Friday, April 29, 2016

The $100,000 Challenge: March Update

march update

We finally finished the last month of the $100,000 challenge. March was an awesome month for Nutrition Secrets. Not only did the traffic grow to 218,811 visitors, but revenue did too—it went up to $121,492.65.

It wasn’t hard to hit the revenue goals as we had enough fish oil in stock, plus we started to generate money from affiliate sales.

So let’s dive right in…


Compared to February, the traffic went up to 218,811 visitors and 269,814 pageviews. The increase was only 18,102, which isn’t much.

But considering that the popularity of nutrition and fitness sites is cyclical (January and February are most popular) and that Mike didn’t blog much on in March, it wasn’t too bad.

Overall, Mike has slowed down on the blogging front. Over the next few months, he wants to try a few fun content formats such as infographics and wants to see what happens if we were to dump a few hundred grand into the blog. It won’t be much of an experiment at that point, but we are just curious to see if we can get the blog to a million visitors a month.

traffic sources

Nonetheless, the traffic isn’t performing too badly. Even in April, the traffic has been on an upward trend while little to no effort has been put into the blog since the challenge has been over.


The revenue is a bit more complicated to breakdown as it is coming from two sources now: Amazon and affiliates.

In March, revenue from Amazon hit $112,573.30.

amazon revenue

There are a few key elements to growing Amazon sales:

  1. Reviews – the more people you can get to leave a review, the better off you are. Most people don’t even read the reviews, but if they are high in ratings and you have tons in quantity, you are in good shape. If you have a blog that’s driving sales, a great way to get more reviews is through marketing automation. You can promote the product to your email list, and then after a few weeks of promoting your product to those people, you would send an automated email asking them to leave a review. You won’t really know who bought the product, but you would still put the review email—applicable to a portion of your list—in your sequence.
  2. Keywords – with Amazon, you can add keywords. Most people add basic ones like “fish oil,” but as you know, it is all about the long tail. Amazon opened it up so you can stuff hundreds of keywords now, and with the use of Google Keyword Planner, you can come up with popular variations. You’ll then start ranking for tons of keywords on Amazon.
  3. Combating negative Amazon reviews – similarly to what happens when people employ negative SEO, competitors sabotage your Amazon listing by taking up your front page with terrible reviews. They do this to tank your sales so they can generate more income. You fight this by building up your email list on your blog and continually blasting out to your list when you have bad reviews, asking your readers to up-vote the positive ones.
  4. Ads – Amazon allows ads on its platform. Whether it is profitable or not, ads help you generate more sales. And if you can increase your sales velocity, you’ll find that your listing climbs up higher and starts to stick—it stays up there even after your ads stop showing. Sure, other people can do the same thing, but most don’t.

As for affiliate income, we started to push stuff by the Truth About Abs guys. We started doing email blasts to our list in order to generate the sales, and it has been working out well. The copy isn’t too bad, but there are two reasons it’s working out well.


  1. We collect a lot more emails – we are generating 300 to 400 email sign-ups a day. It’s much larger than our previous numbers for one reason: we turned off double opt-in. Aweber usually requires double opt-in when you use third-party software to collect emails, but Mike called Aweber and got them to disable double opt-ins.
  2. Good copy – our copy converts well. You can see an example email below. And we have many more emails like this in the sequence. So, we continually send you affiliate offers over time, which helps.

Here is the email copy we have been testing:

Email – This plant food HARMS your metabolism & heart

Hi {!firstname_fix}

Sometimes it’s not the enemy you know that’s the problem, but the friend you think you know.

In this case, I’m talking about nutrition in foods. It’s common knowledge that stuff like sugary drinks are just plain bad for you. The best you can say is that your body can absorb the bad effects if you only have them occasionally.

But what about foods you thought weren’t bad, and you heard were actually good for you?

I have some bad news, and some good news. The bad: some so-called “healthy” foods may be the cause of why you work so hard to eat healthy and haven’t seen the results you expected. The good news: There’s a solution I read about from best selling author Mike Geary.  Read on… (removed affiliate link)

Email – 2 Simple steps to REMOVE visceral belly fat (the DEADLIEST type)

Hi {!firstname_fix}

People often refer to past times as “the good old days” with a nostalgic tone. At least when it comes to many nutritional and health practices, I think of them more like the “bad old days.”

For example, people thought the wonders of science had delivered new, healthy products called “trans fats” that were featured in margarine, to replace that nasty butter. We now know that trans fats are about the worst thing you can coat your innards with.

People also thought they could do “spot reducing” of unattractive belly fat by using those jiggling-belt machines, or some other gimmick.

Well, belly fat certainly is still unattractive, and research says it’s also a danger sign. But research has also identified more-effective ways of getting rid of that spare tire. Here’s how. (removed affiliate link)

Email – 7 “fatty” foods for a flat stomach

Hi {!firstname_fix}

I spend full time on nutrition- and health-related activities. That’s the business I’m in.

I’m also an improvement junkie, always looking for the latest, best information. So you can imagine that I’ve pretty much seen it all: Every product, every supplement, every type of exercise.

Most of them are underwhelming. Yawn.

I’m writing you today because I recently came across something that made me sit up and pay attention. It’s a short-term blueprint for eating the right foods to burn substantial fat, and it’s all explained here… (removed affiliate link)

You can find high converting offers on sites such as Clickbank. They even sort the offers by popularity. I need to get a screenshot of our Clickbank revenue and our other affiliate income sources from Mike as he created the accounts and has the logins. Once I do, I will update the post with a screenshot (we use three networks).

The total affiliate revenue was $8,919.35.


As for monthly profit, it was high…but for a different reason than you might think. When you sell tangible products, you buy tons of inventory and then sell it over the following few months. We didn’t want to be out for our last month, so we spent a good chunk of money in the previous month, and, of course, we bought more in March.

Here is a breakdown of the expenses:

  • Fish oil – $68,492.52 (including Amazon fees, shipping to Amazon for Prime, coupon-related expenses, and producing more inventory)
  • Aweber – $149
  • Designer – $375 (continually tweaking the site)
  • Hosting – $249
  • Mike – free (Mike doesn’t get paid, but he owns a percentage of the blog)
  • Accounting – $290 (we are now paying a bookkeeper to help out with the books)

Total expenses came out to $69,555.52.

That brings the total profit to $51,937.13.

Of course, to maintain the growth, we would have to keep buying fish oil, but after awhile, we would cap out on sales, and our margins should be a healthy 30% plus. As for March, I didn’t spend much on buying tons more inventory as I wanted to show that selling supplements can be profitable.


Overall, the $100,000 challenge was fun, but I wouldn’t do it again. It’s just too much work with everything I have going on.

It was still a good learning experience. One thing I realized is how much harder it is to rank on Google today compared to 5 years ago. Almost all of my sites are old, so it is much easier for them to rank.

And although generated good traffic, if it were 5 years ago, the blog would have been at a million visitors a month with the same amount of effort.

So, what do you think of the $100,000 challenge?

from Quick Sprout

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

YouTube Marketing Strategy – Jake & Ryan Coaching Call #7

If you’ve been following along with Ryan’s progress, you know that he’s been working on a site in the baseball training niche. From our early conversations, we discussed how creating videos and publishing them on YouTube could be an excellent opportunity for Ryan to grow his audience and drive traffic to his website.

Since teaching people how to do different drills or simple things like throw a baseball with proper form are very visual, video is a natural medium to use for demonstrating these techniques.

