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Who’s Winning Super Competitive SERPs & Why

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Who's Winning Super Competitive SERPs & Why

One of the reasons SEO is such an exciting space is that we’re constantly being challenged to innovate.

But that doesn’t mean you need to reinvent the wheel. That just isn’t scalable – especially not at the enterprise level.

You need to keep proven tactics in your back pocket that you can adapt and modify to inform your own SEO strategy.

And so I was wondering… what useful insights can we learn in studying the keywords that enterprise-level companies are optimizing for?

This is not an exhaustive study; rather, it’s a high-level view of known ranking factors such as links, content, and user experience.

There’s much to be learned from the brands that are winning in search!

In this column, you’ll learn a process for analyzing SERPs and find tips to improve your own SEO based on what we can see others doing well in Google results.

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How I Chose The Keywords For This Assessment

Before we jump into the analysis, I want to share how the keywords were chosen.

First, I searched for a list of the top enterprise companies in the U.S.

An enterprise company is a large corporation with a very large marketing budget that manages thousands of employees – think Fortune 500 companies.

I picked out 21 sites I thought would return general keywords and avoided brand-specific keywords like “iPhone.”

Then, I used Ahrefs to see what organic keywords the sites were ranking for with a keyword difficulty score of 90 and above.

I sorted the list by traffic to the site because this tells me that the web page is most likely relevant to the user’s search query. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have clicked through.

At this point, I had a list of 44 possible keywords to study.

Next, I did a quick Google search to see if there was a variety of websites on the result’s page or if one type of website dominated.

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This knocked out some contenders such as “weather,” for example, because it’s a given that the weather channel, national weather service, and new stations will rank.

Finally, I settled on three enterprise-level keywords that cover a broad range of business types:

  • Retail (coffee).
  • Service industry (life insurance).
  • Fintech (NFT).

[Coffee] SERP Insights

The search engine result page (SERP) for the keyword “coffee” interested me because it’s so clean!

The SERP covers just about every possible search intent for the query, “coffee.”

And a few oddities caught my eye that may provide us further insight into how Google’s algorithm works.

This section will cover what makes “coffee” an enterprise SEO keyword with quick stats, jump into a review of what the SERP tells us, and lastly analyze the link profile and content to see what we can learn.

Coffee Keyword Stats

  • Avg. Monthly Volume: 6.6 million in the United States.
  • Difficulty Rating: 96.
  • Average CPC: $1.80.
Screenshot from Ahrefs, May 2022enterprise_seo_keyword_example_coffee

SERP Review

When you search “coffee,” you may see a carousel of shopping ads and a map of your local coffee shops.

You can read a knowledge panel with information from Wikipedia and nutrition facts sourced from the USDA on the right-hand side.

enterprise_seo_example_coffee_serpScreenshot from search for [coffee], Google, May 2022 enterprise_seo_example_coffee_serp

Followed by suggested searches for Starbucks coffee drinks, songs about coffee, and other items people often search for: tea, espresso, drink, etc.

We have Wikipedia, Peet’s Coffee, Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf, Starbucks, National Coffee Organization, and a healthline.com article in the traditional organic results.

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enterprise_seo_example_coffee_serp_2Screenshot from Google search, May 2022enterprise_seo_example_coffee_serp_2

Hmmm, I wonder why Peet’s coffee ($7.9 billion in total sales) is beating Starbucks ($24.6 billion in net revenue).

And how did the healthline.com article squeak in there?

Let’s find out!

Links Review

Peet’s Coffee has 6,900 referring domains linking to the ranking page, while Starbucks has 4,900 referring domains linking to the home page.

referring_domain_comparison_screenshot_ahrefsScreenshot from Ahrefs, May 2022referring_domain_comparison_screenshot_ahrefs

Peet’s Coffee has approximately 1,500 internal backlinks pointing to the ranking page.

