TLDR; here’s how…
Here’s what this screenshot represents:
- 989% monthly traffic growth
- 308% monthly revenue growth
- $415,305 net profit
It’s crazy what recurring organic traffic can do for a business. This is the power of SEO-based content marketing.
So what specifically did we do to get these results?
I’m literally going to tell you everything we did and link you to resources on how to do it yourself.
But first, here’s the cliffnotes:
- Expert SEO-focused content strategy (me)
- One 2,000+ word “pillar” blog post every month (also me)
- 2-3 short videos with transcripts + write-ups every month (client)
- Intensive monthly link-building (me)
- Great sales funnel to convert visitors (client)
So let’s go through each one.
SEO-Focused Content Strategy
It makes me sad when I see people creating new content every month with no SEO strategy in place.
SEO and content marketing are very symbiotic. You can’t really succeed at SEO anymore without good content, and while it’s possible to succeed at content marketing without relying on search-based traffic, incorporating search-based, organic traffic growth is a huge potential upside for anyone creating ongoing content.
So here’s my cliffnotes for utilizing a good content strategy.
First, here’s what you need if you want to be able to make use of content marketing as a serious channel (in my opinion):
- A defined target audience(s)
- Minimum $4,000 per month budget (my client’s budget was significantly higher)
- Solid conversion funnel to turn content visitors into customers
If you have all this lined up, the next step is to map out a clear content strategy:
- Identify the topics that are currently exciting your target audience(s)
- Identify the high volume and high intent search queries that are relevant to your products/services
- Create a list of content ideas that combine both the right topics and the right search queries
- Identify solid ways to promote and build links to these content pieces once they are published
- Create a timeline for publishing these content pieces, promoting them, and building links to them
This is really straightforward stuff in theory. In practice, it takes a lot of trial and error to be able to formulate the correct recipe of topics, keywords, and content, which is why a lot of people choose to hire a content strategist.
Longform “Pillar Content”
Within the sea of topics and keywords, you will find a small selection of truly optimal targets. These are the keyphrases that are getting a few hundred to a few thousand searches per month and are essentially an exact match for what someone is thinking when they hop on Google looking for your product or service.
These are also the types of phrases that all your competitors are likely targeting as well, so ranking for them is going to be challenging.
Well… unless you know how to create amazing longform “pillar content”.
Let’s break that term down.
Longform = 2,000+ words
Pillar Content = 10-12 in-depth pieces covering the 10-12 most important topics your audience cares about (and targeting the 10-12 most important keywords for your business)
In other words, you are going to create 10-12 in-depth posts of 2,000+ words in order to try and rank for your 10-12 highest priority keyphrases.
Here’s how it works:
- Identify the target keyword
- Look at the current front page rankings for that keyword
- Plan an in-depth piece of content that will be a significantly better resource than everything currently on the front page
- Create and publish the piece
- Promote the piece and build links to it
Over the last 3 years, I have gotten really, really good at this.
Well out of the 11 pillar posts we published over the last 9 months, here’s what we got:
- 10 front page rankings for the primary keyword target
- 5 in the top #3
- 2 hit and stayed at #1 (including our number one overall target)
But that’s not all… because when you do this strategy you rank for a lot more than just one primary keyphrase per post. Those 11 posts accounted for:
- 3,480 keyword rankings
- 949 front page rankings
- 201 top three rankings
- 72 number one rankings
Imagine creating just 11 posts and ranking at #1 for 72 different keyphrases, including your number one target. That’s the power of longform pillar content.
For more on how to create this type of content and intentionally design it to outrank your competitors, listen to my podcast with Do You Even Hustle or check out this guide from Brian Dean, the guy who taught me everything I know about SEO.
Ongoing “Small” Content
Let me make something really clear. You can’t succeed at content marketing via a 100% outsourcing model.
You can’t do it.
Even if you outsource the bulk of it, there absolutely must be some level of ongoing collaboration or it won’t succeed. Period.
- YOU have the deepest understanding of your audience and customers.
- YOU have access to ongoing feedback from your audience through your various customer touchpoints.
- YOU are already deeply engaged in your niche and interacting with niche movers and shakers.
- And YOU are the one who has to turn front end visitors and leads into recurring customers.
