Tuesday, May 21, 2019

How I Gain 1,260 Instagram Followers Per Week


Do you want to be instafamous?

Well, who doesn’t?

Over the last few months, I’ve been running numerous Instagram experiments and I’ve finally figured out how to grow my Instagram following.

My Neil Patel account has been growing by 1,260 followers per week.

follower growth

And I know what you are thinking… Neil, you are already well known, this can’t be replicated by anyone else.


Well, not only did we test this strategy out on my profile, but we also did it on 2 other profiles.

It works no matter what industry you are in. Heck, it works even better if you aren’t in B2B like me.

Just look at Dhavalilama. His likes per image have been growing by just using the heart trick, which I will explain in a bit, and he isn’t using my whole strategy. :/

So, how do you gain more Instagram followers each week without spending money?

Tip #1: Instagram wants long videos

You’ve heard everyone say that you need to upload videos. Social networks like Instagram aren’t just competing with other social networks, they are competing with traditional media and even companies like Netflix for your attention.

If you upload videos, you’ll find that you’ll get more engagement than if you just upload images.

But the key isn’t to just upload any video… it ideally needs to be engaging and long.

By long I am not talking about a 60-second video, I’m talking minutes. You’ll have to leverage IGTV for this, but that’s what they want as not enough people are using that feature.

Hence, if you use IGTV, they’ll push your video more.

That way when someone is watching a 5-minute video you just posted, they’ll be able to watch the first 60 seconds on their feed and then they’ll be pushed over to IGTV.

All you have to do is upload the video to IGTV and select the “post a preview” option.


What this does is, it uploads the video to IGTV and then also promotes the video through your feed.

Just look at this video that I only posted on IGTV.


It had 236 views before writing this blog post.

When I posted that video, I had 9,078 followers, which means I had an engagement rate of 2.59%.

Now if you look at this video that I posted…


It had 2,971 views before writing this blog post.

When I posted that video I had 21,047 followers, which means I had an engagement rate of 14.11%.

What’s crazy is, that one simple change increased my video engagement by 444%.

Tip #2: Ask and you will receive

Instagram’s algorithm is simple… the more views and likes your videos and images receive, the more people will see them, which increases engagement and your follower count over time.

There’s not too much more to the algorithm.

Of course, they are looking at things like what percentage of your followers actually engage… but still, the algorithm from a conceptual standpoint is simple.

So, have you thought about asking for people to “like” your image?

Now with Instagram, people are using it via their cell phone so it’s more of a “double tap” than a like… but you get the point.

On average, when I post an image on Instagram I can generate 945.6 likes.

Here’s an example of one of those images:

neil patel quote

And as you can see from the engagement, that one did better than most of my images as it has over 1,000 likes.

Plus, the messaging resonates with a lot of people.

But here is one that is simple…

double tap

I just asked people to “double tap” if they need to improve their video skills.

It didn’t take much creativity to come up with that image and it received 1,441 likes. In other words, it produced 51.96% more engagement.

You should give it a try… I tend to use this tactic a few times a month and it works really well.

Just be careful though, if you use it every day or every week, people will get sick of it and it will stop working. Hence, I only use it a few times a month max.

Tip #3: Go live

Did I already mention that Instagram is competing with television networks and Netflix?

Because of that, what kind of content do you think they want more of?

Well, yes they want more video content, but we already talked about that.

They want more live content.

Think… reality TV.

Now the live content you produce doesn’t have to be like Keeping up with the Kardashians… they just want live content that people are looking forward to viewing.

You know how you will tune into shows like American Idol or the latest soccer or football match because it’s live and you want to see what’s happening in real time? That’s the effect Instagram is hoping for with live content.

Now, when you go live, Instagram is promoting it heavily so you’ll get more viewers. It doesn’t matter what you talk about… they just want to see more people go live.

Every time I go live, I am able to get at least 1,000 views. Just look at the live I just did…


In the first 6 hours, it’s already received 718 views and I did this live session on a Sunday during non-peak hours. Within the first 24 hours, it will easily surpass 1000 views.

In other words, go live! It’s a simple and quick way to grow your following count. Ideally, you should be going live on a weekly basis.

Heck, you can’t go live too much… feel free to go live daily.

Tip #4: Respond to comments

This one is simple, but no one really does it.

Social networks are supposed to be social. That means you should participate.

And no, I am not talking about just liking other images and viewing videos. I’m talking about engaging with people and talking to them.

So, when you like something that someone else posts, leave a comment.

And when someone leaves a comment on one of your posts… what do you think you should do?

You should respond to them with a comment.

Now, let’s look at some of my posts for a minute. You’ll see decent engagement, but more so, you’ll see me being very active.


Just look at all of my responses.

By engaging with people, you’re more likely to build a relationship with these individuals, which makes it more likely that they will back and continually engage with your posts.

Tip #5: The heart trick

Alright, are you ready for the heart trick? You know, the one Dhavalilama has been using to boost his like count by 300%.

The concept is simple, but it will take a bit of finesse to implement.

A part of Instagram’s algorithm is how much engagement you get from other Instagram users within the first hour of you posting anything.

Now, I’ve done a lot of tests with this… if you can get Instagram users who have more followers than you to like your image or video when it first goes live you’ll find that your content is much more likely to show up on the discovery page.

From a lot of testing, here’s what seems to be the most effective:

  • Get people with larger following accounts to like your image or video within the first hour it comes out.
  • Ask them to not like anything else within that hour. We’ve found that if they like too many images or videos it doesn’t work.
  • And if they are feeling extra generous, have them leave a comment.

The heart trick isn’t that complex, but it is hard to implement because you have to convince users who are more popular than you to like your content right when you publish.

And ideally, you need 6 people who have large accounts (the bigger the better), for this to work extremely well.

Tip #6: Create multiple stories each day

What do Tai Lopez, Gary Vaynerchuk, and Grant Cardone have in common?

