A couple of months ago the team behind the Boston SEO conference reached out to me and asked if I would speak at their event.
It has over 1,400 members and is regularly held in the Microsoft Bing office in Cambridge, MA.
I hadn’t spoke at an SEO conference like this before so the pressure was on!
Watch The Recording From The Boston SEO Conference
You’ll even get to see how I perform under live fire Q&A!
Here is the full recording for you-
Matthew Woodward here and not done anything like this before but I’d like to thank the Boston SEO conference team for having me on and I thought I’d start off by telling you a little bit about myself.
I have over 13 years experience online and pretty much grew up on the Internet from a young age. I was previously a successful corporate online marketer but I didn’t really like that too much. It was very rigid and structured in nature and that’s just doesn’t work with the web.
And of now I’ve been a full time affiliate marketer for the past 4 years also and in the last 12 months I’ve built a Technorati Top 100 Business Blog which I am going to talk about today and take you behind the scenes in a little bit.
The blog has had a pretty well 12 months to be honest since it’s launched. It’s has 113 thousand unique visitors and that’s according to over 600,000 page views which shows people engage with the content and clicking around and moving throughout the site quite a lot.
It’s also had 16 and a half thousand social shares, and nearly nine thousand subscribers and since it’s launched it’s won 4 major awards including the Technorati Top 100 business Blog in July and August and also Pro Blogger of March 2013, the best of Search Engine Journal 2012, and the Unbounce Top 75 marketing blogs.
It’s made seventy-three thousand dollars in profit and I’ve been able to do this while traveling to 10 countries around the world.
And I think the next slide yeah that will show you the month by month growth of traffic of the blog since it’s launched so you can see just how well that has grown.
So today I’d like to take you through exactly what I did step by step to achieve that.
How I set up the blog to extract value and I’m going to put a lot of focus onto this to explain what value truly means and how to get as much of it as possible.
How I went about creating and promoting my content, it’s really simple.
And most importantly, how you can do the same.
So first of all, let’s take a look at why I started the blog in the first place. Most importantly, I love marketing and the Internet. I grew up on the Internet from a very early age.
I was writing games reviews and things like that from when I was about 13 years old built my first website was before Youtube existed.
I have a wealth of knowledge to share as I’ve sort of you know, grown up through the Internet and been successful in the corporate world as well as the affiliate marketing. I’ve got a lot of unique angles and viewpoints on things.
And really, there’s only a handful of Internet marketing blogs that publish quality posts. A few years we had some really great blogs around but they seem to have dwindled off.
And there’s also a lot of misinformation around and poor advice that you see in the re-hashed guest posts. Just the same stuff in a different wrapper over and over again.
So that’s why I started the blog. But what a lot of people don’t really do when they start their site is they don’t develop a blog site or it’s purpose. What is the purpose of the site.
So you might want to think what is the point of your site, what you want it to offer, what you want other people to say about it and I spent a bit of time thinking about this when I started my blog and I decided to define my blog’s purpose to be as when people ask for help on a forum, my tutorials will be shared to help.
And that challenges me on a different number of fronts.
It means that I need it to get my content up to a standard where people will want to share it and it will actually make people want to suggest it to be helpful so it put a lot of pressure on making the content good but I also had to get involved with a community and get engaged with people so people knew about it to share on a forum.
So a lot of people didn’t seem to do this but defining your blog’s site purpose is really important, it’s something you should be doing from day one.
Really preparation is victory. And I’m going to just run through this quickly because we don’t have a huge amount of time but you need a good logo and branding.
You need a content strategy. You need a promotion strategy. And you need to set everything up to extract as much value as possible.
Let’s just dig into each of these points a bit quicker in a bit more detail now quickly.
So logo and branding. This is important and a lot of people don’t put much thought into this but it helps people to remember you and capturing people’s imaginations and sticking in their minds is really important.
The age old saying of first impressions count apply on the web as well. So you need something that helps people to remember you and set you apart from the competition.
And this doesn’t have to be complicated. For me, I just went with a basic 3 colour brand, the black pink and blue that you’re going to see throughout this presentation.
And a logo that was just a cartoon version of me, very friendly although probably a bit more ginger that in real life, heh.
