AdGooroo releases travel and retail keyword results after Google’s right rail ad change

AdGooroo has released its second look at the impact of Google eliminating text ads in the right rail on desktop search results. The two analyses — one on retail keywords, another on travel keywords — tell similar stories: a reduction in the number of advertisers competing in the auctions, slight increases in cost per click (CPC) on average, but big swings at the individual keyword level.

Across the set of top 20 travel keywords, AdGooroo monitors — comparing February 1–18 to February 19–March 28 — the number of advertisers bidding per keyword fell 15.4 percent, from an average of 38 advertisers bidding per keyword to an average of 32. The average CPC among the top 20 keywords increased by just three cents, on average (5.2 percent), from $2.65 to $2.68. That said, there was wide variation in performance at the individual keyword level. For contrast, note that “cancun all inclusive” CPC rose 35 percent, and “car rentals” rose 34 percent.

On the whole, click-through rates increased 10 percent across the top 20 travel keywords. Just one keyword (“river cruises”) saw a slight decline of 3.3 percent in CTR.

In its earlier analysis of the top 20 retail keywords earlier this month — comparing February 1–18 to February 19–March 8 — AdGooroo found that competition was cut by 27 percent. The average CPC rose seven percent, with 14 out of 20 keywords seeing increases. However, again, several keywords saw significant decreases in CPC: “mobile phone” was off by 26 percent, “shoes” fell by 14 percent. Then there was the outlier, “samsung galaxy 26,” which rose by 108 percent.

Meanwhile, looking across 2,500 retail keywords, the average CPC increased just 1.8 percent, while the number of advertisers competing fell by 42 percent since the change went into effect.

(Some images used under license from Shutterstock.com.)

Over 61 Paid Traffic Sources To Buy (Real) Targeted Website Traffic

There are plenty of paid traffic sources on the web from where you can buy targeted traffic to your website. The best thing about online advertising (unlike television, radio, print, etc.) is that it’s totally accountable and you get to know the exact returns of every single dollar that you are spending.

Online advertising is a multi-billion dollar industry and the digital ad spending in the U.S. is all set to surpass television ad spending. Paid advertising on search engines and social media accounts for over 50% of the total ad spend (dominated by Google, Microsoft, and Facebook).

The good thing about online advertising is that it’s super easy to kick-start an ad campaign and it could attract a lot of targeted traffic in the shortest span of time. But the bad thing is that it may be effective only in the short-term because when you stop your ad campaigns the traffic may pause.

However, online advertising is extremely flexible and efficient (in terms of ad targeting, spending, and tracking) and it basically means that if you have a solid marketing strategy then your online ad campaigns can bring in higher return on investment for the short-term as well as for the long-term.

As I have already mentioned, majority of the ad spend happens on paid search because of the superior traffic quality (and hence the performance). Also, you can reach 96% of the U.S. searchers by signing up as an advertiser on Google.com (via Google AdWords) and Bing.com (via Bing Ads).

Over the past several years, I have published a dozen blog posts about website monetization and it was all about selling ads on your website and rarely about ad spending. Actually, I’m a lover of organic traffic (or search traffic). But it’s also true that it takes a lot of time to get some traction that way.

So if you start a new business and want to tap the online advertising space then the best way is buy paid traffic on different traffic sources like search engines, social networks, display ads, video ads, etc. Here is a curated list of some of the best paid traffic sources on the web — categorized and subcategorized.

Traffic Sources: Quick Glance
Search Engines
Social Networks
Web 2.0
Display Advertising
(Quality > Quantity)
(Quantity > Quality)

Media Buying
Content Distribution
Cost Per View
Pop-Unders
Retargeting
Mobile

Search

Search Engine Marketing (SEM) or more commonly known as pay-per-click advertising is all about increasing the visibility of your website in search engine results pages through paid advertising. It’s the quickest way to attract more customers to your business and apparently it’s one of the most expensive traffic source as well.

Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, Ask.com, and AOL have a combined market share of over 95% in the U.S. search market and they account for almost 99% of the U.S. search ad spend. What makes search ads so attractive is the the fact that it follows a pay-per-click advertising model and it means that you will be charged only when someone clicks on your ad and visits your website (or a landing page).

Moreover, your ads will be shown only to relevant users (as you can target them in multiple ways) and you will never overspend on your ads (as you can set a daily/monthly budget). The actual cost per click varies and it depends upon the keywords that you are bidding. For instance, it can be as low as $0.05 per click or can be over $50 per click (on Google).

1. Google AdWords
Google AdWords is an advertising program that allows you to advertise your website on Google’s search engine results pages as well as on the publisher websites in the Google AdSense program.

Google has over 60% search market share and its AdSense is the most popular affiliate program on the web connecting millions of advertisers and publishers. This makes Google the preferred (and most popular) online advertising platform.

Google AdWords supports a variety of advertising models like Cost Per Click (CPC), Cost Per Mille (CPM), Cost Per Action (CPA), Pay Per Call, Retargeting, Shopping Ads, Local Ads, etc. and it lets you create text link ads, banner ads, and rich-media ads.

The best thing about AdWords (or almost any other pay-per-click advertising program) is that you pay only for results and you can start your campaign in minutes — without any contract or lock-in. What’s more? Google is so confident about their ad program that they offer free AdWords credits to new advertisers.

Google also offers a fully automated advertising solution for small businesses called Google AdWords Express. It lets you advertise your business on Google, Google Maps, and relevant partner websites — even if you don’t have a website.

Self-Serve: Yes
Minimum Spend: N/A
Minimum CPC: $0.01
AdWords: Sign Up | FAQ
2. Bing Ads
Bing Ads is the Microsoft equivalent of Google AdWords. According to comScore, Bing now powers almost one-third of U.S. desktop web searches. And the ratio is going to get better over time as Bing now powers AOL search as well (apart from Yahoo).

The best thing about Bing Ads is that its traffic quality is better than that of Google and yet the cost per click is low. It means your return on investment on Bing Ads could be higher than Google AdWords (though the traffic volume can’t be matched).

And just like Google AdWords, Bing also offers free Bing Ads credits to new advertisers and supports Retargeting, Shopping Ads, Local Ads, Native Ads, etc..

Self-Serve: Yes
Minimum Spend: N/A
Minimum CPC: $0.05
Bing Ads: Sign Up | FAQ
Don’t Miss: Bing Ads vs. Google AdWords: 10 Features Unique To Bing Ads

3. Baidu
Baidu is the most popular search engine in China with a market share of over 70%. However, the global search market share of Baidu is less than 10%. So, if you are targeting Chinese audience then you should advertise on Baidu (and probably not on Google).

Self-Serve: Unknown
Minimum Spend: $2,000/month
Minimum CPC: Unknown
China Search International: Sign Up | FAQ
Note: China Search International is Baidu’s international partner.

4. Yandex Advertising
Yandex Advertising lets you advertise your business on the largest search engine in Russia with over 50% market share. And it also lets you advertise on millions of websites in its publisher network through Yandex Direct.

