Learnings from “Blogging for Business” course by Ahrefs Academy
Disclaimer: The learnings are from this course — Blogging for Business. I highly encourage everyone to take the course for full learnings. I took down these notes for myself. Sharing it here to see if a wider audience benefit from it
One big takeaway from the course
Blogging for business is different from blogging for passion.
The fundamental rule of content marketing — “Your content should be of high quality, else everything else will fail”
Why did I take this course?
Learn to convert blog visitors to customers Learn more about SEO Learn how to turn my passion for writing into tangible business outcomes
What did I learn from this course?
Write about things relevant to your potential buyers
Use keyword research extensively [ahrefs]
Outreach for backlinks, not for views
Publishing X number of articles per week is a nonsense goal
Backlinks are important to rank high in Google results
Lesson 1: The compound effect of content marketing
Also, word of mouth, through sharing on social.
Content is a great way to generate word of mouth.
Why do blogs fail?
Spike of hope — after sharing on social and distribution, it’ll spike but it’ll fall after that.
Publishing new content regularly will have a curvy growth. /\/\/\/\
It needs to grow consistently. Upward growth📈
Ahrefs publish 2–3 blogs per month and their traffic grow regularly. They used to publish 2–3 blogs per week and it wasn’t growing.
Important to drive traffic to the business and actually impact revenue.
Consistent traffic to the blog is more important than the periodic spikes
How a blog grows
Spike of hope denotes that you’re asking the existing audience to come back to your blog
Sharing it in communities will also not bring new articles.
Word of mouth is passive. Publishing great content will generate word of mouth.
Proactive word of mouth can be achieved by emailing influencers.
Lesson 2: Two major strategies of growing a blog
Strategies to grow a blog
Viral — need to resonate with your target audience.
SEO — need to be useful, get backlinks, don’t have to publish regularly
Viral traffic doesn’t grow 1x, 2x, 3x, not snowball effect.
Content only goes viral if only exposed to a SUPER HUGE audience
Just one tweet from influencer doesn’t mean it’ll get picked up
Possible to build your entire business around a single article.
Lesson 3: How to analyze the traffic potential and ranking difficulty of a keyword
Biggest blogging mistake — writing about things no one is searching for.
Blog = Traffic = Audience = Sales
Google is the single source for the blog
Write about things that are relevant to your potential buyers
The first result will get 30% of all clicks
Search volume for a single keyword is not the only indicator, there are some similar search volume results that could be helpful.
Total search traffic more important than traffic for a single keyword.
How to find the BEST keywords to target
Put yourself in the shoes of the audience
Guess what they might be looking for
Put that in a tool like ahrefs
Look at the top-ranking page result
Title your article similar to that as well
How to determine the ranking difficulty in Google
No one really knows how Google ranks pages
Two factors — On-page + incoming links
Behavioral factors also matter — How long ppl stay? Do they do something?
More websites that link to your page, it’ll rank in your results.
Backlink factors had the most correlation to high search result ranking
When you want to outrank an article, note down the number of backlinks. Identify the one with the least backlinks so you can easily outrank them.
Lesson 4: How to find great content ideas with high business value
How to source great ideas:
Find communities like LinkedIn groups, Subreddits, Slack groups
Identify topics and figure out the search volume
Keyword research tools
Look for what people search for.
Google Keyword planner — not very great from SEO planners
Keywords for competition
Site explorer — search for your top keyword and look at google, what other companies come there? Search for it on Site explorer in ahrefs
Go to top pages
How to find low competition keywords?
Use content explorer in ahrefs, search for the keyword
Domain ranking is high, could depend on backlinks
Referring domain is backlinks
How to prioritize content ideas
Assess based on business value — will a reader become a customer?
3 — very useful
2 — helpful, but not directly relevant
1 — very weak but relevant
Topics with huge traffic potential < topics with huge business potential
Hubspot’s top article is “How to make a GIF” — 0 Business value
Search volume != business potential
Lesson 5: How to optimize your article for a target keyword and generate maximum search traffic with it
Targeting the wrong keyword could be a mistake?
Target the keyword with the right searcher intent, not the highest search volume
“advertising research” vs “PPC advertising research”
Pick the most relevant keyword even if the search volume is low
Optimizing articles for the keyword
If the article content matches the searcher intent, then that’s 80% of the optimization
75% of top 2M searches don’t have the search keyword in their page at all
Keyword stuffing won’t work anymore
Use keyword in Title, URL, Content
Google allows flexibility, it can understand synonyms and don’t have to be an exact match
Max results for your article
Your article ranks for more than 1 search query
Naturally, rewrite the article to mention more relevant search queries
Look for the content gap between top-ranking articles but you don’t have.
Study what people are searching for and expand your article to include that
You can outrank the competition by updating your old content. Your past articles might be targeting the wrong keyword
Go through blogs and assign them to:
Articles that already bring search
Action: Update articles or competition will outrank you
On the same topic
Use 301 redirects
Research on 301 redirects
Delete articles that don’t bring any traffic
Lesson 6. How to create great content that promotes itself
Creating great content
Great content will be shared and you’ll get organic word of mouth traffic. 0 investment.
How to create content that ppl will want to read
Improve how it looks
Most ppl skim through articles. So it should look good.
Visually appealing things — Design, subheadings, quotes, lists, formatting tricks
Eye catchy headline will catch their attention.
Have at least 5 variations
If it’s a clone, it won’t add extra value
Say something that hasn’t been said before
If you can explain something better, it can outrank its competition
Interview blogs is a hack, it has the authority for the content.
