Snap launches new features for Lens Studio

At the end of last year, Snap introduced Lens Studio, a platform that allows developers to create AR lenses for Snapchat. Today, the company is announcing new features for Lens Studio, including seven brand new templates for the creation of face lenses.

Before now, only World Lens creation was available to everyone within Lens Studio, meaning developers could create 3D AR objects but not overlay AR experiences over faces. Now, developers can create Face Lenses, with seven different templates from which to choose.

Here are the new templates for Face Lenses:

  • Face Paint: focuses on face substitution, mapping the face to let developers create art tied to facial features like the lips or nose (great for makeup or accessories)
  • Photo: much like Face Paint, Photo lets creators overlay lenses onto a single static (head-on) photo
  • Distort: lets developers stretch or shrink facial features
  • Trigger: with Trigger, developers can create a trigger (blinking, raising eyebrows, open/close mouth) to execute a lens
  • 2D Objects: this template works the same way as Snap’s famous dog ears filter, letting developers create 2D objects that can be overlaid on a picture of video
  • 3D Objects: same as 2D Objects, but with 3D objects; this template also includes a helper script to play looping animation on the 3D objects
  • Baseball Cap: revamp a 3D baseball cap to change color, brim style and add an image

Alongside the new templates, Snap is also integrating with Giphy to give Lens Studio developers access to Giphy’s massive library of animated GIF stickers.

With the introduction of these new features, Snap is opening up these third-party lenses to the public with the launch of Community Lens Stories. Each story will include public Snaps submitted on Our Story that highlight a community lens. Folks can swipe up on one of these Snaps to unlock the lens, or browse other Lenses by tapping the ‘i’ button above a Community Lens in the carousel.

This is all in an effort to open up Snap to third-party developers and creators, which is why the company is launching the Official Creator Program. This will allow the Snap team to partner with select creators to offer support, including visibility on the Lens Studio website as well as direct support from the Lens Studio team. Official Creators will also get early access to features and templates.


Snapchat brings back chronological Stories feed for some

Snapchat has undone its controversial redesign’s most significant change in an update to some users today. A tab that shows Stories in reverse chronological order, replacing the redesign’s algorithmically sorted feed for many people.

We’ve reached out to Snap Inc and haven’t heard back.

Showing the most recent Stories first makes them predictable and coherent to browse. It helps you see what’s going on with friends right now. That could be helpful if you wanted to find out which friends were free to hang out or if there’s a party you could join.

Users are seeing the reverse chronological Stories feed in both the design where there’s just Stories and All tabs, as well as the design where there’s separate Stories and Chat tabs.

Snapchat has now re-added a chronological Stories feed

But reverse chronological order heavily prioritizes people who post frequently, which can bury your best friends. Snapchat’s move towards algorithmic ranking in its big redesign ensured that people you watched Stories from or chatted with most showed up at the top so you’d be less likely to miss their content. That’s similar to how Facebook’s feed worked for a long time, and how Instagram started ranking its feed two years ago. By moving social media stars and brands that don’t follow you back over to the Discover section as part of the redesign, there’s less noise in the chronological Stories list, so it works better than it did a year ago.

Switching to algorithmic sorting has helped Instagram and Twitter boost growth, which is likely why Snapchat made it part of the redesign. The company had seen daily active user growth sag from 17 percent to under 3 per quarter after the launch of Facebook’s Snapchat clone Instagram Stories. Snapchat saw growth improve after starting to roll out the algorithm-powered redesign in Q4 2017.

For the most hardcore Snapchat users who check it constantly, today’s update has been met with joy and gratitude. They were likely to see their closest friends’ posts no matter when or how infrequently they posted.

But ditching the algorithm could make it tougher for newer and less consistent Snapchat users who want to pop in and see the most relevant content instead of having to sort through distant acquaintances. That could inhibit growth. Essentially, Snapchat might have to decide between preferencing it’s most engaged and loyal users, or aiming to add more casual users.

6 Search Operator Commands To Steal Your Competition’s Ideas in Seconds

What if there was a way for you to find your competitions most niche ideas without having to conduct an in-depth audit of their site?

Wouldn’t that be great?

Just think about what it could do for your own digital presence.

If you know what you’re up against quickly, you have a clear path to create more nuanced content.

So you’ll be doing your SEO a favor.

And that means more organic traffic and conversions.

Sounds good, right?

Hold on to your hats then.

Because I have a secret weapon that can let you steal your competitors’ ideas in seconds.

It’s 100% free to use too, which means anyone in any industry can use it.

In fact, you probably already know the basics.

There’s even a good chance that you use the platform every day.

That’s because my secret weapon is Google’s search operators.

And here’s why you should start using them immediately:

What are search operators?

Google search operators are commands and characters that you can input into your search bar that expand or limit your search.

They can be used for just about any purpose, including competitor research.

This really comes in handy when you have an abundance of information on Google, but you don’t want to see what particular people have to say on a topic.

If your competitors aren’t showing up immediately in your search results, a traditional search won’t be very helpful for research.

And scrolling through every search results would take way too long.

When nothing is showing up in search, and you don’t have time to wade through all the information that’s available, search operators are a lifesaver.

How do you use search operators to find your competitions ideas?

Search operators can be your friend for SEO, content marketing research, and many other reasons.

Unlike many of the specialized tools that are available, these are ready to be used immediately by anyone.

So to give you examples of how you can conduct research, I want to use a consistent hypothetical throughout this post.

Let’s imagine you’re a small web design firm that helps marketers and wants to take on DIY, low-cost or free online solutions like

How would you go about researching their content, marketing strategies, and audience?

Checking out their entire site would be a chore. So would simply Googling “Canva competitors.”

This might be helpful, but it’s going to send you on a wild goose chase as you click through other websites.

There are just too many search results. 185,000 to be precise.

You would be scrolling for hours to find the links that actually lead you to relevant and helpful information.

But what if you could simply pull up their best-performing pages in one go?

That’s where search operators help, and why I want to show you how to use them.

Just remember that this advice is to help you discover and innovate, not just copy.

Let’s get started.

When in doubt, use command chains

Actually, one word of advice before I get started.

The catch with Google search operators is that they can be tricky in application.

And they’re not always best without an additional operator or two to help them.

So with many of these examples, you may still have trouble narrowing down your competitor research if you’re using them alone.

Command chains allow you to use more than one search operator to sharpen your results.

These command chains will help you find an elusive page, or they could also act as shortcuts for the beginning of your search process.

Whichever way you decide to use them, chaining search operators will help you get the results you’re looking for in no time.

As I go through my advice below, I’ll show you powerful ways you can chain these commands and steal you competitions ideas.

Let’s start with a filter you can use pretty much universally.

Command #1: site:

Site: is a basic command you can use to find a page on your competition’s site without having to wade through everything else they’ve posted.

It restricts your search results so that they stay within the confines of a particular site, which means your results are hyper-focused.

It’s a great operator to use for when you want a quick list of actionable results instead of a laundry list of unusable sideshows.

So let’s say you’re researching Canva and want to see only pages on their website.

You can go to their site and click around, which might take a while.

Or, you can input site: into Google and let it work its magic.

Here’s what you’d get:

Notice all of these are specifically from

And you’ll also notice that even an absurd amount of searches in, it’s still all from

Which means no wading through ads, extra material you’re not ready for, or walkthroughs on how to use some obscure feature.

Just a concise list of pages from a single site.

By quickly browsing through this list of pages, you can develop a shortlist of ideas that you can use for your own designs.

But there’s a flaw with the example I just showed you.

In the example above you have design templates, infographics, a wireframe tool, and even more as your scroll.

