Long Tail SEO- How to Rank for Difficult Keywords-Beginner Guide

beginners guide to long tail seo

This guide will show you how to rank for difficult, relevant keywords to your area of interest.

Part 1: Background and Introduction

  • Aim to have only 1 Target Keyword per page.
  • You need to have access to Google Keyword Planner and Google Webmaster Tools.
  • Keyword Planner allows you to plan for the future, to get an idea of search volume before your content goes live. Without this, you are only guessing at which keyword is best.
  • Webmaster Tools allows you to look into the past. It shows which keywords people used to arrive on your website. This allows you to measure success and spot problems.
  • In Webmaster tools, an Impression is when someone searches for something, and a page from your site appears on the results page (it may be clicked on, or not).
  • A Click is obvious, when someone sees your link (an impression) and clicks through to your site.
  • Therefore, Click Through Rate (CTR) is (Impressions/Clicks)*100.
  • Average position is the average place in the page over the given time period. Positions 1 to 10 are in the first page in Google (which is the minimum you need to be). Positions 1 to 3 are best, which get the best CTR.

This is what the above metrics look like in Webmaster Tools:

Webmaster tools metrics for long tail SEO

 

So What is Long Tail SEO?

A useful way to categorise search keywords is to put them in one of two groups- head and tail keywords.

A head term is a short keyword that gets lots of searches, e.g. “SEO”.

A long tail term is a longer keyword that is lower in search volume, but more specific, e.g. “beginner guide to long tail SEO”. With the second term, we can see the person has a much more specific idea of what they want to find.

Often, people search for head terms when doing initial research, and then long tail keywords after doing initial research, and perhaps when ready to commit to a purchase a product.

In summary:

  • Head terms are extremely popular, but are also difficult to rank for.
  • Long tail search terms are a huge group of lower volume search terms. They are much easier to rank for, and have higher buying intent.

When I did work optimising pages on a website project, I noticed something interesting:

If you start ranking for a group of long tail terms, you can also start ranking for the related, head term.

I noticed that by making my content such as page titles, subheadings and anchor text longer and more specific, I actually improved by rankings for both head and long tail search keywords in my area of focus.

I managed to get the search term into page 1 in Google.com, near the BBC result and the results of large competitors who had a much bigger marketing budget.

This guide will show you step by step how to follow this method. Come with me, you lucky thing!

follow me

Part 2: Keyword Research – Using Keyword Planner

Login to Google Keyword Planner:

keyword planner long tail seo

 

Type in some relevant keywords and click the get ideas button. Think of words that people would search for to find the page you are working on. Click on the “Keyword Ideas” tab on the next screen.

keyword planner long tail results

 

Here you get the average monthly searches, and the competition.

Competition is a measure of how competitive the Google ads are. Google Ads are the paid results on the right of a Google search results page, the organic search results (which we are interested in) are on the left:

google search result long tail seo

 

So average monthly searches are important, and you can take competition as just a rough idea of how commercially valuable a keyword is.

Scroll down in Keyword Planner and sort the results by search volume:

keyword planner long tail results sorted by volume

 

We can see many results. However, many are unrelated to our keyword.

 

Here are the above steps in a GIF, the high art of our age:

keyword planner steps

 

Go to search options on the left, and select the first option:

keyword planner options

 

 

This will limit the results:

keyword planner long tail results narrowed

 

Sometimes, there will be very little results so you don’t need to restrict the results (for example, for very niche or low volume search terms). Other times, it’s useful when there are lots of unrelated search terms. Use this filter option as necessary.

I might like the phrase “Beginner’s Guide Long Tail SEO” for this page:

long tail seo page

Next Step: Repeat this Process to get more Keywords

Follow the above steps again, get other related keywords.

The idea is to get 2 or 3 keyword phrases that you combine into a really long, very detailed keyword. For example, for this page, I like the phrase “Long Tail SEO- How to Rank for Difficult Keywords-Beginner’s Guide”. This is an example of a highly specific, easier to rank for keyword. It’s likely I can rank quickly for this phrase.

Here is the good news: using this method, you will start ranking for related, attractive keywords, that have higher volume than the keywords you entered.

For example, this page might eventually rank for “Long Tail SEO Guide”, “Long Tail Beginner”, “Rank for difficult keywords” and so on. This is what makes long tail SEO so great!

 

Next Step: Combine Keywords into a Target Long Tail Keyword

Now that you have 2 or 3 keyword phrases, you must combine these into a phrase that makes sense as a page title or heading.

You have seen the example I’ve used with this page. Come up with your own examples by doing research with Keyword Planner.

Part 3: Where to Put the Long Tail Keywords on your Website

Now that you have your keyword for your page, let’s apply them to your website or blog. There are several places where it’s important to include your keyword.

The steps for adding the keyword will be different for each website and blog, depending on your admin backend.

Keyword in Page Title

Page title is what appears in the tab in your browser:

page title long tail keyword

 

 

Page Titles also appear as the main heading in search results:

page title long tail keyword search results

 

 

In WordPress blog posts, you simply add the relevant title which contains your keyword:

page title long tail keyword wordpress blog post seo

 

Again, this step depends on your content management system or website.

