13 Search Engine Marketing Hacks

Search Engine Marketing Hacks

I’ve been working in digital marketing since 2002 and I’ve mostly done SEO, but I’ve often also used a bunch of SEM (Search Engine Marketing Hacks) to get the job done. Hopefully, some of these hacks will also work for you.

Search Engine Marketing Hacks 1: Reuse And Repurpose YouTube Videos

I’ve discussed the importance of using video in LinkedIn because the platform favors that type of media as do the users.

Indeed, it seems that most social media users prefer motion over static images.

But, how do we get videos in the first place when we plan our content calendars?

Sure, we could create one but that just seems like too much work.

So, here’s the growth hack: simply hit YouTube, enter your keywords, and filter videos by “creative commons” which is a type of license which allows you to repost video content in any manner you wish.

It’s simple and neat.

Head over to YTCutter and simply select the bit of the video that you want to show and share.

I’d suggest a maximum of ten seconds and remember that most LinkedIn users won’t use the audio feature so if you need the audio or speech to be heard then you might want to consider using captions and subtitles.

Search Engine Marketing Hacks 2: Heavily Discounted Celebrity Endorsement

Seeking, finding, and working with influencers can be expensive and you are never sure how effective your campaign is going to be.

I’ve worked with hundreds of influencers and for the most part, they are overpriced, overvalued, and come loaded with attitude.

However, what if I told you that you can get real celebrities like Ice-T, Mike Tyson, and countless rappers to send you a message for as cheap as USD $50!?

Hit Cameo to see what I mean.

The concept is that every famous person charges a fee to record a personalized message. The rates vary widely depending on the celebrity.

Here’s the hack: get the celebrity or personality that is associated with your niche to send you a message endorsing your brand or service. If your chosen celebrity is not comfortable with endorsing your product or service then no worries, there are plenty that will, and you are only charged when they accept.

Once you have that ten-second or so video message then push it wide and far and you’ll look like a superstar.

Do that for a client and see how much they value you after that!

If you want to remove the annoying “Cameo” watermark you can post your video to Fiverr and someone will remove it for you.

Search Engine Marketing Hacks 3: Place Fake Advert To See Results

In case you don’t know, MVP means “Minimum Viable Product” (or service) which is a beta version of a product with just enough features to satisfy early customers and provide feedback for future product development.

Sounds good, but, for an entirely bootstrapped solopreneur, that still costs money to develop.

If you want a quick and extremely cheap and dirty way to see if your idea has merit then spend $50 on a kick-ass landing page illustrating all the amazing features your ideal app or service would have, and then drop another $150 on advertising on Facebook (or whichever platform is necessary).

This approach is simple enough to understand but its effectiveness can be golden to gauge users’ feedback “in real life” as well as insights into the questions they might ask regarding the services or features that you’re offering.

I’d advise using a different domain to the one you’d like to launch your service on; you can always redirect that domain later on.

This hack is open to a lot of variation and modifications but the premise is the same: try to gauge effective “real-life” feedback rather than talking to biased friends or focus groups.

Search Engine Marketing Hacks 4: Virtual Credit Cards: Use Them! Here’s Why…

Growth hacking tools (such as AHrefs, Majestic, Moz, et al) are expensive and might not be the best tool for you to use.

A VCC (Virtual Credit Card) is a legitimate and 100% usable credit card that you can use to make any purchase online.

Rather than submit your own personal credit card for slightly questionable SaaS services (which might be prone to hackers) you can use a VCC.

Using a VCC with limited funds on it will allow you to get access to any free trial that requires a credit card.

Said simply, VCC’s allow you to create a bunch of free accounts until you decide that you can afford them or indeed need them.

Search Engine Marketing Hacks 5: Hide Retargeting Cookies For 45 Seconds

Stop retargeting people who bounced immediately from your site.

Use a little bit of javascript to hide retargeting cookies for 45 seconds to ensure you’re only retargeting users who are more likely to be interested in your content.

Think about it.

If someone hits your page and immediately leaves then they’re likely not interested in your service.

If you agree on that premise, then why bother spending money on them?

Focus on people that have signaled greater interest in your service or product. And, the signal for this is whether or not they spent time reading and understanding your offer.

This hack could actually save you thousands of dollars in the long term because you’d be duplicating one of Googles’ well-known metrics that it uses to rank websites.

Google bases a proportion of its algorithm on signals such as “dwell time” (i.e. the time a visitor spends on a page), “scroll depth” and a bunch of other variables.