You even have pages in different languages, as well as 1.2 million results.

That’s still not very helpful in the long run, which means you’ll need to start adding to your search.

Let’s say you specifically want to stand out in infographic creation. How would you research this?

Just add the phrase “infographic creation” to the search bar after you input the site: operator.

This is a much narrower pool of results at only 702.

Now, you can browse through and find relevant pages to your specific search topic.

By clicking on a post, you get a direct look at a few extra tidbits as well.

Let’s look at the top infographic post for example.

You immediately learn a few things and have ideas for how you can reach out to a competing target audience.

You also see how popular the article is in this case, and can get even more ideas by scrolling through the piece.

Now, just rinse and repeat with the other top-performing pages, and you’ve created a list of targets to aim your efforts at.

Simply putting the search terms “infographics” and “Canva” can lead you to the same results, but it can also leave you wading through tons of competitor content showing others how they can use Canva.

That type of search doesn’t provide insight into Canva’s digital marketing strategy, so including the site: operator narrows your search significantly and helps you get better results.

Command #2: intitle: or allintitle:

The second operator command you want to look at is actually two commands that do roughly the same thing.

The intitle: and allintitle: operator commands search for pages that have only your selected search terms in the title of the page.

They’re great for finding exact-match quotes or phrases that someone knowledgeable in your industry (like a competitor) might use as a headline for a blog post or landing page.

Here’s an example of how you can use the intitle: operator to get a narrower picture for your search results.

Let’s say you do a basic search for “infographic template.”

Congratulations, you now have over 24,100,000 results to sift through.

That should take roughly the rest of your life, right?

You don’t have time for that, so let’s narrow the results by using our intitle: operator.

That’s better. You now only have 925,000 results, which means you’ve already narrowed your search by 96%.

So you’re already seeing improvement.

The thing is, this still isn’t very specific.

And even though you won’t necessarily notice, this search operator is only modifying the word “infographic.”

If you include intitle:template, you’ll get a different and much narrower result.

Now you’re down to 244,000 results. That’s an almost 99% narrower field of results.

Impressive, right?

And you’ll also notice this is the same result as inputting our second operator allintitle: infographic template in favor of the more obtrusive intitle: infographics intitle:template.

That’s just hard to write anyways.

So you’ve significantly narrowed down your results to pages that only have your search term in the title.

You’ve weeded out 99% of the sites you don’t want to see, and can now browse through a specifically curated list of highly relevant results.

That makes this is a great tool for finding other high-performing pieces of content with your specific keywords.

It also gives you a benchmark for what you have to beat.

But there’s a way you can make the results even narrower.

How do you do this?

You add back in the site: operator.

Let’s get back to looking at our friends from Canva by inputting our first modifier.

You just knocked your results down to only four results.

There are too many decimal points in the percentage to share for that, but suffice it to say you’ve really narrowed things down.

But you now have specific results about infographic templates that are native to Canva’s website.

Now whether or not these exact examples are helpful, the principle applies when you’re doing your own research.

If you’re still getting too wide a pool of results with the intitle: or allintitle: operator command, drop the search down with an additional modifier.

It’s much more helpful for competitor research than a traditional Google search.

Cool, right?

Command #3: intext: or allintext:

The intext: or allintext: operators allow you to search for a word or phrase, but only in the body text of the page instead of in the title.

The allintext: operator, much like the allintitle: operator, will help pinpoint pages that have phrases or larger groups of text without having to type intext: a million times.

That means you’re getting a more specific look at copy and seeing where else they’re putting content that points toward your specific topic.

It’s especially helpful in researching your competition’s on-page SEO footprints and how Google categorizes them.

Once again you notice that without a site modification, you’re given a wide variety of high-performing posts you can pull from.

You can see that your results are now based entirely on specific words and phrases that are in the text body of the page, including hints towards your target audience of marketers.

Now, in this case, many of them are also in the title, but I’ll show you how you can still use this as a tool for narrowing down our search to find specific ideas.

Let’s go ahead and add the site: operator command back into the search for Canva.

You once again have a very narrow pool of search results, just 533 down from your starting point of 3.5 million.

You also have a promising looking article that I’ve highlighted that gives tips and inspiration for the Canva user.

When you click on the page, you don’t have to go far to find out that this post is indeed for marketers.

It’s also well-liked, so you know you can get some good ideas from this post.

Now all you have to do is scroll through, read the post, and take your competitor’s best ideas and make them better.

But notice that you didn’t see this page on our previous search.

If you hadn’t narrowed your search to look at the text, you might never have flagged this popular post that’s aimed at the marketing crowd.

It’s always possible you would find it, but with the right search operator input it was one of the top choices.

Which means you saved a lot of time that would have otherwise been spent in frustration.

Command #4: Exact search with quotation marks: “word”

Our next command is another method you can use to find exact matches to a word or phrase, which is especially helpful for competitor keyword research.

By using quotation marks around your keywords, you can find results that are an exact match as opposed to the broader spectrum you’ll see with a normal search.

It can be used as a more generalized method of finding sites that are targeting your exact word or phrase.

Or, it can lead you directly to specific words and phrases on a site of your choosing, like a specific competitor.

Let’s see how it works on a search for “infographics for marketers.”

These results are perfect because you can now see a smaller list of exact word matches in both the title and body of your search results.

This is especially useful when you compare it up against a non-exact match search of the exact same phrase.

The very first thing I noticed is that I was getting results for “marketing” vs. “marketers.”

While you might say this is semantics, I see a very big difference in a generalized page for marketing rather than a specific page for marketers.

My search results are already muddy, and I haven’t made it past the fourth-ranked post.

So I hope you can see just how useful an exact match for your search terms can be even for a more generalized search.

But let’s not stop there. You want to know if your competitors at Canva are targeting this keyword, so let’s add our site: operator into the search bar as well.

It seems that Canva might not be directly targeting this keyword, which means a few things.

It’s very likely that there’s nothing more you can learn from Canva on this keyword, which is a letdown.

Or, you can now see an opportunity to present yourself as a solution in opposition to Canva for your audience of marketer based on this keyword.

Do you think you would have reached that conclusion without an exact match keyword? Probably not.

You may have unintentionally ranked for a keyword like this, but now you have a clear decision on what otherwise would have been a shot in the dark.

So use this operator as a generalized method of finding how others have implemented a keyword or keyword in their SEO footprint.

Then go and attack the keywords you find with top-notch content.

Command #5: Exclude Words: (-) or Add words: (+)

Sometimes when you’re researching your competition, you’ll need to include or exclude certain search times to find the results you need.

In those cases, you can use the (-) or (+) symbol to add or remove specific words in your search that you absolutely want to see.

As you could probably guess, the minus symbol is exclusion.

Say you want to find information about Infographics but don’t want to see too many examples of infographics.

So you modify with -examples, and here’s what you could get:

You’re now given another potential source of infographic template sites, like Venngage and Choose MyPlate, which you can draw ideas from.

You also don’t have to search through an extensive list of example infographics that might dilute your search for more specific advice.

On the other hand, the plus sign is the symbol of inclusion.

Notice the difference it makes when you use it for infographics related to content marketing:

This is our basic search without the operator attached to it.

1.1 million search results isn’t too bad, but let’s see what happens when we add our inclusion modifier.

Now we’re cooking. Only 146 results, which means we’ve once again succeeded in narrowing our results into a very curated selection based on our unique search term.

If you feel like you’re still getting too many results, or if you want to add in an even stricter modifier, you can add you exclusive term back in like this:

You’re now down to just six highly specific results, just like we achieved with our other search operators.

By taking a look at this specific content, you can dive deep into your competitor’s ideas and then innovate as appropriate.

