Spark Your Next Breakthrough Copy Insight with Systematic Listening

I enjoyed Nick’s post yesterday about some copywriting techniques that work … until they don’t. And I’m glad he spoke…

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These 4 Copywriting Techniques Work Really Well … Right Up Until They Don’t

Search on Google and you’ll find hundreds of thousands of pages devoted to copywriting secrets, tips, tricks, and techniques. Go…

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My Failed Attempt at SEO (And What I’ve Learned)

seo failure

Did you know that I’ve failed at SEO before?

No, I’m not talking about when I first started my career. This was when I knew SEO like the back of my hand.

I’m talking about when I was good enough to get sites ranked on page 1… that’s when I really failed at SEO.

And boy was it was heartbreaking!

Let’s just say this: I was able to rank a site on page 1 of Google for the term “online poker” and then my rankings tank. Not because of a Google penalty but from something I never expected.

But before I go into what I learned, let’s first go over how it all started…

Online Poker Lowdown

online poker lowdown

Back in 2010, I bought an old poker site that was never really updated. It was called Online Poker Lowdown. Funny enough, the site is still up today even though I don’t own it.

The reason I bought it was because it ranked in the top 1,000 for the term “online poker.” The site just needed some updating.

If you are wondering how I found it, I was Googling for the term “online poker,” and I hit up a dozen or so sites who were ranking between page 30 and 100 for the term and bought the cheapest one.

And the reason I went after the poker industry was that back then a lot of us thought it was going to be legalized in the United States. So, if I could rank at the top, I would have a site that would eventually be worth a lot of money… assuming I was patient.

My first blog post

I published my first blog back in November 2010. It was called, the top 5 poker mistakes you’ll make.

poker mistakes

The blog post wasn’t the standard 2,000 plus words that I write these days, but it was long enough for 2010. Keep in mind, there weren’t as many blogs back then so it wasn’t as competitive.

But this blog post did well, there were 31 comments:

comments poker

And over time, the blog continually grew as I published more content.

My path to growing Online Poker Lowdown

I wish I had the analytics for the site still, but I don’t.

If my memory serves me correctly (and usually it does), the site capped out at roughly 41,000 unique visitors a month all from 104 blog posts.

And at one point I even ranked number 7 on page 1 for the term “online poker.”

The best part of all, it didn’t even take me a year to achieve those results.

Keep in mind that back then you could get rankings much faster than you can now. But still, it was pretty fast even for 2010/2011.

So how did I get my rankings and traffic so high in such a competitive space?

It wasn’t the content, it was the backlinks.

Google’s algorithm was much easier to predict back then and links impacted rankings more than anything else.

Now you are wondering how I got all of these people to link to me. Like today, no one wanted to link to poker sites… even back in 2011.

It was from writing posts like this.

top 30 blogs

By creating list-based posts of the top blogs within the poker industry, it was easy for me to get them to link back to me.

If you want to do something similar, it’s not as simple as writing a blog that includes the top 30 or even 100 blogs within your industry.

  1. Your post needs to be detailed – I know the example I showed on Online Poker Lowdown isn’t detailed. Times have changed. If your list-based post isn’t as in-depth and thorough as possible it won’t work nearly as well. For example, if you list out the pros and cons of the site and why you included it, that would be much better than just writing a few paragraphs and linking to dozens of sites.
  2. You need to include images – when listing out the top 100 blogs within your industry, make sure you include an image for each blog. This one little thing will add a bit of flair to your post.
  3. Your list needs to be long – a top 30 list isn’t as effective as writing a top 100 or top 500 list.
  4. Your list needs to be of bloggers – don’t list out the top 100 sites, it needs to be blogs. Bloggers are much more open to linking back to you.

Once you publish your list-based post you’ll need to drive a ton of traffic to it within 7 days of it being published. Back in the day, I drove traffic to the Online Poker Lowdown top 30 poker blogs post by paying for StumbleUpon ads.

But that is no longer an option as StumbleUpon doesn’t exist anymore.

You can still drive traffic through Reddit ads, Quora ads, Twitter ads, and Facebook Ads though. These options are technically better than StumbleUpon as they have better targeting options.

Even if your blog is popular, I would still recommend that you pay for ads… even if it is just 50 dollars. By paying for ads, it ensures your blog post gets read by hopefully a few thousand new people if not more.

You don’t need the highest quality traffic either, you just need visitors who are somewhat interested in your content.

The more people that read your post, the more will click through to one of the top blogs you mentioned. And the more people that click through to their site, the more of them will notice your blog when they analyze their referral traffic.

In other words, when they see a spike in their Google Analytics account, they’ll notice that the extra traffic came from your blog.

