After several years of budget austerity and hiring freezes, morale was low and frustration was high among Memphis city employees. But when Jim Strickland was elected mayor in 2016, he promised to revitalize the city’s workforce and improve the delivery of city services to more than 652,000 residents.
Looking to bring corporate HR practices to the city, Strickland named private-sector veteran Alexandria Smith as the city’s new chief HR officer. The mayor also organized town hall meetings across Memphis to learn firsthand what residents want from city services. At the top of their list: faster responses to 911 calls and a stronger firefighter and police presence.
“Our ability to attract and retain top talent makes a huge difference in our ability to deliver emergency services,” says Chief Smith, as she is known around the office. “Essentially, our HR team is taking care of the employees who take care of our citizens.”
One of Smith’s first decisions was to replace the city’s hiring, benefits management, and other on-premises HR applications with a modern, cloud-based application suite, Oracle HCM Cloud, which includes Oracle Talent Acquisition Cloud. The new platform positions the HR team to hire and onboard emergency workers more efficiently through social sourcing and workflow.
- Listen to an interview with Memphis CHRO Alexandria Smith about the city's transition to Oracle HCM Cloud
Meanwhile, the HR team surveyed the city’s emergency services employees to gauge their satisfaction with their career paths, salaries, benefits, and other job factors—then created a roadmap for improvements.
Among the impressive gains so far:
• The Memphis 911 team has cut call waiting times from an average of more than 60 seconds to just under 8 seconds for 95% of calls, through improved hiring and comprehensive training.
• The city has brought in 419 police recruits since 2016, resulting in a net gain in officers last year for the first time in seven years. The city also has recruited 363 new firefighters.
• Memphis reduced attrition among police personnel by 25%, through a combination of improved compensation and benefits, management training opportunities, retention bonuses, and employee appreciation events.
• It increased employee engagement by 14 percentage points, as measured by an independent survey of employee opinions about city leadership, culture, and resources.
“All of our efforts around improving the recruitment and retention of employees seem to be working, but we have more to do,” Smith says.
Social Media, AI, and More
Looking to the future, Smith says she and her HR team are excited about using social media along with their Oracle HCM Cloud platform to recruit job candidates. Smith also looks forward to using the platform’s new artificial intelligence capabilities to identify police, firefighter, and 911 operator candidates with the requisite skills and experiences, as well as intangibles such as courage and the ability to think quickly in a crisis.
“Looking for talent for public safety jobs is like looking for a needle in a haystack,” she says. “I’m watching what AI can do to help us recruit and retain the most talented people.”
Among the other benefits of moving to a cloud-based HR system, according to Smith:
• Because Oracle—rather than city IT staffers or contractors—handles all of the system maintenance and updates, it frees the city’s IT team to work on more critical projects.
• It consolidates all employee data into one system, making it easier for HR team members to analyze and report on employee activities and trends.
• It’s self-service, letting employees change their addresses, sign up for training, and work on performance reviews.
Previously, every time employees wanted to update their personnel files with something as simple as a new phone number, an HR staffer would have to fill out a form, put it in a neon-yellow folder, and carry it to the pile of other yellow folders on Smith’s desk for her signature.
“Getting rid of the paper processes so we could be more efficient and agile as an organization, and spend our time on things that matter most, was very, very important,” she says.
‘Sense of Pride’
Working with Oracle Consulting Services, the city deployed the core HR module of the Oracle application suite in December 2017. The city also chose a goal and performance management module that helps employees track their personal achievements and progress against the mayor’s priorities for their particular department. A compensation module lets the HR team track employee salaries and make sure their pay and benefits are competitive.
“My team is in the business of helping people who help others,” Smith says. “We feel a sense of pride in our work because we know that the police officers, firefighters, and 911 operators we’re hiring could one day help us or one of our loved ones in an emergency.”
- Read the paper: Tech empowers CHROs to be agents of change
At KubeCon + CloudNativeCon, Oracle Cloud Infrastructure unveiled the Oracle Cloud Native Framework, the world's most comprehensive open source framework for deploying public cloud, hybrid cloud, and on-premises applications.
I'm especially excited about this announcement because it represents another step forward in our mission to give developers the tools that they need to reduce complexity and deploy modern applications in any type of environment. It's also the latest example of Oracle Cloud Infrastructure's longstanding commitment to interoperability and open standards.
The Oracle Cloud Native Framework introduces a comprehensive set of new cloud-native resources for developers. One of those resources is Oracle Functions, a serverless cloud service based on the open source Fn Project.
As part of the announcement, we also introduced a rich set of cloud-native offerings built on Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Container Engine for Kubernetes, our Kubernetes orchestration and management layer. These resources address developer needs in three key areas: provisioning, application definition and development, and observability and analysis.
Embracing Open Standards
A commitment to openness is one of the five key pillars that Oracle Cloud Infrastructure is built on, along with protecting customers' existing investments, ensuring security, delivering mission-critical performance, and providing unmatched enterprise expertise.
We embrace open standards because they enable our customers to be agile and responsive to changing business requirements. Open standards ensure that customers have the freedom and flexibility to move workloads between their on-premises data centers and Oracle Cloud, and even to other vendors' clouds when needed. Additionally, open standards lower barriers to innovation and reduce the total cost of technology investments.
Oracle has a long history of supporting open standards and making technical contributions to the open source communities responsible for Linux, Berkeley DB, Xen, MySQL, and many other technologies. Additionally, Oracle is a contributing member of several industry groups that promote open standards, including the Eclipse Foundation, the Cloud Security Alliance, and the Internet Society. And this year, we expanded our membership in and contributions to the Cloud Native Computing Foundation (CNCF).
Oracle Cloud Infrastructure has made several announcements in recent months that advance our commitment to openness and support the needs of software developers. Following is a summary of some of the latest news.
