As a small business owner, or solopreneur, you’ve heard that content increases website traffic,and maybe you know that it also helps build brand trust and credibility.
And although you may be keen to try it for yourself, you’re looking for some kind of reassurance that after all your hard work, it’s a viable ROI.
In the case studies to follow, all three companies were young startups that decided to do things differently in order to get the edge over their competitors. Using content as their primary marketing strategy, they experienced tremendous results that enabled dramatic growth.
Have a read. Be the judge about whether content is a good ROI or not.
Case study 1: Turned problem into a solution with online course content
End result: $20K in 5 days
Company: Design Pickle
Design Pickle, founded by Russ Perry in January 2015, offers a flat rate per month for an unlimited amount of graphic designs. Most large corporations have their own graphic designers, so this company’s clients are predominantly small businesses and solopreneurs.
Most small business owners don’t have a content design strategy in place, and therefore, the customer retention rate for graphic design services in particular is generally low. What Perry found, was that once clients received their designs, they would cancel their monthly subscription.
Design Pickle needed a way to grow and to educate its clients on marketing strategies.
Enter Pickle University online courses. The courses, hosted by Kajabi, an all-in-one marketing tools third party online course platform, allows Design Pickle to upsell and bundle services for discounted prices, and is used as a lead magnet to secure new, and empowered clients.
The launch of the first course brought in $20K within 5 days from pre-sale email marketing to people who were already on Design Pickle’s email lists. The key here, was that Perry identified a need; to educate clients on process and industry, and filled that need by providing online courses to help educate and grow the businesses of his clients.
By developing business and marketing courses, Perry is able not only to increase profit passively while still growing his graphics design business, but can also help his clients strengthen their businesses.
Image Credit: Design Pickle and Kajabi
Russ Perry (back, middle) is the founder of Design Pickle.
Original source of case study: Kajabi
Case study 2: From outbound to primarily inbound
End result: 6 X boost in website traffic and 4 X more customers
Industry: Software developer for health industry
Glofox is a startup founded by Conor O’ Loughlin and Anthony Kelly in 2014, and experienced rapid growth with its software developed for gyms and fitness studios. The problem was that the direct sales strategy they were using to acquire customers, was costing too much. Their approach required the use of too many complex systems which were not playing nicely together.
Image Credit: BusinessAndFinance
The founders of Glofox: Conor O’ Loughlin and Anthony Kelly.
O’Loughlin and Kelly decided that they needed to attract customers to their website instead, by creating an inbound marketing machine. Using HubSpot, they set up a blog, created landing pages for targeted traffic, optin forms and smart call to actions. They say that by using content, they “are positioning ourselves as industry experts and thought leaders in our field; we blog constantly, we have a weekly podcast and we produce ebooks and user guides.”
Similarly to the first case study, the founders of this company say that creating personas was a vital part of their inbound strategy.
Since the swap from outbound to inbound marketing, Glofox has experienced a 6 X boost in traffic, and has 4 X more customers.
Original source of case study: HubSpot
Case study 3: Infographic backlinks strategy for new blog
End result: Website traffic increase of 963% in 6 weeks
Company: ChewieSays (now HerePup)
Perrin Carrol, who started the ChewieSays blog, identified an opportunity in the pet niche, after noticing that there were not a lot of smaller pet sites providing good content, and that a handful of big pet sites were completely dominating the Internet.
Carrol needed a strategy to compete with the handful of some seriously big competitors in the niche. To go up against them would entail producing some brilliant content, and promoting it in order to get quality backlinks to his site.
What Carrol did (and this is key), was to identify what was proven to be important to his target audience, and create an infographic around it. Doing his due diligence, he came up with the topic of “ways that pets improve human health”.
Armed with the 22 points gathered from his research, he hired a freelancer to design a pretty basic infographic to use as “bait” for authority websites, in order to get quality backlinks to his site. The link to the ChewySays website, was placed into introductory content on the infographic, which is good for SEO.
