Test Lesson 01
I was recently asked about the SEO implications of migrating to a new domain. This can be scary! If you do a migration incorrectly, there’s definitely a chance of losing a significant amount of traffic. With that said, I know plenty of people that have done successful migrations. Let’s cover the big ones, so you can get back to what you do best. Business.
Check off items as you go along.
Use Screaming Frog, or a similar crawl tool, to get a comprehensive list of your URLs. A tool like this will definitely show you URLs you didn’t know you have. This is your survey of the universe. Export these URLs to a new sheet in Google sheets and call it “All URLs”
Export the “Top Pages” report in Google analytics, paste them into a second tab of the Google sheet and call it “Top URLs”
Use a link analysis tool like Ahrefs.com to sort your pages by links. Ahrefs calls this “Best by Links” under the “Pages” tab. Paste them into a third tab of the Google sheet.
You now have 3 tabs. All your URLs. Your top URLs by traffic. Your top URLs by links.
Compress all of this data into just 3 columns. Your URLs, the traffic over the last 30 days, and if you’re using Ahrefs, the link score (you could also use “total linking root domains” as a link metric if you’re using another tool – that works too). Your file might now look something like this:
Once you have this, add filters to it, decide if you want to 301 it, 404 it, or something else. Mark it down in the sheet and write down the URL you want to point it to. It might look something like this:
Setup the new site. You can use robots.txt to block search engines from indexing your new site until you’re ready. Make sure to remove this when you actually launch, ya bozo.
301 redirect your old stuff to your new stuff!
Double check and make sure that users and bots are actually being redirected when they hit the old URL. You can use a tool like Browseo to test.
Make sure to remove canonical tags on the new domain that are pointing back to the old domain, and make them self-referencing canonical tags.
Evaluate live pages and your new XML sitemap with the Google Search Console “Fetch and Render” feature to spot any additional bugs.
Once your new site has all the content moved up, and you’re ready to migrate, use the “Change of Address” feature in Google Search Console to let Google know you’re on the move.
Make sure to re-create your XML sitemap for your new domain. Test both your old sitemap and new sitemap heavily before submitting to Google. You want to make sure every URL in your old sitemap is correctly doing a 301 redirect to your new pages. Once both your old and new sitemap are error free, submit both to Google Search Console. There are lots of tools to help you create sitemaps in WordPress. If you’re not using WordPress, checkout xml-sitemaps.com.
Watch for 404s, crawl errors, number of indexed pages, organic and referral traffic on the new domain.
Do outreach for your links. If you can get people to update their content and link to your new URL, great. This is generally seen as better than a 301 redirect, even with Google’s announcement that 301 redirects now pass 100% of the link value.
Throughout this entire process, be sure to keep an eye out for any easy optimizations you can grab related to missing, duplicate, or under-optimized:
Hope this helps!
Perform an SEO check of your website and receive an analysis of on-page optimization ranking factors for any page. Enter a URL and a primary keyword to get started (PRO-TIP: Add your competitor’s site as well!)
This is what you will receive as part of your SEO analysis:
After reviewing all of the items above, the ClickMinded SEO Checker & Website Analysis tool will provide you with a checklist of on-page optimizations you can start implementing right away!
Since 2011, Google and other search engines started hiding search information and implemented what was called “Secure Search”, which drastically changed the SEO industry and made “not provided” a common phrase among SEO people.
If you want to nerd out and learn more about this, check out our quick lesson on Secure Search.
Like what you see? There is a lot more to learn. Enroll in ClickMinded’s SEO Training Course!
When it comes to Search Engine Optimization, you always have a fighting chance against big competitors. Use Google search operators to get a glimpse of which keywords your competitor is trying to rank for, and start your SEO competitive analysis. It is easy, fast and free!
Want to know more about how to start getting more organic traffic through SEO? Start ClickMinded’s SEO Training Course for free!
There are many ways to add your Google remarketing pixel to your WordPress site. There are probably more eloquent ways to do it than this. Here is one quick and dirty way to do it.
This is your Adwords Remarketing tag! Now let’s add it to your site via a wordpress plugin
ClickMinded is an SEO training course. It’s a side project I’ve been working on, outside my full-time job, for the last 3 years. It really took off and crossed over into six-figure revenue in 2014. The course now has over 10 thousand users.
