First Principles Thinking

First Principles Thinking

First Principles Thinking is first-principles reasoning, which means going back to first things first and getting the basics right before moving on.

It’s about starting with what you know first and then building from there. The goal of first principles thinking is not just to solve problems, but also to create a solid foundation for further advancement.

In short, it’s critical for innovation in any field of endeavor.

First Principles Thinking has been around for centuries, but was given its name by Thomas Edison who said “Invention consists of seeing what everybody has seen and thinking what nobody has thought.” And he knew firsthand because he had invented hundreds of devices that were never thought of getting the basics right before moving on.

Step 1: Identify and define your current assumptions

The first step of first principles thinking is identifying, clarifying, expanding and refining your current assumptions. These are words or phrases that people automatically assume are true without examining their validity or truthfulness.

For example, an assumption like “Failure is bad” may not be true for someone else. They may view failure as good because it provides them with valuable feedback on how to improve themselves in the future.

The first step of first principles thinking is figuring out what your assumptions are and then determining which ones you need to question first. Once you do that, you’ll be ready to move on to the next step of first principles thinking.

Step 2: Question your assumptions

After identifying your first principles thinking assumptions, it’s time for further examination.

First Principles Thinking is about breaking down problems into their component parts. It requires us to question everything and admit what we don’t know before looking for patterns and solutions within them.

If there are any parts of a given situation that aren’t clear, first principles thinking proposes questioning those parts first. Questions are the means by which first principles thinking moves forward by measuring what isn’t known against what is known as well as rationalizing new knowledge based on previous experience.

Once again, Edison was an expert first principles thinker who used questions as a first tool for problem-solving. Edison was known to ask himself the same question over and over again throughout his career. One notable example of this is how he kept asking himself “why?” about all of his previous failures until he came up with the lightbulb.

Step 3: Find first principles thinking answers

The first step of first principles thinking is not just identifying your assumptions, but figuring out if they are true or false; then dissecting them into their component parts; followed by using questions to help narrow down what you know and what you don’t know, and finally moving on to find solutions after assessing where you stand now based on everything else you’ve learned along the way.

Finding solutions takes time and effort, but once you understand how to use first principles thinking, you’ll be able to create your own path out of the darkness without having to rely on anyone else to do it.

Illusory Correlation

Illusory correlation is a cognitive bias where people think there is a relationship between two things when in reality there is not. The most common example of illusory correlation is the gambler’s fallacy which states that if something happens more frequently than normal during a random period of time, it will happen less often in the future and vice versa.

Illusory correlations are one of many biases that can impede rational thinking and decision-making. It’s important to identify illusory correlations so you can account for them during your critical thinking process. There are many other illusory correlations including hindsight bias, availability heuristic, confirmation bias, post hoc ergo propter hoc, illusory control, and the illusion of external agency.

The first thing you should do to identify illusory correlation looks for data or evidence that suggests there isn’t a relationship between two phenomena.

For example, if someone tells you that autistic people are very creative, ask them to provide evidence for this claim beyond their own anecdotal experience.

It would also help to review the existing studies on creativity in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

People often assume illusory correlations lead to illogical reasoning but illogical reasoning can happen without illusory correlations present.

Confirmation bias only requires one’s cognitive mechanism of wanting information that supports your hypothesis so it can be rationalized as true. On the other hand, illusory correlation requires one’s cognitive mechanism to overrun facts that may disagree with your hypothesis.

Illusory correlations are actually very well documented in psychological research.

History of Illusory Correlation

Illusory correlation is a cognitive bias that causes people to overestimate the relationship between two events. It was first described by psychologists Thomas Gilovich and Amos Tversky in 1993, who defined illusory correlation as “the tendency for the perceived association to be biased towards what an observer expects.” They explained illusory correlations are often due to confirmatory biases or selection biases.

People create illusory correlations across many categories, including race, gender, age, weight, height, car accidents, income levels, homeownership, education level, employment status, typhoons, temperature, crime rates, rainfall patterns, illness outbreaks. This phenomenon has important implications for the way people think about their society and others.

Example of Illusory correlation

An illusory correlation can be thought of as arising when two variables are related but one variable is not the cause of the other variable. For example, suppose you see someone wearing a green shirt on Monday and then again on Wednesday. You might think that green shirts have some effect on mood since this person was more cheerful each time they wore it – even though there’s no connection between shirt color and mood.

Why Is Illusory Correlation Important?

This is important. It shows how people perceive things. People think that they know something is true, but it’s not really true. It happens because of the way people think sometimes. When this research first came out, some people thought that stereotypes were caused by personality or that they came from underlying reality.

Studies of distinctiveness-based illusory correlation demonstrate how preconceptions are formed by everyday cognitive mechanisms that operate automatically in the mind. Expectancy-based illusory correlations, on the other hand, show how stereotypic beliefs are propagated through biased information processing when it is driven by a perceiver’s prior assumptions.

How to be More Productive by Using the “Eisenhower Matrix”

There are so many things to do, so few time…

At some point in our lives, we all reach a productivity bottleneck.

