The dog ate my homework. So I recorded this yesterday and did up a blog post for it. But I guess it’s still sitting in one of my browser tabs at home unpublished… Sorry folks. But here it is.
Today’s challenge is outlined in this video.
Preliminary Task) So this is the last time I’ll ask you to check your stats. How is your course? Hopefully you’ve seen a few places bump. Post your results in the thread below in order to get in a random draw for a tweet and a post to my site.
Day 5 Task) Engage your students.
Having students who take your course through your active involvement with them has so many benefits, too many:
higher average minutes watched (good for SEO)
more reviews (good for SEO)
higher average review score (good for? SEO)
more recommendations to their friends
more links around the web
more connections with you, that lead to a million other opportunities
higher likelihood to buy your next course
Presumably you started teaching on Udemy to teach people, right? Yes, it’s nice to make money and it’s a full-time income for many, but if you pay attention to your course, pay attention to your students, continue to care for them, then they will care for you.
What does this mean?
Educational announcements that lead to great content from others in your industry (not just you)
Educational announcements that are encouraging
Adding more lessons occasionally
Answering questions in the Q&A section
Encouraging participation (introduce yourself, post your project pictures) in the course itself
Listening closely to what their real problems are (which can lead you to your next course)
This is a long term play. Don’t expect your course to jump 5 places by tomorrow. But you can’t just create courses and market them. You have to be the best ongoing teacher you can be, inspire students, tell them they can do it, make them watch your videos and learn from you.
“You can have anything in life that you want, if you help enough other people get what they want.” – Zig Ziglar
So go to it. Be a great teacher. Help people get what they want (by learning the subject they paid money to learn) and they’ll help you get what you want.
Thank you for following this challenge, and I am humbled and very appreciative of your response. Love hearing about your success, so please share it with me today, next week or next month as you see your courses grow and become popular!
Keep me posted in the comments below, or inside my SEO for Udemy course, with your progress, thoughts, questions, and comments!
Preliminary Task) It’s rinse and repeat time. Check your course position, and see if it improved from yesterday. Did it help you at all, or no change? Even if there’s no change, that’s OK as long as you’re happier with the copy. It might increase conversions.
Day 4 Task) Moving on to the description.
I prefer courses with longer descriptions. I know writing lengty copy is hard sometimes, and in the rush to get our courses “live”, we just want to say a paragraph or two about how great the course is. But now is the time to revisit the description. Really read through it, and see what’s missing. Does it draw the reader into wanting to take the course? Have you filled it with language such as “by the end of this course, you’ll be able to…”?
Don’t make it a dry, boring laundry list of lecture names. Don’t just list in bullet point form the name of your lessons. Really sell the course. Talk about how great it will be once the student is at the end of the course, and has learned the skills. Make them imagine the future. Write at least 400 words.
And after all that, after you’ve rewritten the perfect copy. Go back over it and count the number of times you’ve used your keywords. Whatever that number is, you need to double it. Did you use your keyword only 5 times? Make it 10. Did you use it 10? Make it 20. Well, ok, I wouldn’t say you should use it more than 20. But you won’t believe the number of courses that I see that use the keyword only once or twice in the description.
Preliminary Task) Once again, we check the results of the changes yesterday. Search for your keyword on Udemy. If you went up in search, great! If you didn’t, well, you tried. Revert back to your old title if that experiment didn’t work.
Day 3 Task) The subtitle is most frequently underused by instructors. The subtitle is a great place to really attract people to your course. Use all the characters here if you wish. Be sure to include your keyword once. But make a subtle promise to students here what they will learn after taking your course.
“Get the right brand and logo for your business so that customers are attracted to you instantly”
If a word is not in your title or subtitle, you will NOT be found in Udemy search.
So subtitle is a good place to hide variations of your keyword. Say your keyword is “sing”, you can include the word “song” or “singing” in the subtitle to catch those smaller keywords.