Oracle Linux Cloud-Native Environment
Introduced at Oracle OpenWorld 2018 in October, the Oracle Linux Cloud Native Environment gives developers the features that they need to develop microservices-based applications that can be deployed in environments that support open standards. The Oracle Linux Cloud Native Environment is based entirely on open standards, specifications, and APIs defined by the CNCF.
The environment makes it easier for developers to create, orchestrate, and manage containers. It also provides tools and resources for cloud native networking and storage, continuous integration and continuous delivery, and observability and diagnostics.
Oracle recently introduced GraphPipe, an open source project designed to make it easier for enterprises to deploy and query machine learning models. GraphPipe gives developers a standard, high-performance protocol for transmitting tensor data over networks.
We also recently released our Terraform provider, which gives developers access to an open source, enterprise-class orchestration tool that they can use to manage Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Compute. We'll soon be releasing a group of open source Terraform modules that enable easy provisioning of Oracle Cloud Infrastructure services.
And those are just some of the advancements that Oracle Cloud Infrastructure is making as it builds out the world's first truly open public cloud platform. Stay tuned for more news.
By Alison Weiss
Some executive decision-makers still see artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and blockchain as futuristic and don’t yet fully grasp how these and other emerging technologies are relevant to improving daily business operations. But at Oracle OpenWorld 2018, Oracle leaders detailed how emerging technologies are now incorporated in foundational Oracle products and services, enabling enterprises to keep pace with change and gain a competitive edge today and in the future.
Autonomous Security in Second-Generation Oracle Cloud Infrastructure
At the most essential level, Oracle has incorporated machine learning and AI in its new second-generation Oracle Cloud Infrastructure to rearchitect the conventional public cloud. During his October 21 keynote address, Oracle Executive Chairman and CTO Larry Ellison said the changes were necessary because “the current state of the art of cloud defenses is just not good enough, not even close.”
Oracle Cloud Infrastructure features cyberdefenses that protect the perimeter of customers’ cloud-based servers and isolate them from one another and from the Oracle control code inside Oracle’s cloud. In addition, Oracle Cloud Infrastructure deploys the latest AI and machine learning technology in the form of “autonomous robots” that locate and eliminate malicious attacks coming from sophisticated, bot-equipped hackers. “Threats can’t enter, and threats can’t spread. It’s a big deal,” said Ellison.
Further, Oracle Cloud Infrastructure makes it easy to migrate existing enterprise workloads to the cloud to protect customer investments. Moving forward, every customer buying Oracle database and infrastructure services will get the second-generation Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, which is available now in the public cloud. Oracle Cloud Infrastructure will be available in 2019 with Oracle Cloud at Customer, Oracle’s program that provides the public cloud behind the customer’s firewall.
One of the most critical Oracle Cloud Infrastructure innovations is its autonomous capabilities, particularly Oracle Autonomous Database. The database is self-tuning and self-provisioning, so IT labor costs are lower and performance and reliability are greatly improved—and human error is eliminated. The database comes in two versions: Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse Cloud, available now, is optimized for analytics and reporting workloads, and Oracle Autonomous Transaction Processing Cloud, coming in 2019, is tuned for complex transactions and mixed workloads.
Oracle is also offering new automated security solutions that use machine learning and intelligent automation to automate detection, prevention, prediction, and response to improve the security of customer data in Oracle Cloud. Oracle Key Management Cloud Service enables users to control data encryption, Oracle CASB Cloud Service monitors and enforces secure configurations, and Oracle Cloud Infrastructure Web Applications Firewall offers distributed-denial-of service protection and protects against attacks on web traffic.
Ahead of the AI and Machine Learning Curve
In his October 23 keynote address, Oracle CEO Mark Hurd homed in on how the cloud and integrated technology such as AI are key to helping organizations lower costs while driving innovation and improving productivity. However, Oracle doesn’t see AI as an independent solution. “We see AI as a core feature that will get embedded into virtually every solution and every application,” he said.
Hurd believes that by 2025 AI will be pervasive in all cloud and business applications as well as platform services and that 85% of interactions with customers will be automated.
Oracle is ahead of the market with its next-generation Oracle Applications. The complete suite seamlessly integrates machine learning and AI features into existing tasks and processes to reduce the learning curve and offer experiences that are more intuitive and personalized to empower business users across the enterprise, including finance, HR, customer experience, and supply chain professionals.
In particular, new AI-powered innovations have been added to Oracle Human Capital Management Cloud (Oracle HCM Cloud), Oracle Enterprise Resource Planning Cloud(Oracle ERP Cloud), and Oracle Enterprise Performance Management Cloud (Oracle EPM Cloud). Oracle HCM Cloud includes a variety of improvements, including an HR-trained bot that gives employees a fast way to get answers to common HR questions, and Oracle ERP Cloud will soon feature AI-powered payment capabilities. Further, Oracle EPM Cloud will soon sport AI capabilities to help pinpoint performance management data patterns.
During his October 24 keynote, Ellison demonstrated the new Oracle Digital Assistant, which applies AI to natural language processing and machine learning so it can understand context, derive intent, and identify and learn user behaviors and patterns to pull answers across enterprise applications, including organization charts, calendars, and operating data. Users can take advantage of any of the most common voice and messaging platforms as a front end to Oracle Digital Assistant, including Slack and Amazon Alexa.
Ellison also introduced the new Oracle Fusion Analytics Warehouse, built on Oracle Analytics Cloud and Oracle Autonomous Data Warehouse Cloud. It features machine learning capabilities and can extract data across cloud applications, including accounting, marketing, and HR. It is designed to automate critical business processes and identify key insights for business users, developers, and IT professionals. “We automate those tedious processes, we automate those complex processes, giving you huge productivity gains, by adopting our next-generation cloud applications,” said Ellison.
Another emerging technology delivering real-world business benefits is blockchain. To remove barriers to adoption and highlight its advantages, Oracle announced Oracle Blockchain Platform, its new suite of use-case-specific SaaS applications for enhancing traceability and transparency throughout the supply chain. The applications are built with Oracle Blockchain Cloud Service and seamlessly connect with Oracle Supply Chain Management Cloud (Oracle SCM Cloud), Oracle ERP Cloud, and other Oracle Cloud applications.