But all jokes aside, this is important, spend some time on it.
Next, you need a content strategy. Again, this is something that’s really simple, it doesn’t take that much time to put together.
Find out what people want and give it to them. That is the most important tip that you can probably take away from this entire talk. Find out what people want and give it to them.
Use forums to find five common problems in your niche, it doesn’t take long just find 5 problems that come up time and time again. And then note down just little bullet points of different areas that you need to cover within those topics.
And then you have everything that you need to create five pieces of amazing content and if you can create content that solves people’s problems, it helps establish you as an authority and puts you in sort of a teacher student relationship with your readers and that’s a really good relationship to have.
People with people, people subscribe more, they’ll be more engaged. So solving people’s problems is a definite way to create some solid content.
You should also use Google to find examples on what other people have created. You know, there’s usually thousands of articles about any given topic online and what you really want to do is make sure yours is the best piece of content on that topic period.
Absolutely no doubt about it and if you research the problems properly and take all of the examples that are out there, that is really easy to do. It takes some time but it is easy to do.
Once you’ve got that, you can move into promotion. And lots of people try to get complicated here and as soon as they built a site they want to throw links at it and everything like that but in the early days of a site, just keep it simple stupid.
That’s a great saying to apply to most things in marketing, just keep it simple, stick to the basics.
So find out where your target audience lives online, which forums are they using, Twitter or are they using Facebook. Find out where they live and get involved with those communities.
Set up Google Alerts and Talkwalker alerts for relevant key phrases. These are two great services that are completely free and if you’ve written an article about I’m going to use my tiered link building example, you can monitor the web for people talking about that and just directly engage people with your content by solving their problems.
So if you see people on a forum talking about link building, you can just jump in and get involved and recommend them to check out your tutorial which you already know is the best tutorial for it on the web.
And finally, what is value? How do we set up the blog to extract as much value as possible.
Well first of all, we need to define what value is and this is what value is to me and in order of importance. So the most important value that we can extract from any user is a full time subscriber.
Next a social share so clicking the plus one button to like it on Google or Facebook. User generated content, blog comments, forum posts, or an idea for a new post. All forms of user generated content.
New traffic from sharing content with others, talking about it even in forums or the old school method by word of mouth.
Affiliate clicks and finally button priority is affiliate sales.
So let me give you a quick tour of how my blog extracts value.
So if we look at the blog here, let’s look at how I collect subscribers first and I’ll take you through that sort of following that I’ve created that extracts value end to end.
So people can subscribe either in the sidebar here or sometimes in line with posts here. Or in this little box that follows you down the page here. Again in line in post here or at the end of the post. You can see there’s a real focus on getting people to subscribe.
And there’s a reason for that because immediately after they sign up and join my email list, they get to see this page which asks them to follow me on Google Plus which increases the amount of people that have me in circles or my likelihood to show up in authorship and also builds up the ever elusive authorship score that Google are going to switch to at some point.
Once they are in my email list, oh actually when people leave a comment for the first time on the blog they get taken to this page which again tries to get them to the email list or to at least follow me on Twitter.
But once on the email list the first email they get invites them to connect with me on social media. Again growing all of those social signals.
And the next email that they get is quite friendly. How can I help you ask me anything. Let’s just load now… come on don’t let me go.
This invites people to actually come over and join the forums. Now the reason I do that is because I used to get a lot of emails asking for help and spending time on answers buried away privately in emails but when I bring them to the forum, this creates new user generated content, a new page to be found by Google, new long tail search words to rank for.
And it just helps build a nice little community of people. And this really helps make a connection with any new reader almost instantaneously and I spend time going through these answering people’s questions and then just trying to build some sort of relationship with them.
So as you can see if we go back here, I’ve got a big auto responder series set up that takes people through some of my previous posts and then it asks them things like which tutorial do you want me to make next.
I’ve got one somewhere, I need your help to improve the blog asking for one thing they like, one thing they don’t like, one thing they’d change immediately. And you can see once people are signed up, they’re pretty engaged.
There’s some pretty good content throughout and there’s a few emails dropped in for engagement as well. So that is why the most value you can get is a subscriber because once people go through the series, it’s like an automated relationship bot builder. It’s like having a permanent meeter and greeter for every single one of the people that subscribes.
