The Beginner’s Guide to Keyword Density

The Beginner’s Guide to Keyword Density

Keywords are a critical part of your SEO strategy.

Along with relevant content and optimized website design, ranking for the right keywords helps your site stand out from the crowd — and get closer to the top of search engine results pages (SERPs).

So it’s no surprise that a substantial amount of SEO advice centers on keywords: Doing your research can help you select and rank for top-performing keywords in your market, in turn boosting user engagement and increasing total sales.

But how many keywords are enough? How many are too many? How do you know? And what happens if Google and other search engines determine your site is “stuffed” with keywords?

In our beginner’s guide to keyword density we’ll cover the basics, dig into why it matters, and offer functional formulas and simple tools that can help make sure your keyword strategies are working as intended.

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What is keyword density?

Keyword density — also called keyword frequency — describes the number of times a specific keyword appears on a webpage compared to the total word count.

It’s often reported as a percentage or a ratio; the higher the value, the more your selected keyword appears on your page.

Why Keyword Density Matters

Keywords drive searches. When users go looking for products or services they’ll typically use a keyword that reflects their general intent, and expect search engines to serve up relevant results.

While tools like Google now take into account factors such as geographical area and page authority — defined in part by the number of visitors to your webpage and in part by “dofollow” links from reputable sites that link back to your page — keywords remain a critical factor in website success.

The caveat? You can’t simply “stuff” as many keywords as possible into your content and expect reliable results.

During the wild west days of the first search engines, brands and SEO firms would write low-value content and cram it with keywords and keyword tags, along with links to similarly-stuffed pages on the same site. Not surprisingly, visitors grew frustrated and search engine providers realized they needed a better approach.

Now, keyword stuffing has the opposite effect — search engines will penalize the page rankings of sites that still choose to keyword stuff.

By the Numbers: The Keyword Density Formula

How do you calculate keyword density? The formula is straightforward: Divide the number of times a keyword is used on your page by the total number of words on the page.

Here’s an easy example: Your page has 1,000 words and your keyword is used 10 times. This gives:

10 / 1000 = .001

Multiply this by 100 to get a percentage, which in this case is 1%.

There’s also another formula sometimes used to assess keyword usage: TF-IDF, which stands for “term frequency-inverse document frequency”. The idea here is to assess the frequency of a keyword on specific pages (TF) against the number of times this word appears across multiple pages on your site (IDF). The result helps determine how relevant your keyword is for specific pages.

While TF is straightforward, it’s easy to get sidetracked by IDF. Here, the goal is to understand the rarity of your keyword across multiple documents. IDF is measured in values between 0 and 1 — the closer to 0, the more a word appears across your pages. The closer to 1, the more it appears on a single page and no others.

This is the “inverse” nature of the calculation: lower values mean more keyword use.

Consider this formula in practice. Applied to very common words such as “the” or “but”, the TD-IDF score will approach zero. Applied to a specific keyword, the value should be much closer to 1 — if not, you may need to reconsider your keyword strategy.

Understanding Optimal Keyword Density

While there are no hard and fast rules for keyword density beyond always-relevant “don’t keyword stuff” advice, many SEOs recommend using approximately one keyword for each 200 words of copy.

Your content may perform similarly with slightly more or slightly less, but general wisdom holds that Google and other search engines respond well to keyword density around 0.5%.

It’s also worth remembering the value of keyword variants — words and phrases that are similar, but not identical, to your primary keyword. Let’s say your website sells outdoor lighting solutions. While your highest-value keyword for SERPs is “outdoor lighting”, stuffing as many uses of this keyword into as many pages as possible will reduce rather than improve overall SEO.

Instead, consider keyword variants; terms that are close to your primary keyword but not an exact copy. In the case of “outdoor lighting”, variants such as “garden lighting”, “patio lighting”, “deck lighting” or “landscape lighting” can help your page rank higher without running afoul of keyword-stuffing rules.

Not sure what variants make the most sense for your website? Use the “searches related to” section at the bottom of Google’s SERP for your primary keyword. Here’s why: Google has put significant time and effort into understanding intent, so the “searches related to” section will show you similar terms to your primary keyword.

