 for those keywords.
Home Gym Ideas is a better idea, but also a bit generic. I could come up with something like “Home Gym Ideas From 15 Experts” and ask them all to recommend their best idea, but it's going to be kind of a “meh” post.
I wanted something that would really help answer people's questions, and for that I decided to return to home gym equipment. I ignored keyword research for a minute and thought about what questions somebody might have when building a gym. Here's what I came up with:
1.) How much should I spend?
2.) What equipment should I buy first?
3.) Should I buy a Power Rack? (This question came up a lot on forums)
4) How much space do I need?
There were more questions, but I'll save your time and not list them. I'm just trying to show you the process of choosing your question/topic.
In the end I went with:
“The One Piece Of Home Gym Equipment Everyone Needs.”
Yes it's a very competitive keyword, but if I ask enough experts and get enough shares and links, it's still worthwhile. After all, I'm not purely trying to get ranked number one for this keyword.
I'm more trying to get my site on the map, build relationships, and attract links that will boost the whole site's rankings.
I used a similar process of keyword and audience research to come up with my topic for Dateandsimple. One thing I discovered is that there are a lot of common questions coming up about how to look sophisticated, or how to act on a date with an older man etc, so that's the theme I went with.
My question to the experts:
“What three tips would you give for dating an older man?”
I'll decide on the title later on, based on what kind of answers I get.
One thing to consider here is that for both sites, I already use those keywords on some of my generic articles.
Rather than writing the new post for the same keyword and risk getting in trouble for over using a keyword, I'm going to either re-write the originals to include the expert past, or just change the titles of the originals.
There's no point targeting the same keyword.
As this post is already coming in at 1,600+ words, I'll end it here and cover the actual outreach part next week. This will include things like how to use templates but still make emails personal, how to get more experts to take part, and how to get them sharing it afterwards.
Remember you can save time and have me do it for you.
Review Of The Week
In case it is not 100% clear why I'm doing a roundup post, I'll summarize below:
- I want to get my site on the map, and contacting experts in the niche is a great way to do this.
- I want my site to look like an authority, and this will really do that.
- I want to attract natural links and shares to my site. Again, this will do that.
- I want some awesome content. This will be that.
I'll do this by contacting as many experts in the niche as possible, asking them a question, collating all the answers into a post, giving a link to each expert's site, then letting them know the post is live. Some will link back to it, but most will share it out with their audiences, which can get a LOT of traffic and links to my sites.
Even though I DID do some keyword research, this shouldn't be the most important thing when choosing your topic. The most important thing is that it's something that a lot of people in the niche will benefit from, and it hasn't already been done to death with expert roundup posts.
Most niches have very few of this type of post.