440 of the 1,500 internal backlinks have the anchor or surrounding text, including “coffee.”

internal_backlinks_peets_coffee_example_ahrefs_site_explorer_reportScreenshot from Ahrefs, May 2022internal_backlinks_peets_coffee_example_ahrefs_site_explorer_report

Starbucks has 13,400 internal backlinks to the ranking page; 9,600+ backlinks include “coffee” in the anchor or surrounding text.

internal_backlinks_starbucks_example_site_explorer_ahrefsScreenshot from Ahrefs, May 2022internal_backlinks_starbucks_example_site_explorer_ahrefs

Content Review

Peet’s home page has “coffee” in the page title and as the first menu navigation item.

Subheaders cover the topic of coffee, from roasting to the history of coffee.

The word “coffee” is counted a total of 42 times on the home page, out of a total of 1283 words.

enterprise_seo_website_example_peets_coffee_homepageScreenshot from Peet’s Coffee home page, May 2022enterprise_seo_website_example_peets_coffee_homepage

Starbucks, on the other hand, appears to use its website as an extension of its retail locations.

The home page really feels like an app to order coffee or a corporate communication board – like the digital version of a break room corkboard.

Coffee is in the page title as part of the brand’s name, but it is not the primary word on the home page.

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Out of a total of 515 words, coffee is counted only 12 times.

enterprise_seo_website_example_starbucks_homepageScreenshot from Starbucks home page, May 2022enterprise_seo_website_example_starbucks_homepage

Technical SEO/UX Review

I did not run a full technical audit for this analysis, so additional factors could be at play here.

I used a schema validator and Page Speed Insights tool to quickly assess what schema is on page and the specific web page’s core web vitals.

Peet’s Coffee uses organization, webSite, Product, and Store schema, and it failed the core web vitals assessment.

Primarily in first contentful paint (FCP) and largest contentful paint (LCP).

The first input delay (FID) and cumulative layout shift (CLS) look good.

web_core_vitals_example_peets_coffeeScreenshot from Web Core Vitals report, May 2022web_core_vitals_example_peets_coffee

Starbucks.com home page passes core web vitals in all four areas: FCP, LCP, FID, and CLS however, I did not detect any schema markup.

web_core_vitals_example_starbucksScreenshot from Web Core Vitals report, May 2022web_core_vitals_example_starbucks

It was interesting to see position history between May 2020 and April 2021. Starbucks seems to have fallen out of the top 100 for an entire year.

Did Starbucks get hit with a penalty?

position_history_top_100_exampleScreenshot from Ahrefs, May 2022position_history_top_100_example

Breaking Into A Highly Competitive SERP

We have to talk about what Healthline did because it’s such a great example.

Healthline published an article, “9 Unique Benefits of Coffee,” on January 11, 2022, and began ranking in position 3 for the query “coffee” by March 04, 2022.

enterprise_seo_serp_analysis_example_healthline_coffeeScreenshot from Ahrefs, May 2022enterprise_seo_serp_analysis_example_healthline_coffee

Wondering how Healthline found the wedge in?

They noticed the missing piece from the SERP.

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The SERP covered shopping, local shops, definition, nutrition facts, songs, recipes, and videos but not why people would be interested in drinking coffee – the benefits.

The people also ask (PAA) questions provided a solid hint with questions like: “What are the benefits of coffee?” and “Is coffee good for your health?”

If you search for “coffee benefits” or “benefits of coffee”, the Healthline article leads as an unorganized list featured snippet.

unorganized_feature_snippet_exampleScreenshot from Google Search, May 2022unorganized_feature_snippet_example

Outranking arguably more trusted websites like hopkinsmedicine.org, rush.edu, and harvard.edu.

YMYL sites should pay special attention to Healthline page structure and author profiles.

In the screenshot below, take note of how each sentence uses a “fact-checked” source, followed by a summary explaining it to readers in simple terms.

enterprise_seo_ymyl_page_structure_exampleScreenshot from Healthline web page, May 2022enterprise_seo_ymyl_page_structure_example

This is really well-written content.

One more thing – did you notice anything odd about when the Healthline article ranked?

Nearly two months passed between when the Healthline article was published and when the article ranked.

What gives?