Well, other than the fact that they all have over a million Instagram followers…

They all post a ton of stories per day.

And when I mean a ton, sometimes they are posting over 20 stories a day… literally.

The more stories you post, the more engagement you’ll create, which will lead to more followers.

Just look at the stats from the stories I just posted:

story instagram

I can generate over 1,000 views within 8 hours of posting a story and generally in the range of 1,600 to 2,000 views within 24 hours.

The same story 23 hours later received 1870 views.

story 23 hours

Here are some things to keep in mind if you want to maximize stories:

  1. Don’t post all of your stories at once, spread them out throughout the day. This will cause people to keep coming back and engaging with your profile.
  2. Use a combination of both images and videos within your stories. Overall, you’ll find that videos create more engagement.
  3. The more stories you publish, the better off you are.
  4. Add polls to your stories, this also helps boost engagement.


Tip #7: Quality matters

Have you noticed that some images get more likes than others? Or certain videos get more engagement?

Instagram is a visual social network. So the visual part is important… you want your images and videos to look great no matter what.

Now, they don’t have to be perfect, but you do want to make sure you are posting images that people enjoy.

Here’s what I mean…

When you look at my profile, you’ll see a ton of images of me that contain quotes.

instagram profile

Some of those images perform really well, while others don’t. For example, every time I post a quote using this image template…

bad template

It gets 21.4% less engagement then when I use this template…

good template

Keep track of what your followers like and don’t like. Post more of what they like and stop posting the stuff that has low engagement.

Tip #8: Test, test, test

Speaking of posting more of what your followers like and less of what they don’t, you need to constantly test.

Even though quality matters, when you are testing you shouldn’t aim for perfection. Just aim for speed.

Once you find something that people like, do more of it.

For example, I ask people to double tap as I talked about in tip number 2 because I learned it through testing.

heart tap

Here are some other things I’ve learned through testing:

  • Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication – people prefer clean images that are simple.
  • Use bright colors – images that are darker, such as night photography don’t perform as well.
  • Switch things up – if you do the same thing every week you’ll find your engagement starting to drop.
  • People want to get to know you – they don’t want to get to know the Photoshop version of you. Be realistic and personal. Connect with your followers.
  • Filters don’t matter – don’t waste too much time modifying or adjusting your images. Little things like filters don’t make the biggest difference.
  • Hashtags aren’t game changing – I know everyone says you have to use hashtags and you should here and there… but they aren’t game-changing. So don’t spam and use 20 hashtags per image you post. And when you do use them, pick relevant and popular ones. You can use Ubersuggest to figure out what keywords are popular.
  • Use Instagram analytics – it tells you when your followers are online so you know when to post. If you post when they are online you’ll get much more engagement.

A good example of a test I’ve run is when I post on my feed. As you can see from my stats…


My followers are most likely to be on Instagram at 9am. So I try to post around that time, which has helped me get 8.41% more likes per image.

Every little bit adds up!


You don’t have to spend money on ads to grow your Instagram following. If you follow the tips above, you’ll do well and find that you can grow your weekly following count by over 1,000 net new followers each week.

Now, I know you may not want to use Instagram because it doesn’t have you “ideal” audience, but you can drive conversions from Instagram.

For example, when I went live on Instagram and I told the audience to check out my ad agency Neil Patel Digital, I was able to generate 2 leads.

Neither of the leads were ideal customers, but it is a numbers game. If I continually do it I will be able to generate clients.

In the past, I have closed 3 deals from Instagram… one paid $120,000, the other paid $1,000,000, and the last paid $300,000.

They were all consulting arrangements, so I had substantial costs associated with the revenue, but it shows that Instagram does work.

Heck, if it didn’t, I wouldn’t be back on Instagram again (this is my 3rd profile, I no longer use the other 2).

You can also use the swipe up feature to drive people to your site and this will help you generate leads and sales.

So, what do you think about Instagram? Are you using it on a daily basis?

The post How I Gain 1,260 Instagram Followers Per Week appeared first on Neil Patel.

Monday, May 20, 2019

How to Use Heading Tags to Get More Search Engine Traffic

I wrote a ton of blog posts.

Over the last year alone, I’ve published a minimum of three blogs per week here at Quick Sprout. Some weeks it was even more, at times with multiple posts per day.

If you’ve been reading my blogs for a while now, you know that everything I produce is long-form content—just like the post you’re currently reading.

This means it falls somewhere in the 1.800-3,000+ word range. I’m not writing quick 500-word pieces for the sake of publishing at a high rate.

Over the years, I’ve covered lots of in-depth topics about content marketing, website optimization, conversions, SEO, and other related subjects. But today I want to share with you a seemingly small and subtle SEO hack that can drastically improve the performance of your content.

I’m referring to heading tags.

Some of you might be more familiar with these than others. I’m sure some of you even use them in your posts, whether you realize their SEO value or not.

I use heading tags in everything that I publish, including this post that you’re reading right now.

In fact, you’ll see them throughout the post as we continue. I’ll make sure to bring attention to them so you know exactly what I’m talking about. So follow along this guide to see how you can improve your content with heading tags.

What is a heading tag?

Before we go any further, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page here. So far in this guide, I’ve used two heading tags:

  • H1 for the title at the top of the page (How to Use Heading Tags to Get More Search Engine Traffic)
  • H2 for this subsection (What is a heading tag?)

There will be several more used throughout the guide as well.

By definition, these are HTML tags that specify headers on a website. Let me break that definition down for you even further.

HTML (hypertext markup language) is the language used to create pages on websites. Tags are the code that tells a web browser how the content should be displayed on the page. There are six types of heading tags; H1-H6.

Each tag can be ranked from highest to lowest in the order of significance, which is clearly illustrated by the size.

Heading Tags

You can add these tags to your content before you publish your work.

Here at Quick Sprout, we use WordPress. But I don’t typically write my blogs directly in that platform. I work in Google Docs, just because I think it’s more user-friendly for writing long-form content.

