Do you practice “hope marketing”?
That’s when you do something related to marketing and “hope” it’ll work out… But in reality, you don’t really have a strategy or a plan for predictable growth.
I learned this the hard way after failing many, many times.
Like in 2010 when when I started AutoGrow, I went to a number of in-person networking events.
I had no plan or strategy per se for how these events would grow my business, but if it was on MeetUp.com and it said “business” in the title, I figured “Oh what the hell, let’s give it a try.”
I wasted SO MUCH TIME doing stuff like that — not to mention, so much time being pitched by people who wanted to sell me life insurance and other stuff I didn’t need and didn’t want.
Occasionally it would lead to a client relationship, which is why I kept doing it for so long. But it was truly hit,
or miss but mostly miss.
Our second year in business, even though we had JUST RECENTLY helped one of our clients collect 7,000 customer emails addresses in a single week with a nicely designed landing page… I thought, “Well, the traffic for that campaign came from Facebook so let’s spend $1000 on Facebook Ads to get — more likes!.”
Haha — I laugh about it now because today we can see how that was waste of money.
Business and life is like that. You’ve just got to keep moving forward and work hard not to make the same mistake more than once.
Today, the team and I are making a lot less of those mistakes: we just passed 1,400 email subscribers, we’re receiving a steady stream of leads for our services weekly, and traffic just surpassed 5,000 monthly visits — and it’s all accelerating.
(That 3rd dot from the left is the beginning of 2014)
Well, imagine your company’s online sales funnel is like an upside-down cone with different “levels.” Even if all the middle steps (like your website design) and your conversion / follow-up process are completely screwed up — what’s the 1 thing that can overcome pretty much ALL of those issues?
If you don’t have traffic, no matter how strong or weak your online marketing foundation is, it doesn’t matter because — you won’t get results.
So “what changed” was I realized a fundamental truth. Two for the price of one in fact.
- If you’re serious about getting your business into a stronger position where you can see sustainable, predictable growth you need to invest in marketing activities that you can measure.
- And just as important is the need to invest in a strategy that is scalable, sustainable and has a cumulative “stacking effect.” Meaning, it gets you more results over time with relatively the same amount of effort.
For that reason, I decided to invest in our blog by putting out valuable articles once per week at the beginning of this year.
But here’s the challenge: when you’re spending serious time investing in creating content (especially if it’s high quality stuff that takes you HOURS to make), how do you ensure your target audience will visit it not just today… But weeks and months from now?
It’s a problem everyone faces:
- Whether you’ve been practicing content / inbound marketing for a while…
- Or perhaps you’re just getting started now
- Or maybe you’re tried it and given up because it didn’t produce the results you expected
That’s where Search Engine Optimization (SEO) comes in.
It one of the most commonly overlooked aspects of creating great content.
Hell, I ignored it completely for the first 3 months of this year.
I ignored it because I saw SEO as this “voodoo” thing that shady marketers used just to game Google.
To some extent that’s still true, but Google has made several fixes in recent years that actually even the playing field and have penalized many of the sites that were gaming the system.
In turn this makes it easier for websites like your’s and mine to attract more organic traffic without needing to know any fancy “tricks” to rank for relevant keywords in Google’s Search results.
One of the truly best methods I’ve found for doing this is called “Pumpkin Hacking.”
- It’s a big factor in why our our organic traffic alone has more than doubled in the last two months.
- It’s a key reason why SEO expert, Nick Eubanks was able to grow a blog to 100,000+ monthly visitors in just 9 months and then later on, another website to 1.4 million visitors in just 6 months
- It’s also the core reason why Fraser Cain, founder of UniverseToday.com was able to grow his site to over 3 million unique monthly visitors, making it one of the most visited websites on the internet.
What is Pumpkin Hacking?
The myth of the giant pumpkin is actually not a myth.
It’s a real thing and there are annual competitions where pumpkin growing experts compete. The world record currently belonging to one farmer’s 2,009 pound behemoth.
Here’s what the process looks like for a farmer who works to grow one of these massive fruits (yes, if you’re wondering, I looked it up):
- Step 1 – Plant the seeds
- Step 2 – Water frequently
- Step 3 – Make sure no other plants or weeds are growing so the pumpkin patch and suck up the maximum amount of nutrients
- Step 4 – Identify the larger pumpkins on each vine, and remove the smaller, less-promising ones
- Step 5 – Towards the end of the season, focus all of your attention on the single biggest pumpkin, remove all others at this point.
- Step 6 – Watch it grow (literally, in real-time), faster and faster.
Perhaps that’s more information that you wanted to know about growing pumpkins BUT the lesson here is an extremely useful one in business…
How Pumpkin Hacking applies to SEO and getting YOU more organic traffic
If you were to apply Pumpkin Hacking to your business it would look something like this:
- Step 1 – Plant seeds by regularly testing new marketing ideas. In this context that means regularly publishing new content. Don’t worry too much about “getting it right,” get started for now.
- Step 2 – Nurture that content by promoting it, so it can spread online, achieving maximum reach with your current audience and target market. Don’t spam though.
- Step 3 – Identify and focus on repeating the success of top performing parts of your marketing strategy. In this case that means key web pages and content you’ve published. You can identify these by looking at your Google Analytics pageview statistics as well as by looking at social media shares.
- Step 4 – Strengthen these pieces of your marketing mix, test fewer new, “unknown” ideas. For example, keep the page’s content up to date, consider starting a new marketing campaign to promote the existing content that has already performed well, and brainstorm new ways to re-purpose the content or expand upon certain topics related to that topic. You should also be researching how to better optimize on-page SEO (like changing headlines, titles, linking to these pages from other parts of your website etc.)
