This weekend I looked back at SEO related statistics for a B2B website I launched in November of 2009. A full year has passed and I wanted to see the progress this company made over a twelve-month period. After launching the new WordPress website, the client retained me to work on their internet marketing efforts. It helped free up time for the client, it gave their internet marketing a cohesiveness it would not have had otherwise, and it gave me time to nurture my new baby. I believe it was a good year for SEO and Google Analytics agrees with me.
The Data Doesn’t Lie
I decided to dig into Google Analytics and pull data for December 1st, 2009 through November 30th, 2010. What fun to review your work and reflect. Okay I have to qualify that, as it was partially my work. The client did a tremendous job following my suggestions and coming up with some of their own. They were a content machine, which helped facilitated my SEO consulting efforts. Without the collaboration, the growth you will see would not be possible.
|SEO Metric||December of 2009||November of 2010||Growth|
|Visits from All Sources||7,286||19,980||174.20%|
|Visits from Search Engines||1,932||11,092||474.10%|
|Visits from Referrals||2,732||4,584||67.80%|
|Visits from Direct Traffic||2,620||4,286||63.60%|
|Keyword Combinations (Organic)||1,135||7,985||566.00%|
The data shows there was substantial growth across organic search engine traffic, referrals, and direct traffic. I’d want to see a growth in all three areas because it shows we built branding along with organic search traffic from Google. What I love most is there was no pay per click activity after December. Since organic SEO traffic grew rapidly, I was able to talk the client into ditching his PPC campaign.
The Formula for SEO Magic
At this point you’re probably wondering how we did it. It wasn’t magic or SEO voodoo. We didn’t participate in any link schemes or comment spamming or even paid links or advertising banners. We simply focused on providing quality content, while also letting organic SEO and visitor personas lead the way. We tried to consider what our visitors would perceive as valuable content and we tried to make sure we looked at all personas (or visitor types) that came to the website.
While this list won’t cover everything we did, it will hit the SEO highlights:
- We performed a complete keyword discovery prior to website launch
- We selected three critical keywords, ten high additional high traffic keywords, and a bunch of long-tail keywords
- The website and blog were mapped based on visitor personas and keywords
- New WordPress website design and blog
- We focused on one keyword per page
- Each page had a unique and optimized title and meta description
- We included deep internal links through pages and blog posts
- We included keyword rich links that pointed outside the website and kept them to no more than three or so per page or post
- We performed an inbound linking campaign with very targeted pages and keywords
From a content perspective, we made sure we had a diverse set of “things” being added to the website each week. Due to this Google went from spidering the website occasionally to indexing new blog posts and pages within an hour.
Our keyword rich content included the following types of distribution:
- Two to three blog posts per week
- Monthly press releases
- Bi-weekly webinars
- YouTube videos
- Industry reports
- White papers
- An industry directory with rating system
- Weekly newsletters
A Plug for Social Media
The interesting point to our efforts was the use of social media, which is not always embraced by B2B companies. Of the top five sources of website referrals, four were social media websites. And even more interesting is that Facebook was third on the list.
Neither Facebook nor Twitter had a huge number of “likes” or “followers”, yet both drove a substantial amount of traffic over the year. I’ve previously blogged about social media being conflicting and that you cannot judge your social media success through simple metrics such as likes and followers. This client is a perfect example of why this is the case.
What About Conversions and Revenue?
Now if I were reading this blog post, I’d be asking about conversions, new customers, and revenue. So let me qualify the growth by stating the client had a great year in 2010. The company added significant headcount and came close to doubling revenue.
Whenever we would have our monthly call, we’d talk about traffic and then I would ask about leads, new customers, and sales. I wanted to make sure the client was getting the right traffic. Although I will admit, as an SEO consultant, your first instinct is to get caught up in traffic numbers. You have to deflate your head long enough to ask the client if the traffic is producing value.
The Take Away for Marketers
I want to clearly state that this SEO case study is a best-case scenario. The client and I were in complete sync, we knew each other going in, and there was a strong level of trust. I had worked in his industry and I could run on my own without supervision. This type of freedom in SEO is not the norm. An SEO consultant needs monitoring and the client needs to be involved.
Industry experience aside, the real take away is the content. Without the content, I could not have spun my SEO magic. I had to have content to market and without it, the project would have flopped. I would have had to write the blog posts, which would have distracted me from other tasks and it would have stifled the creativity and momentum.
What’s Your Magic Formula?
I believe in organic SEO and while I don’t consider it voodoo, I absolutely believe it can do magic when you have good content and the SEO project is executed properly. This client is a perfect example of that magic.
If you’re an SEO consultant, I’d love to hear your thoughts on my formula. SEO is a moving target and I know there is always something new to learn. Leave a comment below with your thoughts or send me a tweet on Twitter at @WebSavvyMrkting.
Todd J. List says
This is a great example of a smart, motivated, and receptive client, good direction, and applied common sense coming together to make magic.
I am NOT an SEO expert, but I firmly believe that the true “secret” is “write good stuff, and lots of it.” Yes, external inbound links are important. Yes, internal linking helps. But neither of these would have been possible without good content, and lots of it.
As cool as this is, I bet this result is not typical, even for you. Few small business owners understand the commitment needed to generate the content they need. Fewer are open-minded enough to take direction from someone who sees a bigger picture. Fewer still are willing to open the purse strings (or have the resources available) to hire the expertise required.
Congratulations on pulling off the positive perfect storm. And let me know where to find clients like this one!
Ryan Meray | ctechsinc.com says
I’ve thought for a while that the best SEO was good content, and it’s really satisfying to see your focus on blog posts, white papers, youtube videos, and other content creation really pay off. That’s not to say the core SEO stuff you did wasn’t important, but it seems like you acknowledge that those measures, taken alone, wouldn’t have had near the impact that they did when tied into regular content creation. That’s a great take-away, and I hope others realize that all the SEO in the world isn’t going to do you much good if it gets people to your site and there’s no content to digest or anything giving them a reason to stay there and hear the message.
Rebecca Gill says
Thanks for the comments gentlemen!
Last week I read Ann Handley’s new book, Content Rules. This book was like a walk through of this SEO case study. Whenever I talk to a new prospect and they ask me about prior engagements, I’ll talk about this client but through a huge qualifier out there that content was key. If you can’t generate some solid content, you won’t see exponential results.
Todd you are completely right on your client comment. The client was awesome and if I could have about 100 more of them, I’d be thrilled.
Interesting post, but could you expand on the link building you did? I would guess that had a major impact on the success.
Quality content is great for generating some natural links and general buzz about the company, but from my experience rankings come down to links – either natural or artificial.
Rebecca Gill says
The link building was done with guest blog posts, press releases, report distribution, Q&A websites, and social networks. I never used more than three inbound links per press release or guest blog post. And I never posted a link that wasn’t of value to the user.
I also added sharing buttons to the top of each blog post so visitors could quickly send our blog posts to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. This greatly helped with both link building and inbound traffic.
You are right, link building was critical and it was a metric we tracked each month to view progress.
Kenneth Yu says
Dang… I have really good case studies in terms of the clients I handle, yet I didn’t have the discipline to document the results I got for them. Oh well… Time to get some new ones I suppose. Together with the documenting….
Downtown Ecommerce says
Rebecca, thanks for posting this SEO Case Study, it’s brief, but long enough to provide decent insight into your research, actions and results – which look very good.
I really like the approach you’ve taken to the format for this case study and will definitely be trying to replicate this elegant simplicity when we get around to creating ours.