0 to 103,000 Organic Visitors Per Month

I took my first SEO project from 0 to 103,000 organics/month without building backlinks or doing technical BS. Learn how.

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0 to 116,000 Organic Visitors Per Month

I took my first SEO project from 0 to 103,000 organics/month without building backlinks or doing technical BS. Learn how.

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0 to 103,000 Organic Visitors Per Month

I took my first SEO project from 0 to 103,000 organics/month without building backlinks or doing technical BS. Learn how.

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+100,000 Organics / Month

+100,000 Organics Per Month in 6 Months

🔎 The backstory

Privacy.com is a consumer fintech and leader in virtual cards.

We kicked off Privacy.com’s SEO campaign in mid-2023 after being introduced to their management team by ConceptualHQ, a SaaS focused PPC agency with $100m in spend behind their belt.

In just six months, our engagement with Privacy.com has driven an increase organic traffic from 45,000 ⟶ 172,000.

With about 70ish pages of content:

❌ No backlinks
❌ No technical BS
✅ Just great content

If this sounds like a crazy outcome…….

Well, you don’t know ContentDistribution.com then.

This is the 6th brand we’ve helped add an additional 100,000+ organics/month.

⚙️ The Process

Want to know how we did it?

We can’t share all of the juicy details on this project.

But we have shared our step-by-step process on our five other 0 ⟶ 100,000 organic/month projects.

Check em’ out:

👉 0 to 103,000 organics/month (first big win)

👉 0 to 119,000 organics/month (subscription DTC)

👉 0 to 166,000 organics/month (second big win)

👉 0 to 1,500,000 organics/month (biggest win for A16Z startup)

👉 Baby fat graphs (not quite big enough for their own case study)

Then learn what it’s like working with us.

🥇 Your Turn

Fully Managed SEO

Fully managed SEO for category leaders and future category leaders with huge goals and the budget to execute. We’ll do the heavy lifting, you sit back and take the credit.

👉 Learn what it’s like working with our consulting team.

Content Ops Consulting

For startups that would prefer to develop institutional knowledge and scale up in-house,

👉 Join the 100k Organics/Month Club waitlist. 

Free Resources

👉 Read all of our free playbooks

👉 Join 13,197 marketers getting our best content in their inbox 1x/week

👉 Hang with 10,548 marketers in the #1 Content Ops Community

👉 Subscribe to our YouTube channel for hour long deep dives.

Software

👉 Hire the top 1% of writers, editors, SEOs, VAs, designers and more.

👉 Build a topical map on EZ mode.

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Working With Us

Working with ContentDistribution.com

When I started ContentDistribution.com I started at the bottom.

I was a solo-consultant.

Consulting for bootstrapped SaaS founders.

With tiny budgets.

I’m talking $500.

Not $500 per month.

$500.

Five years of consistently winning later…..

And we’ve earned the right to work with ClickUp.

And fintechs w/ $100m in funding.

And FDIC insured banks.

It took us five years of building systems and processes.

Sharpening our axe.

Winning again, and again, and again.

To be able to work with a brand like ClickUp.

And that was the plan all along.

I’m at the bottom.

I need to own the outcome on every project.

Take responsibility for every variable.

Do whatever it takes to influence a positive outcome.

Earn the right to work on more ambitious projects.

And eventually we’ll be so good.

So consistently.

The big boys can’t ignore us.

 

🥇 Best Content

If you haven’t checked out our free playbooks, open them all in a new tab.

🚀 Adding 100,000 paid customers to an A16z-backed startup

🚀 Driving millions of new users for an EdTech SaaS

🚀 +$1.6m incremental ARR for a subscription Shopify store

And if you have time, check out the rest:

🚀 Maintaining content quality at 100+ pages/month

🚀 0 to 103,000 organics/month (my first SEO project)

🚀 0 to 116,000 organics/month ($30k website flip)

After you’ve given those a read.

Learn what it’s like to work with ContentDistribution.com 

🏆 What the Community is Saying

We’ve spoken at Founders Institute, Search Birmingham, SEO Mastery Summit and on 50+ podcasts

We’ve appeared on HubSpot, GoDaddy, American Express, Canva, Zapier, and HR.com.

And we’ve had a positive impact on many of our peers.

🎮 Control of Outcome

The day I started ContentDistribution.com is the day I committed to shutting it down.

It’s not enough that some of my projects go well.

All of them have to go well.

I have too much talent, drive, and momentum to spin my wheels playing a game where my actions don’t have a significant influence on the outcome. 

The minute I’m playing a game where I don’t believe I can control the outcome, is the minute I’ll take my ball and go play a different game.

So, in the first year of CD, I sandbagged myself.

I took on a few projects and turned down everything else.

I needed to prove to myself that I could influence every campaign I worked on.

And if I couldn’t do it.

I’d do something else.

Probably go back to sales. 

And that drive to take ownership of every variable…

Even if it’s literally taking responsibility for the actions of someone else. 

Means we’re consistently consistent. 

  • 0 to 103,000 organics/month
  • 0 to 116,000 organics/month
  • 0 to 119,000 organics/month
  • 0 to 166,000 organics/month
  • 0 to 1,500,000 organics/month
  • And a ton of smaller wins that aren’t big enough for their own case study

When you take a content-focused approach to SEO, it means that every factor that influences your success is within your control.

The implications of that are huge. 

💰 ROI Focused

We have beautiful words.

But our content is a deliverable.

Companies partner with us because our content drives incredible business outcomes.

Showing ROI is the #1 lever we can pull to retain and scale campaigns. 

So, we treat SEO as closely to paid media as possible.

We’ll work with you to attribute every dollar generated to the specific pages that we influenced.

Learn how we added nearly 100,000 paid customers to an A16Z-backed startup. 

A great SEO campaign for a flower shop in Seattle can influence tens of thousands of dollars in revenue.

A great SEO campaign for AirBNB can influence hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.

A great SEO campaign for Amazon can influence billions of dollars in revenue.

We built an SEO ROI calculator to forecast various campaign outcomes so we spend our time with the companies that have the most leverage on our team’s superpower.

The TMS, or total monthly search volume, is generated using Ahrefs or SEMRush.

The CTR is calculated using Brian Dean’s CTR study.

The conversion rate, average first-order value, and LTV are calculated using your internal company data.

After you put in realistic numbers, ratchet all of the numbers down:

  1. Search volume is lower than expected
  2. Average ranking and CTR is lower than expected
  3. Conversion rate is lower than expected
  4. AOV is lower than expected
  5. LTV is lower than expected

Do you still have a positive ROI of at least 3x?

Great.

That’s a good campaign.

Because when we crush, it means we’re looking at 10x+ ROI.

Use our SEO ROI calculator.

❤️ SaaS DNA

Before starting CD.com, I spent my entire career in early-stage SaaS.

I started in my early twenties when I dropped out of college to ship my first SaaS. 

Tonight’s Outfit helped people make better fashion choices. 

It was pre-smartphone, a dumb idea, and had zero founder/product fit. 

But I shipped. 

We shut down Tonight’s Outfit due to lack of traction.

And we shipped again.

It went a bit better. 

MLS → Craigslist automation for real estate agents. 

Hit $6,000 MRR before imploding. 

I was in my mid-twenties, and it was time to get my first real job.

I was a regular attendee at the Seattle Hacker News meetups.

At one of the meetups, I shook hands with the founder of a small enterprise SaaS startup. 

He was hiring, and I leveraged my experience into an offer.

Absolutely insane four years.

 

8 to 200 FTEs bootstrapped.

Just straight printing.

(Source)

After 4 years, I left to re-skill my career in marketing. 

BitTitan raised a few rounds, made an acquisition, and was then acquired for a ton of $$$.

I had an ESOP with a 10-year exercise period. (Thanks, Geeman <3.)

This meant even though I left 6 years ago, I still got paid.

But the most valuable takeaway from my four years at BitTitan was the experience:

  • Working next to colleagues 20 – 30 years older at the peak of their career
  • Learning their best practices and watching how they make decisions
  • Operating at a global scale that touched millions of end-users

I negotiated legal contracts against F500 companies.

I designed and PM’d GoDaddy’s implementation of our API.

I product-managed our marketplace integrations with our CTO.

I trained AT&T’s sales team.

And Rackspace’s support team.

You probably view me as the ‘SEO Guy.’ 

But I identify as a founder, a marketer, and even as a sales guy more than I identify as an SEO. 

And this hasn’t changed since starting an SEO agency. 

Over the last five years, our team has spent thousands of hours iterating across hundreds of internal processes, and we’ve shipped the two most important SaaS products.

ClusterAi to automate keyword research.

And Workello to hire the top 1% of our job applicants. 

The combined stats across both products:

  • 7,000+ freemium users
  • 650+ paid customers, including brands like Deel, CopyAi, and Forbes
  • $400,000+ total revenue

I’m not alone on this journey.

Both products were PM’d by CD’s COO, Bojan Maric.

We also host the #1 content ops community on the internet with 10,000+ members and regular AMAs with marketers from brands like G2, Ramp, Coinbase, SEMRush, and Surfer.

We’ve grown our email list to 13,000+ subscribers. 

And our team’s content has reached millions of marketers and founders on LinkedIn.

❌ No backlinks

We don’t build backlinks.

We don’t need to. If we had hit a wall that we couldn’t push past, we would have iterated and experimented, eventually with backlinks. We don’t hit walls. We haven’t had to build backlinks to create the desired outcomes. What we do keeps working. 

Content can convert. Content can rank and drive revenue. In the way most backlinks are built, they will usually never send a single referral visitor. Assuming a finite budget, we feel an obligation to steer the budget into the activities with the most measurable ROI. 

But the biggest reason we don’t like backlinks?

Relying on backlinks means ceding some of your control over the outcome to the Google Gods.

You tithe money into a black box. 

Then you pray to Larry & Sergey.

And if you’re lucky…

The Google Gods bless you with rankings.

As a founder, I would rather compete in poker than craps. 

Which game would you rather play? 

❌ No Shortcuts

95% of the value created by SEO will happen after year one. 

Let’s break it down with math. 

A hypothetical company has a hypothetical growth rate. 

In year one, they grow to 100,000 organics/month.

In year two, they grow to almost 400,000 organics/month. 

The 492,554 visitors they generated in year one is 15.2% of the 3,228,117 visitors in year two.

Let me repeat that.

Even if we crush it.

And we grow you to 100,000 organics/month in one year.

10x more value is created after year one than is generated in year one.

Just Great Content

Many SEOs treat Google like the enemy.

Their strategy is focused on tricking Google into sending them traffic.

We think the most lucrative SEO outcomes are created by aligning with Google.

Our approach to winning big is simple.

For every page of content we publish, our goal is to create more value for the reader than any other page of content Google could show. 

Below is a graph of the top websites in the dog niche.

The key metric is column E.

Traffic per page, per month.

It’s calculated by dividing the estimated traffic (Ahrefs) by the total number of pages.

And it measures how efficient an SEO campaign is.

I built Doggypedia.

Despite being a DR9, it generated 100,000+ organics/month.

And on average, 3x more traffic per page of content than Doggypedia’s biggest competitors. 

Here is the same graph by average traffic per page per month.

Despite Doggypedia having almost zero backlinks and the other websites being hugely authoritative industry leaders. 

Doggypedia outperformed most of the biggest players in the space:

  • 3x more traffic than Certapet
  • 3x more traffic than Pet Helpful
  • 2.5x more traffic per page than Dog Breed Info
  • 1.5x more than The Labrador Site

Create more value.

Get more value.  

Learn: Get my step-by-step guide to Doggypedia’s SEO campaign. 

 

🔎 Operations

Making Data Public By Default

Most teams collaborate by ‘pulling information’

Here’s what I mean:

  • “Hey, what are you working on today?”
  • “Can you send me the latest version of the template?”
  • “What did Sally say?”
  • “Have you done this task yet?
  • “Should I do A, B, or C?”
  • “Did you see X?”
  • “Can you remind me about Y?”
  • “How do I do Y?”
  • “Did I do this correctly?”
  • “Can you check this before I submit it?” 
  • “Where is the file for Y?”

This works on a small team.

But things start to break when the team grows. 

There are thousands of micro-decisions that are made over the lifespan of an SEO campaign.

On day one as a freelancer, I knew I needed to build a team that could execute as well, or better than I could myself, to meet my goals. So, over the last five years, we’ve spent a lot of time thinking about:

  1. What context our team needs
  2. When they need it
  3. How to deliver it

So they are empowered to make the correct decisions consistently. 

