The other day I was recording a podcast episode with my
co-host Eric Siu and he wanted to discuss something in particular.
He wanted to talk about how I got to 62,000 Instagram followers in a very short period of time and without spending any money on ads or marketing.
Eric is a great marketer as well, and when it comes to
social media, he spends much more time than me on it and he even has people at
his ad agency dedicated to helping him grow his personal brand online.
And of writing this post, he has 4,056 followers.
It’s not just with Instagram either, I beat him on all
Heck, he even does something that I don’t do, which is smart… he continually pays for advice. For example, he had his team jump on an hour call with Gary Vaynerchuk’s social media team so they could learn from them and grow his brand faster.
So, what’s the secret to my success?
Well, before I get into it, let me first start off by saying I love Eric to death and the point of this post isn’t to pick on him or talk crap… more so, I have a point to make and you’ll see it in a bit below.
Everyone talks about strategies to grow your social following… from going live and posting frequently or talking about the type of content you should post and what you shouldn’t do.
I could even tell you that you need to respond to every comment and build up a relationship with your followers, which will help you grow your following and brand.
And although all of this is true, I dare you to try the fundamentals or the strategies that every marketing guru talks about doing. If you do, I bet this will happen…
It will be a lot of work and, if you are lucky, in the next 30 days you may get 10% more followers.
Sure, some of you will get much more growth, but you’ll find
that you can’t always replicate it and it won’t be consistent.
So, what is it then?
Luck is part of some people’s success, but not most. The problem with luck is it doesn’t teach you much and it isn’t easy to replicate.
The reality is, some people will just get lucky and have tons of traction.
In other words, luck isn’t the secret. But if you do want to get “luckier”, then you can always become an early adopter which helps a bit.
When you jump onto a social network when it’s new, it’s
easier to grow and become popular.
For example, I got to over 30,000 Twitter followers
extremely fast when Twitter first came out.
At that time, I wasn’t as well known… it happened because of
a few reasons:
But here is the thing: even though being an early adopter helps, it’s not the secret to my success.
Just look at Instagram, I am really late to the game. But I started growing fast just this year as that is when we really started.
If you can get in early, you should do so, assuming you have
the time to invest. For example, this is the time to get in on Tiktok.
When you get in early, there is always the chance that the social network may end up flopping. But if it does take off, you’ll be ahead of your competition.
Here was the secret to my growth… and it still works today. Eric Siu is even doing it with me right now.
It’s piggybacking on brands that are already popular.
When I first started, no one knew who I was. And I’m not saying everyone knows who I am today… by no means do I have a large brand like Tony Robbins.
What I did early on in my career was piggyback off of other popular brands.
For example, I hit up Pete Cashmore from Mashable, Michael Arrington from TechCrunch, Adrianna Huffington from Huffington Post, and so many other popular sites like ReadWriteWeb, Business Insider, Gawker Media, and GigaOm to name just a few.
I know some of them don’t exist anymore, but back then they were extremely popular. Anyone who was in tech, and even some who weren’t, knew about each of those sites.
So, when I got started as a marketer, I hit up all of those sites and offered all of them free marketing in exchange for promoting my brand and adding “Marketing done by Neil Patel” or “Marketing done by Pronet”, which was my ad agency back then.
Just look at the image above. TechCrunch used to link to my site on every page of their site… forget rich anchor text, it really is all about branding.
The hardest part is, I had to email and message these
influencers dozens of times just to convince them to let me help them for free.
And a lot of them ignored me or didn’t accept my offer.
But of a few said yes.
Pete from Mashable was one of the first to say yes. Once his traffic and rankings skyrocketed, his competition hit me up. Especially TechCrunch.
What was funny, though, is that I was constantly emailing TechCrunch and didn’t hear back. 6 months from my first email, they eventually accepted my offer.
I made a deal with Michael Arrington at the time in which once I boosted his traffic, he would add a logo that I did marketing for him, which you saw above.
In addition to that, he would tell all of his venture capital friends what I did for him and share the results (so hopefully they would share it with their portfolio companies, which would help me make money) and write a blog post about me.
He didn’t end up writing the blog post, which is fine, but he
did the other two.
When he sent out emails to VCs showing a Google Analytics graph of his traffic growing at a rapid pace, I quickly got inundated with inquiries about my marketing services.
In addition to that, I was building up my brand… and my
social media following. I was gaining “social clout” because I was doing good
work for influencers.
One could argue that boosting traffic for someone like TechCrunch by 30% is worth millions and I should have charged for my services. Although I spent countless time doing free work, I wouldn’t trade it for any single dollar as it is what made me and helped build up my reputation.