Oracle Blockchain Platform enables customers to track products through the supply chain on a distributed ledger to increase trust in business transactions, obtain improved visibility across a multitier supply chain, streamline product delivery and contract execution, and enhance customer satisfaction.
Oracle’s blockchain platform was announced earlier in 2018, and it has already been adopted by a variety of global organizations across industries and verticals such as transportation, supply chain and logistics, energy, retail and ecommerce, financial services, telecommunications, and the public sector. Although Oracle Blockchain Platform’s initial focus is on supply chains, plans call for Oracle to introduce other product lines in the near future.
Looking ahead, executives can count on Oracle to continue to incorporate machine learning, AI, and other emerging technologies into SaaS applications and Oracle Cloud. As Hurd observed at Oracle OpenWorld, data is a key asset for businesses to own, analyze, and secure. And today AI and machine learning can help provide the opportunities for Oracle customers to turn data into knowledge that helps them sell more—and save more.
Alison Weiss is a frequent contributor.
Remember the oft-told myth about the US patent office chief wanting to shut down the office at the turn of the 20th century because just about everything that could be invented already had been? The modern version is that just about every job that can be created already has been, as critics of artificial intelligence argue that AI-powered automation and decision-making will inevitably lead to rising unemployment.
What those critics are missing is the fact that technological innovations will create all manner of net new and unforeseen employment opportunities in the years to come—just as they have in decades past.
When Bell Labs invented the transistor in the 1940s, no one could have predicted the countless number of IT products, services, vendors, vendor ecosystems, and adjacent industries it would spawn worldwide. Instead, people worried that computers would replace scads of existing jobs. As it turned out, they did: telephone and elevator operators, office clerks, and other occupations that lent themselves to automation and digitization. But computers also went on to create millions of high-paying technology jobs and trillions of dollars in profitable revenues that no one ever imagined.
By one estimate, computers and other software-driven machines already have taken over 90% of the jobs—many of them backbreaking—that people once did. Yet the US economy is humming along at a record-low 3.7% unemployment rate. Clearly, as technology advances eliminated farm, assembly line, financial services, and many other jobs over the decades, many more were continuously created.
Jobs We Haven’t Thought of Yet
Given that context, I recently predicted at our Oracle OpenWorld 2018 event that artificial intelligence and other emerging technologies will change the global economy and tech industry so fast in the coming years that roughly 60% of the IT jobs that will exist in 2025 haven’t even been invented yet.
Try these positions on for size: supervisor of AI-powered robots (it won’t be long before we see bots on org charts); algorithm auditor (who makes sure the bots are doing what’s expected); AI-assisted healthcare technician; specialist in human-machine user experience; even quantum programmer.
Furthermore, I see current IT professions expanding and evolving thanks to AI and other emerging technologies, just as the accounting profession did with the advent of spreadsheets.
For example, the job of database administrator will fundamentally change because of the new Oracle Autonomous Database, which uses machine learning to take over nearly all of the manual work of provisioning, tuning, and patching a database. Instead of putting DBAs out of work, the Autonomous Database will free them to take on higher-level responsibilities, such as analyzing company data to unlock competitive insights and spending more time with developers to build applications to wow customers. In fact, the IT profession overall will evolve from performing tasks (the kind better left to computers) to driving business value.
Let’s not underestimate the power of the personal touch—human presence, empathy, creativity, flexibility—informed by machine-generated intelligence. Bots can’t lead, motivate, or invent. As futurist Sophie Hackford told Oracle OpenWorld attendees last month: “This is not a race against the machines, but rather with them.”
In profession after profession, not just IT-specific ones, technological progress means that people can spend fewer hours on the drudgery of updating systems, approving and filing forms, and monitoring transactions—and more time doing work that improves people’s lives: creating new sources of renewable energy, growing food more productively, developing medical treatments and cures.
Meanwhile, there’s no ignoring the demographic fact that low birth rates in many industrialized countries signal labor shortages to come worldwide. For example, Japan, whose working-age population has been declining since the late 1990s, sees digitization and automation as a solution to its labor problems, not as a contributor.
The employment challenge ahead isn’t about surviving the robotic overlords. It’s about putting a higher priority on education, career training, and lifelong learning to prepare people for tomorrow’s ever-changing jobs, many of which we can’t even imagine today. When it comes to AI, I’m an optimist.
This job-creation engine is just getting started.
You’ve already experienced it… SEO is becoming harder and harder.
As time goes on, it takes longer to rank and you have to spend more money to get the results you want.
But the reality is, you can’t wait forever to get results. And you have no choice but to leverage SEO as a tactic because everyone else is doing it.
So, what should you do?
Well, the first thing you need to do is adjust how you think about SEO. SEO isn’t only about rankings. To be honest, I don’t even track them for my own site. It’s about getting the right kind of traffic.
You know, the visitors who are ready to buy.
So, instead of teaching you how to rank for competitive head terms, which is going to be even more difficult in 2019, I’m going to break down a formula that will give you much faster results and sales in this ultra-competitive environment.
And best of all, I am going to break it down into 4 steps as I know you don’t have the time to do everything.
Here’s the 4-step SEO strategy you should follow in 2019:
Step #1: Attract customers before they are ready to buy
The most expensive keywords to go after are buyer intent keywords. You know, the ones where someone types in a keyword and is ready to spend money right then and there.
And that will always be the case. Not just from an SEO standpoint, but even a pay per click standpoint.
So, what should you do… not go after these lucrative keywords?
Of course not. More so, you have to go after them no matter how long it takes to rank. You just have to be patient.
But in the short run, there are other keywords you can go after that aren’t as competitive and don’t cause a sale right away. But they do cause a sale to happen… it just takes a few weeks from when that person first lands on your site to when they buy.
So how do you find the keywords that aren’t as competitive and cause people to buy (as long as you are willing to be patient)?