The person who has the most credibility to answer the question should answer it
Creating unique content
If you can write something that no one else writes about, then it’s a success.
Your company data, stories about ppl you have are a unique content idea
Lesson 7: How to create link-worthy content
Do you need backlinks to rank?
Backlinks are 1 of the top 3 parameters in the search algorithm
It is possible to rank without backlinks:
No competition, fewer pages
When the top pages have no backlinks
High domain rating
How to grow domain ratings?
Create content with backlinks — internal links to unpopular pages.
Creating content that attracts backlinks
Great content doesn’t always attract backlinks.
You should make your readers want to share
People want to share because:
Data, research and statistics
Site Explorer — Best by links.
Analyze competitor blogs for backlinks.
Ppl cannot link to articles that they don’t know exists
The secret to acquiring backlinks
Natural backlink — with no effort.
Natural reach — big audience + solid advertising.
If you don’t have an audience, then you have to build manual backlinks. So start building an audience.
Lesson 8: How to promote your content & make it rank high in Google
Common mistakes of promotion
#1 Promoting for views vs backlinks
94% of newly published articles never reach the front page of Google
Google won’t rank your pages on its own, you have to work.
Your promotion strategy should work on getting you backlinks
Ppl like to link to credible websites (Wiki)
#2 Giving up on promotion too early
Your promotion shouldn’t stop until your page ranks high on Google
Repurpose content, submit in groups, reach out to ppl who have linked to similar articles.
#3 Abandoning old content
Competitors will outrank you
Revisit old articles, update it.
AHREFS spends 50% of the time updating old content.
#4 Not spending money on content promotion
You can spend money on content promotion, you fail to justify it.
If your content gets your product revenue, then you should be able to justify it
Most popular content promotion strategies
Reaching an existing audience
But it’s small if you’re small, so no traffic
Start building your audience as early as you can
Reaching relevant communities
Relevant social groups
But communities hate self-promotion
Pick only 5 or 10 best, and add value to the community.
Diff formats, audio, video slides, images.
You can link back to your blog through that content
Write articles for other blogs
Answer questions on Quora
Leave comments on other blogs with links to your blog (genuine)
Just share it with ppl who were mentioned in your article but DONT ask them to share
How to compete with top results (big guys)
They have a strong brand, they have a big budget
They rank #1 → They get passive traffic → They get backlinks → They rank #1 (Viscious cycle)
How to outrank them? It’s hard
So DONT go after big keywords
Lesson 9: How to build backlinks to your blog content
Link building strategies for blogs
Generally on blogs, social groups, forums, Q&A sites, YouTube videos (genuine)
Advice — don’t be self promotional; Add value.
Comment links are no-follow — no backlink but side benefits
Replicating competitors’ backlink
Can’t review ALL backlinks
Find their super fan (consistent link)
Best pages by links, HTTP filter to 200
Copy-paste 5 top links in link intersect
You’ll get backlinking websites that you can reach out to
Find the powerlinkers
5 well-known blogs in the industry in Link Intersect but doesn’t link to your website
Analyse their latest backlinks
New backlinks feature in ahrefs
Look for domain names that look good.
ahrefs can also alert you when your competition get blog.
Finding blogs to guest post
Content explorer — put your topic there. Filter down by one article per month, low domain rating and find the blogs you can write
No backlinks from a domain, a backlink from a page. That’s how PageRank works. Invest in a long time, guest blog for low DR blogs as well if the blog is going to be around for a longer time
Splinter existing long-form articles to different blogs and submit them to different guest blogs.
Perspective technique — a variation of the existing content.
Guest blogging hacks
Pitch more blogs than you can handle
Link to multiple articles from your guest blog
Don’t try to stuff links, make it organic and natural
Link to other guest posts
Strengthen the other guest post
the other blog owner will appreciate the backlink
Write guest articles for blog that you’ve never linked it
Unique domains that link to you matters
Every subsequent link from the same website has less value
Lesson 10: How to build links & promote content via blogger outreach
Outreach for Content Promotion
Don’t treat outreach as a failure if you didn’t get any tweets or backlinks. You are still promoting the blog
Spam vs Outreach — Keep away from both ends of the spectrum:
Don’t reach out to too many people by blasting emails
Don’t spend too much time & research before sending out personal outreach email
Experiment to optimise Open Rate, Clicks rate and Reply rate.
How to find quality prospects for outreach
Building links should the primary intent of outreach.
People who have linked to existing articles on the same topic
Search in Google, Find a topic, find backlinks (Referring domains, dofollow, “look for domain names that make sense”
Content explorer, look for a topic.
Filter referring domains, sort by high to low referring domains
People who publish article that mention your topic and reach out for backlink. Use alerts to be informed when someone else mentions that topics
People who tweeted articles on the topic.
Don’t reach out to them through email, reply to the tweet with something engaging. It’s social media engagement strategy
Writing great outreach emails
Reach out and you could say they’re linking to an outdated article. What’s in it for them? Why should they read your email? Answer that first. Focus on them and not on yourself!
3 Common outreach excuses
Your article provides a fresh angle
Mention that fresh angle in the email, don’t make them find it
Your article some new and unique proof that strengthens their stand
You’ve featured their work
They’ll atleast reply and say thanks.
How to persuade them to link to your article?
There’s no real proper way. Don’t ask them directly.
“If you find it useful, maybe you can even link it to your article”
Don’t be pushy.
Your CONTENT should do the job of persuading them to link to it.
Don’t send a lot of follow-ups. Follow ups could do a lot more harm than good