Finding prospective blogs in the niche that might have been interested in publishing the infographic, he contacted 92 bloggers and got a positive response of 5.4%.
Once those bloggers confirmed their interest in the infographic, Carrol removed as many barriers as possible, to make sharing the content easy.
The end result was eight niche-related, white hat backlinks which provided a dramatic surge of traffic to his new blog.
Image Credit: Backlinko
The infographic that sparked traffic to a new blog.
Original source of case study: Backlinko
Three startup companies achieved dramatic results, all from using content as their primary marketing tactic. In summary, here’s what they did and what happened:
- A graphics design startup launched online courses as a way to grow, and to educate clients. Proving the need for the online courses, was the $20K that was generated as a result.
- The cost to acquire clients was proving too expensive for a software developer company, and the founders decided to switch to a primarily inbound marketing strategy, seeing a 6 X boost in traffic and 4 X more customers.
- The founder of a brand new pet blog, needed a way to compete with major sites that were dominating the industry, and with a cleverly designed infographic, received eight quality backlinks, boosting the traffic by 963% within six weeks.
You may have heard that "SEO is dead." Perhaps you’ve even said it yourself. The reality, however, is that SEO is far from dead!
In a recent Search Engine Land article, Columnist Stephan Spencer puts it this way:
"While SEO is NOT dead, the way that you’re doing it might be. Does the following describe your approach? You’ve optimized your H1s and meta tags and you’ve built a few (hopefully white hat) links. Now you just sit back and watch your site rise to the top of Google, right?
Wrong. This sort of cookie-cutter approach to SEO — one that equates SEO to tuning a guitar or to following the steps to a pumpkin pie recipe — rarely works in today’s search landscape."
This quote illustrates the ever-changing nature of SEO. As with any industry that changes frequently, SEO is a field you can’t just "learn once" and walk away. Instead, you need keep up with its new developments regularly. And that’s where this list of experts comes in.
If you want to stay on the cutting edge of effective SEO, good teachers and influencers are key. So be sure to follow these experienced practitioners on Twitter, and refer to their blogs, to keep up with today’s leading SEO practices.
1. Christoph C. Cemper
Christoph is an SEO expert and the creator of Content Marketing intelligence software Impactana. Launched in 2015, this software helps marketers find content ideas that make an impact.
He began his work in online marketing back in 2003, when he provided SEO consulting and link-building services. In 2006, Christoph realized there was a need for accurate and reliable SEO software. So he developed the first internal tools. The software he developed became the basis for LinkResearchTools (LRT), a SaaS product containing four tools. It launched in 2009.
Today, thanks to continual research and development, LRT now offers 21 tools. It’s designed with ever-growing functionality that’s adapted to market requirements and Google changes.
Christoph also created Link Detox. Launched after Google Penguin rolled out, this software is designed for finding links that present a risk in a website’s backlink profile. He has written and spoken about link risk management since 2011, and he introduced the technology and process for ongoing link audits in 2012.
Where to Find Christoph:
- Post on LinkResarchTools blog: What you didn’t know about your old backlinks
- Post on Yoast blog: Smart alternatives to dangerous link building strategies
Words to Remember:
"Adding your site to any web directory just to get a backlink will have a negative effect on your website’s ranking. Most web directories out there provide no real value to the Internet users and Google has excluded them from its search results. You don’t want your website to be in there! Search for trusted directories. There are a few for every niche. These directories provide useful information to you, your target audience and your potential customers." (Source)
2. Neil Patel
Neil Patel is the founder/co-founder of several online businesses, including KISSmetrics, Quick Sprout, Crazy Egg, and Hello Bar. He’s known for his influence as an entrepreneur, SEO expert, and online marketer.
Neil has helped many world-renown companies achieve significant revenue growth. A few brands on his impressive client list include Amazon, NBC, GM, HP and Viacom.
