002: indistractable – Amazon D2C – 5 million Google searches – How much content – Google vs. DejanSEO

002: indistractable – Amazon D2C – 5 million Google searches – How much content – Google vs. DejanSEO

Last week’s marketing “news” article was published only on Monday this week – not perfect, but done. Starting this week, let’s try a rolling post, to be published early-/mid-week, then updated as interesting topics come up.

So here are my main topics for the Week 35 (August 26.-30., 2019):

» Monday, August 26.: Nir Eyal pre-launches indistractable, the antidote to his own Hooked
» Tuesday, August 27.: TechCrunch article: How to use Amazon and advertising to build a D2C startup
» Wednesday, August 28.: BACKLINKO study: 5 million Google search results
» Thursday, August 29.: Wil Reynolds @ Seer Interactive: “How much content should my client produce?
» Friday, August 30.: Google vs. DejanSEO experiment, continued

Monday, August 26.

Nir Eyal pre-launches indistractable, the antidote to his own Hooked?

Not really news-news but only today I’ve found out details (via Nathan Chan’s Foundr podcast with Neir Eyal, dated August 8.), about Nir’s launching of indistractable. That might raise some eyebrows, since he also wrote Hooked.

1. What is Hooked?

A must read for everyone who cares about driving customer engagement.” — Eric Ries, author of The Lean Startup

The book is a field guide into building customer engagement strategies that stick; and the behavioural techniques behind them.

We’re talking about a four-step mechanism:

  1. Trigger: cue the user to take action, and tell him/her what to do next “by placing information within user’s environment“or “through associations stored in user’s memory“.
  2. Action: always driven by a motivator, such as seeking pleasure, hope or social acceptance.
  3. Variable reward: “must satisfy users’ needs while leaving them wanting to reengage with the product”. Pretty much what a slot machine does. Or Facebook.
  4. Investment: is linked to the anticipation of rewards in the future. If you hadn’t put time and “effort” into a product, then it would be much easier for you to stop using it. The investments “enable the accrual of stored value in the form of content, data, followers, reputation, or skill”. It increases the chances that you’ll go through The Hook over and over again. 

(Now there’s a looong discussion we can have about our not-full-minded consumption of stuff, from comfort food to social media).

Is this a cynical approach? Maybe. To quote Nir’s printed words: “What Are You Going to Do with This?


2. Can one be indistractable?

If you value your time, your focus, or your relationships, this book is essential reading. I’m putting these ideas into practice.” — Prof. Jonathan Haidt, author of The Righteous Mind

If you clicked-and-listened to the podcast above, then you’ve heard Nir: “the question with Indistractable is how do you control your attention and choose your life? I had this question because I found that my attention was being controlled in ways I didn’t always like.”

Sure, you do put your phone away when working. Maybe even turn-off all notifications. Maybe (if you’re a pro) disconnect all incoming data. But you still have the itch, right? So here are some other four steps to make it go away:

  1. Understand and master internal triggers. You don’t comfort-eat because ou’re hungry, but because you want something to go away. 
  2. Make time for “traction” (as opposed to dis-traction). In plain English: plan your day, decide what’s absolutely “in” and what stays out. 
  3. Hack back at distractions: now you can finally activate “flight mode”.
  4. Make a pact: if I don’t do this, I will pay by doing that. “Pay” €50 because I got a pizza after midnight? That might just work.

The main point? “Decide […] between traction and distraction. Traction is anytime we do what we want to do, things that move us forward in life, that are consistent with our goals, things that we do with intent. The opposite of traction is distraction, right? Anything that we do without intending to do it. The fact is if we don’t learn these techniques, then we will constantly be swayed.


3. …But Nir, are you trying to hook us again?

It is only funny that indistractable‘s prelaunch webpage includes some goodies to get you Hooked.  As of today, you can get a “bonus 80-page workbook full of exercises and activities to help you become indistractable“.

Let’s just call it good marketing practice and get the book, shall we?

Tuesday, August 27.

TechCrunch article: How to use Amazon and advertising to build a D2C startup

If you’re selling on Amazon, you will find TechCrunch’s article helpful. If you also have a VPN, you will be able to actually read it (since TechCrunch is only available inthe US, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Spain).

Q: do I have friends in these countries, with access to TechCrunch? May I ask you a favour?

On to the article snippet, here’s the table of contents:

How to find product-market fit
How to get started with Amazon
Maximizing sales on Amazon

Image stack
Bullet points
Backend details
Browse nodes
A+ content

Getting started with Facebook ads
Growing sales after you have product-market fit
What tools and technology to use for your D2C business

  Interesting enough to get yourself a VPN?

Wednesday, August 28.

BACKLINKO study: 5 million Google search results

Brian Dean (aka BACKLINKO) hits it again with a monster-study regarding CTR (Click-Through-Rate): “We analyzed 5 million Google search results to better understand organic click through rate.

Quick summary of results:

1. Landing the #1 result in organic search brings you an average CTR of 31.73% – which is 10x more than the average CTR for the #10 result.

