🚀  0 to 103,000 Organic Visitors Per Month

My very first SEO project grew from 445 → 103,000 organics/month in 13 months.

I had no prior SEO experience.

And I approached the project in a way that would sound absolutely ridiculous in 2018.

❌ No backlinks.

❌ No technical BS.

❌ No hacks or shortcuts.

✅ Just great content.

Today, I call this approach content velocity, but in 2018, it didn’t have a name — because nobody was talking about it.

In this case study, I’ll show you how I crushed SEO without learning how to build backlinks or do weird technical stuff. 

And this strategy still works today because I’ve used essentially the same approach to take 5 projects from 0 to 100,000+ organics/month.

🔎  Background

If this is your first piece of ContentDistribution.com content, here’s what you gotta know.

We’ve taken 5 projects from 0 to 100,000+ organics/month without building backlinks or doing technical BS.

We did it by creating the highest quality, most relevant page of content Google could show for the keywords we wanted to rank for and doing that over and over again.

Basically, good content at scale.

And we’ve documented exactly how we do it:

  1. 0 to 103,000 organics/month (first big win)
  2. 0 to 119,000 organics/month (subscription DTC)
  3. 0 to 166,000 organics/month (second big win)
  4. 0 to 1,500,000 organics/month (biggest win for A16Z startup)
  5. Baby fat graphs (not quite big enough for their own case study)

Learn: Open up each case study in a new tab and read them too.

⚒️ The Setup

I had spent my entire career in early-stage startups, most recently as employee #8 in a startup that grew to 200 employees in 4 years, bootstrapped, raised a few rounds, and was acquired for a lot of $$$.

I joined an SEO agency to reskill my career from business development to marketing.

Because as a future founder, I realized that marketing is a stronger skill set for founders than sales.

Sales is…

  1. One-to-one conversations
  2. Having to live in similar time zones to your customers
  3. Not creating value the minute you step away from your keyboard

While marketing is…

  1. One-to-many conversations
  2. Living anywhere in the world 
  3. Creating value while I sleep

And if I could learn SEO, I could use SEO to grow whatever business I started next, more effectively than with a sales skillset. 

So that was my 5-year plan:

  1. Sell SEO for an agency
  2. Learn SEO at the agency
  3. Build a SaaS product
  4. Grow it with SEO

I’m currently in year 6 of my 5-year journey, and I’ve:

  1. Built a content agency that employs dozens of FT team members
  2. Shipped two SaaS products to 7,000+ users and 700+ paying customers (ClusterAi & Workello)
  3. Grew a 17,000-person email list
  4. Built the #1 content ops community on the internet with 10,000+ members
  5. Generated tens of millions of views on Pinterest & YouTube

🚀 Connect with me on LinkedIn

📈 The Strategy

Leading up to this project, I had tried SEO twice and failed both times.

Both times I focused on “backlinks” and overly technical stuff.

Not only did it not get me any results.

I realized that I was not smart enough to figure this stuff out.

And so I wasn’t going to do either of those things this time around.

I was going to focus 100% on content quality.

And pumping out as much quality content as I could. 

And that’s the whole strategy. 

🌎 Brand Jacking

The agency I was working for wanted to work with more e-commerce clients.

So I thought, well, what do people with e-commerce stores search for?

They search for information related to Shopify, and probably even Instagram.

So I decided to try and outrank Shopify and Instagram for their own branded terms.

To send their customers to my website.

And into our marketing funnel.

And it worked!

Crazy well.

Well, partly.

We ended up outranking Instagram for “Instagram Support.”

And we outranked Shopify for “Is Shopify Safe?”

And we were the first result right under Shopify, for “Shopify Support.”

But it turns out that we didn’t have what I now call “audience / offer fit”.

Basically, it means we didn’t have a good offer for this audience.

And the traffic didn’t end up converting.

Which, in hindsight, is obvious.

But at the time — I just didn’t know what I didn’t know.

What I did learn, though, is how Google actually works.

And the learnings from this campaign can be found in every campaign I’ve executed since.

Want to know why Google ranked us above Shopify and Instagram?

Watch the video I recorded from 2018.

🚀Learn how we brand jack companies like Microsoft.

🤔 How Google Actually Works

Imagine this.

It’s 2023.

You’re Google.

The world’s most innovative big data company.

You own the entire internet stack:

  1. Android, the device
  2. Chrome, the browser
  3. And the analytics, Google Analytics

Then you look at all of your major platform peers.

Instagram, TikTok, LinkedIn, Facebook.

And they are all using user engagement metrics to influence reach.

They show new content to a small audience.

And if that content has good UX metrics, they’ll show that content to an ever-increasing bigger audience.

And they’ll keep increasing the amount of reach your content receives until those UX metrics fall off.

So knowing all of this.

You decide to use backlinks as the primary ranking factor in Google Search.


Google has the user engagement data across the entire internet stack.

All of their peers use user engagement data to influence reach.

Even YouTube uses user engagement metrics to influence reach.

Why wouldn’t Google use user engagement metrics to stack rank content in Google Search?

There is no better heuristic for whether one page is more valuable to a searcher than another page than the user engagement metrics on those two pages.

And that’s how Google actually works.

It’s not backlinks.

It’s content quality.


SEO without backlinks or technical BS. Stepping away from traditional SEO tactics, I’ve found a golden formula. By emphasizing user value, not only do you appeal to Google, but to other platforms too. Understand the magic of UX metrics. #seo #seostrategy #uxmetrics #ux #google

♬ original sound – NickFromSeattle

And it’s better this way.