Whether you’re using Docs, Microsoft Word, or another platform to produce content, you’ll be able to find those header options in the menu bar. Here’s what it looks like in Google Docs:

Google Docs Heading Tags

It’s very straightforward.

The options for H4 and higher won’t appear until after you add H3 tags to your content.

Here’s what the tags look like if you’re working directly in WordPress.

Wordpress Heading Tags

Again, it’s about as straightforward as it gets.

You can verify that the headers are applied properly into your content by viewing the source code of a page. In WordPress, just switch from the visual editor to the text editor to see the HTML code.

You can also view the source code of any page, even after it’s been published.

For example, let’s look at some previously published content here at Quick Sprout. Here is a post I wrote about online marketing for beginners.

Heading Tag Example

I’ve pointed out the different headers above. I’m sure you’re used to seeing content like this (especially on Quick Sprout).

Now, you might look at this and just think the font is larger. All of the main text is written in size 11, the title is size 20, and the subheader is size 16. While this might be the case, it’s not that simple.

Changing the size of the font alone doesn’t equate to a heading tag.

If you check the source code of the page, you’ll see what I mean.

Right click on any web page to see the source code. In fact, you can do it with what you’re reading right now. Then just click “view page source” and it will bring you to the source code. Here’s what that looks like for the Beginners Guide to Online Marketing.

Heading Tag Html Code

Finding those h tags in the source code is like a needle in a haystack. So use “command + f” to your advantage. Then just search for h1, h2, h3, etc…

I pointed out the tags to make it obvious.

As you can see, H1 tags were used for the title, and an H3 tag was used for the first subheader on the page.

SEO value for heading tags

Now let’s get into how heading tags are connected to SEO. By the way, here’s another heading tag (above) that I used for this subsection.

There has been a debate for quite some time amongst SEO experts about how much of an impact heading tags actually have on SEO.

You can’t compare their value to things like domain authority or backlinks, but heading tags still play a factor in your search ranking. That’s because they make it easier for search engines to read and interpret your content.

If you just have big walls of text without subheaders, it’s going to be difficult for bots to know what your page is about.

This can be compared to your overall website architecture as well.

Just like your homepage and top-level content have a hierarchy that makes it easy for crawlers to index pages, the heading tags explain the importance of topics on the page.

Without headers, you’re relying on search engines to take all of your text at the same face value, which won’t help your search ranking.

John Mueller, the senior webmaster trends analyst at Google was quoted saying that Google uses H tags to understand the structure of text on a page.

So it’s clear that they provide some SEO value.

Furthermore, research from the Hook Agency shows some of the most important factors of on-page SEO.

Important SEO Factors

Two of the top ten factors are related to your heading tags.

I’ve found some really great case studies on the web that back up this claim as well. Here’s one of my favorites conducted by Search Eccentric.

The study is about a company called Motorcars Ltd.

They’ve been in business for over 40 years, but in the digital era, they struggled to rank in search engines for their keywords. After analyzing the website, it was clear that there was plenty that could be improved upon.

One of the things that they changed was adding H1 and H2 tags to the site.

The purpose of this was to improve the visibility and make the content more SEO friendly; simple, right? Take a look at the results of this tactic.

The changes had a huge impact on their search results.

Ranking Improvements

After the heading tags were added, the company held the top ranking spot for two of their targeted keywords. They held a top three position for five of their top keywords.

As you can see from the chart, they jumped hundreds of ranking spots.

Now, all of this can’t be attributed to the header tags alone. They also removed dead links and fixed some navigation issues. But the heading tags definitely played a huge role in their success.

How heading tags impact user experience

In addition to the SEO benefits of heading tags, adding these to your site will also help improve the user experience.

As a result, you’ll get more traffic to your site, frequent repeat visitors, and people will stay on your site for longer stretches of time. This simultaneously adds more SEO value as well.

How can heading tags benefit visitors on your website?

For starters, it just makes your content cleaner and more organized. 43% of people say that they skim blog posts. You need to make your content easy to skim by adding headers.

Take this post you’re reading now as an example.

Let’s say you already knew what heading tags were before you started reading. You may not think it’s necessary to read the first section. It would be very easy for you to skip over it because the tags are clear.

But if I eliminated all heading tags from the post, it would create a large wall of text that is extremely difficult to read. Here’s an example to show you what I mean.

No Heading Tag Example

This content is not scannable, and it’s just one excerpt of several pages in the same format.

Now, let’s look at another example, only this time with heading tags used by Conversion XL.


This is much easier to scan, and it’s visually appealing.

Now, is it possible to get this same effect just by making the font bigger and bolder? Sure, but why wouldn’t you take advantage of the header tags to get the SEO benefits as well?

In case you’re wondering if these are actual heading tags or just larger font, I checked the source code to prove it.

Conversion-XL code

As you can see, they used H2s and H3s for this part of the post. Although it’s not pictured in this screenshot, an H1 tag was used for the title.

Heading tags best practices

Now that you know why you need to add heading tags on your website, I’ll go through some of the best practices to follow.

Each best practice on my list is going to have a heading tag as well. You’ll see what I mean as you continue reading.

Only use one H1 tag per page

H1 tags should be saved for the title.

By default, the title of your post should automatically become an H1. But you can view the page source code and the text editor to verify that.

If for some reason that’s not the case, you can always add it in yourself.

The idea here is that the H1 tag is the most important. Adding more than one will not only be less visually appealing, but it could potentially confuse crawlers when they’re indexing your content.

Use natural keywords in headers

When possible, you’ll always want to have keywords in your headers.

However, it’s a common misconception that every heading tag needs to be stuffed with keywords. That’s just not the case.

As with all of the content you create, the text needs to be natural and readable. If you can get some keywords in there, that’s great. If not, don’t try to force it.

A great resource for finding keywords to put in your headers is Google. Just scroll to the bottom of the page and look for related searches.

Let’s say you were writing a blog post about the benefits of yoga. Here’s what those related searches look like.