Most people fail at marketing because they try to compartmentalize it, but successful marketing is an interconnected part of your entire business loop. The more inconsistencies there are from the top of the funnel to the bottom, the more people drop out along the way.
Okay, rant over.
Here’s why I’m bringing this up. A big part of my client’s success this last year came from their own ongoing “small” content efforts. They created 2-3 videos each week (with transcripts and short summaries published) that received a high level of engagement from their audience.
These videos weren’t anything crazy. Most of them were very low quality production and involved something simple like an interview or the founder simply sharing some thoughts off the cuff. But this type of content performed fairly well with their social media and email audiences, and it resulted in a decent number of shares and comments, which Google has started increasingly valuing over the last few years.
This was a bit of a unique situation in that the pillar content I put together was not being actively promoted to the existing audience, and while I personally feel this hamstrung my efforts a bit, as you could see from the stats I cited in the previous section, it certainly didn’t seem to meaningfully hamper the final rankings.
My theory is that this “small” content being published regularly and racking up shares/comments made up for the lack of social activity on the pillar content.
At the end of the day, the small content did little to increase organic traffic, but it did a lot to energize and engage the existing customer base, which our pillar content was not particularly suited for. If you can hit both objectives via the same content, great, but if not, adding some small content to your pillar content is a great strategy.
I really don’t know what to say about linkbuilding anymore… other than to say that everything you’ve ever heard about it is complete bullshit. Everything Google tells you about linkbuilding is bullshit. Everything SEO people tell you about linkbuilding is bullshit. Everything you are going to read from me on the subject is bullshit.
Here’s what I’m talking about:
- You need some number of links to succeed in SEO.
- You don’t know what that number is.
- There is essentially one process to get those links, consisting of 3 stages.
- There are about 30 different ways to tackle those 3 stages.
- Whether or not your tackle approach is technically “allowed” versus “not allowed” depends solely on where money changes hands, despite the reality that all 30 result in the exact same process
- The “gray” areas change constantly and based on who you ask.
- And none of it matters in the end.
In other words, find some different link building businesses that aren’t complete dumbasses, pay them to build links for you, see if it works, and go from there.
Great Sales Funnel
I spent a year of my life bringing in targeted traffic and high quality leads for a business that couldn’t convert.
I doubled their traffic.
I was bringing in a large number of leads per month for them in a high-ticket b2b industry.
And they just couldn’t close.
Some people probably would have been like, “Meh, I got paid… whatever.”
But that’s not how I work. I was desperate to help them succeed. I was constantly re-evaluating my own efforts and second guessing myself. I spent a large chunk of time trying to redo parts of their funnel to convert better (none of which they ended up implementing). I even paid out of pocket for a b2b content marketing expert to consult with me on how we could make it work.
After a year, we parted ways, and I ended up working for the client featured in this post.
It was a night and day experience.
Suddenly, I was working with someone who had a great, high-converting sales funnel in place. When I added quality traffic to that funnel, it resulted in actual sales.
Amazing how that works.
If your funnel doesn’t work, no amount of traffic and leads will compensate for that.
Hire a website copywriter. Hire a conversion expert. Improve your product/service for a better market fit. Do something. Throwing more rubber balls at a dart board won’t make them stick.
Final Thoughts: Embrace The Long Haul
Let’s look at back at that opening graphic… but with some added info.
Imagine spending 6 months investing $4k+ per month with no return.
That’s how content marketing works and that’s usually how SEO works.
I’ve had clients making faster initial progress than the one featured in this post, but they bailed before the payoff, because they didn’t have the mental discipline to go the distance.
If you don’t want to embrace the long haul, that is 100% fine, just stay away from these channels. Focus on channels with more immediate return, like Adwords or Facebook advertising.
If you do decide to pursue SEO/content marketing, really embrace the long haul and understand that cost is frontloaded and payoff is backloaded.
Well that’s it for today. Feel free to throw any questions you have my way in the comments below. Since I can’t disclose specifics with my paid clients, I’m going to be doing some live case studies where I take you step by step through this entire process using an actual business. If you’d like to have your business considered to be that live case study and essentially get a free consultation and/or content strategy, enter your info below.