We could feel overwhelmed with too many tasks and there is no way out! How can you get rid of the feeling you have to work on a hundred different things at once?

What if I told you there really is a way and it is simple, easy to put in practice, and will make you a productivity machine?

Well, that way is called the “Eisenhower Matrix” or productivity grid.

The productivity grid works as a productivity tool and decision-making principle; it helps you prioritize all your tasks (both work-related and personal) by urgency and importance.

By using this productivity grid you will be able to identify the main goals you are trying to achieve throughout your life, then break down these goals into different tasks that can easily be accomplished and prioritize them according to their level of urgency.

Furthermore, the productivity grid helps to determine if a task is important or not by asking itself “will this task help achieve my life goals?”, if it does then it belongs to the important category.

On the other hand, if it doesn’t contribute to achieving your life goals then you can go ahead and feel free to simply discard it.

Essentially, the productivity grid is based on the famous Eisenhower’s quote: “I have two kinds of problems, the urgent and the important. The urgent are not important, and the important are never urgent”.

According to this quote, you should always focus on completing your most important task first because it will help achieve your goals, which in turn will make you more productive and successful.

Let’s go ahead and use this productivity principle as a decision-making tool:

Ike’s approach for taking action and organizing your tasks is straightforward. You may use the decision matrix below to distinguish your activities into four categories based on your options.

  1. Urgent and important (things you must do right away).
  2. Important, but not urgent (things to schedule in time later for).
  3. Urgent, but not important (things you delegate to someone else).
  4. Neither urgent nor important (things you will discard from your list).

The difference between important and urgent tasks.

What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.

-Dwight Eisenhower

Urgent activities are time-sensitive and necessitate your attention. They’re things you feel compelled to deal with. Being occupied with pressing matters can make you feel defensive, rushed, and overly focused.

Important work is an important part of your long-term objective, beliefs, and goals. The things that will move the needle for the bigger ideas. They may not provide immediate results (making them easy to overlook). Important tasks are sometimes also urgent — but not always. Putting your attention on essential activities allows you to be more responsive, which can help you feel calm, rational, and receptive to new ideas.

People are inclined to consider that all pressing matters are also essential when frequently they are not. This misinterpretation might be attributed to our preference for dealing with short-term difficulties and never coming up with solutions for the larger obstacles in life.

Why Use The Productivity Grid?

By segmenting tasks into these 4 quadrants you can get a clearer idea of what needs to be done, now, later, or never. The never is a critical part of what the productive grid provides. As tasks come your way and coming back to that core question “will this task help achieve my life goals?” you’ll find a lot of tasks flow naturally into the delegation or discarding pile.

Thus you’re making a lot of time back for the Urgent and Important things in life!

How to Be More Productive At Home

You might think that you can’t get anything done at home. But it’s really about setting yourself up for success when in your own space.

Staying productive at home is important as with the COVID-19 pandemic, more offices changed to working from home. Workers now have to experience a new change in habits. Research shows that only 1 in 10 people reported their productivity had gone down during lockdowns. The rest maintained or even improved their productivity. While it can come easy for some to stay productive, it’s important to use tools and strategies to maintain a strong work life balance the entire day.

In this blog article, we will discuss how to be more productive at home. This guide is for people who lose focus easily and want to work on staying productive throughout the day at home using these productivity techniques and strategies.

Morning Routine

There are may tips out there on creating a morning routine, a source of motivation, wake up early, eat a healthy breakfast, meditation, reading, mindfulness or make a to-do list. That way, before the day begins, you have a tradition of what needs to be done and can plan accordingly

The reason successful people claim to be so effective is the way they start their day off on the right foot. Your morning routine could include making your bed because it gives off the impression that things are being taken care of. It takes self-control to do this consistently, so find what works for you.

A daily routine is one of those new habits that primes your body and mind to be ready for the challenges that will come will set you up perfectly for having a productive day.

Create an environment for success

Put everything in its place before beginning work or doing any tasks at home so it doesn’t become overwhelming if there is something new added later into the equation.

It’s important to reduce distractions from the internet, apps on your phone and TV. Shut your door so this way you can focus more on what needs to be done, take video calls, and function as your at home office space.

It can be a good idea to make your home office an area where you don’t associate with any other activities. If possible, keep it in a corner of the house, a place of comfort, so that there is no temptation for distractions from family members or pets. Keep that background noise out with the help of music.

Manage Your Time

The best way to be productive is by managing your time so that you can get everything done in a timely manner. A sure fire way to experience stress is to not have your time managed well – this is integral as part of your new routine to save time. The worst thing for productivity is when people are constantly waiting on others, which causes them to lose focus.

Basic strategies for this can include inbox zero for email, time-blocking through your calendar. Even something as simple as using morning hours to take on big tasks you want to make progress on. You’ll notice a big difference in mindset when you’re at your most alert after a morning routine.

Prioritize

It’s important to prioritize what needs to be done first. You could do this by writing down the top 5 things that are most urgent or require the most attention that day in your personal or work life.