Keyword Density Tools

While you can do the math on keyword density yourself by calculating the total word and keyword counts across every page on your website, this can quickly become time- and resource-intensive as your website expands and page volumes increase.

Keyword density tools help streamline this process. Potential options include:

1. SEO Review Tools Keyword Density Checker

This free tool is browser-based — simply input your site URL or page text, then complete the “I’m not a robot” captcha to perform a keyword density check. While this tool doesn’t offer the in-depth analytics of other options on the list, it’s a great way to get an overview of current keyword density.

2. SEOBook Keyword Density Analyzer

Similar to the tool above, the SEOBook Keyword Density Analyzer is free — but it does require an account to use. Along with basic keyword density reports, this tool also lets you search for your target keyword in Google, pull data for five of the top-ranked pages using the same keyword, then analyze them to see how your keyword stacks up.

3. WordPress SEO Post Optimizer

If you’d prefer a WordPress plugin for keyword density assessment, consider the WordPress SEO Post Optimizer. This tool comes with a cost — $19 — but checks a host of SEO conditions including keyword density to help ensure your content can rank highly on the SERPs.

4. WPMUDEV SmartCrawl

Another WordPress pluging, WPMUDEV SmartCrawl is free for seven days and then costs $5 per month. Along with keyword density assessment the tool includes automated SEO checkups and reports, assessments for titles and metadata along with in-depth site crawls, scans and reports.

Key(words) to the Kingdom

Want to improve your SERP position and boost site impact? Start with strong keywords.

The caveat? Keyword balance is key to search success. By finding — and regularly assessing — the keyword density of both specific pages and your site at scale, it’s possible to boost relevant SEO impact and avoid the ranking pitfalls of overly-dense keyword distribution.

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The Beginner’s Guide to Web Optimization

The Beginner’s Guide to Web Optimization

To capture customer interest and drive sales conversion, users must be able to quickly and easily find your site. If they can’t, it doesn’t matter how much time and effort you’ve spent increasing page performance and creating great content — without top-tier search results, your site is effectively invisible.

And there’s no time to waste when it comes to getting noticed: Google now handles upwards of an estimated 2.2 trillion searches every year — and this number is only going up. So how do companies connect the dots between current content resources and potential search results? It all starts with web optimization — tools and techniques designed to get your site indexed by search engines and noticed when it matters most.

In this beginner’s guide, we’ll break down the basics of web optimization, tackle key techniques to improve your search standing and highlight some of the best tools available to get your site front and center.

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What is Web Optimization?

Put simply, web optimization is anything that helps your site get noticed by search engines. This starts with content that appeals to automated search engine “spiders” — pieces of code that comb the web for relevant, keyword-driven content.

But having your page found isn’t enough; your content must also pass checks for relevance, originality, and even search intent to be consistently displayed as a top result.

Given its focus on search success, web optimization is often called search engine optimization (SEO). Different SEO solution providers and industry experts have differing ideas about exactly what makes optimization efforts successful — for example, many focus on targeted keyword usage to boost your ranking for specific search terms.

And while this is both useful and potentially profitable, it’s not enough in isolation; effective web optimization requires the reevaluation of all component website parts and content to ensure the collective end result is ideally suited to satisfy search engine preferences.

But what does this look like in practice?

Key Web Optimization Techniques

Before putting time and effort into SEO and web optimization strategies it’s critical to define specific outcomes.

Here’s why: The sheer volume of tactics, tools, and techniques available to improve search-friendly design is staggering — by understanding where your website struggles and focusing your efforts to address these shortfalls you can maximize impact while limiting overall spend.

As a result, the best way to start any website optimization effort is with a complete audit of site performance and pain points. Tools such as Google’s PageSpeed Insights can identify loading and usability issues, while basic keyword research can help determine which terms your target market customers are searching for — and how your site stacks up.

For example, if you run a lawn care business in Detroit, you’ll want a high search ranking for terms like “lawn care Detroit” and “Detroit lawn service”. If searching for those terms doesn’t return your site as a top result, you’ve got work to do.

And while there’s no single, standardized solution to optimize your website, some common techniques include:

Pinpoint your market.

Before you can optimize your website, you need to define your target market. Start by identifying your ideal customer: What products or services are they looking for? How much are they willing to spend? What are their priorities when it comes to contacts, contracts and communications?