Search Examples

These keywords could be potential H2s or H3s of your post.

You wouldn’t put “benefits of yoga Wikipedia” in one of your headers, because that’s not natural and doesn’t make sense. But things like yoga benefits for men, benefits of yoga in the morning, or how to maximize yoga benefits would all be appropriate.

Use heading tags generously

Some people will tell you to use heading tags sparingly, but I think that’s another misconception.

I’m not saying you should have them every other line, but use them as you see fit. If a post calls for three, then use three. If it calls for 10 or 20, then use 10 or 20.

In most cases, the longer a post is, the more heading tags you can use.

Google Advice

Here’s another quote from John Mueller at Google. He says you can use as many heading tags as you want.

Again, I’d still stick with just one H1 tag. But for H2, H3 (and so on), use as many as you need.

In most cases, I don’t find it necessary to go beyond H3 or H4. SEO aside, I think that’s too complex for the reader. So find other ways to organize your content instead.

You could always use bold or italics to emphasize something, as opposed to getting all the way to H6.


Heading tags are a subtle, yet powerful, SEO hack.

In addition to showcasing important content to search engine crawlers, they also make it easier for website visitors to consume content on your page.

I highly recommend adding heading tags to your content. As you can see from this blog, I use them all of the time.

So use this post as a reference for implementing heading tags and following the best practices.


Friday, May 17, 2019

How to Optimize Your Robots.txt File

SEO goes far and beyond keyword research and building backlinks. There is also a technical side of SEO that will largely impact your search ranking.

This is an area where your robots.txt file will become a factor.

In my experience, most people aren’t too familiar with robots.txt files and don’t know where to begin. That’s what inspired me to create this guide.

Let’s start with the basics. What exactly is a robots.txt file?

When a search engine bot is crawling a website, it uses the robots.txt file to determine what parts of the site need to be indexed.

Sitemaps are hosted in your root folder and in the robots.txt file. You create a sitemap to make it easier for search engines to index your content.

Think of your robots.txt file like a guide or instruction manual for bots. It’s a guide that has rules that they need to follow. These rules will tell crawlers what they’re allowed to view (like the pages on your sitemap) and what parts of your site are restricted.

If your robots.txt file isn’t optimized properly, it can cause major SEO problems for your website.

That’s why it’s important for you to understand exactly how this works and what you need to do to ensure that this technical component of your website is helping you, as opposed to hurting you.

Find your robots.txt file

Before you do anything, the first step is verifying that you have a robots.txt file to begin with. Some of you probably never came here before.

The easiest way to see if your site already has one is by putting your website’s URL into a web browser, followed by /robots.txt.

Here’s what it looks like for Quick Sprout.

Quicksprout Robots.txt

When you do this, one of three things will happen.

  1. You’ll find a robots.txt file that looks something like the one above. (Although if you’ve never taken the time to optimize it, then it probably isn’t as in-depth).
  2. You’ll find a robots.txt file that’s completely blank, but at least set up.
  3. You’ll get a 404 error because that page doesn’t exist.

Most of you will likely fall into the top two scenarios. You shouldn’t get a 404 error because the majority of websites will have a robots.txt file setup by default when the site was created. Those default settings should still be there if you’ve never made any changes.

To create or edit this file, just navigate to the root folder of your website.

Modify your robots.txt content

For the most part, you normally don’t want to mess around with this too much. It’s not something that you’re going to be altering on a frequent basis.

The only reason why you would want to add something to your robots.txt file is if there are certain pages on your website that you don’t want bots to crawl and index.

You need to get familiar with the syntax used for commands. So open up a plain text editor to write the syntax.

I’ll cover the syntax that’s most commonly used.

First, you need to identify the crawlers. This is referred to as the User-agent.

User-agent: *

This syntax above refers to all search engine crawlers (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.)

User-agent: Googlebot

As the name implies, this value is speaking directly to Google’s crawlers.

After you identify the crawler, you can allow or disallow content on your site. Here’s an example that we saw earlier in the Quick Sprout robots.txt file.

User-agent: *

Disallow: /wp-content/

This page is used for our administrative backend for WordPress. So this command tells all crawlers (User-agent: *) not to crawl that page. There’s no reason for the bots to waste time crawling that.

So let’s say you want to tell all bots not to crawl this specific page on your website. http://www.yourwebsite.com/samplepage1/

The syntax would look like this:

User-agent: *

Disallow: /samplepage1/

Here’s another example:

Disallow: /*.gif$

This would block a specific file type (in this case .gif). You can refer to this chart from Google for more common rules and examples.

Common Robot.txt Rules and Examples

The concept is very straightforward.

If you want to disallow pages, files, or content on your site from all crawlers (or specific crawlers) then you just need to find the proper syntax command and add it to your plain text editor.

Once you’ve finished writing the commands, simply copy and paste that into your robots.txt file.

Why the robots.txt file needs to be optimized

I know what some of you are thinking. Why in the world would I want to mess around with any of this?

Here’s what you need to understand. The purpose of your robots.txt file isn’t to completely block pages or site content from a search engine.

Instead, you’re just trying to maximize the efficiency of their crawl budgets. All you’re doing is telling the bots that they don’t need to crawl pages that aren’t made for the public.

Here’s a summary of how Google’s crawl budget works.

It’s broken down into two parts:

  1. Crawl rate limit
  2. Crawl demand

The crawl rate limit represents how many connections a crawler can make to any given site. This also includes the amount of time between fetches.

Websites that respond quickly have a higher crawl rate limit, which means they can have more connections with the bot. On the other hand, sites that slow down as the result of crawling will not be crawled as frequently.

Sites are also crawled based on demand. This means that popular websites are crawled on a more frequent basis. On the flip side, sites that aren’t popular or updated frequently won’t be crawled as often, even if the crawl rate limit has not been met.