Today’s Topic

In today’s coaching call, I review a really clever and effective YouTube marketing strategy that I first heard about from the guys behind ILoveBasketballTV on the Digital Marketer blog.

After you’ve watched our video, click here to read their blog post.

In a lot of ways, this strategy is very similar to the long tail keyword strategy we regularly talk about in the keyword research phase of site building. Basically, you focus your efforts on more specific search queries in the hopes of ranking for those less competitive searches and building an audience.

The “I love basketball” guys call this a “bracelet and charm” strategy, which as you’ll see in the video is just a way to visualize how your primary keyword/category connects to all the more narrow, long tail searches inside of that category.

So for Ryan, we talk about a possible “bracelet” of “Baseball Workouts” and then find a “charm” to attach to that bracelet in the keyword “Baseball Workouts For Catchers.”

If this is making no sense, just skip down to the video and I’ll show you exactly what I mean. I implemented this strategy for Long Tail Pro last year, when at the time we had no YouTube channel at all, and it worked pretty well as a free lead generation tool.

Other Call Highlights

We had a lot of fun on this call, as you’ll soon hear. After I hung up with Ryan it was about 12:30 AM here in Ohio and I told my wife, “That Ryan guy works like crazy!”

As you may recall from his application video, Ryan works at a print shop and things there have been busier than normal – which means extra hours for Ryan. In addition, he picks up hours when he can for a delivery service to earn a little extra money by night. Besides those things, he still makes time for his most important job – being husband and dad.

Oh yeah, and then there is this niche site thing…

I’ve got a lot of respect for Ryan and the work he puts in to make a better life for his family.

That said, here are a few other important points from the call:

1. Video is harder to duplicate.

Unfortunately, in past public niche site projects people have done shady things to sabotage the site like sending bad links or even copying the content and creating a site of their own using the stolen content. In this call Ryan hints that he might go all Buzz Aldrin on anybody who tries to rip off his hard work once we make the domain public.

We had a good laugh about it, but blatantly unethical tactics really do grind my gears…

That said, building a legit following on YouTube is much harder to copy. Even if somebody did things the right way and hired a writer to create a baseball site to compete with Ryan’s, unless they really know the game of baseball they’ll have a hard time doing instructional videos on how to play the game like Ryan can do.

There is just a lot more involved in creating that video than researching and writing a blog post. Ryan feels comfortable in front of the camera and he knows his stuff, which is an asset that he should take advantage of to develop a loyal following and get traffic to his site.

2. Easy to repurpose.

In our call about content strategy, we discussed various content types like “Embed & React” and “The YouTube Cut-up” where you can make a YouTube video the basis of a blog post and then add your own ideas/thoughts to turn it into a post that your audience can benefit from.

Obviously, you can do these things using other people’s videos. However, it’s even better when you are using your own videos and turning them into blog posts. You can take screenshots of yourself demonstrating the technique, and you have the advantage of really knowing the content inside and out – so you can turn it into a blog post.

Near the end of the call, I also mention that Ryan can flip that around and take blog posts he’s written and then shoot a quick video on the same topic. You’ve already done the research, so why not take that same lesson and share it with a different audience on YouTube and increase your footprint online?

3. Focus on one thing.

For the “charm” videos, it’s important to really keep things tightly focused on your topic. If we’re talking about workouts for catchers, don’t get off track and start talking about outfielders too – stick to catchers.

The cool thing is, by focusing on these long tail searches, you know exactly what the person wants to learn.

I told Ryan to focus on just one tip/trick per video, and try to keep things to about 2 – 3 minutes in total. Since YouTube monitors the stick rate, meaning how much of your video people watch on average, doing helpful videos that answer the exact question the person has will result in many people watching the majority of your video – which is a good thing.

When you don’t do this, and wander off topic, like discussing outfielders on a video where you’ve clearly targeted catchers, people will simply move onto the next video because you are no longer relevant to them.

YouTube can then see that people are only watching 20% of your video and then leaving – which is kind of like the “bounce rate” for Google results where someone goes to your site and immediately leaves – in both cases this can hurt you in the search rankings.

4. Verbal call to action

One thing that really stuck with me about the ILoveBasketballTV guys was that they always end their videos with a verbal call to action.

What do you want the viewer to do?

Subscribe, like, or comment? Maybe you’ve got a lead magnet that will help them learn even more about the topic you just discussed… Either way, if you just end your video without telling people to do something – you’re going to miss out on opportunities to grow your subscriber base, engage your audience, etc.

Many people get blind to ads in the corner of your video, and they may never read the description and click on your link. However, if they’ve watched the entire video they clearly are interested in what you’re saying. So since you’ve got their attention already, take the opportunity to tell them what they should do next.

We talk about these things and so much more in our 7th coaching call, but before we get there – I want to let Ryan share his thoughts on how this process is going and the progress he’s making:

An Update From Ryan

Hello from Team Underdog!

That’s how I’m representing myself anyway – because a lot of the time that’s exactly how I feel. I’m working two jobs and have a family… and building a Niche Site.

I know, I know. Boo Hoo, right? Woe is me.

This is just the reality of trying to create a side (or hopefully not side) stream of income online. It’s not easy. It’s a lot of work. And it’s no different from the reality that Jake faces every day, or that Spencer faced 10 years ago when he started on his journey. There are a million reasons to quit, give up, and not go for it. And only one reason not to.

And that’s why I’m here, plugging away… and I may even be starting to see some results. Maybe.

So enough with the motivational nonsense, it’s time to get down to business.

The other day I got 48 views on my site! It was a small victory and a nice boost of positive energy to keep me going. I’m not getting those numbers consistently yet, but it’s still a good sign.

Where did those views come from?

I’d love to tell you that they were all from organic traffic, but only a handful were.

The others came from Facebook. The strange thing is that I haven’t even promoted my Facebook page yet. In fact, I don’t even have any content on it yet. So, it’s strange that I would see any traffic from it, but maybe Facebook gives you a little boost when you first start a page or something? Do they put it in front of more eyeballs on your first day? I have no clue, but it was nice.

In general, I feel good about where the site is right now. It still needs more content, but as I start to do outreach and link building, I feel good about what I’m sharing and putting out there. I’m just getting antsy about seeing some revenue start to trickle in. I need more backlinks, and so far I’m striking out (pun not intended, but perhaps intended). Once they start to hit (pun totally intended), I’m sure the site will start to generate some income.

So that brings us to this call regarding Youtube. If you’re just reading this and not listening to the call, I’d suggest you check it out. Jake drops some real knowledge bombs, and it’s info that I’m not sure a lot of people in the Niche space are talking about.

I’m really looking forward to getting some video content out there, but it’s probably going to be a month or two before that starts to happen. First I need some backlinks and more content. Always more content.

Hope everyone else is seeing success in their sites, I know that many of you who are following along are starting to see results, so that is very encouraging! Until next time…

Watch the Coaching Call

You can watch the full video of the coaching call below, or if you prefer to listen to the audio only, you can download it here.

The post YouTube Marketing Strategy – Jake & Ryan Coaching Call #7 appeared first on Niche Pursuits.

from Niche Pursuits

The 4 Steps to Keyword Analysis: How to Prioritize Your Resources

Don’t you love that feeling that comes with keyword research?

You’re left with hundreds, often thousands, of opportunities you can target to grow your business.

If you do your keyword research well, you can even identify several relatively easy keywords to go after.

I know you’re excited.

But there’s a problem…

Which one do you go after first?

Which one do you go after second?