Self-Serve: No
Minimum Spend: Unknown
Minimum CPC: RUB 300
Yandex Advertising: Sign Up | FAQ
5. 7search
7search is a pay-per-click ad network that places your ad on websites (it includes niche search engines and partner websites) across the web. 7search is an independent ad network and hence it lets you tap audience that you can’t find from Google or Bing. What’s more? The top countries for searches are U.S., Canada, U.K, and Australia and the bid prices are lower than that of Google AdWords and Bing Ads.

Self-Serve: Yes
Minimum Spend: N/A
Minimum CPC: $0.01
7search: Sign Up | FAQ
6. LookSmart
LookSmart is another pay-per-click ad network that places your ad on its syndicated network of search engines and partner websites. They are offering a $50 matching coupon for new advertisers and if you’re an affiliate marketer then you get a $250 matching coupon.

Self-Serve: Yes
Minimum Spend: $50
Minimum CPC: $0.01
LookSmart: Sign Up | FAQ

Social Networks

Social networks are exploding in popularity and that’s why social media ad spending is skyrocketing. It’s an excellent medium to reach active Internet users and drive traffic to your website or to increase the visibility of your brand.

Image Credit: SurePayroll

Here is a list of some of the best (and most popular) social networks from where you can buy ads.

7. Facebook Ads
Facebook Ads (or Facebook for Business) is the advertising platform of Facebook — the biggest social network on earth with over 1.6 billion users (or over 1 billion daily active users). If there’s one thing that makes Facebook Ads stand out from its competitors or search advertising or any other advertising program then it’s their ad targeting options.

Of course, both Google AdWords and Bing Ads have advanced targeting options but they do not have the ability to target audience by demographics, interest, behaviour, etc. In fact, you can even target your friends and their friends with Facebook Ads.

Another interesting thing about Facebook Ads is that it’s not only good for sending traffic to your website but it can also boost the “posts” on your Facebook Page (known as Boosted Posts), get more “Likes” for your brand, get more “Installs” for your mobile app, get more “views” for your video, etc.

Self-Serve: Yes
Minimum Spend: $1-$5
Minimum CPC: $0.01
Facebook Ads: Sign Up | FAQ
8. YouTube Ads
YouTube Ads lets you advertise on the world’s most popular video sharing platform, which is also the second largest search engine. With YouTube Ads, any video that you’ve already uploaded to YouTube can be an ad or you can upload a new one. All you need is a Google AdWords account to get started.

YouTube supports a variety of advertising formats and units like display ads, overlay ads, skippable & non-skippable video ads, and sponsored cards. You can go here for more details and to explore all the available options.

The best thing about video ads is that you pay only when someone engages with your ad and it means if they skipped it before 30 seconds (or the end) then you won’t be charged. And it’s got built-in analytics so that you can see how your ads are performing and can make changes accordingly.

Self-Serve: Yes
Minimum Spend: N/A
Minimum CPC: $0.01
YouTube Ads: Sign Up | FAQ
9. LinkedIn Ads
LinkedIn Ads (or LinkedIn Business Solutions) lets you advertise LinkedIn, the world’s largest professional network with over 400 million users. Just like Facebook, LinkedIn Ads offers advanced targeting options.

For instance, it allows you to reach a targeted professional audience by job title, industry or company size, seniority, etc. And you can stop your ads at any time as there are no long term contracts.

LinkedIn Ads offers two ad formats, Sponsored Updates and Text Ads, and you pay for clicks or impressions. Its average CPC or CPM are on the high side but it’s the best platform for B2B targeting.

Self-Serve: Yes
Minimum Spend: $10
Minimum CPC: $2
LinkedIn Ads: Sign Up | FAQ
10. Twitter Ads
Twitter Ads (or Twitter for Business) lets you advertise on Twitter, the most popular micro-blogging platform with over 300 million active users. Twitter Ads offers unique advertising options like Promoted Tweets, Promoted Accounts, and Promoted Trends.

You can start a Twitter ad campaign to drive traffic to your website, to get more app downloads, or to gain more followers or visibility for your tweets. And there’s absolutely no minimum spend required.

Self-Serve: Yes
Minimum Spend: Nil
Minimum CPC: N/A
Twitter Ads: Sign Up | FAQ
11. Instagram for Business
Instagram for Business lets you advertise on the most popular photo-sharing website on the web. Because Instagram now has over 400 million monthly active users and it’s got more advertisers than Twitter. Instagram offers a variety of ad formats like photo ads, video ads, and carousel ads.

You can start an ad campaign to get more traffic to your website (and conversions), or to get more mobile app installs (and engagement), or to get more views for your posts and videos. Wait, you can create an Instagram ad campaign via Facebook as well.

Self-Serve: Yes
Minimum Spend: $1-$5
Minimum CPC: $0.01
Instagram for Business: Sign Up | FAQ
12. Pinterest Ads
Pinterest Ads (or Pinterest for Business) lets you reach more people on Pinterest with “Promoted Pins”. You can promote your best “Pins” so that it will attract more audience and you pay for engagements or visits to your website.

Since Pinterest is a female-dominated social network (80% of Pinterest users are female), it’s a great platform to target women. The only problem is, Promoted Pins are available to U.S.-based business accounts only and it’s invite-only.

Self-Serve: Yes
Minimum Spend: $1-$5
Minimum CPC: $0.01
Pinterest Ads: Sign Up | FAQ
13. StumbleUpon Ads
StumbleUpon Ads are actually full web pages itself and it follows a cost per view (CPV) pricing model. It’s a great ad product for content promotion as your content is the ad and there are no click-throughs or ad copies. All you need is a URL and it can be anything — article, video, slideshow, and the like.

Every paid “Stumble” becomes a visit to your website and the cost per view depends upon the targeting (it ranges from $0.10 to $0.50 per Stumble). While StumbleUpon allows you to target audience by age, gender, location, device, and interests, it can’t match the traffic quality of Google AdWords or Facebook or LinkedIn.

Now the best thing about StumbleUpon Ads is that you can earn free traffic to your website (in addition to the paid traffic). Here’s how! It also means that, even though StumbleUpon has just 35 million users, it has the potential to send more traffic than any other social media platform.

Self-Serve: Yes
Minimum Spend: Nil
Minimum CPV: $0.10
StumbleUpon Ads: Sign Up | FAQ
14. Reddit Ads
Reddit Ads let you advertise on Reddit, the most popular social news website with over 200 million users. Reddit offers two advertising programs, one is self-serve and the other is managed (both follows a CPM pricing model). Self serve ads lets you buy “Sponsored Headline” while managed ads lets you buy video ads, banner ads, and mobile ads.