Prioritizing is a skill and requires discipline to master. To learn how to do this, you could also use the Eisenhower matrix to map out what requires full focus, delegation, or re-scheduling in for another time.

Use Time Blocking

Priorities your tasks with the help of time blocking. This will make you more productive at home by eliminating procrastination, as well as making sure that everything is done in a timely manner.

Keep track of how much time you’re spending on certain things which can lead to being more productive or not so productive. It’s important to know where your free time is going and how that fits into your work schedule.

Take Breaks

It’s important to take breaks from what you are doing and give your brain some space for creativity, problem-solving or just relaxing. It makes sense as this will help increase productivity levels in the long run because it gives your body and mind periods of rest which they need.

The Pomodoro technique is a great way to stay focused on one task at a time while allowing breaks in to check your Facebook messages or get lose in that YouTube video you saw come up.

Set Ground Rules For People in Your Home

If you have people over at your house at the same time, it’s important to set boundaries for when you’re needing to focus in on work. This is quite common as remote work is more prevalent than ever.

For example, if you’re trying to focus on a project but one of the other people in the room is watching TV or checking their phone continuously then that can lead to wasted time and energy.

Agree as a household what are work hours where you’ll need to be able to have video meetings in your work space. Make a suggestion on how you can create a great work environment at home, and what things for children are off-limits during work hours.

That’s why having a dedicated workspace can be so important to mentally have an that’s for your to be in a work mindset.

Go outside

You’re spending most of your day inside the house, it’s easy to feel exhaustion, sluggish and unmotivated. Get some fresh air and sunlight to break up your day.

Studies show that this can improve your memory, fight depression and lower blood pressure naturally.

Don’t Eat Junk Food

Junk food is energy dense but nutrient poor so eating that when trying to be productive can lead to lower concentration levels (we’re all too familiar with the crash). So it’s healthier for our bodies if we were more conscious about what we eat while being productive. It might also make us feel gross afterwards! Stick with foods like protein bars, fruits and nuts.

Exercise

Get the blood moving through the body and muscles, I recommend doing this before breakfast as it will not only jump start your day it helps with your brain health. Exercise is proven to help with feelings like stress, , decreases depression and anxiety levels, and overall improves your well-being.

Summary

It’s easy to mix your work life with your personal life when working from home. To combat this, try to get into a regular work routine just like you were going to the office every day. Set clear start and stop times as well as breaks throughout the day.

Should I Focus on One Goal At A Time?

For myself trying to spin many plates in life and at the same time goals around, exercise, writing, business, and learning.

The intention is there, mastering multiple areas of life however can be confusing and lead to reverting back to what I know, or only making gains in one goal.

So here’s the simple solution: Choose one. Make a decision about something right now. Attempting to accomplish everything will not only waste your time, but will also make all of your goals less efficient.

By concentrating all of your efforts into achieving the desired outcome, you can better manage your time, energy and resources.

One Goal

So ask yourself what’s the most impactful goal you could have right now that by completing that journey, personally & professionally there will be a great reward at the end.

I like to think of these as your “flagship” goal that will drive up other secondary goals along the way. An example would be being able to take up jogging, science has proven time and time that exercise leads to increased happiness, so by proxy, this should lead to better work performance. By mastering just one thing at a time, you’ll be creating more opportunities to master other things in life as well.

It’s not about abandoning dreams and simply making the most of your current situation, or settling for a less fulfilling life – It’s actually quite the opposite. Start focusing on achieving maximum gains from each of your goals by picking only one goal.

So for myself, I’ve picked writing as my flagship because it impacts all other areas of life, it allows me to organize my ideas, reflect which is important for my mental health, It also makes me feel good which increases productivity and creativity throughout the day.

Write Them Down

Research shows that people who write down their commitment are up to three times more likely to achieve their objective than those who don’t. And this should be no surprise: Simply by committing in advance, you’re much more likely to follow through on what you say you’ll do.

If we want something badly enough, we should make the effort of writing our intention and then following up with regular reminders until action is taken – and not just once but daily if need be. It’s time-consuming and repetitive work but it will set us free from procrastination and excuses because we’ve already committed in writing.

“I’m going to run for 30 minutes every day at 6:30 p.m.” is a specific commitment, as in “I’m going to implement an intention.” These are referred to as “implementation intentions” by scientists.

Consistency is Key

One should always be consistent in adhering to a goal. This will help in establishing a pattern that will lead them to success and the attainment of their goals. If your intention was to run every day at a specific time, commit to that verbatim. No need to go overkill by running for 1.5 hours, or waking up at 4 am. Stick to the script to avoid burning out and losing the tempo you’ve set.

Time management strategies

Time management is the key to success in all areas of life. If you focus solely on one task, it can be completed more efficiently and leave room for other tasks in your busy day! Read this guide from start to finish so that you’re able to manage your time well without worrying about what else may need doing.

What is Time Management?

Time management is all about maximizing your productivity by focusing on the tasks at hand. Managing time doesn’t just mean trying to do more in less time, it’s also about being mindful of how you spend each hour of the day and making sure you are using that time wisely.