For the vast majority of blogs and business websites, you’ll be able to create only a few really great pieces of content a month.

That means you’ll never get to every single keyword you dug up in your research.

In fact, you may never get past 10% (but you can still be incredibly successful). So, what do you do?

You prioritize.

Some keywords are better than others to go after for your business.

I’m going to show you a 4-step process you can follow to analyze the keywords you came up with and decide which keywords to pursue. 

Step 1: Organization is key

Keyword research and analysis is not something that can just be thrown together.

You can’t randomly input keywords into tools and sporadically analyze them—it’s impossible when you have potentially thousands to go through.

That’s why organization is critical. Take the time upfront to get all your keyword research into one area.

In this case, I recommend using a spreadsheet. Once you have a list of keywords to consider, put them in a single column.

Next, get the search volumes for each keyword if you haven’t already. Just copy and paste them into the Keyword Planner if you have to.

This step isn’t hard, but it could take some time.

By the end, you should have a spreadsheet like this, with all your keywords:


Step 2: It’s time to take stock

Before you even look at your keywords, you need to decide what you’re willing to invest to go after them.

For example, if you have a $500 monthly budget, you cannot target highly competitive terms such as “home insurance” because you’ll get zero traffic. Instead, it’s better to target more realistic terms and get a steady trickle of traffic.

Since keyword research is usually tied to SEO at least a bit, you need to give yourself a fighting chance at ranking #1-3 for each keyword you target.

But put aside the competition aspect for now, and make sure you know exactly how much of the following three factors you have available.

Factor #1 – budget. To target a keyword, you’ll need two things: content and promotion (mainly backlinks).

Many businesses hire someone (or a small team) to produce content and do the promotion.

Right here, you need to be able to answer these questions:

  • Do you even want to spend money on targeting keywords?
  • Alternatively, do you have to spend money to do it (because no one on your team has the skills or time to)?
  • If so, how much can you reliably afford to commit on a long term basis (at least 6 months)?

To get the most out of your content, you need to think long term. It takes months of consistent, high quality work before traffic starts to pick up.

That’s why it’s not enough to invest a lot upfront and then pull funding when the results aren’t amazing immediately.

If you are going to employ that approach, divide that upfront money into at least six portions, and plan your content and promotion accordingly in the future.

Factor #2 – manpower. If you don’t want to spend money to hire people to produce content and promote it, you need to do it yourself (or assign it to an employee).

Or you might want a mixture of the two options.

Either way, determine right now the maximum amount of time you, or someone on your team, can commit to working on a specific keyword.

Again, this needs to be an amount of time specifically carved out for this work. You need consistency.

Factor #3 – expectations. When I refer to expectations, I mean answering this question: How well do you need to rank in order to be happy?

Or a better question might be: How much traffic do you need if you spend a certain level of resources on your marketing and SEO?

If you’re starting from scratch, getting just 100 organic visits a day might justify the work you’re going to put in, at least for now.

But if you’re heading up this work at a large website, getting an extra 100 visits a day might be only 1% more traffic, which isn’t good enough.

The point here is to see if there’s any misalignment between the first two factors and your goals.

If you’re expecting big things with a small budget, you’re doomed before you even started. At this point, you need to revisit your budget and manpower available—or tone down your expectations.

Alternatively, if you’re expecting to get an extra few thousand visitors a month after 6 months of work with a budget of a few thousand dollars a month, that’s achievable, and you can move on to the next step.

Step 3: Competition will dictate desirability

All right, now we can get back to your list of keywords.

This step is about one thing: determining the level of competition for each keyword.

This competition level refers to how hard it will be to rank in the top 3 listings for that keyword in Google.

That being said, if you have another distribution channel (social media, forum, etc.) that you know you can get a ton of traffic from for content on a specific keyword, classify that as easy.

Essentially, we’re looking for an overall measure of how easy it will be to get a reasonable amount of traffic from each keyword.

Option #1 – assign each keyword a competition value manually: Create a column on your spreadsheet to assign a competition value in either of two ways:

  • General categories - competition isn’t an exact science. You may opt to simply label each keyword with something like: easy, relatively easy, average, hard, very hard, etc.
  • Specific numbers - you can also use a scale of 1-5 or 1-10, where low numbers indicate low competition and high numbers are the toughest.

I recommend the second way because we’ll be using it later on.

Here comes the hard part: figuring out the competition level for each keyword. This can take a lot of time, especially if you’re doing it all yourself.

Basically, you need to get the top 3 results (or more) for each keyword, and then look at the following factors:

  • How relevant is the content? (i.e., is it clearly optimized for the keyword?)
  • How impressive is the content? (can you make something significantly better?)
  • How many backlinks point to the page? (only count high quality ones)
  • How authoritative is the site? (e.g., Forbes is highly authoritative, is not)

You could also look at factors such as mobile-friendliness and page load speed, but you’ll never be able to analyze all your keywords if you include too many factors.

This doesn’t need to be a perfect analysis, but it should be at least a good estimate of what you’re up against.

Put all those together to come up with an overall competition score.

Option #2 – use a tool to gauge competition: I know I don’t have time to do the above for thousands of keywords.

The good news is that many signals can be checked automatically with tools. You can find a bunch of options in the keyword competition section of this guide.

These tools look at the above factors and then use a formula to calculate an overall competition value (usually out of 10 or 100).


This can take this step down from several hours to just minutes, which is obviously a great thing.

The one thing you sacrifice is control.

You have to trust that the minds behind the tool are weighing the factors correctly and generating a relatively good competition estimate.

I suggest trying out a tool and then manually going through a dozen keywords to see whether the tool’s competition assessment matches yours.

Step 4: It’s time to turn to math

“Oh crap, I don’t remember calculus…”

Don’t worry, you’ll need only very basic math here.

This is the final step of our analysis, where we create a score that will tell us which keywords to prioritize.

Let’s recap what we’ve done so far and, more importantly, what we’re looking for in a great keyword.


  • We want keywords with low competition.
  • We want to get a lot of traffic if we rank highly for it (more is better).
  • It must be realistic—if a keyword has competition that clearly exceeds your budget, it should automatically be the lowest priority.
  • We need a minimum amount of traffic to make it worth your time.

Part #1 – filter and eliminate: Those last two points are the easiest to start with. If a keyword doesn’t meet those conditions, it should be assigned low priority and removed from consideration.

Start with the minimum traffic level.

You’ve already decided the minimum return you need, and we’ll use that here.

If your minimum was 100 visitors per day, or 3,000 per month, a keyword with a monthly search volume of 50 will not be worth it.

Your cutoff will probably be 500-1,000 for that example. With 7-15 pieces of content, you could hit your goal, which is reasonable for most. Keep in mind that you will get only about 30% of the monthly search volume as #1 these days.


Filter out all the keywords below that monthly search volume.

Next, based on your predetermined budget and manpower, along with SEO experience, determine what competition is too high.

If you have a small budget with very little manpower or SEO experience, eliminate all keywords that are above average in difficulty.

You’ll have to judge this for yourself.

Part #2 – calculate a priority score: Now you’re left with a list of keywords that would be both good and realistic to rank for.

They should all be keywords you would target if you had enough time.

This is where the math comes in.

We’ll use the following formula:

(A*Traffic) / (B*Competition) = Priority Score

A and B are both constants that we’ll figure out in a second. Traffic and competition both come from your earlier numbers.

A high priority score is a good thing. The higher the score, the sooner you should target it.