Self-Serve: Yes
Minimum Spend: $5
Minimum CPM: N/A
Reddit Ads: Sign Up | FAQ
15. Tumblr Business
Tumblr Business lets you advertise on Tumblr, one of the most popular microblogging platform with over 500 million monthly users. Tumblr allows brands to create content and then promote it via Sponsored Posts, Sponsored Video Posts, Sponsored Day, etc.

Self-Serve: No
Minimum Spend: Unknown
Minimum CPC: Unknown
Tumblr for Business: Sign Up

Web 2.0

Why not buy (real) traffic from some of the top destinations on the web? Here is a list of some of the most trafficked websites from where you can buy native ads.

16. Yahoo Gemini
Yahoo Gemini is a self-serve advertising solution that lets you advertise on Yahoo, one of the top destinations on the web with over a billion visits a month. Yahoo Gemini allows you to buy search ads as well as native advertising and you can manage your ads within a single interface. Your search ads will appear on Yahoo’s search results and your native ads will appear on Yahoo.com and its network of websites.

17. Amazon Advertising
Amazon Advertising lets you reach over 300 million users who search and buy at Amazon. You can use Amazon advertising to drive traffic to your website, or to increase app downloads, or to get more sales for your Amazon listings, or to get more book sales.

Amazon offers a variety of advertising solutions like:

Amazon Advertising Platform — to reach Amazon shoppers programmatically at Amazon’s sites, across the web, and in mobile apps.
Amazon Advertising for Apps — to get more app downloads.
Amazon Display Advertising — to reach Amazon shoppers across desktop, mobile, and tablets.
Amazon Sponsored Products — to promote Amazon listings (for Amazon sellers).
Kindle Direct Publishing Ads — to promote books across Amazon and on Kindle e-readers.
Kindle Direct Publishing Ads — to advertise on Kindle, Fire tablet, and Fire TV.
Amazon Marketing Services — to drive more sales (for Amazon vendors).
Everything Else — Advertise On…
eBay
Target
Yelp
Etsy
Yellow Pages
Pandora

Display Advertising (Quality > Quantity)

Display Advertising is all about ads on the web (or ads on your favorite websites). And it includes a variety of ad formats like text, images, flash, video, and audio. The idea is to reach as much users as possible in a short span of time.

Display Advertising usually follows a CPC or CPM pricing model and it means you have to pay for each “click” or “ad view” (and never both). Display ads are inexpensive when compared to search advertising as the CPC is extremely low when compared to search ads. It’s a perfect choice for advertisers who want to attract massive traffic and gain quick visibility.

Display ads that follows a CPC model ensures that you are getting traffic to your website while the display ads that follows CPM model ensures that your brand message is rapidly reaching more users.

ROI for display ads could be on the lower side when compared to search ads as the traffic quality of display ads is not as great as search ads though it depends upon several other aspects as well like your business, landing page, user experience, etc.

18. Google Display Network
Google Display Network lets you advertise your business across the web by showing your ads on the Google Network (includes Google AdSense publishers, Google properties like Google Finance, YouTube, Gmail, etc. and DoubleClick partners).

It’s the most popular and biggest advertising network on the web connecting millions of advertisers, publishers, and customers. The traffic quality is not as great as search ads, but it’s a fantastic way to reach more people quickly and create awareness of your brand so that they may come to you when they need what you’re selling.

With Google Display Network, you can create text link ads, image ads, video ads, and mobile ads and can choose to place the ads only on websites that you think is relevant.

Google Display Network thereby enables you to place your ads on news websites, blogs, niche sites across the web to reach more eyeballs. Again, all you need is a Google AdWords account to get started.

Don’t Miss: Over 41 Google AdSense Alternatives You Didn’t Know

19. BuySellAds
BuySellAds lets you buy media directly from some of the most popular websites, at scale. It’s actually the easiest way to buy display ads, text link ads, and sponsored content as it gives instant access to thousands of independent publishers at-once (organized by category).

Display Advertising (Quantity > Quality)

It’s true that Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Microsoft, and AOL reaches over 90% of the Internet users worldwide. However, I have cherry-picked few more ad networks from where you can buy display ads.

Most of them support multiple pricing models (CPC, CPM, CPV, CPA, etc.) and advertising options (Display Ads, Contextual Ads, Interstitial Ads, Pop-Under Ads, etc.). The traffic quality of these ad networks is low but they are cheap when compared to Google Display Network, BuySellAds, Facebook Ads, etc.

20. Adcash
Self-Serve: Yes
Ad Formats: Display Ads, Interstitial Ads, Pop-Under Ads, Slide-In Ads, Footer Ads, Background Ads, Video Ads, In-App Ads
Pricing Models: CPM, CPV
Minimum Spend: Unknown
Adcash: Sign Up
21. Clicksor
Self-Serve: Yes
Ad Formats: Contextual Ads, Display Ads, Interstitial Ads, Pop-Under Ads, Inline Text Links
Pricing Models: CPC, CPM, CPV, and CPI
Minimum Spend: $50
Clicksor: Sign Up | FAQ
22. AdMedia
Self-Serve: Yes
Ad Formats: Contextual Ads, Display Ads, Overlay Ads, Interstitial Ads, Slide-In Ads, Video Ads, etc.
Pricing Models: CPM, CPV, CPC, CPA
Minimum Spend: Unknown
AdMedia: Sign Up
23. Propeller Ads
Self-Serve: Yes
Ad Formats: Display Ads, Interstitial Ads, Pop-Under Ads, Slide-In Ads, Video Ads
Pricing Models: CPM
Minimum Spend: $100
Propeller Ads: Sign Up
24. Propel Media
Self-Serve: Yes
Ad Formats: Contextual Ads, Display Ads, Interstitial Ads
Pricing Models: CPC, CPV
Minimum Spend: $1,000
Propel Media: Sign Up | FAQ
25. Yes Advertising
Self-Serve: Yes
Ad Formats: Contextual Ads, Display Ads, Pop-Under Ads, Inline Text Links
Pricing Models: CPM
Minimum Spend: Unknown
YesAdvertising: Sign Up
26. Infolinks
Self-Serve: Yes
Ad Formats: Contextual Ads, Interstitial Ads, Inline Text Links, Footer Ads, Background Ads
Pricing Models: CPM
Minimum Spend: Unknown
Infolinks: Sign Up | FAQ

Media Buying

Programmatic media buying is all about buying advertisements on publisher websites, at scale, using automated ways. It involves identifying new websites, real-time bidding, and automated placements of ads.

Programmatic media buying usually follows a CPM pricing model and it can also be at a fixed fee per month. Media buying doesn’t include advertising on Google.com, Bing.com, Facebook.com, etc. as they are just classified as search ads or social media ads.

Here is a list of advertising networks from where you can buy traffic at scale.