What Can I Do To Improve My Time Management Skills?

There are many strategies for improving your time management skills including setting a schedule or routine; blocking out periods for specific activities; batching similar jobs together so they can be completed consecutively without having to switch between different tasks; creating an effective task list with deadlines and reminder notes attached (remember to share this task list with others who need updates); actively tracking progress against goals set in advance; delegating tasks

Benefits of Time Management

We all have the same number of hours in a day; Determine your priorities and focus on those tasks that will bring you closer to achieving them.

Stress Relief

Managing time can be a great stress reliever. It provides a sense of control that helps reduce stress and anxiety.

More Time

Time is the one thing that we can’t get more of. It will free up your time so that you have the opportunity to do other things in life – time flies when you’re focusing on the fun stuff.

More opportunities

As we go through life there are so many awesome opportunities that come up, with effective time management we’ll be better placed to seize these life-changing moments.

Achieving goals

Managing your time well can help you achieve your goals and lead to better life satisfaction. It will provide the structure and discipline that is necessary to see your achievements through and lead you to more fulfilling work and personal life.

What are the best tips for managing your time?

  • Block out periods for specific activities

Creating an effective task list with deadlines and reminder notes attached (remember to share this task list with others

  • Create short, achievable, SMART goals

Break your longer-term goals into smaller increments that are more manageable. This will help you stay focused on what is important now. The SMART Goal system can allow you to create Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely goals.

  • Define your priorities

This may seem counter-intuitive, but many people find that prioritizing their less important work first actually helps them see a clearer picture of what the great work they need to focus on will be.

  • Give your full attention

Being able to concentrate on the task at hand will make it seem less far from completion and you’ll be more likely. Attention management is critical for powering through those meaty tasks. Use the Pomodoro technique to maximize your attention and productivity.

  • Plan your days, weeks, months ahead of time

One way to alleviate overwhelm is by planning ahead. You can plan your days, weeks, and even months in advance with this strategy. What tasks should you be doing each day? Which items on the list are most important or urgent? Plan out how much time you’ll spend on these things and what will happen if any other task comes up

Implications of Poor Time Management

Research has shown that poor time management can have negative effects on the individual and others. This may lead to many other problems in life, including stress, anxiety, depression, low self-esteem and much more

Chaotic workflow

A poor workflow will result in bad output invariably lead to a lack of productivity. Unclear or vague workflows are the worst for this, but even well planned and written ones can be confusing if people don’t know what they’re doing

Low morale

When time management skills are poor, it’s very difficult to stay motivated. If you find yourself becoming unmotivated over the course of the day – it’ll be harder to finish tasks and you’ll feel like quitting.

You’ll run out of precious time

You never want to end up in a situation that was a waste of time, it’ll be difficult to prioritize which tasks should take precedence. This can lead to various other problems such as confusion about what needs to happen first or an inability to decide on a priority level.

Summary

Do you find yourself struggling to get through your day? Have you tried a variety of skills and strategies but nothing seems to work for you? You’re not alone! Mastering time management is tricky, especially if it’s difficult for us. But the good news is that there are plenty of tips out there on how we can improve our time. Check out my productivity guide for more tips & hacks!

Pomodoro technique: Take the Stress Out of Working

Working in a stressful environment can make it difficult to stay motivated and productive. The Pomodoro technique is a time management method that has been found to help reduce stress, improve concentration, and increase productivity. This blog post will discuss the benefits of this technique and how you can implement it into your work day!

What is the Pomodoro technique?

Francesco Cirillo, then a university student, was struggling to focus on his studies. The Pomodoro Technique was born when Cirillo committed himself for 10 minutes of focused study time and found an tomato shaped kitchen timer.

While the timer was set, Cirillo would work on his assignment and take short breaks to rest. If he needed a break before 25 minutes were up, then he could take one.

This technique is a time management method that uses short, timed intervals to help manage work tasks. The Pomodoro Technique can be used on any task and works well for both large scale projects as well as small single-task assignments.

The idea behind this technique is simple – set a timer for 25 minutes (Pomodoro), focus intently on the task at hand during those 25 minutes without distractions or interruptions from other activities, take a five minute break before starting another Pomodoro cycle of focused work, repeat until you have accomplished your goal! You’ll find yourself more productive, less stressed out about how much there’s left to do in order to reach your deadline and having plenty of time for breaks between cycles

Benefits of the Pomodoro Technique

– Improves focus

– Reduces stress by making time seem more manageable

– Increases productivity and helps keep you on track with your goals.

– Helps prevent procrastination

– Lets you work in a flow state, which can lead to higher creativity and quality work

How to Use the Pomodoro Technique

– Set a timer for 25 minutes

– Work on a task until the timer goes off

– Take a five minute break between each Pomodoro. If you finish early, take an additional short break or do something that isn’t work related (like watching TV)

What makes the Pomodoro technique so effective?

– It’s simplicity

– There are no distractions. You don’t need to worry about checking email, Facebook or Twitter every five minutes and you can focus on the task at hand.

What Kind of Results Can I Expect from Using this Technique?