By optimizing your robots.txt file, you’re making the job of the crawlers much easier. According to Google, these are some examples of elements that affect crawl budgets:

  • Session identifiers
  • Faceted navigation
  • Error pages
  • Pages that have been hacked
  • Duplicate content
  • Infinite spaces and proxies
  • Low-quality content
  • Spam

By using the robots.txt file to disallow this type of content from crawlers, it ensures that they spend more time discovering and indexing the top content on your website.

Here’s a visual comparison of sites with and without an optimized robots.txt file.

Robots.txt Visual Comparison

A search engine crawler will spend more time, and therefore more of the crawl budget, on the left website. But the site on the right ensures that only the top content is being crawled.

Here’s a scenario where you’d want to take advantage of the robots.txt file.

As I’m sure you know, duplicate content is harmful to SEO. But there are certain times when it’s necessary to have on your website. For example, some of you might have printer-friendly versions of specific pages. That’s duplicate content. So you can tell bots not to crawl that printer-friendly page by optimizing your robots.txt syntax.

Testing your robots.txt file

Once you’ve found, modified, and optimized your robots.txt file, it’s time to test everything to make sure that it’s working properly.

In order to do this, you’ll need to sign into your Google Webmasters account. Navigate to “crawl” from your dashboard.

Webmaster Tools Crawl

This will expand the menu.

Once expanded, you’re going to look for the “robots.txt Tester” option.

Robots.txt Tester

Then simply click the “test” button in the bottom right corner of the screen.

Robots.txt Test

If there are any problems, you can just edit the syntax directly in the tester. Continue running the tests until everything is smooth.

Be aware that changes made in the tester do not get saved to your website. So you’ll need to make sure you copy and paste any changes into your actual robots.txt file.

It’s also worth noting that this tool is only for testing Google bots and crawlers. It won’t be able to predict how other search engines will read your robots.txt file.

Considering that Google controls 89.95% of the global search engine market share, I don’t think you need to run these tests using any other tools. But I’ll leave that decision up to you.

Robots.txt best practices

Your robots.txt file needs to be named “robots.txt” in order to be found. It’s case-sensitive, meaning Robots.txt or robots.TXT would not be acceptable.

The robots.txt file must always be in the root folder of your website in a top-level directory of the host.

Anyone can see your robots.txt file. All they need to do is type in the name of your website URL with /robots.txt after the root domain to view it. So don’t use this to be sneaky or deceptive, since it’s essentially public information.

For the most part, I wouldn’t recommend making specific rules for different search engine crawlers. I can’t see the benefit of having a certain set of rules for Google, and another set of rules for Bing. It’s much less confusing if your rules apply to all user-agents.

Adding a disallow syntax to your robots.txt file won’t prevent that page from being indexed. Instead, you’d have to use a noindex tag.

Search engine crawlers are extremely advanced. They essentially view your website content the same way that a real person would. So if your website uses CSS and JS to function, you should not block those folders in your robots.txt file. It will be a major SEO mistake if crawlers can’t see a functioning version of your website.

If you want your robots.txt file to be recognized immediately after it’s been updated, submit it directly to Google, rather than waiting for your website to get crawled.

Link equity cannot be passed from blocked pages to link destinations. This means that links on pages that are disallowed will be considered nofollow. So some links won’t be indexed unless they’re on other pages that are accessible by search engines.

The robots.txt file is not a substitute for blocking private user data and other sensitive information from showing up in your SERPs. As I said before, disallowed pages can still be indexed. So you’ll still need to make sure that these pages are password protected and use a noindex meta directive.

Sitemaps should be placed at the bottom of your robots.txt file.


That was your crash-course on everything you need to know about robots.txt files.

I know that lots of this information was a little technical, but don’t let that intimidate you. The basic concepts and applications of your robots.txt are fairly easy to understand.

Remember, this isn’t something that you’ll want to modify too frequently. It’s also extremely important that you test everything out before you save the changes. Make sure that you double and triple-check everything.

One error could cause a search engine to stop crawling your site altogether. This would be devastating to your SEO position. So only make changes that are absolutely necessary.

When optimized correctly, your website will be crawled efficiently by Google’s crawl budget. This increases the chances that your top content will be noticed, indexed, and ranked accordingly.


Thursday, May 16, 2019

How to Use Google Keyword Planner Tool For SEO

There are so many different elements of SEO.

For the most part, all of these various aspects can be broken down into two main categories; on-page SEO, and off-page SEO.

The biggest factor of off-page SEO is backlinks. While on-page SEO is comprised of elements like content copy, title tags, meta descriptions, internal linking, and site architecture.

It’s nearly impossible (unless you get extremely lucky) to have a successful on-site SEO strategy without conducting keyword research.

There are tons of tools on the web to help you with finding keywords related to your business, but Google Keyword Planner is arguably the most powerful.

The best part about this tool is that it’s completely free for anyone to use. All you need is a Google Ads account.

It’s also worth noting that the primary purpose of the Keyword Planner is for PPC advertising.

But with that said, you don’t need to spend any money on ads to do your keyword research with this tool. The only thing you won’t be able to access is the exact monthly search volumes for specific keywords. As you’ll learn shortly, you’ll still be able to see an average range, but Google will only show exact volumes when you run an ad campaign.

I’m assuming that most of you already have a Google Ads account. If not, it’s very easy to set up. So go ahead and do that as soon as you’re ready to proceed.

Then just follow along this guide to learn how you can take full advantage of the Keyword Planner for bringing your SEO strategy to an elevated level.

Google Keyword Planner features

Before we dive too deep into the specifics, it’s important for you to understand exactly what the Keyword Planner can be used for.

As I said before, this tool is designed with PPC ads in mind. So about half of what you’ll see is going to be geared toward running a successful paid search campaign. These are some of the top benefits of Google Keyword Planner:

  • Find new keywords using words, phrases, websites, and categories.
  • Discover search volume trends and historical data of different keywords.
  • See performance forecasts for keywords based on your budget and average bid prices.
  • Narrow your results based on geographic location, language, and date ranges.
  • Filter results by average monthly searches, competition level, organic impressions, ad impressions, suggested bids, and organic average position.