Change your subtitle to something that will make students feel like yours is the course for them, and we’ll see you tomorrow.
It’s time to make a change to one of the most important aspects of your course for SEO purposes: the course title.
Now many instructors feel that their title cannot be changed. It was the title they chose before they created their course, it’s on all their slides, they mention it inside the course, it’s part of their brand, it is just too sacred to touch.
And it’s fine to hold that view I guess – it’s just potentially holding students back from finding your course. You’re helping less people learn the topic because you refuse to change the title.
All I ask is that you try a different title for 24 hours. Stand back, become temporarily detached from it, and think of a title that includes your keyword that’s simple and clear on what the course delivers.
Preliminary Task) This is where I’d ask you to check your search position for any changes, but most of you made no SEO changes to your course yesterday, so this isn’t necessary today. But we’ll check tomorrow for sure. If you did change your course yesterday, check the search position for any changes.
Day 2 Task) Go into your course dashboard, under the Basics menu, and change your title. Let it sit for 24 hours.
Tomorrow, we’ll check the changes and see if there was any impact. Don’t worry, it’s easy to undo if the impact was negative. Don’t be disheartened if the impact was negative, it’s a test and not all tests succeed.
Update: The challenge is now over. But feel free to start from Day 1 on your own schedule.
“Optimize Your Course for Udemy SEO” Challenge (Unofficial)!
Throughout the week (Monday April 18 to Friday April 22), I will challenge you to a series of small, tiny tasks to improve your course in Udemy SEO / search results. Each day, I will ask you to experiment with something on your course landing page, and you’ll come back to check on your course the next day to see the effect and make another change. I would hope that it will not take you more than 5 minutes to complete each day’s challenge. You’ll check the results of the previous day’s task, and make another small change to your course landing page and save.
The goal is to get your course from its current position in search for your desired keyword to a higher position. If by Friday, it’s higher, that’s success.
Because I am unable to send out daily course announcements (there are more challenge days than in course announcements), and the course Q&A tab is no longer set up for student communication like this, the challenge will be posted on my website at http://videocourses.ca/SEOChallenge
The challenge is free to join, and I don’t request any personal info from you. Come back to this URL each day for the new days’ challenge! I will remind you in course announcements twice more during the week next week.
Your Udemy SEO is too important not to spend a few minutes every day trying to improve your course.
Update: Since the challenge is over, the prizes have already been awarded. But don’t let that stop you.
No monetary prizes, but I will randomly pick up to 10 winners from all who are students of my Udemy SEO course and complete this challenge, to promote your course with a non-affiliate coupon code on my personal Twitter and CourseMania.com website. The winners will also be announced after the end of the challenge. I obviously can’t promise any sales, but if you want your link somewhere thousands of people will see it, I can offer you some free exposure.
FIRST 3 TASKS (BEFORE Monday April 18)
1) What’s your main keyword? __________________________
Hopefully after going through this course, you understand the importance of being very targeted with your keyword. When you’re just starting out, you need to be aware of one key word that people will use to search. Ideally, you want to use a word that LOTS of people are using to search. So don’t pick a word like “spontaneous”. Put yourself in your student’s shoes – what words would they enter into the search box to potentially find what they are looking for? Choosing the right keyword is one of the keys to good Udemy SEO.
2) When you enter that one word into Udemy.com, on what page of results do you appear? __________________________
If you have to go to page 4 of search results to see your course, the answer is “4”.
3) What would you estimate your overall search position to be for that word? __________________________
There are 12 results per page, so if you are in position 4 on page 4, you are in (3 X 12) + 4 = 36 + 4 = 40th position.
Write the answers to these three questions down. We will want to come back to this at the end of the week to see the progress for your course.
DAY 1 CHALLENGE
Today’s challenge is outlined in this video.
Day 1 of the SEO for Udemy course challenge.
1) Make sure you come back to this page every day until Friday to get the next day’s challenge. I am unable to send course announcements every day to remind you.