Matomy
CBS Interactive
Conversant (formerly ValueClick)
RhythmOne (formerly Burst Media)
Exponential (formerly Tribal Fusion
ONE by AOL (formerly Millennial Media)
Advertising.com (by AOL)
Sovrn
Vibrant Media
Rocket Fuel
Video Advertising
BrightRoll (by Yahoo)
YuMe
Giant Media (by Adknowledge)
Don’t Miss: The 18 Best Affiliate Programs & Networks For Anyone And Everyone

Content Distribution

Content Distribution platforms shows a combination of image + text ads as a recommendation on their publisher websites. It usually show ads at the end of a blog post (or a web page) as “Sponsored” or “Related” content.

Such platforms uses behavioral targeting to increase the quality of the traffic and most of them follows a cost per click pricing model. It’s extremely popular among viral blogs as they use it to generate more pageviews or to make money by sending traffic to one of their sponsors.

Outbrain
Taboola
Revcontent
Content.ad
Adblade
Nativo
LockerDome
Don’t Miss: 37 Content Discovery Tools To Find Great Social Media Content

Cost Per View (CPV)

Cost Per View (also known as Pay Per View) is an advertising model in which you pay for “pageviews” and not for ad views, clicks, events, or conversions.

The traffic sources and the costs depends upon the marketplace from where you have purchased the traffic. And the traffic can come from expired domains, parked domains, redirect traffic, referral traffic, etc.

I would say it’s only good for increasing the pageviews of your website and never to get quality leads or sales as the quality of such traffic is extremely low (unless you are lucky).

Also, it appears like such traffic can artificially increase the traffic rank of your website as otherwise I don’t understand why some of the big e-tailers are buying it. Or, maybe it’s just that they have allocated an advertising budget for such campaigns.

Now the good thing is that the cost per view can be as low as $0.001 (we can’t expect quality traffic for just $0.001, right?). And it can be displayed as a pop-up, pop-under, or in a new browser window/tab, or something like that and it depends upon the traffic marketplace.

47. DNTX
Self-Serve: Yes
Minimum Spend: $50
Minimum CPV: $0.002
Traffic Sources: Parked Domains
DNTX: Sign Up | FAQ
48. MediaTraffic
Self-Serve: Yes
Minimum Spend: $200
Minimum CPV: $ 0.015
Traffic Sources: Adware
MediaTraffic: Sign Up | FAQ
49. Zeropark
Self-Serve: Yes
Minimum Spend: $50
Minimum CPV: Unknown
Traffic Sources: Domain Redirect
Zeropark: Sign Up | FAQ

Pop-Unders

Pop-Under ads is a form of advertising that’s closely related to Pop-Up ads and it follows a pay-per-view advertising model. It’s less annoying (but still annoying) than a pop-up ad as it shows the ad (which can be a banner ad or even a full web page) under the current browser window.

Once again, it’s only good for increasing the traffic to your website and never to attract sales or leads. In fact, Facebook is also buying a lot of pop-under ads on different high-traffic image sharing and file sharing websites.

50. PopAds
Minimum Spend: $10
Minimum CPV: $0.001
PopAds: Sign Up | FAQ
51. PopCash
Minimum Spend: $5
Minimum CPV: $0.001
PopCash: Sign Up | FAQ
52. PopUnderTOTAL
Minimum Spend: $10
Minimum CPV: $0.0001
PopUnderTOTAL: Sign Up | FAQ

Retargeting

Retargeting (also known as Remarketing) is a form of online advertising in which you’re targeting users who previously visited your website (but is visiting other websites), and left without taking an action.

Now why should you retarget users? The reason is… less than 5% of the first time visitors convert to customers. If you have an e-commerce website and you used a pay-per-click campaign to attract targeted users, then it’s more likely that they will leave your website without buying or signing up.

The bounced visitors may come back to your website once again or maybe they won’t. So you can target those users once again by showing retargeted ads and that makes it easier for them to find you.

All the popular advertising platforms like Google AdWords, Bing Ads, Facebook Ads, Twitter Ads, etc. lets you create retargeting campaigns. However, if you are looking for an independent retargeting solution then you can try any of these platforms:

Perfect Audience
AdRoll
ReTargeter
Don’t Miss: Kickstart Your First Retargeting Campaign In 5 Steps

Mobile

I personally do not like to see ads on a mobile device (as a user or as an advertiser), but it’s also true that we live in a mobile era — thanks to better connectivity, and the penetration of smartphones and tablets.

In fact, people are spending a lot of time on their mobile device that the number of Google searches on a mobile devices is more than that of computers in over ten countries. It also means that mobile as a platform is important for advertisers as well.

If you are an advertiser on Google AdWords, or Bing Ads, or Facebook Ads then you can easily target a majority of the mobile users. Anyway, I’m listing some of the mobile ad networks that are good to buy traffic from mobile apps and websites.

InMobi
Airpush
BuzzCity
Go2mobi
Tapjoy
Leadbolt
Admoda
Closing Thoughts
You don’t really have to buy ads on all the above search and ad networks. Instead, focus on quality and relevancy and be where your potential customers are there. In case, you don’t have a clue about it then it’s worth to try all of them (provided you have enough budget for online ad spending) and then individually track the ROI.

Or, maybe you can take some hints from your competitors and see how they have placed themselves in the marketplace. Nonetheless, the idea is to track the results of your ad campaigns so that you will be able to scale up/down your ad spend and know what’s working and what’s not.

As you might have already imagined, paid traffic sources can be extremely effective if you do it the right way. The only problem is that it’s expensive and if you didn’t do it right then you end up spending a lot on advertising, possibly with a negative return on investment (ROI).

However, if you have a solid marketing strategy and have a long-term goal then paid traffic can bring a lot of value to your business.

Have I missed your favorite paid traffic source? If so, let me know as a comment below!

Happy Advertising! 🙂

Note: I haven’t personally tried all the above search and ad networks but the details are accurate (if not, do let me know!).

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Over 61 Paid Traffic Sources To Buy (Real) Targeted Website Traffic is a post by Minterest

The Fantastic Ten Tools (Free) To Skyrocket Your Productivity

As a student, a professional, a business person, or a freelancer — you might want to remain productive all the time. And, as you probably know, there are a bunch of tools and apps on the web that can make you super-productive.

Of course, I’ve already published a handful of 101 listicles featuring productivity tools, marketing tools, social media tools, browser extensions, etc. but the problem is they are all huge lists.

And I obviously haven’t tried all of them personally as my goal was to find and list the best of the best tools (in each category).

So today, I am sharing with you my favorite productivity tools and apparently they’re the tools that I can’t live without. And no, it doesn’t include any social networks, or instant messengers, or messaging apps, or even any paid tools.

Just ten free productivity tools — and it’s for anyone and everyone. That’s it!

And I’m calling it: “The Fantastic Ten”.

Quick Glance:

Gmail #Email
Sunrise #Calendar
Evernote #Notes
Wunderlist #Tasks
Feedly #News
Pocket #Save
Dropbox #Cloud
Trello #Planner
IFTTT #Automate
Chrome #Browser
Day One #Journal
Office 365 #Office
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Productivity Tools: The Fantastic Ten

A quick word, none of the tools that I have listed here is a desktop-only or mobile-only app. All of them works perfectly on a computer, tablet, and a mobile device — and syncs magically.