- Step 5 – Build mass and focus on the elements of your marketing that work best — with content marketing, that means focusing your efforts around only those top content topics that your audience shares the most, comments on the most, links to the most AND gets the most organic traffic.
By the way, make sure you pick up a copy of my Pumpkin Hacking Checklist for later on when you actually implement this.
Ok, enough theory, let’s talk about how I and two other experts applied this technique to get massive results.
3 Case study examples showing you how this method can be applied to your online marketing strategy
Pumpkin Hacking Example #1 – AutoGrow.co
Several months ago, I noticed an article I had written 3 years prior showing examples of sales funnels was continuously attracting organic traffic even though I had done nothing to improve it.
The only change between when I first wrote it and that moment, was the fact that I had started writing new content regularly.
And while the act of regularly creating new content seemed to “lift” visits for all of our webpages, that one in particular received about 3x the usual traffic by comparison.
So, before I even knew what Pumpkin Hacking was, I decided to “expand” the site’s focus on this piece of content by writing a follow-up article called the “12 Best Sales Funnel Examples.”
Not only did this fresher, more comprehensive piece of content push us to the top spot for related keywords in Google, but traffic to both articles increased and have steadily continued to increase over time (see page views result below) — just from 1 follow-up article that focused on what I observed to already be working.
I plan on practicing this more going forward because it’s a win for everyone involved: AutoGrow, Google, and you, the reader (or email subscriber?).
If you want a more advanced tip on how I’m doing this using Google Web Master tools, check out the video above that I recorded for you.
Pumpkin Hacking Example #2 – Nick Eubanks
Nick Eubanks puts my “mini-case study” above to shame with the SEO traffic results he’s been able to produce.
For example, in 2012 he launched a website in the Japanese market and in 9 months, with no advertising, was driving 100,000 visitors per month. Not only that, but he later replicated the strategy with another website, surpassing the original result in 6 months to the tune of 1.4 million visits.
The full write-up is here if you want to check it out. You can see where he specifically attributes “Pumpkin Hacking” as a key driver of growth. But here’s the short version:
“We asked tough questions, ranging from what users’ liked and disliked (colors, fonts, and layouts) … We took the responses seriously, making changes as they came in, trying to take something constructive from every piece of feedback, and pushing as many as 10 deployments a week.”
“I watched (obsessively) which phrases and topics generated the most traffic. As soon as a topic began to grow legs, we would focus additional keyword research on finding concepts and phrases that were both complimentary and contextually relevant.”
- “[Pumpkin hacking] seems to describe exactly what we did to continue to grow our traffic by double and even triple digits, month after month.The core concept is simple; focus resources on building what works. What this meant for us was paying attention to the search verticals and content that received the most traffic, most comments, most social shares, and being quick to cut the cord on traffic that didn’t perform.”
Pumpkin Hacking Example #3 – Fraser Cain
Fraser Cain is the founder of UniverseToday.com, a site that publishes space and astronomy news. Today it boasts well over 3 million visitors per month.
Fraser built up the site largely by writing news articles himself over the course of 10 years, publishing multiple times per week which resulted in a stacking effect of inbound search traffic.
Similar to Nick Eubanks, he explains how focusing on your audience and building up SEO traffic around what people want were critical to his success:
- “… focus 100 percent of your effort on your own website and the needs of your audience. Even brand new websites will bring in long tail search traffic from the search engines if they solve problems for people.” (underline added by me)
- “The problem is that people immediately try to focus on rankings; and that’s where the massive link building campaigns come in. But if you focus only on increasing your overall search traffic, and not battle for any specific keyword, your traffic just grows and grows. Over time, your increasing social network takes over and multiplies the impact of your writing.”
- “I became aware of the importance of search engine optimization about three years ago. Once I started incorporating SEO into my overall content process, my traffic jumped up in leaps and bounds. Until that point, I was only blogging and reporting on news, but I realized there was a whole class of evergreen content – the kind of concepts that people are always searching for.”
How to use this to grow your organic search engine traffic right now
Unless you have the resources to focus a team of people on building up your organic traffic via an aggressive content market strategy like Nick Eubanks did, don’t expect to implement this technique and see results overnight.
Remember, even for farmers who practice this with pumpkins in real life, it’s a process they go through over the course of an entire year. So keep that in mind.
The first and most practical steps I recommend you take are these:
- Setup (if you haven’t already) and start analyzing your pageview and organic traffic stats on Google Webmaster Tools and Google Analytics. This will give you insights into how people are organically arriving on your website, what keywords they used to get there, and what content they viewed while on your website. Look for patterns and “peaks” in the traffic data.
- Convert visitors on to your email list and then survey them about your website: what they liked, what they didn’t, what their biggest challenge is (related to your core business / industry).
- Take action: put what you learn from surveying your audience and studying your analytics to good use. Create content that solves people’s problems and implement on-site SEO best practices to ensure that your content will rank well for searches related to the keyword niche you’re targeting.
- Pumpkin Hacking is not just a method used by farmers to grow enormous pumpkins. It’s a strategy that YOU can use to get free organic traffic from Google.
- The idea behind Pumpkin Hacking your way to a top ranking (or just to be ranked) in Google’s search index, is that you create content that you think your target audience will want and that solves a problem for them. Then, over time, identify and focus on build more content on and around those top performing pieces of content. In order words, build on top of and build around what already works.
- A key benefit here is that you can stop guessing whether or not what you’re writing or creating is what your audience ACTUALLY wants to consume.
- This is a method I’ve just scratched the surface on using on the autogrow-pro.frb.io blog, but the results I’ve already seen first hand are compelling as I’ve shown above.
- There are other, more impressive examples, like those from Nick Eubanks and Fraser Cain who have built up websites with millions of visitors per month using the Pumpkin Hacking technique.
So, what how will you use pumpkin hacking to grow your business?