The constants can be anything, but they mainly depend on two things:

  • Risk tolerance - if you’re willing to take a risk and go for high volume keywords (that require more resources to target) make “A” larger. If you want more reliable results (small wins), make “B” larger.
  • Skill level - if you’re an expert SEO, you can decrease “B” because competition isn’t as scary. If you’re not as experienced, make “B” larger.

Before you do this, I’d advise to normalize your traffic numbers. You should do this since competition is already normalized from 1 to 10 (or to 5).

To do so, take the logarithm of each number. For example:

  • log(1,000)=3
  • log(50)=1.69

Then, multiply each of these numbers by a scaling factor that is equal to 10 (or 5) divided by the largest number you have. If you only had the two examples above, the scaling factor would be equal to 3.33 (10 divided by 3).

Now all your traffic numbers are out of 10, and you’ll get a more reasonable set of priority scores.

Sort your list and get to work: You’ve done all the hard work. The last step is to sort your final list by the priority score, highest to lowest.

Now, plan your content and promotion schedule according to this list. Start at the keyword with the highest priority score, and work your way down.


As you can see, keyword analysis isn’t incredibly difficult, but it takes a lot of work.

While you may want to take shortcuts, don’t.

Getting your analysis right will save you from chasing the wrong keywords and wasting hundreds of hours, and it will help you target keywords that will give you the quickest results.

If you have any questions about keyword analysis, just leave me a comment below.

from Quick Sprout

Monday, April 25, 2016

Podcast 104: Perrin and Colleen Call 8: Completing Content and Starting Outreach

This is the audio from coaching call 8 that was posted previously.  If you want to review the video of the call or read more details, please go here.


The post Podcast 104: Perrin and Colleen Call 8: Completing Content and Starting Outreach appeared first on Niche Pursuits.

from Niche Pursuits

The Complete Guide to the Google Analytics Add-on for Google Sheets

SEOs and marketers always have a lot on their plates.

That’s why we care so much about tools that save us time.

Any chance you get to automate some of your work is one that you should take.

That’s why when I first came across the Google Analytics add-on for Google Sheets, I knew I had to share it with you in a post.

What exactly is this add-on, and why is it useful? I’m going to assume you know what Google Analytics is.

But you may not know what Google Sheets is. It’s essentially the free spreadsheet competitor to Excel that Google has developed over the years.

The best part is your spreadsheets can live in the cloud and be worked on by multiple people at the same time.

The add-on I’ll show you how to use allows you to pull data from your Google Analytics account using the API and create reports with it.

Not only that, you can re-run these reports at any time.

That’s really powerful because once you create a report, you don’t have to spend time remaking it.

Whether you work for clients or do marketing for an internal team, you can generate these reports on a regular basis for your meetings and progress reviews.

Why would you want this? If it’s not clear yet, it will be soon. Playing with data in Google Analytics is fine, but it’s not the most usable interface.

Compare that to a spreadsheet, where you can use a ton of different functions (like filtering, custom graphing, etc.) on the data you retrieve.

Additionally, it’s really easy to generate those reports on a regular basis and make improvements whenever you’d like.

At this point, you should know if this add-on is going to make your life easier or not. If you know it will, keep reading on, and I’ll show you the ins and outs of it. 

Step 1: Install the add-on

Installing the add-on is easy.

Start by opening a new Google Sheet.

Then, click on the “add-ons” menu option at the top, and choose “get add-ons.”

A new window will pop up. Type in “Google analytics” into the search box at the top right side, then press “Enter.”


There should be one obvious add-on with the Google Analytics name and symbol. Click it, then press the “+free” button on the next window to install it.


The add-on should now be installed for use with all your future sheets.

Click on the “add-ons” menu again, and you should see a new listing for “Google Analytics.”


If you don’t see it there, you may have to refresh the page.

Finally, you should get a pop-up at some point, telling you the link to the support forum, but if you didn’t get it, here’s the link. If the add-on is not working correctly, that’s where you should post your questions.

Step 2: Create your first report

This add-on, while it should simplify your life, can actually be a little overwhelming if you dive right in.

In this section, we’ll create an example report and go over the basic settings and options you have.

Start by going back to the Google Analytics option in the “add-ons” menu, and this time, click on “Create new report.”


Once you do that, a menu like the one below should show up on the right hand side of your screen:


In order for this to work, you need to be signed in (in Sheets) to the same Google account that you use for Google Analytics.

The first few settings are obvious: give your report a title, and choose the website (property) that you want to analyze.

The metrics and dimensions are where things get interesting.

Metrics, or key performance indicators (KPIs), are the heart of most marketing reports. I wrote a detailed post on the 14 most common metrics for SEOs that you might want to refer to now.

Many of those metrics can be found in Google Analytics:

  • Traffic
  • Average time on page
  • Pages per visitor
  • Bounce rate

When you click on the “metrics” field, a list will appear with a huge variety of metrics. You can choose any metric you’d like for now, but I’m going to start with “users.”

While you’ll probably want to choose more than one metric for your actual reports later on, one is fine for now.

The last field is the dimension field. In Google Analytics, you can filter data based on things like source, referral path, keyword, and so on. That’s what dimensions are here—they allow you to segment your reported data.

For our example, pick any dimension you want, or leave it blank.

Then, finish off by clicking “create report.”

After a few seconds, you should see something like this:


Here’s the confusing part: This didn’t actually create the report that most people would expect. Instead, it just created the instructions that the add-on needs to run the report and pull data from your Analytics account.

Let’s actually run the report: Now go back to the “add-ons” menu, but this time, click on “run reports.”

This will run all the reports you set up in the active spreadsheet, but since we only have one for now, it’ll do just that one.

A few seconds later, you’ll get a confirmation box, saying the report was run. And at the bottom, a new tab will appear:


Click the tab, and you should see the data in the report, as expected:


This will match your Google Analytics data, but feel free to double check.

You can create as many reports as you’d like. The settings will all be stored in the main tab. When you run your reports, you’ll get a tab for each report (you won’t get a new tab if the report has already been run before).

Editing reports: On the original “report configuration” tab, your report settings will always be available to be edited.

You can change dates, add and remove metrics or dimensions, and even add things like filters, which I’ll go into next.

To add more than one metric to a report, you’ll need to select the metric box, put the cursor at the end, and then press “alt + enter” to create a new line. Then type in the new metric as usual.

Step 3: Understand all the different options

Congratulations, you’ve run your first report!

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg because there are a ton of different combinations and options in this add-on that you should be aware of.

Let’s go through all the fields in the main report configuration tab, one by one. You need to know what each of them does and how you can use them:

  • Report name – Just a quick note: if you delete the name in this cell, the report will not be run when you run your reports. This name will show up at the top of each report, but it will also be the label of the report sheet at the bottom of your spreadsheet.
  • View (profile) ID - That’s the ID of your Analytics property that data is being pulled from. It will be pulled automatically when you create the report. However, you could duplicate reports for multiple sites by copy/pasting the rest of the cells and changing this value.
  • Start date/End date – You can specify the date range that the data is pulled from.
  • Last N days - You can also specify to just pull data from the last “N” number of days, where N is any number you input into the cell. Note that you can use either this option or the start/end date option—not both.
  • Metrics – You can add multiple metrics for each report. You can get a full list of the different metric labels here so that you can just edit the configuration instead of creating a new report every single time.
  • Dimensions – You use these to segment your traffic to get metrics separated for each type of user. However, dimensions need to be compatible with the metrics in your report; otherwise, they won’t work. If you’re just typing in dimensions, go to that list of metrics, and select either a dimension or metric to see which ones are compatible.


