22+ Property Management & Apartment Marketing Ideas To Get More Leases

This post originally appeared at 22+ Property Management & Apartment Marketing Ideas To Get More Leases via ShivarWeb

Property Management Apartment Marketing Ideas

Most apartment & rental unit owners would agree that there’s nothing like finding a good tenant. But it’s hard to find a good tenant if you don’t have lease applications coming in.

Some apartments have a location that brings in applications with nothing but a For Rent sign on the curb. But for most property managers, you have to go out and market your property to get a quality pool of potential tenants.

I’ve consulted on search marketing for several large, regional residential real estate service companies. Based on those experiences, here are some property management & apartment marketing ideas that you can use to bring in more leases.

Create Neighborhood-Specific Website Pages

For tenants, city searches are too big, street searches are too small, and ZIP code searches are not relevant. Neighborhood searches are just right.

That may sound obvious, but most real estate firms that I’ve worked with still don’t focus their marketing on neighborhoods. It’s a lot of work. It’s tedious. But it can still be worthwhile.

If you list multiple apartments on your website, simply organize them by neighborhood (i.e., make neighborhoods your category).

If you have a single apartment complex, create a neighborhood & next to your neighborhood pages to try to rank for “apartments in [neighborhood]” searches.

Create Niche Amenity Pages

Lots of tenants have specific amenities and/or requirements that they want. Instead of listing your amenities in a giant list, make detailed pages about each amenity. Try to rank for searches like “apartments with [amenity]”.

You can use Google Suggest for ideas. Go to Google and type in “[city] apartments with” and hit space, but not enter. You’ll see some suggestions.

You can do this with the entire alphabet and as many modifiers as you can think of.

Create pages that match those search queries to show up when people search.

If you want to take this to the next level, you can use a tool like SEMrush’s Keyword Explorer to provide phrase match search terms in bulk.

Create Local Data Pages

Create resource guides for people moving to your city. Create lots of them.

Use Google Autosuggest to understand what people are searching for in your city.

Develop Your Local Citations & Reviews

You should already have a Google My Business profile so that you can show up in Google Maps.

But you can take it to the next level to show up even more prominently.

First, you can build your Google My Business profile with photos, posts, and full listing details.

Second, go to every local business listing site and make sure that your Business Name, Address, and Phone Number match exactly. Whether it’s on the Yellow Pages, Yelp, or elsewhere – everything must match. These are called your “local citations” and Google uses them to confirm the relevance of local business.

You can use SEMrush’s Local Listing Management Tool to audit all these listings quickly.

Third, create a local review strategy. Having diverse, unique, and regular reviews on your Google My Business page is the number one way to get more views (aka lease applications) from Google Maps.

Steal Ideas from Large Local Competitors / Businesses

I’m not a fan of brainstorming. I think that it’s more effective to build off ideas that have already worked.

No matter your size, you can always look to larger competitors or larger businesses for inspiration.

With property management & apartment marketing, make a list of local businesses that you *think* are being creative – including companies in different industries.

Like local listings and keywords, I then use a marketing tool like SEMrush to spy on those competitors. Type in the URL of a competitor below to see an example.

Here’s what you’ll see.

It looks like a lot. But drill down and categorize each link. You’ll quickly get a sense of what they are doing. You’ll see where they are posting on social media. You’ll see which media outlets have accepted press releases and what types of digital marketing they’re doing.

The trick here is *not* to copy cat them. Instead, take the general idea of what your competitors have done and make it your own – or, make it better.

Work with Local Real Estate Blogs

Every city, no matter how small, has an interest in real estate. In Atlanta, where I live, we have a Curbed blog in addition to the AJC Real Estate, Atlanta Business Chronicle, and dozens of smaller neighborhood newspapers and real estate blogs.

Find those and become a regular fixture. All real estate blogs act on tips & press releases. Very few have a “boots on the ground” journalist. If you can be the place to provide inside information, free images, and consistent write-ups, you’ll earn attention and links.

That extra attention and those links will help every other idea on this list. Google loves links. Social media users find URLs via links.

Your neighborhood pages, rental listings, amenity pages, and everything else on your website will benefit from more inbound links.

Use Hyper-Local Facebook Ads

A local business has one massive advantage against national brands trying to operate locally – you live in your city and understand it.

Facebook allows for hyper-local advertising. You can run ads that show within a radius of only a few miles. It’s tedious to set up, but it’s relevant and effective.

Learn how to create hyper-local targeting for demographics and geography to find lots of interested tenants.

Additionally, Facebook operates Facebook Marketplace, which is one of the largest local listing places online.

You can run small, targeted campaigns that show multiple places at once.

Use Hyper-Local Google Search Ads

Google Search ads are famously effective and famously expensive. The best tenant is someone who searches for “apartments for rent in [neighborhood]”.

But that search click will be very costly.

But like Facebook, you have an “in” – Google Quality Score. Google will show ads higher if they are more relevant even if they don’t have the high bid.

Like Facebook, it’s tedious to set up, but if you can set up a hyper-local campaign, you’ll be able to get Google Search traffic that large competitors can’t bid on.

Use Hyper-Local Google Display Ads

Google’s Display Network also offers opportunities for local advertisers who are willing to put in the work.

Google serves banner & text ads on some of the best ad locations on the Internet. Many placements are expensive for bulk ad buys.