And that exactly is the reason why the awesomest pomodoro timers, remote desktops, screen captures, and the like are missing here.

But you can always check out my Productivity Tools 101 for (almost) all things productivity.

Also, all the tools that I have listed here are free and it’s perfect for personal usage (but may not be the best choice for business users).

1. Gmail
Gmail is my all time favorite. And I know what you are thinking right now. Well, you’re right! Gmail is, of course, the web’s favorite email service and is known to everyone. But I bet you must be missing many of its incredible features.

I have already shared over over 71 Gmail tips and tricks and I’m sure that you will never use Gmail the way you used to once you read it. And then you will know why Gmail is on top of my list.

Again, if you are a mobile centric person then you can further enhance your Gmail experience by using Mailbox (available on iOS, Android and OS X) or Outlook (available on iOS and Android) instead of using the official Gmail app by Google.

And you can also try Inbox by Gmail — if you want to use Gmail as a task-manager as well.

Don’t Miss: Over 71 Gmail Tips & Tricks To Make You A “Gmail Ninja”

2. Sunrise

Sunrise is a calendar app for desktop and mobile that works seamlessly on all your devices. What’s so special about Sunrise is that it’s not a calendar app by itself.

You need to add your preferred calendars (and task managers too) to it so that you can access and manage all of it — from within the Sunrise app.

Sunrise supports a dozen of calendar and task manager services like iCloud, Outlook.com & Office 365, Google Calendar & Tasks, Facebook Events & Birthdays, Wunderlist, Todoist, Asana, Trello, Evernote, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. so that you can access everything from a single space.

3. Evernote

Evernote is so popular that there can’t be productivity list without it. It’s one of the best productivity app that’s equally useful to kids, writers, entrepreneurs, professionals, homemakers, or virtually anyone who want to “Remember everything”.

And if there is something that made it massively popular then I believe it’s because of its simplicity and the cross-platform compatibility (yes, it works like a charm on all your devices).

Oh yeah, I have already shared over 51 Evernote tips and tricks to make you an “Evernote Ninja”. So don’t miss it and you will definitely fall in love with Evernote (if you aren’t already).

Don’t Miss: What Is Evernote, Anyway? 51+ Tips To Make You An Evernote Ninja

4. Wunderlist

My favorite task manager was Todoist and I still like it because of its simplicity. But I was unhappy about its syncing and that most of the essential features were part of the premium version.

For instance, you need a premium account to enable “Reminders” on Todoist. Reminder is an essential feature of any task manager app, right? In fact, even the premium version didn’t solve the syncing problem.

So I was obviously looking for a free alternative and tried Wunderlist (when Microsoft acquired it). And when I started using it, I was immediately convinced that it’s the best task manager app — that’s free.

And the best thing about Wunderlist is that… the syncing is perfect and almost all the features (including ones that are premium at Todoist) are free. Of course, they also have a premium version but you probably don’t need it — unless you’re an enterprise user.

Also, Wunderlist is virtually available on all platforms — just like Todoist.

Don’t Miss: Over 21 Microsoft Apps For Your iPhone & iPad (And Android Too)

5. Feedly

We all have a list of websites or blogs that we want to follow pretty closely, right? Feedly is perhaps the only news reader app you will ever want.

It’s simply the best RSS reader (or simply news aggregator) — thanks to Google Reader’s demise — that lets you read, organize, bookmark, and share content.

What’s more? It’s got an intuitive interface with a lot of customization options.

Feedly is officially available on all major mobile platforms (iOS, Android, Kindle) and for other platforms there are a lot of third-party applications.

And it’s also integrated with over 200 third-party apps. One thing that I particularly love about Feedly mobile is that it works better than its desktop version.

6. Pocket

Pocket (formerly Read It Later) is one of the most popular save for later app that lets you read articles offline. You can save articles, web pages, videos, etc. to access later — with a single-click.

Whatever you add an item to Pocket, it goes to a reading list and you can delete/archive it, when you’re done.

Perhaps the best thing about Pocket is that it’s available everywhere (on desktop, mobile, tablet, web, and as browser extensions) and is also integrated with over 1,500 apps and services.

So all your Pocket items are automatically synced across all your devices.

7. Dropbox

Dropbox is the most popular cloud storage service. In fact, it’s Dropbox that revolutionized the cloud storage for consumers. It’s got the best user interface and works beautifully across all the platforms and devices.

And you won’t have to rely on a third-party client ever as there’s an official Dropbox app for almost all the desktop and mobile platforms like Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, and Kindle.

No other cloud storage service — whether it’s OneDrive, or Google Drive, or Amazon, or Box — offers this cross-platform support.

Don’t Miss: 11 Reasons Why I Love Dropbox — And You Should Too

8. Trello

Trello was not among my favorites and I was not using it until a couple of months ago. But when I did, it immediately became one of my favorites and eventually replaced OneNote.

Microsoft OneNote was my favorite note-taker and planner app before Evernote and Trello came on the scene. And it’s still one of my favorite productivity tool except that I don’t need it much these days.

The reason is quite simple… OneNote is a superior app that’s way more sophisticated than Evernote or Trello. It’s is enriched with a ton of collaboration and notes organization capabilities, formatting options, digital tools, and a lot of other nifty features. So I would rather use it someday as an advanced note-taker or planner app — when I need to.

Trello on the other side is an intuitive project management app and it can be used to organize almost anything (from ideas to recipes to shopping list to notes and what-not) and share it with anyone and work together as a team.

It is so flexible that everyone can use it in their own unique way (just like Evernote). Trello basically is all about “Boards”, “Lists”, and “Cards”. I treat a “Board” as a project, and a “List” as a section or a process within a “Board”, and finally a “Card” as a micro-task or a tiny-note.

Wait, we can even drag and drop cards between lists or can copy/move a card to another list (within another Board). And then there are additional features like comments, attachments, labels, reminders, etc. that lets you organize your Trello boards and lists in a more efficient way.

9. IFTTT

IFTTT is an acronym for “If This Then That”. It’s a powerful tool that lets you connect almost all your web apps in a way that you wouldn’t have imagined. Once you add (or rather connect) all your apps to IFTTT, you can create rules (known as “recipes” in IFTTT).

When you’re done, just browse the recipes and you will be amazed at the kinds of recipes that are doable using IFTTT. For instance, if you have connected Evernote and Pocket to IFTTT then you can create a recipe like “Save the favorited item in Pocket to Evernote”.

Apart from that, you can also create recipes that doesn’t require any third-party apps. For instance, you can create a recipe to receive an email alert about a stock price.

The more apps you connect, the more recipes you can create. Perhaps the loveliest thing about IFTTT is that… creating a recipe feels like coding — except that everyone can do it.