So there’s a few things I also do to generate social shares and you can see at the end of posts here, come on don’t let me down. You can see I have the share buttons, standard share buttons and a nice cartoony arrow.
And here I’ve actually started making PDFs of the posts available to download. Or with some tutorials I put together an exclusive pack of resources and you need to share the page in order to get those.
So the social shares help grow the blog’s authority from a social standing and it brings in new traffic as well. And the affiliate clicks come in, you know, here you can see the best spinners listed in resources here or I did a post about the best black Friday internet marketing deals which you know in essence is just a list of affiliate links but it’s organized and helpful for people.
And that is pretty much how I go about extracting as much value as possible from visitors rather than just getting them on and off the page via an affiliate click.
So I thought we were running a little bit but making a bang.
At the time I launched the blog I noticed a lot of people struggling with tiered link building which is something I knew how to do so I spent well ended up being a hundred to hundred twenty hours creating a six part video series teaching people over my shoulder and then published all for free on the blog which a lot of people told me was stupid to do.
I could’ve easily sold it as a product but I did it anyway and just reached out to my target audience in forums and social media and anyone that needed help with link building or asking questions about link building I shared my tutorial with them.
And over 12 months that series has actually attracted nearly a hundred thousand visitors, it’s been watched for a total of two hundred and eighty-four thousand minutes and came to about fifteen thousand dollars in affiliate commission.
So a month one looked like this. Two thousand visitors, six hundred profit.
Month two, four and a half thousand visitors, four thousand profit.
Month three, October 2012, six thousand visitors, and nearly 7 thousand dollars in profit.
If you want to take a look at the growth a much closer look, you can actually come to the income reports page here and go through each these are all broken down by months so you can see how from month one, two thousand visitors and it made 605 dollars up until November, 31 thousand visitors and a 11 and a half thousand dollars were a total of 107 thousand.
So I think that yea wrapping it up pretty much brings me to the end of things now. Spend time planning and preparing, it really is worth the effort. A lot of people just don’t put any effort into planning and preparing things.
And you know you really need to set up your site and extract as much value as possible from every user. You can see how whether leave a comment or once they subscribe I built up the email series to really extract as much value as possible.
All of this comes down to creating the very best content in every topic you touch though. It does take time and effort to create you know really good content but it is the seed to the growth and is really has helped separate my blog from the other competition.
Listen and monitor the web, use free tools like Google Alerts and Talkwalker alerts. I actually like Buzzbundle but that’s a paid tool but the free tools are fine. And just get involved in conversations come up
Keep it simple. It’s not rocket science. Find out what people want, give it to them. You know we’re all humans, we know if something’s great content and worth sharing or not.
So as long as you just keep it simple the content creation promotion, it really isn’t, there’s no secret, there’s no secret.
And if you want to read much more detail about this journey, I could have talked about this for hours but I had to condense it into a small slot but just hit my blog, matthewwoodward.co.uk/top100 and you can follow the full journey in much more detail there.
And so that’s it. I think we’re going to move over to some questions now.
OK we’re just going to test audio here, we have a web chat on here to ask, hopefully.
Good enough, Matthew thank you. Looks like the online Q&A is not exactly working unfortunately so we can’t do that but we can probably take some questions from the audience here. Can you hear me at this moment Matthew? Wait a second here.
Does any one have easy web chat questions they’d like to ask?
There he is, hi Matthew. OK good, so I’m going to ask the first question.
Are you primarily monetizing your traffic through affiliate links or is there anything in particular that your audience likes that works well and provides good percentage of your income or any thoughts on that?
OK so I actually break down the income by affiliate program in each income report so you can actually see exactly which programs are earning the money. (It’s hard to see on the screen it’s a little small, but that’s better).
So you can see it all broken down and sometimes earnings peak for certain programs. For example, Kontent machine here was done with four and a half thousand dollars this month but that’s because they released a new version I could update, a tutorial.
Sometimes I ring competitions as well which sees spikes in orders in certain programs. So the income is mainly made up from affiliate programs.
You’re especially transparent, very few people share that kind of detailed information.