You use Google Correlate.
Here’s how it works…
Let’s say you are selling beard oil but you know the term is competitive and will take you a lot longer to rank for than you have.
So what do you do?
With Google Correlate, it will show you all of the terms people search for in Google before they search for the term “beard oil.”
In other words, these are the same people who buy beard oil products… but now you are going to attract them to your site before they are even ready to buy.
Type in “beard oil” or the term you want to rank for in Google Correlate. Then, shift series to -2 weeks, which means you will be given a list of terms people search for 2 weeks before they are likely to type in “beard oil.”
And then you will get a list of terms:
As you can see from the image above, people type in terms like beard products, best beard oil, beard balm, what is beard oil, and how to make beard oil.
If you write blog content that is super in depth about those phrases, you’ll appeal to people who also search for beard oil.
The cool part about Google Correlate is it works differently than Google Suggest or any other keyword tool because they are showing you what people search for before they are ready to buy.
And similar to how you put in -2 weeks as the shift series, you can turn it into a positive number and see what people search for weeks after looking up beard oil:
You’ll notice a lot of people who search for beard oil search for oils related to coughs.
Most people who sell beard oil probably don’t think about offering oils for coughing, but it is a similar audience and it’s a great way for you to generate extra revenue from the customer base you already have.
Step #2: Land and expand
Everyone focuses on ranking for new terms. But there is an issue, it’s hard to rank for new terms.
Even though SEO has a huge ROI, it’s a strategy that requires patience.
But here is the thing, you can get results faster if you use the land and expand strategy.
Here’s how it works. Log into Google Search Console. Next, click on “performance” and you will see a list of terms that you currently rank for:
Then I want you to click on one of the most popular terms you already rank for and then click on pages. You should see a report that shows you the URL that ranks for the term on Google. You need this URL because you will be modifying this page.
Now I want you to take that term and put it into Ubersuggest. Once the report loads, click on “Keyword Ideas” in the navigation. You’ll see a report that will look something like this:
You’ll see a laundry list of long tail phrases… I want you to take the ones that are buyer intent related and add them to the page that already ranks for the head term.
When adding the long tail phrases, make sure you adjust your content to be relevant to those keywords. And pick the ones that are highly related to your product or service. Just stuffing them into your page without adjusting the content is spammy and won’t provide a good user experience to searchers.
What you will find is that because you are already ranking for the head term, typically you will shoot to page one within 30 to 60 days for the long-tail variation by adjusting your content. It’s a quick win!
But the key to this strategy is to pick the right longtail keywords. Don’t just look at traffic numbers, focus on terms that you know will cause a sale or a lead.
Step #3: Build a brand
Google has been placing more emphasis on brands. In other words, if you have a strong brand, you’ll rank faster.
When I really started focusing on brand building, my traffic went from 240,839 in June 2016:
To 454,382 in August 2016:
As the Ex-CEO of Google said:
Brands are the solution, not the problem. Brands are how you sort out the cesspool.
In other words, if you want to succeed on Google in the long run, you have to build a brand. As your brand grows, your search traffic will as well.
The way to monitor your brand growth is Google Trends. Type in your brand name into Google Trends as well as a few of your competitors to see how you are stacking up.
Sadly, there isn’t a quick hack to skyrocket your brand. There is, however, a formula that works for both personal and corporate brands.
So, what is the formula?
You do something that is bold!
Sure people can tell you to blog, speak at conferences, run ads… but none of that helps you build a brand that has a loyal following because everyone else is already doing the same things (or trying at least).
But what your competition isn’t doing is being bold. If you want a brand like Tony Robbins or Apple, bold is the way to go.
So how do you do something that is bold?
Well, lets first start with a personal brand (although I recommend that you build a corporate one instead).
Do the opposite
When it comes to building a personal brand, you’ll have to take the opposite approach of most people in your space. Whatever is working for them won’t work for you.
No one cares for the copycat, especially when they are satisfied with the original solution.
In other words, if you do exactly what your competitor is doing no one will care to follow you.
Let me give you examples of how to do the opposite of your competition:
- Genuinely help people – a lot of people blog and participate on the social web, but how many people take the time to respond to their community? As far as I can tell, less than 1%. Just look at me. For years, I’ve responded to comments on my blog, Facebook, and even YouTube. I am so engaged with my community on LinkedIn that they honored me as one of their Top Voices of 2018! Most people are too lazy to do this… doing the opposite has helped me build a connection with you. And if you are wondering why I do this it’s because when I started out I had no money and people helped me. I’m just trying to do the same.
- Writing 10x content – when I got into blogging, everyone was doing it. So I had to find a way to separate myself. I did this by writing in-depth guides… not those 5,000-word blog posts, I am talking about 30,000-word guides. On top of that, I spent money on the design so they would look beautiful.
- Creating video content – when I got into the digital marketing community, there were already large conferences that had thousands of attendees. I thought speaking at all of them would help my brand… and they did to some extent, but I was just another speaker. But very few people in my space were creating video content… so now instead of giving speeches at conferences, I give them on YouTube, Facebook, and LinkedIn. I’m able to reach more people without having to travel and the content lives on forever (and is available for free to everyone!).
That’s how I stood out from my competition and built a personal brand. And then I did it for years as brands aren’t built overnight.
If you aren’t sure on how to do the opposite of your competition when it comes to your personal brand leave a comment and I’ll try and give you some ideas.
Now let’s go into building a brand for your company… It all comes down to one thing…
No matter what you are selling online you have competition. It doesn’t matter if you are a B2B or a B2C business… you have competition, which means it is going to be hard for your brand to stand out.
So, how do you differentiate yourself?
You do so by being bold.
Let me give you an example. In the United States, there are tons of options when it comes to cell phone carriers. So how do you stand out when everyone offers the same phone and competitive pricing?
Well, T-Mobile separated themselves by offering free Netflix, unlimited data, and free roaming.