  • Sort - You can set up the report to automatically sort the results if you find yourself wasting time doing that manually. You’ll have to manually input the metric or dimension here that you want to sort by (e.g., “ga:sessions”). You can sort in reverse by putting a minus sign in front (e.g., “-ga:sessions”).
  • Filters – You can use filters to remove certain parts of your traffic that you don’t want to see. For example, if you didn’t want to include referral traffic in your report, you’d enter “ga:medium%3D%3Dreferral” in this box. Refer to the “filter syntax” and “filter operators” on this page to see what’s available.
  • Segment – This is true segmenting, allowing you to look at a specific section of data. To use this field, you’ll need to enter a value like “sessions::condition::ga:medium%3D%3Dreferral.” You can find more examples here.
  • Sampling level – There are three acceptable values here: “DEFAULT,” “FASTER,” or “HIGHER_PRECISION.” For most metrics, the default value (of “DEFAULT”) is fine. If the report is taking too long, choose “FASTER” to sacrifice accuracy for speed.
  • Start index – If for some reason you want to ignore the first “X” results, you can do so by specifying a start index. For example, if you type in 5 here, the first 4 results will not be shown.
  • Max results – You can choose the number of results to be returned in your reports, up to 10,000. By default, you’ll get 1,000.
  • Spreadsheet URL - If you want your report data to be sent to a different spreadsheet for any reason (e.g., if you have a sheet for a specific client already), you can just enter the URL of the file where the report should go.

I know that was a lot, but struggle through it, and you’ll have everything you need to get going.

When you consider all these different fields, you can create just about any custom report you want. Be prepared for reports to fail if you’re adding many values to them. Just add them one at a time, and tweak them until they work (test each time you add one).

Step 4: Create reports that are actually useful

At this point, you have a pretty solid understanding of what the add-on is all about and how to use it.

It’s time to create reports that you’ll actually use on a regular basis—that’s the whole purpose of this exercise.

Although you might be good from here, let’s outline the general steps:

  1. Decide which metrics you want to measure
  2. Decide which segments you want to analyze
  3. Create the report
  4. *Run the report periodically
  5. Manipulate the results (sort, filter, graph) as needed

I put a star by #4 because there’s an alternative. If you haven’t noticed yet, you have a third option when you go to the add-on in the menu called “Schedule reports.”


With the scheduling feature, you can have reports run automatically every hour, day, month, etc.—basically, whenever you want.


Saving time and being able to create consistent reports from your analytics data are both important things for marketers.

If you create reports from Google Analytics on a regular basis, you’ll likely benefit from giving this add-on for Google Sheets a try.

Once you’ve created a report, you can then make charts from the data or share the data directly with your client (if you don’t want them messing around in Google Analytics).

If you have any questions about this add-on or tips on using it more effectively, please share them in the comment section below.

from Quick Sprout

Sunday, April 24, 2016

How To Make Money As A Teen Online With My Fiverr Case Study

Lets face it – making money online just isn’t as easy as it seems it would be. It especially doesn’t help when you’re a 15 year old high school student trying to learn how to make money as a teen online.

Luckily, there’s services online like Fiverr where you can sell your skills and begin making money, even as a teen.

In fact, people have reported making enough money off of Fiverr to be able to support themselves in the real world.

Don’t take the $5 initial price tag as a joke or a sure sign that you’ll never make substantial money off this service, because it’s simply not true.

What You’ll Learn

  • How to make money as a teen online
  • The ups and downs to using Fiverr
  • What types of gigs you should have for sale
  • How becoming a higher level seller is beneficial
  • Quick techniques to get your gig ranked and selling
  • Other ways of making money with buyer requests

How To Make Money As A Teen Online Step By Step

I can’t begin to stress how easy it is to make your first cash online with Fiverr. If executed correctly, this could be your first major step towards online success.

My name is Jesse Hall. I’m a high school student who runs TechUnmasked and has a love for making money online and video production.

I have a genuine love of helping people and want to prove to you today that if a high school student can make hundreds of dollars off of Fiverr than you can too.

So today I am going to teach you how to make money as a teen online.

Fiverr Explained

Fiverr is an online marketplace that needs to be taken advantage of. It eliminates the need to build yourself a site and get it ranked.

Just like with most other services similar to this, Fiverr does have a catch. They get a fifth of your final profit from each sale, and that includes extras you may have sold.

It also takes 2 weeks for you to get your money from one order, but if you constantly get orders you’ll eventually begin getting paid every day or two.

In my eyes this is a small price to pay for all the possibilities provided. With a simple account creation and activation you get access to millions of potential buyers without having to rank your own site.

I’m not trying to be a kiss-a** here, but the only downside to Fiverr I’ve found is their one fifth cut of your profits and that’s only to be expected. The rest is all positive.

In addition to all of this, Fiverr has a forum you can go check out that has tons of resourceful guides and tips from other sellers. These have really proved to be helpful in the past.

How To Make A Selling Gig

The answer to this is often overlooked by new users, but in reality it’s quite easy to get a grasp on.

Think of the things you love that you have a decent skillset for. Now, think of a product or service you could sell with that skill.

how to make money as a teen online with Fiverr

This can be used as an idea for your first gig, but make sure it’s something that can typically be completed in 5-10 minutes. Anything longer than that is typically not worth doing, but it’s all up to you.

You’re going to want your gig to have an attractive cover photo or a short but creative video to showcase your service. Having one (or both) of these has proven time and time again to produce more sales.

I want to take a moment and prove to you that I know what I’m talking about from personal experience.

My Fiverr Gig

I’ve always had a love for video and I know from years of experience on YouTube that intros are always something that are in high demand.

With this basic knowledge I opened up my Adobe After Effects program and made a simple but cool looking intro template. I made the template easy to edit and easy to implement my buyers logos and tagline text.

You could also use something like VideoMakerFX to create the intros.

Once I had this all completed I made an intro for one of my personal YouTube channels and used that for the sample intro.

I had all of my files in order and went to make the gig. I used a simple title for the gig, “I will create you a Perfect YouTube Intro” which is working perfectly.

Tags are also very important when making a gig, and it took me editing them a couple times to get it right, but eventually the gig got traction and took off.

impression analytics

In the last 2 months I’ve had over 40 orders on this gig alone and it practically earned me the “level 2 seller” status by itself. Unfortunately a lot of people never completed the order, and though it was automatically completed I never received a review.

The Benefits Of Seller Levels

There are 3 different “levels” of seller you can become on Fiverr. Each one lends credibility to your profile and makes you look more professional, but they each have individual benefits too.

First, lets go through the levels that exist. There are level 1 sellers, level 2 sellers, and top rated sellers with level 1 being the lowest and top rated being the highest.

fiverr levels

Level 1 seller is the first achievement you’ll hit after leaving the “newbie” spectrum. In order to become a level 1 you must sell 10 gigs, 30 days active on Fiverr, maintain a 4.0 or above rating, and have a low cancelation rate which really isn’t hard to do. The benefits are nice as well:

  • 15 Active Gigs
  • 4 Gig Extras ($5, $10, $20, $40)
  • 10 Gig Multiples
  • Send custom offers up to $1,500

The next step up is level 2. In order to achieve this you must have 50 orders within 2 months, maintain a 4.5 overall rating, and have a low cancelation rate. You get more benefits as well:

  • 20 Active Gigs
  • 5 Gig Extras ($5, $10, $20, $40, $50)
  • 15 Gig Multiples

The final level is the top rated seller. You must maintain a 4.7-5.0 rating, have exceptional customer service, have community leadership, and more. This positon is hand picked by staff and the benefits are:

  • 30 Active Gigs
  • 6 Gig Extras ($5, $10, $20, $40, $50, $100)
  • 20 Gig Multiples
  • Paid in 1 week instead of 2

You can find a full list of the features for each seller level here.