This will put your blog on their radar!

Now, on the 7th day of your blog post being live, you’ll want to email each website that you included.

The email should go something like this…

Hey John,

I just wanted to congratulate you for having an amazing blog. I loved so much that I included in my list of the top 100 poker blogs. [insert link to your blog post]

There are so many junk sites in the poker space, but yours truly stands out. I love how you go into great detail about poker strategy and you have some infographics breaking down how casinos make their money.

Hope you got some nice traffic from me… the blog post was pretty popular and well received by the poker community.

If you want to showcase your accomplishment, feel free and mention it to your readers. Or you can just place this badge on your blog.

poker badge

[insert embed code for the badge, which should also contain a link back to your site]


Neil Patel

You’re going to have to customize the email and then, of course, make a badge that looks much nicer and is smaller. But you get the point.

This one strategy really boosted my backlink count and skyrocketed me to the top. It still works today, but if you are going to leverage it there are a few things you should know:

  1. Your post needs at least 10,000 visitors – only a portion of your visitors will click through to some of the top sites you mentioned. The more people that read your post the better, so make sure to drive at least 10,000 visitors. If you need to use ads, use them because if only a few thousand people read your post it won’t work nearly as well.
  2. You need to create a badge – make one that is much prettier, simpler, and smaller than the example I showed. Without a badge and embed code, you’ll barely generate any links.
  3. Send follow up emails – for all of the people that don’t open up your email and respond, send them a follow-up email within 3 days asking them to share your content on the social web. The email should look something like the one below.

Hey John,

I’m not sure if you saw the email I sent you a few days ago. I just wanted to congratulate you for having an amazing poker blog. I included as one of the top 100 poker blogs in the world. [insert link to your blog post]

Your blog truly stands out as you have gone above and beyond by creating content like infographics explaining how Las Vegas casinos work.

Hope you got some nice traffic from me… the blog post was pretty popular and well received by the poker community.

I know you are busy, but I would love it if you could share the article on your favorite social network.

Let me know if I can do anything for you. Or if you want me to update the post to showcase anything else that makes unique just let me know.


Neil Patel

By combing those two emails with the promotions steps I break down in this blog post, you’ll notice that you’ll generate backlinks and social shares.

That’s how I was able to rank on page 1 for one of the most competitive terms.

So why was Online Poker Lowdown a failure?

I broke down how I climbed to the page 1 of Google for “online poker” and as you can see from some of the posts people were engaging with the content.

So why did Online Poker Lowdown fail from an SEO standpoint?

It’s because I didn’t know what I was talking about. See, I know very little about poker, and I hired mediocre writers to help me out.

Although I got the content to rank, my user signals were terrible.

When people landed on the site, many of them would hit the back button, so they could go back to Google and find a better site.

Just think of it this way: If your site has a terrible bounce rate, this tells Google that people don’t care for your site.

Although you may have “optimized” your site for search engines, it doesn’t really matter because people don’t care for your content, and this tells Google that your site isn’t as good as the competition.

Once my rankings started to drop I panicked, and I immediately reached out to a few poker players and I got their feedback.

They all told me the same thing… the content wasn’t great and if they were looking to learn poker all over again, the blog posts aren’t actionable enough to make someone a decent poker player.

They even broke down how I needed to teach scenarios within my content and tell people what they should do when they are dealt with specific hands like what to do you do if you were starting off with a pair of 2s.

For someone not knowing much about poker and because I wasn’t passionate about the topic, I threw in the towel and I sold the blog for a few thousand dollars.

The big lesson I learned was that knowing SEO isn’t enough. Even if you can build links, write content, and climb to the top of Google fast, you won’t stay if people hate your content (or product/service).

Google cares what people think first and foremost.

So, if you can’t create something people will love, your bounce rate is going to be high and you’ll find that it will be hard to get drive steady organic traffic.


This was my worst SEO failure.

When I started Online Poker Lowdown, I was good at SEO and I was a bit too arrogant. I never expected that not being a subject matter expert would really hurt me.

I know there were other solutions that I could have taken, such as partnering up with someone who knew poker (which I tried), but I quickly learned that if people aren’t passionate about the topic it won’t work.

People can tell by your content. You never want to put out stuff that people think is crap. It will just make you look bad.

Plus, when you are passionate about a topic, the writing is different. From the way you’ll tell stories to how you break down actionable steps or how you mix in life experiences… it’s hard to do these things when you aren’t an expert.

Don’t do what I did by popping up sites to make a quick buck. Build something real that you can be proud of.

So, what do you think of my SEO failure? Did you expect it to end this way?