But again, Google would rather serve a relevant ad with a low bid than an irrelevant ad with a high bid. That’s your opportunity to set up a hyper-local campaign focused on specific demographics in a specific area.

List on Locally-Popular Apartment Websites

Apartment listing websites are a dime a dozen. They will send traffic to your listing. But they are expensive and require a lot of legwork.

The key is to find a few key apartment websites that are popular in your area – and list on those.

You can use Google Trends, tenant interviews, SEMrush, or simply looking at the Google Search Results to see who is more popular for your city / neighborhood.

List on NextDoor & Local Forums

NextDoor is one of many local social media websites & forums. They are hard to find and hard to join, representing an opportunity for any local, enterprising property manager.

These networks are interesting because they are specifically local and extremely relevant for real estate.

Advertise / Post on Local Subreddits

Reddit is an attractive website for many industries. But local subreddits are especially interesting for property managers and landlords for a couple of reasons.

First, they are hubs for local discussion & recommendations.

Second, they are the first place for people to plan a move visit to ask specific, local questions.

Now, they are decidedly non-commercial with lots of rules. You should get to know them before posting or commenting as a commercial entity.

However, you should explore their sidebar wiki for research.

You should get in touch with the moderators to listen to their rules about business posting. And you should look at running ads or giveaways there.

Post Listings w/ Photos in Instagram

Think about how you can take listing photos & repurpose them across different platforms. I don’t think you should simply post listings on every platform, but instead use photos from listings to create a truly interesting feed on Instagram, Facebook & Twitter.

For example, suppose a unit has an excellent skyline view. That should be a post. Suppose you put in native landscaping around your unit. That should be a post. Do further research around hashtags to make sure that your post shows up in listings.

Develop a Local Real Estate Pinterest Board

Pinterest is an incredible resource for people looking to decorate & upgrade their living. You can get in front of prospects with a locally-focused Pinterest board.

Use local photos, decor, etc from real listings to provide ideas. Promote local artists, makers, etc.

Identify & Market Local Employers

Your tenants are all working somewhere. And your prospective tenants all will want to be close to their job.

Identify all the largest employers & sources of potential tenants nearby. Create resource pages for those employers (especially if they are large).

Create discounts, bonuses, etc. Get in touch with those employers to see if there is a way to collaborate.

Identify & Market Local Schools & Amenities

Take what you did with local employers and do the same with local amenities and resources.

Create pages that act as resource hubs for neighborhood amenities & schools.

Identify & Market Popular Tenant Sources

Take previous & existing tenants and try to understand where those tenants came from and how they found you.

See if there is a way to build off that success.

Cross-Promote Local Real Estate Agents

Local real estate agents usually have an incredible offline network, but have a poor online network. If you are investing in your online marketing efforts, try to develop a relationship to cross-promote the agents.

Cross-Promote Local Businesses

Your tenants will spend money nearby. Figure out what other businesses do well when you have 100% occupancy. Offer a way to cross-promote, especially if they have multiple locations or a presence with your target tenant.

Remember that even a link to your website from their website will dramatically help your other online efforts.

Use Events To Get Social Media Attention

Events like open house tours, openings, holiday showings, etc are marketing staples for apartments. But events have a bonus effect online.

You can list them on multiple platforms to get extra exposure. Facebook is the best place for this tactic, but it also works on Google, Instagram, and event apps like Meet and Four Square.

Use Video Tours To Hack Social Media

Like events, most social media gives preference to video in their feeds. Take interesting video tours of listings.

Post the file natively to Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Pay a small budget to boost it. And look for opportunities to embed it on your website.

Use Digital Referral Fees for Word of Mouth

Referral fees are also a staple of apartment marketing. But they don’t get the same reach as digital referral codes.

Whether you use a simple bit.ly link, manually hand out custom codes (i.e., apartment numbers), or use a software service – digital referral codes can help you move limited physical word of mouth to unlimited digital word of mouth.

Find & Sponsor Local Charities

Sponsoring local charities provides a few marketing benefits.

First, you can likely get a link to your website, which will help your other efforts.

Second, you can tap into a well-networked organization with lots of word of mouth potential.

Third, you can tap into neighborhood goodwill to help with soliciting reviews to help with your Google My Business efforts.

Next Steps

There are a lot of marketing ideas out there for property managers and apartments. You don’t have to do all of them. You just have to do one or two well.

Find the one that fits your interests & resources and give it a try. Learn based on your initial experience and improve.

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Etsy Shop Ideas: 10+ Ways To Generate Hundreds of Profitable Options

This post originally appeared at Etsy Shop Ideas: 10+ Ways To Generate Hundreds of Profitable Options via ShivarWeb

Etsy Shop Ideas

Etsy is an established global marketplace. And it’s a great place for anyone to try out a small online business with zero risk and zero commitment.

But unfortunately, Etsy is also a place where many people fail, get discouraged, or never start in the first place.

Many of those problems come from not having the right, profitable Etsy shop idea. It’s not enough to have a good idea. You have to have a good idea that other people are interested in.

Sure, many people on Etsy are looking for that certain, unique something.

But you are never going to sell them that certain, unique something unless you have a general idea of what people are looking for.

Problems with a List of Etsy Ideas

There are plenty of ideas for what to sell on Etsy. Even Etsy has a guide.

