In September 2014 we were approached by a client who was looking into how to increase website traffic visiting his site. He had been running a tech blog for around 3 years, and was now generating significant traffic, with up to 1,000 visitors/day. However, due to increased work commitments the client had significantly reduced the amount of time and effort he was spending generating new content for the blog. The blog had plateaued and he wanted to prevent it from going into decline. He commissioned us to get things moving again. The site was also generating a healthy AdSense revenue (by displaying third-party adverts through Google’s AdSense scheme) which helped to cover hosting costs and generate a small income. As the website’s traffic had plateaued the client had experienced a corresponding drop in his AdSense revenue. The client therefore had two primary goals:
- Increase the amount of traffic visiting the site
- Increase the AdSense revenue
6 Months Later: The Results We’ve just passed the 6-month mark and we’re delighted with the results that we’ve been able to achieve. Here are some of the headlines:
- An early blog post that we wrote has generated over 100,000 hits
- AdSense revenue has increased 504%, from $16.05/week to $97.00/week
- The site has received 309,745 pageviews at an average of 51,624/month
- We’ve seen a 153% increase in sessions, from 851/day in October 2014 to 2,155/day in April 2015
In this article we’ll share how we’ve achieved these results. We’ll let you know what’s worked, what hasn’t and how we’ve refined our strategy over time. This has been a fairly unique project – for reasons that we’ll explain below – with some fairly significant restraints. It’s a good case study because we were unable to use a more conventional SEO strategy and had to think creatively about the best way to achieve the client’s objectives. If you’d like to find out how to increase website traffic for your website then why not check out our search and social marketing services or contact us using the form below.
Our Strategy: How to Increase Website Traffic
1. We Developed a Content Strategy
One of the distinguishing features of this project is that it’s been a pure, content-driven campaign. There’s been no link building, no directory entries and no blogger outreach. We don’t believe in black hat techniques, so there have been no dark arts. We also had a reasonably limited social media following of c.400 Facebook likes and 200 Twitter followers. What do we mean by “content-driven campaign”? We mean, quite simply, that by creating high-quality, valuable content we would be able to increase website traffic generated through search engines. This meant that we needed to think very carefully about content. The success of the project would rise and fall on the quality and engagement of our blog posts. Whilst developing our content strategy we spoke at length with the client. He explained that, having found a niche in the market, he had become an authority both in product/news reviews and providing ‘how to’ tutorials. He was keen to continue in this vein. This gave us the initial direction for our content strategy. Because the client had been blogging for 3 years we had significant archives of blog posts to use for inspiration. We also had access to 36 months worth of Google Analytics data (more on that later). In other words, we had a good idea of what would work. Next, we set about implementing our content strategy. This involved researching prospective ideas and titles for articles. We used tools like Google Keyword Planner and KeywordTool to find the most relevant, engaging keywords for each subject area. One of the hardest things about blogging – even for a seasoned digital marketer – is making sure that you’re creating enough content. We therefore scheduled when each post would go live, thinking carefully about giving readers the right content diet. This has helped us to keep things fresh whilst delivering regular, routine updates. Another key issue in the tech world is timing. There’s little point in writing about a product launch 2-3 months after your competitors. With this in mind, we thought carefully about how to synchronise our content schedule with product launches. We achieved this by keeping a close eye on press releases, events and product news.
2. We Meticulously Optimised Content
We knew at the outset that this project was all about generating organic search traffic. Knowing how competitive SEO is, we resolved to leave no stone unturned in optimising our content. We wanted to produce high quality content, but we also wanted to ensure that we’d feature more highly than our competitors. Like many leading bloggers, we used the WordPress SEO Plugin by Yoast. This is an incredibly helpful editing tool that helps you to make sure that every blog post is properly optimised. We decided to try and hit as many green lights as we possibly could before publishing a blog post. This meant integrating the keyword into the copy, blog title, subheadings, images, metadescription and URL. We reasoned that this would give us the very best chance of generating large volumes of organic search traffic. We were also meticulous about optimising images. Image searches are an incredibly valuable source of traffic, particularly in the tech sector which is very visual. We noticed that competitor blogs weren’t very good at this and realised that this was an area where we could outperform the competition.
3. We Rewrote Old Blog Posts
It might sound like a strange thing to do, but rewriting old blog posts was one of the most important steps that we’ve taken on the client’s site. We’re heavily influenced by Neil Patel who is a keen proponent of refreshing and re-optimising old content. His article on “how to make your most popular content more popular” is a great starting point when thinking about rewriting old blog posts. Rewriting old blog posts involved two key strategies. The first was to find popular blog posts that were featuring highly in the search engine results pages. We then compared them to rival articles/pages and made sure that our content was better optimised for those keywords. We were already on page 1 for these search terms, but by moving from number #5 to number #2, for example, we managed to significantly increase the traffic that those posts were generating. The second step was to look at old content that was poorly optimised. A lot has changed in the last 3 years, and whilst some of the client’s articles were well optimised, others wew missing key SEO features. This small change helped us to start driving traffic to blog posts that had almost dried up. We also took the opportunity to link through to newer blog posts. This had the combined effect of encouraging readers to stay on the site and view more of our content and delivering a more relevant, up-to-date message.