The Pomodoro technique is a great way to get work done without feeling stressed out.

Studies have shown that people who use it report an improvement in their productivity by more than 25%, as well as reduced stress over time.

A study published in Scientific American found that participants performed better on tasks they completed with breaks rather than those without so there’s a lot of science behind its effectiveness! The best part is anyone can do it with minimal effort: all you need is a timer

How Many Backlinks Does It Take to Rank On Page 1?

The core pillars of SEO are:

– Technical

– Off-site, and

– Content.

There are wafts of information out there on ranking signals. It generally falls into technical or ‘on-site’ SEO, content or ‘relevance’, and backlinks or ‘off-site’ SEO.

We can control technical and content SEO. We can do keyword research, create content based on that, optimise title tags and metas. We can fix structural issues at their core with smart solutions, with an understanding of how Google crawls and indexes pages.

The core component that is left: backlinks.

The age-old question that often arises, much to the dismay of SEO specialists is: “How many backlinks does it take to rank on page one?”

This question usually comes straight from the potential / current client you’re working with. The answer SEO specialists will go to is: “It depends”. Let’s be real, clients don’t want to hear those words. They want to know when – the year, the month, the day, the hours, and probably even the seconds!

What if we could better predict when a website will see that big success? To hit the first page, and hit number one for their core target keyword. What if instead of saying “It depends”, we could confidently predict “It will take 6 months to hit the first page, no worries”?

How important are backlinks to an SEO strategy?

Think about a website like a bar you own. You’ve made sure it complies with government regulations, you’ve picked your demographic, decorated the interior, and have a ton of booze on offer to serve the dearly inebriated.

How are you going to start getting people through the door?

People may walk past, come in, and have a great time. But, to build up the credibility you need the word of mouth to spread and you need good reviews. It’s those external factors that will get waves of people coming in asking for Pina Coladas and shots.

When it comes to the question of what’s the most important ranking signal? What’s the silver bullet for SEO? The answer is backlinks. Studies show that the greater number of linking domains a webpage has, the higher up the SERP they will likely be. For instance, #1 rankings had an average of 168% more domains than those further down the SERP.

Source: https://backlinko.com/search-engine-ranking

Google’s now-famous PageRank Algorithm changed the game. Instead of simply analysing the content of a page, Google looks at how many links to that page came from external sources.

Nearly 20 years later, links are STILL the best way to determine the quality of a webpage. That’s why backlinks remain Google’s go-to ranking signal.

Backlinks are the growth factor that SEO can’t avoid. Gain them and you have the building blocks for a successful campaign.

How many backlinks do I need to get to the top?

There isn’t a straightforward formula for calculating the number of backlinks you need to rank number one. If SEO consultants knew this with 100% certainty, it’d change the entire game.

The critical factor is quality. This can’t be stressed enough.

Google is savvy enough to know that the logic of backlinks help you rank doesn’t mean more backlinks, more rankings.

Based on my experience from seeing long term effects of gaining backlinks, the metrics to critique them with are:

Niche relevance

Website theme and/or content relevant to the industry of the client. This contextualises to search engines and provides relevant authority to that domain.

Domain Authority (DA)

Domain Authority is calculated by evaluating multiple factors, including linking root domains and number of total links, into a single DA score. This score can then be used when comparing websites or tracking the “ranking strength” of a website over time. Domain Authority is not a metric used by Google in determining search rankings and has no effect on the SERPs.

Organic traffic & keyword relevance

The amount of traffic a domain attains is an important factor taken into consideration when acquiring backlinks. Domains with a moderate to a high volume of traffic will equate to a higher click-through rating and help to rank higher for relevant keywords.

When establishing a backlink, it is key to include relevant keywords within the content. Keywords that are relevant to the client/site will leverage rankings and visibility

Writing quality

Domains that contain excellent content that is in-depth, within scope, and meaningful are highly valuable.

Do follow & no-follow

By default, all links are do-follow links unless they are modified. Do follow links pass along what the SEO community commonly calls link juice. Do follows are preferred, however, if you acquire a no-follow from an extremely high-quality domain, you’ll be still in a great spot for boosting your ranking

Not all backlinks are created equal

Backlinks are not created equal. Much like with general ranking signals, each one of these has a scale of which it can hit all these metrics.

One might have a fantastic DA, yet its organic or keyword base might not be as relevant to the website.

You could have the most amazing content piece written about you, but the website barely has DA to make it worth it outreaching for.

Having a high-quality link connected to your website is worth its weight in gold.

There are ways to build links very quickly that can give you those results. However, over time you’re at risk of unbalancing your backlink profile with spammy or low-quality links.

Think of it this way, if you were looking for restaurant recommendations and 1000 people all said: “Check out this place it’s amazing, it will blow your mind away”. Later finding out that they’d never even been there, sampled the food, and perhaps had an obvious cash incentive to endorse it.

Now, what if Gordon Ramsey recommended the same place publicly saying it was the “best pizza in town”. Links are endorsements by entities that are authoritative in the eyes of the public – I’d take the “Gordon Ramsey of backlinks” each and every time if given the chance.