 

Keywords in Meta Description

Meta description is what appears under your page title in Google…sometimes (sometimes Google takes random text from your page and uses that instead, you cannot control this). It’s limited to 156 characters. Use SEOMofo to optimise your meta description before entering it in your content management system.

Meta description in Google results page:

meta description long tail seo keyword

Add the meta description in your content management system, remember the 156 character limit (SEO Mofo helps with this). In your content management system, you may have extra things like “abstract” and “meta keywords”, ignore because they are useless for SEO.

 

Keywords in H1s, H2s etc

H1 is the main heading on your page. It should always contain your keyword, unless you have a great reason not to. So make sure you add it!

If possible, add the keyword here too in H2s, H3s and so on. Remember, don’t spam! If you include the keyword in a heading in a way that doesn’t make sense, this can hurt your rankings. If in doubt, just think about what your readers would find most useful.

I includes variations of my target keyword in the H2, H3s on this very page. You can look back at my headings if you are curious. Variations are good because they tell Google the subject you are trying to rank for, without spamming. They also show respect for your reader.

Summary: use your common sense when applying keywords to headings. Always try to include the target keyword in H1s.

Keywords in the Body Content

Body content means the regular, non-headings text in your page. Similar rules apply to headings. Use keywords where possible, but don’t spam or make sentences that don’t make sense just to force in a keyword. Try to have a keyword density of about 2-3%. If you use self-hosted WordPress, you can use the WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin to help manage keyword density and other on-page SEO factors.

 

Keywords in the Image ALT Text

Image ALT (alternative) text is what appears when you hover your mouse over an image, or appears when an image doesn’t load. When you upload an image on your website, normally you get an option to edit the ALT text.

Try to include keywords in the ALT text. Sometimes I like to use the format:

[keyword]- [description of the image]

So for example:

Long Tail SEO Guide- Screenshot Google Keyword Planner

Again, use common sense, apply keywords where possible. Try to use as many interesting, relevant images as possible, which also serves to break up the wall of text for the user.

Talking of relevant pictures, here’s an image of a starry sky. Nice, huh?

sky-sunset-night-space

Further reading: using ALT text for SEO.

 

Keywords in the URL

Try to include your keyword in the URL of the page. WordPress has a nice feature, where it includes the page or post title in the URL automatically. Make your URLs friendly for humans to read.

Which link would you prefect to click on?

  • http://somewebsite.com/dfgdkhgdpfi/u04985t0j-456546
  • http://somewebsite.com/beginners-guide-long-tail-seo

The first link is a smelly, bloated mess. The second link is amazing and straightforward, like this sunset:

dawn-landscape-mountains-nature

If you have an old page with an existing, poor URL: try to change the URL into something that makes sense using redirects. Redirects are important to ensure that Google doesn’t “lose” the page and therefore the SEO value that the page has accumulated is retained. If you are using WordPress, search for redirects plugins to handle the hard work.

If you have a new page: create a new, descriptive URL that contains the keywords, where possible. Remember you should be able to guess the page content from the URL.

 

Keywords in Anchor Text

Anchor text is the text in a link. This is an example of anchor text to my post about how the economy works.

Anchor text is very important for SEO. Google uses it as an important factor to discover what a particular page is about. If many of your links have “click here” as anchor text, this is a big opportunity missed.

Try to use descriptive, keyword-rich anchor text in as many links as you can. Use variations of the keyword because if you have 100 links pointing at a page with identical anchor text, Google knows this is spam.

Use as many relevant links all over your website as necessary, and include good, descriptive anchor text with them. Link liberally to your own content, where relevant. Use the exact keyword you are targeting in the anchor text, if possible.

I used a nice, non-obvious keyword phrase after careful research in Keyword planner for a past project. I noticed keywords mentioning a variation of the term which I initially thought of were getting decent search volume and had low competition. I added in “Online” in the keyword to make it even more specific, and bang, we started ranking not only for “Online X” but eventually even “X” (the head term getting 1000s of searches a month)! This means the website is in the same results page as the BBC website, which is obviously a high authority, trusted website.

Therefore, using Long Tail keywords in your anchor text is very powerful.

Another critical place for keyword-rich anchor text is in the page footer. In most websites, the footer appears on every page, so having keyword-rich anchor text can provide a nice SEO boost. So choose good keywords, and link to the most important pages.

 

Chapter 4: Long Tail SEO Guide Summary

Steps:

  1. You need access to Keyword planner and Webmaster tools
  2. One long tail keyword per page
  3. Conduct keyword research in Google Keyword Planner
  4. Track results in Google Webmaster Tools
  5. Combine several attractive keywords into 1 long tail keyword
  6. When you have your keyword, apply it in your content management system to the page title, meta description, H1s, H2s etc, body content, image alt text, URL, anchor text.

If you like this guide, follow me on Twitter! You can also send feedback on this guide to me, if you have ideas for improvements.

Thanks for reading!