Here are some of the areas in which I think we excel and punch above our weight class (company size).

  1. Making data public by default
  2. Documentation
  3. Meeting recaps
  4. Sprints
  5. Automated notifications
  6. Reporting
  7. Access control

Documentation

Creating a culture of documentation is a lot of work. 

But it’s the only way to enable people without your work experiences to execute as good, or better than you can yourself, consistently. 

We’ve built a strong culture of documentation that spans almost every organizational function. 

And today, we have over 1,000 documents in our knowledge base.

Here are some examples. 

Onboarding documentation for new team members

Step-by-step guides to kicking off new projects

Keyword research to develop the content calendar.

Managing sprints. 

Editing guidelines.

Everything is documented. 

Our culture of documentation enables our team to execute as well or better than I could myself and to be consistent across the areas that require consistency. 

Allowing us to drive successful outcomes again and again and again. 

Get my step-by-step guide for building a culture of documentation in your organization.

Meeting Recaps

Our team sends out a dozen+ meeting recaps every single week:

  1. Structured into an easy-to-read format
  2. Contains a list of discussion points
  3. Action items called out at the top with owners & due dates 
  4. Sent to all interested parties

Here’s why.

Back in 2012, when I joined BitTitan, here is what I was signing up for:

  • Working in an industry I didn’t know existed (Microsoft MSPs)
  • Using a technology I didn’t understand (data migration)
  • Through a sales channel I didn’t have any experience in (resellers)
  • In a role that I wasn’t qualified for (enterprise partnerships)

I spent one month in office.

Then went solo with our CEO on a month-long conference circuit to Vegas, Austin, and Toronto.

Drinking from a firehose is an understatement. 

One of my primary survival tactics was taking insane meeting notes.

Every meeting I took, I was typing.

Over time, I became comfortable in my role, but I never stopped taking meeting notes. 

On average, it took 9ish months to negotiate each SaaS partnership.

After the deal was signed, it took another 9ish months to go to market and start transacting with their end-customers. 

There were half a dozen stakeholders in our company and an equivalent amount, or more, in each partner org.

The only way I could manage a dozen multi-year projects with more than a dozen stakeholders each was with meeting notes.

And I brought that habit to Content Distribution and built a culture of meeting notes here.

Every time two or more people in CD jump on a Zoom call, they send a meeting recap to any relevant team members. 

Between client meetings, editing meetings, ops meetings, and PM meetings, our senior staff receive at least a dozen meeting recaps per week.

This enables our team to work async, minimize unproductive meeting time, consume recaps, and jump in with thoughts or questions on their own schedule. 

I have never worked in an organization that has done this.

And after five years, I don’t know how organizations that don’t have a culture of meeting recaps get things done. 

Get my step-by-step guide to building a culture of meeting notes in your organization.

Sprints

Our team’s work is organized into two-week sprints and tracked in Airtable.

Each record has a status, project, link to a task, person assigned, QA assignee, requestor, due date, notes, and link to SOPs or working documents. 

Automated Notifications

One of the easiest areas in which you can implement a “push data” philosophy into your company is with notification channels. 

We push data from Airtable & Slite into Slack.

Instead of asking, “Hey, what are you working on?”

Our team leads can check the #notifications-sprints channel.

For editors and PM, #notifications-content-calendar.

For editors and managers, #notifications-PTO.

For senior managers, #notifications-hiring

Each notification is hyperlinked.

Anyone in the channel can click on the activity to see metadata like due dates, notes, and links to any working documents.

This cuts down on the “Hey, what are you working on?” significantly.

Reporting

We push the data from Airtable into pre-built Google Data Studio reports that break down our team’s workload.

We can slice the data by all-up, project, and person.

Access Control

CD uses 89 different 3rd party SaaS products for:

  1. Communication and collaboration
  2. Managing content production
  3. Managing our finances
  4. Hosting and delivering ClusterAi & Workello
  5. Marketing, sales, and support.

We change and manage access to all apps in this base. 

To request access, a team member submits an access request form.

💯 Team

Recruiting

Over the last five years, our team has spent thousands of hours reviewing more than 10,000 applicants. 

Because of my belief in two things: 

  1. My success will come from building and enabling a team of people to execute as well or better than I can.
  2. The #1 decision I’ll make as a founder is who we hire because after that first decision, what happens next is easy, hard, or impossible. 

What do those beliefs look like in practice?

  1. We don’t hire based on portfolio, CV, past employers, work experience, or interview skills.
  2. We test all of our applicants on the job to be done, whether it’s writing, editing, SEO, video, or VA work.
  3. Most hiring workflows have a short unpaid test, followed by a longer paid test for applicants who excel. 
  4. We’ll evaluate approximately 300 applicants and 100 tests for each hire we make.

Retention

Once great people join our organization, we do everything we can to keep them happy and motivated.

Between holidays and PTO, our team has 38 days of paid leave per year. 

As an American, it feels like everybody is always on holiday.

But as a founder, it means I’ve built a company that doesn’t depend on a single person holding everything together.

Our team can take the time they need when they need it.

And everything continues forward.

Without missing deadlines or superhuman feats of grind.

Other benefits we’re proud of:

  • Stipend for private health insurance 
  • 3 months of paid maternity/paternity leave for team members with 2+ years of tenure
  • Overtime compensated with equivalent PTO or cash bonuses

Some benefits we’re thinking about in the future:

  • Home office equipment stipend
  • Virtual cards for Uber Eats
  • Health insurance stipend for our team’s aging parents 

📈 KPIs & Accountability 

The three big revenue milestones of an SEO campaign are:

  1. Paying back the monthly SEO spend,
  2. Paying back the total campaign spend to date (1x ROI)
  3. Hitting 5x ROI and above,

But it takes time to get there.

I needed to know whether I was on the right track.

So, I developed a set of KPIs that would allow me to know if the campaign was off-track within 60 days.

Today, I use these KPIs to hold my team accountable.

And now, you can use these KPIs to hold your SEO accountable, whether it’s us or someone else.

Over the last several years, I’ve been privileged to work on many very healthy SEO campaigns.

When it comes to KPIs, they all look the same.

A healthy campaign sees growth in the KPIs below most weeks and every single month.

Did we do the good work we said we would do? In the first six weeks of the campaign, we are accountable for being organized, thorough, reliable, and for delivering high-quality strategy, keyword research, documentation, and initial content.

Are impressions increasing? Before we can rank on page 1, we need to rank on page 6. An impression indicates our page has appeared somewhere in the first 10 pages of a search. Impressions should increase 7/10 weeks and increase month-over-month every month. 

Are we beginning to receive clicks? At some point, we’ll begin to receive clicks. The number of clicks we receive should increase 7/10 weeks and increase month-over-month every month. 

Are visitors beginning to convert? Once traffic is consistently increasing week over week and month over month, we’ll turn our attention to conversions. Is the traffic we’re generating leading to business impact?

Are conversions increasing linearly with traffic? Once we’re consistently generating conversions, is it increasing linearly with increases in traffic?

What we see when we look back at our past campaigns is that after we publish somewhere between 30 to 50 pages, impressions, clicks, and traffic all begin to increase week-over-week, most weeks, and month-over-month, every single month.

An on-track campaign is consistently hitting new ATHs.

My redline is 8 weeks.

If any key KPIs are flat for more than 8 weeks, it’s time to iterate. 

95% of flat spots are fixed, and we return to growth by accelerating scoped but not yet implemented tasks. Think site structure, internal linking, or technical SEO like site speed or GSC errors. 

👀 Forecasting Growth 

We can confidently forecast increasing impressions, clicks, and traffic once we publish the 30th to 50th page of content.

Forecasting specific traffic numbers by specific dates is a lot harder. 

  1. Every page of content we publish can rank for hundreds of keywords
  2. Each of those keywords has its own unique search volume
  3. Each of those keywords has its own difficulty
  4. And all of them move independently of one another

But top it all off.

Before we start the campaign, we don’t even know our content calendar. 

Are we publishing the page with 10,000 searches/month in month 1? Or Month 2?

Are we focusing on low-traffic BOFU topics? 

We just don’t have enough information in the beginning.

However, once we get some data in the door, we can start making educated guesses.

Here is a VC-backed SaaS we’re working with.

Reading this chart:

  • Plots out actual growth vs forecasted growth 
  • First 4 months spent gathering data
  • In month 4, we hit 6,433 visitors and put together our first projections
  • We forecasted 30,000 visitors by month 9
  • We hit 30,000 visitors in month 7

Additional context:

  1. Not pictured is the client’s conversion rate
  2. Based on existing conversion rates, when we hit the forecast of 243,182 visitors in month 16, our campaign is contributing a significant percentage of total growth
  3. Month-to-month growth rate is less important than maintaining an average growth rate above >30%
  4. For example, we only grew 17% in month 7, but we grew almost 200% the two months prior
  5. This means actual traffic is still two months ahead of forecasts

🏃 The Discovery Call

Pre-Call

We have thirty minutes together, and there is a lot to discuss. 

I want to learn more about your company, goals, and growth opportunities.

Not explain how we approach SEO. 

I’ve spent hundreds of hours formulating my thoughts so you can consume them before we talk.

At your convenience.

Read these.

🚀 Adding 100,000 paid customers to an A16z backed startup

🚀 +$1.6m incremental ARR for a subscription Shopify store

🚀 Publishing 100+ pages/month

🚀 Baby fat graphs (not big enough for their own case studies)

The Call

I have four goals on our discovery calls:

  1. Learn more about your business and goals
  2. Sanity check the opportunity using our ROI calculator
  3. If it passes, discuss our different engagement models
  4. Answer any questions you have

🔎 Engagement Overview

Full overview of our engagement.

Click the image to see it full-size.

🏃 GTM Sprint

Pre-Kickoff

Half our team has a Master’s degree in English Lit.

The other half are former English teachers.

The reason I tell you this is because structured learning is a core competency.

We have repeatable systems for transferring knowledge from you to us.

These systems have enabled us to create engaging content with the strong thoughts of stakeholders embedded into 200+ content verticals. 

Legal, healthcare, medicine, dev ops, open-source software, education, gut biomes, influencer marketing.

We’ve basically done it all.

And the stakeholders we worked with were just as nuanced, and particular about content quality as you are. 

Before our kickoff meeting, we’ll send out an introduction email to our team and a link to an intake questionnaire for you to fill out before the meeting.

Kickoff & Knowledge Transfer

We’ll cover 5 things in our kickoff and knowledge transfer meeting.

Meet stakeholders. Our team is small, and our team members working on your project have worked on our agency’s biggest wins. We will also confirm stakeholders on your side for approvals, dev requests, etc. 

Knowledge transfer. We’ve consumed your questionnaire answers and we’ll ask any clarifying questions we need.

Timeline. We’ll review our GTM timeline with the next steps and timelines, and provide a link to access it at any time. 

Enablement Documentation

In content writing, every word is a liability to get something wrong:

  • Messaging
  • Positioning
  • Tone/voice
  • Facts
  • Offers
  • CTAs

Literally every single word is a liability.

The solution?

The thing that makes it all work?

Documentation.

Everything we learned from your questionnaire answers and knowledge transfer is incorporated into 5 10 pages of documentation, internally referred to as, ‘The Project Bible’

This documentation enables us to integrate the strong thoughts you have about your industry, customer, competition, and products into every page of content. 

As we receive feedback on publishable content, this project documentation will be kept updated as a ‘rule book’.

So you only have to give us feedback about a particular issue one time.

And you never have to correct us about the same thing twice.

Content Calendar

From a high level the process looks like this:

  1. Build a list of all of the keywords your audience is using across the funnel
  2. Group the large list of unstructured keywords into discrete topics
  3. Prioritize the topics into a content calendar

We’ll take care of #1 and #2, and we’ll work with you on #3.

Everything is kept in Airtable.

Content Series Template

The content series template is another 510 pages of enablement documentation, this time hyper-focused on the series of topics we’re creating content on.

Pilot Articles

After the Content Series Template is approved we’ll move onto the pilot articles.

Regardless of how thorough we are in knowledge transfer and enablement documentation, once you see the words in publishable content you’ll have more opinions.

In this stage we will:

  1. Capture your feedback
  2. Update and re-submit the pilot articles for review
  3. Repeat until done
  4. Update enablement documentation with new learnings

You should expect to never provide feedback on spelling or grammar.