Command #6: Related:

The last search operator I want to look at will help you cast a wider net and find more resources to draw ideas from.

In other words, if you want to open up the playing field, use the related: operator.

Related: gives you sites that are similar to a specific target domain.

Instead of taking a hyper-focused approach, you can see who else is out there in your space trying to do what you are.

You may find a good idea that helps you stand out from the crowd.

So let’s return to Canva and see if Google can help us find sites that have a similar model.

Only nine results, which is a huge success.

You now have a fresh list of extra sites that you can repeat all of this research with.

Use the insights you steal from your competition to launch your own custom content and overpower your competition.

Then rinse, wash, and repeat, because you know they’ll be moving forward with you.


If you’re stuck in the idea generation phase of creating digital content, you need to get out and see what your competition is doing.

But as we’ve seen, sticking to traditional search methods can give you watered down search results that don’t give you an actionable path forward.

Instead of stumbling through these results, narrow your research by using Google search operator commands.

These commands will let you filter by site, title, text, or even find other sites that are related to your competitor’s.

You can customize your operators as much or as little as necessary to give you the best results.

They can take your search results from a list millions to a single, highly specific page of results.

Stop frustrating yourself with endless scrolling through your search results.

Start using search operators to save time and start stealing your competition’s best ideas.

Have you used operator commands to figure out what your competitor is up to?

About the Author: Neil Patel is the cofounder of Neil Patel Digital.

Skyscraper Armageddon: How this Seemingly-Foolproof Hack Often Fails

Most of my blog posts are long.

I shoot for over 3,000 words in almost all of them. Sometimes, I’ll even go over 10,000 words.

Because over the years, I’ve seen that those bring in the most traffic.

This isn’t new or unique. Many people have found success in going long.

But here’s the thing that most people miss:

Just because something is long doesn’t mean it’s going to rank well.

Length is often a correlation, not a causation.

Many times, there are other factors that you need to get right, first.

Without those, it doesn’t matter how long you’ll go. You’ll always struggle.

Especially when you apply this to Skyscraper content.

These are often tens of thousands of words long. They take weeks to plan, publish, and promote.

And unfortunately, they’re not foolproof.

Skyscraper content can and will fail. I’ll show you why in this article, along with a few tips to help your next one avoid the same fate.

How Skyscrapers work

I’ve been doing SEO for over a decade now.

Republishing old content has always been around in one form or another.

You’d analyze SERP competition for different keywords, spot some weaknesses, and then launch new resources that were better, longer, and more in-depth.

However, Brian Dean gets the credit for revamping and formalizing this process into Skyscraper content.

The process is pretty straightforward, really.

Here are the three official steps:

  1. Find link-worthy content
  2. Make something even better
  3. Reach out to the right people

Brian then shows a few examples of where this has worked beautifully.

His Ranking Factors post, for example, saw massive success in only a few weeks:

referring domains from backlinko blog post

Organic traffic from search engines also doubled within a few weeks:

organic search traffic comparison

Now, I have used this tons of time since its debut to great effect.

I can vouch for its validity.

But I also have something most people don’t.

There are reasons that almost all of my Skyscraper guides work. While many others struggle or fail.

Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as one, two, three.

There is some context missing from this equation that I’ll share with you.

And the first is your brand.

Problem #1. You lack branding and authority

I’ve launched several multi-million dollar businesses.

The blog has been a large part of the success for each.

But do you want to know a secret?

None of them has been an overnight success.

Blogs, like businesses, take a long time to build up. That’s especially true if you’re in a competitive niche.

That’s why I tell people it takes two years for content marketing to pay off.

Most people don’t have that kind of time to wait. I totally get it.

But in that case, they’re just better off using AdWords to instantly drive leads.

Because content marketing is only getting harder and harder.

Search engines have evolved a lot over the past two decades.

However, the underlying principles haven’t really changed all that much.

Skyscrapers often fail because people are neglecting to take all of this into account.

That’s why I love this tweet from Ross Hudgens:

Basically, he’s saying that content isn’t ranked based on quality alone.

Instead, it often comes down to who’s publishing it.

Unfortunately, the website’s brand and authority often takes precedence over an individual post.

That means you could make the best resource in the world on your subject. But if you go up against even mediocre stuff from Walmart or Starbucks, you’re toast.

A large company’s underlying brand strength and domain authority will almost always outperform your site. No matter how good your Skyscraper is.

That’s why I say it takes two years for content marketing to work.

Not because you can’t publish or get content indexed quickly. That can happen within a few hours.

However, it’s realistically going to take years to build up enough recognition and authority for you to start competing for queries that matter.

Keywords in your industry follow the 80/20 rule. There are a handful that often send the most leads and sales.

The problem is that they’re also probably really competitive. So you’re not going to rank for them within a few years.

You can’t just rank for those terms, though, to succeed. You also need to get people to click.

That means you have to give them a reason to select you over all those other brands they already recognize.

And that’s not easy.

The Halo Effect is a bias that clouds people’s judgment. If someone is attractive, for example, people think they’re also more knowledgeable.

This same bias plays out online as brand bias.

People naturally gravitate towards brands they recognize in the search engines. They think their content is better or more trustworthy. Even when it isn’t.

Larry Kim ran an experiment last year that showed how brand bias affects conversion rates.

Repeat visitors to a website “convert 2-3x higher than first-time visitors.”

That’s why you build a sales funnel with your ad campaigns.

Trying to get people to convert immediately, when they don’t know you, is a losing proposition.

It would be incredibly expensive based on those conversion rates above.

Instead, your first goal is simply to develop recognition. Then, you rely on remarketing campaigns to ultimately convert them when ready.

Only after they’ve developed that brand recognition.

If you wanted to compare your website against another, you’d pull up their link profile.

This will show you different off-site authority metrics. So you can quickly see whether you’re in the same ballpark or not.

“Domain authority” is a good, high-level measurement to simplify things. But you’d want to dig into the details, like the number of unique root domains, to get a full picture.

Let’s compare three random tire companies to see how this works:

  • Discount Tire
  • Big O Tires
  • Tire Rack

All else being equal, Tire Rack is the dominant competitor here.

They have almost twice as many followed linking root domains and linking C blocks as the next competitor.

That means if you’re thinking about building a Skyscraper for something related to “discount tire costs,” you better watch out for them!

Because there’s no way you’re probably going to outrank them. No matter how good your “discount tire cost” calculator is.

So what do you do in this situation?

Don’t keep doubling-down on Skyscrapers, according to Ross. Instead, tells you to go back to building up domain authority, first.

“The answer in this situation is not to create the most amazing tool post ever: it’s likely that you should build domain authority elsewhere and come back to fight another day.”

Let’s take this back to Brian Dean’s original post.

Again, this method works and I have a ton of respect for Brian.

But what he left out of that three-step sequence was a critical factor: Authority.

The Backlinko website has over 100,000 backlinks from 10,000+ different websites!

That means Brian can do things you can’t.

He can get away with stuff you can’t.

It might take you weeks or months of work to scratch the surface of a search query. Meanwhile, Brian can publish a post and have it above yours within hours.

The same applies to a lot of my domains.

We can publish something on Kissmetrics,, or Crazy Egg, and have it dominate the SERPs within days.

Not just because it’s the best resource on that topic. Don’t worry, it will be. 😉

But also because the overall brand recognition and authority of these websites has been built up over years and years and years.

That’s the first hurdle to clear when executing a Skyscraper.

Unfortunately, there are still a few others.

Starting with the page-level targeting that you’re going after now.

Problem #2. Page-level keyword targeting is off

Authority scores aren’t just applied to your domain and entire website.