Develop your keywords.

Next, select keywords aligned with your target market and use them to return search engine results. If your site isn’t on the first page, top competitors provide key data to help optimize your content.

Optimize your content.

Great content relies on relevance; any blog post, video, podcast, or digital resource you create should be geared toward your target market. But it’s also critical to optimize your content for search engines by adding keyword-based page titles, integrating specific keywords where applicable (and without overstuffing), and developing meta-tags that highlight key concepts.

Account for user intent.

Improved, AI-driven analysis now helps companies like Google extrapolate user intent based on their search inquiry and display contextually relevant results. This makes it essential for site owners and operators to think like users rather than marketers when creating new content and optimizing site design.

Improve the user experience.

Better user experience means increased satisfaction — and can also impact your search ranking. As of 2018, Google began incorporating mobile page speed as a factor in search rankings, making improved performance a factor in favorable results.

Build better backlinks.

Backlinks from other highly-ranked sites can help organically improve your standing in search results. Best bet? Create and submit relevant, market-focused content to industry news or knowledge sites. It’s also a good idea to regularly search for your company or brand name to identify any missing attributions and ask for backlinks to be included.

Address image attributes.

Images optimization for web content is also critical. Start by giving your images file names that succinctly describe what they display; do the same for any image alt attributes. When it doubt, err on the side of plain language and straightforward descriptions — superfluous image details can result in penalties to your overall ranking.

Measure and monitor.

Effective optimization requires ongoing measurement and monitoring to ensure long-term ROI. Here’s why: As customer preferences evolve, top keywords change and search engines shift their focus. Regular evaluation of SEO efforts helps keep your optimization strategy on track.

Image Optimization for Web

The goal of any image optimization strategy is to improve web performance — and the single best way to do that is by compressing images on your site.

Compressing your images — while maintaining image quality as much as possible — is a crucial component to any broader web optimization strategy. Even if you spend hours optimizing every other facet of your site, if your image file sizes are too large, they’ll slow down your site’s overall load time — and visitors won’t wait around for them to load before bouncing.

To learn more about compressing images, check out our post on the subject here.

5 Great Web Optimization Tools

While the right techniques can help boost the impact of your site’s content and marketing campaigns, the right tools can help streamline the process and give your team more time to focus on what matters — building your brand.

With hundreds of tools now available both free and for-pay, we’ve compiled a list of useful options to help your site maximize optimization efforts.

1. HubSpot CMS

The HubSpot content management system (CMS) is a full-featured solution with optimization tools for marketers, developers, and IT teams alike. Optimized web pages can be easily created, managed and personalized for different visitors and modified to suit specific device types or conversion objectives. Interested? Try a 14-day trial to see what HubSpot CMS can do for your business.

2. Moz Local Listing Score

Moz uses multiple data sources to see how your local business listings are performing across the web. Designed for companies with brick-and-mortar storefronts, Moz shows how your listings compare and offers suggestions to help correct inaccurate data or supply more detailed, SEO-friendly information. Basic Moz checks are free, while more in-depth results come with a monthly fee.

3. Google Analytics

If you want to know how your site is performing across the world’s biggest search network, start with Google Analytics. This free tool provides both critical site metrics and actionable data about user behavior at scale to help better tailor online content and campaigns and rank higher in search results.

4. Ahrefs Backlink Checker

As noted above, great backlinks can help boost your site’s ranking in search engines and drive referral traffic. Ahrefs Backlink Checker lets you see the top 100 backlinks to your site to help improve linking strategy and drive better search results. The trial version of this tool is free, while the premium option comes with a monthly cost.

Worth noting? You can also use this backlink checker to evaluate competitor sites and capitalize on gaps in keyword strategies.

5. Google Keyword Planner

Google makes the list again with their keyword planner. This tool not only identifies the search volume of specific terms but also suggests potentially relevant keywords that reflect user intent and may not be on your marketing radar, in turn opening new avenues to help boost your site’s overall relevance and ranking.

Optimally Speaking

Want to boost conversions and generate better ROI? Make sure your site gets noticed with targeted website optimization.

Start with an evaluation of current site performance, then implement key strategies to capture the attention of popular search engine spiders. Finally, deploy the right tools at the right time to automate key processes and discover new optimization opportunities.