Yes yes well that’s been a part of the strategy for the blog. I mean, you know if you follow along with the income reports you can see how I built it up month by month each one of the them shows you exactly what I’ve done, why I’ve done it, how I’ve done it so you can follow along from day 1.
Also importantly, while it looks like there is a lot of affiliate programs and earnings going on here, a lot of the content on the blog doesn’t really feature affiliate links. I think if you go back all the way to around July time you’ll only find 4 or 5 posts that contain affiliate links and I tend to publish 2 posts a week.
Quick question. I really like how you use the thank you page on basically Google plus registration for potential signing up for your page, can you tell us about that factors in that strategy and how many customers actually end up following you from your thank you page and how much that affected your income.
It’s hard to directly attribute that. What I’m looking to do there is I’m playing on the psychological aspect that once a user takes the action what your website wants, they will take action again whatever that is.
So in this instance, they subscribe to the email list, they’re currently taking action. You can even lead them to a thank you page that ends the journey there or try to take that extra bit of value from them while they’re hot in taking action.
This also applies to E-commerce sites one of the highest converting page on any e commerce site is the thank you page after someone places an order. If you’re not asking people to take additional action at that point, you’ll leave a huge amount of money on the table.
Our next question. Yes so you weigh out a process here in an area where you because of your background you already knew quite a bit about it. In fact I got indirectly through what you said, perhaps frustrated at the state of the blogs on this stuff when Google got into it so you sort of knew which direction to go especially when emphasizing preparation.
That’s very important for you, you know where to go. How about if someone walks in and just called and says I’m interested in some other topic. I’m not interested in Internet marketing and trying to monetize that, I’m interested in something else. How would you advise them in that preparation step?
Thats a good question. So this process really applies to anything, it’s not specific to Internet marketing. I’ve had clients who’ve stepped through this process as well.
And really regardless of what area you’re in, finding five common problems and solving them with five pieces of content, it’s easy to do. If you want me to give you an example, I can perhaps act live on that.
Actually I see you using like WordPress technology and you don’t push too much on the design portion of your website. Do you think if based on the niche products would a better design make more sales, convince the visitor to buy more stuff from your website?
It’s mainly about niche products because right now you have more of a blog style. But if it’s like you’re selling some kind of online e-book and you have just the one landing page, about that book and not a couple more pages.
Would the design have a better impact to get more sales or more people to buy it or you can think it’s more about the content. If you post more text, more people would get more convinced to buy something.
OK Stay out there because we might need a bit more conversation. There’s two questions there. The first one is about design and the second one about a one page landing page sort of approach to promote a specific product.
So let me pick on the design first and I’ll think we can’t cover this because of the lack of time. But the design is important, you’re right.
I’ve tried to go through a design that makes things very easy on the eye. It’s not too crowded and I always keep my paragraphs to two sentences so everything’s very easy to read.
The text is bold and clear, links are easily marked. The design is very important in keeping people engaged because if it’s too busy and crowded, people don’t really know what’s going on and really you just want to keep a nice simple flow. You know, with that sort of design.
Also, when we’re going to pages like this, you can see there’s nothing for them to do over them. This or this. We very finely chew them in at this point.
Your question about promoting a specific product. This, I would ask you to step back and look at the bigger picture.
Instead of promoting a very specific product, it’s better to step back and really look across the board at a niche because then you’ve got multiple opportunities to promote lots of products. You saw the diversity of the income there.
If I had build a site specifically about link building software, I wouldn’t been able to promote things like spinning software or other services and so I’d ask you to take a step back and look at your niche broader. What example products are you talking about?
Let’s say, people data. Reports about specific people.
Marketing data or?
Could be marketing data or background check reports.
OK so you know like background check reports. If you think about the type of people who are going to be ordering that kind of product, what are their main concerns, what are they actually interested in?
Could be more details about the, number one would be background checking themselves.
Why? Why? Was it the motivation to do that? What’s a real life experience or why would someone want to do that?
To see what’s out there about them.
For just out of curiosity?
Might out of curiosity but that in like personal information that they don’t want to be out there.
OK So I would approach that as the person’s main concern is safety and privacy. So rather than focusing on that information on background search, I would step back and create something authoritative in online privacy and online safety.
