Learnings from “Blogging for Business” course by Ahrefs Academy

Disclaimer: The learnings are from this course — Blogging for Business. I highly encourage everyone to take the course for full learnings. I took down these notes for myself. Sharing it here to see if a wider audience benefit from it

One big takeaway from the course

Blogging for business is different from blogging for passion.

The fundamental rule of content marketing — “Your content should be of high quality, else everything else will fail”

Why did I take this course?

Learn to convert blog visitors to customers Learn more about SEO Learn how to turn my passion for writing into tangible business outcomes

What did I learn from this course?

  • Write about things relevant to your potential buyers

  • Use keyword research extensively [ahrefs]

  • Outreach for backlinks, not for views

  • Publishing X number of articles per week is a nonsense goal

  • Backlinks are important to rank high in Google results


Lesson 1: The compound effect of content marketing

Why blog?

Search, inbound.

Also, word of mouth, through sharing on social.

Content is a great way to generate word of mouth.

Why do blogs fail?

Spike of hope — after sharing on social and distribution, it’ll spike but it’ll fall after that.

Publishing new content regularly will have a curvy growth. /\/\/\/\

It needs to grow consistently. Upward growth📈

Ahrefs publish 2–3 blogs per month and their traffic grow regularly. They used to publish 2–3 blogs per week and it wasn’t growing.

Important to drive traffic to the business and actually impact revenue.

Consistent traffic to the blog is more important than the periodic spikes

How a blog grows

  • Spike of hope denotes that you’re asking the existing audience to come back to your blog

  • Sharing it in communities will also not bring new articles.

  • Word of mouth is passive. Publishing great content will generate word of mouth.

  • Proactive word of mouth can be achieved by emailing influencers.

Lesson 2: Two major strategies of growing a blog

Strategies to grow a blog

Viral — need to resonate with your target audience.

SEO — need to be useful, get backlinks, don’t have to publish regularly

Viral traffic doesn’t grow 1x, 2x, 3x, not snowball effect.

Content only goes viral if only exposed to a SUPER HUGE audience

Just one tweet from influencer doesn’t mean it’ll get picked up

Possible to build your entire business around a single article.

Lesson 3: How to analyze the traffic potential and ranking difficulty of a keyword

Target keywords

Biggest blogging mistake — writing about things no one is searching for.

Blog = Traffic = Audience = Sales

Google is the single source for the blog

Write about things that are relevant to your potential buyers

The first result will get 30% of all clicks

Search volume for a single keyword is not the only indicator, there are some similar search volume results that could be helpful.

Total search traffic more important than traffic for a single keyword.

How to find the BEST keywords to target

Put yourself in the shoes of the audience

Guess what they might be looking for

Put that in a tool like ahrefs

Look at the top-ranking page result

Title your article similar to that as well

How to determine the ranking difficulty in Google

No one really knows how Google ranks pages

Two factors — On-page + incoming links

Behavioral factors also matter — How long ppl stay? Do they do something?

More websites that link to your page, it’ll rank in your results.

Backlink factors had the most correlation to high search result ranking

When you want to outrank an article, note down the number of backlinks. Identify the one with the least backlinks so you can easily outrank them.

Lesson 4: How to find great content ideas with high business value

How to source great ideas:

Find communities like LinkedIn groups, Subreddits, Slack groups

Identify topics and figure out the search volume

Keyword research tools

Look for what people search for.



Google Keyword planner — not very great from SEO planners

Keywords for competition

Site explorer — search for your top keyword and look at google, what other companies come there? Search for it on Site explorer in ahrefs

Go to top pages

How to find low competition keywords?

Use content explorer in ahrefs, search for the keyword

Domain ranking is high, could depend on backlinks

Referring domain is backlinks

How to prioritize content ideas

Assess based on business value — will a reader become a customer?

3 — very useful

2 — helpful, but not directly relevant

1 — very weak but relevant

Topics with huge traffic potential < topics with huge business potential

Hubspot’s top article is “How to make a GIF” — 0 Business value

Search volume != business potential

Lesson 5: How to optimize your article for a target keyword and generate maximum search traffic with it

Searcher Intent

Targeting the wrong keyword could be a mistake?

