Acquisition Channel Opportunities: Content Marketing, Google Sheets, Fake Reviews

Want to get more paying users? This week I'll be teaching you:

  • How to get the best bang for your back in content marketing (from Rand Fishkin)
  • A little-known trick to find useful data on Google Sheets
  • The fake reviews industry is thriving, and why you should care about reviews

1. The Paradox of Content Marketing (writing for Beginners vs. Experts)

How do you write content that appeals to beginners, but is also shared by experts?

Rand Fishkin, the founder of Moz, recently wrote an article that answered this question.


Why should you care: Writing beginner-level articles may have a wide appeal, but they're not likely to earn you links and mentions by industry experts (who are often followed by the beginners). Backlink mentions also determine a site's SEO ranking.

On the other hand, writing highly-specific, experimental results may earn you the admiration of industry experts, but make beginners confused. What should you do?

Try to hit the sweet spot. In his blog post, Rand goes into greater details on the different approaches marketers can take to do this.

Liked this insight? Get 3 new ones every week to your inbox:

2. Google Sheets Has a Trove of Useful Data. Here's How to Find it

User r_pg101 on Reddit recently wrote a post on a neat Google search trick to find open spreadsheets with data on anything you want. This is the search operator:

site:docs.google.com/spreadsheets intitle:[anything you want]

Example: Try to search for product hunt and you'll find a lot of useful sheets, like a research template, or 160+ places to post your product (where Product Hunt is one of them):


Replace "product hunt" with any other acquisition channels (you can use my pdf for additional inspiration).

Want to get opportunities like these every week to your inbox? Subscribe here:

3. The Fake Reviews Industry is Thriving. Here's Why you Should Care

BBC recently wrote an article of how widespread fake reviews are on Amazon. Google has also recently removed 55 million Google Maps Reviews.

What's going on? In my Zero to Users research on acquisition channels that consistently work for founders, I've discovered that marketplaces (like Amazon, Etsy, or the Shopify App Store) are a major distribution channel that works for getting sales.

The primary way to increase your rank on these channels (so you appear first when someone types 'men shoes' on Amazon) is through reviews.

Reviews on marketplaces are the equivalent of backlinks on Google.

How some people do reviews: They buy a bunch of them and hope they don't get banned. History shows that this is a risky strategy.

Google, for example, has been successfully cracking down on paid links and de-indexing nearly 3M business sites which rely on them. Amazon has been known to sue sellers who bought fake reviews as well, most recently suing 1,000 sellers who had between 30-40% fake reviews on their products.

The key insight: If you're targeting marketplaces, chances are, 80%+ of your success will depend on getting reviews. Should you use a white-hat or a black-hat approach for obtaining them? At the end, it's your choice, but be aware of the consequences if you decide to do the latter.

Liked this insight? Get 3 new ones every week to your inbox:

  1. 7

    The rise in fake reviews is a huge problem for Amazon's brand and the brands of other marketplace products.

    If people don't trust reviews, a big pillar of the app's value proposition to consumers comes toppling down. And as of today… 40% of U.S. consumers trust online reviews less than they did five years ago (source).

    That's a crazy statistic. And also terrible for the future of marketplace businesses that use crowdsourcing to sort products according to quality.

    1. 2

      The thing with reviews is that they are crap. I hate rotten tomatoes reviews, to me it seems that these movie critics are so far up their own ass that they believe they are doing god's work.

      Also, the Yelp power reviewers, have you ever seen them in an interview? This person is not someone I would be friends with therefore would I take their review onboard? Nope, reviews are only relevant if you know the person. I honestly hope that reviews disappear because they are just noise. Reminds me of remarketing ads, people don't click them or pay attention to them but we still insist on using them.

    2. 1

      That's a crazy stat. Maybe reviews will become less important as time passes by for app exchange rankings, and platforms will rely more on behavioral signals instead (like the % of people who uninstall the app, people who tag themselves in a location and so on).

  2. 1

    This is made worse by the myriad of affiliate product review blogs that took over Google search results over the past years. Really hoping they do something about it.

  3. 1

    Sellers are taking fake reviews to a whole new level. Buying reviews is the old way. Now sellers are hacking Amazon users' accounts, ordering their own product using their own credit card, then leaving a glowing review.

    Happened to me. I got a package with two necklaces I didn't order. Small and light weight. One looked alright to be honest.


  4. 1

    I just tried method #2 and just in the first page alone found a lot of google sheets containing links to download pirated ebooks. Judging by the content of the sheets, I think they're from the same person 😅

  5. 1

    My hero (Randy), a sweet spreadsheet trick (going to drop that in the team) and fake reviews getting pounded. Here, have my upvote sir.

  6. 1

    Insightful as ever, thank you Darko. Keep going!

  7. 1

    Excellent search hack for Google Sheet.
    Can I use it in https://www.indiehackers.com/product/growth-cards ?

    🙏 @zerotousers

    1. 1

      Nice product. Have you also looked at my 'powered by' article?

      1. 1

        Thanks. Yes, I found it! Already listed, but thank you. It's one of the most valuable hack I've heard 🤫

  8. 1

    What % of Amazon reviews do you think are fake?

    1. 1

      I use https://www.fakespot.com/ on Amazon to find more about fake reviews

    2. 1

      Well it's certainly double digits. Anywhere from 10-50%. There are many tools out there where they give you the estimated % of fake reviews for a product, so that might give you a better idea.

      1. 1

        According to Statista, in many categories, the % is higher than 50%.

        1. 1

          I suspect this number is going to get bigger over time.

  9. 1

    Nice little tip. I found plenty of useful sheets for Reddit, like the biggest sub-reddits by niche and so on.

    1. 1

      Feel free to post the search operator/s you used and/or the results.

  10. 1

    Gosh, fake reviews are more prevalent than I thought.

    1. 1

      Just like fake links. If people find something's a major ranking factor on a platform, many of them are gonna resort to tactics to game this factor.

Trending on Indie Hackers
I watch how IH is turning into a marketing sink, and I feel sad :( 79 comments Bootstrapped a Shopify app to 500+ paying clients with an MVP. AMA! 24 comments Milestone: $1 million paid out to mentors (soon) 8 comments First Launch on Product Hunt! 7 comments November 2021 Monthly Update 5 comments Rejected from YC 2 comments