But they all have problems that make them unhelpful. They are all usually –

  • Vague – vague ideas are impossible to execute on.
  • Out-dated – Etsy thrives on trends taht change day to day.
  • Anecdotal – Anecdotes don’t prove anything except the success of a single person.
  • Untrue – Rumor is a great way to get attention, even if it’s untrue.
  • Not complete – The appearance of success is never quite right.
  • Copied to death – No one ever got ahead by copying competitors.

This guide to Etsy shop ideas will show you how to research your own list of Etsy shop ideas.

You’ll pair your experience, skills, and abilities with real data that pops up around the Internet to find an Etsy shop idea that works for you.

Your goal is to find an idea that is pre-qualified by interest so that you know that success is possible if you get the execution right.

Generating Etsy Shop Ideas

Think of these data sources as gold mines. There will be a lot of dirt. There will be a lot of digging. It’s pretty boring. You’ll need to gather a lot of ore to get at the gold.

But if you comb every mine systematically, you will likely find a “seam” of gold that you can focus on. All you need is a single nugget.

Ideas from Etsy Search

This data source is simple. Actual, real-time customer searches power Etsy’s autosuggest feature.

Use the suggestions to gather interesting ideas. Use these tips to systematically harvest ideas –

Go through the entire Alphabet. Type “a” and hit space.

Take the “root” of an interesting idea. Type that in and hit space. If you see COVID masks – try taking just “masks” and seeing what else shows up.

Try the space before and after your root.

Try a space in between a modifier and a root.

Take a common modifier, hit space, and look for interesting roots.

Keep exploring until you get a basket of good ideas.

Ideas from Etsy Categories

The goal here is to find interesting, underserved, or surprisingly popular Etsy categories. Then browse the categories looking for new ideas.

This data source requires a few tools to do right, but you can also do it manually and/or free to quickly check some ideas.

The first way is to browse Etsy’s categories in Google’s index.

Do a search for site:etsy.com/c/ – you’ll get all the category pages that Google has indexed. They are generally listed in order of importance (though not really by popularity). You can also drill down to search subcategories.

The second way is to look through Etsy’s taxonomy sitemaps. Yes, it sounds daunting, but it’s really just a much more efficient way of browsing their categories.

Head over to their taxonomy index. Open up, download, and copy all the listed “node” sitemaps. You’ll find many buried categories that have interesting product ideas.

The third way is to use a tool like SEMRush or Ahrefs to view their top categories. They will show all of the relevant pages plus all the keywords that those pages rank for.

You will absolutely find an interesting idea in this dataset. Ahrefs is $7 for a 7 day free trial. SEMRush has a free 14 day trial, so they’d be best for checking a quick idea. I’ll use both for many examples.

Just drop etsy.com/c/ into the Site Explorer and look at the subfolder.

Then look at all the categories and what keywords they drive.

This data shows two things. First, it shows that people are generally interested in these product ideas. Second, it shows that Etsy itself attracts interested buyers directly to that category – so you will be well-placed to get customers if you can show up in that category.

Ideas from Etsy Shops

This source is very similar to Etsy categories…but with individual shops. You are trying to reverse engineer successful shops to see if you can get in on the action – maybe they are attracting customers, but aren’t selling the right items.

Since there are so many shops, you will be forced to use SEMRush / Ahrefs for this tactic. You can absolutely browse their shop sitemap, or check out popular shops – but there’s too many of them.

Instead, just drop etsy.com/shop/ into the subfolder search.

You’ll see the top performing shops in Google Search (not Etsy search) plus what keywords they are getting traffic with.

Click over on the Shop’s “Sold” page and see what they are doing right.

Take those ideas and add them to your collection.

Ideas from Google Autosuggest

Google Autosuggest is a go-to source for website keywords. But it can also work for your Etsy shop.

Remember, your goal is to find interest in a product or product line that you can create and work on. Google will have general interest, so you have to coach it with specific roots and modifiers.

Start the same way that you did with Etsy Search. But instead of doing the Alphabet first, start with broad modifiers so that you can find interesting roots.

The best place to start is with “etsy”.

Start typing “etsy” and hit space. Redo it again, but hit space before “etsy”.

Then process with the Alphabet to find more.

You can then repeat this process with common Etsy modifiers like –

  • handmade
  • custom
  • vintage
  • supplies
  • for crafts
  • for home
  • unique
  • artisan

You’ll likely find a whole range of ideas to store.

Ideas from Pinterest Search

Pinterest is one of the largest (if not the largest) source of traffic for Etsy shops. Many prospective customers will find you via Pinterest.

Think of Pinterest Search as a blend between Etsy Search and Google Search. It’s more focused than Google, but has less “intent” than Etsy (ie, searchers aren’t in buying mode).

You’ll have to toy around with the roots and modifiers, but the process is the same. Use a series of “Etsy-likely” modifiers to find roots, and then drill down.

If you see “salt shakers etsy”, then you know that the root is interesting. Then take the “salt shakers” root and look for different modifiers. You’ll see options like “wood salt shakers”, etc.

You can then assume that people would find “wood salt shakers” to be an interesting find on Etsy. Take those ideas and run with them.

Ideas from Pinterest Boards

Pinterest has thousands of public collaboration boards around topics. They are a great place to find unique ideas within a certain topic.

For example, suppose you know you want to make some lunch bags, but have no idea what pieces to make. Find a bunch of Pinterest boards dedicated to lunch bags. Browse for unique ideas that people have pinned, which shows direct interest.

Ideas from Social Shares

Take the general approach from Pinterest boards and apply it to social media. Explore Twitter and Facebook for ideas.