 

food-restaurant-dinner-lunch

Favourite Meals

Healthy, Delicious Recipe list

food-restaurant-dinner-lunch

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/5939/tomato-and-thyme-cod

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1162645/ricotta-tomato-and-spinach-frittata

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/3109/honey-glazed-chicken

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1897681/bacon-and-mushroom-risotto
http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/technique/how-make-risotto

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1898642/full-english-frittata-with-smoky-beans

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1263668/turkish-onepan-eggs-and-peppers-menemen

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2636/roasted-ratatouille-chicken

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2209/italianstyle-beef-stew

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/7013/onepan-summer-eggs

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/2450/gordons-eggs-benedict

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1431/perfect-porridge

Smoothies

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/3117/breakfast-smoothie

 

General

https://medium.com/@erinfrey/everything-you-need-to-know-about-the-slow-carb-diet-a67062761d92
Ask HN: What are you doing to improve your health?
https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=9353998

BBQ

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/6270/bbq-chicken-and-coleslaw
http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/7203/bbq-pork-steaks-with-smoky-corn

How to smoke Boston Butt on BBQ

how to turn grill into a smoker

Complete Guide to Watching Sports Online with HD Streaming

person-sport-bike-bicycle

First of all, this guide was posted originally on /r/rugbyunion wiki by user RodzillaPT. All credit goes to him.

He is a rugby fan in Brazil who can’t watch rugby as it is often not shown on local TV.

You can use this guide to watch almost any sport online – Premier league football, rugby, NFL, NBA, NHL, you name it!


Acestream is a P2P application so I would advise you use a VPN, my recommendation is Cyberghost VPN. You can currently get 70% off by purchasing 12 months for $21/€14.99, regular price is $69.99/€49.99


Streaming HD Sports Online with Torrents – The Complete Guide

So, the way to a good stream is not through flash streams on website. The proper way is torrenting streams.

  1. First, you’ve got to download your client. I’m not aware of other softwares, perhaps they are out there, but I use AcePlayer.
  2. After you’ve downloaded and installed it, head to the windows toolbar (1). Right click on (2), and pick ‘options’ (3).
  3. Set the main settings somewhat like this. The live buffer time is a real important deal. I think most guides will tell you to use 10, but I like to go with 30. This time is very important. You see, these streams are really high quality. usually ranging from 900kbps to 2000kbps. If you have a bad peak on the internet and a low buffer time, it might stutter and the fun is ruined. Using a high timer like 30 seconds in a buffer, allows for a bigger margin of error. Play with numbers and pick the one that seems the best to you.
  4. After that, pick ‘advanced’, just like the picture shows you.
  5. In this last screen, try to leave it somewhat like this. Ok in both screens and close the settings.
  6. The software is ready to be used. Now, we need to find us a stream. The site Wizwig does a great job at that. Not only they display browser streams, but they also display AceStream streams. They also state the bitratio of each stream, helping you to pick the best without trial and error. The site also syncs with your timezone, so you don’t have to do weird math to find out when each match will be.
  7. Everyday, the available matches for that day will be displayed in this screen. Today (Sunday night) there are no Rugby Streams available so they show none. For the sake of teaching, I’ll be using another sport.
  8. Not many matches on right now, so I headed over to the Live Sports section and started to look for a match. I got lucky with a NHL match, so I clicked ‘Live’. (please, take notice that the site clock is synched with mine).
  9. The match screen. It shows a couple of streams for the match, the channel that’s being streamed and their bitrate. I pick the AceStream one. the top link. The bottom one leads to some russian weird stuff. 4000kbps is way too much for me to handle (Damn Norwegians and your top quality internet!), but let’s open it anyway (I’ve never seen a 4000kbps Rugby stream. so, this most likely won’t be a problem).
  10. After I click on “Play Now!”, a blank page appears.Please look at the url. This page will activate the AcePlayer,which will start buffering as soon as it’s open. If it doesn’t, something is off. Worry not. If your match is about to start, don’t try any harder. You can open the AcePlayer yourself, press ctrl + T, and add the Stream ID manually. The ID is basically the blank page URL without the “acestream://” bit.
  11. After a couple of seconds buffering, your match will be on. If everything is fine, and your internet cooperates, you’ll be able to enjoy a stutterless match in pretty good quality.

Please, be aware of this:

  • This won’t be available for every match, but it’s always worth the shot. There has been some regular broadcast of Super Rugby matches, at least. I’ve watched the Rebels x Crusaders match on a 900kbps stream. I’ve also watched a couple of Six Nations matches in it.
Use Acestream Securely
Acestream involves using peer-to-peer (P2P) services. Sometimes these are in a legal grey area depending on your geographic location.
I recommend using Cyberghost VPN to use Acestream securely (disclosure: affiliate link. If you liked this guide and found it useful, consider using this link to sign up!)
You can read about their privacy policies here and a further review here. You can use them on your mobile devices and use their worldwide servers to unblock geo-locked content from different countries.
HOW TO STREAM VIDEO ON MAC WITH ACESTREAM

How to Download Youtube Videos for Mac

Complete Guide to Downloading Youtube Videos for Mac and Linux

 

download youtube mac

Note: Guide for downloading Youtube videos for Windows coming soon!

This is the complete guide to downloading videos, playlists and music from Youtube, without using any dodgy websites or crap-filled Youtube downloader software. This easy to follow guide will show you how to download to your heart’s desire- for free!