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Healthline went hard adding internal links to the “benefits of coffee” page in March 2022 (First seen March 2, 2022) – and pop – the article ranks!

“9 Unique Benefits of Coffee” currently has 266 internal backlinks; 247 include the term “coffee” in the anchor or surrounding text.

internal_backlinks_anchor_text_exampleScreenshot from Ahrefs, May 2022internal_backlinks_anchor_text_example

Coffee: What We Can Learn

By analyzing the entire SERP, we can see that Google is looking to cover every possible search intent for the very basic query of “coffee.”

While Peet’s Coffee, Coffeebean.com, and Starbucks seem to dance for the top company ranking for the query – healthline.com found an opportunity by focusing on what the SERP did not contain.

However, it seems like the Healthline article did not really gain footing until the site added internal backlinks to the article using the desired search query of “coffee.”

[Life Insurance] SERP Insights

Life insurance is an interesting SERP to study because it showcases the battle of big national brands with a seemingly unlimited marketing budget (if you look at CPC numbers) for what is a relatively lower search volume.

Analyzing “life insurance” is sure to turn out some gems.

Life Insurance Keyword Stats

  • Average monthly search volume: 202k in the United States.
  • Difficulty rating: 90.
  • Average CPC: $30.
keyword_difficulty_enterprise_seo_example_life_insuranceScreenshot from Ahrefs, May 2022keyword_difficulty_enterprise_seo_example_life_insurance
SERP Review

When you google “life insurance” the recommended search terms are:

  • Companies: Google understands who we are trying to reach.
  • Quotes and policy: Google understands what we want from the company.
  • For seniors: Google understands the primary target audience for life insurance.
enterprise_seo_serp_review_example_life_insuranceScreenshot from search for [life insurance], Google, May 2022enterprise_seo_serp_review_example_life_insurance

Let’s click through to see Google’s search results for our enterprise SEO keyword, “life insurance.”

There are paid ads at the top, followed by a sentence-structured featured snippet for Geico.com/life-insurance that defines what life insurance means and how it works.

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life_insurance_serp_screenshotScreenshot from Google Search, May 2022life_insurance_serp_screenshot

People Also Ask common questions are:

  • What are the three main types of life insurance?
  • What is life insurance and how does it work?
  • What is the average life insurance cost per month?
  • What is life insurance used for?

Knowing the recommended search terms and reading the PAA questions, we can conclude that people who search for [life insurance] want to know what life insurance is for and how much it costs.

Let’s see what we can learn from Geico’s featured snippet compared to competitors.

Links Review

Geico has 367 referring domains to the ranking page.

And has 155 of the 1,200 internal backlinks pointing to the ranking page, including “life insurance” in the anchor or surrounding text.

internal_backlinks_example_geicoScreenshot from Ahrefs, May 2022internal_backlinks_example_geico

Investopedia is a contender for the top-ranking site and has significantly more referring domains than Geico or Liberty Mutual.

Significantly more, 1,100 referring domains versus Geico’s 367 and Liberty Mutual’s 300.

referring_domains_ahrefs_screenshotScreenshot from Ahrefs, May 2022referring_domains_ahrefs_screenshot

Of Investopedia’s 726 internal backlinks, 711 are going to the ranking page, including the term “life insurance” in the anchor or surrounding text.

internal_backlinks_anchor_text_example_InvestopediaScreenshot from Ahrefs, May 2022internal_backlinks_anchor_text_example_Investopedia

Content Review

Geico’s home page H1 reads, “Life Insurance Quotes,” followed immediately by an H2 that reads, “See how affordable a life insurance policy can be.”

The first paragraph of the Geico web page addresses the primary question, “What is life insurance?” as an H2.

The paragraph leads off with “Life insurance is…,” and these first two sentences are pulled into the featured snippet for the life insurance search query.

enterprise_seo_description_example_life_insuranceScreenshot from Geico website, May 2022enterprise_seo_description_example_life_insurance

The term life insurance is used 49 times on the page with a total word count of 1922, which pales in comparison to Investopedia’s 5504 words!

Investopedia’s Page title is SEO perfection.