Entrepreneur Magazine has said that Neil created one of the 100 most brilliant companies in the world. Forbes said he’s one of the top ten online marketers, and the Wall Street Journal has called him a top influencer on the web.
Neil was recognized as a top 100 entrepreneur under the age of 30 by President Obama and one of the top 100 entrepreneurs under the age of 35 by the United Nations. He has also been awarded Congressional Recognition from the United States House of Representatives.
Where to Find Neil:
- Blog post: A Thirty-Day Plan for Gaining 100 Authoritative and Relevant Backlinks to Your New Website
- Blog post: A Simple Guide to Bing SEO
Words to Remember:
"When we talk about SEO, Google comes to mind for most marketers … Most marketers don’t consider that the second most used search engine can also be a lucrative channel … Since all marketers go after Google, Bing has lower competition. And, it has a decent market share, at 21.3%, in the US (including Yahoo search that’s powered by Bing). Further, Yahoo-Bing network also has an exclusive audience in most verticals." (Source)
3. Sagi Solomon
Sagi is the Head of SEO at InboundJunction. He’s respected as a tireless marketing enthusiast who’s never content with the status quo. Constantly looking for the latest SEO trends and tools, Sagi’s passion is formulating the most competitive search strategies possible. With a mix of technical prowess and creative vision, he has become a trusted problem-solver for his firm’s clients.
Where to Find Sagi:
- SEMrush article: Top 6 Marketing Analytics Dashboard Tools
- SEMrush article: 7 Proven Things You Can Do to Skyrocket Your SEO
Words to Remember:
"The speed of your website is one of the many factors that adds or subtracts to Google’s trust of your website. If your website is fast and error free, it’s less likely to cause any of Google’s searchers problems, therefore, making it more trustworthy and likely to appear in search results." (Source)
4. Jordan Kasteler
A digital-marketing consultant specializing in SEO and social media, Jordan has been avidly involved in Internet marketing since 2001. He has a history of entrepreneurship, co-founding such companies as BlueGlass Interactive – an industry-leading agency in social-media marketing and SEO.
Jordan’s experience includes serving as in-house SEO at Overstock.com, marketing strategy at PETA, and agency-level digital marketing. He’s a regular speaker at various Internet marketing conferences, and he authored A to Z: Social Media Marketing.
Jordan is also a regular contributor to Huffington Post, Search Engine Land, Marketing Land, Search Engine People, Social Media Today, Addicted2Success, Lead Change Group, and others.
Where to Find Jordan:
- Search Engine Land article: 9 tools to help you succeed with Google SERP features
- Marketing Land article: 5 effective ways to reach customers through live streaming
Words to Remember:
"While your potential customers are less likely to be influenced by marketing campaigns, they’re incredibly receptive to content about your brand that comes from other users. In today’s world, your fans are likely to have more success selling your products than you." (Source)
5. On Yavin
With more than 15 years of experience with online marketing and SEO, On founded Online Performance, a company specializing in SEO, ORM and PPC solutions. As the active CEO, On is always monitoring the recent happens in the SEO world to make sure his clients get the best results possible.
On has a knack for enhancing SEO results with in-house technology tools his company developed to provide better results for his clients. As SEO develops, adding technology to the mix can amplify results and get a great competitive edge, he says.
On also enjoy sharing digital marketing and SEO tips on Business 2 Community, SEMRush, Tech.co and others. Expect to see a whole lot from On in 2017!
Where to Find Ann:
- Blog post: How to Manage Online Reputation Management?
- PR Post: Israeli Partnership Brings Performance-Based Services to the US
Words to Remember:
"Experience shows that even today, there’s great importance to creating links for the purpose of web promotion. Any attempt to promote websites in categories that have medium to high competition without creating a hyperlink strategy is bound to fail. Even after many of Google’s algorithm updates, links have great significance when it comes to rankings." (Source)
6. Matthew Capala
Former New York University professor Matthew Capala is an internet entrepreneur, founder, and sought-after international speaker. According to Matthew: "I believe that showing up is 80% of success. Why? Because in a world where 80% of customers search online before they buy, invisibility is a fate much worse than failure."