I wrote this guide to steer people away from frustrations trying to download Youtube videos. I myself once used a Greasemonkey script for my video downloads, but unfortunately when Youtube’s interface was updated it broke the script, never to work again. This utility we are using today completely removes all these types of headaches.

We are using a free utility called Youtube-dl. This fantastic piece of software is complete free and open-source, ad-free, downloads videos, music and playlists from Youtube and is constantly updated by an amazing team of volunteers.

Step 1: Download and Install Youtube-dl

Go to the youtube-dl site.

Ok, time to open your Terminal, don’t be alarmed!

open terminal mac in spotlight

Open Terminal by pressing Cmd+Spacebar (by default on Mac), search for ‘Terminal’ in Spotlight, then press Enter when you find it.

download youtube-dl command line

In Terminal, copy this entire command into your Terminal window, then hit Enter:

sudo wget https://yt-dl.org/downloads/2015.01.16/youtube-dl -O /usr/local/bin/youtube-dl

You will be prompted to enter your Mac password for your account (same one as when you login). Do so now. This command downloads the required Youtube-dl files.

Next, copy and paste this entire command and hit Enter again:

sudo chmod a+x /usr/local/bin/youtube-dl

Once again, enter your password if prompted. This command changes file permissions so we are ready to continue to the fun part.

Step 2: How to Download Youtube Videos on Mac

Ok, now for the fun bit!

Let’s download a video! I am a fan of American Psycho, so let’s download the American Psycho Business Card Scene.

how to download youtube videos youtube-dl mac

Copy and paste the following command and hit Enter:

youtube-dl "https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kF_-AO4qVB0"

downloading youtube video youtube-dl

You see this screen when the video is downloading.

And that’s it for downloading a video from Youtube!! Simple huh?

Just remember to copy and paste the following command into your Terminal to download video files:

youtube-dl "<video link>"

Step 3: How to Download Youtube Mp3

Copy and paste the following command to download a files as an mp3 file from Youtube:

youtube-dl --extract-audio --audio-format mp3 <video link>

Added Bonus: Download from many different video sites!

Despite it’s name, youtube-dl supports downloads from many different websites. Use the same commands as above!

 

So there you have it! Hope you enjoyed this easy to follow guide to downloading Youtube videos on your Mac.

Guide to downloading Youtube on Windows coming soon!

Guide to Live Streaming Sports in HD

 

How the Economic Machine Works by Ray Dalio

I love this video. It’s by a hedge fund manager called Ray Dalio, and it’s a simplified framework that he uses to guide his investment decisions. You can use it to understand how an economy works at a fundamental level.

Fascinating stuff, and beautifully presented too.

Full transcript of “How the Economic Machine Works”