📝 Content Production

After the pilot articles have been finalized we onboard our writers and editors onto the project.

They’ll consume:

  1. The knowledge transfer call
  2. The Project Bible
  3. The Content Series Template

Then they’ll begin writing.

Content goes through a 14-step process before it gets to you.

You’ll spend less and less time on feedback with each round of revisions. 

We’ll continue to update our Project Bible & Content Series Template.

At some point between the 5th and 25th page of content, your feedback will turn into ‘Looks great folks, nice work. No additional comments.’

🤖 Tech SEO

Priority

Technical SEO is only impactful when you have a lot of content.

Spending 10 hours fixing site speed on a 30-page website doesn’t have any leverage.

Spending 10 hours fixing site speed on 500-page websites has huge amounts of leverage. 

And enormous leverage on a 10,000-page website.

Chances are your company has closer to 30 pages than 500 pages. 

We want to create as much impact as possible before making requests from your development team.

For sites with a low footprint in the SERPs, we will begin tackling technical SEO issues sometime after month three after we’ve ramped up our content production engines.

PM → Dev

We will address all technical issues until a developer is required.

Once a developer is required, we will take responsibility for scoping and PMing their workload. 

After implementation, we will QA their work to ensure it was implemented correctly. 

🫡 Communication

We’ll meet weekly to discuss:

  1. KPIs
  2. Action items
  3. Q&A

Each week you’ll receive a pre-meeting agenda calling out our discussion points. This is your chance to add anything you’d like to the agenda.

After each meeting, you’ll receive a recap with action items for us, and for you.

We’ll provide monthly reports.

And quarterly reports. 

Outside of meetings, we’ll communicate via email.

🤝 Working Together

We’re motivated by impact and scale and we want to work with the most ambitious brands on the internet.

Fully Managed SEO

This is for category leaders and future category leaders with huge goals and the budget to execute. We will do everything, you sit back and take the credit.

👉 Let’s talk.

Content Ops Consulting

For startups on a budget. We will partner with a stakeholder in your organization to build an in-house content team, develop institutional knowledge, and scale up SEO in-house.

👉 Let’s talk.

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0 to 116,000 Organics / Month

0 to 116,000 Organics / Month

In 2019 I started Doggypedia.org, my third project to grow from 0 to 100,000+ organics/month. 

Building Doggypedia not only gave me my 3rd big win in SEO.

It also allowed me to understand how to distribute content on other platforms.

The Doggypedia YouTube channel has generated 3,400,000 visitors from 10 videos.

And my Doggypedia Pinterest marketing automation generated 47,000,000 impressions and 60,000 link clicks.

⚡ TL;DR

  1. In 2019 I was leaving the agency where I learned SEO
  2. Built Doggypedia.org & grew SEO traffic from 0 to 116,000 organics/month in 13 months
  3. Grew the Pinterest account to 46,000,000 impressions
  4. Grew YouTube to millions of viewers
  5. Tried to monetize the traffic & failed
  6. Sold the brand for $30,000 to AlphaPaw.com

🔎  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.

Without technical BS.

Without shortcuts.

And without hacks.

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)

I started Doggypedia for a few reasons: 

  1. Continue to develop my understanding of SEO 
  2. Turn Doggypedia into a standalone business
  3. If that failed, use it as a case study to grow my SEO agency
  4. Tell Tinder dates I was a puppy influencer

This is part of a four part series. 

  1. The 100,000+ organics/month website (you’re here)
  2. The 3,400,000+ views YouTube account
  3. The 44,00,000 impression Pinterest account
  4. How I sold Doggypedia for $30,000

📈 Approach

Based on the goals above, I needed to find a niche where:

  1. The competition was low, and I could rank a brand-new domain quickly
  2. The traffic potential was high, and I could get a fat graph
  3. The content was easy to template out, and I could re-use one template for all pages

When I analyzed the puppy niche, I found a huge content vertical that had:

  1. High volume
  2. Low competition
  3. Super easy to template out

It was mixed dog breeds.

Think Husky Corgi.

Or Corgi Retriever.

Or Labrador Retriever.

It turns out there are about a billion different types of mixed breeds.

If you take the top 100 dog breeds and assume each breed can mix with every other breed…

100 x 100 = 10,000 different mixed breeds of dogs.

Using Ahrefs, I found that the search volume for these mixed breeds was crazy high.

With almost two million keywords representing 11,000,000+ searches per month.

And the keyword difficulty was pretty low, too — generally less than 20.

🤖 Keyword Research

Alright, so we have millions of keywords representing 12 million searches a month.

There is an easy way to do this.

So let’s do it the easy way. 

Click ‘Export’ on the keyword list.

And export the top 18,000 keywords.

Then I’m going to import the CSV into ClusterAi.

And I’m done!

It’s time to sit back and relax while ClusterAi does its thing.

While I’m sipping my coffee…

ClusterAi is crawling Google for each keyword.

It’s scraping the first ten results.

And it’s comparing the URLs in common between keywords.

If at least 3 websites rank for ‘keyword A’ and ‘keyword B,’ you can rank for both keywords with one page.

And ClusterAi groups them.

If there are two or fewer websites that rank for ‘keyword A’ and ‘keyword B,’ you probably can’t rank for both keywords with one page.

And ClusterAi will separate them into discrete pages.

After ClusterAi is done doing its thing, I’m going to get a file that looks like this.

Every row represents a unique page of content.

It contains the main keyword with the most search volume in the group.

And every variation of the main keyword that can rank on the same page.

And the total search volume of all of the keywords the page can rank for.

We use this keyword structure to drive on-page optimizations, too.

  1. URL = Main keyword
  2. Meta Title = Main keyword + something clickbait
  3. Meta Description = Main keyword + something clickbait
  4. H1 = Main keyword + something clever
  5. H2s = Use variations of the main keyword
  6. In-content keyword usage = Swap for variations of the main keyword 

It seems simple.

But this trick allows us to publish thousands of pages.

Without our writers and editors “knowing SEO”

They just focus on creating the most valuable page of content Google could show for the keywords we want to rank for.

Then we make them sprinkle on a little “SEO” during the editing phase.

Et voilà — thousands of perfectly optimized pages.

Without needing an SEO to touch each one.

This is a good thing because on Doggypedia I was the SEO.

And today it’s a great thing because a team of two SEOs can support 25 writers and editors. 

If you’ve read our case study on our most recent 0 to 100,000+ organics/month, you’ll know my philosophy on SEOs.

The fewer SEOs you know, the better.

🚀  Join thousands of marketers automating their keyword research with ClusterAi. 

Want more information on ClusterAi? 

Watch the video below.

Then sign up to ClusterAi for free for more details via email.

📓 The Content Series Template

You’re probably familiar with a content brief.

It’s a brief that SEOs create for content writers.

Basically, it’s guard rails for content writers to ensure their work/effort will end up ranking and generating business impact. 

@contentdistributioncom

Want to remove the guesswork from your SEO agency’s processes? SOPs are the answer! Documentation can drastically improve your team’s output. #SOPs #AgencyLife #ProductivityHacks #AgencyGrowth #seo #contentops #seoagency #contentagency

♬ original sound – NickFromSeattle

It generally includes things like:

  1. Keywords
  2. Headings (H1 / H2s)
  3. Internal links
  4. External links
  5. Messaging / Positioning

Here’s an example from BestWriting.com

At ContentDistribution.com, we think content briefs are for people with too much time on their hands.

We have to write a lot of content.

But we don’t want to create a lot of briefs.

So we developed a concept we call a ‘Content Series Template.’

It’s like a content brief.

But for every page of content under a specific sub-topic. 

ClusterAi told me there are thousands of different mixed-breed articles.

But they’re all basically the same article.

A side benefit is if we’re only creating one CST for hundreds of pages.

We can spend a lot more time on it.

Do it meticulously.

And eliminate as much variability from the research process as possible.

🚀  How we built a culture of documentation

Today we’ve used the Content Series Template concept to publish 14,000+ pages of content across 268+ content verticals.

We’ve gotten it down to a repeatable process that enables us to come into any vertical, run knowledge transfer with stakeholders, and then create content like we had direct access to their brain.

Doggypedia has about 220 pages spread across 3 CSTs: 

  1. Specific Mixed Breeds
  2. Mixed Breeds
  3. Dog Memes

🚀  See an example CST on a 0 to 100,000+ organic/month project. 

Specific Breed CST

This CST focused on keywords like:

  1. Lab German Shepard Mix
  2. Pitbull Lab Mix
  3. German Shepherd Pitbull Mix

🚀 See Example: Lab German Shepard Mix

Basically, every keyword is structured like this: “Breed 1 + Breed 2 Mix.”

H2s. These articles are in the same format regardless of the keyword. This allowed me to pre-write the H2s. I included the main keyword in 40-60% of the H2s and left the remaining H2s unoptimized. I also jumbled the order of the H2s and the specific words in each H2 to avoid duplicate content penalties. 

Images. The dog niche is visual, and every H2 included an image. I provided instructions on how to source images from Instagram. Sourcing photos from Instagram resulted in a handful of angry emails from accounts I didn’t cite, so I created instructions on how to attribute images found from Instagram.

Tables, lists, and bullets. Structured data is easier for humans and for Google to consume. I R&D’d this on Doggypedia, and four years later and with 10,000+ pages published, all of our content includes tables, lists, and bullets. 

Internal links. The more internal links you have, the easier the content you link to will rank. Think of it like a vote that tells Google how important a page is to your website. The more internal links to a particular page, the more important it is to your brand, and the easier it is to rank. The opposite is also true. Pages with 0 internal links will be almost impossible to rank. 

External links. Every article needed at least three links to authoritative sources. I developed a process for our writers to look up science journals published on PubMed and books published on Amazon and cite them in the content. 

🚀 Learn: Get our SOPs and templates

Mixed Breed CST

The ‘Specific Breed CST” above is focused on keywords like “[Breed 1] + [Breed 2] Mixes”

The next “Mixed Breed CST” is focused on all of the types of “[Breed 1] Mixes.”

  1. Hound Mixes
  2. Pitbull Mixes
  3. Daschund Mixes

🚀 See Example: Hound Mixed Breeds

From a high level, the CST had instructions that can be summarized as: 

  1. Google “Breed 1 mix” on Instagram and create an H2 about each mix breed you find
  2. Use the images found on Instagram in each H2
  3. Google “Breed 1 + Breed 2 Mix”
  4. In each H2, write a short blurb about each type of “Breed 1 + Breed 2 Mix”

The more work you put into your CST, the better work you’ll get back from your content team.

🚀 Learn: Get our SOPs and templates

Dog Memes CST

This CST focused on keywords like:

  1. Smiling Dog Memes
  2. Dachshund Memes
  3. Pitbull Memes

🚀  See Example: Pitbull Memes

This was the easiest CST of them all.

We had our writers scour social for the best pup memes. 

🧑 Hiring Writers

The #1 choice you’ll make as a content manager is which writers you decide to hire.

Because after that first decision, everything is either easy, hard, or impossible.

Hire the wrong writer and you’ll spend tens or hundreds of hours struggling through everything.

Hire the right writer, and scaling content velocity will feel like a breeze.

Hiring GOOD writers is hard though.

The problem isn’t getting writing candidates.

Post a job ad on ProBlogger and get 300+ candidates in the next 72 hours.

The hard part is filtering out the bad writers from the good writers.

  1. Writing is the lowest barrier WFH job
  2. Anyone can call themselves a writer
  3. But even 54% of Americans read below a 6th grade reading level
  4. Writers downright fake their portfolio
  5. Or they use published content that has gone through a 3rd party editor, and doesn’t reflect what they’ll submit to you

When I say everyone has trouble hiring good writers.

I mean everyone.

95% of writing applicants are unqualified, how do you identify the top 5%?

It goes on.

And on.

And on.

So what’s the trick?

How do you evaluate hundreds of candidates to identify and hire the top 1%?

The trick is Workello.

The secret weapon your favorite content team is using to hire great writing talent on auto-pilot. 

Putting in the work up-front to hire the right person will save dozens or hundreds of hours of blood, sweat, and tears, trying to onboard, train, and mentor the wrong hire.

Here’s how it works.

Workello is a skills-testing platform that helps you identify and hire the best talent you can afford.

According to Harvard Business Review, skills tests are the #1 predictor of post-hire work performance.

More than CVs, work experience, and interview skills.

The skills test is #1.

So if you want to hire the best talent you can afford, you need to test as much talent as you can.