The post My Failed Attempt at SEO (And What I’ve Learned) appeared first on Neil Patel.

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Use These 10 Tools to Enhance Your Instagram Post Conversions

Your business needs to have an active presence on Instagram.

With more than 1 billion active monthly users, Instagram is officially the fastest growing social media network.

According to Sprout Social, 71% of businesses in the United States are using Instagram for marketing. By now, I hope you have your profile set up and are taking steps to get more followers.

Once you’ve done that, you can convert your social media followers into customers.

You need to prioritize conversions.

But to do this, you need to find the best ways to improve your engagement rates on your Instagram posts.

You have to understand how users consume content on this platform. They’re scrolling through their news feeds.

Each day, 95 million pictures and videos are shared on Instagram.

If your posts aren’t jumping out at your followers, they will scroll right past them. You won’t be able to get conversions this way.

It’s tough to stand out from the crowd when everyone using the platform has the same features available at their fingertips. Here’s what I mean.

If you are using only the filters and effects offered directly on Instagram, your content will look strikingly similar to that of the other billion users on the platform.

After all, the number of these editing options and types of posts is limited.

However, if you want to gain a competitive edge and really make your content stand out, you need to take advantage of other tools. By enhancing your posts, you’ll be able to increase your conversions.

Here are the top 10 tools I recommend for improving the quality of your Instagram posts.

1. GIPHY Cam

With the growing popularity of GIFs, GIPHY Cam is a top option for you to consider.

giphy cam

This app is available for both iOS and Android devices. Your entire social media marketing team can take advantage of this tool, regardless of the platform they’re using.

The concept of this app is very simple.

The software allows you to create your own GIFs by recording content directly through the app.

Once your GIF is recorded, you can add effects and other elements to enhance the posts. This is a great way to make your content stand out from the typical pictures and videos uploaded to Instagram.

Since GIF creation isn’t a feature offered on Instagram, these posts will give you a competitive advantage over content from other profiles.

GIPHY has other apps to help you with your GIF needs:

  • GIPHY Capture
  • GIPHY Sticker Embed
  • GIPHY World

In addition to GIPHY Cam, you can check these out to help you use visual elements to improve your marketing strategy.

2. Perfect Video

If you are not tech-savvy, Perfect Video is extremely user-friendly.

perfect video

It’s great for anyone who doesn’t have a background in video editing and is intimidated by fancy or expensive software.

None of that is necessary when it comes to uploading videos to Instagram if you use this app.

Yes, Instagram has editing tools built directly into its platform, but those features limit your ability to make your content great.

With Perfect Video, you can trim clips and merge multiple videos into one file.

Add subtitles to your videos to appeal to people consuming content without their volume on. You can even add watermarks to your videos as a branding strategy, in case someone wants to repurpose your content.

The software also has tons of transitions to choose from when you cut from clip to clip.

Take advantage of the ability to add music to your videos as well. It’s really easy to export your videos directly to Instagram.

Perfect Video is great for creating slideshows too.

This app is free to download. However, there are some in-app purchases for some features.

3. All Hashtag

Your Instagram posts don’t live and die by the visual content alone. You need to learn how to write Instagram captions that drive engagement.

Hashtags are part of these captions.

That’s why you need to take advantage of tools such as All Hashtag.

all hashtag

This resource will help you generate hashtags to complete your posts. Just type in words related to your brand, products, and campaigns.

All Hashtag will take care of the rest.

In addition to generating hashtags for your posts, you’ll also be able to discover the top hashtags being used right now.

The app displays the top trending hashtags for each day, week, month, and all time.

Analyze hashtags through this tool. Learn the probability of ranking and getting hits with the hashtags you’re planning to use.

It will save you time and money. While we’re on the subject, you can also review my favorite time-saving social media marketing tools.

4. Quik

Quik is another app available on both iOS and Android devices.


What makes this tool unique is that it was developed by GoPro.

If you’re using a GoPro to film content for your Instagram page, this is the perfect tool for you. The app makes it really easy to import videos.

You can do this from your phone gallery, Dropbox, or Google Photos. Quik also lets you import content from GoPro Plus and GoPro Quik Key.

One of the top features of Quik is the ability to analyze your video clips to make smart cuts automatically.

Further, this tool can detect faces. All images, clips, and videos will get framed perfectly. If you don’t want to take advantage of that feature, you can crop your content manually.

Quik comes with more than 100 free songs to add to your videos. If those songs aren’t what you’re looking for, you can import your own music.

This tool makes it easy for you to sync video transitions based on the beat of the music playing.

5. AutoHash

Can’t think of a hashtag? No problem.