4. We Crunched Data and Applied Our Findings
Throughout the project we’ve been tracking our progress with Google Analytics and Moz Pro. This data has given us an incredible amount of insight into what’s working and what’s not. It’s given us a perfect feedback loop for experimenting with new ideas and techniques, and enabled us to tell the client exactly how well the campaign is going. Google Analytics has been an incredibly helpful tool for us. Here are just a few of the ways in which it’s helped us to improve the quality and effectiveness of our content generation:
- Behaviour: this tells us which blog posts our readers are visiting, how long they spend on the site and what they do next. By identifying the most popular posts (with the longest engagement time and lowest bounce rate) we’ve been able to see what our readers are looking for. We’ve fed this data back into our content strategy and focused on creating more of the content that’s worked in the past.
- AdSense: this has shown us how many people are clicking on adverts and how much each blog post is generating in revenue. Whilst this is a subsidiary goal, it’s nevertheless an important part of what our client has asked us to achieve. We’ve used this information to make some development changes (see below) and repositioned adverts so that they’re generating the most clicks and creating the least nuisance for readers.
- Acquisition: this shows us where our readers come from. We know that around 80% of all traffic is generated by organic search. We’ve also used the Search Engine Optimisation tab (activated in Google Webmaster) to show which keywords are driving traffic to the site. Again, this has helped us to rewrite old content and target the keywords/articles which are generating the most successful outcomes.
- Geography: our client is British, but around 30,000 pageviews/month are coming from North America. This is very significant for a tech blog, because product names and release dates often differ when you head across the Atlantic. We’ve therefore ensured that all of our articles are written with consideration for our American and Canadian readers.
Almost every change that we’ve made to our content strategy has been a direct result of learning new things from our data. We spotted pretty early on that a huge percentage of our traffic was coming from people looking for the ‘how’ and ‘why’ answers relating to certain tech devices. We also found that many of our readers were looking for alternatives to Apple products and services. By factoring this into new blog posts we were able to create new content which has outperformed the old. Our best performing “how to” blog post has generated 100,000+ views in the last 6 months (reaching 27,000 pageviews/month). The most successful “alternative to Apple” post has generated 40,000. Without seeing the data we probably wouldn’t have written these articles. We’ve also found that longer articles have performed much better than short articles. This makes a lot of sense – a more extensive, authoritative article is going to give readers a much better answer to their question than a 400-500 blog post. This in turn carries greater weight with search engines. We’ve therefore decreased the frequency of our articles and increased the length of each blog post to around 1,200-1,500 words. Adding in videos, photos, screenshots and subheadings has helped to break up the content and give people a definitive answer. Having such accurate data to hand has also given us the freedom to experiment and see what works. We’ve shared articles with different hashtags and at different times of day. We’ve tried different styles of blog posts. We even had a go at creating 60 second promo videos for blog posts to target traffic from a different kind of search. We’ll continue looking at different ways to drive traffic to the site.
5. We Did Development Work on the Site
SEO isn’t just about choosing keywords and optimising content. Search engine algorithms take a large number of factors into consideration when choosing how to rank pages. With this in mind, we wheeled out the developers and did some serious work on speeding the site up. This has delivered a much better experience for mobile and desktop users. It also tells Google that we’re serious about user experience, which in turn has improved our performance in the search rankings. We also had some duplicate content caused by the tags on the blog. This was very quick and easy to fix but meant that we stopped sending negative signals to the search engines. Duplicate content is usually indicative that a site is unoriginal and failing to generate new, useful content. As the opposite was true, we needed to make sure that this was corrected.
What Will We Do Next?
Whilst we’re really pleased with our results, we’re now looking at how we can take the project to the next level. The tech sector is such an innovative, growing sector and there’s plenty of scope for the client’s blog to be punching with even greater weight. We’ll be continuing to apply the lessons that we’ve shared above, particularly around content strategy and rewriting old content to make it as relevant as possible. As new products and devices are launched there are constant opportunities to carve out new niches and become an authority in those areas. We’re also planning to start rolling out some sponsored posts on Facebook and Twitter to see how this compares to our organic traffic generation. If it doesn’t work then we’ll move on to something new, but with access to such good data we’ll be able to see exactly what’s going on.
This has been our most successful SEO project to date, but with several new clients on our books we’re excited about helping more businesses to increase organic traffic and generate more business. We’ll be growing this area of the business over the next few months, with several existing clients bringing their SEO and digital marketing work to us. We hope that this case study has inspired you to think about ways to increase organic traffic for your website. Yes, SEO takes a lot of hard work, but with the right strategy and tools it’s a powerful way to grow your business online. If you’ve got further questions or would like to find out more about working together then please don’t hesitate to contact us for a free initial consultation.