How the economic machine works, in 30 minutes.
The economy works like a simple machine.
But many people don’t understand it
— or they don’t agree on how it works
— and this has led to a lot of needless economic suffering.
I feel a deep sense of responsibility
to share my simple but practical economic template.
Though it’s unconventional,
it has helped me to anticipate
and sidestep the global financial crisis,
and has worked well for me for over 30 years.
Let’s begin.
Though the economy might seem complex,
it works in a simple, mechanical way.
It’s made up of a few simple parts and a lot of simple transactions
that are repeated over and over again a zillion times.
These transactions are above all else driven by human nature,
and they create 3 main forces that drive the economy.
Number 1: Productivity growth
Number 2: The Short term debt cycle
and Number 3: The Long term debt cycle
We’ll look at these three forces
and how laying them on top of each other
creates a good template for tracking economic movements
and figuring out what’s happening now.
Let’s start with the simplest part of the economy:
Transactions.
An economy is simply the sum
of the transactions that make it up
and a transaction is a very simple thing.
You make transactions all the time.
Every time you buy something
you create a transaction.
Each transaction consists of a buyer
exchanging money or credit
with a seller for goods,
services or financial assets.
Credit spends just like money,
so adding together the money spent
and the amount of credit spent,
you can know the total spending.
The total amount of spending
drives the economy.
If you divide the amount spent
by the quantity sold,
you get the price.
And that’s it. That’s a transaction.
It is the building block
of the economic machine.
All cycles and all forces
in an economy are driven by transactions.
So, if we can
understand transactions,
we can understand
the whole economy.
A market consists of all the buyers
and all the sellers
making transactions for the same thing.
For example,
there is a wheat market,
a car market,
a stock market
and markets
for millions of things.
An economy consists
of all of the transactions
in all of its markets.
If you add up
the total spending
and the total
quantity sold
in all of the markets,
you have everything
you need to know
to understand the economy.
It’s just that simple.
People, businesses, banks and governments
all engage in transactions
the way I just described:
exchanging money and credit
for goods, services and financial assets.
The biggest buyer and seller
is the government,
which consists of two important parts:
a Central Government
that collects taxes and spends money…
…and a Central Bank,
which is different from other buyers
and sellers because it
controls the amount of money
and credit in the economy.
It does this by influencing
interest rates
and printing new money.
For these reasons,
as we’ll see,
the Central Bank is an
important player in the flow
of Credit.
I want you to
pay attention to credit.
Credit is the most
important part of the economy,
and probably the least understood.
It is the most important part
because it is the biggest
and most volatile part.
Just like buyers and sellers
go to the market to make transactions,
so do lenders and borrowers.
Lenders usually want to
make their money into more money
and borrowers usually want to
buy something they can’t afford,
like a house or car
or they want to invest in
something like starting a business.
Credit can help both lenders
and borrowers get what they want.
Borrowers promise to
repay the amount they borrow,
called the principal,
plus an additional amount, called interest.
When interest rates are high,
there is less borrowing
because it’s expensive.
When interest rates are low,
borrowing increases
because it’s cheaper.
When borrowers promise to repay
and lenders believe them,
credit is created.
Any two people can agree
to create credit out of thin air!
That seems simple enough
but credit is tricky
because it has different names.
As soon as credit is created,
it immediately turns into debt.
Debt is both an asset to the lender,
and a liability to the borrower.
In the future,
when the borrower repays the loan,
plus interest,
the asset and liability disappear
and the transaction is settled.
So, why is credit so important?
Because when a borrower receives credit,
he is able to increase his spending.
And remember,
spending drives the economy.
This is because one person’s spending
is another person’s income.
Think about it,
every dollar you spend, someone else earns.
and every dollar you earn,
someone else has spent.
So when you spend more,
someone else earns more.
When someone’s income rises
it makes lenders more willing
to lend him money
because now he’s
more worthy of credit.
A creditworthy borrower
has two things:
the ability to repay and collateral.
Having a lot of income in relation to his debt gives him the ability to repay.
In the event that he can’t repay, he has valuable assets to use as collateral that can be sold.
This makes lenders feel comfortable lending him money.
So increased income allows increased borrowing
which allows increased spending.
And since one person’s spending is another person’s income,
this leads to more increased borrowing and so on.
This self-reinforcing pattern leads to economic growth
and is why we have Cycles.
In a transaction, you have to give something in order to get something
and how much you get depends on how much
you produce
over time we learned
and that accumulated knowledge raises
are living standards
we call this productivity growth
those who were invented and hard-working raise
their productivity and their living
standards faster
than those who are complacent and lazy,
but that isn’t necessarily true over the short run.
Productivity matters most in the long run, but credit matters most in the short run.
This is because productivity growth doesn’t fluctuate much,
so it’s not a big driver of economic swings.
Debt is — because it allows us to consume more than we produce when we acquire it
and it forces us to consume less than we produce when we pay it back.
Debt swings occur in two big cycles.
One takes about 5 to 8 years and the other takes about 75 to 100 years.
While most people feel the swings, they typically don’t see them as cycles
because they see them too up close — day by day, week by week.
In this chapter we are going to step back and look at these three big forces
and how they interact to make up our experiences.
As mentioned, swings around the line are not due to how much innovation or hard work there is,
they’re primarily due to how much credit there is.
Let’s for a second imagine an economy without credit.
In this economy, the only way I can increase my spending
is to increase my income,
which requires me to be more productive and do more work.
Increased productivity is the only way for growth.
Since my spending is another person’s income,
the economy grows every time I or anyone else is more productive.
If we follow the transactions and play this out,
we see a progression like the productivity growth line.
But because we borrow, we have cycles.
This isn’t due to any laws or regulation,
it’s due to human nature and the way that credit works.
Think of borrowing as simply a way of pulling spending forward.
In order to buy something you can’t afford, you need to spend more than you make.
To do this, you essentially need to borrow from your future self.
In doing so you create a time in the future
that you need to spend less than you make in order to pay it back.
It very quickly resembles a cycle.
Basically, anytime you borrow you create a cycle.?
This is as true for an individual as it is for the economy.
This is why understanding credit is so important
because it sets into motion
a mechanical, predictable series of events that will happen in the future.
This makes credit different from money.
Money is what you settle transactions with.
When you buy a beer from a bartender with cash,
the transaction is settled immediately.
But when you buy a beer with credit,
it’s like starting a bar tab.
You’re saying you promise to pay in the future.
Together you and the bartender create an asset and a liability.
You just created credit. Out of thin air.
It’s not until you pay the bar tab later
that the asset and liability disappear,
the debt goes away
and the transaction is settled.
The reality is that most of what people call money is actually credit.
The total amount of credit in the United States is about $50 trillion
and the total amount of money is only about $3 trillion.
Remember, in an economy without credit:
the only way to increase your spending is to produce more.