Workello allows you to skill-test hundreds of applicants in minutes.

So when you finally hire someone.

It’s not the best of a handful.

Or the best of a dozen.

It’s literally the best of hundreds of potential applicants.

You are hiring the best person you can afford.

Here’s a quick overview.

Getting Started

Signup for a free account on Workello in about 30 seconds.

Choose a pre-populated hiring template from Workello’s template library. Each template contains an optimized job description, writing test, candidate emails, and the best hiring resources to find them. 

Spend a few minutes customizing the pre-written job description, and skills test to align with your company and industry. 

Save & publish your Workello job. 

Then grab the application URL.

Copy/paste your Workello job ad URL into ProBlogger.

Pay for your ProBlogger ad.

Then sit back and relax as candidates find your ad on ProBlogger, complete their application on Workello, and stream into your hiring dashboard.

Learn: Need niche writers? Get our playbook for hiring community experts to write for you

From there, everything is 1-click away.

1-click reject to send a polite rejection email.

1-click test to send a request to take your writing test.

1-click to send video interview invitations. 

The best people want to work for the best employers.

One of the easiest things you can do to attract better talent is to treat your candidates better.

Workello helps you engage the top 5% of applicants to invest their valuable time into taking your writing test. 

By addressing the #1 complaint from job seekers.

Even for experienced candidates, applying for jobs feels like sending their CVs into a black hole.

Workello’s applicant timeline tells your candidates exactly where they are in the hiring process, what to expect next, and how long it will take to hear back.

Building huge amounts of trust with your best candidates quickly & automatically. 

The better your candidate experience, the more likely the best candidates are going to invest their valuable time into your hiring process. 

You wouldn’t put your sales leads through a Google Form.

Why would you treat your candidates worse?

🚀 Sign up for free in 30 seconds and join hundreds of brands using Workello to hire the top 1% of their applicants.

🚀 Performance

I’ve already told you Doggypedia grew from 0 to 100,000 organics/month in 13 months, on a new domain, without building backlinks, through a combination of

  1. The best keyword research using ClusterAi
  2. Crazy amounts of documentation to set up our content team for success
  3. Hiring the best writers and editors
  4. Using ClusterAi to optimize all of the content

Do you know what’s even cooler?

Doing it with 3x more efficiency than all of our competitors.

You see – when you follow the templates and SOPs in the Content Ops Framework.

You don’t just generate a lot of traffic.

You generate more traffic per dollar invested than your competitors.

Check it out.

I put together a list of the biggest websites in the dog niche.

I modeled their:

  1. Domain name
  2. DR / DA
  3. Monthly traffic (via Ahrefs)
  4. The total number of pages published
  5. How much traffic do they generate per page per month

Basically, I divided the total amount of traffic by the number of pages.

This allowed me to develop an ‘efficiency score’.

More efficient SEO campaigns generated, on average, more traffic per page.

And less efficient SEO campaigns generated, on average, less traffic per page.

Doggypedia generates 570 visitors per month per page.

Certapet generates 170 visitors per month per page.

This means 3.3x more traffic per page of content published than Certapet.

Even the biggest website in the dog niche, DogTime, with 3.3m organics/month, is only generating 578 visitors per month, per page.

That’s the same traffic/page as Doggypedia.org.

But Doggypedia.org is a DR9.

And DogTime is a DR77.

Not all content is not created equally. 

Content generated by us, using our systems, ranks higher and generates more traffic.

If this is your first time on ContentDistribution.com, learn why we crush:

  1. How Google REALLY works
  2. Ranking without backlinks
  3. The #1 lever to get faster SEO results

🙏 The Acquisition 

Despite my success, I failed at the most critical part.

Monetization.

I just didn’t have the experience yet.

🚀 Learn: How we drove almost 100,000 paid subscribers for an A16Z-backed startup. 

So I did what all good mediocre marketers do.

I made a humble flex post on social. 

And used my (lack of) success to build an audience.

It turns out that both I am FB friends with Sam Parr.

And the Facebook Gods blessed me with reach that day.

Four months later, Ramon wired me $30,000 for the Doggypedia brand.

Want to learn how the acquisition went down?

Read the final installment of the Doggypedia acquisition. 

  1. The 3,400,000+ views YouTube account
  2. The 44,00,000 impression Pinterest account
  3. The 100,000+ organics/month website (you’re here)
  4. How I sold Doggypedia for $30,000

🥇 Your Turn

Fully Managed SEO

Fully managed SEO for category leaders and future category leaders with huge goals and the budget to execute. We’ll do the heavy lifting, you sit back and take the credit.

👉 Learn what it’s like working with our consulting team.

Content Ops Consulting

For startups that would prefer to develop institutional knowledge and scale up in-house,

👉 Join the 100k Organics/Month Club.

Free Resources

👉 Read all of our free playbooks

👉 Join 13,197 marketers getting our best content in their inbox 1x/week

👉 Hang with 10,548 marketers in the #1 Content Ops Community

👉 Subscribe to our YouTube channel for hour long deep dives.

Software

👉 Hire the top 1% of writers, editors, SEOs, VAs, designers and more.

👉 Build a topical map on EZ mode.

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0 to 103,000 Organics / Month

🚀  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.

WHAT???

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.

@contentdistributioncom

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.

@contentdistributioncom

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

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🎥 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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Fully managed SEO for category leaders and future category leaders with huge goals and the budget to execute. We’ll do the heavy lifting, you sit back and take the credit.

👉 Learn what it’s like working with our consulting team.

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For startups that would prefer to develop institutional knowledge and scale up in-house,

👉 Join the 100k Organics/Month Club.

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0 to 119,000 Organics / Month

Driving $1.6M ARR for a Subscription-based Ecommerce

A UK-based subscription e-commerce company reached out to us to help supercharge their growth in August 2021.

Here’s a brief summary of the project:

  • 360 pages of high-quality content published
  • 0 to +119,000 monthly organic visits after 16 months
  • +1,100,000 total traffic generated
  • Tens of thousands of signups
  • Thousands of paid subscriptions
  • Grew subscriptions to $135,000+ MRR

In this case study, I will give you a complete breakdown of the project and all our systems & operations that went into it:

  1. A complete data breakdown: traffic, conversions, and revenue
  2. How we publish 40+ pages of content per month
  3. How we create a simple but effective site structure
  4. Real templates we use to scale

You’ll also see what happened when the client abandoned the project due to a 2022 economic downturn, despite huge success. Let’s jump into it.

🔎 Background

If you’re reading a Content Distribution article for the first time, here’s what you gotta know.

We’ve taken several projects from 0 to +100,000 monthly organic visits in a very short frame (in under a year or two):

On most of these projects our strategy is the same:

  • Create the most valuable page of content Google could show for the topics we want to rank for
  • Integrate product into the content as a natural next step for the reader
  • Align content & SEO strategy with business goals (revenue)

We almost completely skip technical BS, building backlinks, hacks and shortcuts.

Since then, we’ve worked on even more ambitious projects with clients like DoNotPay, ClickUp, Privacy, Austin Bank, achieved similar successes and figured out the exact type of client we can create the most value for.

I’m talking about +10x ROI, greatly reduced CAC and a tenfold increase in their internet brand footprint.

The Opportunity

This ecommerce business had been on the market for roughly a year before they reached out to us. In that initial stage, they’ve proved their model through paid acquisition (Google Ads).

They were competing with some of the biggest brands in the industry, which were doing between £4.6M and £16.9M in yearly revenue.

The client didn’t really understand the opportunity space, but they knew it existed, and knew that they didn’t love being blackmailed by Google for 30% of their revenue on every sale.

So, they reached out to us after following our content for the last year and asked us how we could help.

Our analysis indicated the bottom-of-the-funnel opportunity was pretty small — if we wanted to create a measurable impact on their growth, we had to go up the funnel to opportunities with higher volume and more surface area — but less intent.

We then had to drive the traffic from the middle and top of the funnel to their BOFU landing pages, containing a multi-step quiz segmenting customers into specific product lines based on their answers.

This was also our first Shopify project, but after having worked on WordPress, HubSpot, and a half-dozen platforms, we’ve learned that it’s all basically the same thing.

Let’s now dive into our SEO philosophy and specific frameworks that allowed us to scale this brand’s presence from 0 to 119,000 monthly organic visits and generate $1,600,000 in ARR just from SEO.

🤓 How Google Actually Works

The reason our strategy based on high-quality content works is the fact that Google uses UX metrics to influence rankings. Think about it. Google owns the entire internet stack:

  1. Android
  2. Chrome
  3. Google Analytics

They have the data. And all of their peers ( LinkedIn, Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, YouTube) use user engagements to influence reach. Why wouldn’t they?

This was our theory four years ago, and we’ve proven it again and again and again by creating wildly successful case studies that only focused on producing great content at scale, spending no time building backlinks, very little technical SEO effort and skipping all other shortcuts.

Once we agree on the fact that great content is the only thing that truly matters, the next step is to define what high-quality content is.

We define content quality by asking these three questions:

  1. Did we meet the search intent better than what’s currently ranking?
  2. Did we provide more value than the other P1 results?
  3. Is the content driving conversions?

The answer to all three must be Yes.

In the rest of this section, we’ll discuss #1 and #2, and at the end of the article I’ll cover #3 (driving conversions).

To create high-quality content at scale, you need these 6 essential ingredients:

  1. A team of people who care (this is a team sport)
  2. Knowledge transfer to create content like you have a direct connection to your stakeholder’s brain
  3. Documentation to hold everyone accountable for discussing the subject, like your stakeholders.
  4. Execute knowledge transfer
  5. Define monthly publishing budget and plan
  6. Decide on prioritizing search intent

Let’s now break down each one of these and show you exactly how we did it on this project.

😃 Hiring Writers

Every single word of content is a liability to mess something up:

  1. Spelling
  2. Grammar
  3. Messaging
  4. Positioning
  5. Internal links
  6. External links
  7. Media
  8. CTAs

And when literally every word is a potential landmine, to make content publishing velocity work, you need a team of people who are great at what they do AND care about their work.

They need to be able to scrutinize every punctuation mark, word, paragraph, and page.
Day in and day out. For years.

To identify and hire these people, we use Workello. Think of it as a CRM for hiring writers.

You can sign up for a free account in 30 seconds, use a pre-written template from Workello’s template library and put 300+ potential writers into your Workello account in less than 10 minutes.

Each template was created by an expert content marketer and contains a compelling job description, a well-thought-out skills test, interview questions, and candidate email notifications.

We’ve also created detailed hiring guides, designed for your specific use case:

  1. Niche writers
  2. Generalist writers
  3. VAs
  4. Marketers

Now it’s time to sit back and relax while candidates find your job ad, fill out your application, and stream into your Workello hiring dashboard.

From here, everything is just 1-click:

  • 1-click reject to send a polite rejection email
  • 1-click test to invite the candidate to take your pre-made writing test

With Workello, you’ll be able to screen & test hundreds of writers and hire the top 1% in hours, while doing this manually would take literally months. Believe me, we’ve done it and decided to build Workello because of how much of a pain this was for us.

It sounds simple, but the secret to finding great writers and editors who care is also simple.

The more writing candidates you screen… The bigger your chances to identify and hire the best of the best.

Here are some of our historical stats. We’ve screened over 3,000 writers to hire 22. That’s less than a 1% application → hired rate.

There is no magical hiring channel where all of the writers are qualified. Getting writing candidates is the easy part.

You can get 200+ candidates in the next 72 hours with 10 minutes of work. Filtering through those 200+ candidates to identify and hire the top 1% is where it becomes a nightmare.

Writing is the lowest barrier WFH job, and everyone with a crummy job is applying to work for you.

You can’t trust portfolio content, either. Portfolio content is live content, and a 3rd party editor has edited live content.

The portfolio content you receive will almost never reflect what your applicant will deliver to you. Solution? You need to test everyone.

To identify and hire the best of the best… You need to automate the testing process in a way that allows you to filter through hundreds and hundreds of candidates fast, easy, and automated. Use Workello and make your life easier.

🤯 Documentation

The next thing you need to make content velocity work is documentation to hold your team accountable. This all starts with knowledge transfer.

Knowledge transfer sounds complex, right? So let’s simplify it.

Our team takes the initial information from discovery and pre-sales calls and starts writing all the questions we can think of while researching the industry and top competitors.

Our questionnaire includes both brand and industry-related questions, as well as some technical questions.