But also look at visual networks like Imgur and Reddit for interesting DIY items.

Ideas from Etsy Competitors

You can also simply go browsing Etsy shops for top selling items within a niche that you are interested in. Every shop has a link to shop top selling items.

Remember the rule of thumb that competition equals demand. If there is little competition, there is likely low demand. Lots of competition means there is a lot of demand. Browse top selling items, check reviews, and see if there is a unique angle that you can put on a top selling item.

Additionally, you can use a marketing tool like SEMRush (mentioned earlier) to see what Etsy shops get traffic from Google in addition to Etsy. Take their Etsy shop URL and drop it into this tool –

You’ll be able to see what keywords are driving sales for them. It’s safe to say that if they get traffic from Google, there is plenty of demand to support another Etsy shop with similar products.

What’s Worth It To Sell on Etsy?

So you have a ton of Etsy shop ideas, but what’s actually worth it to sell on Etsy?

Well – that’s a very personal question that all depends on your goals, resources, expertise, time, and budget.

The short version is that it depends on what will make enough money to be worth your time & effort. But here are a few rules of thumb that I’ve gathered from my clients.

  • Etsy is not a volume retail marketplace. If you are trying to make money selling lots of units, then you are in a losing game.
  • Each product needs to “pay for itself.” In other words, each unit needs to have enough margin to pay for its labor, materials, and profit. Use back-of-the-napkin math to estimate your own numbers.
  • The only way to “scale” Etsy is with product templates and bulk purchasing. Products that you can prep pre-orders and purchase materials in bulk will give you profit wiggle room.
  • Never try to beat direct competitors on price. Try to beat them on marketing and value.
  • Like most businesses, Etsy shops usually fail from a lack of attention. Be sure to build in enough profit margin to allow yourself to get more attention than your competitors. You will never lose on price if you have a customer’s attention, and your cheap competition does not.
  • Products that you are familiar with and use regularly will give you an advantage that can make it worthwhile. In other words, don’t sell dog collars if you don’t own a bunch of dogs.

What’s Easy To Sell on Etsy?

Any product that has paying, discerning customers with mediocre competition can be easy to sell on Etsy. There are plenty of predictable categories with high customer demand – masks, pillowcases, custom name tags, etc. But those also can be commodity items where there’s no real difference between you and competition.

Your goal with an Etsy shop is to find a product line with enough competition to show interest. But where the competition is so poor that you can easily beat them with a better product and better marketing.

Next Steps

Starting an Etsy store can be daunting. Even setting Etsy up correctly can be confusing.

But it’s also a growing marketplace running multi-million dollar TV ads bringing customers directly to your store. You just need to be positioned to capture those buyers. A lot of effective research before setting up can set you up for success.

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14+ Unconventional Ways To Find New Keywords To Outsmart Your Competition

This post originally appeared at 14+ Unconventional Ways To Find New Keywords To Outsmart Your Competition via ShivarWeb

find new keywords

Traditional keyword research has a tragedy of the commons problem. The more people that use a common keyword research sources, the less valuable those sources become.

When everyone is using Keyword Planner, Ahrefs, SEMRush, and Google Autosuggest – the keywords from those sources will become either too difficult or will lose their intent. Big players, or Google itself, will show up and rank for those keywords.

As a small to mid-size publisher – you have to either become more creative, become more “long-tail,” or seek out more sources to find new keywords.

I’ve written before about “pre-qualifying content.” That process used different sources to confirm your own keyword ideas.

Finding new keywords from new sources is the reverse. It’s finding keywords that you have literally never heard of.

You would never know the root, modifier, or topic. It’s doesn’t show up in Google Suggest, and you’d never know how to search for it in traditional keyword tools.

Here’s where I’ve been looking lately.

Bing / DuckDuckGo Search

Bing and DuckDuckGo are usually seen as Google alternatives. But they have audiences in their own right.

And those audiences are different enough from Google that you can usually find new, interesting, and different keywords there that you won’t find on Google.

Head over to Bing / DuckDuckGo and try out their autosuggest with broad modifiers (how to, what is, etc).

Search within a broad topic that you are looking at and explore their related searches.

Lookalike Online Publishers

You might be familiar with the idea of a lookalike from Facebook Ads. They take a person that you want to target and tries to find other people who share that person’s characteristics. It’s a powerful idea.

And it’s an idea that you can use to find keyword ideas.

Many SEOs know to look at the big industry publisher for keyword ideas, but never think to find “lookalikes” of their big industry publisher…in an adjacent industry.

And adjacent industries can be a goldmine for both keyword roots and modifiers.

For example, imagine that you own a small fishing website. You probably know the trick for mining Field & Stream for content ideas.

But what about looking at the Field & Stream equivalent in the backpacking, boating, or wildlife magazine segments?

If you had a Venn diagram, you’d see that they all have an audience overlap, even if they don’t have a keyword overlap. And that represents an opportunity.

Remember, the best keyword research understands the question behind the keyword. Explore those publishers to find content strategies and audience questions that you could use.

Look at their top performing content and think about what you could swap in that would fit your website.

If Backpacker magazine did a profile on the top trails in the Southeast US, why wouldn’t a profile on the top rivers in the Southeast US work for your fishing website?

I would argue that it would. And best of all, any new keywords, headlines or modifiers that you find function as pre-qualified content, since you know it has already worked for someone else.

