F.O.C.U.S means following one course until you’re successful. Today, Ken Courtright shares how we can apply this to our careers and business. From his recent talks, he also discusses the importance of understanding our digital footprint. Through an example of a father and son team, he shows how a site’s Google Analytics can go from up to down. Listen to Ken as we encourage you to FOCUS and become astute on caring about your digital footprint.
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This is a show where I drop nuggets here and there that I pick up during the week or during the month. Especially when we get questions or inquiries where we answer them and we know not only did this help one business owner, but it could probably help many others. A lot of times, your business challenge has already been solved in a different industry. What I wanted to cover is one of the talks I gave at the Digital Footprint. The title of the message was Follow One Course Until Successful, which many knows is the acronym for FOCUS.
This little talk was centered around a website that we have that we’ve been managing for almost 5.5 or 6 years. It became the number one plumbing website in the world and it’s quite amazing. More amazing than the website itself is the story. It’s a story of a father and son team that we approached explaining that we thought we had a great idea of building an authoritative website. We needed someone to fund it and we needed someone to write the content. We would be able to provide exactly what to write on as long as someone was willing to do the work to write the content. We talk to this father and son team into writing content in the plumbing space. I showed a live demo of Google Analytics of the organic keywords that this site ranks on and the overall traffic of the site in front of a couple of hundred business owners.
I want everybody to picture, Google Analytics is a free tool and you can put a date range. We put from the beginning of this website’s life to the end, the day I was talking. What people were looking at was like an EKG line. In the first third of the graph, it was up into the right two steps up and one step down. About two years in, there was about a six-month run where it was two steps down, one step up and it was much more severe. This site was coming crashing down. In about 2.5 years in, we spent about four weeks at close to zero traffic. I explained to the group that during this timeframe of 2012 to 2013, Google was rolling out cataclysmic algorithm changes and I showed examples of BMW, JCPenney and Overstock.com losing 60% to 90% of their traffic. In some cases, they’re not getting any of it back.Walking through a minefield is easy when you can step in someone else's footsteps. If you don't see blood, keep going. Click To Tweet
We were looking at a real-time graph. The graph after a few weeks of zero, it began climbing up into the right, slow and steady for 1.5 years and it exploded. The chart was going almost vertically up and it has never gone down. What I did in front of the room in real-time live is in analytics, I went to the date range of point of inception to a month ago. ran the number of keywords that this site is ranking on. I went to the day before I was talking, so I added 30 days. In essence, what I’m trying to explain is that I want you to picture a real-time graph showing how many keywords this site ranks on. It’s something like 700,000. When I ran it again to the day before I was talking, it was 730,000. In short, this plumbing site is growing 1,040 new keywords every single day.
I want to put this in perspective before I explain why I was teaching this. Number one, the average business that has a website that’s been up for at least two years ranks on and pulls traffic on 62 key phrases total in its lifetime. I showed off a site growing over 1,000 keywords every single day. It is the largest plumbing site in the world. It’s amazing. I show this partly because Google has made another algorithm change called the RankBrain, which ranks on the content pace of how often people write. It does this matching algorithm, it’s cool.
Here’s the point. The title of this talk was FOCUS, Follow One Course Until Successful. The question becomes, “What course do we follow? When do we pivot?” Everything craps out at some point. The real question I asked the audience is, “Wouldn’t a good question be, when we flatlined for a few weeks, wouldn’t that have been a good time to give up and pivot?” The audience almost unanimously said, “Yes.” No questions. I said, “Does anybody want to know why we didn’t pivot? Why we followed one course until successful?” Everybody raised their hand and I said, “It’s simple. We were following what is called a digital footprint. The digital footprint we were following or the cookie crumbs in the trails left behind from one single website, WebMD.” When we ran WebMD’s analytics, going back to 1996, they have never gone backward. It’s always been three steps up and one step back.
They’ve never had a down year. They’ve had a down month or a down quarter, but they’ve never had a down year. I said, “While we were going through this whole transition, we were anchored on a working model called a digital footprint of the biggest site in the space making $500 million a year and of anything authoritative.” What we noticed is during this time, they went from 350 writers, who are doctors, to 550 writers. They were doubling down on the pace of content when the world was freaking out about Google’s algorithm changes. What we went back to tell this father and son team is it’s time to double down. While it looks like we’re dying in here to kick up your pace of content, still do once a week, but one time a month, I want a magnum opus. I want a big, huge piece of content with thousands of words and they began to write. His name is Shawn and he began to write and the rest is history.
Our model, our digital footprint, WebMD has never varied. They Follow One Course Until Successful. We’re going never to leave their footprint until they leave their footprint. Walking through a minefield is easy when you can step in someone else’s footsteps. If you don’t see blood, keep going. WebMD went from fifteen doctors in the late ‘90s to 50 doctors in early 2000 to 250 to 350 to 505. We can’t stop. What is the lesson here? The lesson is you follow one course until successful. The question becomes, “When do you pivot?” 100% of the main sources of revenue fail. You pivot when the digital footprint you’re following pivots.
If you’re not sure how to put together a digital footprint or where to find them, I will go hardcore into episode 3 and episode 18 as those episodes show you what to model and what’s being done in your space. Episode eighteen gives a physical working model that any industry in any space can follow and it works 100% of the time. This is a quick nugget of the difference between staying disciplined and following a course, but yet understanding that at some point, you have to pivot. You pivot when the digital footprint or the working model you’re following pivots first and shows you the new path. I hope this helps. Take care.