And I didn’t stop there. Even today, I try to associate myself with other popular brands. Just like how I was lucky enough to work with Robert Herjavec, who has a popular TV show in the US along with Mark Cuban…
Here’s how many visitors I was getting for my name “Neil Patel” on a monthly basis before I started working with Robert.
And this is how many visitors I get for my name on a monthly
basis a few months after I worked with Robert.
That’s a 37.84% increase in a matter of months!
By piggybacking off of popular brands, it doesn’t just help my website traffic but also helps to grow my social media following as well.
Just like as you can see below with my Instagram growth…
Now it isn’t just me who can do this, anyone can.
Just like how I piggybacked off of brands like TechCrunch, Eric is doing something similar to me at the moment.
We have a podcast that generates over 1 million downloads a month.
Eric’s had a podcast for years, but the one he has with me has more than 10x the listeners. This has helped him grow his brand a lot over the last year.
Let’s just look at the data. According to Eric, due to the podcast, he has signed up 6 clients, which has generated 540,000 dollars in annual revenue.
Now when he goes to tech conferences, 3 to 4 people tend to come up to him and mention how they love Marketing School and his work. In addition to that, it has been easier for Eric to set up meetings (people respond back to him more now), and he is also getting advisory shares in companies due to his growing brand. And the best part is, he is getting more paid speaking gigs for up to $10,000 a pop because of the podcast.
The data shows it was a good move by Eric for partnering up with me. He pushed me to do a podcast years ago and I told him no because I was too lazy. He didn’t give up though. Eventually, he got me to say yes and flew to my house in Las Vegas to record our first episode.
He did all of the work and it has been a great mutual relationship as doing this podcast has also helped grow my brand at the same time.
Now you are probably thinking, why isn’t his follower count growing fast enough?
Well, he needs to do what he is doing with me with a few more influencers to really put fuel to the fire. Just like how I didn’t only piggyback off of TechCrunch… at one point the Gawker Media network was linking to me on every page of their sites, which was seen by over 100 million unique people per month.
That really gets your brand out there!
Another example is Brian Dean from Backlinko as he did something similar with me back in the day. Years ago I approached him to write a detailed guide on link building with him and he also created videos that were on my old marketing blog Quick Sprout, which helped him grow his brand.
I can’t take credit for “making” Eric or Brian successful. They would have done well without me… and in the grand scheme of things, I really didn’t do much for either of them.
It’s like saying TechCrunch made the Neil Patel brand. Of course, it helped, and helped a lot… but one partnership won’t make or break you.
And if I didn’t continually blog, create videos, speak at events, or do any of the other stuff that I did, the TechCrunch partnership wouldn’t have been as effective.
Eric and Brian would have grown their brand in other ways because their work stands for itself, hence they would have been successful on their own. I just helped provide a little boost, just like how TechCrunch provided me with a boost.
And once more people get to know you, you’ll naturally do
better on the social web.
For example, when Will Smith created his Instagram account, he didn’t have to buy ads or anything. Everyone just knows him already and that’s why his Instagram account blew up really quickly.
And you can do what Will Smith did on a smaller scale. Similar to what I did.
But don’t expect it overnight. Will Smith has been on television for over 20 years. It’s multiple shows, movies, and connections with other famous people that have really helped grow Will’s brand.
Of course, we won’t get on TV as Will has, but you can piggyback on other popular brands multiple times to create a similar (smaller) effect.
All you have to do is help these influencers out for free.
If you are a web designer, offer design services. If you are
a marketer, offer marketing services. If you are selling a product or service,
keep giving it away for free and maybe someone will talk about your company.
If you don’t have anything you can offer that has value, just look at whatever influencer you want to associate with, see where they may need help, learn that skill, and offer it for free.
It’s the easiest way to become popular on the social web.
That’s my secret to being popular on the social web.
It’s also how I built a decent size company… purely by
leveraging other popular brands in the early days.
You can do the same, but you have to be patient. Don’t expect it to happen overnight.
For example, Eric’s brand has been growing but we have been
doing a podcast together for over 2 years now.
Plus, he continually pushes on his own and doesn’t just rely
on leveraging other influencers.
Remember, nothing worthwhile happens overnight.
You have to be persistent with your emails, your direct messages, your text messages, and whatever else you can do to get a hold of these influencers. Most will ignore you but it is a numbers game and, eventually, you’ll be able to associate your brand with someone popular, which will grow your brand.