Don’t Miss: Over 101 Social Media Tools (Free & Premium) You’ll Ever Need

10. Google Chrome
Google Chrome is undoubtedly the web’s favorite browser. Actually, it’s much more than just a web browser. Or, what’s web without Google Chrome? I don’t know but I live in Google Chrome.

I love Chrome for its simplicity, clean user interface, apps, extensions, address bar (here’s why!), password manager, and the way everything is synced across all our devices — thanks to the cloud.

Don’t Miss: Top 50 Google Chrome Productivity Extensions For Bloggers

The Fantastic Ten: Changelog
What’s in?
Wunderlist #Tasks
Dropbox #Cloud
Trello #Planner
What’s out?
Todoist #Tasks
Microsoft OneDrive #Cloud
Microsoft OneNote #Planner
BONUS: Premium Productivity Tools
11. Day One

Day One is not exactly a productivity app but a journaling app for iOS and Mac OS X. And I have decided to include it as it’s one of my favorite productivity app now. You know why? Well, I use it to convert my thoughts or anything what’s in my mind to words and that way it helps me to refine ideas.

And that’s not all. Day One has got some really cool features like a Calendar View (that shows all our journal entries in a calendar), Multiple Journals, Reminders, Publish (that allows us to selectively publish a journal entry and share its link), Photos (oh yeah, we can embed photos from the web or can upload one from our own PC), Tags (it allows us to tag all our entries and make it more organized), Starred (it’s my todo — sort of — inside Day One).

I ‘Star’ an entry when I want to (temporarily or permanently) bookmark a journal entry or when I enter a journal entry that’s also a to-do. Day One costs a one-time $39.99 for the OS X version and $9.99 for the iOS (iPhone & iPad) version.

Note: As of now, Day One is available only on iPhone, iPad, and Mac OS X but I have listed it here as they are going to launch a Web and Android version sooner or later (though I’m not sure about its Windows version).

12. Microsoft Office

Microsoft Office is obviously the most popular (and the best too) productivity suite — and it’s getting more productive, useful, and feature rich.

Office suite is not free but I decided to include it as there’s Office Online (which is totally free).

Office Online lets you experience almost all the Office suite apps without buying or downloading the software.

And if this was a list of free as well as premium tools then I might have listed Office 365 at the top as it’s the best productivity software that’s worth every dollar that you pay.

The reason is pretty simple… today even a tiny cloud service can cost at least $40-$50 a year but Office 365 costs only $99.99 per year.

And it lets you install the full Office suite on 5 PCs or Macs, and 5 tablets and mobile phones.

That’s not all! You also get OneDrive storage of 1 TB each for up to 5 users and also 60 Skype minutes per month, again for all the 5 users.

Don’t Miss: Over 101 Productivity Tools (Free & Premium) To Get Things Done

Conclusion
It’s very, very likely that you already know most of the tools that I have mentioned here as they are all massively popular. But I just wanted to come up with a list and make it as useful as possible.

And by the way, I’m not actively using all the above tools at any given time as I always try to use only a minimum number of tools.

So I just switch according to my requirements. As of today, I’m not using IFTTT, OneNote, and Pocket from the above list.

Now I’m curious to know your “fantastic ten” productivity tools. So feel free to share it as a comment below. 😉

Stay focused, stay productive!

First Published: September 23, 2015; Last Updated: Wednesday, February 10, 2016.

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The Fantastic Ten Tools (Free) To Skyrocket Your Productivity is a post by Minterest

Microsoft India Now Offering Free Microsoft Display Dock And Office 365 With Lumia 950 And Lumia 950 XL

Microsoft India is now offering both Microsoft Display Dock and a one-year subscription to Office 365 Personal for free to Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL buyers. The Office 365 Personal subscription, normally Rs. 3,299/-, includes access to the latest Office apps on a mobile device, an additional PC and tablet so you can create, edit and save all your documents with ease across devices. Microsoft Display Dock costs about Rs.5445. Also, Lumia 950 is selling for Rs. 42,099 and Lumia 950 XL is selling for Rs.47,499, well below their launch price.
Steps to redeem the offersOffice 365 Personal 1-year free subscription on Lumia 950 and Lumia 950 XL
Step 1- Download/Open the Lumia Offers app on your Lumia 950 or Lumia 950 XL
Step 2- On being directed to the list of offers available, consumers have to choose ‘1-year Office 365’.
Step 3- Enter the email and tap ‘continue’ for instructions to claim the subscription.
Microsoft Display Dock + HDMI cable free with Lumia 950 and Lumia 950XL
Step 1– Submit the online trade-in-claim on http://getdock.in followed by the IMEI number of the new Lumia 950/ Lumia 950 XL
Step 2- Post the IMEI validation, consumers will be directed to fill in the address details.
Step 3– An email confirmation will be sent to the consumers followed by the Display Dock and HDMI cable within 7 working days.
You can order Lumia 950 XL and Lumia 950 from Amazon India.

Microsoft considering a much improved “All Apps List” in Windows 10 Start Menu (Tablet Mode)

Microsoft recently unveiled Windows 10 Anniversary Update, the upcoming major update for Windows 10. With the upcoming update, Microsoft is expected to introduce some new features and the company will also be introducing some new UI and UX improvements. Today, the company posted a new Quest in the Feedback Hub about an improved Start Screen and Start Menu. The company is looking to improve the All Apps list in the Start Screen and Start Menu with Windows 10 Anniversary Update. Here’s a comparison between the current Start Screen and the planned UI for the improved Start Screen:
(click to enlarge)

As you can see, the upcoming/planned Start Screen includes an All Apps list which looks a lot like the one in Windows 8.1. Of course, this will only show up for tablet users using the Tablet Mode in Windows 10 and I think this will provide a better experience than the current All Apps list in a tablet. Additionally, Microsoft also posted a comparison for the Start Screen which can see below:
(click to enlarge)

As you can see, there doesn’t seem to be any major changes there — but, Microsoft moved the Power, Settings buttons to the sidebar, which is certainly interesting. Moreover, the company is killing the All Apps list in the “normal” mode for the Start Screen — to replace it, Microsoft is combining the Most Used list and the All Apps list which should provide a better user experience.
In a Sway post, Microsoft’s Peter Skillman, Brian Uphoff, Eric Papamarcos, and Jen Gentleman shared a bit more info on the design which Microsoft is considering:
You saw a sneak peak of our vision in the Build 2016 sizzle video, and we’re excited to show you more. Our goal with these changes is to simplify and make your most common tasks take fewer steps. Here’s what we’re thinking:
Start menu: This view is predominantly designed for PC. We’ve heard your feedback, and we’ve focused on consistency, efficiency, simplicity, and making better use of the space.
The All apps list is essential to understanding which apps you have on your device. We’ve elevated this list to the top level of the UI to reduce clicking & scrolling. This makes it easier to access apps in the All Apps list. It also reinforces the consistent Start experience across form factors.
Start screen: This view is predominantly designed for tablet. We’ve heard from Insiders that they feel Windows 8.1 start screen delivered a better tablet experience than what we have in Windows 10 today. We are addressing that and are looking to make the All apps list more usable in two ways:
Full-screen All apps list in tablet mode. We heard your feedback that the All apps list should be full-screen in tablet mode and explored several designs that aid efficiency while taking advantage of the additional real estate when Start is full screen. Specifically, we’re striking a balance between density and “scan-ability” (i.e. how easy it is to scan the list to find the app you want).A combined “Most used” and “All apps” list view. With this approach, we hope to address the confusion that many users felt with the two very similar list views (“Most Used” and “All apps”).As part of this improvement, we’ve also made it easier and more clear how to switch between the “Pinned Tiles” and “All apps” views by adopting the navigation pane pattern used throughout Windows.
If you want to submit your own feedback about the improved Start Screen and Start Menu, head over to this link.
Source: Microsoft