Note how it includes the keyword and its three support terms, life insurance, policies, and companies.

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seo_title_tags_example_investopediaScreenshot from Investopedia page source, May 2022seo_title_tags_example_investopedia

The page content starts with no introduction, just jumping right into an H1 “What is Life Insurance?

We find a definition for life insurance (just like Geico), “Life insurance is a contract between an insurer and a policy owner….”

enterprise_seo_keyword_definition_example_investopediaScreenshot from Investopedia web page, May 2022enterprise_seo_keyword_definition_example_investopedia

To highlight the pattern for this SERP a little bit more, I’m also showing you the fourth-ranking web page Liberty Mutual.

Just like Geico, Liberty Mutual stacks an H1 “Life Insurance” on top of an H2 “Ensure financial security for your family.”

Followed by a CTA box for starting a quote.

Scroll a bit further down the page and you will see an H2 for “What is a life insurance policy?”

Note that the header includes the additional word “policy.”

This approach didn’t pay off as Geico took the featured snippet for the search query, [What is a life insurance policy?] as well.

enterprise_seo_keyword_definition_example_liberty_mutualScreenshot from Liberty Mutual web page, May 2022enterprise_seo_keyword_definition_example_liberty_mutual

The trouble for Liberty Mutual is that the text following the H2 is not a definition.

It is sales language, explaining what the user gets when purchasing a life insurance policy.

Technical SEO/UX Review

Geico uses FAQ schema page markup for the accordion questions and answers at the bottom of the page.

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This does not give the webpage a boost as it is not ranking on the first page for those queries.

Running the page path through Google’s page speed insights tool and Geico fails the core web vitals assessment.

Doing significantly poorly in the areas of first contentful paint (FCP) and largest contentful paint (LCP).

web_core_vitals_example_geicoScreenshot from Web Core Vitals Report, May 2022web_core_vitals_example_geico

 

Investopedia (position 2) uses article schema and passed core web vitals with all four areas in the green.

web_core_vitals_example_investopediaScreenshot from Web Core Vitals Report, May 2022web_core_vitals_example_investopedia

Liberty Mutual Insurance (position 4) uses breadcrumb and financial product schema. It passed the mobile core web vitals assessment by Google, with all four areas in the green.

web_core_vitals_example_liberty_mutualScreenshot from Web Core Vitals Report, May 2022web_core_vitals_example_liberty_mutual

Life Insurance: What We Can Learn

By analyzing the featured snippet, we can see that the result Google is looking for is a definition.

The top-ranking pages all have the first H2 as “What is life insurance…” and the following subsequent text “Life insurance is (insert definition here.).”

Now, why is Geico outranking Investopedia when Investopedia is faster, and the quality of content is significantly better?

Well, step back and consider the singular web page in the context of Google’s full understanding of the website.

The Geico website is a company that sells insurance.

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The Investopedia website educates consumers on all things related to finance.

Remember the common theme among related search queries and the PAA?

It gives us an additional hint about who people want to hear from when they search “life insurance.”

Google has determined that people want to know what life insurance is AND how much it costs.

Google has also determined that the closest recommended search query is “life insurance companies,” meaning that people are searching for:

  • What life insurance is?
  • How much does it cost?
  • And for a company to purchase life insurance from.

It makes sense that Google would place a website that sells insurance above a website that provides information.

It would be interesting to see what happens if Investopedia places a form for life insurance quotes on its web page.

Or, if Liberty Mutual updated their definition for what life insurance is.

[NFT] SERP Insights

Crypto and NFT were two terms that had made it into the initial top 40 enterprise SEO keywords.

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Given the virility of the queries, I had to include at least one in this review.

NFT had greater search volume, a higher difficulty rating, and a more interesting SERP.

Crypto.com was winning for “crypto.” Not much fun.

NFT Keyword Stats

  • Average monthly search volume: 1.6M in the United States
  • Difficulty rating: 96
  • Average CPC: $1.10
enterprise_seo_keyword_example_nftScreenshot from Ahrefs, May 2022enterprise_seo_keyword_example_nft

SERP Review

Google the acronym for a non-fungible token (NFT) and you’ll likely see something different depending on the day.