Here are some examples from this project:

We also capture information related to tone/voice/positioning, along with the technical BS that is important for success but is relatively little work compared to the content ops.

From a high level, here is how ContentDistribution.com’s process works:

  1. Write down all the questions we can think of
  2. Send to all project stakeholders
  3. Scheduled knowledge transfer
  4. Record the meeting
  5. Create written documentation that covers *everything* discussed
  6. Sent back to stakeholders for feedback
  7. Implement changes
  8. Write our first article and send it to stakeholders
  9. Get feedback on voice, messaging, and positioning
  10. Implement changes
  11. Repeat this process until stakeholders are happy
  12. Update documentation
  13. Repeat for the next ten articles
  14. Keep updating documentation as feedback rolls in
  15. By article 11, stakeholders say: ‘looks good, nice work’

There are three key pieces of documentation:

  1. About the Project
  2. Language Guidelines
  3. Content Series Template

As the project moved into the second quarter, we created documentation about site structure, landing pages, and an internal linking strategy.

📅 Content Calendar

Decisions made at the start of the campaign impact growth rate and ROI. These decisions are data-driven and dictated by the campaign budget and desired outcomes.

Here is the breakdown in numbers:

In the first six months of the campaign, we published 60,000 words at approximately 2,400 words per article.

Starting with month seven and ending with month 13, we published between 28 and 40 pages per month at 1,600 words per article.

Here’s what went into deciding the word count and the number of pages:

  1. We had a fixed monthly deliverable of 60,000 words
  2. Our initial focus was on pillar pages with a huge search volume
  3. Our long-form content not only answered the search intent, but we packed it with strong opinions and brand positioning to indoctrinate readers.
  4. As we progressed through the campaign, we targeted smaller opportunities requiring fewer words to reach our rankings targets

Now let’s dive into topics and prioritization framework.

🔎 Search Intent and Topics

When starting a new campaign, our team will survey the entire horizon of topical opportunities. We call this an Opportunity Analysis.

Simply put, scope all topics you’d like to rank for as if you had zero budget constraints.

This may sound complicated, but if you automate keyword research – it is really easy and very fast.

🚀 You can find our entire keyword intake and automation research process, with an example here: Automating Keyword Research – GET 100s of TOPICS in 1 DAY.

Let’s talk about the specifics:

While I can’t reveal exact categories, I can share that we operated in the broader verticals of:

  1. Nutrition
  2. Lifestyle and health

Going back to the knowledge transfer and competitive analysis we did in step #1, we had everything we needed to identify how consumers are searching for information related to our client’s products.

Here are some of the base terms that went into all keywords:

  1. Food
  2. Eating
  3. Raw versus processed
  4. Protein versus fat
  5. Allergies

This helped us identify over 100,000 keywords, which would have been too many — unless we used ClusterAi.

ClusterAi takes huge lists of keywords and turns it into topics, containing groups of keywords that can all rank together.

Thousands and thousands of topics containing:

  1. The main keyword
  2. Variations of the primary keyword we’ll include in the on-page content
  3. Total search volume the topic represents (by adding all keyword volumes together)

Then we narrowed down this list of thousands of topics to the top 200 to develop our six-month content calendar.

We didn’t look at keyword difficulty at all. If the topic is valuable, we’re creating content about it. Because it turns out….

🚀 We outrank stronger domains for really competitive keywords, literally all the time. Learn how.

Remember: better content = better user engagement metrics = better rankings.

Next, we prioritized these 200 topics into a monthly content calendar by analyzing search intent based on where the topic falls in the funnel:

  1. ToFu
  2. MoFu
  3. BoFu

Let’s use an example in a similar niche to clarify.

Let’s say you sell almond milk and are targeting problem-aware consumers such as vegans.

We ensured that 30% of our first 3-month content calendar were BoFu topics. For example, “almond milk for small children” or “best almond milk.”

It doesn’t matter that we can’t immediately rank for the main keyword because each of these pages can rank for hundreds and hundreds of variations of the main keywords — and they all move independently based on:

  1. How you structure your content
  2. Your site structure
  3. How your competitors structure their content

When you do content velocity right, traffic will grow week over week 8 out of 10 weeks, and month over month, every single month.

This growth rate isn’t based on just this project. We see this same growth rate across all of our projects.

Here is a B2B SaaS project we also worked on:

You can see that almost without fail, traffic is hitting new all-time-highs each and every week.

Now, back to the original project. By month 10 of this campaign, we were in the top 3 results for the main BoFu keywords.

And by targeting these “competitive keywords” early on in the campaign, we got there as soon as possible while still driving conversions early on for users arriving on these pages by searching for variations of the main keyword.

For 50% of the first 3-month content calendar, we focused on MoFu opportunities.

Again — we’re not sharing the niche, but here is a type of query that drove a lot of signups:

How much [product] should you eat during pregnancy?

This seems like top-of-the-funnel informational intent. We labeled it as MoFu due to the great offer / audience fit — a lot of searches were ready to convert.

While we had “competition” that was currently ranking, the top spots weren’t held by competitors with a similar offering. In other words, our offer was unique to this audience.

A better offer/audience fit means, all things being equal, our client would get more internal link clicks, more pages viewed, and more time on-site.

Which means better user engagement metrics. Which means better rankings. Eventually, more subscription revenue.

This was our formula:

  1. Create more value for the reader than any other page Google could show
  2. Insert authority and thought leadership on why we’re credible
  3. Sprinkle in CTAs for our subscription product in non-intrusive ways

Another example of MoFu intent that saw a lot of conversions was contrarian positioning, for example — “why is cashew milk bad for small children” — enabling us to position our products as the #1 solution.

Finally, 20% of our content calendar (around 8 pages) were broad ToFu pillar pages — think examples like “vegetarian diet” or “food [type] essentials.”

This type of content was helpful for several reasons:

  1. Drive internal link clicks to increase average pages per session
  2. Pack full of thought leadership and strong opinions only our stakeholders had
  3. Send dozens of internal links to the revenue-generating pages

While we’re here — internal links tell Google how important a page is to your brand. Think of it like a “vote.”

If you have 500 pages, and 499 of them link to a single page — Google deems that page highly important to your brand and will rank it more easily.

The flip side is also true. If you have 500 pages and none of them link to a page, that page will be impossible to rank. It’s not important to your brand if you don’t link to it all.

Now back to the content calendar.

We continued publishing the rest of these topics for another 3 months in a similar ratio, reaching about 180 pages in the first 6 months of the campaign.

It was time to go wider now.

After nutrition, we started writing about care, health, and lifestyle. These topics covered a lot of how-tos and info topics on improving health and lifestyle — ALL contextual linking to those core nutrition topics.

This content supported our main category but still drove significant signups and conversions on its own.

Finally, during months 9-12 (for a total of 40 pages per month), we focused on types of our ICP’s habits and needs.

To give an example, think of having a series of 10 pages on every variety of world cuisine — Italian, Japanese, Mediterranean, etc.

📚 Templates

About the Project Doc

The About the Project document is the single most important document that our team will create during the knowledge transfer process.

This is a living, breathing document.

It’s updated every time we receive feedback, which enables us never to make the same mistakes twice.

Regardless of how thorough we are, once pen meets the paper and we start writing publishable content — stakeholders realize they forgot things, or now that they can see it in publishable form, want to change things.

This document is updated dozens of times throughout the campaign.

Let’s break down the About doc, remembering we are discussing a physical product here.

The first section of the About the Project document talks about the brand. We explain the company and the product to our writers and editors and include the company’s mission, vision, and values.

The second section describes the product manufacturing philosophy. We explain the actual food created, the approach to doing it, specific advantages over competitors, etc. In this case, that meant science-backed documentation of the product’s superiority over the competition.

Then, we explain how the subscription service works. This section is important because we really needed to communicate why this product is unlike anything else on the market.

This is also a part of the About the Project document that was revised multiple times in the first and second months of the campaign because we don’t expect our writing and editing team to understand the intricacies of chemical compounds or food nutrients right away.

We don’t expect the content and marketing teams to have the knowledge that the founders have.

The How It Works section here provides details on the service step-by-step so we know how to explain the subscription services advantages to potential buyers.

Moving on to Content Guidelines.

There should be an overarching understanding of what the goal of this content is, and it’s really a breakdown of how you can drive a reader to take action and sign up. The goal here was a subscription for a trial or leaving an email to receive a helpful newsletter.

The approach refers to types of language that we can use, i.e., how our client wants to talk to their customers. Many resources come from their conversations with their customers that they relay to us. “Hey, this is what our customers really liked. We’re using this positioning successfully in our other acquisition channels,” etc.

The images section contains assets that we can use. We got access to libraries and social media profiles to borrow images from.

Additional resources. We got access to all of the assets the client has previously created, from images to testimonials to everything else. The most notable additional resource would be, let’s say, a bundle of 20 to 30 tweets or Facebook posts that were user-generated reviews of the product.

Seems like a lot of work, but it’s not really. This is where the magic happens.

You can’t hold a team of writers, editors, and PMs who are accountable to executing in a specific way unless you have documentation to hold them accountable to.

Almost a dozen people were involved from the client’s side and our side, and throughout the project, we had dozens and dozens of meetings.

If you want to make content velocity work, you need documentation to hold people accountable to, because the alternative is a lot more work.

And a worse outcome. Lots more fires and stress.

The Content Series Template

A Content Series Template is like a content brief on steroids.

A Content Series Template is not written for one article but a series of articles in a specific sub-topic, and it’s a million times better.

When you scale content velocity, you must remove SEOs from the content production process.

And if your SEO is creating individual content briefs, well, you need a lot more SEOs. We publish hundreds of pages a month with three SEOs.

“Mo SEOs, mo problems” – Our CEO.

Using ClusterAi to group keywords transforms the post-editing optimization process from “gut feelings from an experienced SEO” to a well-defined and structured process, enabling our editing team — without any SEO knowledge — to generate optimized content across:

  1. URLs
  2. Meta titles & descriptions
  3. H1s
  4. H2s

This means they can focus on creating the absolute best page of content Google could show for the keywords we want to rank for and sprinkle on a little SEO at the end to align the content with SEO best practices.

So the next thing you’re going to ask me is…

“But Bojan, how do I create a Content Series Template?”

 

Here ya go. You want to document everything else that is subject to variability between writers:

  1. Internal links
  2. External links
  3. Images
  4. Videos
  5. Tables
  6. Lists
  7. Bullets
  8. CTAs
  9. Quotes
  10. Thought leadership

We also know there will be eight or more H2s. How do we know that?

Well, remember our ClusterAi opportunity analysis? We identified reoccurring keyword variation trends in each topic and ensured each article covered them.

ClusterAi allows our editor to write a CST with a predefined heading structure. This structure is a guideline for the writer to modify during the creative writing process.

We also provide mandatory internal links from the series.

Finally, in the example provided below, we gave suggestions for the structure of the articles, such as using the keyword in the series and mentioning nutritional values in every piece. We also suggested including comparisons between different types of food and tips for selecting high-quality keyword types of food.

📋 Site structure

Shopify is still missing many of the things we love about WordPress. But it turns out, it doesn’t matter.

Shopify, WooCommerce, HubSpot, WebFlow, Ghost, Custom CMS. You can still have a fantastic outcome regardless of your CMS.

Some are just more flexible and easier to manipulate than others (*ahem* WordPress).

Here’s a quick summary:

  1. Hub pages and navigation
  2. Homepage and footer links
  3. Suggested posts
  4. Page speed optimization

​​Hub pages and navigation. We created category hub pages without pagination to reduce the number of clicks it takes for Google’s crawlers to reach any of our pages.Homepage links. It’s super simple. We create a section on the homepage that contains links to the most recent eight articles to drive faster indexing of new content.

Footer links. We added the main blog hub page, content categories, and pages with the most potential value. In the later stages, we swapped these with articles that have the most value.

Suggested posts. We will have six related posts at the end of every article, usually the most recent posts in the article’s sub-category. This speeds up how quickly Google finds and indexes the content. Note, however, this isn’t enough. You still need in-content links to relevant content.

Page speed optimization. In the beginning, technical SEO, like page speed, has a low impact because your footprint in the SERPs is relatively small. But as you scale the number of pages, investing in page speed adds incrementally more value with each page published because the work is spread across a bigger footprint.

Important: If you’re on Shopify, don’t deploy WordPress to a subdomain unless you can set up a reverse proxy to host it on the root domain. HubSpot has a subdomain and crushes it, but you’re not Hubspot.