What’s the best indication of how many you will need to get to the top?

… Competitors!

Their backlinks are available to us through tools such as SEMRush and AHREFs so we can start digging into what their authority is built on.

One of my most frequently said phrases at StudioHawk is “Competitors have done all the work for you, figure out what they do and steal the good parts”.

How can we gauge it with the tools available?

Moving past ideas like “quality content” and “searcher intent”, the estimation tool that we’re utilising for this is AHERF’s Keyword Explorer tool. Alongside “Keyword Difficulty” This can indicate the average number of websites needed to rank within the top ten of search results.

AHREFs calculates this by taking a “weighted average of the number of linking domains to the current top-10 ranking pages and then plotting the result on a logarithmic scale from 0 to 100.

Numerous case studies from the past few years show that backlink factors have a higher correlation with rankings than anything else. That’s their Keyword Difficulty (KD) score is based solely on the average number of linking websites to the current top 10 ranking pages, which makes it super easy to comprehend.

While AHREFs does not fully endorse this as the be-all and end of how many links you need, it is helpful. The KD score cuts through on-page factors and tells you what the likelihood is, based solely on the number of referring domains linking to the top-ranking pages for your target keyword.

Let’s put it to the test:

I thought, why don’t we analyse websites that have achieved the coveted top 10 ranking in our course. How many backlinks did they gain with us?

What does AHREF estimate they need?

And for those outside the top 20, how long will it take?

The clients I analysed ranked within the top 10 of search results. The majority of their backlink profiles were made up of ones that we acquired as part of our SEO strategy, and the words assessed were clustered around their main organic traffic driver.

I discovered:

On average, when a client has 3-5x the backlinks of AHREFs backlink estimation, they are highly likely to rank within the top 10. This was great for a very small sample base. However, expanding across their entire keyword profile, there were still a ton of low difficulty keywords that were ranking outside the top 10, the perceived ‘low hanging fruit’. Keywords that, according to AHREF, they should have placement for but are not even on the map for.

If you go right now into AHREFs and start checking up on your own website for this, you’ll see variances in the pool of links needed to get on page 1. AHREFs do express that this Keyword Difficulty estimation isn’t an exact figure but, for my own curiosity, it was interesting to see these variances directly through the view of StudioHawk’s client base.

It’s a great tool regardless. Using it you’ll get a snapshot of what you’ll need backlink wise, you’ll see what links they have, you’ll see their quality, even their weaknesses, and can start building your link strategy around this important data.

This can form the basis of your Skyscraper push, use it to fire up the Moving Man Method.

Without a doubt, you’re going to need more quality backlinks to get your website into the top 10 of search results.

A specialists Conclusion

To summarise, getting to the first page of Google is no simple task.

I wish there was a secret formula, but there isn’t one that we can back with 100% certainty.

However, backlinks have been and will continue to be a vital component in achieving the goal of ranking on page one.

Without them and relying solely on other factors, it’s going to be a hard road to start driving organic traffic with only high-value keywords.

The number of backlinks needed will rely on your competitors who are winning out and jockeying for those positions. Strengthen your resources for links based on this.

Key Takeaways:

Backlinks quality over quantity every time.

Use tools like AHREFs & SEMRush to assess competitors’ profiles

Know what you’re up against.

Build your strategy using tried and test techniques to gain more high-quality backlinks than your competitors.

Event SEO: Tips & Tricks

In a perfect world, everyone who hits the ATTENDING button on Facebook would show up to your awesome shindig. You invest all that time and effort into planning a great event which will benefit so many people, and yet you know that folks won’t turn up. How can you change this mindset? How can you turn this trend around? You need to find a way to boost event attendance without pressuring people too hard. You need to find a way to entice people, draw them in and make them WANT to attend. You need strong event seo.

There are as many marketing strategies out there as there are statistics backing up those results. The problem isn’t in figuring out that marketing is important, it’s in learning what type of marketing to leverage for your end goal.

In the events space it is all about raising awareness and hype to draw people to your thing. The marketing here is all announcements, social media posts and actions that build and grow in real time. The hidden gem in these campaigns is Event SEO so you can draw in users that are ‘high intent’ through your organic presence. Smart marketing isn’t about shouting the loudest message, it’s about sending out the most effective message. The first step in this process is putting your message in front of the right people.

With the year 2020 behind us and a world opening back up in 2021, let us show you how to get the most out of your event marketing through organic searches, and we’ll have you drawing in the right people for your event.

The Core SEO Conundrum

A key component of building your audience is creating an event website. All of your SEO marketing plans are designed to bring people back to your web page where they can learn more, subscribe, sign up, buy a ticket, merchandise, you name it.

If you have a recurring event, you need to be agile in making changes and updating information for people to be in the know. Outdated information is a big negative blow to your SEO and attendance. Each new and updated page needs to maintain the backbone of your previous message. This gives people a seamless and user-friendly experience. It also builds authority and demonstrates to Google your professionalism, allowing it to rank for your keywords.