It’s not hard to tell that it’ll take time and dedication to get a high seller level but the increasing benefits are worth it.

You can check out 5 killer hacks to help you become a top rated seller on my blog.

The New Packages Feature

Fiverr has recently implemented a new “packages” feature to certain categories of gigs.

They simply allow you to create different tiers according to what you offer and you’re not limited to a $5 price tag.

fiverr packages

For instance, my gig has 3 different package levels –

  1. Basic Intro – base price of $5, comes with 720p video, includes audio, etc.
  2. Ultra HD Intro – 2nd tier, base price of $10, only difference between this and the basic gig is an HD video vs. UHD video (720p vs. 1080p)
  3. Pro Intro – 3rd tier, base price of $25, comes with 2 intros in 1080p and an additional revision

This feature has significantly grown the average price of each sale, and on average my orders cost $10 instead of $5.

Not every category has this feature, but I’m sure they will eventually. It’s definitely something to be taken advantage of as a lot of sellers are reporting to have growing profits as a result of using this.

Techniques To Rank Your Gig

Lets face it, no one wants to be the first person to purchase anything and have the chance of getting screwed over.

When I start a new gig I always go on another account I own and purchase it along with giving myself a 5 star review. It ends up costing you about $1.50 but it’s more than worth it.

fiverr reviews

After purchasing your own gig it’s not necessarily a bad idea to purchase some fake views and clicks for your gig. This will make Fiverr believe your gig must be really good and it’ll cause them to move you up in the rankings.

As I mentioned before, if you’re not getting much traction with a gig go ahead and tweak the title or tags until you hit that sweet spot. The tags I used for my intro gig were –

  1. YouTube intro
  2. High quality intro
  3. Video animation
  4. Intro

Be careful with your tags and keyword stuffing. Fiverr is overly sensitive if they think you’re keyword stuffing and will make you remove certain words until they’re happy with your title, description, and tags.

excessive tags

Once you’ve found a sweet spot I recommend to leave it alone. I once tweaked a gig that was already doing good and the changed resulted in Fiverr dropping me from the search results for a couple days.

Luckily after reverting the changes my ranking was restored the sales began to come back. That was a close call.

Buyer Requests – A Secret Gold Mine?

Buyer requests are jobs buyers post that they can’t seem to find being sold anywhere in the marketplace. Fiverr only shows you requests similar in category to any gigs you already have for sale.

You can bid on these jobs and describe what you’d do and give a price sort of like a freelancer site.

Buyers will also post their maximum budget to help you gauge whether or not it’s worth your time bidding.

how to make money as a kid with buyer requests

Searching through these and bidding could be an easy way to get a couple additional sales each month, but what if you could do more?

If you keep finding the same type of job being posted that you’re sure you can do it means there’s a demand for that with no suppliers. You could easily dominate the market!

Wrapping It Up

Services like Fiverr have been a major blessing to people all around the world when it comes to making your first money online.

You’ve now seen proof of how to make money as a teen online, and if a young teen with not a dime to his name can do it then you can too.

Fiverr is one of those things I can see being around for a long time, so you better jump on the band wagon now and take advantage of the opportunities.

I greatly hope some of you learned something from this post and go out to apply it to your own life. It’s not necessarily as hard to begin making money as you’d think!

So, if a mere 15 year old who’s still in high school can make hundreds per month off of Fiverr, you absolutely can do it too.

Make sure you check out Matthew’s other post about how to make money on Fiverr & this other Fiverr success story for inspiration.

If you have any questions please feel free to ask them in the comments below and I’ll do my best to answer them to the best of my ability.

from Matthew Woodward

Friday, April 22, 2016

Podcast 103: Building an Outreach EcosystemPerrin and Colleen Call 7

This is the audio podcast for coaching call 7.  For more information on this call and to watch the video, please go here.

The post Podcast 103: Building an Outreach Ecosystem…Perrin and Colleen Call 7 appeared first on Niche Pursuits.

from Niche Pursuits

7 Reasons Your Outreach Emails Arent Getting Responses and How to Fix That

Almost any online marketing campaign these days includes email outreach.

While social media has its place, email is universally the most personal form of contact you can make online.

Well-written outreach emails can get links, joint venture opportunities, clients, and just about any other good result you can think of.

The only problem is that most people can’t write a good outreach email.

If you’ve sent a few thousand and have read some other guides on the subject, you likely have a good grasp of the basics and can write okay emails.

But are you honestly getting the responses you’re looking for?

The fact that you’re here right now probably means that you know you could do better.

And that’s okay.

By the end of this post, you won’t be sending just “okay” emails. You’ll be sending good to great emails that almost always get a response as well as much better conversion rates (for links, sales, etc.).

I’ll go over the 7 most common mistakes I see marketers, even smart ones, make on a regular basis.

Be honest with yourself because otherwise you won’t be able to spot your mistakes and make improvements. 

1. Are you a liar, or do you seem like one?

I get several cold outreach emails a day. By now, I’m pretty good at spotting an outright liar or even someone who is just stretching the truth.

In a large portion of those emails, I see an opening line that sounds like:

I’m a huge fan of Quick Sprout…

Okay, cool.

The only problem is that I don’t recognize your name from comments (on Quick Sprout posts) or from social media.

Surely, a “huge fan” would at least be subscribed to my email list. Surprisingly, a fairly large percentage of these emailers are not.

Right away, I feel lied to and usually delete the email.

A lie like that makes me assume that the emailer just searched for the top marketing blogs to pitch something to—no thanks.

Can you validate your claims? I’m always talking about creating data-driven posts and backing up all your claims with charts and studies.


Emails are no different.

If you claim you are a fan of someone or you enjoyed their work, prove it.

Here’s one example:

I’m a huge fan of your work on Quick Sprout. Your emails Monday morning always get my week off to a great start.

Assuming you’re actually on the email list, so far I believe you’re not lying.

Another common opener is to tell someone you liked one of their articles. If you really liked it, you would have shared it on social media, left a comment, and, most importantly, applied it.

Don’t just say you liked an article with nothing backing it up; no one believes it.

Instead, try something like:

I loved your post “How to Leverage Q&A Sites to Generate Traffic.”

Since I read it, I created a profile on Quora and have already driven 400 visits to my site.

The hardest thing to fake is sincerity. Don’t say you’re a huge fan or you love a post if you don’t mean it.

2. You’re asking for a lot of work

Chances are you’re emailing fairly well-known bloggers in your niche.

They’re busy people.

Even if they aren’t incredibly popular, assume they’re busy anyway because most people are.

Common sense should tell you that busy people are trying to get through emails quickly so that they can do productive things (emails usually aren’t considered such).

So, if you’re asking them to do a lot of work on their end, they’ll be understandably hesitant.

Let me give you an example of a line that I often see in outreach emails:

Here’s the link to my content: (link)

Please take a look at it, and let me know if you have any thoughts and if you think it’s a good fit for your audience.

Do you see the problem with that?