It’s worth noting that some of these features are only available if you sync your Google Ads account with your Google Analytics account.

For our purposes today, we’re going to stick to the features that focus on finding keywords that you can use to improve your on-page SEO strategy.

Discover new keywords

The first thing you should use the Keyword Planner for is finding new keywords. This is very straightforward.

Once you know what keywords are related to your site, brand, niche, or a specific campaign, then you’ll be able to use those keywords to improve the content and on-page SEO of your website.

So log into your Google Ads account and navigate to the Keyword Planner.

Keyword Planner

From your Google Ads dashboard, click on the “tools” icon in the top right corner menu bar. This will expand the menu, showcasing an additional five categories.

Now select “Keyword Planner” from the planning list on the left side of the expanded menu.

Next, you’ll be presented with two options.

  1. Find new keywords.
  2. Get search volume and forecasts.

For now, just select “find new keywords.”

Find Keywords

Next, it’s as simple as entering keywords into a search bar and letting Google take care of the rest for you. Although it seems simple, this is probably the most important step of the entire process.

The Keyword Planner tool is extremely advanced, but it can’t provide you with valuable keywords unless your initial search terms lead it in the right direction.

A great benefit of this search bar is that it allows you to enter words, phrases, and a URL that’s relevant to your business. To get the most out of your searches, I recommend taking full advantage of the search options at your disposal.

Here’s a look at an example of what a search would look like if I was conducting keyword research for content here at Quick Sprout.

Example Keywords

As you can see, I used some single words like “SEO,” two-word phrases like “content marketing” or “ecommerce conversions,” and even some three-word phrases like “small business marketing.”

I also included a link to the Quick Sprout homepage to give the tool a better understanding of the content related to our site.

This is much better than just adding “marketing” to the search bar without adding anything else.

Analyze the search results

Once you begin your initial search, you’re going to get lots of information thrown at you. Do not be overwhelmed or intimidated by this. We’ll eventually narrow down the results.

Again, if you’re not planning to run any PPC campaigns, you can ignore some of this data.

First, let me show you how to read and interpret the results.

Interpret Results

There’s a couple of things I want to point out right away.

The Keyword Planner generated 4,403 keyword ideas based on my initial search. By default, the results that you’re going to see are based on the last twelve months of search data. But you can play around with that to see how the data changes if you view those keywords over a longer or shorter period of time.

Before you get new keyword ideas, the Keyword Planner shows you results for what you’ve already searched for.

The only columns you’re going to want to look at are average monthly searches and competition.

Ad impression share, top of page bids, and account status are all for pad ad campaigns.

As you can see, the average monthly search ranges are pretty broad. For example, it says that the search range for “SEO” is from 100,000 to 1 million.

There is a big difference between 150,000 searches and 950,000 searches, which both fall into that range. But the only way to get the exact data is by running an ad.

The competition data is crucial.

High competition keywords are going to be more challenging to rank for since more people are running paid ads for these words and phrases. But maybe you can try to gain an advantage over your competitors by taking steps to outrank them organically.

Some of you might have more success with low competition keywords. It all depends on your priority and the keywords in question.

By looking at the search results above, the term “social media marketing” has a high competition level, while “link building” is low. Let’s keep this information in mind as we continue.

Now it’s time to analyze the keyword ideas based on the keywords that we searched for.

Analyze Keywords

Here are the top 12 keyword ideas, sorted by keyword relevance.

I highlighted some of the suggestions to give you an idea of how you should be approaching this process.

All of the keywords on the list are useful and worth incorporating into your content. But you need to find ways to prioritize them.

Low competition keywords with high search volumes might seem like the easiest for you to rank for. But it doesn’t always work out that way.

For example, look at the data for “social media.”

It has a high search volume and low competition, so it must be a home run—right? Not necessarily.

Since that topic is so broad, it will be tough to rank for. That’s probably why people aren’t spending money on PPC campaigns to rank for that term.

On the flip side, “social media manager” at the bottom of the screenshot has a high search volume and high competition level, making it a challenging keyword to rank for.

Now let’s take a look at the keyword ideas that I boxed.

  • SEO company
  • Digital marketing agency

Both of these have high search volumes and medium competition levels. Ranking organically for these keywords won’t necessarily be easy, but it’s definitely not impossible.

Even though a term like “web marketing” has a lower search volume, it’s still in that 1,000 – 10,000 range, and has low competition. I boxed that as well because it’s related to the two other terms we’re discussing.

You could potentially use these three terms to conduct a new search that’s more specific. But we’ll get into that shortly.

Before you get into anything more complex, you should experiment with filtering the results.

Organize the keyword ideas by low competition, high competition, low search volume, and high search volume.

Narrow your search

Now that you’ve taken some time to sort your list of keywords, you’ve probably realized that 4,400+ keywords are too much. Lots of these keywords won’t be used by you.

So you’ll want to narrow the results to make sure that you’re only seeing ones that are the most relevant, and will actually benefit your SEO strategy.

The easiest way to do this right away is by changing one of the filters from “broadly related ideas” to “closely related ideas.”

Related Ideas

As you can see, this filter alone cut the search results in half.

So scroll through and get more keyword ideas using the new results. Use the keywords on this list to help you create new searches that are highly relevant.

Refer back to what I did earlier.

I took SEO company, digital marketing agency, and web marketing from that initial list of ideas. Here’s what the search results look like for those keywords combined with the Quick Sprout URL.


Those new terms combined with the closely related filter yielded 296 keyword ideas.

This list is much more reasonable for you to manage.

As I mentioned earlier, you can also narrow your results by locations, language, and search networks.

For example, let’s say you have a local business that has retail locations scattered across New England. You don’t need to get data on the entire United States.


Instead, you can just focus on those six states in New England.