The key point I’m making here is that there are proven metrics that Google has discovered at the cost of countless millions of dollars of research.

So, let’s use the same metrics on our advertising spend. The “dwell time” signal is clear intent that the visitor is interested.

I don’t have a specific tool to share but any competent JavaScript programmer on UpWork or Fiverr will be able to do this for you.

Or you can take a look at this code snippet that I use (taken from GitHub).

Search Engine Marketing Hacks 6: Get Feature-Rich Testimonials On Sales Pages

In an increasingly digitized world, social credibility can sometimes be the ONLY factor differentiating you from your competitors.

This growth hack might seem very obvious to veteran growth hackers reading this but it’s so important that it deserves its own mention.

If you haven’t already done so then add testimonials to your landing pages!

By doing so you will almost certainly increase trust and in turn, conversions.

How do you get testimonials?


Place a link to your “Google My Business” review section on every single email outreach to your clients.

For example, now that Gmail allows you to have multiple email signatures, you could create a “testimonial request email signature” and switch into it when you’re conversing with a happy customer to elicit their positive review.

This hack, however, refers to the usage of testimonials.

It’s all well and good getting testimonials but the best use-case for using testimonials is to apply and relate them to specific services or features that you offer.

For example:

[Your feature] Save hours of work through automation.
[Testimonial placed next to the feature] “Using your service saved me so much time! I wish I’d used it before!”

The above affirms your product or service in the mind of the prospect.

Search Engine Marketing Hacks 7: Use the www- in your domain on Google Adwords

This growth hack is worth several crates of this book if you get it right.

If you were seeking an instant ROI from purchasing this book then here it is.

If you are using Google AdWords then experiment with registering a keyword-rich domain that is exactly reflecting your product or service. Let’s say, for example, that you sell digital cameras then register this domain which is free at the time of print: www.www-digitalcameras.com and yes, that’s NOT a typo.

Now, when you host the domain ask your developer to modify the .htaccess file of the website to this:

RewriteEngine on
RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} ^www.(.)$ [NC] RewriteRule ^(.)$ https://%1/$1 [R=301,L]
RewriteCond %{ENV:HTTPS} !on
RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://%{HTTP_HOST}%{REQUEST_URI} [R=301,L]

Any competent developer will easily understand how to do this.

This will force your domain to hide the www section of the domain so in the browser the domain will look like this: https://-digitalcameras.com

Now, look at the domain.

Only a keen eagle eye will spot that the hyphen is at the start of the domain – look after the double slash and you’ll see it.

The benefit of this hack is that the domain “digitalcameras.com” looks highly authoritative and will likely increase the CTR (Click Through Rate) of your advert.

If you’d rather have your paid traffic take an action on your “real site” then link to it via a CTA (Call To Action) button or similar from the tricked domain I mentioned.

Another workaround could be that the article that the user is sent to from the advert is a review page containing information on digital cameras, and for more information or to purchase the product they’d have to visit your main site.

I’d advise on having two sites (domains) in this example. The first one would be the AdWords domain (i.e. with the hyphen) and your main “money domain” where you place your SEO efforts.

Search Engine Marketing Hacks 8: Remarket & Retarget Users At Different Stages of Onboarding

Remarketing and remarketing tools are very effective for user acquisition and sending prospective clients down your funnel.

And don’t get me wrong, you definitely should be using them for the purpose of lead nurturing and conversion.

If you haven’t used remarketing before then go ahead and try it, it will make a noticeable difference to your conversion metrics.

However, there’s another, perhaps more targeted use for remarketing and it involves continuing the conversation outside of your website.

Typically, remarketing is mostly used for acquiring customers, but why don’t we use it to keep our existing clients, perhaps even upsell to them?

For example, I use remarketing to try and reduce churn on my subscription platform by illustrating new features.

Why bother?

Because it will reinforce value to your existing customers.

They say it’s easier to sell to your existing clients than acquiring new ones, so with that being said – let’s do precisely that with remarketing!

Search Engine Marketing Hacks 9: Mockup Your Ads To See How They Look

Mockup what your ads will look like before you commit them to social media platforms.

Here’s the tool I use.

The platforms that the tools mockups for you are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.

This tool, which is free to use, is a time-saver because it shows you how users will see your advertisements in all formats and resolutions.

Thinking of an ad design is one thing but actually seeing it “in real” is another matter and you’ll be able to make faster decisions.

