Month: July 2018

The Advanced SEO Formula That Helped Me Rank For 477,000 Keywords

Can you guess how many keywords I rank for?

Well, you are probably going to say 477,000 because I used that number in the title of this post. 😉

And it’s true, just look at the screenshot from Ahrefs. It shows the number of keywords I rank for.

But what’s crazy is that I am in a super competitive niche… digital marketing.

So, are you wondering how I did it?

Well, it starts with proper keyword research.

See most marketers start their keyword research with tools like SEMrush or Ubersuggest and they type in a keyword like “SEO”. You then get a list back with hundreds of keyword suggestions with cost per click and competition data.

And once you have a list of keywords you like, you probably do what most marketers do, which is to start inserting them into your website or creating content around the keywords.

Does this process sound familiar?

Well, of course, it does because that’s what everyone has been teaching you to do.

But what’s wrong with this?

This process is like gambling…..

The Most Vital SEO Strategy I Learned Came From a Google Employee

I don’t think I am the best SEO out there. And I am not the most well-known SEO.

But when you have been doing SEO as long as I have, eventually you meet most of the players in the space.

And over the years, I’ve met a lot of Google employees. Some of them were in high positions, while others were not.

Out of all of the Google employees I met, none of them told me anything that shouldn’t be made public. And I also never put anyone in a position that would compromise their job.

But what was crazy is that the SEO advice I got on August, 2015, from a Google employee changed my life.

And what’s even crazier is that the advice I got on that particular day, is probably known by almost every SEO out there, but I bet less than .01% of SEOs use this strategy.

In other words, a Google employee shared knowledge that was readily available on any major search blog, yet I was too lazy to implement what I already knew.

So what did I learn?
Well, before I go into what I learned, lets first share..

Writing Content That Is Too In-Depth Is Like Throwing Money Out the Window

You’ve heard people telling you that you need to write in-depth content because that’s what Google wants.

And it’s true… the average page that ranks on page 1 of Google contains 1,890 words.

But you already know that.

The question is, should you be writing 2,000-word articles? 5,000? Or maybe even go crazy and create ultimate guides that are 30,000 words?

What’s funny is, I have done it all.

I’ve even tested out adding custom images and illustrations to these in-depth articles to see if that helps.

And of course, I tested if having one super long page with tens of thousands of words or having multiple pages with 4,000 or 5,000 words is better.

So, what do you think? How in-depth should your content be?

Well, let’s first look at my first marketing blog, Quick Sprout.

Short articles don’t rank well
With Quick Sprout, it started off just like any normal blog.

I would write 500 to 1,000-word blog posts and Google loved me.

Just look at my traffic during January 2011.

As you can..

Why I Spent $500,000 Buying a Blog That Generates No Revenue

(If you are wondering, the image of me above was taken when I used to work at KISSmetrics with Hiten Shah… I used to have hair)

In early January 2017, I purchased the KISSmetrics website for $500,000.

If you go to the site, you’ll notice that it forwards here to (which I will get into later in the post).

The $500,000 didn’t get me the company, KISSmetrics, or any of the revenue streams. The parent company, Space Pencil, is continually improving and developing the product.

And on top of that, there are restrictions. I can’t just pop up a competing company or any company on the KISSmetrics site.

So why did they sell me the domain? And why would I pay $500,000 for it?

I can’t fully answer why they sold it, but I do know a lot of their customers came from word of mouth, conferences, paid ads, and other forms of marketing that didn’t include SEO or content marketing.

For that reason, the domain probably wasn’t as valuable to them as it was to me. And of course, who woul..

The Future of SEO: It’s Not What You’re Expecting

What do you think the future of SEO is?

And no, I am not talking about what Google will look like 10 years from now… I’m talking about how you’ll be able to rank your site in the future.

You know, that one thing that’ll just skyrocket your rankings.

So, what do you think it is?

I can tell you this… it’s not link building and it’s not on-page SEO.

Sure, those things help, but they don’t skyrocket your rankings. When you build links, it can take months if not a year for them to kick in.

And everyone is doing on-page SEO, so there is nothing unique about it anymore.

So, what do you think it is? Shall I give you a hint?

The accidental SEO hack
I stumbled on the “future” of SEO by accident. Back in March 2016, I was able to take my traffic from 185,980 visitors a month to 195,596 a month.

And it all happened within 30 days.