Matthew founded the boutique SEO agency Alphametic, which helps clients with SEO, website optimization, Google analytics, and paid search. His clients have included brands such as L’Oreal (and Makeup.com,) Shopkeep, Hoval, Quest Diagnostics, and others. He also the publisher of Search Decoder.
Matthew’s work and ideas have been featured in the Chicago Tribune, Entrepreneur, Mashable, Digital Summit, Internet Summit, The Next Web, ePharma, Problogger and Huffington Post. He is also an international speaker and trainer. He’s given talks at Social Media Week, Internet Summit, and many others. Matthew wrote the award-winning international bestselling book SEO Like I’m 5, among others.
Where to Find Matthew
- Blog post: 12 Google Facts Every Marketer Needs to Know About
- Blog post: 42 SEO Tools and Browser Extensions for the Pros (Mostly Free)
Words to Remember:
"If you don’t act on the technical audit and content strategies, you won’t see any improvement to your website’s online visibility. You need to get your hands dirty (either working solo or with an agency/consultant /developer/team). Put another way, it’s not enough to read about the history of the tree. You need get out there and pick the fruit!" (Source)
7. Matt Janaway
UK-based SEO expert Matt Janaway has over 16 years of successful digital-marketing and eCommerce experience. CEO of Marketing Labs, Matt uses the latest proven online-marketing techniques to consult high-end brands. His specialties include SEO, link building, PPC, content creation and management, blogging, meta data, and more.
According to Matt on his Marketing Labs site: "There have been multiple studies which have found that SEO is the soundest long-term marketing strategy and can have a higher ROI than any other strategy. Our clients have seen a growth of over 1000% in 3 year periods."
Where to Find Matt:
- Blog post: How to improve your website’s conversion rate in a day
- Blog post: How to Create a Profitable Content Marketing Business Model
Words to Remember:
"Growth hacking is a term that’s thrown around a lot, and many people are confused by it. Growth hacking simply refers to doing anything you can do to grow your business. It differs from marketing in the sense that you use any means necessary. I’ll be telling you how you can ensure that your business sees substantial growth, fast!" (Source)
8. Matthew Barby
Award-winning digital marketing consultant Matthew Barby is the head of growth and SEO at HubSpot. Specializing in developing growth strategies for businesses of all sizes, he’s worked with Blue Chip companies and local businesses across a range of industries.
Matthew is a regular columnist for a number of marketing publications – including Marketing Land, Moz, and Search Engine Journal. He’s also been featured in Forbes, Social Media Today, TechRadar, Entrepreneur.com, The Guardian, and many more.
Also, with the Digital Marketing Institute, Matthew has been a speaker and lecturer. He’s lectured
across the SEO and social-media Professional Diploma certified courses, including the creation of course material, mapping of the syllabus, and recording of video lecture content.
Where to Find Matthew:
- Blog post: Zero to One Million: an SEO Campaign Blueprint
- Blog post: Growing a Social Following from Nothing: My Social Media Strategy
Words to Remember:
"…It’s really easy to get disheartened during the early stages of your social media campaigns. Things are slow at the beginning and it can feel like you’re running in circles a lot of the time.
The reality is that most social media campaigns won’t really deliver any real results until you’ve got a fair few months into them. Even then, depending on what niche you’re in, it can take much longer. The most important thing to remember is to keep focused.
Have a strategy and stick to it – even if it feels like you’re going nowhere." (Source)
9. Christine Churchill
With over 15 years’ experience in Online Marketing, Christine specializes in organic SEO consulting, web site audits, PPC management, content marketing, holistic online marketing, and keyword research.