Because an SEO strategy that relies on backlinks is essentially praying to the Google Gods for success.

You invest money into this black box.

And the Google Gods may or may not bless your website.

This is a really weak approach to SEO.

Because it means you don’t control the outcome.

The Google Gods do.

But with a content-focused SEO strategy…

You control 100% of the variables that dictate your success.

And if you really want to win…

Do you want to play the game where you need to send hopes and prayers into a black box to win?

Or do you want to play a game where you can control all the variables that dictate your success?

🚀 Learn more about how Google really works.



⚡ Content Velocity

The only page of content you can’t rank is the page that hasn’t been published.

And for most businesses, there aren’t a handful of valuable pages that can drive traffic and revenue.

There are hundreds or thousands of pages.

And I can prove it.

Let’s say you sell dog food.

If you use a popular keyword research tool like Ahrefs.

There are almost 500,000 keywords containing the phrase “dog food

Representing 7,200,000 searches/month in the USA alone.

If you export this list of keywords into ClusterAi you’ll find thousands of unique pages of content you need to create, to rank for all of the ways consumers search for “dog food”.

🚀 Learn why content velocity is the #1 lever to get the fastest SEO results.

If we want to rank for all the ways consumers search for “dog food”, we need to create at least 1,000 pages of unique content.

ClusterAi basically ingests large lists of unstructured keywords.

Then it crawls the first page of Google for each keyword.

And it matches keywords that can rank together and groups them into unique pages. 

What you get is a list of every page of content you need to create, to rank for all of those keywords in your keyword research.

The kids are calling this topical authority. 

🚀 Playbook: Automate your keyword research for SaaS & affiliates websites. 

Each row represents a unique page.

Each unique page contains:

  1. The main keyword (keyword with the most volume)
  2. All of the variations of the main keyword, that can rank with the main keyword
  3. The total search volume of all the keywords combined

Let’s do that exact search using “Matcha” as in, Matcha tea.

More than 100,000 keywords representing almost 2,000,000 organics/month.

If we want to rank for all of the ways people search for matcha.

We need to create at least 500 pages of unique content.

So, back to what I said earlier.

The only page of content you can’t rank is the page that hasn’t been published yet.

The faster you publish high-quality content.

The faster you can compound traffic. 

🚀 Playbook: How to publish 100+ pages per month.



⚙️ Hiring Writers

Hiring writers is hard.

It’s the lowest barrier WFH job.

Which means everybody with a crummy job and wants to WFH is applying to your writing job ad.

Now I didn’t know this at the time, but…

Regardless of where you recruit, 95% of candidates will be unqualified.

Hiring strictly in English-speaking countries won’t help either.

According to the Department of Education, 54% of Americans have below a 6th-grade reading level.

Marketplaces like UpWork don’t work either:

  1. UpWork only gives you a handful of candidates, and if you only evaluate a handful, you’re not hiring the best you can afford. You’re hiring the least bad of the handful you talked to.
  2. 5 star reviews don’t mean anything, because the person giving the review probably doesn’t have the same perspective as you on ‘good content’.
  3. Portfolio pieces are almost always edited by someone else before publication, and chances are the first drafts you get won’t match the portfolio pieces you hired the writer on.

I will let you in on a secret weapon 150+ content teams use to hire great writers on auto-pilot.

The more candidates you evaluate, the more likely you are to find the right mix of quality and cost.

But getting candidates is the easy part.

Post a Premium job ad on ProBlogger for $160, and you’ll have 300+ candidates. This is the easy part.

Filtering through those 300 candidates to uncover the right mix of quality and cost is the hard part.

This is where automation comes in.

We built Workello to enable content teams to filter through hundreds of candidates in just a few minutes.

🚀  Signup for a free account

Get up and running in minutes using Workello’s template library. Every template contains a pre-written job description, writing test, candidate emails, and interview questions.

Post your job ad where the writers you want to hire hang out using our hiring playbooks:

  1. Generalist writers
  2. Niche writers
  3. Copywriters / content marketers 
  4. VAs 



Watch as candidates from all your hiring channels appear in your hiring dashboard.

Invite candidates to take a writing test, or send a polite rejection with one click.

Now it’s time to sit back, relax, and wait for candidates to take your writing test.

After candidates submit their completed writing test, you can either:

  1. Invite them to an interview
  2. Send them a more comprehensive paid test
  3. Send them an offer

Entirely up to you using our custom workflow builder.

Add as many paid or unpaid writing tests and interviews as you’d like.


Say goodbye to half-baked writer test submissions! Dive into the key ingredients of a test that ensures completion AND helps you identify the cream of the crop. 🌟 #contentwriting #writertest #hiringhacks #hiringtips

♬ original sound – NickFromSeattle

What are you waiting for?

You’re 15 minutes of work away from having 300+ candidates in your hiring portal to choose from.

🚀 Sign up for Workello

🎥 Watch the Video

In 2018 I presented this project to the Seattle Search Network when traffic was only 40,000/month.

You can watch the original presentation here:

The exact playbook I described back then is still relevant today.

❌ No backlinks.

❌ No technical BS.

❌ No hacks or shortcuts.

✅ Just great content.

✅ At scale.

🥇 Your Turn

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👉 Join the 100k Organics/Month Club.

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