Wikipedia Analysis

I’ve written an entire post about using Wikipedia for SEO & Content Marketing. But Wikipedia is an especially good place to find keyword ideas because it is structured.

The process is to pick a category and systematically explore all the entries along with how they are related.

Read entries with an eye for keywords and concepts that need further exploration.

YouTube Search

YouTube is a popular place for How To’s, tutorials, and visual content. You can (and should) use YouTube autosuggest to mine for keywords. They’ll have a different dataset from Google search.

But I recommend that you go a step further. Look at (or scrape!) top ranking videos. Read their transcripts, tags, comments, and descriptions with an eye for new keywords and concepts.

If the video narrator uses a term that needs context or further explanation, note it. Look for how the narrator and video presents information.

Even the best YouTube videos leave gaps that need to be filled. And those gaps usually produce Google Searches.

It’s a great way to find high-volume, long-tail keywords.

I wrote an extended guide to use YouTube for SEO & content here.

Pinterest Search

I would argue that Pinterest is one of the top search engines on the Internet, even though it is thought of as a social network.

Millions of people use it to start their search and bookmark their favorite answers.

While it does work better for some segments than others, I think it’s worth checking out for nearly every industry.

Like YouTube, you should look at both their autosuggest and their suggested topics. But go a step further and look at top performing pins & boards.

Note any unique keyword angles, audience questions, etc. Usually, they have a completely different angle from Google that will provide a window into an audience’s true intent – which, again, will help you answer the “question behind the keyword.”

I wrote an entire guide to use Pinterest for SEO & Content here.

Instagram Search

Unlike Pinterest, Instagram is a pure-play social network. But it still throws off a lot of keyword data, especially for consumer industry segments.

Use the autosuggest on Instagram for modifiers, but also check out the Explore to find trending hashtags.

Take those hashtags and use them to understand trending topics, angles on existing keywords, and to find new, trending ideas.

Twitter Search

Using Twitter search for keyword research is a bit like using Instagram, except that it’s heavily biased towards right now.

Twitter doesn’t have the same breadth that any other tool has. But Twitter’s speed and recency and analytics can help you keep your content up to date and cutting edge.

Quora Search

I’ve written a full guide to use Quora for SEO & content. But the short version is that Quora has a bunch of experts answering specific questions with plain, human language.

You should mine both the topics and the keywords that contributors use in their answers.

Quora Drip Tray

As a bonus, if you sign up for Quora Ads, you can see the exact search interest that a question has.

Reddit Analysis

You can use Reddit with a similar process as Quora. I’ve written a guide to use Reddit for SEO & Content here.

But the short version is to find one or several subreddits that your target audience is interested in. Sort by Top or Hot and start mining both titles and responses.

Everything is written in plain language, so you’ll find plenty of keywords that your audience uses, but that might not show up in a keyword research tool.

Content Ideas from Reddit
Some noise, but also some great ideas

There are also plenty of automated Reddit research tools like Keyworddit.

Amazon Reviews

Next to Wikipedia, Amazon probably has the largest repository of user-generated content on the Internet.

Their reviews are a goldmine for finding keywords that your audience uses while searching for products. In other words, they have the intent to purchase, which is critical for many publishers.

Amazon Read Reviews

I’ve written a full guide to using Amazon for SEO & content here. I recommend starting with the Bestsellers in your category, and then manually looking through the user reviews and their questions.

There are a few tools that can automate parts of this research, but it does not work as well as manually read reviews & questions.

Google Scholar Autosuggest

Google Scholar is one of Google’s most powerful, but least understood products. It searches the universe of scholarly journals, magazines, patents, and more.

9 Google Scholar

In other words, it searches content that is actually rigorous and right. It’s a huge opportunity to find academic jargon, theories, data, and more.

Podcast Directories

There is a universe of podcasts that cover every niche, market segment, and industry. But episodes are not indexed or analyzed in any systematic way.

Head over to any of the big podcast directories including Apple, Google, Spotify, and Stitcher. Look for podcasts in your industry. Look through top episodes, reviews, and descriptions. Listen to episodes that catch your eye.

Harvest & use any new keywords that you find.

Physical Books & Magazines

I cannot stress how underestimated physical books and magazines are for keyword research. They are structured, comprehensive, edited, fact-checked, and exist in every industry for every market segment.

The problem is that they are inaccessible for quick research. You have to, you know, read them? But that’s your competitive advantage over big publishers working at scale.

Buy some physical books and magazines specifically for keywords and topics that are not coming up in your traditional keyword research.

There are a couple of ways to speed this process up. One way is to use ebooks. Convert them to HTML or text. Search them quickly, or use an algorithm to parse it.

Another way is to use Google Books. I wrote a guide to using it for SEO & content research here.

Customer Surveys

Google Surveys and Survey Monkey both make customer surveys much more accessible than ever in the past. They are still fairly costly, but can be a good value when planning an expensive content or ad campaign.

One idea here to ask open-ended questions and word association type questions to help trigger unique, qualitative keywords from real people.

Next Steps To Find New Keywords

There are a million variations of the cliche that “if you do what everyone else is doing, you’ll get what everyone else has.” Keyword research is no different. It takes work to find new keywords.

If all you do is go to SEMRush or Ahrefs, drop in a big keyword and sort by keyword difficulty…then you’ll never get ahead. Same with Google Autosuggest or Keyword Planner.

But searching out new sources to find keywords that your audience is using, but that you don’t see will help you get ahead.