It’s a really volatile search with frequent position changes.

At the time of this analysis, there was a sentence-structure featured snippet by Reuters defining what NFTs are at the top of the SERP.

Note: The featured snippet changed hands three times as I wrote this article, and last I checked, it looks like the Wall Street Journal has since snagged the featured snippet.

Followed by a knowledge panel with information pulled from Wikipedia and “People also ask” questions:

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  • What is NFT and how does it work?
  • What is NFT crypto?
  • What does NFT stand for in NFT?
  • What does it mean to own NFT?
enterprise_seo_keyword_serp_example_nftScreenshot from Google Search, May 2022enterprise_seo_keyword_serp_example_nft

We can see that Google also (currently) thinks that users searching for [nft] are looking for a definition.

After the PAA, there are informational articles from news sites The Verge and Forbes.

The first company you will find is a marketplace, OpenSea.io.

The article by Forbes is of specific interest here because Forbes began ranking for the term “NFT” on April 9, 2022, after an update to the page made on April 8, 2022.

The kicker is the original article published on April 29, 2021.

Almost an entire year earlier.

So, what switch did Forbes flip?

enterprise seo_NFT_published dateScreenshot from Forbes source code, May 2022enterprise seo_NFT_published date

Links Review

Forbes has 2.31k referring domains and 16 internal backlinks pointing to the article, 14 including the term “nft” in the anchor or surrounding text.

All backlinks (from referring domains or internal pages) were added on or after April 8, 2022.

internal_backlinks_by_anchor_text_first_seen_screenshotScreenshot from Ahrefs, May 2022internal_backlinks_by_anchor_text_first_seen_screenshot

Content Review

I used the web page’s core web vitals to play “find the difference” and see if I could spot any of the edits to the content made on April 8th.

I didn’t see anything.

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The page title, headers, and general page structure appear exactly the same.

And, it does not appear as though any edits were made to the Forbes article before April 2022.

wayback_machine_website_updates_screenshotScreenshot from Wayback Machine, May 2022wayback_machine_website_updates_screenshot

Tech SEO/UX Review

Forbes includes NewsArticle schema and failed core web vitals assessment by Google’s page speed insights tool.

It’s honestly really close to passing though, having passed FCP, LCP, and FID. Only failing cumulative layout shift (CLS).

Forbes_web_core_vitals_screenshotScreenshot from Web Core Vitals Report, May 2022Forbes_web_core_vitals_screenshot

What We Can Learn

In the case of Forbes’ article on NFTs, it appears that the article sat stale for nearly a year before getting the link love it needed to rank.

Don’t forget to link to your content! Google has confirmed that internal links are a ranking factor.

Final Thoughts

Google’s algorithm is constantly changing (thousands of times a year), so there’s no magic SEO formula or tool that can rank – and maintain the rank – of high-performance keywords.

By studying enterprise SEO wins, we can gather insights into how to best optimize our web pages:

  • Analyze what Google has determined to be the user intent.
  • Look for content opportunities left on the table.
  • Use internal backlinks to tip the proverbial search result scales in your favor.

More resources: 


Featured Image: G Stock Studio/Shutterstock

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SEO

How We Used a Video Course to Promote Ahrefs (And Got 500K+ Views)

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How We Used a Video Course to Promote Ahrefs (And Got 500K+ Views)

Creating and selling educational courses can be a lucrative business. But if you already have a product to sell, you can actually use courses as a marketing tool.

Back in 2017, about two years after joining Ahrefs, I decided to create a course on content marketing.

I had a very clear understanding of how an educational course would help me promote Ahrefs.

  • People like courses – Folks like Brian Dean and Glen Allsopp were selling theirs for $500 to $2,000 a pop (and rather successfully). So a free course of comparable quality was sure to get attention.
  • Courses allow for a deeper connection – You would basically be spending a few hours one on one with your students. And if you managed to win their trust, you’d get an opportunity to promote your product to them.