I was talking to a friend about what a weird journey it’s been to get ClickMinded to where it is, and he recommended writing about it. Hopefully, this post will have a few insights that can help other people get their own side projects off the ground and into 6-figure revenues, without leaving their job.
Who is this guy?
I’ve been living in San Francisco for the last four years. For the first two, I was doing search engine optimization at PayPal. Now I’m doing search engine optimization at Airbnb. If it’s not obvious yet, I love SEO. More specifically, I really enjoy the puzzle that SEO is. Trying to make a particular document the most relevant on the web for a specific query, relative to competitors, is a fascinating process. It’s a lot of fun for me.
I’ve had a number of side projects throughout college and into my 20’s. ClickMinded definitely isn’t the first attempt, but it’s certainly the one I’ve put the most heart and energy into. My Dreamhost account is a graveyard of domain names that are the byproduct of 1-day idea seizures.
I’m sure this personality type isn’t alien to people in the bay area. What I want to point out is that I wasn’t really able to succeed until I stopped having lots of ideas all the time and started to focus on just one. With that said, I wouldn’t have ever stumbled upon ClickMinded if I wasn’t constantly moving from one idea to the next. So there’s a balance there, I guess. I think the key is to aggressively think through different problems, and when you’ve found something that you’re more passionate about than anything else, drop everything and push on it as hard as you can.
The early days of ClickMinded
Towards the end of 2011, I had asked if I could lead one of the monthly marketing classes that were open for anyone to teach at PayPal. The entire marketing org was obligated, once a month, to “refine their marketing skills” and learn about a subject they generally knew nothing about. I put together a 2-hour “Introduction to SEO” course with a colleague of mine, and it went really well.
I got really good feedback on it. Specifically, I was told multiple times I made a previously uninteresting topic, interesting. The good reviews were a catalyst for me to ask my boss if it was cool if I started teaching SEO classes on the weekends to startups in San Francisco. He said it was okay, but asked me to check in with the eBay legal team first, to see if there was a conflict of interest.
I was super nervous about checking in with them and put off writing the email for much longer than I should have. What if they say no? I would be destroyed and would kick myself for not just going for it without asking for buy-in. I wrote and re-wrote it multiple times. It took me about 5 days to write 3 paragraphs. I was really sweating this one. After sending it, I got an email back in about 10 minutes, one line, that said: “sounds like it’s not a problem”.
I bring this up because this seems to be one of the first big things that hold people back from starting side projects while they’re working full time. Most of the people I’ve met doing a side project outside of their work tend to immediately view themselves as traitorous. My bias is, you shouldn’t be all that worried about it. There are definitely real, actual conflicts of interest out there in the world. If what you’re working on isn’t, and it’s starting to get traction, then let the right people know and stop letting it hang over you. Many of the people I’ve met trying to get a side project going are far more secretive than they need to be about whatever it is they’re working on.
After getting the okay, my back-of-the-napkin plan was:
The first version of the site was pretty simple:
Initially, my plan for customer acquisition was, obviously, SEO. But as any practitioner of SEO knows, results can take time. So the chicken and egg problem while I waited for my search rankings to go up, was how to get users for an SEO class, without SEO?
To get started, I went old-school, the same way you’d start mowing lawns or babysitting. I started printing out flyers with pull tabs on them that had my website URL. I burned a vacation day at work and walked around the city all day, papering most of the FiDi, North Beach, the Marina, SOMA and the Mission with flyers.
Not a huge surprise, but this didn’t work at all.
Surprisingly, this was the moment where a bunch of my friends said they knew ClickMinded was going to succeed, regardless of the fact that it seemed like a stupid way to acquire new users. I was told that everyone has ideas, but not everyone has followed through.
A hidden gem: Meetup.com
Next, I setup a meetup group, The San Francisco SEO Meetup. I didn’t exactly have a plan in starting this group, but it felt like something would happen if I gave it a shot. This ended up being absolutely crucial in getting the initial traction I needed for my class. The formula for my meetup group success was:
Minimum Viable Course
Once I had a substantial meetup group of people that were all interested in SEO and online marketing, I set up an event at a coworking space in San Francisco called SpherePad, and did a deal with them to hold an event there. I had three goals:
I had no intention of charging attendees. With that said, the key to getting people to show up was not to ask them to come to a free event but to give them a free pass to an expensive event. I set up an Eventbrite, set a price of $100, and then emailed my meetup group saying “Hey, I’m holding this event, it’s an all day Saturday course. It’s normally $100, but it’s free for the first 15 people that email me. Let me know”. In the last 30 seconds of the course, I thanked everyone for coming and mentioned that I was looking for 2 things in return: feedback and Yelp reviews. Then I did one more email follow up after the event, asking again for the same thing.