Target the keyword with the right searcher intent, not the highest search volume

“advertising research” vs “PPC advertising research”

Pick the most relevant keyword even if the search volume is low

Optimizing articles for the keyword

If the article content matches the searcher intent, then that’s 80% of the optimization

75% of top 2M searches don’t have the search keyword in their page at all

Keyword stuffing won’t work anymore

Use keyword in Title, URL, Content

Google allows flexibility, it can understand synonyms and don’t have to be an exact match

Max results for your article

Your article ranks for more than 1 search query

Naturally, rewrite the article to mention more relevant search queries

Look for the content gap between top-ranking articles but you don’t have.

Study what people are searching for and expand your article to include that

Blog audit

You can outrank the competition by updating your old content. Your past articles might be targeting the wrong keyword

Go through blogs and assign them to:

  • Update

  • Articles that already bring search

  • Action: Update articles or competition will outrank you

  • Merge

  • On the same topic

  • Use 301 redirects

  • Research on 301 redirects

  • Delete articles that don’t bring any traffic

Lesson 6. How to create great content that promotes itself

Creating great content

Great content will be shared and you’ll get organic word of mouth traffic. 0 investment.

How to create content that ppl will want to read

  • Quality

  • Improve how it looks

  • Most ppl skim through articles. So it should look good.

  • Visually appealing things — Design, subheadings, quotes, lists, formatting tricks

  • Eye catchy headline will catch their attention.

  • Have at least 5 variations

  • Uniqueness

  • If it’s a clone, it won’t add extra value

  • Say something that hasn’t been said before

  • If you can explain something better, it can outrank its competition

  • Authority

  • Interview blogs is a hack, it has the authority for the content.

  • The person who has the most credibility to answer the question should answer it

Creating unique content

If you can write something that no one else writes about, then it’s a success.

Your company data, stories about ppl you have are a unique content idea

Lesson 7: How to create link-worthy content

Do you need backlinks to rank?

Backlinks are 1 of the top 3 parameters in the search algorithm

It is possible to rank without backlinks:

  • No competition, fewer pages

  • When the top pages have no backlinks

  • High domain rating

How to grow domain ratings?

Create content with backlinks — internal links to unpopular pages.

Creating content that attracts backlinks

Great content doesn’t always attract backlinks.

You should make your readers want to share

People want to share because:

  • Emotion

  • Utility

  • Useful stuff.

  • Numbers

  • Data, research and statistics

  • Stories

  • Case studies/examples

Site Explorer — Best by links.

Analyze competitor blogs for backlinks.

Ppl cannot link to articles that they don’t know exists

The secret to acquiring backlinks

Natural backlink — with no effort.

Natural reach — big audience + solid advertising.

If you don’t have an audience, then you have to build manual backlinks. So start building an audience.

Lesson 8: How to promote your content & make it rank high in Google

Common mistakes of promotion

#1 Promoting for views vs backlinks

94% of newly published articles never reach the front page of Google

Google won’t rank your pages on its own, you have to work.

Your promotion strategy should work on getting you backlinks

Ppl like to link to credible websites (Wiki)

#2 Giving up on promotion too early

Your promotion shouldn’t stop until your page ranks high on Google

Repurpose content, submit in groups, reach out to ppl who have linked to similar articles.

#3 Abandoning old content

Competitors will outrank you

Revisit old articles, update it.

AHREFS spends 50% of the time updating old content.

#4 Not spending money on content promotion

You can spend money on content promotion, you fail to justify it.

If your content gets your product revenue, then you should be able to justify it

Most popular content promotion strategies

  1. Reaching an existing audience

  2. Sending newsletter/Social

  3. But it’s small if you’re small, so no traffic

  4. Start building your audience as early as you can

  5. Reaching relevant communities

  6. Relevant social groups

  7. Reddit/Slack channels

  • But communities hate self-promotion

  • Pick only 5 or 10 best, and add value to the community.