Let’s use music festivals as an example. What I often see in Australia with these events is they will build an EPIC WEBSITE, hyping their event with featured artists, special locations and other entertainment, and in the background they build out a massive keyword list based on searched for terms for these things.

When the event is over, the buzz goes quiet. The event organisers keep the websites up, basically a splash page with words like- Stay Tuned for Next Year!

So why do they keep these webpages up? All that great content they had leading up to the event, giving them some massive organic search results, are rendered useless and are gone forever.

Keywords will start burning off because of the monumental shift in how the website looks and the removed content that was allowing them to rank for keywords.

You can see from the below chart the volatility in search results which happen before, during and after an event.

There is a much smarter way to powerfully leverage these organic search rankings for a longer and more consistent set of gains, to get you more traffic and sales.

Events may lead up to the day, but the play could be so much longer. Play harder with Event SEO as a backbone to your next event and you will win more success.

Search Intent Based Artist Pages

It always starts with keyword research.

Establishing a target audience does more than focus your efforts, it opens up opportunities to tailor messages and open pathways to communicate. When you have a clear vision of your audience, when you get a set of social media interaction and a good idea of what they search for to find events like yours, you get a massive advantage on your competition.

Music Festival Example

  • Artists & Locations

As a keen fan of music festivals, often I think- “Damn, when is this artist coming to my town?”, and thus you’ll find many artists have these variations of keywords “artists + locations”, with some combinations reaching strong volume numbers.

Seeing this, we implemented specific landing pages based on this keyword research, not only for Melbourne, but for all cities that the artist was touring:

·         /brisbane/lineup-lizzo/

·         /sydney/lineup-lizzo/

You get the idea.

Through this strategy we hit 1st position right at the peak of her tour and leading up to the event day itself.

This method doesn’t just work for artists. Any person of interest will have significant search around them.

“Person of interest + location”

Why?

Search intent – we’re satisfying a more direct user intent by landing a user on a page targeted toward their favourite artist and their location of choice. We can create a stronger conversion point off this.

  • Post Event

As a landing page for traffic being directed through backlinks, searches, and ads, the page needs to load quickly and read easily.

A good landing page benefits from multiple passes and audits to ensure it’s optimized for various devices and bandwidths.

It needs to contain core information presented according to SEO standards. This helps raise ranking while not discouraging visitors to leave before they even fully arrive.

A few options for these might be:

  • 301 Redirecting pages back into the homepage. This will help maintain any backlinks that we’re pointed toward these pages.
  • You could build out Artist Profiles on previous artists involved with the event, which will be useful if that artist then returns to the same event so you can re-energise that page.

  • Data Driven Planning

A festival is only as good as its artists involved, to generate hype having the hottest artists on stage.

Using keywords we can actually see the trends of artists across the globe. Looking at Lizzo, which we were doing above, she was riding a big wave of hype from late 2019 into 2020. Now Tate McRae, while less searched overall, is surging in user interest.

  • Link Outreach

The power of backlinks is in anchoring your knowledge and authority to that of other pages. For every important site you link to, and for every important site that links to you, a bond is formed.

These bonds show that the information you present has value and isn’t just useless background noise.

Authority is important for establishing and holding dominance of a keyword and leading the internet, rather than following it.

The event page will be the target of all your backlinks. It provides the nuts and bolts information to guide your attendees. Finally, it works to convert visitors into attendees.

  • Content

Content drives the biggest part of SEO. After all, SEO can’t optimize anything if there is nothing to search.

Content feeds the machine with data it can extrapolate and assign value to.

Content has more don’ts than do’s

You need to write for a human. Google, in particular, is wise to content that is nothing more than a jumble of words and concepts trying to stuff keywords and hence rank. Google wants content that proves authority, content that can be accessed by others, and content that spreads organically.

The better your content, the more reliable it is, and the more consistent your content is, the more value will be assigned to it by search engines.

Many of the event websites I researched for this article kept it light on content. While this may be great for UX, it is not good for organic SEO power.

Competitors

Know thy enemy, as General Sun Tzu said. It is a great way to help yourself and your website. Look at the data available online for your competitors. See what they’re using and what words are trending associated with their work.

You don’t want to out rightly wrestle with competitors who are too far ahead of you in the game. Instead, target a niche they may have overlooked to give yourself a better inroad.

Knowing the keywords associated with your market and audience does the heavy lifting in this regard.

Get Started Now

It takes a lot of small, incremental pieces of work to boost event attendance and build an empire. You need the best tools and the best people with the best know-how to build a strategy, keep track of all the data and leverage every advantage for SEO success. Please reach out if you’re looking for help for you next event via email: lawrence@studiohawk.com.au

Shoshin: A Beginners Mindset

Millennials are one of many groups of people seemingly “obsessed” with self-improvement—and that’s a good thing! When you observe the world’s current and past climate, we need to strive towards improving ourselves now more than ever. It’s an addiction.

That’s why nearly 95% of millennials surveyed say they commit to personal improvement, as well as are willing to spend up to $300 a month on self-improvement. That could be in the form of working out, practicing mindfulness and meditation, buying books to expand learning, and much more.