In doing this, I accomplished all of my goals. I finished my course, I got tons of great feedback on it and I had four 5-star yelp reviews. It was enough to give it a shot.
Armed with a few good yelp reviews and a minimally viable class, I walked into Parisoma, another coworking space in San Francisco, and asked them if they ever hosted tech class meetups. They said it sounded interesting. We agreed on a rev share, and I had a date set for my first class.
A large portion of revenue derived from ClickMinded over the last 3 years was via some type of revenue share. Whenever I mention this to friends, I’ll often get a response like
What I found through this process, is that the % of revenue shared is almost the last consideration for me now. Much more important is the platform and the expected number of users, especially when you’re new.
After agreeing with Parisoma to do a course at their facility, they added the event to their weekly email. Cass Phillipps from Web Wallflower, a bay area events mailing list, instantly picked it up and sent it out in her next email. All of a sudden, I had my first 3 customers.
Those first 3 paying customers were definitely the hardest. Once that was done, I entered into a new rev-share arrangement with SpherePad. This was another key agreement because I realized early on that flexible rev-shares (where I could book a room up to a day beforehand) were much less risky than setting a date and paying up front. If I didn’t find students, I was on the hook for it, and it was incredibly stressful to try to continually find new students right as I was starting. It made more sense for me to give a little more of the income away in exchange for not being on the hook for renting a room out for a day when no students signed up.
This continued for approximately 3 months. I held 9 classes, with class sizes ranging from 1 to 4, all at $500 per person.
Eventually, I was contacted via Twitter by Samir Housri, from Rho Ventures in New York.
Samir said that if I’m ever on the east coast and holding a class, I should let him know. Having never met someone at a VC firm, and being absolutely star-struck that he would ever reach out to me, I made up a reason to go to the east coast, contacted WeWork NYC and held a training course there. He came, along with a few other students that WeWork promoted the class to, including a guy from TED. Meeting Samir was awesome, and we’re still in touch.
The transition to online
One of the other results of the Meetup group was that a student from HULT, an international graduate school in San Francisco, came to a happy hour. He was part of a digital marketing club on campus and asked if I wanted to come to one of his classes and give a talk on SEO. I said sure.
Crucially, after finishing my presentation, a student raised her hand and said “Have you ever heard of Udemy? You should put your class on there.” This was the turning point in the life of ClickMinded.
At the end of the talk, I asked if anyone would be interested in doing an internship, and a number of hands shot up. I later emailed all the students with a long summary of what I was looking for in a summer internship and had a bunch of people apply.
I ended up turning this internship into what would become the first version of ClickMinded – as an online class on Udemy. Huge props to Bruno and Lorena, my first two interns who helped film the course and get it live. This was a giant project, and I’m still deeply grateful for all the work they did on this. ClickMinded went live on Udemy, and everything changed.
Here’s the link: The ClickMinded SEO Training Course
Here’s the first teaser:
Getting the ball rolling
Even though the course was done, it certainly wasn’t ready to be sold. In order to get it ready for users to want to buy it, I made two assumptions around social proof:
In order to do this, I used the Meetup group as leverage again. Here’s how I did it:
Outside of this, I also did the standard act of spamming a few close friends and asking them for reviews on Udemy.
I got to 100 users and 10 5-star reviews in about 5 days.
I will admit, many of my first 10 reviews were artificial. Is this justified by the fact that the next 50 reviews were real 5-star reviews? Probably not. Does it make me feel better? A little. The reality is, I found it very difficult to close the checkout loop when it’s clear that very few people have purchased the product, and there aren’t any reviews.
Since those first 100 quasi-artificial users and 10 quasi-artificial good reviews, the class is now up to 2,745 students and 60 reviews. I also move the price up a number of times. $99, $147, $247, and now $487.
Once the transition to Udemy was made, I also started hosting content on my own site. This was a great experience, and I learned a whole bunch going through this process. Lots of it was very messy at times. Video encoding, S3, multiple payment processors, dealing with hundreds and thousands of user login credentials. There was a lot here. I went through a number of different learning management systems throughout this:
The course is now hosted on Teachable, which is far and away the most valuable learning management system platform I’ve ever used. I’m a huge fan, and I highly recommend reaching out to them if you’re hosting a class of your own. Ankur, the founder, was a former Udemy teacher, and basically created a product he needed himself. I’m super happy with it.