And that would allow you to pan out into programs. I mean you got great opportunities right now with the NSA, you’re probably got a recorded list somewhere but if you just get into background checks, you wouldn’t be able to promote secure VPN services which would fall under that wider net. Are you aware of any blogs or anything at the moment that address that niche?
Not so many. Just a new size for the NSA and that’s it.
So that’s what I sort of mean. If you can sort of step back and think about what your audience actually is interested in when they’re doing that and we can work out that is safety and security, that sort of lets you take a broader look at that niche rather than sort of dial in on a specific product.
Because also if you rely on a specific product and you build your site around that, what if that product gets pulled tomorrow?
Next question from Chris.
Hi, so my question is when I first heard you talking about this I assume that the bulk of your traffic was coming from search engines. But I can see that you got probably SEo traffic coming in, you have your email subscribers coming back to you by that awesome series auto responders you have set up.
You got social and you also got all those forum traffic coming in where you’ve gone out to try to solve people’s problems in forums. So I’m wondering you know what the actual, now I see you pulled it up, but the traffic is coming in and what do you think, where do you sort of attribute your success with this site?
Do you think it’s primarily because you finally cracked the code and your winning traffic started coming in or is it because you know you think you have those forum posts out there that keep bringing people in from lots of different forums or is it really the email that’s driving the most value to your site?
OK Yea stay there just in case you got some follow ups. Well you know if you’re going to ask me some complicated questions, I want to make sure I clarify all the answers. Yea that was a lot of questions in one.
So OK so the blog actually started out as a zero link building experiment. And this is documented in fact at the top of any income report. There is a link detailed in the experiment.
And what I wanted to do was to see if Matt Cutts was talking out his a** or not when he kept telling us to publish high quality content. Everyone’s heard that, publish high quality content, you’ll get amazing rankings, blah blah blah.
And so I thought well let’s give it a try. Let’s give it a try and see what happens. So building the blog and with we covered before about the different types of value a user can offer you and the different ways to extract that, setting that up from the offset allowed search traffic to, it just, can I show it here.
I mean, let’s have a look, I’ve got it somewhere. Just look at some of the length of the posts, this is why search traffic is so much. The posts are the best result for Google to return with a design that way.
Sorry yeah I may have just babbled on for too long and may not have gotten my point. I’m just wondering where your traffic comes from. It looks like a lot of it is Google but I don’t know if all of it is and what I guess in a sense what kind of traffic drives the highest amount of value.
What traffic converts the most? Is it because if somebody watches your video they convert the most or read one of your long posts it turns them into an income but where do you think your sales come from the most? The traffic source if that’s a fair question.
Yes yes, of course. I do have those conversion rates but not to hand. So what I can tell you for sure is that if you look at these metrics here you can see on this screen, I hope you can see those clearly.
Youtube although it doesn’t offer the most traffic, it offers the most pages per visit and the longest average visit duration. This tell us that the Youtube traffic is much more engaged and if I had to the metrics available I’d be able to show you they opt-in more than anyone else and they click more affiliate links than anyone else.
So over the past 6 months or so, I’ve made a big focus to grow that Youtube traffic just because it converts so much better than any other source. I actually did a post comparing the three top Internet marketing forums and their quality of traffic. Warrior Forum, Black Cat World and Traffic Planet.
Again, the post is on the blog if you search for it. That reveals all the metrics again looking at opt-in links and affiliate clicks to see which is the best to be focusing on entirely.
Traffic as you can see comes from a variety of sources. Google in just one month drove 26,000 visitors which I think proves that the link building experiment works which is as I hate to say it Matt Cutts isn’t talking out his a** as much as I’d like him to be.
One question. So where would email traffic fall in this list of ten sources or is it further down? Direct traffic yes.
So the email sequence is designed with a long term view. Once someone’s on my email list, I’m building a relationship with them every week, completely automated. They’re coming into old posts, they’re adding comments to old posts when Google re-indexes the post, it sees it as fresh content, it moves up in the search rankings.
Old posts keep getting social signals, old affiliate promotions keep getting earnings and this is all happening week by week by week.
Each tutorial is set up in such a way that it helps the user in providing so much value, it’s like the affiliate links aren’t even there.
