January 2019

By: 
Tom Qiao
 | 
Updated: 
February 2, 2019

In this month's review, I discuss:

  • Keyword ranking
  • My 1st link building campaign
  • Content creation
  • Facebook fan page

Keyword Ranking

My authority site The Derm Detective has been up for 3 months now (28 articles completed).

So how's the progress?

Well, it's been pretty decent. I was pleased to see a handful of my pages ranking on page 1 or 2 of Google already.

Generally, it takes anywhere from a few weeks to over a year for content to rank well on Google.

This depends on many factors - content quality, competition, backlinks, algorithm updates, etc.

In particular, most of my success has been with "X vs. Y" articles. Some of my round-up reviews ("best X for Y") are doing okay but haven't broken into the top 20 yet.

Link Building

Chain and Key

I completed my first link building campaign in January with the help of MailShake.

MailShake allows me to contact hundreds of prospects using template emails. These are semi-personalized emails that use merge tags (custom fields like name and company).

MailShake also schedules emails, keeps track of potential leads, and automatically follows up when no replies are received.

I'm following a link building technique called "shotgun skyscraper" (as taught in AuthorityHacker's The Authority Site System)

How does it work?

In my first campaign, I sent over 400 emails to 166 prospects (asking for a link). The emails follow a similar template with very little personalization. It's a "shotgun", not a "sniper rifle".

The "skyscraper" part refers to a link building technique pioneered by Brian Dean at Backlinko. It's the idea that people like linking to awesome content ("ultimate guides").

The Results...

After all this work, how did it go?

Well, it wasn't as effective as I had hoped.

Here are the results:

  • Prospects: 166
  • Bounces (email was not valid): 24 (14.5%)
  • Total Emails (including follow-ups): 434
  • Opens: 80 (18.4%)
  • Leads: 9 (5.4%)
  • Conversion: 1 (<1%)

The campaign included 1 initial email and 2 follow-up emails spaced 5 days apart.

Since my GSuite business account was fairly new, I had to limit the number of emails sent per day to avoid triggering spam filters.

Of the 9 leads, 8 were disqualified because the site owners requested payment for a link.

I've read on the AuthorityHacker Facebook group that this is very common. However, we cannot pay for links as it crosses an ethical line in SEO ("grey hat") and violates Google's terms of service.

Even though there are some websites that do this successfully, you never know when Google will punish you for this behavior.

What went wrong with this campaign?

I believe it's important to do a post-op so I can continue to improve my skills.

Here's a few things that I think negatively impacted my results:

  • Domain Name System (DNS) Records: I didn't have the proper email records set up, including Sender Policy Framework (SPF), DomainKeys Identified Email (DKIM), and Domain Message Authentication Reporting & Conformance (DMARC). This may have caused some emails to be rejected by mail servers before reaching the recipient's inbox.
  • Vetting Prospects: I gathered my prospects using Hunter.io and manually. I didn't have any criteria to filter out unqualified or low quality prospects. As I've learned in MailShake's cold email course, it's better to send fewer emails to more qualified leads as this provides more time for customization and generally leads to better results.
  • Subject Line: my subject line was too long.
  • Body: my initial email was too long. I did, however, do a good job of avoiding long paragraphs (since everyone checks email on their phones).
  • External Links: I had too many links in my initial email (4) which may trigger spam filters.

Overall, my open rate was okay (18.4%) but it could definitely be better.

I plan to initiate A/B testing with my next campaign to find out what types of subject lines work the best (e.g. questions, statements, personalized, short vs. long, etc.).

My response rate was pretty low (5.4%).

I think this was due a long and somewhat confusing email and call to action.

My call to action was too open-ended ("what do you think?"). Some people suggest using a yes/no CTA to make it easier to reply.

I'm also thinking of reducing the CTA to a "reply" instead of a "link" on the first email. This warms up the contact before asking for the link itself.

Content Creation

I created 8 pieces of content in January, missing my target of 10 each month.

I've also updated my content strategy to align with the 80/20 rule.

Most of the content on a site is never seen because it doesn't rank well on Google.

With this in mind, rather than aiming for a near perfect article on the first go, I create a "v1" in 20% of the time. Then I publish it and monitor how well it ranks on Google.

If the post ranks well, I will then consider updating the content to improve its quality and depth.

This approach has saved a LOT of time without truly sacrificing content quality.

Facebook Fan Page

Another item on my radar is building a Facebook fan page.

The guys at AuthorityHacker and some in the Facebook group recommend using a FB fan page to improve the success of link building campaigns.

The idea here is that you can offer a social share as a soft exchange for a link.

Next Steps

Next month, I need to pick up the pace and keep going with link building and content creation.

I'll also learn more about Facebook fan pages and explore a paid ad campaign to boost my likes which should increase the organic reach of my Facebook page.

My goals for February are:

  • Write 12-15 pieces of content
  • Launch 2nd link building campaign using learnings from 1st campaign, set defined goals, and A/B test the subject line
  • Write another info article and launch 3rd link building campaign by late Feb
  • Define target FB audience and launch a trial ad campaign to grow Facebook page

To Flexibility and Freedom,

Tom

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