You’re asking the person to review your work, give feedback on it, and determine if it’s appropriate for their audience.

The first reaction of any blogger will be:

Why on Earth are you sending me this if you’re not positive that it’s a match for my audience?

What could you do instead? Always minimize the time and effort that the person on the receiving end needs to spend if they decide to help you out.

To improve the above example, you could change it to:

Here’s the link to my content: (link)

I’m sure it’s a great fit for your audience because:

  • (reason 1)
  • (reason 2)

Just say the word, and I’ll create an original summary of the results that you can copy and paste in a future article.

Now it’s clear to them that you’ve done your homework and you understand their audience. As long as a quick glance at the content reveals that it’s of a decent quality, you might be onto something.

Finally, offering to write a custom introduction or summary and making linking to your content easier will make the email even more enticing.

To finish off, let me give you a few more examples of what marketers ask in outreach emails that is too much work:

  1. Watch this video and see if you enjoy it
  2. Look at my new tool and see if the features are worth sharing with your audience
  3. I’ll write a guest post for you, but please suggest some article ideas

Before you send an email, always ask yourself: “Am I asking this person to do a significant amount of work?”

If so, find a way to reduce it.

3. This might sting—you’re not special

I didn’t really mean that; I am sure you are special in your own ways.

I’m referring to the fact that most emails do not reveal anything special.

If you ask someone to link to your content, why should they link to it and not to any one of the other hundreds of articles about the same topic?

Most emailers never address this question in their emails.

Let’s look at an excerpt of a bad email:

I’ve just published a guide to making beets. If you’re writing a post in the future that mentions beets, please consider using it as a reference.

What’s special about that? Absolutely nothing.

Now, let’s look at a better email:

I’ve just published a guide to making beets. It is the only beet-making guide that has step-by-step pictures as well as a complete video tutorial. I know I’m biased, but no other beet guide is as useful for a beginner as mine is.

You need to be able to quickly explain why your content or offer is special. Why should this person help you or work with you over all the other people out there (some of whom have already contacted them)?

4. I don’t know you

Take a link building technique like the skyscraper technique. It involves a lot of cold outreach.

The average conversion rate is about 5-10%. That means you’d have to send 1,000 emails to get 50-100 links (pretty good).

It’s a great technique that has its time and place, and I recommend it often, but it can easily be improved by removing the cold outreach.

If I get an email from someone I don’t know, it’s unlikely I’m going to do them a favor right off the bat.

If there’s any indication that they’re just after a link, their email goes in the trash.

That’s why you get about a 5-10% conversion rate even though you’re targeting the right people with the technique.

But when I do know someone? Of course, I’ll read the email, and if it’s a friend or even just a casual acquaintance, I’ll help them if they have a reasonable offer.

Get to know someone before you ask for something: This is the hardest part of being able to create great outreach emails—there are no templates for it.

However, learning to build relationships is also the easiest way to skyrocket your success.

In general, you can break down the process into the following steps:

  1. Make contact - You have a mutual interest in your niche, so use it to have a brief conversation through email, social media, or comments, preferably about their content.
  2. Provide value – Anything you can do to help them out goes a long way. If you have any special skills, e.g., design, offer to create custom pictures for their content or update some graphics in their sidebar. If you’re a writer, offer to update and upgrade a few outdated posts. Be creative.
  3. Then ask for something – At this point, you’re probably at least 4 weeks into the relationship (yes, it takes time). If you follow the other points in this post, you should be able to write a good email to ask for a link or whatever you’re after. You’ll have a much higher success rate (double or triple at least) than if you did it with a cold email.

All of this takes planning and having a genuine passion for your niche. If you don’t care enough to spend weeks getting to know people in your niche that you could work alongside for years, you’re taking the wrong approach.

5. I hate it when there “aer” typos

This is going to be a short but necessary section.

There is no excuse for typos in a short email.

One might go unnoticed, but two or more will be easy to spot.

It shows a lack of attention to detail and effort. If you’re asking me to work with you or link to your content, having typos is not a good thing. I’ll assume that you produce content of the same poor quality and will delete the email.

Almost every email service has a spell checker these days: use it.

6. No one wants to be “templated”

I’ve hinted at it so far, but let me be crystal clear:

Email needs to be personal.

If your email starts with “Hi”or “Dear Sir,” it’s likely going into the trash.

If there’s nothing about it that shows you know me well, it’s also likely going into the trash.


Bloggers are rightfully skeptical of emails with little personalization in them. They are often sent out to hundreds of other bloggers to try to get links or something else.

Yes, some bloggers don’t care, but most do these days. If you ever want a great reply rate, don’t dismiss this crucial aspect.

While templates are useful to help you work out the general message you’re trying to capture, take the time to personalize every single email you send.

7. It’s all about you

Think of emails as conversations.

In real life, would you rather talk with someone who never shuts up about themselves or who cares about your wants, needs, and thoughts?

For 99% of people, it’s the second one.

When you write any outreach email, always write it from the perspective of what’s in it for the person I’m emailing?

Always explain how what you’re asking for benefits their business.

If you’re asking for a link, don’t do what everyone else does and say: “I think your audience will love it.”

It’s not horrible, but be honest, that’s not a real benefit for the person you’re emailing.

Asking for a link is typically a one-way street, which is why I recommend giving value well before asking for one (in reason #4 of this post).


Email outreach is one of the most effective ways to grow your business. You can use it to get more links (for SEO), generate more sales, and form partnerships.

However, most people make several mistakes in their email outreach campaigns and rarely get positive replies.

You might never write the “perfect” outreach email, but never stop trying to improve them.

Create a checklist based on the 7 things I went over in this post, and use it to make sure you are not making any of the mistakes before you send out an email.

This is how you spot problems, fix them, and learn from them. Eventually, it will all become second nature.

I’d love to hear about how you’ve used email outreach in the past and what results you’ve achieved. Just leave me a comment below, and I’ll see it for sure.

from Quick Sprout

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

4 Ways Googles Keyword Planner Might Be Tricking You


Keyword research isn’t always fun.

But it is necessary whenever you’re starting most digital marketing campaigns.

It’s mandatory for some channels such as SEO and PPC.

Even for things like content marketing, I still highly recommend doing keyword research to understand your target audience better.

So, where do you start?

If you’re like most marketers and business owners, you go to Google’s very own keyword planner.

It’s the only way you’ll get any real data from Google itself.

There are many keyword research tools out there, but for the most part, they just pull data from Google’s keyword planner anyway.

They may do it in a more effective way than you could on your own, but it’s important to understand that they still have limitations.


Because Google will never tell you everything it knows, just bits and pieces.

So, while the keyword planner is a fine starting point for keyword research, it is not enough.

If you only use the keyword planner, you will end up missing out on many opportunities and spending your time and resources on keywords that aren’t as good as they appear.

That’s where this post comes in. I’m going to show you 4 different ways that Google’s keyword planner can mislead you. 

1. Averages don’t always tell the whole story

How does the keyword planner come up with a single monthly search volume for each keyword suggestion?

It averages the previous 12-month period.

You may have known that, but do you know how this can affect your keyword research?

It can have a big impact.

Most niches do not have a consistent search volume year round as a whole.

And neither do keywords. If you hover over the little graph icon in a set of keyword results, you’ll see a little graph pop-up showing you the search volumes for that keyword over time:


In the above picture, the peak search volume is about 8,000, while the minimum is around 3,000. The peak is more than double the minimum.

This isn’t always a big deal, but there are two main reasons why you should be checking the monthly search volumes for individual keywords.