And you don’t have to be a big company to do something bold. When Zappos started selling shoes they decided to do a few things different. First, they offered a refund policy that lasted 1 year. Just think about that… if you return a shoe to them 12 months later, the chances are it’s out of style and they won’t be able to resell it.
Then they decided to randomly upgrade their shipping. So instead of ground shipping, they would randomly upgrade you to 2-day or next-day air.
And Amazon crushed their competition the moment they rolled out their Prime program. When it first came out, you would get free 2-day shipping on all Prime products for just $99 a year. What a ridiculously amazing offer.
Now that’s being bold!
Being bold doesn’t have to break your bank account. You don’t have to do something like Amazon and T-Mobile… it can be as simple as providing amazing customer service when you are in an industry that’s known for terrible support.
If you are unsure of how you can be bold with your business, leave a comment and I will try and give you some ideas. Make sure you provide an overview of your business so I can give you halfway decent ideas. 😉
And of course, being bold won’t build your brand overnight (it takes years) but you should see growth each quarter. If you aren’t, that means you aren’t being bold enough.
Step #4: Build a better mousetrap
A mousetrap? Why would you want to build a mousetrap?
Link building is still important. Sure, Google is looking at many other factors now, but link building still helps with rankings.
But it is harder to build links than it used to be back in the day. Everyone is blogging… heck, there are over 440 million blogs and over a billion if you count Tumblr, Medium, and WordPress.com.
Yes, that means there are more sites to hit up and ask for a link but everyone is doing that.
So how do you build links when everyone is getting those spammy emails asking for a link, such as the one below?
You have to build a better mousetrap. Something so amazing that everyone wants to link to it without you asking for a link.
It used to be detailed guides but seeing 10,000-word guides that have fancy designs are more common these days than when I started creating them.
They still work, especially when it comes to brand building, but they just aren’t as effective when it comes to link building.
Same with infographics, they used to get tons of social shares and links (they still do to some extent), but they aren’t as effective as they used to be.
So what kind of mousetrap do you need to build? You could start off with something that people are used to paying for.
With very little marketing, they were able to generate 943 backlinks from 187 domains.
I also did this with Ubersuggest.
I put in more effort into marketing, so I was able to generate 10,667 unique backlinks.
A great example in the consumer space (this would do wonders for e-commerce sites as well) is animated infographics. Everyone has seen infographics, so Aminagraffs decided to make their infographics animated, which caused them to go viral.
Here’s part of their infographic that breaks down how a car motor works.
Best of all, the Amimagraphs founder didn’t do any marketing… the graphic just spread. Even with no marketing, it generated 751 backlinks from 136 domains and over 200,000 visitors.
If you want to use old-school link building tactics, you can, they just won’t help you as much in 2019. So, get creative and build a better mousetrap.
When you build a good mousetrap, you may be worried about cost. But there is a different way to think about it…
How much would you be spending on marketing to get the same results?
People make fun of me for what I am doing with Ubersuggest and think it is silly that I can “lose” $150,000 or so a month. But if I had to buy the traffic that I get because of Ubersuggest it would cost me much more than $150,000. Even though my mousetrap is expensive, it is still cheaper than paid ads.
And you don’t have to go as far as me. Doing what Animagraffs is affordable. I paid them $750 to create an animated infographic for me. I’m not sure what they charge these days, but I bet you can find someone on the web who will do it for a few hundred bucks.
Instead of thinking of SEO in the traditional sense, I want you to shift your strategy.
SEO is only going to get harder, Google is going to continually change their algorithm in ways you may not like, but the one thing that is certain is the old way of doing SEO will get you results, just not in the timeframe you want.
So, follow the 4 steps above. They are unconventional, but the industry is so competitive and saturated that you have no choice but to think outside of the box.
So what other unique strategies are you going to leverage in 2019?
What’s one thing that you are constantly seeing on the web? Especially if you are on Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube?
Come on, take a guess…
No, I am not talking about people taking half-naked selfies of themselves or posting their lunches. I’m talking about people showing off. From taking pictures of their cars or money and even their homes to standing in front of private jets and yachts.
You know… one of those images like the one above. And if you are wondering, that isn’t my car. A friend took that picture of me when I was at the race track… heck I don’t even drive anymore (or have any more hair!).
But do you want to know a little secret?
The loudest one in the room is the weakest one in the room
Now, I didn’t come up with that quote. It’s from the movie American Gangster that stars Denzel Washington.
But sadly, that doesn’t stop people from taking advice from all of the “loud” marketers our there showing off.
But I’ll let you on in a little secret…
People who really have money don’t need to run ads showing off how much cash they have and they surely don’t care what others think about them.
I learned this from my parents, as well as a few other valuable things.
So what did my parents teach me?
I didn’t grow up with money, and I didn’t have rich parents. My first job was picking up trash, cleaning restrooms, and sweeping up vomit at a theme park.
And I don’t want anyone to feel sorry for me either. My life wasn’t bad at all. I didn’t grow up poor either.
My parents worked really hard as immigrants and eventually, they were able to provide a middle-class lifestyle for me and my sister.
But as I was growing up, my parents taught me that showing off only draws more attention and causes problems.
That’s why I don’t have “lifestyle” photos of myself. Heck, I don’t really even talk much about my personal life as I prefer to keep things private… as much as possible at least. That’s the main reason I don’t use Instagram.
See, when I was growing up, I was thankful for whatever I had.
When I was growing up, that’s the car my parents gave me to drive. Luckily for me, my parents were generous enough not to make me pay for the car or even the gas.
Sure, the car had a sticker in the back window promoting my mom’s daycare business at the time, but I didn’t mind. When I would go to business meetings people would make fun of me but that didn’t bother me either.
Want to know why? I had a free car. 🙂
I took a business meeting in Bel Air once, which was a far drive from my parents’ house. When the meeting ended, I was one of the first people to give the valet my ticket. I remember people kept coming after me with their ticket and everyone got their cars before me.
I get it… I was driving a beat-up Honda Civic with a “Tina’s Day Care” sticker on the back.