That was my raw thought process going into this venture.

And I absolutely didn’t expect that the lifespan of my course would be as interesting and nuanced as it turned out to be.

The lessons of my course have generated over 500K+ in total views, brought in mid-five-figures in revenue (without even trying), and turned out to be a very helpful resource for our various marketing purposes.

So here goes the story of my “Blogging for Business” course.

1. The creation

I won’t give you any tips on how to create a successful course (well, maybe just one). There are plenty of resources (courses?) on that topic already.

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All I want to say is that my own experience was quite grueling.

The 10 lessons of my course span some 40K words. I have never attempted the feat of writing a book, but I imagine creating such a lengthy course is as close as it gets.

Scripts of the course in Google Docs.

I spent a tremendous amount of time polishing each lesson. The course was going to be free, so it was critical that my content was riveting. If not, people would just bounce from it.

Paid courses are quite different in that sense. You pay money to watch them. So even if the content is boring at times, you’ll persevere anyway to ensure a return on your investment.

When I showed the draft version of the course to my friend, Ali Mese, he gave me a simple yet invaluable tip: “Break your lessons into smaller ones. Make each just three to four minutes long.”

How did I not think of this myself? 

Short, “snackable” lessons provide a better sense of completion and progress. You’re also more likely to finish a short lesson without getting distracted by something. 

I’m pretty sure that it is because of this simple tip that my course landed this Netflix comparison (i.e., best compliment ever):

2. The strategy

With the prices of similar courses ranging from $500 to $2,000, it was really tempting to make some profit with ours.

I think we had around 15,000 paying customers at Ahrefs at that time (and many more on the free plan). So if just 1% of them bought that course for $1K, that would be an easy $150K to pocket. And then we could keep upselling it to our future customers.

Alternatively, we thought about giving access to the course to our paying customers only. 

This might have boosted our sales, since the course was a cool addition to the Ahrefs subscription. 

And it could also improve user retention. The course was a great training resource for new employees, which our customers would lose access to if they canceled their Ahrefs subscription.

And yet, releasing it for free as a lead acquisition and lead nurturing play seemed to make a lot more sense than the other two options. So we stuck to that.

3. The waitlist

Teasing something to people before you let them get it seems like one of the fundamental rules of marketing.

  • Apple announces new products way before they’re available in stores. 
  • Movie studios publish trailers of upcoming movies months (sometimes years) before they hit the theaters. 
  • When you have a surprise for your significant other (or your kids), you can’t help but give them some hints before the reveal.

There’s something about “the wait” and the anticipation that we humans just love to experience.

So while I was toiling away and putting lessons of my course together, we launched a landing page to announce it and collect people’s emails.

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The landing page of the course.

In case someone hesitated to leave their email, we had two cool bonuses to nudge them:

  1. Access to the private Slack community
  2. Free two-week trial of Ahrefs

The latter appealed to freebie lovers so much that it soon “leaked” to Reddit and BlackHatWorld. In hindsight, this leak was actually a nice (unplanned) promo for the course.

4. The promotion

I don’t remember our exact promotion strategy. But I’m pretty sure it went something like this:

I also added a little “sharing loop” to the welcome email. I asked people to tell their friends about the course, justifying it with the fact that taking the course with others was more fun than doing it alone.

Welcome email with a "sharing loop."

I have no idea how effective that “growth hack” was, but there was no reason not to encourage sharing.

In total, we managed to get some 16,000 people on our waitlist by the day of the course launch.

5. The launch

On a set date, the following email went out to our waitlist:

Course launch email.

Did you notice the “note” saying that the videos were only available for free for 30 days? We did that to nudge people to watch them as soon as possible and not save them to the “Watch later” folder.

In retrospect, I wish we had used this angle from the very beginning: “FREE for 30 days. Then $799.”

This would’ve killed two birds with one stone: 

  1. Added an urgency to complete the course as soon as possible
  2. Made the course more desirable by assigning a specific (and rather high) monetary value to it

(If only we could be as smart about predicting the future as we are about reflecting on the past.) 