And last but not least: Don’t expect an influencer to make you successful. Sure, multiple influencers are better than one, but that’s not what I meant.
If Brian Dean from Backlinko wasn’t good at link building, creating content, SEO, and educating, he wouldn’t do well… no matter who he associated himself with. The same goes for Eric.
Your skills, your abilities, your product… whatever you are
trying to brand needs to stand on its own.
So, what do you think about my secret? Are you going to
Who says you have to spend money to get more traffic?
For today’s blog post, I thought it would be fun to break down all of the free SEO tools. Sure you may know of some, like Ubersuggest, but there are many more options than just my own tool.
Now before I dive into the tools, I’ve broken them down into
the following categories:
So, are you ready to dive in? Let’s get started!
All of the tools in this category will help you find more
keywords. Many of them have different ways of coming up with keyword
suggestions, so you may want to check them all out.
has many different keyword research options. First of all, it shows you how
many searches a keyword has had over the last 12 months so you can see if there
is any seasonality.
In addition to that, it pulls keywords from a few different sources such as Google Suggest and its own database, it shows you all of the keywords your competition ranks for, and it provides keyword suggestions based on questions, comparisons, and prepositions.
My favorite feature of Ubersuggest’s keyword research capabilities is that it not only can you see how competitive a term is, but it also tells you how many links the average ranking website contains.
That way you know how many links you need to build to rank
What’s also unique about Ubersuggest is that it provides
local keyword suggestions. This is great if you are trying to do local SEO.
Answer The Public
leverages Google Suggest to find all of the questions people may have related
to any industry or keyword.
Just type in a keyword and it will give you a laundry list
of questions people are searching for related to that keyword.
Similar to Ubersuggest it also shows you comparison and
preposition related keywords.
What I like about the tool is compared to any competing tool, it represents the data in nice visuals.
SEO doesn’t just exist on Google. You can also rank higher on Amazon, YouTube, Bing, and tons of other sites.
the same concept of Google Suggest, but for a handful of sites like Amazon,
Play Store, and YouTube.
If you are performing SEO on sites other than Google, you
should check out KeywordTool.io.
FAQfox is a neat little tool that finds you questions people want to be answered based on any specific site you want information from.
For example, you can type in the word “cat” and quora.com as the URL and it will show you category based questions people are asking on Quora.
You can do this for Reddit or any other site you want
keyword ideas from.
Of course, the search giant, Google, has its own keyword
Keyword Planner gives you suggestions as well as CPC data and click
You’ll also notice that a lot of other keyword tools have CPC data, but chances are they are pulling it from Google Keyword Planner.
When you are using Keyword Planner, look for terms with a high CPC as they tend to convert well when you rank for them organically.
Out of all the tools on the list, I probably use Google Trends 3 to 4 times a week. That’s
how much I love it.
What I love about Trends is that it shows you what is hot right now. In addition to that, it tells you if an industry is getting less search volume or more over time.
You can also filter your data based on a specific country or
you can look at the data from a global perspective.
Soovle takes the concept of Google Suggest (autocomplete) but for a lot of the popular sites around the web.
Soovle pulls all of the popular keywords on Google, YouTube, Amazon, Wikipedia, Bing, Yahoo, and Answers.com.
The AdWords and SEO
Permutation Generator is a super simple tool that helps you get creative
with your keyword research.
You enter in a handful of terms you want to target and it will combine them to make different variations for you.
Not all of the keywords will be popular when it comes to search volume, but it will give you a sense of how you can go after long-tail variations within your site.
Reddit has a ton of categories (subreddits) and Keyworddit helps you find all of the keywords within that subreddit.
What’s neat is it even breaks down the volume for each of
those keywords. That way you can quickly see if any are worth going after.
Generally speaking, you’ll want to use tools like this as it
will give you a new perspective on keyword research.
Pulling results from Google is something that all SEOs already do. Because of that, you need to use other sources if you want to get a leg up on your competition.
Keyword Generator by Higher Visibility does keyword research a bit
differently than most of the keyword tools out there.
First, you pick a business category. Then you select the type of business you have and enter in any locations you are targeting.
You’ll then be given a list of keywords that you can
What I like about this tool is that it makes things super
simple, especially if you are new to SEO.
Scout is a browser extension that gives you a list of keyword ideas from
any web page.
Just browse any site or check out your competition, click a button and boom, you are given ideas on keywords that other people are using.
It breaks the keywords down by relevance and volume.
When you are doing keyword research, how do you know a keyword is getting enough searches?