This experience, as well as a few more similar ones, taught me that people make assumptions based on appearances.
And that’s what you are doing when it comes to getting marketing and entrepreneurship advice.
Don’t believe me?
I know what you are thinking… “no Neil, I don’t believe those ads on YouTube of people showing off their homes and fancy cars.”
And I know you don’t believe them because they are running ads or selling get rich quick products. But let me ask you a question.
Who would you rather take advice from?
A random kid who does magic tricks for fun, barely has any money, and is telling you how to grow your website traffic…
Someone who lives in a multi-million-dollar house, drives a Ferrari, and is wearing a $20,000 watch.
I bet you are going to take advice from the person with a fancy car over the kid. And that’s where a lot of marketers and entrepreneurs go wrong.
In an ideal world, you should hear both of them out and pick the advice that’s most relevant to you.
Just like how I met up with the kid who does magic tricks because he was an up and coming SEO and there’s always a chance that he can teach me something new.
The big mistake people make is that they only listen to rich people. Just because someone has money, it doesn’t mean they know what’s best for you.
In many cases, the person who is rich may not know your space well. For example, two friends of mine, Matt and Tom, have done well in the financial space and they have a blog called Signals Matter.
Just because Matt and Tom have done well, I would never take advice from them about marketing.
Sure, I listen to them about business and financial advice, but I know when to listen and when to stop. At the same time, Matt and Tom are humble, they never show off, they don’t talk about their success, and they don’t ever try to give me advice on things they aren’t experts on… such as marketing.
So, what’s the point I am trying to make?
Know your audience. Just because someone looks successful, and maybe even potentially is, it doesn’t mean you should go to them for all sorts of advice. Know what they are really good at, pick their brain, and get advice related to what they know well and that’s it.
So, should you ignore these flashy people on Instagram and YouTube?
Funny enough, I know a lot about them. And similar to the advice I gave you above, I look at them from a different perspective.
I don’t care about their ads or their products. But what I focus on is how they do their own marketing.
How are they building up their following? What are they doing to get such high engagement?
I believe that you can learn from everyone. Instead of looking at the bad, focus on what you can learn from them and use it to grow your own business.
For example, a lot of the info marketers sell aggressively, but the tactics they use, such as selling through webinars are great. And instead of just ignoring them, I’ve taken their strategies and applied some of them to my own companies.
And now I am able to generate 3.6 sales at $997 for every 100 webinar registrations. That’s not too shabby… $3,589 in revenue for 100 webinar registrations.
In other words, always look for opportunities to learn from.
As a teacher, my mom taught me that you can learn something from everyone… you just have to be willing to listen.
It’s up to you to listen and decide what advice to follow.
So what else did my parents teach me?
There’s probably a bit too much to break down, but sticking with the theme of the loudest person in the room is the weakest, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Respect is earned, not bought – sure, people will look up to you if you show off your wealth. But you build fake friends who only care for one thing… your money. Real respect is earned by your actions, your knowledge, your accomplishments… not how much money you have in the bank account.
- Knowledge is power – value knowledge more than wealth. Successful people don’t care to only hang around with other rich people. They thrive to learn more and be around smart people. Never stop learning and always have a thirst for knowledge.
- Wealth is built, not spent – you won’t build wealth if you burn your money on fancy cars or showing off. You’ll build wealth by reinvesting and putting your money to work. The last thing you want to do is tie up your cash in assets that don’t produce any income. If you ever get to a point in life where you have more money than you know what do with, then, by all means, go buy whatever makes you happy.
- Think before you talk – when things start going well, showing off and talking about how well you are doing won’t help. All it will do is create more competition. The last thing you want is other people copying you because it will slow down your growth and potentially cause you to earn less. So, think twice before telling people how well you are doing.
- Life isn’t that bad – entrepreneurship is like a rollercoaster. There are good moments as well as bad ones, happy ones, and even scary ones. You need to stay level headed and be logical at all times. An easy way to do this is to always remember that when things are going well for you, there is always someone else out there who has it better. And when things are getting bad, remember, there is always someone out there who has it much worse than you.
- Arrogance will kill you – don’t think you are better than other people because you are not. Sure, you might be a good person, but money doesn’t make you better than everyone else. And not having money doesn’t make you worse than everyone else. Find your place in life and do what fulfills you. I know it sounds cheesy, but it is true.
- Optimize for contentment – people strive to be happy, but why? Happiness is an emotion and it doesn’t last forever. People aren’t happy 24/7, so don’t optimize for it. It’s just unrealistic. Instead, optimize for contentment.
There will always be people that are going to show off. Just remember, the loudest person in the room is typically the weakest.
People who have real wealth in most cases have nice things, but they know not to rub them in your face and show off.
The moment someone shows off their wealth, it typically means they don’t really have it. It’s what they call 6-figure millionaires, in which people spend all of their money creating the illusion of wealth.
So, when you see these people or even people with real wealth, don’t focus on what they have. Focus on how some may be trying to scam you for your money with their get rich quick schemes.
You are too smart for that anyway.
Instead, I want you to focus on what you can learn from them. For example, a lot of those Instagrammers who are flashy understand marketing concepts that have helped them build an engaged community. Learn from that and use the tactics that work for you.
A lot of those YouTube and Facebook advertisers might be selling products you don’t approve of but some of their ads are really clever. Again, learn from them. Look at their ads, their copy, their landing pages… see if you can adapt any of their strategies and apply them to your business in an ethical way.
So what do you think about all of the people who show off?
You’ve seen me and thousands of other marketers talk about how to make a blog popular. But if you don’t set up your blog correctly, you won’t do well no matter what kind of marketing you do.
And no, I am not talking about the technical setup of your blog. I am talking about the foundation. From what you are blogging about, to how you structure your content… there are a lot of basics people get wrong.
And if you get them wrong, it’s going to be that much harder to get more traffic (and more importantly monetize the traffic).