2) If you didn’t do the First 3 Tasks above, do it. Do a search for your course using your keyword, and record the search position that you’re at today. We will be measuring the success of this weeks tasks against beating that search position.
3) Finally, “do a backup” of your course landing page. Make a copy of your course landing page (screenshots or copy/paste) so that you can get back to the current settings if things go wrong. Make sure to expand the description to the full length.
Day 1 challenge:
Do you think you know what your main keyword is? Let’s verify that.
Day 1 Task 1) Take the word you answered in Question 1 of “First 3 Tasks” above, and do a search in Google Trends.
Warning: Adwords forces you to create an ad when you create a new account. Don’t be worried about this, you don’t have to go live with this ad. Just create it and leave it unpublished. It will cost you nothing if you do this. Go under tools and see the keyword planner tool.
Validate your assumption for the keyword by finding out the number of monthly active searches for :
[your keyword] + course
[your keyword] + courses
[your keyword] + training
Choose exact match search. Find out how many times people are searching for that. Is it small? Less than 1000 per month? That might not be enough.
Play with Google’s keyword tool to find if your word is best or if there’s a better word.
How many searches per month does [your keyword] + course get? __________________________
Day 1 Results:
I expect most of you will be satisfied with the keyword you originally chose. If so, great. You should have more confidence than before that this was a good keyword and some actual numbers and research to back up that assumption. But perhaps some of you are starting to rethink your keyword and are leaning towards another more popular one. That’s ok too! It’s easy to change with Udemy courses. Even if you have to change your keyword, you should have more confidence that more people will be searching for that word and have a chance of finding your course. More data (as long as it’s clear and consistent) equals more confidence.
Do not go and make changes to your course landing page just yet with this new keyword. In tomorrow’s challenge, we’ll make a change to the course landing page and you can use that new keyword then.
Update: They’ve reversed the policy on this, and this post is no longer valid.
In case you missed it, Udemy has “dropped the other shoe” and announced changes to it’s pricing structure (link no longer valid).
Udemy has changed so much in the past 6 months, hasn’t it?
There is a consistent thread through much of how Udemy has changed over the past few months, and to me there is one incident that defines “why” all of these changes are happening.
Exactly on Thanksgiving Day 2015, a massive controversy erupted. Someone had stolen a course from pluralsight and posted it to Udemy. The original author, incensed that someone had stolen his work and put it up for sale, posted his grievance to the web about how Udemy was stealing their work for profit, and it became an international incident. Stories about Udemy being a home to pirates appeared all over the web, and in prestigious places like the BBC.
Except, it wasn’t 100% fair. Indeed someone had stolen his course, but it wasn’t Udemy that stole it. Like any business on the web, Udemy acts when it’s notified of pirated content on its site through the DMCA process, as they are required to by law. The author hadn’t given Udemy much time to respond, and Udemy got a black eye over essentially nothing. However, Udemy had the global lynch mob’s attention that week and the facts couldn’t stem the outrage, and it must have been painful for all of Udemy’s employees.
I believe it was a defining moment in the history of the company.
That incident gave Udemy executives and investors a real scare. Udemy’s reputation been attacked on many fronts that week not just the pirated course in question, and Udemy having a good reputation was essential to the future of their business. Udemy for Business is trying to strike deals with companies, and the Partnership team is trying to work to make deals globally. Once you have a bad reputation, it takes time to build a new one. And so Udemy had to get to work.
Recovering Udemy’s reputation became job #1 in December 2015.
First up, re-focusing on trust and safety. They already had a trust and safety team, but they needed to get serious about rule enforcement.
In December, thousands of fake reviews had been removed from Udemy in a bulk cleaning. In January and February as well. Strikes now had force. Some instructors who’ve abused the system for a while were kicked off Udemy entirely. In 3 months, there are not many courses on Udemy that you can point to as obvious scams. One has to say that a lot of the obviously bad stuff has been removed at this point.