SearchVolume.io lets you bulk upload up to 800 keywords and it tells you how popular each keyword is.
The tool also works for a handful of other regions, such as Brazil, France, and Italy.
Serps has a neat tool that works well if you are doing
Their Google Location Changer
allows you to search Google in any country or city. Just type in a keyword and
you’ll see who ranks.
Using this tool in combination with WordTracker Scout can
give you unique keyword suggestions.
Content is the one thing we all have to create if we want more search traffic.
Here are free content marketing tools that can help you get
the most out of your search traffic.
Have you noticed that your rankings decrease over time?
It’s not just because of Google algorithm updates. In most
cases, your old content won’t perform as well because it’s old.
Animalz Revive shows you which content pieces are dying over time.
That way you know what to focus on. Just look at the ones that have declined the most and then spruce them up so you can get more rankings.
What’s cool about this tool is it will save you a lot of
time. For example, my team updates 90 pieces of content a month. The last thing
you want to do is waste a ton of time on content that never had much traffic.
Most people use Google Search Console to see which keywords are driving them traffic.
My favorite way of using Search Console is to see which one of my blog posts are getting a lot of search impressions but have less than a 4% click-through rate.
I then go in and modify each of those pages to include the right keywords in my meta tags. Then I look to see which keywords I am ranking for but not really targeting yet, and then either create new content around those terms or modify existing content to also target them.
has a feature similar to Buzzsumo but it is 100% free. It’s called Content
All you have to do is enter in a keyword or phrase and it
will show you all of the popular blog posts that contain that term.
The blog posts are then sorted by social shares, backlinks,
and search traffic.
This helps you create content around topics people want to
read, which means more traffic.
One of my biggest traffic gains has come from translating my
A lot of people ask me if they would be penalized from duplicating
and translation their content.
The answer is no.
All you need to do is use the Hreflang
This tool creates tags for you to place in your HTML code so
Google knows you are targeting specific languages and countries with certain content
For every 10 people that see your headline, only 2 on average will continue to read your content.
In other words, content marketing is all about the headline.
If you are struggling to create headlines, check out the Portent Title Generator.
Just insert a keyword or phrase and it will generate dozens
of suggestions for you.
Not sure which words in your title should be capitalized?
Capitalization tool will take care of that for you.
It may not sound important to you, but if your titles look off, people may not click through from SERP results to read your content, which can decrease your rankings over time.
Every SEO should be using Grammarly.
Which do you think Google prefers? Ranking a blog post that reads well or one that contains a lot of spelling and grammar errors?
Grammarly helps you avoid spelling mistakes. This is really important if you want to rank on Google.
Have you noticed that some listings on Google get cut off because the title is too long?
A big misconception is Google uses character counts for meta tags. In reality, they count pixels.
SERP Tool will tell you how many pixels your meta tags contain and if they
will get cut off by Google.
It also shows you a preview of what your web pages will look
like on Google.
Google Analytics is a great tool to show you your overall
traffic, but it doesn’t tell you where you rank.
If you want to track your rankings, you’ll need to use some
I know I mentioned this tool above, but Google Search Console is the most unique rank tracking tool out there.
Because this tool is from Google, they can tell you your
average ranking for any one of your pages per country.
And because the data comes from them, they average it out to give you accurate information.
You can also go back 16 months and see how your rankings
have changed over time.
Again, I know I also mentioned Ubersuggest above, but it now has a free rank tracking feature.
It provides the same features as those paid rank trackers. You can track your rankings daily for any keyword or groups of keywords for any country, city, or county.
It also saves your data for you so you can go back as far as
you want to see if your rankings have been increasing or decreasing.
If you want to track your rankings manually, you can do so with
Just put in a keyword and select the language and country so you can see all of the sites that rank in the top 100.
You can then manually find your site and keep track to see
if you are improving or declining.
You may want to use Search Latte in combination with Excel as you can create a daily log of your rankings.
You used to have to pay for tools if you wanted link data,
but that’s not the case anymore. Here are the free link tools you can use.
This is probably my favorite link tool that I use.
Even though Google doesn’t use domain authority, in general, the higher the authority of a site that is linking to you, the better off you are.
shows you the domain authority and page authority of every page on the web.
If you are going to build links, focus on the sites with the highest authority.
If you are like me, you probably love using Excel when you
are building links.
for Excel makes it really easy to pull in data from Majestic and Moz.
If you haven’t tried this yet, you should consider it. It
will make it easier for you to find new insights and run your own calculations.
a free tool that shows you all of your backlinks. There are no limits in row
count or anything like that… you can just see everyone who links to you.