They can also apply to your individual pages, too.

It works almost exactly like the process we just saw.

However, now it’s focused on your page vs. a competitor’s page.

Let’s take a look at two page’s trying to rank for the same term:

  1. Brian’s Google Ranking Factors
  2. Searchmetrics Ranking Factors

Generally speaking, the website with the stronger domain and page authority will win. Not always, of course. But most of the time.

So let’s see how these two compare:


Again, it’s not even close. Brian’s page authority is just too much for Searchmetrics.

So right out of the gates, it doesn’t look good for them.

It’s going to take a ton of work to try and double the sites linking to their page, for example.

But that’s not the only issue at play when you analyze individual webpages.

All along, Google wants to give users the best answer to their query.

Now, what does that mean? How do you define ‘best’?

Typically, it’s based on search intent.

In other words, Google is trying to figure out what you’re looking for. They’re trying to interpret the query – even if you don’t use the exact words.

And many cases, companies trying to compete for those keywords miss the mark.

So the content they’re producing doesn’t actually line up with what people are searching for.

Let me show you a perfect example.

Here are the first few results you get after searching for “best analytics software.”

The first three are paid ads. So they’re paying to show up there.

The last one is actually the first organic result.

Now, here’s the problem:

The first three paid ads are all getting it wrong!

If someone searches for “best” anything, chances are, they’re looking for a comparison.

They’re trying to weigh up alternatives between different choices.

What they don’t want to see is just a bunch of tools calling themselves the best.

That’s why those companies are paying to show up on this query, while G2 Crowd is getting the exposure for free.

They’re the only one who’s actually answering the search query correctly.

You don’t just want to rank for a certain keyword. You want to get clicks!

And if your page content is targeting the wrong keyword, your chances of both ranking or getting clicks falls off a cliff.

There is also recent data that suggests your SERP click-through rate (CTR) can influence rankings.

SEOs will always show you a SERP click distribution graph like this, that displays how most clicks go towards the first few positions on a SERP.

However, as you can tell, that’s an old example.

Consumer behavior has changed. We’re more willing to scroll or hunt for the right result.

So the distribution from the first position to the tenth is more balanced today.

Recently, we’ve started picking up details that Google is watching CTR as a quality measure.

In other words, they’re using click rates as a form of feedback.

If your result does a better job answering search intent, it will get more clicks.

And now we’re seeing that if you get more clicks, you might also get a better ranking.

It’s like a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Larry Kim ran another test and found that there is a correlation between CTR and rankings:

The data suggests both good and bad news.

The good news is that you might be able to compete against the big boys on a SERP if you do a better job answering search intent and getting clicks.

The bads news is that if your content doesn’t do a good job targeting search queries from the start, it’s going to be an uphill battle from here on out.

So first and foremost, make sure you’re answering that search query!

Start by understanding what people are really searching for, and why.

Sort your search queries by funnel stage to make sure you understand what they want.

That means if someone searches for “best analytics software,” you shouldn’t send them to a landing page bragging about yourself.

If they wanted to see that, they would have searched for you by name!

In this scenario, they want to see a comparison of different tools:

G2 Crowd does this beautifully.

First, they show you a helpful grid that instantly organizes different options by a few select criteria.

Next on the page, they offer to give you a personalized recommendation for the exact option you’re looking for:

Last but not least, they’re going to give you in-depth comparisons across a bunch of different tools. You can even read real reviews from other customers to see if each meets your demands.

Not only do you need page authority that will compete with the others around you.

But you also need to make sure that the content you have will actually line up with what searchers want.

Otherwise, they won’t click. And if they don’t click, you won’t rank.

Two hurdles down, with one last one to go.

Your website strength and page-level targeting need to be on point.

But if you have any hopes of getting that new Skyscraper to rank, you need to do this one thing.

Problem #3. There wasn’t enough promotion

Most people are so focused on content creation that they neglect content promotion.

They spend weeks on creating the content or designing the image assets.

They hit publish, and then nothing.

Sure, they might send out a few tweets. But the content marketing world is too saturated.

So nobody sees them.

This last step is absolutely critical.

Especially if you’re struggling at all on the first two issues.

If you’re going up against big brands who’re doing a good job targeting the search query, you’re going to need to put promotion on steroids.

Where to start?

The first trick I like to use is content syndication.

Let’s say your Skyscraper has text, images, and even video.

There are websites out there starving for awesome content. You can repurpose some of yours and send it off to these sites.

Business2Community, for example, has a regular contributor platform. When accepted, you can submit new content and get it live often within 24 hours.

Sites like this sometimes even let you submit an RSS feed directly. So no need to manually upload your post each time it’s ready to promote.

You can also summarize key findings on LinkedIn, hoping to take advantage of the Pulse network effects.

They’ll often pick up the most viewed content and show it to a much broader audience.

So you can drive views to LinkedIn from assets you own, like an email list. Or you can even use ads to help raise awareness.

Then, you’ll get the added bonus when that content ‘goes viral’ and gets shared out to the broader Pulse network.

Just like a blog post, you drop in CTAs to the original Skyscraper content to drive people back to your site.

You can also take those image or video assets and re-purpose them, too.

For example, will allow you to submit new infographics into their directory.

Once again, you’re playing the angles.

Get featured or trend on the homepage and your views will shoot up dramatically. It can also help you drive visitors back to your site.

The next step is to look for high-authority sites to promote your work.

My favorite technique is to start using search operators to get a quick lay of the land.

For example, let’s say you want to writing guest posts. Simply plug in your niche, like “marketing,” along with the following queries:

  • “Guest post”
  • “Guest author”
  • “Write for us”

Here’s what that should look like:

Easy, right?

You know what makes this even more powerful?

Look for lists of lists.

Smart people out there have already done all the hard work for you. They’ve already compiled the “best marketing blogs” or whatever niche you might be in.

This time, just add “blogs” to your query to start finding the appropriate lists of lists.

There’s only one caveat, though. Check out the date stamps on the highlighted results below:

Lists of lists are awesome because all of the information has been compiled for you. The problem is that they’re often out of date.

Some of the results above are from 2013 or 2014.

Unfortunately, a lot has changed since then. That’s like a decade in online marketing time.

So you need to make one final tweak before you can rely on this data. Click on “Tools” over on the far right-hand side. Then, click “Past Year”:

Now the results or rankings should be up-to-date.

Of course, not every website that accepts guest content will have a “write for us” page.

Their editor might be open to the idea if your resource is good enough.

So it’s going to take a little extra leg work to get your asset in their hands.

This is where scaled outreach comes into play.

First, you need to gather email addresses.

Finding emails can be incredibly frustrating and time consuming. That’s why I like to use a web scraper to do the work for me.

For example, the Email Extractor is a simple Chrome extension. Once installed, you can go to a website and click on the extension to start pulling data:

It will automatically scan the website’s pages, looking for anything that resembles an email address.

Even better, you can submit a list of domains up to 1000.

So perform a ‘list of lists’ search from earlier. Then, copy the data into a spreadsheet and submit to the Email Extractor.

All of the emails they find can be added back to your cloud account.

This process used to take days when doing it manually. Now, it takes a few minutes.

When ready, you’ll upload those emails into an outreach tool like Mailshake.

This tool will let you run several different campaigns at one time. That means you can have one going for guest posts, another for infographic submissions, and so on.

Scaling outreach like this is tricky.

It’s tempting to use the same copy-and-paste template for every single site.

However, even a little customization can go a long way.

I like to segment out those sites under each campaign.

For example, under your Guest Post campaign, you can create an “A,” “B,” and “C” segments.