Discover videos, templates, tips, and other resources dedicated to helping you  launch an effective video marketing strategy. 

Why Are My Affiliate Marketing Campaigns Failing? Here Are the Top 5 Beginner Mistakes.

Why Are My Affiliate Marketing Campaigns Failing? Here Are the Top 5 Beginner Mistakes.

If you’ve ever read an exciting follow along that at some point just stopped getting updates you must have wondered what happened to the affiliate and their campaigns. Depending on how the thread was going there are two possible options.

One, the affiliate became so successful they decided to channel 100% of their energy towards scaling the campaigns and making the most of it.
Two, they decided to give up, stopped the campaign and changed their niche… or profession.

Either way, the forum is full of questions from beginners who are only just starting their journeys. Sooner or later a thread gets started: Why are my campaigns failing? Why did my campaign stop converting? I’ve spent $XX and got no conversions. Why?

Let me go over the top 5 reasons why your campaigns fail and how to fix it.

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1. Not testing enough

Undoubtedly, the biggest mistake made by beginner affiliates is not testing enough. Getting discouraged within days after starting your first campaign is very common but it’s definitely not a good reason to quit affiliate marketing.

Here is the bad news for beginners with low budgets. Spending $10 and getting no conversions is more common than you think. Depending on what you are trying to promote your ‘test’ budget might vary.

If you’re promoting sweepstakes with a single opt in conversion process, then $10 should most of the time bring you at least a couple of conversions.

If you’re promoting a double opt-in offer with a higher payout and higher requirements, then $10 might hardly be enough to test a portion of the traffic.

Depending on the volumes available in the traffic source of your choice, the ‘testing phase’ might eat up a significant chunk of your budget. The higher the traffic volume the higher the earning potential but also the longer the testing phase.

If you’re not sure what a testing phase is then let me explain. Once you choose your offer, lander (or landers) and creatives, you need to choose and test a traffic source. Even when you already have an optimized funnel, the traffic will behave differently in each network, source, target and country.

While testing the traffic you should let your campaign run uninterrupted for 3-4 days before analyzing the data and making first optimization decisions. In Zeropark, the minimum daily budget for all types of traffic is $20 which totals $60-$80 for gathering data. The recommended daily budget, however, is $100.

After that period, well-performing sources and targets should be clearly identifiable but throughout that time it’s highly likely that your campaign would be running at a loss.

It’s hard to watch your budget go without seeing any green, but without gathering data and optimizing traffic based specifically on that data, your chances of success are slim. It’s best to focus on learning one particular skill (vertical/ad format/GEO) rather than move erratically between different ideas.

Do not jump from campaign to campaign if you don’t become profitable overnight. It doesn’t mean that you chose the wrong offer/ad format/GEO targeting – it means you just haven’t tested enough.

If your first campaign doesn’t get profitable (even if you did your best to properly test the data and optimize the traffic) that’s still not a good enough reason to quit. Some campaigns just won’t become profitable no matter what you do. Sometimes you won’t know why. What’s important is to learn from them anyway.

Were there any sources that showed potential? Save them in a spreadsheet and test with a different offer. Don’t let the valuable data go to waste. Don’t get discouraged. Test more offers, landers and GEOs.

Rome wasn’t built in a day. The super affiliates that you know and admire, most likely didn’t make millions of off their first campaign. Not even the second or the third one. They kept on testing until they found a working combination and that’s exactly what you should do too.

Don’t forget that you can always ask your traffic source’s / ad network’s representatives for the latest top performers. They know exactly what sort of offers perform well in what GEOs and they might even give you some ideas for what angles and creatives work best.

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2. Optimizing too quickly

The second biggest mistake is connected rather closely with the first one. Beginner affiliates tend to get very enthusiastic about making their first optimizations. When they see that their campaign hasn’t been converting well within 24 hours from its launch, they pull the optimization trigger too early.

Cutting sources or placements is a good optimization strategy but only when you have sufficient data to be able to judge their potential accurately.

One or two conversions in one source vs. zero conversions in another is not a significant amount of data. Wait until the difference in conversions is clearly visible. That’s why we recommend letting your campaign gather data for 3-4 days before you start narrowing things down.