You can see if any of your links are dofollow or nofollow as
well as the anchor text.
You can filter the results to find backlink opportunities when researching competitors and you have the option to look up link data on a domain, subdomain, or a specific URL.
It will also show when a link was first found and last
crawled and the authority of each link.
Tired of looking up the domain and page authority manually
on each of your pages or sites?
Metrics Checker solves that for you.
Just upload a list of URLs and within seconds you’ll have a
list of your page authority per URL. You can also do the same for domains and
upload dozens of domains at once.
SEO has changed. You no longer can do just a few things and expect your site to rank well. You have to do everything if you expect to beat your competition.
And when I mean everything, that includes technical SEO.
If you haven’t already, try running your URL through my SEO Analyzer.
It will tell you what’s wrong with each of your web pages.
From duplicate meta tags and redirect errors to sitemaps and much more… it pretty much looks at every major factor when it comes to SEO.
It will even tell you your overall site speed and what you need to fix in which order to get the maximum results.
And if you register for a free account, it automatically checks for errors each week on your behalf.
When you are doing SEO, there is a good chance that your Google Analytics gets messed up by referral spam.
Analytics Referrer Spam Killer solves that problem by connecting with your
Google Analytics account and blocking off the most common referral spam.
Once you connect it, you’ll find that your data is much more
accurate so you can make better SEO decisions.
Speed is everything. The faster your site loads the better
you will rank, especially when it comes to Google’s mobile index.
tells you what you need to fix for your site to load fast on any device.
It doesn’t matter if you are optimizing for tablet devices, desktop, or mobile… it will tell you what to fix.
Fixing your code is one thing, but you’ll also want to make
sure your site loads fast overall.
Your overall load time is affected by things like your
server and CDN.
Pingdom tells you
your actual load time.
With Pingdom, you can pick which location to test your load speed from and it tells you what code on your site is causing the biggest slowdown.
With over 3,200 algorithm updates each year to Google, how do you know if you have been affected by an update?
Is it related to a core update, your content, or link
Checker tells you that.
In a nice graph, it shows your traffic over time and tells you if a Google update has caused your traffic to go up or down.
A simple way to increase your search traffic is to use
But there is one big issue, schema markup is a bit complicated to implement. Because of that, Google created a Structured Data Markup Helper to guide you.
All you have to do is select what kind of markup you want to use, type in your URL, and go through the walkthrough wizard.
And at the end, you’ll be given code that you just paste within HTML.
Looking for a simple SEO analysis? Woorank shows you a simple report of what’s
wrong with your web page.
All you have to do is type in your domain and within a minute you’ll see a thorough report of what you need to fix.
What I love about Woorank is that it is a great tool for beginners because of their easy-to-use interface.
Just like Woorank, SEOptimer is a simple tool that gives you a technical overview of your on-page SEO as well as your content.
It breaks down things like page speed as well in addition to showing you how your website loads for both desktop and mobile devices.
You can even see social sharing data.
Varvy provides a detailed
technical checklist of all things related to your SEO.
From your Robots.txt file and your sitemap to security settings and even your links, it covers all the bases.
If you don’t have a technical background, Varvy might be a bit complex unless you take the time to read each of their articles that outline what each tip/recommendation means.
When you are doing SEO long enough, eventually you find
yourself changing your older URLs.
But if you don’t add a 301 redirect, you’ll lose your rankings.
Redirect Code Generator creates the code you’ll need to tell search engines
your URLs have changed.
This tool is similar to the Website Penalty Checker but it is more accurate because it connects directly with your Analytics account.
If you think you have been hit with a Google penalty, use
the Panguin Tool.
Now if you want to see if your competition has also been
hit, this tool won’t work, but the Website Penalty Checker will.
None-the-less, they are both great tools.
I have to include this tool again. Why? Because if there is something wrong with your site, such as it getting hacked, it will notify you.
It even tells you the pages that were indexed and which ones aren’t.
One thing that you have to do within your Search Console is to submit an XML sitemap.
XML Sitemaps generates a sitemap for you that you can submit to Google Search Console.
You’ll need to do this so you can get more of your content indexed.
Submitting a sitemap doesn’t guarantee that Google will index your content, but it does help… mainly for sites with low domain authority.
Tools don’t have to cost money. I got into SEO because it
was the free traffic source I could leverage to compete with the big companies.
If you want to grow your search rankings, you can leverage
one of the free SEO tools above.
Sure, there are amazing paid tools as well, but why not start with the free stuff?