I’ll often use the Domain Authority to help group related sites.

You might be able to use a copy-and-paste template for your “B” or “C” sites. But then you’d use a more personalized approach for the “A” ones.

Then, Mailshake will give you reply data after each send.

That way, you can see if your approach is working.

You can even A/B test different email templates, sending times, and more.

The point is that success isn’t an accident or a fluke. You continually test and refine new ideas until you hit the targets you want.


Long content tends to perform better in the search engines.

But that doesn’t mean longer content, like Skyscrapers, will always succeed.

In fact, many times they’ll fail. And you’ll have no idea why.

First and foremost, work to develop the necessary brand recognition and authority.

This alone will make everything else much easier.

Next, double-check your keyword targeting to make sure your page content answers the query it’s going after.

Finally, make promotion a habit.

You should have a systematic way to repurpose on different sites. And for conducting outreach to get access to new sites, too.

Unfortunately, Skyscraper success isn’t as a simple one, two, three-step program.

It is possible, however, if you follow these steps.

Have you ever had a Skyscraper fail? Why do you think it fell short, and what did you learn from it?

About the Author: Neil Patel is the cofounder of Neil Patel Digital.

Instagram gave brands a hot new feature, but still won’t give users a chronological timeline


Instagram’s latest update is totally here for you – as long as the you in question just so happens to be a major brand account on its platform. 

That’s right, as of today, businesses now have the ability to schedule posts. And new features are all good and fine, I guess, but what I’m really trying to say here is maybe Instagram could have released a chronological timeline instead?

Sure, scheduling posts will help Wendy’s social media team get that definitely important burger content to the company’s followers at 2 a.m. or whatever, and Instagram’s developers should be praised for making this crucial innovation possible, but maybe they could have instead spent some time building a toggle switch for users to turn off the terrible algorithmic timeline?  Read more…

More about Instagram, Timeline, Social Media, Kevin Systrom, and Tech

32 Ways Your Ecommerce Company Can Boost Engagement and Sales

The ecommerce customer is a moving target. I mean that in more than one way:

  • Online behaviors and buying preferences evolve constantly.

  • Customers jump around relentlessly from apps, to messaging platforms, to social sites and websites.

  • They’re mobile.

How do you woo these “moving targets” into engaging with your ecommerce promotions, opting into your offers, and buying your products?

Your marketing and media needs to “move” them.

You experiment with a variety of ecommerce promotion ideas available to you now. We’ll run through a heap of them and hopefully offer a few you might want to try to build your audience and boost sales.

1. Offer coupons and discounts

Coupons have always been a staple in retail promotions so we need not question their power.

However, in the digital shopping realm, coupons play a role beyond simply providing a purchase incentive. They act as bait to hook new email subscribers. Of course, you’ll follow-up with subscribers, so consider expanding your portfolio of coupons to create specific subscriber segments that will receive relevant offers.

You can offer coupons explicitly for product purchases, but may also find coupons marry well with offers to receive newsletters and useful downloadable content.

Image Source

Your options for delivering coupons are many. GlassesUSA gets right to it by presenting a huge discount for first time buyers on their home page via a popup that “greys-out” the page until you respond.

2. Offer eBooks and other lead magnets

Image Source

The average online conversion rate for ecommerce shoppers hovers between 2% and 3%. At least 97% bail on you. However, a failed attempt to capture a sale doesn’t mean you can’t capture email addresses.

In a Kissmetrics post that explains how SaaS marketing differs from other types of marketing, Neil Patel writes, “If you are a B2B SaaS marketer, think of yourself in different terms from mere ‘marketer.’ Think of yourself as an industry savant – the one who possesses and dispenses information.”

While blog content helps attract traffic, one of your content marketing goals should be to convert the traffic into subscribers. Offer eBooks and other lead magnets such as checklists, mini-courses, templates, tools, and more to motivate visitors to give you their email addresses.

Think value. Think relevance. What can you offer to help a prospective customer solve a problem? Think of your lead magnet offer as something so valuable it’s worth paying for-then deliver it free.

3. Offer a loyalty program

You not only want customers to buy your products; you want them to keep buying.

Ecommerce brands accomplish this by making their best customers feel valued. Do so by giving them valuable rewards through a customer loyalty program.

Create a loyalty program that offers customers an incentive to buy more often or spend more on their purchases. Loyalty programs can take any number of forms, but generally feature a system whereby points are accumulated that build increased buying power.

You might also consider loyalty programs that reward buyers for doing things beyond buying such as writing reviews, sharing your pages and posts, and submitting photos.

Image Source

The first feature on the Pure Hockey homepage is information about their “Pure Rewards” program that aims to deliver bonus buying power to loyal customers.

4. Host giveaways

People love free stuff. Create buzz about your brand with giveaways.

Promoting giveaways on your website and via social media puts your brand in front of new eyes and grows your email list.

Image Source

A simple giveaway by Ginger Heat Muscle Rub encourages participants to “Like” the brand on Facebook and enter to win free product samples.

Image Source

A holiday giveaway hosted by Mixed Hues offers prizes for 12 days and delivers a discount just for entering to make everyone a winner.

The examples of giveaways shown above were created with templates from ShortStack, a platform that makes it easy to create an immense variety of ecommerce promotions.

5. Conduct contests

Instagram and Facebook contests-or contests you promote on any social network or channel-are one of the best ways for ecommerce brands to generate awareness, build community, drive traffic and boost sales.

Best practices for conducting social media contests include:

  • Create a unique hashtag for the promotion.
  • Create an image or video to announce your contest.
  • Create example posts to inspire users.
  • Use a moderation tool.
  • Secure legal rights to re-use user-generated content.
  • Display the curated posts in a gallery on your website and social channels.
  • Adhere to the rules of the network and publish the policies of the contest.

6. Create a challenge

I stumbled into a fun tactic while researching this article and found it to be a powerful idea: create a challenge. Those that join it share a common cause. They’ll welcome your ideas, are likely to share your content, and may consider purchasing your products.

At the very least, they’ll experience a memorable, personalized experience with your brand.

Image Source

NaturallyCurly invited customers and fans to its “No sugar challenge.” Joining means opting in for email updates. What a great way to create a bond between a brand and its fans.

7. Cross-sell

A post on the SEMRush blog wisely recommends focusing on cross-selling your products to increase sales. They offer as an example, a customer that has purchased a mobile phone being offered a screen guard or case.

It shouldn’t be difficult for you to think of practical cross-selling opportunities to offer your buyers that will add value to their purchase and dollars to your cash register.

8. Up-sell

Upselling works too. In fact, Econsultancy says it works 20X better than cross-selling.

See, buyers often don’t know a superior product is available. Chances are some of the products you offer are closely related to premium versions. Set-up your store to upsell and keep in mind:

  • The suggested product must fit the original needs of the customer.
  • Price sensitivity is bound to be an issue, so be clear about the benefits of upgrading.

9. Showcase top sellers

Ask a food server what their favorite dish is and they’re likely to respond with, “Our most popular pasta dish is the…” or… “If you’re really hungry, everyone really loves the…” – or something like that.

The suggested item might be something they’re known for, can prepare most easily, or profit the most from. Many restaurants spare you from having to ask by highlighting their most popular menu items on the menu.

Ecommerce companies can do the same.

It’s human nature to go with the crowd. Also, buyers value direction. Show them your best sellers, or best sellers in specific categories. You’ll reduce overwhelm, and accelerate sales.

Image Source

Imagine knowing little or nothing about games, but you’re shopping for a gift. You’d welcome suggestions to buy the most popular games. Nutty Squirrel Games gets it and helps with this smart form of suggestive selling.

