With this case study, I want to show how a small website that relies only on organic traffic from Google can compete against big brands, and generate product demand.
It is not necessary to create dozens of content per month to attract potential customers.
With this real-life example, I will demonstrate how I created a limited number of very focused pages answering users’ queries to make a side project profitable.
Background and Results
I started working on this website in April 2017 and went live the following month.
Fast forward 16 months later, with barely 20 pages, the site gained steady organic traffic, getting affiliate income and weekly leads, with very little maintenance.
A year into the work (2018 vs 2017), the site attracted:
- May: 4,156 users vs 115
- June: 5,084 users vs 154
- July: 7,900 users vs 351
- August: 8,448 users vs 343
Time was invested mostly for content creation, with a total of 20 pages, and very little link building.
The following is the process I followed to define the content and all the other tasks that I implemented to grow a profitable site from 0 to 8,000+ users per month.
As a side project, the plan was to not invest a lot of time on it.
Domain and website
I registered a new .com domain name in April 2017, developed the website with WordPress and installed a free theme. Given the success of the site, I implemented a premium template in late 2018.
As a one-man show working on a brand new domain, and not relying on copywriters, the keyword research phase had to be solid and strategic to get relatively quick results.
The niche was relatively competitive as Google search results included established brands and several authoritative blogs.
The first step was to discover evergreen topics to attract potential leads.
With a keyword research tool, I identified and analysed the top five competitors and discovered further competing websites in the same space. For each of them, I looked for patterns in their top-performing pages by traffic, noted the number of backlinks and jotted down on a Google Spreadsheet file.
While searching the above topics, I found pages with a reasonable quantity of traffic, and some with very little (more on this later), and noted them down.
Furthermore, I took into consideration niche forums and groups on Facebook as well as the output of Answerthepublic.
With the topics in mind, I grouped my keywords, so I could get a list of subjects I could write about and their secondary keywords.
Keyword research tools
I used Ahrefs as a keyword research tool, to discover topics not mentioned during the above steps, and figured out how difficult it would be to rank each keyword.
I worked on the list of keywords from all the sources mentioned, and split them into different sets, to generate content ideas.
Once the list was ready, I Googled each topic to identify their search intent and the type of results provided, to find out that some of the pages competitors published could be merged.
Some topics were too competitive, so I dropped them (the goal was getting quick results with little effort), I also discharged what I wasn’t interested in.
I completed my keyword research, with a list of pages I was going to write soon.
Content research and creation
With the plan to have a limited number of pages and the goal to beat established brands, the content had to be compelling.
Knowing the topic well was not enough to get ahead in the search results, so content research was key.
After having reviewed the most relevant articles, questions and data from the keyword research phase, I developed the outline of each piece of content to be created.
Not only that, to add even more value, I analysed the blog posts with very little traffic, as they provided some information big brands didn’t.
The second results page can be valuable in this phase.
I now had three potential types of content on my list:
- Informational: 18
- Commercial: 11
- Link assets: 1
The content had to be good enough for my readers to look no further.
After a few months, a limited number of pages generated most of the traffic. During this period, the top 5 pages attracted 60% of the traffic.
As soon as the content was ready, it was almost time to hit the publish button.
I first covered on-page optimisation and technical elements:
- Target keywords in Title, URL, Meta Description and first paragraph
- Subheadings covering secondary keywords
- Paragraphs easy to read
- Topic clusters
- Technical SEO
- Images optimisation
While these are essential elements, they needed to be well implemented and optimised to overtake my competitors.
The content was managed as Posts in WordPress, and assigned to the most relevant Category. As I wanted to define how categories were shown (with a few Plugins as possible), Category pages were set as ‘noindex’ since the beginning, to prevent them from appearing in Google search results.
One step further was internal linking. Pages internally linked with topic clusters as Categories, to be relevant and create as much focus as possible within the different topics.
Whilst the website already generated revenue via affiliate partnerships, towards the end of the year, I started to receive requests for custom services.
As I was offering services the website claimed to do only via affiliates, I partnered up with a local business.
After creating a few product pages, I consistently received 2-4 requests for customised services per week, on top of the affiliate commissions.
At this stage, the site had 20 pages circa, mostly informational.
Content promotion and link building
I did not spend much time in promotion and link building.
Pages were only promoted on a few niche forums and Facebook groups when conversations were relevant to the topic.
In terms of link building, one single post was targeting bloggers in the niche for backlinks.
Not long after the go-live, I implemented HotJar to analyse how users behaved on the site.
Users spent more time on areas where I barely mentioned some information, so I improved the paragraphs and was awarded a featured snippet in less than 24 hours.
Key takeaways of this case study
As a consultant, I often see 10+ years old businesses generating zero traffic and zero leads from their website, and the reason is lack of strategy.
They focus on trends and short terms results without building their audience.
Don’t be like that if you want to win the long run.
Content is (really) important
No doubts that high-quality content can help you to reach your customers, but consider that planning and developing are time-consuming and necessary steps.
Many businesses give up too early and don’t have the chance to see results.
Do you see how great the second half of the graph below is? That is what you should look for, but you also need the first half first.
Patience brings you there.
Use the process
You just read a one-man-show, it’s not hard to implement.
With all the elements I just outlined you can do it yourself, research your keywords, create and optimise your content, reach your perfect audience and turn them into leads, to generate revenue for your business.
So if you’re going to do it on your own, be ready to wait for results. Even if you get more aggressive in creating content, promoting it and getting backlinks, you’re not going to see hundreds of leads overnight.
I can do it for you
If you prefer focusing on your business rather than your website and SEO, I should mention that I can do this for you.
It is the kind of work I do to help businesses with: getting a steady stream of leads from their website.
If you’re interested, fill out our contact form.