Microsoft announces support for Office Add-Ins on Office 2016 for Mac

With Office Add-ins, developers can make their solution a native part of any platform that Office supports. Using the power of the web and standard web technologies like HTML5, XML, CSS3, JavaScript, and REST APIs, they can create add-ins that interact with data in Excel, Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, Project, and Access Web Apps for SharePoint. Microsoft today announced at Build 2016 that they are adding support for Office Add-in on Office 2016 for Mac.
Find the table below for more details.

Get all the updates from Build 2016 here!

Microsoft announces preview of Azure Batch for Linux virtual machines

Azure Batch is a cloud-scale job scheduling and compute management service that makes it easy to run large-scale jobs in parallel. You can just inform Batch what kind of VM you need, how to configure them, the jobs and tasks to run, and the service takes care of the rest. At Build 2016, Microsoft announced a preview of Azure Batch for Linux virtual machines.
This brings the power of Batch “scheduling-as-a-service” to customers with Linux applications and workflows across industries and scientific research. Under the covers, Batch is using Virtual Machine Scale Sets to deploy and manage Linux virtual machines. The Batch agent that manages job and task execution on compute nodes is written in Python for portability. This compliments the support in Batch for Cloud Services. VM Scale Sets will provide us with additional features down the road such as custom VM images.
Batch provides a consistent experience for developers across Linux and Windows virtual machines with the REST API. To better enable Linux users, Microsoft has published the Batch client in the Azure Python SDK and Azure Node.js SDK. Java support will be available soon.
Get all the updates from Build 2016 here!

Microsoft adds Xamarin benefits for Visual Studio Enterprise subscribers

Microsoft today announced that Visual Studio Professional and Enterprise include Xamarin’s professional and enterprise features at no additional cost. And existing and new Visual Studio Enterprise subscribers will have access to Xamarin’s advanced enterprise capabilities for free and a discounted access to Xamarin Test Cloud.
Xamarin Studio is an IDE enabling development of iOS, Android, and Mac applications on Mac OS X. Microsoft today announced that they are creating a Community edition of Xamarin Studio for Mac and the Xamarin Studio Professional and Enterprise will be included in Visual Studio Subscriptions.
Xamarin Studio Community is free just like Visual Studio Community for eligible customers and uses. Xamarin Studio Community includes integrated native designers for iOS and Android, as well as syntax highlighting for C# and F#, code navigation and refactoring
Visual Studio Professional and Enterprise subscribers can use Professional and Enterprise editions of Xamarin Studio for Mac as a benefit of their Visual Studio subscription.
Today, Microsoft is also announcing a 25% discount on Xamarin Test Cloud for Visual Studio Enterprise subscribers (Visual Studio Enterprise with MSDN and Visual Studio Enterprise – annual).
Get all the updates from Build 2016 here!

Build 2016: Xamarin to bring an iOS emulator for Windows

At Build 2016, Microsoft announced that the company is bringing an iOS emulator in Xamarin for Windows. For those unfamiliar, Xamarin is a tool which developers can use to build cross-platform apps with C# that run on Windows, iOS and Android. At the conference, Xamarin showed off an iOS emulator inside Windows which means developers can easily build and test their cross-platform apps in Windows, without having to “invest in a chair [Mac] that spins.” For those wondering, features like multi-touch are also supported.
Get all the updates from Build 2016 here!

Microsoft Makes Xamarin Free For Visual Studio Customers

At Build 2016, Microsoft announced that Xamarin will come with Visual Studio for free. Xamarin will be in every edition of Visual Studio, including the free Visual Studio Community Edition, which is free for individual developers, open source projects, academic research, education, and small professional teams.
Develop and publish native apps for iOS and Android with C# or F# from directly within Visual Studio with no limits on app size.
For developers on the Mac, Xamarin Studio is now available as a benefit of your Visual Studio Professional or Enterprise subscription. Developers can use the newly-created Xamarin Studio Community Edition for free.
Get all the updates from Build 2016 here!

4 Indirect Ways to Improve Your Search Rankings

I know you want it…

More organic search traffic.

Who doesn’t want free, high quality traffic, that comes in month after month?

That’s why SEO is such a big deal and one of the main topics I focus on—here, on Quick Sprout.

I believe that most marketers should be dedicating a significant portion of their time and resources towards SEO.

There are many things you can do that have a direct impact on your search traffic.

However, there is more to marketing than just SEO, and you probably know that.

The thing is, they don’t have to be mutually exclusive.

Just because some of your marketing isn’t specifically done to improve search traffic, that doesn’t mean that it can’t.

And this type of situation is more common than you might think.

In this post, I’ll go over four ways that can indirectly improve your search rankings.

You can try these 4 indirect ways to improve your search rankings.

This means that the primary benefit of these marketing techniques is not to improve search traffic, but there’s a good chance that, if done right, they might help you with your search traffic too.

1. Following up with customers leads to extra benefits
This is a great place to start because there doesn’t seem to be an obvious connection to SEO.

But I assure you there is.

Getting feedback from your customers is always a great idea, but it can eat up a lot of time.

Some businesses figure they don’t have the resources to follow up continuously with customers and would rather dedicate them all to sales/marketing channels such as SEO.

However, if you get customer feedback and use it correctly, it can lead to some great backlinks in a few different ways.

Here’s the simple 2-step process you’ll need to follow:

Step #1 – Contact customers immediately after the sale: You have very few opportunities to open up communication with customers without annoying them.

After the sale is one of them.

Once someone purchases something from you, they’re usually excited to hear from you and possibly want reassurance that everything went well.

Send them an email that confirms their order and lets them know whom to contact if they need help.

Step #2 – Follow up after they’ve had time to use your product: The more important part, when it comes to potential SEO benefits, is to follow up with customers again.

Once they’ve used the product, they can tell you if they’ve had any problems or complaints. This is the main reason why you’d want to follow up—these issues are important to address if you want to retain happy customers.

In addition, ask for their feedback on their experience.

If someone says that they’re thrilled, that’s great. Then you should ask them to share their experience with others. Since they enjoyed your product or service so much, you’ll get a high percentage of these customers willing to help you out.