How much should you spend before optimizing?

It’s also highly recommended to have a spend of minimum $100 before proceeding to optimization. The recommended amount of conversions is not as easy to determine. When it comes to sweepstakes offers, the tests budget might be lower but it’s best to wait until you have about 50 conversions. In case of higher payout offers, a budget of $300-$500 is recommended for the initial testing phase but the minimum number of conversions amounts to about 20.

Please remember that these numbers are general recommendations and shouldn’t strictly determine how you run your campaigns. If you are a complete beginner they should give you a good idea of what a campaign testing phase looks like. There are many different strategies out there but the one thing that they all have in common is that you need significant data in order to start optimizing.

Also, cutting sources and targets should not be the first optimization that you do. Initially, you should focus on observing the performance of mobile vs. desktop traffic. Sometimes the difference in performance between platforms should be easily visible and therefore the first logical optimization step.

Sometimes it might be a good idea to split the campaign into two separate ones for mobile and desktop traffic as the platforms usually have different average bids.

In what order you should optimize campaign variables?

In general, the recommended order of optimization is: platform, devices, browsers, OS, and OS versions.

Once you get to optimizing on source level you should make sure that your bid has been competitive enough to win high quality traffic. It’s recommended that you cut sources only after they are still not converting upon reaching 70-90% win ratio.

Always remember that cutting anything will lower the volume of traffic coming to your campaign. If you’re targeting a low volume GEO or a very specific region then it might be best to focus on adjusting bids of sources and targets before making cuts.

If you over-optimize your traffic you might accidentally limit your volume so much that even if you do become profitable these profits will never go above a single digit number.

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3. Giving up too soon

If you are a beginner affiliate hoping to invest $100 and become profitable within a week then you might feel seriously discouraged once that week passes and you’ve barely made a couple of conversions.

You really can’t have high expectations while starting affiliate marketing. As much as studying or doing courses is advised, you can only truly learn by testing. And testing takes time and money.

What would be an estimated budget to try affiliate marketing in practice? About $500 in the case of PPV or PPC traffic. This, of course, doesn’t mean that if you have a lot less you will never become profitable. It just simply means that in the majority of cases the smaller the budget the harder it is to find find a working campaign

If you spend $20 on a campaign with one lander and one creative and decide to give up because of poor results then you will most likely never be successful.

Affiliate marketing is all about testing. What verticals work where and with what type of traffic. Do your research and stick to your choices. You shouldn’t switch a niche when your first or second campaign doesn’t work out. Don’t be afraid to ask the community for help.

Test the campaign for 3-4 days and then use another 3-4 days on optimization. If the ROI is still very low then you might consider killing the campaign.

When considering switching the vertical altogether make sure to ask your affiliate network and traffic source representatives what’s performing best at a given moment.

Most expert affiliates have their favourite verticals or GEOs. Sometimes they specialize in a particular combo. That’s usually because they took time and effort to test all kinds of traffic and finally, they found a set up and a strategy that worked.

You should not give up after a couple of failed campaigns. Sometimes campaigns, landers or creatives need to be killed or stopped but it’s crucial that you always learn something from each attempt.

Keep a notebook or a google doc with your thoughts. Campaigns are made of many components so it’s good to analyse each and every one of them in order to draw conclusions about why they might have failed.

Affiliate marketing is not a quick profit scheme. It requires learning and testing and sometimes it might take a long while to start making profits after investing in the learning phase.

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4. Poor landers

Majority of the time campaigns perform significantly better when using a lander. So, the first mistake you can make when it comes to landers is not using them. If you feel like the offer landing page is well made and should be enough to make a user convert then what we’d recommend is A/B testing – pre-lander vs. direct. That way you can really check whether your offer is in the 10% that will perform better without a lander but you will test the other option too, just to be safe.

Don’t be the lazy affiliate that expects quick profits without putting in the effort. Cases in which the offer converts better without a pre-lander are rather rare so it’s quite unlikely that one of your first campaigns will be like that.

Why should you use your own landing page?

Landing pages are the pre-selling point. They help to warm up the user and introduce whatever you want to sell them. They are inarguably a crucial factor influencing the performance of your campaigns.

That’s why direct linking or using the wrong pre-landers might be the reason your campaigns are failing.