What other free SEO tools do you use?
Google released a major update. They typically don’t announce their updates, but you know when they do, it is going to be big.
And that’s what happened with the most recent update that they announced.
A lot of people saw their traffic drop. And of course, at the same time, people saw their traffic increase because when one site goes down in rankings another site moves up to take its spot.
Can you guess what happened to my traffic?
Well, based on the title of the post you are probably going
to guess that it went up.
Now, let’s see what happened to my search traffic.
My overall traffic has already dipped by roughly 6%. When you look at my organic traffic, you can see that it has dropped by 13.39%.
I know what you are thinking… how did you beat Google’s core update when your traffic went down?
What if I told you that I saw this coming and I came up with a solution and contingency strategy in case my organic search traffic would ever drop?
But before I go into that, let me first break down how it all started and then I will get into how I beat Google’s core update.
I’ve been doing SEO for a long time… roughly 18 years now.
When I first started, Google algorithm updates still sucked but they were much more simple. For example, you could get hit hard if you built spammy links or if your content was super thin and provided no value.
Over the years, their algorithm has gotten much more complex. Nowadays, it isn’t about if you are breaking the rules or not. Today, it is about optimizing for user experience and doing what’s best for your visitors.
But that in and of itself is never very clear. How do you know that what you are doing is better for a visitor than your competition?
Honestly, you can never be 100% sure. The only one who actually knows is Google. And it is based on whoever it is they decide to work on coding or adjusting their algorithm.
Years ago, I started to notice a new trend with my search
Look at the graph above, do you see the trend?
And no, my traffic doesn’t just climb up and to the right. There are a lot of dips in there. But, of course, my rankings eventually started to continually climb because I figured out how to adapt to algorithm updates.
On a side note, if you aren’t sure how to adapt to the latest algorithm update, read this. It will teach you how to recover your traffic… assuming you saw a dip. Or if you need extra help, check out my ad agency.
In many cases after an algorithm update, Google continues to fine-tune and tweak the algorithm. And if you saw a dip when you shouldn’t have, you’ll eventually start recovering.
But even then, there was one big issue. Compared to all of the previous years, I started to feel like I didn’t have control as an SEO anymore back in 2017. I could no longer guarantee my success, even if I did everything correctly.
Now, I am not trying to blame Google… they didn’t do anything wrong. Overall, their algorithm is great and relevant. If it wasn’t, I wouldn’t be using them.
And just like you and me, Google isn’t perfect. They continually adjust and aim to improve. That’s why they do over 3,200 algorithm updates in a year.
But still, even though I love Google, I didn’t like the
feeling of being helpless. Because I knew if my traffic took a drastic dip, I
would lose a ton of money.
I need that traffic, not only to drive new revenue but, more importantly, to pay my team members. The concept of not being able to pay my team on any given month is scary, especially when your business is bootstrapped.
So what did I do?
Although I love SEO, and I think I’m pretty decent at it
based on my traffic and my track record, I knew I had to come up with another
solution that could provide me with sustainable traffic that could still
generate leads for my business.
In addition to that, I wanted to find something that wasn’t “paid,” as I was bootstrapping. Just like how SEO was starting to have more ups and downs compared to what I’ve seen in my 18-year career, I knew the cost at paid ads would continually rise.
Just look at Google’s ad revenue. They have some ups and downs every quarter but the overall trend is up and to the right.
In other words, advertising will continually get more expensive over time.
And it’s not just Google either. Facebook Ads keep getting more expensive as well.
I didn’t want to rely on a channel that would cost me more next year and the year after because it could get so expensive that I may not be able to profitably leverage it in the future.
So, what did I do?
I went on a hunt to figure out a way to get direct, referral, and organic traffic that didn’t rely on any algorithm updates. (I will explain what I mean by organic traffic in a bit.)
With the help of my buddy, Andrew Dumont, I went searching for websites that continually received good traffic even after algorithm updates.
Here were the criteria that we were looking for:
In essence, we were looking for sites that were popular because people naturally liked them. Our intentions at first weren’t to necessarily buy any of these sites. Instead, we were trying to figure out how to naturally become popular so we could replicate it.
Do you know what we figured out?
I’ll give you a hint.
Think of it this way: Google doesn’t get the majority of their traffic from SEO. And Facebook doesn’t get their traffic because they rank everywhere on Google or that people share Facebook.com on the social web.
Do you know how they are naturally popular?
It comes down to building a good product.