Christine is the president of KeyRelevance. The company offers results-oriented marketing programs for businesses of all sizes. Services include organic SEO and PPC management.
Christine has written on SEO and SEM topics for Search Engine Watch, Search Engine Land, MarketPosition, SearchDay, Wilson Web, SitePoint, NetMechanic, and SearchEngineGuide. She’s also a regular speaker at Search Engine Strategies, Webmaster World Publishers Conference, Search Marketing Expo, and other Internet conferences.
Also, Christine has taught many online marketing classes through the International Association of Webmasters, Search Engine Strategies Seminars, Search Marketing Expo Bootcamps, and the Direct Marketing Association.
Where to Find Christine:
- Blog post: Stretch Your PPC Budget By Optimizing Landing Pages
- KeyRelevance Article: Keyword Analysis & Ranking: The Value of Brainstorming
Words to Remember:
"You are never done fine tuning your landing pages. As you put out new pages, learn what worked on earlier pages but continue to try new things too. In this competitive market, getting even another percentage better can make the difference between success and failure. Google Website Optimizer is a free tool that allows the webmaster to perform multivariate testing. Software that did this used to be very expensive. Google provides the tool without cost and has made it straightforward to use." (Source)
10. Rae Hoffman
Rae has been an SEO specialist for over a decade. She’s the co-owner and CEO of PushFire, a full service digital marketing agency founded by industry veterans. The agency focuses on producing ROI for SEO, PPC, and online promotions.
Rae is also the CEO of Sugarrae. The company publishes various websites across several topic areas that are monetized by advertising avenues such as CPM, affiliate marketing, contextual advertising, and others. She’s also the primary author of the often-controversial (but well-regarded) Sugarrae Internet marketing blog.
Also, Rae is a frequent speaker at PubCon, Affiliate Summit, SMX, and other events. She’s also been a columnist for publications such as Search Engine Land, Amex’s Open Forum, and more.
According to Rae, "I often refer to myself as a ‘White Collar Redneck’. I’m a serial entrepreneur, proud born and raised Jersey Girl, an Honorary Canadian, an avid fundraiser for the AHA and am known for calling things as I seem them and never being afraid to speak my mind.
Where to Find Rae:
- Blog post: Understanding Affiliate Marketing Lingo (Glossary of Terms)
- Blog post: How to Create a Clickable Affiliate Ad as a Backup for an AdSense Uni
Words to Remember:
"I’ve become obsessed with site speed over the last six months, systematically working through each of my sites to improve their speed. Supposed SEO benefits aside, the faster your site is, the better the user experience. And the better the user experience, the higher the conversion rate – sales, leads or newsletter subscribers; whatever a conversion for your site may be. And that’s a good thing for your business – no matter what type of business model you have." (Source)
Did you know that the majority of blogs become inactive within 100 days after creation?
I believe this is because the owners don’t realize what makes a blog successful. In fact, I had a client who believed it would be easy to make money on the Internet, and all she needed to do, was to quickly whip up a website. After four years of throwing money to freelancers to help her, she finally admitted defeat.
I’m not sure what happened to her, but I know of many people like her. I’ve also analyzed the content of a stack of small business websites, and the following fatal blogging tips are rampant.
Blogging is not easy, contrary to a common misconception.
Here you can see what most bloggers struggle with.
Image Credit: SocialMediaB2B
Don’t be amongst those blogs who close shop 100 days after starting because they didn’t know what blogging entailed. And please never listen to the "experts" who advise you to do these four things to get more blog traffic:
#1: Just add lots of content, often
When I first started dabbling in online marketing several years ago, I was told that in order to get traffic to my website, I would need to add content. Often.
Which is what I did.
But to my shame, the content was of no real value. I don’t know what I was thinking! Somehow, whoever it was who dispensed the "just add content" recipe to me, neglected to mention that it needed to add some kind of value for my readers.
It’s no wonder it never got shared or commented on, and my website’s bounce rate was high.