Not everyone can afford spy tools at the beginning and that’s okay. But there are other ways of finding out what landing pages are performing best. Once again, asking the reps of a traffic source or affiliate network will be your best shot at getting reliable information about the kind of landers that work.

Simple offers with simple flows don’t require much thinking when it comes to landers but you should always watch out for the traffic network guidelines. Usually it’s easy to check what sort of landers are allowed and how aggressive they can be.

If you’re creating landers by yourself then you should pay close attention to the style of your offer page. Nothing says professionalism more than perfectly matched pre-lander and offer landing page.

Complete beginners sometimes make the mistake of using landers so different from the offer page that they don’t even advertise the same product.

Make sure your lander clearly states the instructions for how to convert. Whether you need the users to share their credit card numbers or download an app, use precise directions and explain the benefits of your product. Be as convincing as possible and use a simple CTA.

Still, you can never truly predict user preferences. Also, they might vary for different GEOs. It’s always recommended to test more than one landing page at once. Sometimes it’s enough to make cosmetic changes but sometimes using an entirely different angle might turn the tables on the potential of your campaign.

The appearance as well as the text on the lander can make a huge difference. Always make sure that creatives, lander and offer pages have no significant discrepancies or contradictions. They should be similar in style, angles and content. Watch out for grammar mistakes and typos.

You should also remember that while running campaigns in non-english speaking GEOs it’s best to translate landers and creatives or at least split test them against their english versions.

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5. Bad offers

Lastly, your campaigns might sometimes fail simply because of a bad offer. No amount of traffic filter optimization or creative pre-landers can make a user convert if the offer just isn’t interesting enough.

Sometimes it might be quite impossible to accurately judge which offer has potential. That’s why it’s always best to ask for recommendations. I can’t stress this enough – as a newbie, reaching out for help to network representatives and experts from the community is your best chance at making the right choices.

Also, you can’t get attached to the offers that you run. Even when you personally think they make sense it’s highly likely that if they don’t convert well it’s because the users aren’t interested in them.

Offers can be badly paired with GEOs, e.g. first time deposit (FTD) offers shouldn’t be run in Tier 3 countries where the population is much poorer than in, for example, Tier 1 countries.

Another mistake you might make is choosing the wrong offer for the wrong budget. Beginners should start with sweepstakes as it’s the easiest and the cheapest vertical to run. What they definitely shouldn’t start with are high payout offers which might seem enticing because of potential profits but they need a much more polished set up and higher testing budgets.

Make sure to research offers before you start running your campaigns. Again, you might use spy tools or ask around. Make sure you have a good combination of offers, landers, (optionally creatives) with GEOs and ad formats. Some offers might work significantly better with mobile traffic only so it would be a shame to mistakenly pair those up with desktop traffic.

Offer restrictions are crucial here as well. Your conversion will not be counted if it’s coming from the wrong GEO or platform so make sure you pay close attention to the offer description. You wouldn’t want to advertise a voucher to a shop that doesn’t exist in that particular location.

Are the products you advertise up to date? Sweepstakes with the newest iPhone model will surely perform much better than those with an outdated model.

Sometimes the offer might not convert because the market for it is just too saturated. Choosing the highest converting offer from the affiliate network can either work really well or really poorly. If everyone is running the same offer at the same time (using the same creatives) users will stop noticing it altogether. Sometimes a less popular offer might be a jackpot.

Overall, there is one thing that will help you determine why your campaigns are failing – it’s a tracker. Yes, it’s possible to start affiliate marketing without a tracking solution but it’s not possible to scale or truly know what works. Campaigns can fail on many levels and only using a tracker will allow you to know at which point of the funnel people are dropping out.

So, to summarize, what are the top 5 beginner mistakes?

  1. Not putting enough time and effort to test the traffic before expecting results.
  2. Not allowing your campaigns to gather enough significant data before beginning optimization.
  3. Stopping campaigns or offers and changing the whole strategy too soon or too often.
  4. Underestimating the power of good, quality pre-landers.
  5. Choosing the wrong offer and sticking with it for too long.

Hopefully, if you’ve made any of the mistakes described above, you will know now how to avoid or fix them.

If you have any questions or any problems you need help solving, know that the community is here for you.