That was my aha! moment. Why continually crank out thousands of pieces of content, which isn’t scalable and is a pain as you eventually have to update your old content, when I could just build a product?
That’s when Andrew and I stumbled
Now the Ubersuggest you see today
isn’t what it looked like in February 2017 when I bought
It used to be a simple tool that
just showed you Google Suggest results based on any query.
Before I took it over, it was generating 117,425 unique
visitors per month and had 38,700 backlinks from 8,490 referring domains.
All of this was natural. The original founder didn’t do any
marketing. He just built a product and it naturally spread.
The tool did, however, have roughly 43% of its traffic coming from organic search. Now, can you guess what keyword it was?
The term was “Ubersuggest”.
In other words, its organic traffic mainly came from its own brand, which isn’t really reliant on SEO or affected by Google algorithm updates. That’s also what I meant when I talked about organic traffic that wasn’t reliant on Google.
Now since then I’ve gone a bit crazy with Ubersuggest and released loads of new features… from daily rank tracking to a domain analysis and site audit report to a content ideas report and backlinks report.
In other words, I’ve been making it a robust SEO tool that has everything you need and is easy to use.
It’s been so effective that the traffic on Ubersuggest went from 117,425 unique visitors to a whopping 651,436 unique visitors that generates 2,357,927 visits and 13,582,999 pageviews per month.
Best of all, the users are sticky, meaning the average Ubersuggest user spends over 26 minutes on the application each month. This means that they are engaged and will likely to convert into customers.
As I get more aggressive with my Ubersuggest funnel and start collecting leads from it, I expect to receive many more emails like that.
And over the years, I expect the traffic to continually grow.
Best of all, do you know what happens to the traffic on Ubersuggest when my site gets hit by a Google algorithm update or when my content stops going viral on Facebook?
It continually goes up and to the right.
Now, unless you dump a ton of money and time into replicating
what I am doing with Ubersuggest, but for your industry, you won’t generate the
results I am generating.
As my mom says, I’m kind of crazy…
But that doesn’t mean you can’t do well on a budget.
Back in 2013, I did a test where I released a tool on my old blog Quick Sprout. It was an SEO tool that wasn’t too great and honestly, I probably spent too much money on it.
Here were the stats for the first 4 days of releasing the
Even after the launch traffic died down, still 1,000+ people per day used the tool. And, over time, it actually went up to over 2,000.
It was at that point in my career, I realized that people
I know what you are thinking though… how do you do this on a budget, right?
What’s silly is, and I wish I knew this before I built my first tool on Quick Sprout back in the day, there are tools that already exist for every industry.
You don’t have to create something new or hire some expensive developers. You can just use an existing tool on the market.
And if you want to go crazy like me, you can start adding multiple tools to your site… just like how I have an A/B testing calculator.
So how do you add tools without breaking the bank?
Not a bad looking tool that you can have on your website for just $40. You don’t have to pay monthly fees and you don’t need a developer… it’s easy to install and it doesn’t cost much in the grand scheme of things.
And here is the crazy thing: The $40 SEO tool has more features than the Quick Sprout one I built, has a better overall design, and it is .1% the cost.
Only if I knew that before I built it years ago. :/
Look, there are tools out there for every industry. From mortgage calculators to calorie counters to a parking spot finder and even video games that you can add to your site and make your own.
In other words, you don’t have to build something from scratch. There are tools for every industry that already exists and you can buy them for pennies on the dollar.
I love SEO and always will. Heck, even though many SEOs hate
how Google does algorithm updates, that doesn’t bother me either… I love Google
and they have built a great product.
But if you want to continually do well, you can’t rely on one marketing channel. You need to take an omnichannel approach and leverage as many as possible.
That way, when one goes down, you are still generating traffic.
Now if you want to do really well, think about most of the
large companies out there. You don’t build a billion-dollar business from SEO,
paid ads, or any other form of marketing. You first need to build an amazing
product or service.
So, consider adding tools to your site, the data shows it is more effective than content marketing and it is more scalable.
Sure you probably won’t achieve the results I achieved with Ubersuggest, but you can achieve the results I had with Quick Sprout. And you can achieve better results than what you are currently getting from content marketing.
What do you think? Are you going to add tools to your
The post How I Beat Google’s Core Update by Changing the Game appeared first on Neil Patel.
When I started doing SEO on NeilPatel.com I used this advanced formula
to rank for 477,000 keywords.
Over time, my traffic started to flatline and I wasn’t ranking for many more keywords, even though I was continually creating more content.
But then I figured out a simple hack that took me from
477,000 keywords to 636,363 keywords as you can see in the image above.