Incidentally, this is one reason why courses about guns were recently banned.
Second up, instructor verification and stricter review process. Just try to upload a course today with a Lynda or pluralsight logo in the bottom corner, and see if it gets approved. I’ve seen instructors asked to prove their courses really were theirs. And some instructors are being asked to verify their identities again even though they’re live on the platform. This ensures the Thanksgiving incident doesn’t happen again.
Third up, student reviews. One major knock against Udemy has been “all courses are 5-stars”. The old review system was basically useless. Students could not use the star rating at all in selecting courses, and so buying a course was hit or miss. Yes, there was the 30-day refund. But I’m sure the person who refunds does not go back and buy another Udemy course. Once burned, twice shy.
And now, pricing. Go out to the wider web and ask about Udemy, and anyone who knows will tell you never to pay full price. How many instructors signed up because they thought every Udemy instructor must be a millionaire? (4000 students times $300 each = $1.2 million, wow!) How many students that paid full price ended up either refunding or regretting paying so much when almost no one else was? Do they become raving fans of Udemy after?
Again, if a student has a bitter taste in their mouth after their first experience, refund or no refund, that’s not good for any of us.
Underlying Udemy’s business model is trust. Students must trust Udemy. Instructors who try to game the system with fake reviews undermine trust. Pirated courses and PLR content undermine trust. A perfect 5.0 course review score on every course in a category undermines trust. And listing a course for $300 when Udemy frequently sells it for $10, and the instructor themselves will sell for $1 also undermines trust.
Despite my success on Udemy (more than 10,000 paying students), the screen recording software I choose to use is called Screencast-o-Matic. This might be surprising, because I pay only $15 per year for the pro version, and it does a pretty good job at screen or webcam recording.
The question was asked in the Studio, so here is my setup.
How I Record with Screencast-o-Matic (SOM), PowerPoint (PPT) and Windows
First, I use the desktop version of SOM. I know there’s a web version, but I’ve never used it. So download and install SOM on your computer.
She hit the marketing world hard with her 2010 book, Fascinate. Inside is one of my favorite quotes, that I repeat often.
Different is better than better.
The core of Sally’s message is that humans are born with an innate ability to be fascinating. Some of us have developed good sense of humor in order to make others laugh, while others know how to sweet talk their way into a party without an invitation. Being fascinating is not something you learn, according to Sally, but you need to unlearn being boring.
Fascination is a state of intense emotional focus.
According to Sally, there are seven fascination triggers that we can tap into:
So what does this have to do with online courses?
We’re all trying to attract students to our courses. We’re all trying to stand above the other courses and get people to buy. We’re all trying to get people to WATCH our courses after buying them, implement what we teach, and leave us a great review. (And buy our next course!) So we all want students and potential to be fascinated by us.
I’ve always said that your unique advantage over other instructors teaching the same subject is YOU. The other instructor is not you, and you are not them. Don’t try to be them. Be you.
In fact, shed those boring parts and be more like who you really are. If you like to tell a joke, try to be fun and funny inside your course (without being annoying with it). If you suck at reading from a script, be yourself and talk freely (as long as it’s on point to the topic). There is always the chance of going too far with it, but the bigger risk is not going far enough. Be yourself, and people will like you for you. You have the ability to fascinate.
It’s a good book. Recommend picking it up if you get a chance.
Here are some interesting videos of Sally Hogshead talking about fascination.
The strategy of creating several small inter-related courses has been around for a while. The low prices that Udemy charges for courses encourages instructors to break up excellent large content into smaller pieces hoping to extract more revenue from the students. I am not a big fan of doing things solely for the goal of “more revenue”. Ideally what you want is to do things that are in the best interests of students. Provide more and more value, and that value comes back to you as revenue. But I can see the argument for several small target courses. I do this myself, although the purpose is NOT to make more money for myself.
In this video, I discuss the pros and cons of each approach.