I see the same trend today, specifically with small businesses who go online. They add content – any content – to try get more traffic, not realizing that not only is their brand at stake, but so are their search rankings, because search engines look for quality, value-add content to match to user’s searches.
And trust me, search engines have algorithms in place to determine whether content is crap or not.
Brian Dean from Backlinko, expert blogger, says that, "Blogging today is 110% about quality…not quantity."
Just adding content – any content – will not get your blog more traffic, or result in more business.
#2: Stuff in keywords wherever you can
In days gone by, when search engines were still collecting themselves, website owners cottoned on to stuffing keywords in wherever they could. And then search engines got clever and wiped those websites far into the abyss of no return.
Yes, your blog needs keywords to rank higher in search engines and therefore get more traffic, but keywords need to be included in content in a natural way, making it easy for people to read.
My suggestion would be to use SEOChat’s free related keywords tool and then go on over to Google Keyword Planner to find the best keywords that have low competition, but high search volume.
Add a keyword naturally into:
- The title of your post
- The URL of the post
- H1 header tags
- In the first 100 words of your content
- Sprinkled throughout your content, every 150 or so words
- In the category of the post
- In links to other authority sites
- In image descriptions
When you stuff keywords in content, search engines will not promote your blog. And visitors will click away pronto.
#3: Hire cheap writers to churn out more content, fast
There is great demand on freelance writing websites like Upwork, but you get what you pay for, and since getting more blog traffic is not about churning out content just for the sake of content, when you hire cheap writers for your blog, you’re going to get not only badly written content, but it won’t be SEO optimized, or provide value to your readers.
All the top websites understand this, and pay about $266 or more for one blog post. When you consider that writers on sites like Upwork, charge from about $10 for a blog post, you can start to understand why the quality would be so poor.
So. Perhaps you pay $10 for someone to write you a blog post. But that post can actually damage your search engine ranking because of bounce rate (people come to your site, see crap content, and immediately leave). It will also damage your reputation, and most users will not convert. And so I ask you: why are you wasting money on bad writing? What is it benefiting you?
If you’re not a good writer, for goodness sake, hire a decent one who understands your target audience and optimizes the content, or just stop blogging.
And read Neil Patel’s step by step guide to creating a money-making blog. His advice is sound, and since he is the master of online marketing, he knows a thing or two on this subject.
By the way, while we’re on the subject of Neil Patel, when you check out his post, have a look at the quality of it, and how it’s all laid out. It’s popular because he only writes content that is helpful to his audience. Do your best to emulate the style he uses, but adapt it for your niche.
#4: Add stock photos to attract attention
Somewhere, you heard that images in blog posts attract attention. That would be right.
But. And it’s a very big "but": stock photos just don’t cut it anymore. They’re boring, fake and your readers can’t relate to them. It’s a psychological thing.
A cheesy, fake and ineffective stock image…what business people do you know who do this?!
Image Credit: WebMeUp
To do justice to your blog by attracting attention and leading to higher conversions, images need to:
- Be of high quality.
- If your blog centers around an online store, make sure your product images are clear and show enough detail and offer as many views as possible.
- Images must be relevant to the content. They should support the text and not simply be added for the sake of adding an image.
- Add image descriptions that titillate, because people’s eyes draw to images first. If the description creates curiosity, they are more likely to keep reading, and this is good for SEO, and conversions.
- Be sure to compress images so that they don’t slow down your site.
Fatal advice summed up
If you’re going to blog, you may as well do it right. Unfortunately, doing it right means it’s going to take time.
But if you don’t do it right, you’ll lose business and opportunities.
To sum up, let’s reverse the four most common and destructive blogging tips:
- Add blogging content that rocks. Help people want to share it because it resonates with them.
- Use keywords naturally, and strategically.
- Hire writers who may charge more, but will get your blog better results.
- Add images that are relevant and support the point you’re trying to get across in your content.