But in an economy with credit,
you can also increase your spending by borrowing.
As a result, an economy with credit has more spending
and allows incomes to rise faster than productivity over the short run,
but not over the long run.
Now, don’t get me wrong,
credit isn’t necessarily something bad that just causes cycles.
It’s bad when it finances over-consumption that can’t be paid back.
However, it’s good when it efficiently allocates resources
and produces income so you can pay back the debt.
For example, if you borrow money to buy a big TV,
it doesn’t generate income
for you to pay back the debt.
But, if you borrow money
to buy a tractor —
and that tractor let’s you harvest
more crops and earn more money
— then, you can pay back your debt
and improve your living standards.
In an economy with credit,
we can follow the transactions
and see how credit creates growth.
Let me give you an example:
Suppose you earn $100,000 a year and have no debt.
You are creditworthy enough to borrow $10,000 dollars
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– so you can spend $110,000 dollars
even though you only earn $100,000 dollars.
Since your spending is another person’s income,
someone is earning $110,000 dollars.
The person earning $110,000 dollars
with no debt can borrow $11,000 dollars,
so he can spend $121,000 dollars
even though he has only earned $110,000 dollars.
His spending is another person’s income
and by following the transactions
we can begin to see how this process
works in a self-reinforcing pattern.
But remember, borrowing creates cycles
and if the cycle goes up, it eventually needs to come down.
This leads us into the Short Term Debt Cycle.
As economic activity increases, we see an expansion
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Spending continues to increase and prices start to rise.
This happens because the increase in spending is fueled by credit
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When the amount of spending and incomes grow faster than the production of goods:
prices rise.
When prices rise, we call this inflation.
The Central Bank doesn’t want too much inflation
because it causes problems.
Seeing prices rise, it raises interest rates.
With higher interest rates, fewer people can afford to borrow money.
And the cost of existing debts rises.
Think about this as the monthly payments
on your credit card going up.
Because people borrow less and have higher debt repayments,
they have less money leftover to spend, so spending slows
…and since one person’s spending is another person’s income,
incomes drop…and so on and so forth.
When people spend less, prices go down.
We call this deflation.
Economic activity decreases and we have a recession.
If the recession becomes too severe
and inflation is no longer a problem,
the central bank will lower interest rates to cause everything to pick up again.
With low interest rates,
debt repayments are reduced
and borrowing and spending pick up
and we see another expansion.
As you can see, the economy works like a machine.
In the short term debt cycle,
spending is constrained only by the willingness of
lenders and borrowers to provide and receive credit.
When credit is easily available,
there’s an economic expansion.
When credit isn’t easily available,
there’s a recession.
And note that this cycle is controlled primarily by the central bank.
The short term debt cycle typically lasts 5 – 8 years
and happens over and over again for decades.
But notice that the bottom and
top of each cycle finish
with more growth than the previous cycle and with more debt.
Why?
Because people push it
— they have an inclination to borrow
and spend more instead of paying back debt.
It’s human nature.
Because of this,
over long periods of time,
debts rise faster than incomes
creating the Long Term Debt Cycle.
Despite people becoming more indebted,
lenders even more freely extend credit.
Why?
Because everybody thinks things are going great!
People are just focusing on what’s been happening lately.
And what has been happening lately?
Incomes have been rising!
Asset values are going up!
The stock market roars!
It’s a boom!
It pays to buy goods, services, and financial assets
with borrowed money!
When people do a lot of that, we call it a bubble.
So even though debts have been growing,
incomes have been growing nearly as fast to offset them.
Let’s call the ratio of debt-to-income the debt burden.
So long as incomes continue to rise,
the debt burden stays manageable.
At the same time asset values soar.
People borrow huge amounts of money
to buy assets as investments
causing their prices to rise even higher.
People feel wealthy.
So even with the accumulation of lots of debt,
rising incomes and asset values
help borrowers remain creditworthy for a long time.
But this obviously can not continue forever.
And it doesn’t.
Over decades, debt burdens slowly increase
creating larger and larger debt repayments.
At some point, debt repayments start growing faster than incomes
forcing people to cut back on their spending.
And since one person’s spending is another person’s income,
incomes begin to go down…
…which makes people less creditworthy
causing borrowing to go down.
Debt repayments continue to rise
which makes spending drop even further…
…and the cycle reverses itself.
This is the long term debt peak.
Debt burdens have simply become too big.
For the United States, Europe and much of the rest of the world this
happened in 2008.
It happened for the same reason it happened in Japan in 1989
and in the United States back in 1929.
Now the economy begins Deleveraging.
In a deleveraging; people cut spending,
incomes fall, credit disappears,
assets prices drop, banks get squeezed,
the stock market crashes, social tensions rise
and the whole thing starts to feed on itself the other way.
As incomes fall and debt repayments rise,
borrowers get squeezed.
No longer creditworthy,
credit dries up and borrowers can no longer borrow
enough money to make their
debt repayments.
Scrambling to fill this hole, borrowers are forced to sell assets.
The rush to sell assets floods the market
This is when the stock market collapses,
the real estate market tanks and banks get into trouble.
As asset prices drop, the value of the collateral borrowers can put up drops.
This makes borrowers even less creditworthy.
People feel poor.
Credit rapidly disappears.
Less spending ›
less income ›
less wealth ›
less credit ›
less borrowing and so on.
It’s a vicious cycle.
This appears similar to a recession but the difference here
is that interest rates can’t be lowered to save the day.
In a recession, lowering interest rates works to stimulate the borrowing.
However, in a deleveraging, lowering interest rates doesn’t work because
interest rates are already
low and soon hit 0% – so the stimulation ends.
Interest rates in the United States hit 0% during the deleveraging of
the 1930s
and again in 2008.
The difference between a recession
and a deleveraging is that in a deleveraging borrowers’ debt burdens have
simply gotten too big
and can’t be relieved by lowering interest rates.
Lenders realize that debts have become too large to ever be fully paid back.
Borrowers have lost their ability to repay and their collateral has lost value.
They feel crippled by the debt – they don’t even want more!
Lenders stop lending.
Borrowers stop borrowing.
Think of the economy as being not-creditworthy,
just like an individual.
So what do you do about a deleveraging?
The problem is debt burdens are too high and they must come down.
There are four ways this can happen.
1. people, businesses, and governments cut their spending.
2. debts are reduced through defaults and restructurings.
3. wealth is redistributed from the ‘haves’ to the ‘have nots’.
and finally, 4. the central bank prints new money.
These 4 ways have happened in every deleveraging in modern history.
Usually, spending is cut first.
As we just saw, people, businesses, banks and even governments tighten their belts and
cut their spending so that they can pay down their debt.
This is often referred to as austerity.
When borrowers stop taking on new debts,
and start paying down old debts, you might expect the debt burden to decrease.
But the opposite happens!
Because spending is cut
– and one man’s spending is another man’s income – it causes
incomes to fall.
They fall faster than debts are repaid
and the debt burden actually gets worse.
As we’ve seen,
this cut in spending is deflationary and painful.
Businesses are forced to cut costs…
which means less jobs and higher unemployment.
This leads to the next step: debts must be reduced!
Many borrowers find themselves unable to repay their loans