With that said, this feature is definitely more beneficial for those of you who will ultimately run PPC campaigns. In this case, you can choose to only target users who are searching in that region.

But it’s still worth seeing how the competition and search volume changes if you adjust the location.

With each list of ideas, you can download the information as an excel spreadsheet as well.

In my opinion, this makes it easier for you to keep notes and organize the data in a way that aligns with your SEO plan and content strategy.

Download Keywords

Just look for the “download keyword ideas” button at the top right corner of each page.

View keyword forecasts

Head back to the main keyword planner page that we landed on earlier.

Only this time, we’re going to select the other option; get search volume and forecasts.

Search Volume Forecast

We previously saw the search volume when we were discovering new keywords. It showed us data from the past 12 months.

Maybe you changed around the date range and saw something different.

While the Keyword Planner tool won’t show you projected search volumes for the future, it will show you a forecast for your keywords if you decide to run a PPC campaign.

Based on those three keywords that we looked at most recently, Google projects that a PPC campaign would get 20,000 impressions and 280 clicks for $580 per month. The average search position would be #3.

This is not an ideal forecast. But it’s not awful either.

Personally, I wouldn’t proceed with it. But this decision is completely up to you.

You can use this tool to give you a better idea of how certain keywords will perform. If you can find a way to get 20,000 monthly impressions organically using these keywords, it will be better than paying for it.

But you might see forecasts that are worth pursuing based on the keywords, projections, and the budget that you’re willing to allocate for paid keywords.


Now that you have your list of keywords, it’s time to enhance your website’s on-page SEO.

Decide which keywords you want to prioritize, and then produce content that will help you rank for those terms. Write blog posts and guides. Create images, videos, and infographics. Produce content that’s a combination of these.

Focus on your title tags, header tags, and internal linking with exact-match keywords.

You can refer to my complete guide on SEO for more information on how to do this. There’s a section in here for on-site SEO that will help you out tremendously.

Start experimenting with Google Keyword Planner. Since it’s free to use, it can’t hurt to try.

Once you get familiar with navigating and searching, you can use this guide as a reference to help you find keywords that will be easier to rank for.


How to Create an Expert Roundup Blog Post

In the past, I’ve shown you how to build links and traffic from link roundups. This strategy involves creating content that will get featured in a weekly or monthly roundup post on other websites.

Now I’m going to teach you how to create an expert roundup. What’s the difference between these two?

Rather than trying to get your link featured on another site’s roundup post, you’re going to create content on your own website using expert opinions.

At the end of the day, this will have similar advantages to getting featured on a link roundup. Creating expert roundups will still help you build backlinks, boost your website traffic, and add plenty of SEO value.

Why are expert roundup posts so great?

Here’s the thing. Not all of you have a well-known name or platform, especially if you’re just starting out as a blogger. That’s OK. We’ve all been there.

I’m not saying this to sound rude or harsh, but why should someone take your advice?

You might know what you’re talking about, but nobody knows that. If you’re an up and coming blogger, getting experts featured on your blog will give people a reason to visit your site and consume your content.

Here’s an analogy.

Let’s say you’re an avid golfer and you want to start giving people golf lessons. But if nobody knows who you are, they have no reason to listen to you, even if you’re offering excellent tips and advice.

Now let’s say you can get Tiger Woods to attend one of your golf camps. People will definitely listen to him since he’s a household name and arguably the best golfer on the planet. His presence at your golf lessons will get people to come and ultimately validate your legitimacy. You’ll get even more exposure if Tiger Woods promotes your golf lessons by telling people that he’ll be there.

You can apply this same analogy to your blog posts. Only instead of one expert, you’re going to get dozens to share their opinions.

So how do find these experts and get them to participate? I’ll explain everything you need to know in this guide.

Why expert roundup posts are so effective

Let me take a minute here to reverse the roles for a second.

Hypothetically speaking, pretend a blogger reached out to you to participate in their expert roundup. They value your opinion and want to share it on their website.

When their post gets published, you’d share it—right? Absolutely.

These posts get a ton of traffic since the experts who are part of the roundup will eventually share the content as well.

Here’s an example from the Small Business Ideas Blog.

Small Business Ideas Blog

Brian Liang wrote created this post about blog promotion, which is ironically related to the topic that we’re discussing right now.

He got 40 experts to share their marketing advice. All he did was ask them one simple question.

What can bloggers and marketers do to be more effective when promoting their content?

This is a question that so many people can relate to, and will be eager to hear the advice of experts in the industry. All different types of experts answered the question.

  • SEO experts
  • Affiliate marketers
  • Internet marketers
  • Business marketers

By getting people from different niches to participate, it increases the exposure even more.

So, how did this post perform? Check out this information from the backlink checker at Ahrefs.

Backlink Profile

It has 342 backlinks from 95 referring domains.

If you look back to the first screenshot of the blog itself, you can see that it has more than 4,000 social media shares as well.

Expert roundups generate a ton of traffic.

That’s because everyone who participates will, at the very least, throw the link up on their social media platforms. As an industry expert, they most likely have large social followings. You might even get backlinks and your link shared with their email subscribers.

Since a roundup that contains insight from a wide range of experts is such a valuable piece of content, it has a greater chance of being shared by other people as well, even if they weren’t one of the contributors. It might even end up on a link roundup.

Expert roundups validate your website and build brand awareness.

The fact that all of these experts were willing to participate and be part of something on your website shows a lot about who you are. Industry leaders won’t do this for just any average Joe.

Plus, the backlinks you’ll get from major websites will boost your domain authority.

Roundup posts help you build strong bonds and relationships with influencers. This is a great networking opportunity for you.

These experts are building links with your roundup. Whenever you introduce an expert, it’s common practice to say who they are with a link to their website. So they benefit from the exposure as well. They might even ask you to write a guest post for their website or something like that in the future.

Another top benefit of a roundup post is that it adds a new perspective to your content. You get to switch it up instead of publishing the same thing over and over again.