Next question from Shane. Hi good morning. Good morning.
I’m interested in the blog writing aspect of it. I imagine when you started writing yourself and you had a certain strategy and resources available that you may or may not have paid for.
I’m interested in how that started out and how it’s transitioned over the period of time until now, if you have more guest posts, if you’re paying for writing or if you’re doing it all yourself, just how you’ve approached getting the content you need to be able to publish twice a week.
Ok so if you excuse my creative imagery. So first of all with the writing, I set a certain tone of voice.
I understood my audience and I understood that my audience likes to be told like it is straight to the point. They didn’t want any sort of fake business etiquette, straight you know just like you’re talking to a friend in a pub and being short and punchy and keeping things simple.
So all of my writing revolves around that. And if you read from my blog you’ll see that. The writing up until the last two and three months has always been done by me.
I am the expert on the subject and you know if you got clients in any specific niche, truth be told they are the experts on the subject not the writer you outsource to.
So the writing really, I mean to knock out a couple of posts a week isn’t a lot of
commitment to create relationships. And if you struggle with that, I tend to see each piece of content as a business asset, as a long term business asset for years to come.
What’s happened in the last few months?
So what’s happened in the last three months? OK I always get a lot of requests of guest posts and to be honest, they’re always s***. So you know come on guys, how many guest post requests have you got, just under 500 word, bit of s*** that’s been to achieve outsource right there, we’ve had it 1000 times.
So I just refuse and refuse and refuse and finally two people came up with two scorching guest posts that it would have been rude not to publish. One was by Charles Float, the G** of SEo on a massive e-commerce guide, it’s like ten thousand words long.
It took me 8 hours just to edit it, you know. And one was by Louis Ogden about niche, research and how to find business, online businesses doing well and being able to reverse engineer their strategy and replicate it yourself.
And both of those posts have been published this month. You can find them, just put on the second page on the home page, but monsters. I had to publish them.
OK thank you. Thank you.
To wrap up, I’m Bryan Hawkins who begged you nicely to join us and appreciate so much you coming on board. We’ll kind of do a conclusion here. I’ll have a hard question and see where you go with it but people who are going to be listening to the recording afterwards, this is what keeps them to the end of the show here.
So you have a lot of tools that you’ve promoted and you’ve made money yourself, what are some success stories that you could share with people who maybe have emailed you saying I used this spinner, I used this strategy and this niche it was successful.
It kind of highlights the many tools you want to make money from but the people who buy the tools, what was some of their successes that they’ve had?
So here are some testimonials I’ve collected over time. I actually got about 30 of them in the back end which I’ve actually not done anything with yet.
But there we go there’s one guy that used the strategies to get a job. Which is crazy I actually used this strategy on an SEO job interview, I applied for an entry level SEo job for a SEO division of a major corporation, blah blah blah
Analyzed the website. Thought he was super under qualified but he got the job when he knew more than anyone else.
So that’s a, why spend thousands on an education when you got a free blog?
Yeah, well you can’t learn internet marketing in uni because by the time you start the course it’s already out of date. So there’s examples here if you want to read through in the top 100 posts of how various people have benefited from the tutorials.
What else juicy that hasn’t been published yet that’s a case study?
Nothing yet, my private SEo tool I’m going to release free to all of my readers on the 12th of December. I openly announced that date today so there’s not a huge amount of people who know about it right now.
But anyone who subscribed to the blog will get it completely free cause that’s what I do.
Great, we’re going to have a conclusion here to end up the video. Any points or anywhere to go to check you out?
If you just hit my blog matthewwoodward.co.uk as you can see there’s a forum there I’m happy to answer anyone’s question about Internet marketing , whatever it is you just post on the forum.
I check that every morning Monday to Friday, sometimes Saturday if you’re lucky and you’ll get my answers you know, as best as I can.
Alright well to the room here, let’s get some claps here. Thank you so much, I know it’s been a journey to get us to that event, I’m glad everything worked out and thanks for making it happen, we really appreciate it.
Have a good evening guys, thanks for having me. Apologies to our remote viewers we couldn’t get questions we’ll try that next time.
Thanks a lot Matthew.
This concludes the online portion of the Boston SEO conference.