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How to Build a Minimally Viable Website

This post originally appeared at How to Build a Minimally Viable Website via ShivarWeb

How to Build a Minimally Viable Website

So you want to get your product/service/thoughts in front of an audience, and you need a website. Time to buckle down and create a massive, beautiful site, right?

Wrong.

When you’re launching anything, the most important goal is to get data. Without data, you can’t possibly make something as good as it can be — and that applies to your website, too.

You need data on what it takes to build & run the site of your dreams. You need data on who actually visits your site and what they do. You need data to decide what to do next.

One of the biggest mistakes business owners make when launching a website is starting too big and too well-designed (especially eCommerce sites).

You don’t need pages and pages of content or a fancy design. What you do need is a minimally viable website.

Here’s how to build one…

Define Your Goals

Before you do anything, you need to decide what you want to achieve with your website. What do you want people to do once they’re there? If you’re looking to make sales, what are your revenue goals?

This part of the process may seem counterintuitive — after all, this article is about creating the minimally viable product — but it’s key to building your site on the right foot.

Defining your goals upfront will help you know what to look for in the data you get and whether or not you’re on the right path, so don’t skip this step.

Choose Your Platform & Domain

Most business owners feel like their website has to use fancy tools and platforms to get the job done. Not so. In fact, a simple HTML template can be all you need (you can even host it for free with a Dropbox hack if that’s your thing).

If you’re into WordPress or some other website builder and can churn out a quick website, then go that route. Weebly and Wix both offer free plans on their subdomain.

The point here is to get your content somewhere quickly and simply but to also keep your options open for when you’re ready to make changes (and to track data).

Some companies like InMotion Hosting have a specific quick start setup service for $99 + hosting (which you need anyway). Companies like NameCheap will also bundle it with your domain.

A custom domain can be important – but remember that you can always change it. Your goal right now is data – not perfection. Go get a cheap domain from NameCheap or GoDaddy.

Set Up Analytics + Goals

Speaking of tracking data… the whole point of an MVP (or MVW in this case) is to capture data so you can find what works and what doesn’t. In order to be able to capture this information, you need to set up analytics and goal tracking.

There are a lot of options, but Google Analytics is the go-to solution (it’s also free).

The key is to make sure you have goals set up based on whatever action you want people to take. If you’re an eCommerce store, you need to be sure you have an eCommerce checkout set up. Make sure it’s a goal. Make sure the whole package is working correctly because you have to accurately track conversions (aka sales) – if you are using a minimally viable payment solution like PayPal or Gumroad – this might mean simply setting the thank you page redirect.

If you’re looking for email opt-ins, make that a goal. Set up any action you’re looking at as a conversion in Google Analytics for tracking. And like eCommerce sales, you don’t have to get fancy. This might mean setting your MailChimp thank you page redirect as the sign-up goal.

If you plan on marketing your website (which you should), you should also link Google Analytics to Google Ads and set up a retargeting audience with Google Analytics.

And lastly, you should set up a Facebook Ads account and place a retargeting (audience pixel) cookie on your website. And learn what exactly Google Analytics does.

Set Up Focus Pages

As I’ve already mentioned, you don’t need a 100+ page website on your first launch. When you’re creating a minimally viable website, you should focus on setting up a few landing pages where you can send traffic for conversion.

In some cases, this can actually be done with a single page.

Take this website: Fix the Electoral College. I built this with a single HTML file hosted on a Google Cloud account. I never wanted to build an entire website dedicated to the structure of American politics with all the security updates and information architecture needs — just a single, shareable resource. This single page website got clicks and shares from hundreds of key state legislators in a very targeted Twitter / Facebook campaign. Mission accomplished!

The goal is to create very specific pages (or a page) that visitors can land on and take action. If you can do that in one page — awesome! Do that. If you need more than one, then take that route. Just remember that this should be as simple and clear as possible and focused around whatever conversion you’re looking to measure.

Test, Test, Test

Once you’ve got your website up, it’s time to start testing and optimizing. The goal here is to keep what works and get rid of what doesn’t.

Keep in mind that everything you do will conform to the 80/20 Principle. I’ve seen lots of analytics profiles across a wide range of industries. In every single one, every metric conforms to 80/20.

  • 20% of the products make up 80% of sales.
  • 20% of content drives 80% of organic traffic.
  • 20% of ad spend drives 80% of revenue.

When evaluating your website, keep your focus on the 20% that matters, and keep expanding the overall amount of opportunity. If you’ve never read much about the concept, check out the original 80/20 Principle by Richard Koch AND the follow-up 80/20 for Sales & Marketing by Perry Marshall.

Next Steps

Now that you’ve got your minimally viable website, it’s time to take some concrete next steps. Remember, this isn’t about more planning. It’s about action. The whole point of launching your MVP site is to get feedback so that you know what to do next.

Check out InMotion’s Quick Start service or NameCheap’s one-pager that will bundle with a domain purchase.

To get that feedback, you’ll need to get people to your site and taking action. Check out this guide to promoting your website (for free) to get started.

Once you’ve gathered data – you’ll need to set up a more permanent website with more options. You’ll want to explore my essential guide to eCommerce platforms or my WordPress website guide or my guide to website builders.

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How to Use LinkedIn for SEO & Content Marketing

This post originally appeared at How to Use LinkedIn for SEO & Content Marketing via ShivarWeb

LinkedIn

LinkedIn has been one of the continually growing social networks on the Internet for years. But like Pinterest and Reddit, it has such a deep internal culture focused on recruiting & jobs that it gets written off by small & large content marketers alike.