Once it was live, the course started to promote itself. I was seeing many super flattering tweets:

We then took the most prominent of those tweets and featured them on the course landing page for some social proof. (They’re still there, by the way.)

6. The paywall

Once the 30 days of free access ran out, we added a $799 paywall. And it didn’t take long for the first sale to arrive:

This early luck didn’t push us to focus on selling this course, though. We didn’t invest any effort into promoting it. It was just sitting passively in our Academy with a $799 price tag, and that was it.

And yet, despite the lack of promotion, that course was generating 8-10 sales every month—which were mostly coming from word of mouth.

A comment in TrafficThinkTank.
Eric Siu giving a shout-out about my course in TTT Slack.

Thanks to its hefty price, my course soon appeared on some popular websites with pirated courses. And we were actually glad that it did. Because that meant more people would learn about our content and product.

Then some people who were “late to the party” started asking me if I was ever going to reopen the course for free again. This actually seemed like a perfectly reasonable strategy at the time:

7. The giveaways

That $799 price tag also turned my free course into a pretty useful marketing tool. It was a perfect gift for all sorts of giveaways on Twitter, on podcasts, during live talks, and so on.

Giving away the course during a live talk.
Me giving away the course during a live talk.

And whenever we partnered with someone, they were super happy to get a few licenses of the course, which they could give out to their audience.

8. The relaunch

Despite my original plan to update and relaunch this course once a year, I got buried under other work and didn’t manage to find time for it.

And then the pandemic hit. 

That’s when we noticed a cool trend. Many companies were providing free access to their premium educational materials. This was done to support the “stay at home” narrative and help people learn new skills.

I think it was SQ who suggested that we should jump on that train with my “Blogging for Business” course. And so we did:

We couldn’t have hoped for a better timing for that relaunch. The buzz was absolutely insane. The announcement tweet alone has generated a staggering 278K+ impressions (not without some paid boosts, of course).

The statistics of the course announcement tweet.

We also went ahead and reposted that course on ProductHunt once again (because why not?).

All in all, that relaunch turned out to be even more successful than the original launch itself. 

In the course of their lifespan on Wistia, the 40 video lessons of my course generated a total of 372K plays.

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Play count from Wistia.

And this isn’t even the end of it.

9. The launch on YouTube

Because the course was now free, it no longer made sense to host it at Wistia. So we uploaded all lessons to YouTube and made them public.

To date, the 41 videos of my course have generated about 187K views on YouTube.

"Blogging for Business" course playlist.

It’s fair to mention that we had around 200,000 subscribers on our channel at the time of publishing my course there. A brand-new channel with no existing subscribers will likely generate fewer views.

10. The relaunch on YouTube [coming soon]

Here’s an interesting observation that both Sam and I made at around the same time. 

Many people were publishing their courses on YouTube as a single video spanning a few hours rather than cutting them into individual lessons like we did. And those long videos were generating millions of views!

Like these two, ranking at the top for “learn Python course,” which have 33M and 27M views, respectively:

"Learn python course" search on YouTube.

So we decided to run a test with Sam’s “SEO for Beginners” course. It was originally published on YouTube as 14 standalone video lessons and generated a total of 140K views.

Well, the “single video” version of that same course has blown it out of the water with over 1M views as of today.

I’m sure you can already tell where I’m going with this.

We’re soon going to republish my “Blogging for Business” course on YouTube as a single video. And hopefully, it will perform just as well.

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The end

So that’s the story of my “Blogging for Business” course. From the very beginning, it was planned as a promotional tool for Ahrefs. And judging by its performance, I guess it fulfilled its purpose rather successfully.

A screenshot of a Slack message.

Don’t get me wrong, though. 

The fact that my course was conceived as a promotional tool doesn’t mean that I didn’t pour my heart and soul into it. It was a perfectly genuine and honest attempt to create a super useful educational resource for content marketing newbies.

And I’m still hoping to work on the 2.0 version of it someday. In the past four years, I have accrued quite a bit more content marketing knowledge that I’m keen to share with everyone. So follow me on Twitter, and stay tuned.



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