Based on these different platforms, the site also had to evolve a number of times as well:
The kingmaker: AppSumo
The biggest break for me was landing my first deal with AppSumo back in 2012. I wrote a blog post on this called $21,243 in 8 days: Why AppSumo is crushing it. This summarizes the AppSumo story. I’ve now done 4 deals with AppSumo, and each one has been larger than the previous. My latest one was Black Friday 2014. Hundreds of new students signed up in less than 24 hours.
Roughly 35% of users have come from AppSumo. If you can get a deal going with these guys, you’re golden. You can apply to promote your product here.
A few months later, the class was rolling, and the dean of HULT San Francisco gave me a call and asked if I wanted to teach an elective. Since I had offered to do a few guest lectures, it put me on their radar. This was super interesting, because it was a graduate level class, and I definitely didn’t go to grad school.
I went into his office one day after work, and we hashed out a bunch of ideas for a course. I ended up coming back to the school the next summer and taught a class, Customer Acquisition Through Digital Marketing. It was a summer elective taught to 105 MBA and MIM students over the course of 6 weeks. I’m teaching it again next summer.
I was also fortunate enough to teach a Stanford Continuing Studies course on search engine optimization. This was funny, mostly because Stanford still owns the patent on PageRank.
I was always a huge hater when it came to SEO certification. Google doesn’t offer one, and all of the ones I saw being offered were extremely low quality. With that said, my users were constantly asking me to do this, and I finally gave in. The ClickMinded SEO Certification is now real, and you get one once you finish the course and pass a test. Here’s an example certificate.
Online learning and the future
I used to think online classes were a complete scam. They used to have that “University of Phoenix” stigma in my mind. Maybe it was because I took a few in college and they were garbage.
Since starting ClickMinded, I’ve received dozens of emails from students describing some amazing outcomes. A huge number of people have said they’re getting more traffic and customers after finishing the class – which is validation that it’s working, and that’s great. But there’ve also been students that were hired for a new job, promoted from their old job, or changed their career entirely after taking the course. Getting emails like that has been awesome.
ClickMinded really changed my mentality with online learning, so I decided to give it a shot again myself. Last summer, I took CS184 Startup Engineering, a Stanford CS course taught by Balaji Srinivasan. It was free. 100,000 students were enrolled. It was ~10 weeks long. And it was the single most important thing I’ve ever done. It was, from a “knowledge acquisition” perspective, more valuable than my entire 4-year undergraduate career at UConn.
This free, online course made me an order of magnitude more valuable at work, and I’ve now pushed hundreds of SEO-friendly code commits into the Airbnb codebase because of it.
I’ve now been on both sides of the table. I’ve taught a class with thousands of users that have been positively impacted, and I’ve now participated in a class with thousands of users and was very positively impacted.
Online learning is for real.
Now I’m interested in working on a viable alternative to grad school.
I think my advice for starting a new side project can be summarized in two points:
There are a ton of great ideas out there. There are a ton of profitable ideas out there. There are not a ton of ideas that you will personally be passionate about. What I’ve come to discover, is that when getting started, the size of the market is much less important than the size of your own personal interest in the market.
If the passion’s there, you’ll find that you’ll WANT to go paper the city with flyers, even if it might not work. You’ll WANT to host happy hours and geek out about search engines. You’ll WANT to give lectures at universities that don’t seem to have a point or an end game. You’ll WANT to change learning platforms 3 or 4 or 5 times order, in order to better deliver your product.
Finding something you’re passionate about working on is the tough part. Once you do, you just gotta keep wiggling.
Here’s everything that’s included in this post:
A friend of mine used these tactics to optimize his eCommerce site. His primary keywords are Backpack with Speakers and Cooler with Speakers, and I promised him that I would help him out too – he owes me! :)
The best way to start is by defining what SEO is not:
SEO is NOT:
Matt Cutts, the former head of the Google WebSpam team, has the official Google line on SEO:
Data can vary wildly from industry to industry, but there is roughly a 70/30 split for organic and paid traffic:
Many have tried to correlate click-through rates with search rankings, starting with an AOL data leak in 2006, but now there are a number of agencies that release click-through rate reports. Here’s one from Advanced Web Rankings, which says that roughly 31% of clicks go to the first result, and 75% of clicks go to the first 5. This is why SEO is so important: most people don’t go on to the second page, instead they change their query rather than looking at more results.