AutoHash has a unique way of helping you generate hashtags specifically for each photo you’re planning to share on Instagram.


This tool scans the image and then, as the name implies, automatically generates a hashtag.

If you upload a picture of a dog, you’ll get hashtags related to dogs.

In addition to coming up with relevant hashtags, the app will sorted them by popularity in different niche categories. This will make sure that your post gets the widest possible exposure.

You can save your favorite hashtags to use them again in future posts.

Post your content directly on Instagram from the AutoHash platform, without wasting your time copying and pasting.

AutoHash has a feature for location-based hashtags as well. Simply enable your GPS location settings, and the software will produce hashtags relevant to your location.

6. Rookie Cam

Rookie Cam offers a more advanced version of the camera already built into your smartphone. But it’s just as easy to use.

rookie cam

This app also has more filters than the options available on Instagram, including a live filter function.

You can view filters and other effects in real time while you’re taking a picture or video.

This will give you a better understanding of what the image will look like for the final product.

Rookie Cam allows you to create collages. You won’t need to download another app for that specific feature alone.

These collages can have up to nine images in one frame. Select different image sizes, and create different filters and edits for each photo within the collage.

Rookie Cam has awesome design editing elements as well.

You can add text to images with tons of different fonts. Add badges, stickers, and unique frames to your content.

7. Ask Lisa

With Instagram, we all know the image that ultimately gets posted is one of potentially dozens of options.

If you can’t decide what photos are worth sharing, Ask Lisa can help you make an informed decision.

ask lisa

The Ask Lisa tool uses AI photo recognition software. Technology like this is one of the top ways machine learning is reshaping marketing.

You can compare between two and five photos on this platform.

In addition to helping you determine which photo will perform the best, Ask Lisa will also help you generate hashtags based on the images.

8. Hashtagify

Like some of the other tools on this list, Hashtagify helps you find the best hashtags for your posts.


But Hashtagify has some features that make this platform unique. You can explore hashtags related to current trends and specific categories.

This tool also helps you with analytics components.

Monitor how well your current hashtags are performing. Determine the best time to post, and analyze your marketing strategy based on this research and information.

Hashtagify helps you discover influencers using similar hashtags.

You can reach out to them to help you expand your reach and get more visibility. Then use the top platforms for effectively managing social influencers to your advantage as well.

Export PDF reports and download CSV files. These reports make it easy for you to share information with your entire marketing team.


When it comes to editing your Instagram photos, some of you may be overwhelmed with all the options.

Some of the tools on our list give you even more filters and editing choices to choose from. But which ones are the best?

It’s hard to say for certain unless you experiment with them.

When you’re running a business, you may not have time to do this yourself. Wouldn’t it be great if someone else could do it for you?

Instead of assigning these tasks to a social media manager, try using MIKU.


All you have to do is upload your photo to the platform with a brief explanation of what you want to be edited, and a professional will take care of everything else for you.

The average response time is 30 minutes, but you’ll get your photo back within two hours.

Pricing for this service is based on volume. You can pay per photo or pay a set rate based on a monthly allowance.

For example, you can subscribe for $19.99 per month, which gives you a chance to get 20 pictures edited during that time frame. This ends up being $1 per photo instead of the standard rate of $3.99 per photo. It’s a good deal if you use this tool frequently.

10. Storeo

Storeo is a tool that helps you enhance the content of your Instagram story.


How many of you have encountered this scenario before?

You were recording something to post on your story directly from the Instagram platform, and then the time ran out. As a result, you missed what you were trying to record.

This ultimately hurts the overall quality of your video.

Even if you record content from your phone before you upload to your story, Instagram doesn’t allow you to upload story clips longer than 15 seconds. You have to manually cut longer videos and add each one individually to your story.

This is a pain and leaves much room for error.

Storeo eliminates this problem.

This tool allows you to record a long video without having to hold down the record button either. Then, it automatically exports the video to your Instagram story in 15-second intervals.

When users watch your story, it plays as one long video.


If you want to boost engagement on your Instagram posts and ultimately get more conversions, you need to enhance your content.

Sometimes, the editing options offered directly from the Instagram platform aren’t enough to make your post stand out.

Take advantage of the tools I’ve covered on this list. There are plenty of options for everyone, based on your needs.

Some of these tools are made for enhancing images, videos, and GIFs. While others are designed for hashtags, captions, or your Instagram story.

Use whichever ones will help you improve your Instagram marketing strategy the most.

What tools is your company using to improve conversions on your Instagram posts?

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3 Simple Questions that Help You Craft Better Headlines

Writers are communicators. If you’re proud of your ideas, you want to be able to communicate them clearly and precisely….

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