But like YouTube, Pinterest, Reddit, and others, LinkedIn is not *just* a social network. Here are a few points that make it appealing for SEOs and content marketers –

  • Users are all B2B – so influence on LinkedIn has an influence multiplier. Get a brand CMO to like your content, instant leverage.
  • LinkedIn’s business model makes success much more transparent. There’s less algorithm guessing and less spam.
  • LinkedIn has lots of different features & uses. Beyond the feed, there are groups, search, a learning platform, networks, direct outreach, etc.
  • You can build a true “moat” that no other business can replicate. The cliche that your network is your net worth is especially true on LinkedIn. It pays to organically build success.
  • Your LinkedIn audience is much “stickier” than other audiences. Everyone is building their LinkedIn network for future use – not for an instant payoff. Any audience that you build will stick with you for longer.
  • LinkedIn itself is not going anywhere. Sure, Google and Facebook have tried & failed to build professional / job hunting functionality. But since LinkedIn is owned by Microsoft and is profitable on its own….any investment you make will be around for a while.

It has a lot of potential to benefit your marketing efforts – here are the lessons I’ve learned helping clients use LinkedIn for SEO and content marketing efforts.

Referral Traffic & Brand Awareness

The first and most obvious content marketing strategy for LinkedIn is to, well, post your content on LinkedIn.

Side note – like most social networks, LinkedIn’s links are all “nofollow”. Any links you get from LinkedIn will not directly help you with Google/Bing search engine optimization.

Posting content on LinkedIn requires a bit more strategy and effort to get the full benefit. To drive referral traffic, you’ll need to get your post in front of people. But there is a bit of a tradeoff between maximizing reach and maximizing traffic.

The Basics of LinkedIn

LinkedIn allows a few ways to share content on their platform. There’s the “normal sharing” of links, but there’s also LinkedIn Pulse, which is their editor for composing & sharing content native to LinkedIn.

The tradeoff is that using Pulse (native content) reduces the traffic to your site, but can travel faster & farther in the LinkedIn “ecosystem.” Posting links from your site makes traffic easier, but won’t travel very far or fast without engagement.

Before promoting your content, think through your goals and make adjustments depending on what you want to do and your resources.

Optimizing for Social Distribution

If you want maximum distribution, then post original content with Pulse. It will show up on most feeds and generate more engagement…but not necessarily with traffic to your site. It does require more work and more thought. Again, that all depends on your priorities and goals.

Adjustment – however, you *can* send traffic to your sites within the comment section on the post. Claim the top comment and use it to post a link or email sign up. You’ll get maximum distribution and still have an opportunity to grab traffic.

Alternative – you can also use comments to maximize reach with a normal link share. The tactic here is to use the title and comment section to generate additional engagement that will put the link into more feeds than it would normally appear in.

Optimizing for Referral Traffic

If you want maximum clicks to your site or email sign-ups, then post actual links to your website. The post will likely get shown to your followers, even if it doesn’t move as far as Pulse content.

Adjustment – you can try to engineer engagement with comments & controversial titles. It’s a bit hit or miss, but it’s a small tactic that can increase engagement.

Additionally, LinkedIn will reward any feed that has consistent, long-term, quality posts in high quantity. In other words, post a lot, post well, and post consistently, whichever strategy you choose.

On-Page SEO & Content Ideas

Beyond actual traffic and brand impressions, the real value of LinkedIn is in data. Since LinkedIn has its own “walled garden”, there are lots of ideas, concepts, and content tactics that are locked up. If you can find them and bring them to the Open Web – you’ll benefit from Google Search and other platforms.

Here are my favorite research angles for LinkedIn.

Find Top Performing Content

Find content with lots of LinkedIn shares (which harder than it used to be), and re-create it in a better way. Bonus points if the content is native to LinkedIn. More bonus points if it only did well on LinkedIn and failed in some way elsewhere.

You can track this content manually, but it’s much easier to use a tool like Ahrefs or BuzzSumo to pull metrics in bulk.

The key is to identify and understand exactly why a piece of content performed so well and how you can make it even better or build on its success.

Find Useful & Underestimated Content

You can also look for content that, while not top performing, did have some traction. With content, traction is everything. When most content goes unnoticed, any content with some success means that it did something right.

You can find useful content & underestimated content to rebuild it into something top performing. Look for content that is not formatted well, incomplete, or has lots of feedback / unanswered questions.

Find Old & Forgotten Content

There is very little that is genuinely new on the Internet now. Most trends and strategies have played out. So start thinking like a fashion designer.

Filter LinkedIn content by date and see if there is something that did well, but simply needs an update. There are plenty of business & career ideas that are useful…but simply need new cultural references.

For example, freelancing is not new, but UpWork and WeWork are. Building a new audience with video is not new, but TikTok and Snapchat are.

Look for the old & forgotten and bring them up to date.

Find Experts & Sources

Experts and authoritative sources can make your content compelling and unique. But experts are kind of hard to find, corral, and learn from.

But LinkedIn provides a unique approach. You find experts in your orbit who are more likely to respond. Or, you can use LinkedIn search to find less famous experts who can respond & help with your content.

In a world where current gold-medalist get all the attention, you need to find last year’s bronze medalist. LinkedIn is perfect for that approach.