📈Results

In September 2022, right around the time our annual contract was coming to an end, the Federal Reserve started raising interest rates for the first time in decades, the VC industry stopped making investments, and started mandating spending cuts in their portfolio companies.

The client decided to stop investing in SEO to increase runway during a tight funding market.

But the beautiful thing about SEO is that it keeps working even after we stop working.

In the first 12 months of the campaign, we tracked:

  1. 232,663 visitors generated
  2. 4,904 signups
  3. 315 subscriptions purchased on 1st visit

This doesn’t include untracked data:

  1. Newsletter signups (Add another 16,000+ emails)
  2. Revenue generated from re-targeting SEO traffic via email and Facebook Ads

But the results are compelling even without the untracked data.

In the next 9 months, without any additional work, the campaign generated an additional:

  1. 908,474 new visitors
  2. 13,605 new signups
  3. 712 new subscriptions on the 1st visit
  4. Thousands more new signups and paid subscriptions via re-targeting SEO traffic with Facebook Ads & email

In fact, in the last 9 months the campaign has generated 3.9x more traffic, 2.77x more signups, and 2.2x more subscriptions on the 1st visit than in the first 12 months.

This amounts to a total of $135,162 in MRR in the last month of the campaign with a projected $1,600,000 total ARR in 2023.

This is an estimate in the case they don’t receive a single new subscription purchase, so a very conservative estimate.

$1,600,000 ARR with no new subscriptions. Most likely much more than that.

That’s the power of search, when done right.

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0 to 1,500,000+ Organics / Month

One of the most ambitious SEO campaigns ever.

In this case study, I’ll show you how we took DoNotPay from 0 to 1,487,878 monthly organic visits in 24 months, drove 100,000 paying customers and helped it reach a $210M Series B valuation.

First, a warning. This is a 5,000 word article, but I promise it will teach you more about SEO, content marketing and scaling content operations than with any other piece of content on the internet.

Here’s what senior marketing and content folks said about it:

 

 

Another important disclaimer – this isn’t your typical SEO case study:

  • The traffic we generated wasn’t vanity traffic, it actually drove revenue
  • We started literally from zero, and were the only ones who worked on this project
  • Organic search was the main acquisition channel
  • We focused very little on link building and technical SEO

This is a case study on creating more value for searchers than any other page Google could show at scale only seen in media conglomerates.

I’ll share everything we did to achieve this success, will hold nothing back and by the end of the article, you’ll understand how Google really works and how you can also turn SEO into your #1 customer acquisition channel.

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • Background/context/setting
  • Opportunity
  • Strategy
  • Execution
    • Keyword research
    • Setting up our writers for success
    • Scaling content production
    • Building our content management system
    • Hiring and scaling our content team

Let’s dive in. It’s gonna be fun.

🔎 Background

If this was the only project we had success with, you’d be right to think that this was probably an outlier, an exception rather than a rule.

But it wasn’t. We’ve taken several projects from 0 to +100,000 monthly organic visits in a very short frame (in under a year or two):

So, this wasn’t our first rodeo, but it was the most successful one because we were finally able to fully execute on our proven strategy with more buy-in and more resources of a VC-backed startup.

And the strategy was very simple:

  • Create the most valuable page of content Google could show for the topics we want to rank for
  • Integrate product into the content as a natural next step for the reader
  • Align content & SEO strategy with business goals (revenue)

Since then, we’ve worked with clients like ClickUp, Privacy, Austin Bank, achieved similar successes and figured out the exact type of client we can create the most value for.

I’m talking about +10x ROI, greatly reduced CAC and a tenfold increase in their internet brand footprint.

The Opportunity

DoNotPay has earned the title ‘robot lawyer’, and Joshua Browder, its founder, ‘The Robinhood of the Internet’ nickname, and for a good reason.

Here is a short list of some of the things DoNotPay does.

  • Filing for unemployment
  • Suing anyone, or any company, in small claims court
  • Canceling hard to cancel services
  • Filing chargebacks
  • Securing flight compensation for delayed or canceled flights
  • Skipping company’s phone queues
  • Scheduling DMV appointments
  • Studying for government tests
  • Communicating with inmates held in state and federal prisons
  • Send faxes without a fax machine

As you can see, DoNotPay helps a very specific set of people during a very specific timeframe:

  • Just received a parking ticket and doesn’t want to pay it
  • Wants to sue someone or sue a company in small claims court
  • Needs to request a refund or chargeback
  • Wants to cancel a hard to cancel membership or service
  • Qualifies for compensation for missed or delayed flights
  • Needs a virtual credit card

This obviously informed the strategy – we went with a strong demand capture play, in a channel people turn to to understand what they’re dealing with and how to solve it – Google search.

In a nutshell, our goal was to appear at the top of search results when prospects feel the above pains, show them the best page of content in order to educate and help them, and then eventually offer them a faster, better, more reliable alternative – DoNotPay.

In other words, smoothly integrate product into content as a natural next step.

The Strategy

In 2019 New York City collected 565 million dollars in parking fines. When someone searches Google for “pay NYC parking ticket”, it’s almost guaranteed that the searcher just received a parking ticket in New York City.

In that exact moment, DoNotPay might be one of the most helpful websites on the internet.
DoNotPay’s Dispute Parking Tickets product lets users appeal parking tickets in any city in the USA and UK. And there are over 19,000 cities in the US alone.

Unfortunately, Google won’t let DoNotPay rank only one page on ‘Dispute Parking Tickets’ for 19,000 cities.

Similarly, consumers are taxed tens of billions of dollars every year by morally corrupt business practices. DoNotPay’s Cancel Subscriptions, Refunds, and Chargebacks products help consumers enforce their rights against 10,000+ of America’s most popular companies.

Again, DoNotPay can’t rank only one page on Refunds or Chargebacks for the 10,000+ companies DoNotPay helps enforce consumer rights.

If DoNotPay wants to rank in Google for ‘Seattle parking tickets’, we need a page on disputing parking tickets in Seattle. If DoNotPay wants to rank for ‘Boston parking tickets’, we need a page on disputing parking tickets in Boston. If DoNotPay wants to rank for ‘cancel Planet Fitness’, we need a page on how the searcher can cancel Planet Fitness.

And on, and on, and on 10,000 times. Why? Because we can’t make a single page relevant to 19,000 cities or 10,000 companies.

When the searcher is looking for information, they’re not even looking for DoNotPay. They’re looking for resources on how to do this on their own.

And because the user’s goal is to seek information, and not necessarily use DoNotPay, if we focused on DoNotPay at the expense of helping the user, searchers wouldn’t get what they expect.

Compared against other websites Google could show, visitors would have a higher bounce rate, lower time on site, and less pages visited. And the content wouldn’t rank.

That’s why our entire organic search strategy is based on simply being the most valuable resource Google could show a searcher when looking for a particular piece of information.

This Shouldn’t Be Controversial Anymore

I am convinced that the world’s most innovative big data company isn’t using backlinks as a primary ranking signal anymore. Along with Google Search, Google also owns:

  • Google Analytics
  • Chrome
  • Android

What other metric better measures and compares quality of content than user experience metrics? Think about it. You have two pieces of content on the same topic:

Without ever reading either page of content, you can guess the 1st one adds more value to the reader than the first page of content.

This is how Google works. Over the last 6 years, whenever we focused on publishing the highest quality, most relevant page of content Google could show, we’d win. That’s literally it.

It’s not just us either

Dan Sanchez from Sweet Fish Media, a podcast agency for B2B brands. He crushed organic without knowing SEO. By focusing on producing high quality content at scale.

Content Production is the Biggest Bottleneck to Big Outcomes

We’ve established that DoNotPay needs a page on disputing parking tickets in every city in the US. And a page on each one of the 10,000 companies they support.

So, in order to be where DoNotPay’s audience is already searching today, DoNotPay needs to create tens of thousands of pages of content.

And that means the biggest bottleneck in reaching our audience organically is the speed at which we publish content. Let’s break it down:

If we need to create 10,000 pages to get in front of 10,000 opportunities, and we publish 100 pages a month, It will take us 100 months, or eight years, to be everywhere DoNotPay’s audience is already searching Google for today.

And it’s not just DoNotPay.

If you look at the websites generating the most organic traffic it’s always the websites with the most content. Here is a breakdown of the ten largest players in the dogs/pet niche.

There are four columns:

  1. URL
  2. Estimated organic traffic (Ahrefs)
  3. Number of pages (Ahrefs)
  4. Traffic per page per month (#2 / #3)

The most important column is E, traffic per page, per month. When you look at this list, what you don’t see is a website generating 80% of the traffic with 20% of the content.

What you do see is each of the top players in this space generate a very narrow band of 170 to 853 visitors per month per page.

And this observation has held true for every niche we’ve looked at.

The Execution

This made it clear what we had to do:

  • Keyword research
  • Setting up our writers for success
  • Scaling content production
  • Building our content management system
  • Hiring and scaling our content team

I’ll now walk you through the entire process.

If Backlinks are so Important, Explain This to Me

You cannot convince me that the most sophisticated big data company in the world, the same company that owns Google Analytics, Chrome, and Android is using an easily gamed metric like backlinks as a primary ranking signal.

It’s just too unbelievable. Yes, DoNotPay has an incredible backlink profile. Their earned media has gotten them natural placements in BBC, CNN, CNBC, Vice, New York Times, Washington Post, PBS, Fox, Today Show, and more.

Some of these publications featured them multiple times. And this does make our job easier. But it’s not the primary factor behind the success of the campaign. I know this because our team has created successful campaigns with a very average number of backlinks:

AnyLeads.com was a DR33

That didn’t stop us from going 0 to 47,000 monthly organic visits.

CampusReel.org was a DR33

That didn’t stop us from taking the project from 0 to 166,000 organics/month in 12 months.

Doggypedia.org was a DR9

Doggypedia started as a fresh domain at DR0. That didn’t stop us from taking the project from 0 to 116,000 monthly organic visits in 13 months.

Remember this chart?

Doggypedia generates just as much traffic per page, per month as the websites with the highest DR in the pet industry.

Because we’ve been able to crush organic search so consistently without backlinks, we never had to learn how to build them.

And this is a really powerful approach to organic search. Because it means instead of praying to the Google Gods for a great outcome, the outcome is entirely within our control.

Technical SEO is Overrated Too

Technical SEO sounds super scary, for two reasons:

  • The most authoritative people in SEO make it sound super scary.
  • The person you’re taking advice from hasn’t achieved the outcome you want to achieve

Brain Dean’s 200 ranking factors have been shared 45,000+ times on Twitter. This article has probably been read 500,000 times.

If there were really 200 factors that mattered, I would have given up a long time ago. Fortunately for all of us, our experience taking four projects from 0 to 100,000 monthly organic visits indicates you can skip Banklinko’s article on ranking factors.

The second reason is because the SEO you’re taking advice from hasn’t achieved the outcome you want to achieve.

In 2019, Rand Fishkin, founder and former CEO of Moz ran an SEO survey. The results were shocking: most SEOs on the internet aren’t actually SEOs.

Here are the areas we spend time thinking about.

  1. Mobile speed & friendliness
  2. URL structure
  3. Internal linking structure
  4. Optimizing for user experience
  5. De-indexing thin content
  6. Diagnosing Google Search Console errors

Mobile Speed & Friendliness

Google switched to mobile-first indexing in 2020. It doesn’t matter how fast your desktop pages are. And it doesn’t matter if a majority of your traffic is on desktop. Google says mobile page speed is what they measure.

Here are two great resources to diagnose page speed issues:

  1. GT Metrix
  2. Google Pagespeed Insights

URL Structure

This is SEO 101, so we’re not going to spend much time here.

Do’s

  • Set your page URLs as domain.com/main-keyword
  • Host your content on the root domain (domain.com/blog)

Don’ts

  • Don’t use random characters in your URL
  • Don’t use categories in your URLs (domain.com/category/main-keyword)
  • Don’t use /blog/ in your blog URL (domain.com/blog/main-keyword)
  • Don’t host your content on subdomains (blog.domain.com)

Internal Linking Structure

Internal links tell Google how important any given page is to your business.

Every internal linking strategy is unique, but all internal linking strategies share these three things in common:

  1. The more internal links to a particular page, the easier that page is to rank.
  2. The further away any page is from the homepage (clicks), the harder it is to rank
  3. The more relevant the page the internal link is coming from, the more it helps the page that it’s linking to

Internal links basically do what people think backlinks do.