You miss out on emerging keywords: If you’re the first one to write about a topic, you’ll automatically rank #1 for its keywords most of the time.

Being at #1 gets you more links when people search for the keyword and then link to your results.

But if you do keyword research based only on the averages, you’ll never be #1.

Do you see why?

New popular keywords come along every once in awhile in just about every niche.

Search volume slowly picks up steam, and often, it starts growing exponentially at some point.

It’ll look something like this:


The average search volume that the keyword planner shows for that keyword is 18,100.

To me, that’s not an 18,100 keyword—it’s likely over 100,000 from here on out (maybe much more).

You’ll probably notice an 18,100 search volume, but imagine if it was a keyword with a 900 search volume. You might skip over that, not noticing the emerging trend.

In reality, if it’s just picking up speed, it could be an over 10,000 searches per month keyword.

By the time Google shows you the number big enough to grab your attention, you will have already missed your chance to be among the first by a long shot.

If you’re going to skip over a keyword, check its recent search volume first.

Consistent is better: If two keywords have the same average search volume, would you prefer the search volume to be consistent or highly variable?

You’ll find that some keywords in your niche are evergreen (popular all year round), while others are highly seasonal.

Here’s an obvious example: snow shoveling:


Of course, searches like this one spike in the winter months and almost disappear in the summer months.

If you don’t rank in the top 3 by the main winter months, you’ll derive just about zero benefit from all your work until the next year.

Considering that getting to rank highly for a keyword can take weeks or months, you never know.

SEO has a long enough wait time to produce rankings, so you probably don’t want to wait too long to start getting traffic (if you still have your rankings at that time).

Additionally, when you have a spike of traffic, it’s much harder to split test to improve conversion rates. It’s better to have consistent traffic so you can consistently test new variations.

You may not have a choice and have to target seasonal keywords, but sometimes you do.

So, check the variation in the monthly searches when you’re considering which keywords to target. Invest your efforts into the most consistent ones.

2. Beware of rounding

One more thing about those averages: they’re not “true averages.”

Ever noticed how all the keyword suggestions from the planner have search volumes that end in zeros?

That’s because there’s rounding going on behind the scenes.

But Google is not always rounding up or down to the nearest 10; instead, it groups keywords into “buckets.”

Picture a bunch of buckets in a line with a value assigned to each of them.

Google throws keywords with similar search volumes into each bucket, likely because it makes handling all the data simpler on its end.

As you get to the higher numbers, there are fewer keywords to go in the buckets, and that’s when Google removes a bunch of buckets.

At low numbers of searches, most keywords are rounded to the nearest 10.

However, keywords with even a few thousand searches can be off by hundreds in either direction because the next closest bucket is far away.

At really high search volumes, the differences can be even bigger.


The team did a great analysis of 57 billion different search terms in the keyword planner.


The x-axis represents the different buckets that Google shows.

The y-axis is the number of keywords that come back for each bucket.

As you’d expect, there are many more low search volume terms than those with huge search volumes.

More importantly, you can see the differences in bucket sizes.

At first, the difference is small (10 > 20 > 30 > 40 > 50 > 70).

However, that difference quickly increases (720 > 880 > 1,000 > 1,300 > 1,600).

Why is this a big deal? The obvious reason is because you want accurate search volumes.

A more common reason is because it makes comparing similar keywords incredibly difficult.

Say you have two keywords in your results:

  • “Keyword 1” – 1,000 searches per month
  • “Keyword 2” – 1,300 searches per month

The second keyword is obviously way better, right?

In reality, the first keyword might have 1,149 searches per month while the second 1,151.

Essentially, they’re identical.

Or if the two keywords were both showing 1,000 searches per month, it’s possible that one actually has 1,149 while the other 941 (about a 20% difference).

The higher the search volumes are, the less certain you can be about the actual number of searches.

Which means that when you’re trying to decide which keyword to go after based on such data, it’s likely that you’ll make wrong decisions.

What can you do about this? The unfortunate part is that there’s nothing you can really do to fix the problem.

The best thing you can do is mitigate the issue by not putting all your eggs in one basket.

Focus on long-tail keywords when possible, and only once you start getting some real data in Google Analytics and webmaster tools should you heavily invest in any particular keywords.

3. Misspellings and variations affect search volume a lot

This particular quirk of the keyword planner doesn’t lie to you, but you need to be aware of it, or your keyword analysis will be incorrect.

When you search for a keyword, Google will show you different results based on the specific variation you enter.

For example, if you search for the TV show “brooklyn nine nine,” you’ll see these numbers as the top results:


I chose this example because there are multiple variations that mean the exact same thing from the searcher’s perspective.

  • Brooklyn 99
  • Brooklyn ninenine
  • Brooklyn nine-nine

When you enter these other variations, you get different sets of results:


This is strange because if you type them into Google itself, it knows what you mean when you type any variation.

Why this is important: If you’re comparing the search volumes for different keywords, you need to make sure that you’re considering all variations.

Try out different misspellings and see if they have any search volumes (they won’t show up unless you type in the exact misspelling).

Then, add all the search volumes of the variations together to get a more accurate representation of the overall search volume for your main term.

Keep in mind that you’re adding rounded search volumes together (point #2 in this post). This means that with each term you add, your figure becomes less accurate (but still more accurate than if you ignore the variations).

4. Did you know that Google hides keywords?

It’s understandable that Google doesn’t want to hand over all its data to SEOs.

But not all limitations of the keyword planner are designed on purpose; some just exist due to the way the tool works.

The most important one is that Google won’t show you all the keywords you want to see.

It’s not malicious in any way, but it really impacts your keyword research.

For example, let’s say you typed in “wooden decks”:


I’ve filtered down the results to only closely related ones (that have “wooden” and “decks” in them).

That’s all of the results I got.

But when I searched for “how to build a wooden deck,” I got a search volume of 210:


Even in the full original results, that keyword was not there.

In addition, “how to build wooden decks” has another 10 searches per month.

No, these aren’t big keywords, but they illustrate the point that there are obviously related keywords that won’t show up when you search for terms.

The solution? Again, there’s no concrete solution. The best you can do is enter as many seed terms as you can and include several variations.

Additionally, use a tool such as to get keywords from other sources, and then run those through the keyword planner to get exact search volumes.

The data is there; it’s just hidden until you find the keyword from other sources.

Should you abandon the keyword planner?

These are some pretty big limitations, which begs the question in this heading.

I don’t think you should abandon the keyword planner. Why? Because the data, while not perfectly accurate, is still the only real data you can get from Google.

However, I think as a way to discover keywords in the first place, it has extreme limitations.

There are many great alternative keyword research tools out there that are worth the few dollars they cost to use.

What they typically do is extract a bunch of seed keywords from different sources and then run those through the keyword tool for you. Then, they return to you a more complete set of keyword results than you’d get if you used the planner yourself.

You could do all of this yourself, but it will take you a ton of extra time, which is just not worth it in most cases.


Google’s keyword planner is a great tool, which should be used by all marketers and business owners for keyword research.

However, it has limitations.

I’ve shown you the 4 main limitations of the tool and what you should do to mitigate their negative effects.

Go forward with your keyword research in the future, but keep this post in mind. Don’t use the keyword planner as your sole tool for keyword research, or you’ll miss out on a lot of great opportunities.

If you have any questions about any of these concepts, just leave me a comment below. Also, if you love a particular keyword research tool, share it with everyone.

from Quick Sprout