— and a borrower’s debts are a lender’s assets.
When borrowers don’t repay the bank,
people get nervous that the bank won’t
be able to repay them
so they rush to withdraw their money from the bank.
Banks get squeezed and
people,
businesses and banks default on their debts.
This severe
economic contraction is a depression.
A big part of a depression is people discovering much of what they thought
was their wealth isn’t really there.
Let’s go back to the bar.
When you bought a beer and put it on a bar tab,
you promised to repay the bartender.
Your promise became an asset of the bartender.
But if you break your promise
– if you don’t pay him back and essentially default
on your bar tab –
then the ‘asset’ he has isn’t really worth anything.
It has basically disappeared.
Many lenders don’t want their assets to disappear and agree to debt
restructuring.
Debt restructuring means lenders get paid back
less or get paid back over a longer time frame
or at a lower interest rate that was first agreed.
Somehow
a contract is broken in a way that reduces debt.
Lenders would rather have a
little of something than all of nothing.
Even though debt disappears, debt restructuring causes
income and asset values to disappear
faster,
so the debt burden continues to gets worse.
Like cutting spending, debt reduction
is also painful and deflationary.
All of this impacts the central government because lower incomes and less employment
means the government collects fewer taxes.
At the same time it needs to increase its spending because unemployment has risen.
Many of the unemployed have inadequate savings
and need financial support from the government.
Additionally, governments create stimulus plans
and increase their spending to make up for the decrease in the economy.
Governments’ budget deficits explode in a
deleveraging because they spend more than they earn in taxes.
This is what is happening when you hear about the budget deficit on the news.
To fund their deficits, governments need to either raise taxes
or borrow money.
But with incomes falling and so many unemployed,
who is the money going to come from?
The rich.
Since governments need more money and since wealth is heavily concentrated in
the hands of a small percentage of the people,
governments naturally raise taxes on the wealthy
which facilitates a redistribution of wealth in the economy –
from the ‘haves’ to the ‘have nots’.
The ‘have-nots,’ who are suffering, begin to
resent the wealthy ‘haves.’
The wealthy ‘haves,’ being squeezed by the weak economy, falling asset prices,
higher taxes, begin to resent the ‘have nots.’
If the depression continues social disorder can break out.
Not only do tensions rise within countries,
they can rise between countries – especially debtor and creditor countries.
This situation can lead to political change
that can sometimes be extreme.
In the 1930s, this led to Hitler coming to power,
war in Europe, and depression in the United States. Pressure to do something
to end the depression increases.
Remember, most of what people thought was money was actually credit.
So, when credit disappears, people don’t have enough money.
People are desperate for money and you remember who can print money?
The Central Bank can.
Having already lowered its interest rates to nearly 0
– it’s forced to print money. Unlike cutting spending,
debt reduction, and wealth redistribution,
printing money is inflationary and stimulative. Inevitably, the central bank
prints new money
— out of thin air — and uses it to buy financial assets
and government bonds. It happened in the United States during the Great Depression
and again in 2008, when the United States’ central bank —
the Federal Reserve — printed over two trillion dollars.
Other central banks around the world that could,
printed a lot of money, too.
By buying financial assets with this money,
it helps drive up asset prices which makes people more creditworthy.
However, this only helps those who own financial assets.
You see, the central bank can print money but it can only buy financial assets.
The Central Government, on the other hand,
can buy goods and services and put money in the hands of the people
but it can’t print money. So, in order to stimulate the economy, the two
must cooperate.
By buying government bonds, the Central Bank essentially lends money to the
government,
allowing it to run a deficit and increase spending
on goods and services through its stimulus programs
and unemployment benefits. This increases people’s income
as well as the government’s debt. However,
it will lower the economy’s total debt burden.
This is a very risky time. Policy makers need to balance the four ways that debt
burdens come down.
The deflationary ways need to balance with the inflationary ways in
order to maintain stability.
If balanced correctly, there can be a
Beautiful Deleveraging.
You see, a deleveraging can be ugly or it can be beautiful.
How can a deleveraging be beautiful?
Even though a deleveraging is a difficult situation,
handling a difficult situation in the best possible way is beautiful.
A lot more beautiful than the debt-fueled, unbalanced excesses of the
leveraging phase.
In a beautiful deleveraging,
debts decline relative to income, real economic growth is positive,
and inflation isn’t a problem.
It is achieved by having the right balance.
The right balance requires a certain mix
of cutting spending, reducing debt, transferring wealth
and printing money so that economic and social stability can be maintained.
People ask if printing money will raise inflation.
It won’t if it offsets falling credit.
Remember, spending is what matters.
A dollar of spending paid for with money has the same effect on price as a dollar
of spending paid for with credit.
By printing money, the Central Bank can make up for the disappearance of credit
with an increase in the amount of money.
In order to turn things around, the Central Bank needs to not only pump up
income growth
but get the rate of income growth higher than the rate of interest on the
accumulated debt.
So, what do I mean by that? Basically,
income needs to grow faster than debt grows. For example:
let’s assume that a country going through a deleveraging has a debt-to-
income ratio of 100%.
That means that the amount of debt it has is the same as the amount of income the
entire country makes in a year.
Now think about the interest rate on that debt,
let’s say it is 2%.
If debt is growing at 2% because of that interest rate and
income
is only growing at around only 1%, you will never reduce the debt burden.
You need to print enough money to get the rate of income growth above the
rate of interest.
However, printing money can easily be abused because it’s so easy to do and
people prefer it to the alternatives.
The key is to avoid printing too much money
and causing unacceptably high inflation, the way Germany did during its
deleveraging in the 1920’s.
If policymakers achieve the right balance, a deleveraging isn’t so dramatic.
Growth is slow but debt burdens go down.
That’s a beautiful deleveraging.
When incomes begin to rise, borrowers begin to appear more creditworthy.
And when borrowers appear more creditworthy,
lenders begin to lend money again.
Debt burdens finally begin to fall.
Able to borrow money, people can spend more. Eventually, the economy begins to
grow again,
leading to the reflation phase of the long term debt cycle.
Though the deleveraging process can be horrible if handled badly,
if handled well, it will eventually fix the problem.
It takes roughly a decade or more
for debt burdens to fall and economic activity to get back to normal
– hence the term ‘lost decade.’
Of course, the economy is a little more complicated than this template
suggests.
However, laying the short term debt cycle on top of the long term debt cycle
and then laying both of them on top of the productivity growth line
gives a reasonably good template for seeing where we’ve been,
where we are now and where we are probably headed.
So in summary, there are three rules of thumb that I’d like you to take away
from this:
First:
Don’t have debt rise faster than income,
because your debt burdens will eventually crush you.
Second:
Don’t have income rise faster than productivity,
because you will eventually become uncompetitive.
And third:
Do all that you can to raise your productivity,
because, in the long run, that’s what matters most.
This is simple advice for you and it’s simple advice for policy makers.
You might be surprised but most people — including most policy makers — don’t pay enough attention
to this.
This template has worked for me and I hope that it’ll work for you.
Thank you.