So, if I had to start a blog from scratch again, here are the principles I would follow before even writing my first blog post:
Principle #1: Pick a big enough niche
Unless you are well funded, you have to pick a niche. It’s too hard to compete on a broad level with sites like Huffington Post and Business Insider. They well funded and are able to produce huge amounts of content from contributors big and small.
And if your niche is too small, it will be hard for you to grow your traffic and monetize your blog as there just won’t be enough people interested in what you are blogging about.
When trying to find a niche, use Google Trends. Make sure to pick a niche that is bigger than “digital marketing” but smaller than “nutrition.”
Principle #2: Don’t stick with one platform
I know I’ve told you that you need to use WordPress as your blogging platform, but it shouldn’t stop there. Why not also use Medium, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and even Facebook?
These are all platforms where you can repurpose your content.
Blogging is competitive, so you’ll need to push your content out on as many platforms to ensure that you’ll get the most eyeballs.
Setting up social accounts across the different platforms is really important. Make sure the branding and imagery are the same across all of them and try to generate some followers by following these steps so that when you start producing unique content you’ll have places to promote.
Principle #3: Control your destiny
Google doesn’t penalize for duplicate content. But that doesn’t mean you should just post your content on every platform without thinking of it.
The only platform that doesn’t have an algorithm that you need to worry about is your own blog. Facebook, Medium, Tumblr, and LinkedIn all have algorithms you can’t fully control.
Always link back out to your site when posting on these other platforms. The more people you can get back to your site, the better chance you will have of growing your traffic and monetizing.
Other platforms like Facebook don’t make it easy for you to generate revenue if you keep your readers on their platform.
Principle #4: Blogging is both about “you” and “I”
Blogging is something that is supposed to be informal. No one wants to read an essay or a white paper.
People want to read stories. They want to be involved in a conversation, and the easiest way to do this is to use the words “you” and “I” within your blog posts.
This one simple change will help you build a deeper connection with your readers. A deeper connection means better monetization in the future.
Principle #5: Always ask questions
At the end of every blog post, always ask a question. If you don’t ask a question, people won’t know what to do next.
By asking a question, a portion of your readers will answer it by leaving a comment. This will increase engagement, which again will make monetization easier in the long run.
Principle #6: You have to stand out
There are over a billion blogs on the web, and that number is continually rising. This just means blogging is going to get even more competitive over time.
So how do you stand out in a crowded marketplace?
You have to go above and beyond. Sadly, there is no single answer as every industry is different, but typically infographics, visuals, and doing the opposite of everyone else in your space will help you stand out.
For example, if everyone in your space writes 1000-word blog posts, test out writing 10,000-word posts. Or if everyone is using text-based content, test out visual based content like infographics or video.
Principle #7: Your content needs to be portable
People are always on the go these days. Your content needs to be easy to digest.
And no, I am not talking about making your content mobile compatible or leveraging AMP framework (although those are good ideas). I am talking about making your content portable.
For example, creating video-based content or audio-based content (podcasts) are simple ways to make your content portable. For example, it is easier to watch video-based content on your mobile phone when on the bus or listen to podcasts while you are driving.
Principle #8: Content isn’t king unless it’s good
You’ve heard the saying that content is king. But is it really?
The Washington Post publishes over 500 pieces of content per day. The Wall Street Journal is at 240, the New York Times is at 230, and Buzzfeed is around 222.
The list keeps going on and on as there are over 2 million blog posts published daily.
In other words, writing mediocre content isn’t good enough. It won’t do well for and you will just be wasting time. So, don’t write content unless it is really, really, really good.
Principle #9: You have to produce quality and quantity
It’s sad, but it is true. Not only does your content have to be amazing, but you have to publish amazing content in quantity.
Just because you are writing an amazing blog post, it doesn’t mean you will do well. Content marketing is a hit or miss game in which your posts will do well or they won’t. And in most cases, your content won’t do as well as you want no matter how good you are at marketing.
To increase your odds of success, you need to be willing to produce amazing content in quantity.
Principle #10: Your blog isn’t always the best place to blog
Especially early on, you need to save your best content for other blogs. From industry blogs to large sites like Entrepreneur and Business Insider… consider placing your best content elsewhere.
Once you’ve been blogging for a year and you have built up an audience, you’ll want to keep your best content for yourself. But in the beginning, placing your best content on more popular blogs will help you increase your brand recognition and audience.
If you aren’t sure on how to craft a guest posting proposal, read this.
Principle #11: Useful content beats viral content
We all dream about viral content, but it’s not easy to produce.
The chances of your content going viral are slim to none. And when your content goes viral it will die down… the question just becomes when.
Instead of focusing on creating viral content (when you have less than a 1% chance of producing it), focus on creating useful content. Useful content tends to be evergreen, which means it can generate steady traffic over time.
Principle #12: It’s easier to build a personal blog than a corporate one
I know I’ve mentioned that I wouldn’t build a personal brand if I started all over again, and I wouldn’t.
But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t leverage one. People connect with people more than they connect with corporate brands.
It’s not like you have conversations with Coca-Cola or Nike like you have with a friend.
If you want your blog to be popular faster than go with a personal brand. If you want to build something big and potentially even sell it one day, consider a corporate brand for your blog (even though it will take longer for it become popular).
Principle #13: A blog won’t work without a community
Blogging is about creating conversations. But without readers and community, there is no conversation.
It would just be you talking…
For this reason, you can’t expect to build a popular blog without building up your social profiles.
From running Facebook and Twitter ads, to manually growing your follower counts, you need to focus on your social media game.
The bigger your social following the more people you’ll have to drive to your blog, and the easier it will be to create a community.
Principle #14: No man is an island
As you are building up a community, people will engage with you through comments.
If you don’t respond to every comment, then your community will slowly die down.
Just think of it this way… if you continually talked to someone and they ignored you each and every time, what would you do? Eventually, you would stop talking to them.
Don’t be rude to your community, help them out. Make sure you respond to each and every comment. Not just on your blog, but even when people comment on your social profiles, make sure you respond back.