Sending dozens of internal links to high-value pages can significantly increase the rankings of the target page.

Optimize for user experience

Google strongly leverages user engagement data to determine which pages add more value to a user than other pages.

Align everything you do with:

  1. Keeping the visitor on the site longer
  2. Increasing the number of pages the visitor views
  3. Decreasing your bounce rate

These three aspects are remarkably comprehensive and include a lot of the other tactics in this case study:

  1. Site speed and mobile-friendliness
  2. Internal links that visitors can’t resist opening
  3. High quality, relevant content that solves the visitor’s problem better than anyone else
  4. High converting CTAs
  5. Social proof from earned media & user reviews

De-indexing Thin Content

An important metric to pay attention to is the percentage of content on a site that Google might consider ‘thin content’.

Thin content is a broad term that can refer to:

  1. Pages that will never rank for non-branded searches
  2. Pages with low amounts of unique content
  3. Pages with low user engagement metrics
  4. Pages with a low volume of traffic across all channels

If a website has a higher percentage of thin content, it is hard to grow it organically. But, if we cut out thin content, we’re giving strong pages a better chance to perform.

This practice is officially called content pruning, and even though it sounds daunting and can make content managers anxious, it is for the best. Just like you have to cut an avocado plant for it to grow fruit, you have to cut the branches that are weighing good content down.

Want more proof? Learn how Quickbooks increased non-branded organic traffic by 44% after deleting 40% of their thin content.

Want to start content pruning your site? Use Ahrefs’ content audit spreadsheet.

Diagnosing Search Console Issues

According to Google, there are at least 5.4 million pages about Google Search Console.

We don’t have anything to say about Google Search Console that hasn’t already been said.

Except — If you’re resource constrained, don’t bottleneck yourself fixing technical issues before you scale up content production. When you make a technical SEO change, it will impact your traffic in as little as days or weeks. But it takes months to create a content creation and distribution infrastructure and begin ranking. Get your content production on lock first.

Keyword Research to Uncover Opportunities & Drive Relevance

You’ve seen the opportunity size on this project. Just a single product feature had 20,000 potential relevant pages to be created.

If we had to do keyword research manually, we would need an entire keyword research department. We would have half a dozen people doing nothing but keyword research.

We would very easily spend $5,000 – $10,000+ a month evaluating, hiring, training, retaining, mentoring, coaching, and doing QA on our keyword research team’s deliverables.

This didn’t seem like the right way to do it, so we automated it.

In essence, by using data from Google, we can plan a year’s worth of content in a matter of minutes. And if this sounds crazy, it’s because it is.

Doing keyword research manually comes is still the standard practice, and it comes with many problems:

  • Experienced SEO’s are delegating everything but keyword research because it’s too hard to get right
  • Keyword research deliverables are inconsistent from person to person
  • Inexperienced SEOs know how important keyword research is, but live with anxiety because of the long feedback cycle between investment into organic and organic results

ClusterAi, our keyword grouping tool, uses data from Google to determine which keywords can rank together. How do you know if you can rank keyword A and keyword B with one page? You analyze the number of pages that rank for both keywords.

If there are three or more individual pages that rank for both keywords, you can probably rank for both keywords with one page too.

If there are two or fewer individual pages that can rank for both keywords, you probably can’t rank for both keywords with one page. You should create two pages to rank for each keyword.

This process is not intuitive. SEOs that are manually doing keyword research are constantly screwing this up.

Let’s look at two keywords:

LinkedIn Profile Examples & LinkedIn Headline Examples.

These sound like a subtopic of optimizing your LinkedIn profile to generate more business for an average person.

But if you Google each keyword. You’ll see that all of the pages are optimized for one keyword or the other. Never both.

There isn’t a single page ranking for both LinkedIn headline examples and Linkedin summary examples. This means if you tried to rank for both keywords with one page, you wouldn’t rank either. And the people that do manual keyword research are guessing.

They’re just guessing! Again, again and again. From the gut.

Now here’s how ClusterAi works and how it levels the playing field…

Because the keyword research process is algorithmically driven, the keyword researcher’s only job is to find all of the keywords that are being searched by qualified traffic anywhere in the funnel.

ClusterAi transforms keyword research from a time consuming, tedious guessing process to a vocabulary exercise. Let’s walk through the process.

ClusterAi simplifies how you do keyword research, no SEO skills needed

DoNotPay has a feature that helps reduce the friction of communicating between prisoners and their friends and family members.

  1. Write a message, or snap a photo of a handwritten message
  2. Upload a few pictures (e.g. selfies, family photos)
  3. DoNotPay will print out and mail your photos and letter to your friend or family member in prison

We want to understand all of the ways people are making searches about communicating with state and federal prisoners. Using Ahrefs, we go as broad as possible: prisoner, prisoners, inmate, inmates

Then we use Ahref’s Having Same Terms feature. This tells us there are 1,830,320 different ways that people are using inmate, inmates, prisoner, prisoners in their searches.

Most of these 1.8 million keywords do not indicate the searcher is looking for information on communicating with prisoners.

So we’re going to use Ahrefs’ Include Keyword feature to filter out every EXCEPT keywords that contain our main keywords (inmate, inmates, prisoner, prisoners) AND our include keywords. This is where the strong vocabulary comes into play.

Think of every word someone might use when looking for information on communicating with prisoners. Here is the list we came up with:

letter, letters, communicate, communication, communicating, pen, pal, pals, penpal, penpals, call, text, texting, send, sending, give, giving, video, videos, skype, zoom, call, chat, chatting, talk, talking, mail, email, emailing, mailing, envelope, envelopes, package, packages

This narrows our list down from 1,800,000 to 37,000 keywords.

That’s it. Our work here is done. We export our list. We import our list of keywords into ClusterAi. We take a nap. And we wake up to a year’s worth of keyword research. All without knowing how to do SEO. Isn’t that cool?

You can also get the step-by-step walkthrough on automating your B2B SaaS keyword research and affiliate keyword research with ClusterAi or check out ClusterAi now.

Optimizing Content

As you’ve seen, ClusterAi abstracts SEO skills from keyword research.

That’s not all. ClusterAi also abstracts SEO skills from optimizing content.

We use a simple formula to turn ClusterAi’s keyword groupings into a framework non-SEOs can use to optimize their content. All of the optimizations, and no experience required.

Here is a summary of our framework:

  1. The URL of the page is always the exact match main keyword
  2. The meta title should contain the main keyword
  3. The meta description should contain 1-2 variations of the main keyword
  4. The H1 should contain the main keyword
  5. The H2s and content should contain variations of the main keyword

This simplifies our hiring and training processes. And is probably our biggest contributor to being able to ‘do SEO’ without knowing SEO.

Setting Our Writers Up For Success

After using ClusterAi to discover and group every keyword variation our target audience is searching, our editing team works to set our writers up for success.

The more work our editing team does upfront, the better outcome we’ll get from our writing team. For each content series, we create Content Series Templates (CST).

A standard Content Series Template includes:

  1. Go-to informational resources to familiarize the writers with the broader topic
  2. 3rd party example articles that set a content quality bar we need to beat
  3. Our competitors in the vertical
  4. Which sites to collect data from and source
  5. Who the audience is and the pain point they feel when they search
  6. How DoNotPay can help the searcher
  7. What DoNotPay can’t do
  8. Mandatory H2 headings that will appear in most articles
  9. Mandatory internal links
  10. Optional H2s with a decision-making and research framework for the writer

Creating a Content Series Template is a lot of work. But you know what’s more work? Editing hundreds of pages of content from dozens of writers.

Do as much work upfront to minimize more intensive editing work later on.

Scaling Content Production

Some of our content dream team

Over the last 5 years, our content team has published 14,000 pages of content, and generated +30,000,000 organic search visits.

With a 25-person team, we’re publishing a similar amount of content as media giants like Techcrunch, WireCutter, New York Times, Washington Post, etc.

Here is what made that possible:

  1. Building our Content Management System in Airtable
  2. A documentation-oriented culture that has produced 350+ knowledge base articles
  3. A streamlined recruitment funnel that has allowed us to evaluate 1,027 writers, immediately reject 595, test 352, interview 106, ban 9 for life, hire 63 and retain 25
  4. An editing team that is passionate about great content and won’t let quality slip for any reason

Now I’ll walk you through each item in this process and show you how you can do it too.

Building our Content Management System in Airtable

I’ve previously used BaseCamp, Trello, SmartSheet, TeamWork, and Google Sheets for project management. Airtable is better than all of them.

While other PM tools require you to fit into their workflows, Airtable fits your workflow like a glove. Airtable is our centralized hub where work gets done, and powers a majority of our primary systems:

  1. Content production
  2. Project management
  3. Recruitment
  4. Team member management
  5. Managing 3rd party services

Think Google Sheets on steroids.

  1. You can sort, group, view, and color code data without any coding
  2. You can link records together
  3. You can build automations on top of it

Here’s how we’re using it for content management. Whenever a writer is assigned with writing a page of content, they get a Google doc that includes:

  1. The main keyword (from ClusterAi)
  2. Variations of the primary keyword to include in the content and H2s (from ClusterAi)
  3. Link to the project brief
  4. Link to our writing requirements
  5. A form that indicates they have met our technical writing requirements

This process enables us to take any writer and turn them into an SEO content writer able to create the highest quality, most valuable content Google could show for any given keyword we’re targeting.

Content Management

Airtable enables anyone, anywhere, on any device, to view the current status of every page of content we’ve ever published.

We have 15+ discrete stages in the content production pipeline. As writers and editors change the status, the article re-organizes itself under the new status.

Each article has 15+ pieces of additional information we need to go live:

  1. Author
  2. Editor
  3. Project
  4. Status
  5. First draft due date
  6. Main keyword
  7. Keyword variations
  8. URL
  9. Featured Image
  10. Tags & categories
  11. Meta title
  12. Meta description
  13. Page title
  14. Last updated
  15. Featured image

Project Management

Everything that isn’t content writing happens in our Activity Tracker. This view is set up to track activities by status:

  1. Idea
  2. Not Started
  3. In Progress
  4. Ready for QA
  5. Done

As an activity changes status, Airtable moves it from group to group.

On the left side of the screenshot, we set up multiple views to quickly hop between action items for:

  1. Different team members
  2. Different types of activities
  3. Activities due today / this week / this month

Recruitment Funnel

We hire writers because they’re good writers. Not because they’re ‘good at SEO’. In fact, when writers say ‘they know SEO’, This is what they mean:

We can turn any good writer into an SEO content writer, creating content that naturally ranks. What we can’t teach is:

  1. A strong baseline writing skill
  2. Passion for good content
  3. Drive to learn
  4. Consistency

What’s our secret? Quantity. That’s literally it. Quantity.

The more candidates we can source, evaluate, test, and interview, the more likely we are to find a writer that is an excellent long-term fit. Simply put, it’s a number’s game.

So how did we scale our recruitment funnel to evaluate over 1,000 candidates, test almost 600, and interview around 100? With Workello.

Workello is a hiring automation platform that helps content teams evaluate, assess, and hire better, more affordable writers with 95% less work.

Building Our Content Team

Just like the #1 lever for faster SEO results is publishing more content, the #1 lever for hiring better writers is evaluating and testing more writing candidates.

The more writers you evaluate and test, the more likely you are to find the right mix of quality, affordability and capacity.

Check out the metrics on this hiring cycle:

  • 174 candidates
  • 80 invited to take our pre-hire writing test
  • 55 submitted a completed test
  • 26 writers passed the test

We use Workello to filter through hundreds of candidates to identify and hire the top 1% in just a few minutes.

Here’s how it works.

  1. Post your job ad on Reddit, LinkedIn, Facebook, ProBlogger, etc
  2. Watch candidates stream into your hiring dashboard
  3. Send pre-hire writing tests to your best candidates
  4. Sitback, relax and wait for candidates to take your test
  5. Hire the top 1%

Everything in Workello is pre-written and pre-optimized so you can start accepting writers into your hiring funnel in 90 seconds.

Here are some hiring guides to get you up and running ASAP:

  1. Get 200+ writers in the next 72 hours
  2. Hiring writers for hard content (Dev Ops, SaaS, legal, martech, etc)
  3. Outsource job posts to a VA
  4. Why writer marketplaces are broken

Scaling Quality Through Documentation & Passion

We’ve grown from 1 to 25 full-time team members in just one year (between January and December 2020). When we tell people this, one of the first questions they ask is:

“How do you maintain content quality?”