So, what was this hack?
Well, it’s so effective that I just updated Ubersuggest so that includes the
When someone does a Google search, what are they typically
doing? They are trying to find a solution to their problem, right?
So how can you easily identify these problems people are
Typically, you want to look for 3 types of keyword phrases:
Well, I just updated Ubersuggest to now show you questions, comparisons, and prepositions.
Just head over to Ubersuggest and type in a keyword that you want to go after. For this example, I typed in the word “marketing”.
Then as you scroll down, in the keywords ideas table you’ll see tabs for questions, prepositions, and comparisons.
I want you to click on the “view all keyword ideas”.
You’ll now be taken to the keyword ideas report that looks
Now, click on the tab labeled “questions”. It will adjust the keyword recommendations to show you all of the popular questions related to the main keyword you just researched.
You’ll then see some suggestions that you could consider
going after. Such as:
But as you scroll down, you’ll find more specific questions such
Now that you are able to see these questions people are typing, in theory, you can easily rank for them as most of them have an SEO difficulty score of 20 or so out of a 100 (the higher the number the more competitive it is).
More importantly, though, you can create content around all of those phrases and sell people to your product or service.
For example, if you created an article on “why a marketing plan is important,” you can go into how you also can create a marketing plan. From there you can transition into describing your services on creating a marketing plan and how people can contact you if they want your help or expertise in creating one.
You can do something similar with the “how marketing and sales work together” article in which you can break down how to make each department work together. From there, you can either be an affiliate for software solutions that help merge the two departments like HubSpot or sell your own software if you offer one. You can even pitch your consulting services that help tie sales and marketing together.
And as for the “how many marketing emails should you send,” you can create content around that and have an affiliate link to popular email tools that have high deliverability and offer automation. Or you can promote your own email product.
Now imagine all of the extra keywords you can rank for by going after question-related keywords. What’s amazing about this is most of these keywords are competitive and they have extremely high search intent.
Speaking of search intent, I want you to click on the comparisons
You’ll see a list of ideas just like you did with the questions tab. But what I love doing here is typing in a competitor’s brand name here.
Let’s say I am offering an email marketing tool. I could type in “Mailchimp” and see what comparison ideas Ubersuggest comes up with.
Now for this example, I want you to imagine that you have an email company called Drip and Drip isn’t really mentioned in any of these keyword comparison ideas.
What’ll you want to do is create articles on all of the popular comparison terms like “Mailchimp vs Constant Contact” or “Mailchimp vs Convertkit” and within those articles break down the differences and also compare them with your own tool Drip.
Be honest when writing the comparisons. Show off which is the best solution using facts and data and break down how you are different and in what ways your own solution is better than the two solutions the reader is comparing.
This will bring awareness to your solution and you’ll find
that people will start purchasing it even though they were comparing two of
If you want a good example of how to create a neutral
comparison type of blog post, check out this article
comparing web hosts.
And if you want to take it one step further, you can click on the “prepositions” tab to find even more ideas.
Sticking with the Mailchimp example, you can see that people are curious about Shopify and WordPress integrations.
You can write articles related to integrations and also push your own product and break down how it differs from the others.
If you want to take it one level deeper, it will give you ideas on how to modify your business. For example, if I created an email marketing tool, I would create a Shopify, WordPress, Woocomerce, and Squarespace integration based on the ideas I got from the prepositions tab.
I didn’t use all of the examples above on NeilPatel.com because I am not really trying to sell a product and I don’t have the time to write thousands of new blog posts.
But I did type in my domain name into Ubersuggest and then headed over to the top pages report.
From there I looked at the pages that are already ranking well on Google and clicked on the “view all” button to see the exact keywords each page ranks for.
As you can see from that page I rank for questions like “what
is affiliate marketing” as well as popular prepositions and comparisons.
How did I do this?
Well, that top pages report shows you keywords each of your pages already ranks for. So all you have to do is research each of those terms through Ubersuggest and find popular questions, prepositions, and comparisons.
The natural instinct for any SEO or marketer is to rank for
popular terms that have a lot of search traffic.
But there is an issue with that strategy. It takes a lot of time, it’s extremely competitive, and many of those search phrases don’t cause a ton of conversions as they are super generic.
So, what should you do instead?
Focus on solving people’s problems. The way you do this is by creating content around the questions, prepositions, and comparisons people are searching for in Google.
What do you think about the new Ubersuggest feature?
The post How I Ranked For 636,363 Keywords Using This Simple Hack appeared first on Neil Patel.