2. There are some sweet spots on the results list (#3 and #5) that have higher CTR than they should. This is might be because of various screen “folds” – the bottom visible part of a screen – beyond which users might not look.

3. Including questions into your titles brings average CTR from 21% to 35%. That’s “only” 14.1% in absolute terms, but 65% in relative terms!

4. Writing yout title tags within 15 to 40 characters brings 8.6% higher CTR compared to those that are shorter or longer.

5. Including a legit keyword in the URL brings 45% higher CTR than URLs without keyword.

6. Using Secret-Powerful-Ultimate-Great-Perfect-Best-Insane-Amazing “power words” in the title decreases the CTR by 13.9%.

7. Meta descriptions *do* increase CTR with 5.8%.

So here’s the link to the study again. Enjoy, and don’t miss to read the comments!

Thursday, August 28.

Wil Reynolds @ Seer Interactive:
How much content should my client produce?

I love people who experiment and Wil is one of them. He can talk, so he has a Youtube channel, and now he talks about “how much content is enough”.

TL;DR here’s the video, and here’s the summary:

1. Using “monthly search volume” to document a decision is passé. Try: “here’s how much money this oportunity can make you”. (Disclaimer: you’ll need some extra software for that.)

2. Clients’ plans to produce the ideal body of content are (almost) never executed – usually because it’s too much. So better switch to agile content production and management instead, and decide what / how much content is absolutely needed.

3. Wil’s experiment: look at 266.000 keywords / 171.000 conversions from paid (CPC) / $ 9.760.000 spent / 188.000 competiting domains / 877.500 pieces of content – and find “which domains have produced the fewest pieces of content, to get the most conversions“.

4. By filtering the data, he was able to narrow it down to two domains, with similar total conversions: one produced 14 pieces of content, the other 36. “Why would you want to produce double the content for the same conversions?

5. He then drills drills down to “Let me show you that one piece of content that you don’t rank anywhere in the top 10 (which means you have no visibility), where a competitor is in top 3, where you’ll be getting a lot of conversions […]“. – That single URL covers 57 keywords in top 5 and produced 2368 conversions. Wow.

6. If you want to pick on someone’s URL, “pick on brands smaller than you. […] When you find smaller competitors who are beating you out, who don’t have your brand authority – that’s the people you want to look at.

Conclusion: how much pieces content of do you need? One, as long as you make it good (which means you might need to invest a bit).

Thursday, August 28.

Google vs. DejanSEO experiment, continued

Last week I was talking about DejanSEO getting a massive penalty from Google, so he started a uniques experiment:

A. Delete all the old pages of the existing website (dejanseo.com.au), except the homepage.
B. Start a new domain / website (dejanmarketing.com) using all the content of the old one.
C. Ask people to migrate their links to the new content. 

One week after, here’s an update:

1. Penalty cause still unknown; Google didn’t reply to the reconsideration request.
2. When searching the brand name (new=old), Google ranks the new domain on page 3-5.
3. The old domain is still ranking, either with the homepage or deleted / inexistent content (404), often on higher positions than before!
4. Google shows DejanSEO’s competition snippets next to his branded name. Fun fun fun. 

Half-time conclusion: “deleting a website makes it rank better got it“.

Enjoy the weekend & see you next week with a new website!

001: Bid on your own brand – Lost & Founder – SEO experiment vs Google

001: Bid on your own brand – Lost & Founder – SEO experiment vs Google

It’s always hard to start writing: “I don’t have enough time.” “This is not ready yet.” “I’m not sure about that.” So while longer pieces of content are being written (about general marketing *and* digital marketing), let’s just start.

In the last months, I’ve been watching from the bench at what some rockstar marketers do. It’s been a humbling experience and I’ve learned a lot, but then a lot of it got lost in the process. Of course bookmarking pages helps, but without making a mental / written note, it’s just another hyperlink. And once the notes are there, why not share them?

…So on to the show: here are my first notes, covering the Week 34 (Aug 19.-23.) of 2019 A.D.:

» August 19.: To bid or not to bid *on your own* brand name?
» August 20.: I got Rand’s book
» August 23.: Google picked on the wrong guy – and the guy fought back with an experiment

August 19.

To bid or not to bid *on your own* brand name?

On his Twitter feed, Tim Suolo (CMO & Product Advisor of ahrefs.com) tips his hat to “whoever at Google” made the clients to bid *in Google* for their own brand names.

From an ethical (philosophical?) point of view, Tim is right: “I’m not going to pay for my branded keywords“, because:
– if Google looks for relevance when delivering results to search users;
– and a company’s name is one of the most relevant parts about it;
– and no one else has that specific name;
– then when a user searches for the specific company name, they should be top of the list… right?

In theory, and in a perfect world, this should work. However, in highly competitive markets, it does not; therefore:

1. Bidding on your own keywords can be a defensive strategy

Some twitter users were quick to point out that bidding on your own keywords is a defensive strategy: “3 of your competitors are bidding on your brand name. And surprise surprise: suddenly you’re the 4th position in the SERPs for your own brand. Oh, you’re the first one organic. But who cares?