Here was my traffic in February 2016:

After I ran my accidental marketing experiment, my traffic grew by 9,616 visitors (to 195,596 monthly visitors in March..

You Are Doing Your Marketing Wrong (and I Have the Data to Prove It)

You know what’s interesting about having an ad agency?

It’s that you get to talk to companies of all sizes and learn what causes them to grow.

And I know what you are thinking… “Neil, shouldn’t you be the one telling companies how to grow”?

Technically, yes. And I do.

But at the same time, I need to analyze what a company has done so far to come up with the best marketing strategy for them.

And the sad reality is, most marketers and companies are focusing on the wrong things. (I’ll go over how to fix it later in this post.)

Over the last 7 months, I talked to 208 companies to find out where they are spending their marketing efforts and what’s working. And best of all, I got the approval to share their data with you. 🙂

I talked to companies generating anywhere from one million dollars in yearly revenue to $291 million.

I avoided talking to companies less than a million in revenue because most of them weren’t doing much marketing. And I avoided talking to companies generating ove..

Finding Dead CSS

During a performance workshop I was running this week, I was reminded of
a technique for finding dead CSS on a live site. Note that I’m purposely not
using the phrase ‘unused CSS’, but ‘dead CSS’—the specific scenario I’m
describing looks a little like this:

Imagine you have a large, long-running project that contains hundreds of
thousands of lines of code, contributed by dozens of developers across many
different teams. Not only are you very, very likely to have unused CSS, you’re
also likely to have completely dead code: entire features that have been
decommissioned but whose code was never deleted; dead ends in the application
that are quite hard to find; pages on the site that may be impossible for a user
to reach, but whose legacy lives on.

How do we go about identifying this dead code? Tools like
uncss, although very powerful, don’t quite
fit the bill. What we need is an almost
RUM-like solution—how can
we see what code users actually see on-screen on a live site?

It turns out..

Measuring the Hard-to-Measure

Last night I gave a performance-oriented talk at the wonderful
DaFED event in Novi Sad, Serbia. In the talk, I go into
detail about third parties, and how they can have tremendous negative impact on
our performance. I also mention that, sometimes, it’s more important to think
about resilience than speed. For example, what happens to us if a third party
script fails to load? Can we recover from that? What happens if a third party
has an outage? Do we suffer the effects of it?

This led to a great question from Dragan along
the lines of Nowadays, how important is it to test sites with JavaScript
disabled? It’s certainly a thought-provoking question, but I won’t be going
into my answer in this post. Instead, I want to talk about being able to measure
just how many users do have JavaScript disabled. Most analytics software is
powered by JavaScript, so detecting JavaScript becomes self-fulfillingly
impossible. I want to share an incredibly quick tip to measure how many of your
users turn up..

My Digital Music Setup

I want to begin this post with a disclaimer: I’m not an audiophile, and I don’t
claim to be particularly knowledgable when it comes to music technology. If
I sound like I don’t have a clue what I’m talking about, that’s probably because
I don’t. That said, perhaps this article might provide some use to people
looking to get a better handle on their digital setup: I know I would have
certainly appreciated a post like this when I was setting out.


I listen to a lot of music. Last year I logged over 70,000 minutes of listening
time. That’s almot 50 non-stop days. 90% of that listening is digital audio from
Spotify. When I’m on the move I’m almost constantly plugged into some music.
This is usually in the form of Spotify offline playlists, but over some decent
quality earphones (see below). At home, I’m used to just
streaming Spotify through an Amazon Echo.

Here are my top five most-played tracks of 2017’s 70,000 minutes:

However, after recently discussing one of my all-time ..

Identifying, Auditing, and Discussing Third Parties

A large part of my performance consultancy work is auditing and subsequently
governing third-party scripts, dependencies, and their providers. Uncovering
these third-parties isn’t always so straightforward, and discussing them with
the internal teams responsible (more often than not, the Marketing Department)
is usually quite sensitive and often uncomfortable: after all, approaching
a third-party vendors, or your marketing team, and telling them that their
entire day job is detrimental to performance is never going to be well-received.

In order to help me have these awkward discussions—and it’s often my job as
a consultant to be the one having them—I lean on a number of tools to help make
the topic as objective and straightforward as possible. I want to share them
with you.


The single most useful tool I make use of when it comes to simply identifying
third parties is Simon Hearne’s indispensable
Request Map. The workflow around this tool
is pretty straightforward:


Scroll to Top