Research Industry Jargon

Jargon is a problem in content. To write solid, useful content – you need to use just enough of it to assure readers & experts of legitimacy & accuracy. But also not so much that your content is gibberish and unapproachable.

Since LinkedIn is a professional social network, you can use it to find trade & industry groups discussing actual industry jargon. Not only does this tactic make for fast education, but it also makes for amazing keyword research.

For example, even if your reader refers to “outdoor faucets” – the fact that you can refer to, explain, and research “sillcocks” means that you can be more accurate, more relatable, and find a broader topic to address. And you’d never know about sillcocks without a LinkedIn plumber’s group.

Research Industry Problems & Trends

If you want to cover a trend before everyone else knows that it’s a trend…you’re going to have to find better sources.

LinkedIn industry groups & industry feeds are an incredible source of insider knowledge. Most people in an industry will talk about problems and trends before it percolates to the wider world.

Use LinkedIn to get insight into these problems & trends.

Build Unique Datasets

LinkedIn is the only place on the Internet with massive datasets around businesses, professionals, and careers.

Those are also the most inherently exciting datasets for content (since they involve money). Whether you are looking at job titles, cities for startups, or simply industry quirks, LinkedIn is where you can go to build these unique datasets.

Note – don’t go breaking any of LinkedIn’s terms…but also note that scraping plain HTML and their ads API offers some quick ways to pull data.

Mine for Cross-Performing Content

The last angle to research is similar to top performing content. But it is to look at content that seems to do well on LinkedIn plus another platform.

If you are in B2B and see that something does well on LinkedIn and Facebook, then it will likely do well on Reddit or organic search with better formatting and/or targeting.

Off-Page SEO & Content Promotion

Content ideas & research are only one side to effective SEO & content marketing. The flip side is getting links & eyeballs on that content.

LinkedIn offers something that no other social network provides – an active channel and a near comprehensive database for contacting people at work.

If there’s any single reason to use LinkedIn with your off-page / promotion efforts, that’s the reason. Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram lean too personal. Twitter is hit or miss. Reddit is interest-based and anonymous. Email is crowded and overwhelmed with spam. But LinkedIn…is different.

Here’s how you can put it to use.

Do Direct Outreach & Promotion

This tactic is a bit obvious, but I list it because direct outreach & promotion is seriously underestimated.

Just last week, I hired a freelancer off a cold pitch because it came through LinkedIn’s InMail feature with a perfect custom pitch. I checked it out because the InMail represented slightly extra effort and expense compared to the thousands of pitches I get via email.

Whether you are pitching for links, gigs, content promotions, etc – LinkedIn’s ability to help you do direct outreach & promotion is the #1 reason to use it.

Use Excerpts & Cross-Posting

You can use content excerpts and discussions to cross-post to LinkedIn as original content – and vice versa.

LinkedIn represents an audience that is likely nowhere else. Even if you can’t create original content, go a little bit extra to create a custom share excerpt for LinkedIn.

Research for Smarter Outreach

Even if you don’t use LinkedIn for your outreach, you should use it to inform your traditional outreach.*

*Note – yes, this is a polite, professional way of creepily stalking people.

In a link building world where less than ~20% of emails sent get opened and less than ~5% turn into links, emailing the right person the right message is more important than ever.

If you can use LinkedIn to do even cursory research to email the right person at a company, you can come out far ahead.

For example, one key variable in link building is talking to the person who can actually implement the link on the website. For some websites, that person is the Webmaster or content manager. They are often not listed on the contact form. You can use LinkedIn to find that person within the company.

Even if you aren’t pitching links, LinkedIn can be useful. My B2B sales rep neighbor used LinkedIn to dig down and find the specific procurement manager than he needed to talk to – instead of using the standard contact form. The extra work paired with LinkedIn led to a huge contract.

Find Underestimated Prospects

Similar to using LinkedIn for finding experts, you can also use LinkedIn to find underestimated prospects. Underestimated prospects are anyone who wields more influence or reach than you would expect.

Think about the content managers and webmasters mentioned earlier who hold the actual keys to adding a link to an article. Or think about a moderator of an influential or active LinkedIn Group.

Those are the kind of people that you can both find & reach on LinkedIn.

Find New Audiences for Promotion

So much of the consumer Internet blurs together that it’s hard to define specific audiences…which means it’s hard to define new audiences.

B2B has less of that issue. Generally, everyone working in an industry stays within their industry. That makes it easier for content marketers to find discrete industries (like architecture) and understand how it overlaps or relates to other industries (like structural engineering).

You can also see how influential people have moved up and across different industries to see how people & thought in one industry can influence another.

Create New Outreach Angles

Since LinkedIn is a different type of user with different intent than a typical social network (professional advancement vs. entertainment), you can test completely different angles for sharing & promotion. Sometimes those are easier to push (ie, not having to obscure a financial motivation) and sometimes they are truly different and worth rolling out elsewhere.

Do Paid Promotion

LinkedIn, like every other social network, will allow you to take a shortcut to the front of the line.

It’s called paying for promotion.

It’s fantastic…but also costs money. I wrote an entire post on LinkedIn Advertising here.

Next Steps

LinkedIn is an interesting platform for SEOs and content marketers because it has a different audience, a different intent, and different business model from other social networks.

Additionally, it has a lot of the research & promotional advantages of the typical social network. If you are planning content ideas, execution, or promotion, LinkedIn is an excellent place to look for research.

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