10. Create interactive assistants

Buyers value when online stores provide insights and advice to help make more informed decisions. Enter the vast array of interactive content tools such as assessments, configurators, chatbots and recommendation engines.

Tools such as these enable you to walk the customer through a series of questions and deliver recommendations based on the answers-like a helpful salesperson would do.

While your online tool helps prospects and customers determine their priorities and preferences, it also helps you gather useful data, which might drive sales in the moment, or later, when the data is used to personalize your subsequent communications.

Image Source

The “Flavour Generator” from Hello Fresh is a great example of a simple assessment tool. It’s designed to inspire cooking ideas, which clearly aligns with the brand’s recipe box products.

Image Source

Help yourself to the quiz offered on the Warby Parker homepage and after answering five quick questions the site suggests frames that fulfill your preferences and offers to send them to you to try-on.

11. Create video demonstrations

Images obviously help sell products, but are merely par for the course. You can boost sales of new, featured, or popular items by creating short promotional or review videos.

Test the idea with just a few items and measure the impact to help establish if the investment in creating video pays. If you discover videos generate sales you can expand the program with more videos and experiment with different approaches to video production and different types of videos.

Image Source

A number of products offered on WatchShop present shoppers with the option to watch short product videos.

12. Highlight risk reducers

Your homepage likely features “risk reducers,” that is, notices that help overcome objections and give buyers greater peace of mind, such as:

  • Free shipping
  • Fast delivery
  • Money back guarantees
  • Free returns
  • Transaction security

However, many visitors will arrive directly on product pages and not see your homepage. Make certain your most important risk reduction messages are also displayed in at least one prominent place on product pages. Test the messaging, design and page layout to determine what works best.

Image Source

A product page on YourSuper reminds would-be buyers of its shopper-friendly policies on a sticky header bar and in another prominent element beside the call to action.

13. Present product plugs (testimonials, reviews, etc.)

I can’t decide whether to say it’s a good idea to include user reviews to boost sales or it’s a bad idea to exclude them. Both are true and it’s probably fair to say, thanks to Amazon, buyers expect to find them.

Standard ecommerce product review systems are useful, however, those that include photos and/or videos that embellish the customer stories are even more convincing.

Image Source

14. Provide wishlists

Ecommerce experts at Big Commerce claim that offering shoppers a wish list is an effective way to reduce shopping cart abandonment and fulfill sales from customers who showed intent but didn’t end up purchasing. They add that wishlists:

  • Give customers who aren’t ready to order an easy reminder system when they return
  • Enable merchants to measure product interest
  • Are helpful to shoppers that are buying gifts
  • Encourage users to sign up for an account

Would-be buyers will often forget about their wishlists, so send friendly reminder emails to inspire customers to complete their purchase.

15. Present trust badges

Customers often dropout of a purchase process when they have concerns about the security of their payment. Address this challenge by including one or more “trust badges” on your checkout page to convince customers the process is safe and secure.

Image Source

16. Present user-generated content

“Hype up engagement,” is a piece of ecommerce promotion advice from a Kissmetrics post. The post featured this insight from of Dan Wang of Shopify:

“User-generated photos are a great way to generate social proof. Prospective customers see that your products are regularly being purchased by people just like them, and feel more comfortable doing something that others are doing.”

Image Source

User-generated content (UGC) can be collected and used in a variety of ways. The GentleFawn store gathers photos via an Instagram hashtag and features them a gallery on their homepage.

17. Use satisfaction surveys

Savvy ecommerce brands cater to new and existing customers by gathering feedback with satisfaction surveys. A survey done well builds goodwill. The data you collect enables you to improve the user experience. Both equate to smart marketing.

Ask questions that will help you learn:

  • How customers found your website
  • How satisfied they were with the shopping experience
  • How your store compares to others they’ve visited
  • How can you serve their needs in the future

Image Source

Though satisfaction surveys are most commonly handled with email, Spartoo is an ecommerce company that takes a proactive approach by offering a survey on its homepage. A discount helps motivate shoppers to comply.

18. Present exit intent popups

Add an exit intent pop-up to your website to capture visitors on the verge of leaving. Give them a reason to join your email list by offering a free guide, discount, or some incentive that aligns with your brand.

19. Send cart abandonment email

Marketing automation platforms enable you to send customized emails to shoppers that have abandoned shopping carts.

If a customer logged in, you can send customized emails with images of the items they shopped for. Tactics you might try with abandonment email include:

  • Put personalized information to use.
  • Send emails promptly.
  • Try more than once.
  • Include social proof such as customer reviews, ratings, etc.
  • Offer viable options such as related items.
  • Send discounts before giving up.

Shortly after I left an item in my cart without completing the purchase, Michael’s sent me an email telling me I have great taste, which showed me the item again and suggested other products I might like.

20. Send automated emails

Prospects and customers are giving you their email addresses. Send them something in return: email. Email marketing allows you to send targeted-and well-timed messages-at various stages of the buying lifecycle.

In a great post detailing ecommerce email strategies, Nadav Dakner shares six potential automated email flows you might want to put in place in addition to the abandoned cart reminders we’ve already covered:

  • Welcome series
  • Purchase follow-up
  • Re-engagement prompts
  • Upsell offers
  • Notices about education content
  • Product and promotion updates

21. Support a charity

Ecommerce brands can take a cue from the shoe company Toms, where “Every purchase has a purpose.” Toms has built a reputation for improving lives and giving back. Their customers understand, appreciate and support the mission. Everyone wins.

Charity programs that come to my mind from ecommerce leaders include Pura Vida Bracelets and Warby Parker eyeglasses.

Image Source

22. Promote around special occasions

While Christmas, birthdays and anniversaries are obvious special occasions, you can promote special occasions year-round.

For instance, in February you can create sales, special offers, promotions, contests, giveaways and even downloadable content around Ground Hog Day, Valentine’s Day, Presidents’ Day and the Super Bowl (to name just a few).

Image Source

Here’s an example of simple voting poll an ecommerce company might do to attach their promotion to the Super Bowl hoopla.

23. Make customers your sales force

Influencer marketing takes many forms beyond celebrity endorsements and paying popular YouTubers to mention your products.

A clever strategy for ecommerce brands is to create a user-driven affiliate network of niche influencers. Your program might extend beyond simple financial incentives or product offers to include:

  • Additional promotional opportunities on your website and social media properties
  • Coaching
  • Access to experts
  • Social media advice and assistance
  • Loyalty program development

Image Source

1st Phorm does a stellar job of promoting its “Legionnaires” program. Copy beneath the image and video above reads, “We interact with our Legionnaires on a constant basis to make sure they are successful in not only promoting 1st Phorm and making money, but also growing their personal brands.”

24. Send Instagrammers to your store

Instagram is for people who love images. It also appears to be for people who love to shop.

  • Instagram reported 60% of its users say they learn about products and services on the platform and 30% have purchased something they discovered.
  • A study by Shopify reported the average order value from Instagram marketing is $65.00 (second only to Polyvore).
  • Engagement on Instagram is 10 times higher than Facebook.

The key to Instagram marketing is engaging users and moving them to your website. How’s it done?

  • Run contests.
  • Show pictures of customers using your products (a.k.a. user-generated content).
  • Carefully select a compelling page on your website to feature in your Instagram bio. This is your one and only link opportunity on the network.

Image Source

Stitch Fix uses the link in their Instagram bio to direct traffic to a style gallery. A “Get Started” call to action atop the page introduces how the shopping service works and a gallery of photos and videos link to various products and promotions.