  1. Repurposing content

  2. Diff formats, audio, video slides, images.

  3. You can link back to your blog through that content

  4. Guest blogging

  5. Write articles for other blogs

  6. Answer questions on Quora

  7. Leave comments on other blogs with links to your blog (genuine)

  8. HARO

  9. Outreach

  10. Just share it with ppl who were mentioned in your article but DONT ask them to share

  11. Paid promotion

How to compete with top results (big guys)

They have a strong brand, they have a big budget

They rank #1 → They get passive traffic → They get backlinks → They rank #1 (Viscious cycle)

How to outrank them? It’s hard

So DONT go after big keywords

Lesson 9: How to build backlinks to your blog content

Link building strategies for blogs

  1. Leaving comments
  • Generally on blogs, social groups, forums, Q&A sites, YouTube videos (genuine)

  • Advice — don’t be self promotional; Add value.

  • Comment links are no-follow — no backlink but side benefits

Replicating competitors’ backlink

  • Can’t review ALL backlinks

  • 3 strategies

  1. Find their super fan (consistent link)

  2. Best pages by links, HTTP filter to 200

  3. Copy-paste 5 top links in link intersect

  4. You’ll get backlinking websites that you can reach out to

  5. Find the powerlinkers

  6. 5 well-known blogs in the industry in Link Intersect but doesn’t link to your website

  7. Analyse their latest backlinks

  8. New backlinks feature in ahrefs

  9. Look for domain names that look good.

  • ahrefs can also alert you when your competition get blog.

Guest blogging

Finding blogs to guest post

  • Content explorer — put your topic there. Filter down by one article per month, low domain rating and find the blogs you can write

No backlinks from a domain, a backlink from a page. That’s how PageRank works. Invest in a long time, guest blog for low DR blogs as well if the blog is going to be around for a longer time

  • Splinter existing long-form articles to different blogs and submit them to different guest blogs.

  • Perspective technique — a variation of the existing content.

Guest blogging hacks

  • Pitch more blogs than you can handle

  • Negotiations time.

  • Link to multiple articles from your guest blog

  • Don’t try to stuff links, make it organic and natural

  • Link to other guest posts

  • Strengthen the other guest post

  • the other blog owner will appreciate the backlink

  • Write guest articles for blog that you’ve never linked it

  • Unique domains that link to you matters

  • Every subsequent link from the same website has less value

Lesson 10: How to build links & promote content via blogger outreach

Outreach for Content Promotion

Don’t treat outreach as a failure if you didn’t get any tweets or backlinks. You are still promoting the blog

Spam vs Outreach — Keep away from both ends of the spectrum:

  • Don’t reach out to too many people by blasting emails

  • Don’t spend too much time & research before sending out personal outreach email

Experiment to optimise Open Rate, Clicks rate and Reply rate.

How to find quality prospects for outreach

Building links should the primary intent of outreach.

Group 1:

People who have linked to existing articles on the same topic

Search in Google, Find a topic, find backlinks (Referring domains, dofollow, “look for domain names that make sense”

Content explorer, look for a topic.

Filter referring domains, sort by high to low referring domains

Group 2:

People who publish article that mention your topic and reach out for backlink. Use alerts to be informed when someone else mentions that topics

Group 3:

People who tweeted articles on the topic.

Don’t reach out to them through email, reply to the tweet with something engaging. It’s social media engagement strategy

Writing great outreach emails

Reach out and you could say they’re linking to an outdated article. What’s in it for them? Why should they read your email? Answer that first. Focus on them and not on yourself!

3 Common outreach excuses

  1. Your article provides a fresh angle

  2. Mention that fresh angle in the email, don’t make them find it

  3. Your article some new and unique proof that strengthens their stand

  4. You’ve featured their work

  5. They’ll atleast reply and say thanks.

How to persuade them to link to your article?

There’s no real proper way. Don’t ask them directly.

“If you find it useful, maybe you can even link it to your article”

Don’t be pushy.

Your CONTENT should do the job of persuading them to link to it.

Don’t send a lot of follow-ups. Follow ups could do a lot more harm than good

Always up for good conversations around this topic. So if you have anything in the blog that you’d like to discuss, feel free to hit me up on Linkedin or Twitter

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