Of course, screenshots came up of ahrefs.com and its competitors (Moz, SEMrush) bidding on each other’ brand names; and even Microsoft topping Google for “google ads” searches. Whatever brings highest revenue for Google, I guess…

2. It can be a good deal

According to another opinion“Branded keyword bid is usually very low and with the best conversion rates.”

But also, “Your brand name and its variations […] will have high CTR and QS, all of which will boost your ad account“.

…So with a small cost you keep the competition away and increase your traffic quality.

3. You should always test for your own digital marketing context…

…and decide what works for you. (Which sounds a lot like “it depends”.)

August 20.

I got Rand’s book

One of the greatest people in digital marketing landscape is probably Rand Fishkin. Founder of Moz.com (SEO Software, Tools & Resources for Smarter Marketing), he then left to start SparkToro (A Search Engine for Audience Intelligence).

I don’t remember how I stumbled upon his Twitter account (well, the world of SEO is pretty small), but soon afterwards he started featuring into other people’s mentions, interviews, podcasts etc. So it was interesting to hear him talk about SparkToro (the challenges, the work, his partnering-up with his co-founder) – and that was probably the first time ever when entrepreneurship got de-glamourized (is this a word?).

Although aware that “Rand has a book“, I was never *that* curious to actually buy it – until my own “entrepreneurship thing” needed some redirecting. So finally, here it is: “Lost and Founder: A Painfully Honest Field Guide to the Startup World“. Wow! Being a (tech-)founder is actually painful by default? It’s not enough to have an idea and work hard? What more is there to it?


What is the book like?

Several days into the book, few things are apparent:

1. You are not alone, and you are not unique in feeling the pain of starting-up.

2. When talking to people with similar experiences, you can get a better sense of what others are going through, and learn from them.

3. Rand offers a set of “cheatcodes” to guide you through the process.


My favourite quote (15% into the book):

“In my third year as a first-time, what-the-hell-am-I-doing-CEO, I got an email from a Seattle entrepreneur I deeply respected, inviting me to join a local group of startup movers and shakers at a local bar. […] These were founders and technologists I’d read about but never thought I’d meet – basically the coolest nerds in my universe. […] These men and women were scared, just like me. They were uncertain. They struggled, they felt fear. They needed help. Those who’d been through an experience gave advice and offerred assistance to the first-timers. […] No one pretended to have all the answers, but when someone had insight, they opened up.”

Yay. Should I write a full review when done?

QUICK POLL: would you want to read a review of the book?

The poll will be open until October 1., 2019. I guess the book should be done by then 🙂

August 23.

Google picked on the wrong guy – and the guy fought back with an experiment

It all started with a tweet from Dejan: “Someone at Google just issued a manual action for the entire dejanseo.com.au domain for unnatural links. I haven’t built a single link in probably five years and if there was anything suspicious I added it to our disavow file. I am livid. 🤬”

It’s bad. Really bad. As per Google: “Pages affected by manual actions can see reduced display features, lower ranking or even removal from Google Search results.”

For a SEO consultant, this is professional-suicide bad. And knowing that Dejan is a master experimenter, everyone thought that maaaybe he screwed up something. But that’s not it, this time: “We did experiment a lot in the past. Nothing so bad that you can’t find me for the brand name.

Who is this guy?

DEJAN is an Australian search marketing company with worldwide recognition for marketing excellence and innovation. We specialise in technical and strategic SEO (search engine optimisation) solutions designed to drive traffic and sales to local business, e-Commerce and corporate websites.

Worldwide recognition? Many: from CBS and Forbes, to *the* Search Engine Journal, Moz (see above) and HubSpot.

In my ahrefs console, I can see they are (were) doing great:

What is the regular solution?

Google has a standard procedure for these cases: submit a request; get assessed; have your situation solved (or not). And even if people brought Google’s @JohnMu into it, DEJAN was pretty straightforward:

There should be no preferential treatment here. That said, you all know me, and this means there will be nothing ‘normal’ about what I do next.

What is Dejan’s solution?

I’m not playing their stupid game though. We’re dumping domain tonight and moving to a new one.

I always wanted to do this. It will be an amazing case study. Or a terrible one 🙂 We’ll learn from it one way or the other.

My biggest SEO experiment has just begun!
1. New domain: dejanmarketing.com
2. Will not 301 anything.
3. Will ask everyone to update links.
After this I expect maybe 20% of my previous link profile at least, up to 50% if I’m lucky.

Did he get results?

Now I stopped watching from the bench and promised to send him links: so here’s a second one, pointing to his link migration progress.

The SEO community started paying attention and migrating their links. As of my August 25.’s ahrefs dashboard, this is how it goes. It’s very early and far from great, but I’m sure it will get there soon:

Digital marketing with balls

Not everyone has @dejanseo’s expertise (nor the balls). So obviously “don’t try this at home”.

Then, I keep telling this to friends and clients (several of them only in the last week): be selective with your inbound links; make sure you only keep the healthy ones; disavow everything that has the slightest potential to bring your account quality down.

Do *you* need support? Just drop us an email. ✉