25. Send shoppers to your Instagram

Next up for your list of ecommerce promotion idea is the opposite of what you just read. That is, in addition to sending Instagrammers to your store, you might also send shoppers to your brand’s Instagram account.

Consider your Instagram account a destination for building your audience and earning sales from prospects that have never seen your Instagram feed or profile. They could discover the credible proof they’re looking for with a branded hashtag or on an Instagram account you’ve populated with authentic user-generated content.

Image Source

ModCloth features its #MarriedinModCloth hashtag on the homepage inviting visitors to Instagram where they find thousands of images created by customers.

26. Publish product landing pages

Ecommerce companies sometimes make the mistake of directing traffic from search, social and digital ads to their home page or shopping cart. Typically, neither is an ideal approach for increasing conversion.

Try directing first-time visitors to information-rich product landing pages. Create pages that step visitors through everything they need to make an informed purchase decision.

Showcase some combination of a benefit-focused headline, value proposition, social proof, risk reducers and relevant images and video.

27. Explore mobile advertising

“Mobile shopping clicks overtook desktop clicks sometime in the summer of 2015 and continue to rise,” claims ROIRevolution. The retail-focused agency makes the case retailers can no longer afford to adopt a laissez faire mentality regarding mobile advertising. In fact, many shopping sites now recognize the importance of a mobile-first strategy.

Mobile advertising combines geolocation and mobile-ready ads to connect shoppers to your store while they’re commuting, sitting in a waiting room, or even shopping.

Recommendations to effectively use mobile advertising for ecommerce include:

  • Optimize the website for mobile users with responsive design.
  • Leverage retargeting display ads.
  • Consider video.
  • Use the Facebook and Instagram ad platform.
  • Appeal to the “in-the-moment” needs of the mobile user with “snackable” content.
  • Utilize Google Analytics to better understand the behavior of your audience by channel.

28. Expand shipping options

Who wants to wait weeks for their product to arrive? Worse yet, who wants to wonder when it will show up? These are clearly rhetorical questions.

Satisfy more customers with predictability, specificity, transparency, details and most of all, choices. Consider:

  • On-demand delivery options
  • Delivery tracking
  • Detailed information regarding shipping expenses
  • Free and fast delivery incentives

29. Create auto-ship options

A good portion of ecommerce companies can borrow a page from various subscription businesses to create incentives that encourage auto-shipping, and automatic renewals.

Image Source

Chewy offers instant savings for customers setting up an autoship option for the first time and sweetens the deal with bonus savings on select brands.

30.Optimize for buyers that are shopping for ideas

SEO and paid search need to be weapons in the ecommerce brand’s marketing arsenal. However, your keyword selection needn’t be limited to targeting buyers shopping for specific products.

An increasing percentage of would-be buyers on mobile devices are looking for ideas. New research from the Think with Google site offers insights about selecting keywords to optimize for shoppers that are idea hunting.

Image Source

Highlights from Google’s data research indicate:

  • Searches for “ideas” on mobile are rising fast.
  • Mobile searches for “shopping lists” are spiking.
  • “Outfits for” is a hot partial search term.
  • Those shopping for a category frequently conduct searches containing the word “brand,” “top,” and “best.”

31. Offer live chat

Online sellers that don’t offer a live chat option lose business to competitors who do. Live chat is a way to assist customers and is becoming the most desired method of contact-especially for millennials.

Econsultancy reports live chat has the highest satisfaction levels for any customer service channel, with 73%, compared with 61% for email and 44% for phone.

Image Source

The post cited above features interesting data that reveals why live chat is preferred. Immediacy wins.

32. Bring ace media buyers to the table

In this, my last tip, I was going to get into ecommerce Instagram advertising, but then I thought about all the various types, including the emerging “shoppable ads.” It’s not easy to keep up with Instagram advertising.

The same goes for Facebook, Twitter, Amazon, Google and any other digital property that sells ads.

I concluded if I were to give you practical advice about this vitally important but terribly complex topic (without cranking out another 3,000 words), it would be this:

  • Learn the basics about the Google AdWords platform and your social media options, then…
  • Experiment, then…
  • Bring a pro to the table.

Advertising can be expensive, but that’s only the case when it doesn’t work. An ace media buyer will show you where to place your chips and perpetually improve your ROI from the digital advertising programs that drive ecommerce sales.

About the Author: Barry Feldman operates Feldman Creative providing clients content marketing strategy, copywriting and creative direction. Barry’s authored three book including the best-selling personal branding guide, The Road to Recognition. Visit Feldman Creative and his blog, The Point.

Instagram has a cool new feature that only appears after you wait 5 seconds


Instagram loves to secretly test new features on some of its users and get feedback before deciding on whether it should roll them out for everyone.

But over the last few weeks, the company added a new commenting feature that you won’t see unless you look at a post for more than five seconds.

Before you go ahead and try it, make sure you update the app to the latest version.

Once you’ve done that, go to your Instagram feed and scroll down to a post. Wait five seconds and you’ll should see an “Add a comment…” box appear, like so: Read more…

More about Instagram, Social Media, Comments, Tech, and Social Media Companies

Facebook, not Twitter, will live stream this year’s Golden Globes’ red carpet pre-show

 Facebook has scored the exclusive rights to live stream this year’s Golden Globes’ red carpet pre-show – a deal that last year went to Twitter. On Tuesday, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) and dick clark productions announced the two-hour event would be exclusively available on the Golden Globes Facebook page from 6 to 8 p.m. ET (3 to 5 p.m. PT) on Sunday… Read More

Case Study: The 30-Minute Habit That Transformed Kelly’s Blog

30-minute blogging habit

Today on the blog we have a case study from one of our readers. Or rather one of our podcast listeners, as it was a tip in a particular podcast that spurred on today’s guest author to make some significant changes to her blog over the course of a year. I hope you enjoy Kelly Dunning’s story, and her insights and advice on how she has made the most of one simple habit to banish the guilt of not posting and rediscover her passion for her travel blog

My blog used to make me feel sad and discouraged.


I loved working on it, but I rarely ever got around to it. I’m a full-time freelance writer with a travel blog as a side project. I spend a lot of time on the road. Like many bloggers out there, my blog is often sidelined by my full-time job and other commitments.

By the time I finished my freelance work at the end of the day, I was tired and wanted to get away from the keyboard.

I made this excuse for years, and while I always got my freelance writing work done my blog was embarrassingly neglected. Sometimes I wouldn’t write a post for weeks, and if I did it would be a small one just to remove the guilt of not posting.

This made me feel awful. I’d started the blog as a passion project. Traveling was the pivotal decision that changed my life.

When I hit the road for the first time, I felt so empowered and excited. I started my travel blog because I found a love for traveling that I wanted to share with others. Unfortunately, I wasn’t doing it as much as I wanted to because I couldn’t find the time. (At least, that’s what I told myself.)

I never struggled to think of things to write about. In my head I had an almost infinite list of blog posts I wanted to write. I just wasn’t making time to write them.

Finally, after a lot of stress and procrastination, I found myself in a rare moment of honest self-reflection. I realized I was just making excuses. Have you ever heard the saying, “If you argue for your limitations, then surely they are yours”? I was definitely guilty of arguing for my own limitations.

I had to get around this “limitation”, and figure out how I could write for my own blog in my spare time after writing all day as a full-time job.

One simple thing completely changed blogging for me.

I decided to spend 30 minutes on my blog every day, before my workday even began. Yup, just 30 minutes. I figured it was small, but it was better than nothing.

That was a year ago, and what a difference it has made.