Find industry experts

Obviously, you can’t write an expert roundup without the help of experts.

Don’t expect these people to come to you and say, “Hey! On the off chance that you create an expert roundup, I’d love to be included in it.”

That’s unrealistic. Instead, you need to get out there and find them.

The easiest way to do this is by looking for other expert roundup posts. So use Google to your advantage.

I’ll give you an example. Let’s say you want to create a roundup about blogging mistakes. Just run a search for something along the lines of “blogging mistakes expert roundup.”

Here’s one of the top results.


19 blogging experts talk about their mistakes in this post.

There is a table of contents that includes a list of the bloggers and the amount of money that their blog generates each month.

Table of Contents

Use this list as a resource. It’s up to you to prioritize which experts you want to contact.

You could just make a list of all of them, or go for the big ones who make $50k, $100k, or $400k per month.

Creating a spreadsheet is the best way to stay organized. The list should include:

  • Name of expert
  • Their website
  • Contact information
  • Status

In the status column, you’d put notes like, “Sent email on 5/14 — waiting for reply,” or something like that.

Don’t stop building your list of experts with just one post. Here’s another top post from that same Google search.

Self Hosted Life

This similar blog shares the opinions of 17 experts.

So between these two posts alone, you’ve got 36 potential experts to reach out to. Continue adding to the list. Eventually, you’re going to narrow it down.

Don’t just take their “expert” label at face value.

You need to check out their websites, credentials, and metrics like domain authority. Look at how frequently they publish content. View their social media pages to see if they’re willing to share content from other websites.

Make sure they’re a good writer and have a strong following.

If you see someone on your list that’s an expert, but they don’t have lots of social media followers, don’t publish content frequently, and have a site with a low domain authority, you don’t need to prioritize them. You may ultimately decide not to reach out to them or include them in your roundup.

Send your pitch

Once you have your list of experts compiled, it’s just a matter of finding their contact information, which should be pretty straightforward.

Rather than just submitting a general inquiry on a website form, it’s always better to try and get their personal email address.

For example, we’ll look at Adam Connell from Blogging Wizard as an example, since he was the first expert in the post that we were just talked about. I went to his website and navigated to the contact page.

Blogging Wizard Contact Page

This page shows an email address.

Normally, I wouldn’t like that because it’s so general. However, since this is Adam’s website, I’m confident that he’ll receive the message.

The page also states that all email inquiries need to start with “Hey Adam” to ensure it’s not a spam message. As you can see from this page, you could also reach out to him via social media.

Your outreach messages should be very concise. For this example, you could say something like:

Hey Adam!

I’m doing an expert roundup post on my website [link to website] about blogging. Could you please answer this question for me?

“What was the biggest struggle or hurdle that you had to overcome as a blogger?”

Thanks in advance for the help. I really appreciate it! I’ll include your name, brief bio, and a link to your website in the roundup as well.

After you send the message, update your spreadsheet with notes so you can keep track of managing your communication with all of these people.

Don’t go overboard and ask them for more than they’ll be willing to deliver. As you can see from the example, all I did was ask one question. So the response can be as long or as short as he’d like it to be.

If you ask an expert to send you a 2,500-word case study, don’t expect a response.

Follow-up with emails if you haven’t heard back after a week.

Hey! I know you’re busy but I just wanted to follow up with you on this question again. Do you have a rough idea for when you’ll be able to answer? No rush. I just want to plan accordingly. Thank you!

A follow-up message like this increases the chances that they’ll participate.

Top elements of an expert roundup

Now that you’ve reached out to the top experts in your niche, it’s time to go through their responses and start writing your roundup post. If you want the post to be successful, it needs to have the following elements:

A great question

The responses given by the experts will only be as good as the question you ask them. If you ask them a yes or no question, don’t expect a high-quality response. On the flip side, if you ask for their life story, it’s going to be too long and unappealing to the readers.

Instead, look for questions that will actually add value and help people who are looking for insight. Review blog comments, forums, and Google related search suggestions to get inspiration for crafting the perfect question.

Epic headline

Don’t make your expert roundup to sound like an average “how-to” post or guide. Let everyone know that this post is different.

Here’s an example of a roundup written by Ian Blair at BuildFire.

Buildfire Headline

The title is great because it’s very clear. Readers know they’re getting advice from 32 different experts. They also know exactly what the post is going to be about.

For more assistance with this, check out my guide on writing attention-grabbing headlines that convert.

Skimmable headers

Expert roundups are long. So you need to make sure the post is formatted properly so it’s easy for readers to navigate.

Let’s say your blog has 25 experts answering a question. Realistically, people aren’t going to read all 25 responses. Your headers need to be clear so that anyone can scroll through and view the answers from specific experts.

Quality images

Images are another great way to break up the content and make your blog more reader-friendly. Consider using a picture of each expert with their name and bio.

We saw this with one of our example posts earlier.


Your work isn’t done once the roundup has been published. Now it’s time to make sure that the post performs at a high level.

For starters, you’ll want to share it on all of your distribution channels (as with all of your blog posts). But you’ll also want to make sure the experts in your post do the same thing.

Don’t expect these participants to be refreshing your website every day waiting for the post to go live. Let them know that the post has been published and send them a link. The best way to do this is with a “thank you” message.

You might also want to consider asking top experts for an exclusive interview. This type of content can be used for your YouTube channel or podcast. Plus, it strengthens your relationship with them and increases the chances that they’ll consider you for guest posting opportunities.


Expert roundups and link roundups are not the same things.

However, both of these strategies can help you drive traffic to your website, build backlinks, improve brand awareness, and increase your authority.

In my experience, experts are willing to participate in these roundups because they get increased exposure as well. So it’s a win-win scenario for everyone involved.

You just need to make sure that you find the right experts, ask them the right question, and promote the blog properly to ensure that it performs at the highest possible level.

So keep this guide as a reference for creating epic expert roundup blog posts on your website.