Principle #15: People don’t read, they skim
Most of the people that come to your website won’t read. Blogs tend to have an average time on site of less than 1 minute.
There is no way your average visitor is going to read your 2,000-word blog post in under a minute. That means people skim.
Make sure you write your content with the assumption people skim. From leveraging headings to even writing a conclusion at the end of each post, this will help your readers get value out of your content even when they don’t fully read it.
Principle #16: It’s all about the headline
Some people spend 80% of their time writing the content and only 20% promoting it. Others spend 80% on marketing and 20% on the content creation. And some spend 50% of their time writing and 50% promoting.
But what about the headline? Why don’t people spend time crafting and testing amazing headlines?
What most people don’t know is that 8 out of 10 people will read your headline, but only 2 out of 10 will click through and read the rest. So focus on creating amazing headlines or else you won’t get tons of traffic.
Principle #17: Reveal your cards, all of them
Because the blogosphere is competitive, you have no choice but to reveal your cards. From your secrets to the “good stuff”… you’ll have to share it all.
If you don’t share it, you won’t be giving people a reason to read your blog over the billion other ones out there.
When revealing your cards, make sure you do it early on in each blog post. It is a great way to hook your readers and to get them to read the rest of your content.
Principle #18: Consistency will make or break you
When you continually blog, do you know what happens? Your traffic typically stays flat or slowly goes up.
But when you stop or take a break, your traffic will tank. And then when you start up again, your traffic won’t just go back to where it was, you’ll have to fight to gain your traffic back.
I once took a month break from blogging and it took me 3 months to recover my traffic. Literally 3 months.
Don’t start a blog unless you are willing to be consistent. Not just for a few months or a year, but I am talking years (3 plus).
Principle #19: Don’t ever rely on 1 traffic channel
You hear blogs exploding with Facebook traffic or Google traffic. But do you know what happens when those sites change their algorithms?
Your traffic drops.
It’s just a question of when, so expect your traffic to drop. So, don’t rely on only one traffic channel.
Before you write your first post, think about which channels you are going to leverage for traffic generation. You need to have an omnichannel approach in which you are leveraging all of the feasible channels out there that work for your niche.
Principle #20: Don’t forget about Google
You should always write for humans and not search engines. But that doesn’t mean you should ignore Google.
Whatever you are considering writing about, make sure you do some basic keyword research. Head over to Ubersuggest first. Then type in a few keywords related to your article and it will show you a list of other popular phrases.
If they are relevant, make sure you blend them into your content.
This one simple thing will help ensure that your content gets the most search traffic that it can possibly generate.
Principle #21: Be willing to kill your baby
When you start a blog, people only talk about writing and marketing. But as your blog gets older your responsibilities will grow.
One of them is the willingness to kill some of your content.
Not all of your content will be relevant a year or two from now. For example, if you write about Vine, which was a company Twitter bought and then shut down, it won’t be relevant anymore. Especially if the article focuses on “Vine marketing tips.”
Eventually, you want to delete it. There is no point in keeping useless content on your blog.
Principle #22: You can’t set it and forget it
Similar to killing some of your irrelevant content, you’ll also have to update your older content.
As your content gets outdated, you’ll want to keep it fresh or people will find that it’s useless and bounce away.
This, in turn, will screw up your user metrics (bounce rate, time on site, page views per visitor) and reduce your credibility and traffic.
If you are going to blog, be willing to put resources into updating your older content as well. It’s something that most bloggers don’t take into account when starting.
Principle #23: People won’t come back to your blog unless you ask them to
The best visitors are repeat visitors. They are more likely to comment, link to your site, share your content on the social web, and convert into a customer.
No matter how good your content is, people won’t just come back unless you ask them to.
The easiest way to do this is through emails and push notifications.
Don’t start a blog without building an email list or push notification list. You’ll find that people who opt-in to them are much more likely to convert into customers. So, build this from day 1.
Principle #24: Don’t wait too long to monetize
A lot of bloggers (including me) have made this mistake. We all wait till we have tons of traffic to monetize. But if you go years before trying to monetize, people will assume everything on your blog is free.
In other words, you are training your readers that they shouldn’t pay for anything. And that’s fine if you have no plan on selling anything.
But you should train them early on that not everything is free. This will make your revenue numbers better as you grow.
Principle #25: Have multiple monetization strategies
You can’t rely on one monetization strategy such as affiliate marketing or AdSense. Sometimes things happen that aren’t in your control such as an offer gets shut down or AdSense bans you and they don’t give you a reason.
Not only is it a safer strategy to have multiple monetization methods you’ll also make more money.
For example, some people won’t click on ads, while others may prefer buying an e-book from you.
When you start your blog, think about all of the monetization methods you want to try out and plan out how you are going to test them out (as not all of them will work).
Principle #26: Always include a personal touch
If you can’t write with a personal touch, then don’t write. Whatever you decide to blog about, make sure you can tie in a personal story.
People prefer reading content that has stories versus content with just facts and data.
If you don’t have personal stories that you can tie in, that means you are probably blogging on the wrong subject.
Principle #27: Be willing to pay the price
Blogging isn’t easy. It’s no longer a hobby where you can just write whenever you want and do well.
If you want to succeed, you have to be willing to put in the time and energy. And if you can’t, then you have to be willing to put in money.
If you don’t then you won’t do well, no matter how brilliant of a writer or marketer you are.
Really think about if you are willing to put in hours each day into making your blog successful. And are you willing to do that for a few years? Or are you willing to hire someone from day 1 to help out?
This isn’t a principle you need to take lightly, and it is the biggest reason most bloggers don’t make it.
If you don’t follow the above principles, you’ll find yourself spinning your wheels and creating a blog that doesn’t get any traction.
And if you happen to be lucky to gain visitors without taking into account the above principles, you’ll find that they won’t convert into customers.
So what other principles should bloggers follow? Just leave a comment below with some of the principles you follow.