“It’s Just What I Do”

The idea of a 30 minute per day blogging habit was inspired by one of Darren’s ProBlogger podcasts – “3 Productivity Tips to Help You Build Healthy Habits.” Darren says that when he’s forming a good habit he tells himself, “That’s just what I do.” There’s something very powerful about this. It works as a convincing mantra to help you instil a habit until it becomes something you do without even thinking about it.

So, I started setting a timer first thing in the morning and working on the blog for 30 minutes. Now it’s just what I do.

I started this habit in November 2016, and I’ve kept it up ever since – a full year now. This habit has allowed me to transform my travel blog, and I’ve published more high-quality posts than I ever had before.

Why This Works For Me

Working on my blog every morning for 30 minutes a day has been an effective strategy for me because:

  • It’s a small amount of time that I could always squeeze in, no matter how busy my day was. That’s 3.5 hours per week (14 hours per month) of steady work – certainly more than I was doing before.
  • I would have never been able to carve a 3.5 hour chunk out of my weekly schedule. But 30 minutes per day is always possible. I do it first thing, before any other distractions creep in and take over.
  • With a 30-minute timer ticking down, I use my morning blog time very efficiently and get a lot done in a short amount of time.
  • Since I’m working on my blog a little bit every day, it’s often on my mind and I think of ideas and ways to improve it around the clock.
  • I often find I keep working once the timer rings because I’m engaged in what I’m doing, and want to keep going until I finish that particular task.
  • Working on the blog for 30 minutes in the morning also gets my creative juices flowing, makes my other writing better, and puts me in a great mood.
  • Beginning with a solid 30-minute session of working on the blog means I’ve already accomplished something I’ve set my mind to before I even start my workday. This boosts my confidence, and gives me a great start to the day.

How Has It Made a Difference?

Thirty minutes a day may not seem like much. But it has made a huge difference to my blog over the past year. Looking back on the past 12 months, this is what I’ve achieved:

  • Published 51 blog posts, which is almost one a week. I’ve never managed to maintain the habit of blogging consistently for that long before. And many of these have been long, in-depth, evergreen posts.
  • Updated/improved/fixed errors in countless other posts. I notice these areas for improvement more often because I’m looking at my blog every day.
  • Improved the quality of my blog posts due to the increased practice.
  • Completed a 23,000-word travel guide for my website that I started writing years ago but never finished.
  • Thought about the “Why?” of my blog so I can define exactly how I want to help readers, and then implemented the changes.
  • Increased my Facebook page fans by 1,269.
  • Increased my Twitter followers by 1,570.
  • Increased my blog traffic by 24% (comparing October 2016 to October 2017).
  • Created a user-friendly “Start Here” page to organise my content and help readers find what they’re looking for.
  • Started and maintained a Pinterest Account, and designed beautiful pins to promote my posts.
  • Made a page and a Google Form for guest post submissions, and worked with guest authors to create blog posts.
  • Wrote several guest posts that were published on relevant websites in my niche.

I’m not saying this is miraculous. Some blogs have certainly grown faster than mine. But I’m proud of what I’ve  achieved in the past year because without this simple habit I wouldn’t have done nearly this much.

Yes, I could have done a lot more if I’d been working on my blog full-time. But that just wasn’t realistic for me with my full time job. With this habit, I could make it work around my other commitments.

I work on a blog post nearly every day, and it usually takes me several days to to complete one from start to finish. Sometimes it takes a while because I’ve created some long and in-depth guides that are 3,000-5,000 words long. (I’ve learned that juicy, detailed and helpful blog posts give the best experience for my readers, so that’s what I’ve been focusing on.)

One of the most important differences is the way I feel about my blog. Instead of making me feel embarrassed, futile and frustrated, my blog makes me so happy right now. This habit means my blog is no longer a side project I feel guilty for neglecting, but rather an active, thriving blog with a steadily growing readership. Every day when I get up in the morning, I’m excited to work on it.

A couple of weeks ago one of my readers emailed to let me know that one of my posts had been incredibly helpful for them, and was the inspiration for them to travel abroad for the first time. Knowing I made a profound positive impact on someone’s life is such a rewarding feeling.

Plus, my blog now serves as a much better showcase of my writing skills, and is a more effective portfolio when applying for freelance writing jobs. I’ve been getting more and better writing projects in the past year, and I think there’s a direct correlation.

What If I Miss a Day?

Now before you assume I’m some kind of super-woman, I admit I don’t do this perfectly. I don’t always achieve the 30 minutes every day. Sometimes I wake up late. Sometimes I’m not feeling well. Sometimes I’m lazy. And sometimes I’m sleeping under the stars in the Australian outback with no computer.

But the habit is ingrained now, so if I miss one day I’m usually right back on it the next morning. After all, it’s just what I do. I’ve decided that it’s unrealistic to expect I won’t miss a day every now and then. That’s fine with me. But I make sure that missing days is an exception and doesn’t happen that often.

I’ve found that achieving success when working towards a long-term goal (like building an awesome blog) depends more on cumulative habits than what you do on any given day. It’s kind of like living a healthy lifestyle. If you have a long-term habit of exercising regularly, and you eat healthy food on most days, treating yourself to a double-fudge brownie every now and then won’t make too much of a difference because it’s the exception rather than the norm.

How I Make The Most of My 30 Minutes a Day

I’m often amazed at how long 30 minutes can actually feel. When I’m focused, I can get a surprising amount of work done in this time. I can usually write 600-800 words in a morning session. Then, when I finish a post, I use the next couple of 30-minute sessions to work on uploading to WordPress, formatting, adding images, publishing, promoting on social media and all other follow-up actions.

Here’s how I make my 30 minutes really count:

  • I put my phone away so I’m not distracted. If I whittle away the 30 minutes checking Facebook notifications, I won’t get another chance to work on my blog until the following day.
  • I listen to classical music on my headphones because it tunes everything out and helps me stay focused.
  • I use Trello to organise everything I’m working on for the blog. I have separate columns for Blog Post Ideas, Blog Posts in Progress, Miscellaneous Tasks to Complete for the Blog, etc. It helps me see the big picture and figure out what needs to be done next.
  • I have at least two different blog posts on the go at any given time, so if I’m not feeling inspired to write about a particular topic that morning or if I hit a block, I can spend the time working on something else.
  • I have other blog-related tasks for the days when I want to take a break from writing. This includes scheduling social media, uploading blog posts, adding photos, creating Pinterest graphics, reaching out to influencers, etc.

This simple habit has helped my blogging enormously, and might help you if you’re busy and struggling to find time to blog.

I challenge you to find 30 minutes in your day to work on your blog, whether it’s in the morning like me, at the end of the day, or whenever works for you. It may not seem like a lot, but it really does make a difference.


Kelly Dunning is a Canadian freelance travel writer. She lives a nomadic lifestyle with no fixed address, working from the road since 2011 with her partner Lee, a web designer from England. They’ve traveled to more than 50 countries, and offer travel tips, stories and inspiration on

The post Case Study: The 30-Minute Habit That Transformed Kelly’s Blog appeared first on ProBlogger.


Dril, Twitter’s weirdest hero, just got doxxed – and the internet is sad


The internet can be a disturbing, sad place. It takes a special kind of hero to remind us that its darkest corners can also be filled with joy. That hero is @dril, an embodiment of so-called “weird Twitter” who has – like some kind of joke-slinging caped crusader – remained an anonymous beacon of shining light. 

Anonymous until yesterday, that is. That’s right, someone went ahead and doxxed him, and the internet is really bummed about it. 

While we won’t reveal his name here, it turns out someone posted dril’s alleged identity to Tumblr, and the internet immediately facepalmed straight into a “this is why we can’t have nice things” spiral.  Read more…

More about Twitter, Humor, Social Media, Weird Twitter, and Tech