Launch Codes: Automate Tasks, App Launches & More for Windows

launch codes wall-e robot

There’s a very useful, lightweight and simple-to-use productivity utility for windows called AutoHotKey. I used it to create a simple script to save time for myself with repetitive tasks.

I call the file Launch Codes, as it both launches apps, and it is launched automatically when Windows logs in. I achieve this by saving the .ahk file in the following location:

C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\Windows\Start Menu\Programs\Startup

I’ve provided the Autohotkey script in Github so you can use it as a starting point to build your own custom scripts. Use it as you see fit, all of the tasks within are collated or modified from stuff in the Autohotkey help file (which you get when you download the AHK download bundle), or from the extremely helpful Autohotkey forum.

What tasks do I use it for?

  • Launching common apps, like Chrome and Notepad, with just two key presses.
  • Reducing my email address to three letters, which then expands to my full address. Very useful for repetitive logins!
  • Running a google search with Ctrl+C, Win+G. For example, I could highlight something in a PDF, and google it very quickly rather than pasting it into a browser tab.
  • As above, except it searches wikipedia directly instead of google.
  • Print entire screen to clipboard with three keystrokes.
  • Help message box for all of the above.

Here’s the help message box with full list of tasks:

AHK launch codes help dialog

Enjoy!

Use your Raspberry Pi as a Domain specfic VPN Router

raspberry pi domain specific router vpn netflix us catalog youtube unblockThis is a cool project I came across.

You can use your raspberry pi to report your IP address as being in a different country, for a specific domain.

You could use it to use the US Netflix catalog from outside the US for example, not that I’d condone doing that! Or BBC iPlayer from outside the UK, Comedy Central from outside the US, evade the ridiculous Youtube restrictions in Germany and so on.

https://github.com/dboyd13/DSVR