I’m shamelessly part of this pact, with the entire of human history, philosophy, fiction, interactivity, advice at our disposal – I can’t sit idly by watching the days melt away.

Recently I’ve discovered this concept of Shoshin that I’d like to share. The idea of submitting yourself as an empty vessel, understanding there’s a danger in having expertise, and letting go to observe and listen. Having a “beginner’s mind”

This daily concept can drastically improve and alter our perspectives, actions, and interactions with our community.

For how significant this concept is, it’s actually quite simple to integrate into your day-to-day, it just requires consistency and habit.

Having a Beginner’s Mind = Having a Purposeful Foundation

To contextualize what having a “beginner’s mind” means.

Let’s say you’re an avid yoga practitioner. You regularly take classes, engage in fast-moving, strength-building power flows, and you’re a beast at the poses.

Then, one day, you decide to take a gentler, more beginner-friendly yoga class. If you weren’t practicing shoshin, you might be bored by this class, underwhelmed by it, and ready to leave before you’ve enjoyed your savasana (mediation) at the end.

But if you were practicing shoshin, or having a beginner’s mind, you’d get a lot out of this class.

Instead of running through the motions, you’d focus on building a strong foundation, becoming more mindful of your alignment in postures, and approaching every flow with a deeper intention. You’d take that cultivated energy with you after class and talk to your lover like it’s your first date or your mother like it’s your first conversation. You’d begin again, starting anew.

That’s what having a beginner’s mind is all about—appreciating every moment for what it can teach you, remaining a student no matter how much you’ve learned. It instills in you a particular type of confidence that comes from being open to new experiences.

Now, take this example, and apply it to everything: school, work, your relationships, and beyond. Imagine how things could change.

When you approach your life in this framework, you’re able to derive new meanings and messages from everything, even things you’re more experienced in or knowledgeable about. This mindset allows you to remain teachable and humble, something that could benefit us all!

For myself, when I was younger I had this insatiable sense of needing to be right, mostly in relationships. That I understood the problems and had the solutions found so easily.

Growing older, I found myself letting go more, but not completely. Finding out of Shoshin and reading more into it. Something inherently I used to try to project or felt extreme inadequacy about was being an intellectual. Now I realized the need to trying to be the smartest in the room, if someone knows more or is more well versed, amazing, applaud that!

So, What Is Shoshin, Exactly?

Where does the word “shoshin” come into play?

Well, it directly translates to “beginner’s mind,” the concept we’ve been discussing. Shoshin is a Japanese word that, in Zen Buddhism, means:

An attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even at an advanced level

That’s why the yoga example is so applicable. No matter how advanced your practice, regardless of how long you’ve been studying yoga, you can still approach each class with openness and excitement.

Perhaps there will be a different teacher you’ve never studied under who has something brand-new to say. Or maybe the person next to you in class will have questions you’ve never considered before. Maybe you’ll learn a pose you never knew existed.

The options are limitless. If you’ve ever heard the expression, “The more you know, the more you realize what you don’t know,” that’s another example of shoshin. No one has all the answers—that’s why questions are so crucial for being our teachers.

People are afraid of asking a questions because, at least in my belief, that you don’t want to look dumb or a dreaded feeling of “being wrong”. How can you be wrong asking question? In fact I’d say there’s supreme confidence in doing so as you’re opening yourself up and letting someone teach you instead of assuming the answer based on your own perception.

A great Bruce Lee quote is:

“A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer”

How Can You Practise Shoshin?

Shoshin can be practiced every single day, in every individual activity, chore, interaction, and more, as you navigate the world.

When you go out to eat, can you try a new dish? Or if you have an old favorite, can you attempt to taste it for seemingly the first time, picking out nuances and flavours and identifying them?

Ask the waiter what certain items are, what they’d recommend, make adjustments based on what you want to eat!

Talking to your spouse or partners – everyone feels nostalgic for that honeymoon phase that was the beginning of your relationship. You learn everything about each other, and then fall into a zone where it’s both assumed you off the cuff can recall the name of their year 7 PE teacher.

Practically, once and a while ask a question you may or may not know the answer of, perhaps you’ll learning something new? Instead of predicting what they’d say and just listen to listen.

When you take a photo, paint a picture, walk your dogs, clean your dishes, how can you be a beginner? Is there a better way of making a cup of coffee in the morning? Walk to a place you’ve never been before.

As you can see, the idea of shoshin can be applied anywhere. Take this quote by Shunryu Suzuki, for example:

“In the beginner’s mind, there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s there are few.”

There is a danger that comes with expertise. We tend to block the information that disagrees with what we learned previously and yield to the information that confirms our current approach.

Begin Again Today, and Tomorrow, and for the Rest of Your Life

Mindfulness is something everyone can benefit from—practicing shoshin is a life-changing perspective that can add drastically to your life. When we change our minds, we change our interactions, influencing our communities, and inspiring the world! It’s really that powerful.Click here to check out my other posts, and come back regularly for more content like this.