You have a few options that can help with SEO.

If you’d like to ask for a simple favor, ask them to leave a review on a big review site in your niche. For most niches, this will include sites such as Yelp and Yellow Pages.

Let’s look at an example of a search for a carpenter in New York:

The top result is a Yelp business page, while the second result is Yelp’s internal search results for carpenters (another search listings page).

The second is most interesting here:

This page orders businesses based on several factors, e.g., the number of reviews they have and how positive the reviews are (in addition to price).

As long as you fall into the default filters, the more good reviews you have, the higher your profile will appear.

Why does this matter for SEO?

Because the more prominent (higher) a link is on a page, the more weight it has.

This page has a lot of search engine authority (that’s why it can rank at #2), and it passes that authority mostly to the top profiles that it links to.

Those profiles all have links back to their corresponding websites, which, of course, improves those websites’ search authority.

Not only will reviews get you more direct business on these review sites, but that extra link power can help your rankings in search engines. Not by a ton, but by enough that you will notice it after a while.

The second option, which is best for high priced products, is to create a case study of the results your customer got.

Brian Dean at Backlinko does it all the time, both for his readers and actual customers:

Case studies are typically really easy to promote, and they can get a ton of traffic and links.

I’ve created an extensive guide to creating effective case studies that you should read if you take this approach.

2. Get out of your shell and go to events
Just about every industry has several conferences throughout the year. No doubt you can find a few local events to attend if you wanted to.

Now, conferences can be a huge waste of time, but they can also be incredibly valuable.

Obviously, you go primarily to learn, but a huge secondary result can be the relationships you come back with.

Events are a great way to meet other people in your industry and explore opportunities to work together.

But guess what else happens?

When you email them down the line, asking them to check out your latest piece of content, most will be happy to read it and give feedback.

What’s even better is that if they have a chance to link to it within their own content, they usually do. These links can have a big impact on your search rankings if you make several connections per event.

Finally, even if your connections don’t manage their content, they can introduce you to the content manager for their business. You can explore collaboration opportunities or offer to create guest posts for them (which will give you more links to your site).

All of these potential benefits are important if you have to convince your boss that it’s worth sending you to conferences.

Finding conferences is easy: I won’t spend much time on this, but I’ll show you quickly how to find conferences.

Start by Googling:

(industry) conferences (year)

You could also try “events” instead of conferences:

Typically, you’ll find a roundup of all the best events, often multiple.

Each of these results will give you a listing of events, separated by date, location, and audience:

I recommend going through more than one list so that you don’t miss any good ones.

Remember that conferences can be either worthless or extremely valuable. The difference depends on how you spend your time at them.

That’s why I wrote the Beginner’s Guide to Conferences in the past. Give it a quick read.

3. Hire the best help you can get
If you’re truly creating “epic” content, chances are that you’re not doing everything on your own.

In most cases, you’re hiring freelance writers and designers to help fill in any gaps in your skillset.

Obviously, if you’re hiring the best freelancers you can afford, it’s because you primarily want to create great content.

That kind of content is the easiest to get to rank.

However, the very act of hiring freelancers will make it easier.

Let me explain…

Type #1 – Writers: Whether you hire a freelancer or offer them an attractive opportunity to collaborate, these relationships will often get you some extra high-quality backlinks.

A good set of examples are my ultimate guides (sidebar of Quick Sprout). For these guides, I teamed up with experts in each of the subjects.

I had some help from Kathryn Aragon writing The Advanced Guide to Content Marketing, for example:

When someone helps create a piece of content of that quality, they, of course, want to show it off.

How?

By talking about it and linking to it.

It makes them look great to say they wrote or co-wrote an amazing piece of content.

Because of this, I didn’t have to ask Kathryn to link to the guide; she’s mentioned it dozens of times in her posts on other sites and social media (linking to it most of the time):

Essentially, your writer will help you with the content promotion.

Type #2 – Designers: More commonly, marketers hire freelance designers to help create images for content.

The exact same principle applies here:

If you hire a freelancer to create something great, they will want to show it off in their portfolio, leading to great backlinks for your content.

Continuing with the example of my guides, I needed professional help to design them.

My designer had accounts on sites such as Behance and Dribbble, both of which are authoritative sites in the design niche.

Of course, they shared the images with links to those guides:

Those links are the indirect benefit of working with great freelancers.

4. User experience optimization is a great use of your time
Creating a great user experience on your site and with your products is valuable for many reasons.

Typically, the main motivation for working on improving your users’ experience has to do with the conversion rate. It’s a good reason.

What most don’t consider is that this often inadvertently plays a big role in improving search rankings.

There are a few reasons why, but most applicable here is the concept of pogo sticking.

Basically, if a Google user clicks on your page but then goes right back to the search results for another, it indicates to Google that your content didn’t satisfy the user.

Conversely, if most users stop on your page, you did a good job and are rewarded with better search rankings.

If you improve the user experience of your website, you’ll usually end up increasing the number of visitors that you fully satisfy, decreasing pogo sticking. This can indirectly improve your rankings.

User experience is extremely complicated, but there are three common factors we can focus on and look at the ways they affect pogo sticking.

Factor #1 – page load speed: Studies have shown that people will not wait for pages to load.

Even a fraction of a second can affect 5-10% of people who will leave before they even see your content.

Ideally, you want your pages to load in less than 2 seconds.

You can test page load speed by using the Quick Sprout tool or a tool such as GTmetrix.

Improving page load speed will have a huge effect on pogo sticking, but it’s also a direct ranking factor confirmed by Google.

It’s not a huge one, but factoring both of these aspects together, speed can make a big difference in rankings.

Searchmetrics found a huge correlation between a quick load time and the top Google positions:

Factor #2 – clutter: One thing that makes a big difference in user experience is the amount of clutter on the page.

Most people are looking for one specific thing, so everything that’s unrelated on the page only serves as a distraction.

Compare that to a site like Medium, where the content is essentially the only thing on the page:

It’s no surprise that Medium posts rank well in Google. When a user clicks through, they easily find exactly what they’re looking for, leading to less pogo sticking.

Try to declutter your layouts as much as possible, taking out anything that your visitors don’t need to see.

Factor #3 – site architecture: Site architecture refers to the way all the different pages of your website are organized in relation to each other.

For our purposes, good site architecture essentially means you have organized internal linking.

Here’s what a good structure looks like:

Everything is organized into topical silos.

When search engines crawl the site, it will be easier for them to determine the relevancy of your pages, which often leads to better rankings.

Conclusion
By all means, you should spend a lot of time and resources directly on SEO.

However, you can still focus on other areas of your business while also getting SEO benefits.

I’ve shown you four great business practices that accomplish valuable things plus give you indirect improvements to your search rankings.

I encourage you to incorporate as many of these as you can, without fearing that you’re neglecting your SEO work.

If you have any questions about the subject of this post, let me know in a comment below.