Furthermore, the reason why I like this platform is that it centralizes the major media platforms in one location.

Search Engine Marketing Hacks 10: Reverse Engineer Competitor Ads

Owing to all of the privacy issues surrounding social media (Facebook) as a result of the Presidential Election of 2016 the media giant released an ads transparency tool that allows users to see which ads a Facebook page is currently running.

This publicly available information really helps us understand what ad campaigns our competitors are running.

The same also goes for LinkedIn too!

So, as clever Internet Marketers, let’s use this political situation to our advantage!

Knowing what your competitors are up to is vital for obvious reasons, i.e. they are trying to monetize a similar product and service to yours.

They’ve done the hard work!

Let’s see what’s worked for them because if it works for them then it will likely also work for you and even more so when you improve on their efforts.

The basic way to see what your competitors are up to is to take a look at this resource on Facebook.

Take note and revisit them in a week or two.

If the ads are the same then that tells you that they’re working for them, after all, why would an advertiser waste money on keeping an ad that doesn’t work online?

The other method is to deploy my favorite tool, Phantombuster.

Phantombuster neatly removes all your competitor’s ads in a nice file for you to further review.

These methods really help to discover your competitors’ advertising strategies.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that if you really want to deep-dive into your competitor’s advertising spend and reach then these two tools are worth investigating: SpyFu (a classic spying tool that’s been around for years) and AdPlexity.

Search Engine Marketing Hacks 11: Create Separate Landing Pages For Each Ad Group

Creating dedicated landing pages for each of your ad groups is one of the best ways to keep your messaging and content targeted and conversions high.

When I worked for a coworking client they had office space in various locations throughout Hong Kong.

Each ad group we created was neighborhood-specific so we made sure that each landing page had photographs of the local area with keywords of the actual area.

This hack is a simple but important necessity when it comes to running multiple ad groups.

Search Engine Marketing 12: Use Spyfu To Discover Competitors Ad Spending

This is a tried and tested growth marketing tool and that’s why I’ve included it.

I’ll explain what it is and then how I use it.

The name “SpyFu” gives the purpose of the product away. In fact, it used to be called GoogSpy, and it works by scraping data via proprietary software on how much a company is paying for search traffic.

SpyFu shows the keywords that websites are paying for on Google Ads as well as the keywords that websites are ranking for within the search results.

The service also gives a cost per click (CPC) and search volume statistics based on their keywords and uses that depth of data to approximate what websites are spending on advertising.

The benefit of this tool is that it lets you forecast what is the CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost) of your competitors, thereby giving you actionable information that you can make decisions on, especially with regards to competing for those same keywords.

I use SpyFu to act as a benchmark.

In other words, I’ll pitch my clients in Hong Kong and tell them that “I know you’re spending X for certain keywords, and I’ll beat that!” This line, and this data, works every time.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of growth hacking tools out there, and this is one that I certainly recommend.

Search Engine Marketing Hacks 13: Capture Contact Details (Avoid Cart Abandonment)

We’ve all done the following.

We’re really keen to purchase a product or service and we’ve started the journey to becoming a customer by entering our data, and suddenly, we get distracted or we have a last-second doubt and cancel the process.

Often, the above happens for reasons beyond our control.

Your potential new customer might have filled in your registration and payment page, but then they got distracted by an incoming email, or their phone rang, the delivery guy came, etc, i.e. life got in the way!

So, let’s prevent this from happening.

The first thing we want to do is capture the motivated buyer’s email. That is key. To do that make sure that the web form has basic programming “logic” inbuilt.

For example, the first step of the payment form would only have two requests: the buyer’s name and email address.

Your potential customer will likely feel encouraged to enter this basic (non-payment) personal information and click ‘next’.

By clicking ‘next’ the logic within the contact form triggers the next set of fields that the user has to enter.

The obvious benefit to the above process is that we’ve been able to capture the all-important email of your interested customer. Should they drop out of the process then we can trigger an email (or a series of emails) to entice the lead back into the sales funnel.

My research into this growth hack has shown that the earlier you send the email following dropoff the higher the possibility of a conversion. Why? Because it’s likely that the recipient feels partially invested and that your service or product is front of mind.

As an extension of this growth hack, you could send out a second email three days later with a trial offer or a reduced fee.

The remarketing options are limitless and the communication is a breeze because you have their email address.

Henry "HMFIC"

I'm Henry, the guy behind this site. I've been Growth Hacking since 2002, yep, that long...

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