We know from 3rd party studies about “The Golden Triangle“, that most users’ eyes go to the top 5 organic results:
At the end of the day, we’re all trying to get to #1 on Google:
Before you get any further, remember the most important aspect of search engine optimization:
Write compelling copy FIRST, then optimize! Design for users, and not search engines!
Always “uncheck” broad match, and “check” exact match!
Think about searcher intent (what is this person looking for?)
Find synonyms with the ~ parameter (type ~music into Google, and you’ll notice “audio” “mp3” “radio” and “song” are bolded. Google thinks these are related phrases, so use those related phrases in your copy!)
1. Navigational Queries
2. Information Queries
3. Commercial Research Queries
4. Ready To Buy Queries
The most weighted aspect of on-page optimization
Title tags tell humans (and search engine spiders) what the page is about
Should be approximately 65 characters long
Titles should be unique for every page
Should be no longer than 156 characters
Your primary keyword(s) should be there
Meta description DOES NOT impact rankings but are directly related to your click-through rate
The meta description does not appear anywhere on the page
Google will often supplement content on the page with your meta description if it either does not find the description tag or finds the keyword on the page and wants to display it to the user
Heading tags are used to logically lay out your webpage
Primary keyword should be included at least once in the heading tag (does not need to be an exact match)
Like all aspects of SEO, don’t overdo it!
There’s no real “minimum number of words” needed for each page, but I recommend at least 100 words (to give the engines enough text to make an assessment of your content)
Important keywords should be mentioned in the first 50-100 words of the content if possible (but design for users!)
The keyword you’re targeting should be used 2-3 times on the page for short pages, don’t keyword stuff!
“Keyword density” and “text-to-code” ratio are not important today. If anyone tells you they are, RUN AWAY!
If it’s really hard to “work in” your keywords, it might be the wrong page for that keyword
Search engine spiders aren’t humans, and can’t see images
Visually impaired surfers rely on ALT tags to visit websites
We use ALT tags to tell search engines what those images are, as well as the name of the image file
ALT tags and file names are just one more component of the total optimization equation
Again: Don’t over-optimize! Use natural, user-friendly language, don’t worry about exact match text
The text you use in your links matters!
Search engines factor in HOW you link to your other content as a clue to what that content is about
The keyword you’re optimizing for should be used in the text pointing to that page
Links with text like “website” or “click here” are too generic, and don’t help search engines figure out what that content is about
Don’t be a miserable failure about your off-page optimization:
Off-page optimization is the other “big piece” of the ranking equation.
Search engines basically factor in how the rest of the Internet views your site.
A link from Site A to Site B is like a “vote” from Site Afor Site B
This is very simply described as “link building” but it’s becoming more comprehensive
If all links were equal in weight and based on their content, webpage with the most links will rank higher and win the Internet!
However, no two links are the same, all links are not created equal:
PageRank was originally a very important piece of Google’s algorithm, but it looks like it’s being emphasized less as time goes on.
Building links is a continuous, difficult, never-ending process. There are hundreds of strategies, tactics, and techniques for link building. There is even a multi-million dollar industry being built around this concept. However, there are only 4 crucial things to understand about link building in order to be successful:
Get links from good, trusted content.
Don’t get links from bad, spammy content.
Link to good, trusted content.
Don’t link to bad, spammy content.
Did you know the CIA’s “Facebook” program dramatically cuts agency costs?
Social Media is a factor in search engine rankings because it’s a quality signal. I wrote more about this on Social Media Today: Quality Signals – Twitter and Facebook’s Impact on Search Engine Rankings
Google Analytics – Amazing, free analytics software
Google Webmaster Tools – Not optional, must install in order to submit sitemaps and more to Google
Google Adwords Keyword Tool – The de facto keyword research tool of the SEO industry
Google Trends – Interesting tool to check seasonal fluctuations in keyword search volume
Check My Links – Free link analysis tool plugin for Chrome
Open Site Explorer – Free (trial) tool to build inbound link profile
Marketing in the Age of Google – The only book I recommend buying to learn more about search
In order to qualify, you’ll need to do two things:
Once that’s done, we’ll create an SEO certification for you like this one.