Or, “a team in Eastern Europe can’t possibly write X type of content.”

After talking to or watching many founders of fast growing agencies, I’ve seen how incredibly difficult it is to maintain the quality that drove the growth spurt while the growth is happening.

There are a few reasons:

  1. The founder is no longer closer to the work, and is relying on a team without the founder’s unique skills or experiences
  2. Systems and processes to handle the increased workload grow slower than the rate of new work and team members are added
  3. The easiest thing, and oftentimes the only thing that the team can do to deal with the growing pain and aggressive business goals is to let things slide

Here is how we dealt with each of these issues.

Documentation, Documentation, Documentation

(Want our SOPs? Get em here)

When I started ContentDistribution.com in 2019, I knew that I wouldn’t be able to achieve my goals for the company alone.

I spent the first 6 months building documentation to enable team members without my unique skill sets and experiences to create outcomes as good, or better than I could create on my own.

The first step was thought leadership to indoctrinate my team into my framework for understanding Google. At the same time I began creating detailed processes on how work should be done.

Our knowledge base started off in Google Docs. And that worked for about a year. But as our library of processes has grown, discovery became a major pain point. We couldn’t find the documents we had already written.

After evaluating Notion and Slite, we landed on Slite. Today we have over 350+ process documents. At this point the level of detail and sophistication is 10x more than I could have created on my own as the sole knowledge base contributor.

These documents cover nearly every aspect of every role, and every activity performed within the organization.

  • Job description and expectations
  • How to prioritize workload on a daily, weekly and monthly basis
  • How to use our internal systems and processes
  • How to do the work
  • How collaboration happens between team members and stakeholders
  • Expectations on visibility and reporting

Building a Culture of Documentation

It’s not enough to create documentation yourself. To meet ambitious goals you need to build a culture of documentation. I wrote the first 50 knowledge base articles and then my team wrote the next 1,000.

Building a culture of documentation starts from the top. I’ve never worked in a company with documentation, and neither has anyone else on the team. If you are a founder, there is no-one else that is going to build your documentation oriented culture if you don’t do it.

I get it. You’re busy, you’re really good at what you do, and you don’t have the time right now. Major growth mode.

But I can promise you if you don’t do it, you won’t be as successful as you hoped. If you’re not convinced yet, here are more things to consider:

  1. How do you hold someone accountable to something that isn’t written down?
  2. How do you change a process that isn’t written down?
  3. How much extra work, friction, and anxiety is created when someone is blocked or responsible for unblocking someone due to lack of information?
  4. How much energy are you willing to invest telling people the same thing over and over?

Alright, you’re convinced. Here is how you’re going to get started.

Create a list of all the things that you do on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Build your knowledge base skills by documenting the easiest things first. After you’ve written the first 25 – 50 knowledge base articles go back through them and update them with the best practices you learned along the way.

Next, create a KB on how to create KBs. And make all of this information as easy to find as possible. Ask your team to bookmark it. But creating documentation oriented culture is definitely not a one-time thing.

“When you’re tired of saying it, people are starting to hear it.” – Jeff Weiner

If someone asks a question covered in a KB, link them to the KB instead of answering the question directly. If someone asks a question that is not answered by a KB, update the KB and link it to the person asking.

And only after you’ve built the expectations, the standards, and the framework for documentation can you hold your team accountable for embracing a culture of documentation.

Find People Passionate About Great Content

A few of our team members

One of the best tools your team will have available to manage an unmanageable workload is letting things slide.

It’s easier for everyone involved when editors and our QA team lets sub standard content go live. But our editors are passionate, probably even elitist, about good content. Even if it’s more work.

Want to find passionate editors? Here is a demographic of our team:

  1. All of our editors joined the company as writers and were promoted for high performance
  2. All of our editors have been consuming and speaking English since childhood
  3. Most have completed, or are enrolled in a masters degree of English Literature
  4. Most of our editors haven’t worked in content writing before joining our team as writers
  5. Many have previously worked as English teachers

#1 is crucial. The more writers you can evaluate, test, hire, train, and retain, the bigger pool of candidates you can recruit your editors from.

It takes us approximately 3-6 months to train a high performing writer into a self sufficient editor. In the past, our external editing candidates we hired were good editors that just didn’t care as much as we do. If you don’t already have an editing team that cares, the #1 way to find them is to work with more writers.

The Conclusion

That’s it, we’ve reached the end. I hope you’ve enjoyed it.

I won’t say this approach to SEO and scaling content production is easy to execute, but as you’ve seen, the strategy is very simple:

  • Create the most valuable page of content Google could show for the topics you want to rank for
  • Integrate product into the content as a natural next step for the reader
  • Align content & SEO strategy with business goals (revenue)

Just a few years after this case study was originally published, AI and ChapGPT took over. A lot of folks expected a different kind of impact, but it actually just allowed more players to produce mediocre, average content.

It didn’t take long for Google to react to these new AI realities, and a lot of sites that were carelessly pushing out AI content were completely destroyed.

Seems like with every Google update and technological innovation we’re reminded of what we should have been doing all along anyway – understand our customer and double-down on producing the highest quality content Google can show.

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0 to 167,000 Organics / Month

B2C SaaS SEO for CampusReel

In February 2019, we signed a contract with CampusReel. At that moment, their site was receiving around 1,000 visits per month.

Just 12 months later, their traffic exploded to 166,000 monthly organic visits.

In this case study, I’ll walk you through the exact programmatic SEO strategy we executed on this project to make this happen.

It’s also important to know that this project was done with minimal resources, no human writers and I was paid $1,500 for it. Meaning, you can almost certainly accomplish the same. Let’s dive in.

🔎 Background

If you’re reading a Content Distribution article for the first time, here’s what you gotta know.

We’ve taken several projects from 0 to +100,000 monthly organic visits in a very short frame (in under a year or two):

On most of these projects our strategy is the same:

  • Create the most valuable page of content Google could show for the topics we want to rank for
  • Integrate product into the content as a natural next step for the reader
  • Align content & SEO strategy with business goals (revenue)

We almost completely skip technical BS, building backlinks, hacks and shortcuts.

Having said that, this project is the biggest outlier, because it’s the only project where we really doubled-down on programmatic SEO and published no human-made content. It was a cool experiment done with minimal budget, and it paid off for the client massively.

Since then, we’ve worked with clients like ClickUp, Privacy, Austin Bank, achieved similar successes and figured out the exact type of client we can create the most value for.

I’m talking about +10x ROI, greatly reduced CAC and a tenfold increase in their internet brand footprint.

Estimated Organic Search Traffic

If you’re familiar with Ahrefs, the #1 SEO tool in the world, you can skip this next section. If you’re not, keep reading.

Ahrefs provides SEOs with data to make intelligent campaign decisions.

One of the core pieces of functionality Ahrefs provides SEOs with is estimated organic search traffic of any website on the internet.

Ahrefs estimated organic search traffic isn’t going to exactly match Google Analytics traffic, but the reason I’m showing you Ahrefs estimate organic traffic instead of Google Analytics is:

  • Ahrefs data is public and can be viewed by anyone with an Ahrefs account
  • Google Analytics data is private & generally our clients don’t want this data made publicly available (although some don’t mind)
  • Ahrefs data is more accurate than SimilarWeb, Moz, SEMRush, and any other tool that exists to estimate organic search traffic

Here is what Ahrefs has to say about the difference between their data & Google analytics:

You can read the full article here.

The Opportunity

CampusReel helps highschool students evaluate the universities and colleges they’re interested in attending with actual interviews, reviews, and virtual tours from real students.

When they approached us, they thought organic search could be a major growth lever, but didn’t have a clear path forward.

It’s no wonder. The SEO industry loves to overcomplicate things and make it inaccessible to people outside the space. When you Google ‘ranking factors’, you find Backlinko’s article with over 200 different ranking factors.

And like most small bootstrapped startups, CampusReel didn’t have the bandwidth to learn, test, and iterate, or the internal expertise on their team to delegate.

But their hunch was good. Their competitors were generating massive amounts of traffic:

UsNews.com

PrincetonReview.com

CampusReel’s competitors are generating these enormous amounts of traffic by ranking for the brand names of the schools they have data on.

When you Google any school in the country’s name, one of these competitors almost always show up:

Niche.com

UsNews.com

GreatSchools.org

The Challenge

CampusReel competitors produced very little content by hand and mainly focused on programmatic SEO, creating pages about every school in the country with information they scraped about the school from the Department of Education.

CampusReel didn’t do that.

Their angle on education reviews was interviews, reviews and walkthroughs from real students attending these schools by paying them to create user-generated content (UGC).

And because this means a lot of work and CampusReel is a small bootstrapped startup, they only had content from hundreds of schools, not tens of thousands like their competitors.

The next challenge was that Campus Reel mostly had video content. Their pages had almost zero written content.

Outside of a few websites like YouTube and Pinterest, Google prefers to rank websites that are rich in written content.

And so, we had to adjust our strategy to fit the needs and context of CampusReel:

  • Small, bootstrapped startup with limited resources
  • Nearly zero written content, mostly video content
  • The number of schools they had content for is measured in the hundreds, not tens of thousands

Execution strategy

In order to execute the campaign with the budget CampusReel had allocated we had the following limitations:

  1. We needed to work with the content CampusReel had today, meaning no scraped data from the Department of Education.
  2. While hiring writers to write high-quality content is less expensive than you would expect, manually producing the volume of content we needed for hundreds of schools wasn’t an option.
  3. We had to focus on areas that could be done once, but create an impact on a site-wide basis.

Sitewide Optimizations

The more relevant we are to the keyword we want to rank for, the easier it is to rank.

But Google’s ranking algorithm can’t read minds, and if we want to be relevant to a particular school, we need to be explicit in what we tell Google our page is about.

And the areas we have to drive relevance are limited to:

  1. URL
  2. Title
  3. Meta title
  4. H1
  5. H2s
  6. Internal links
  7. External links
  8. Pages linking to you

#1 – #7 are accessible to us, whereas #8 is generally outside of our control unless your organization excels at earned media, or has the budget to pay for backlinks.

URLs

CampusReel built their app in Ruby on Rails, and when we took over the project they were using random strings in their URLs, which looked like this:

CampusReel.org/05da0d06-4814-4de4-8d5a-dc47b0534610.html

We changed the URLs to:

CampusReel.org/colleges/school-name

Internal linking

The closer a page is to the homepage, the more important Google believes that page is to your brand, and the easier it is to rank.

But we can’t link +300 universities from the homepage without wrecking the user experience.

So in order to reduce the # of clicks, it takes to get from the homepage to any school on CampusReel we created ‘hubpages’.

Hubpages are groups of similar pages under one ‘hub’.

This allows us to reduce the # of links on the homepage to a manageable amount, while still reducing the # of clicks it takes to visit any school on the site.

This was implemented in both the header and footer of the site to align with SEO best practices, but also improve the user experience.

We linked to these hub pages in the header:

And footer:

Clicking a hub page takes you to a list of all the schools tagged with a particular ‘school type’ attribute:

School pages

Previously all of the videos on a page were mixed together.

Fortunately, CampusReel had tagged each type of video on the back-end, so we sorted the videos by type and added a table of contents to the top, based on how prospective students search for information.

There were other opportunities that we wanted to cover, like GPA & SAT scores, but CampusReel’s content was primarily focused on dorms, campus social life and dining halls.

So we made due with what we had.

Metadata

CampusReel has over 300+ university profile pages, and thousands of individual video pages.

The only way this was going to work was to generate the metadata for each page programmatically, so we created a structure for each page type:

[School Name] campus reviews and video tours. Get a video tour of [School Name] life. You would never guess what [School Name]…..

We implemented a clickbait cliffhanger at the end of each university’s meta description.

Our goal here was to create something searchers would scroll down past higher search results and click through to, even if CampusReel wasn’t ranked #1.

Content

There are very, very few websites that rank well in Google without much written content. The odds were pretty much against us:

  • CampusReel had almost zero text content – most of their content was video UGC
  • We didn’t have the budget to create written content for 14,000+ pages
  • Even if we did, managing the manual creation and placement of that much content would have been a long, logistical slog

So we got creative. We instructed CampusReel to run all 14,000 videos through an API based transcriptions service that takes audio/video and provides written transcriptions of the content, then pushed the transcriptions all at once to 14,000 pages.

And just like that, we were able to align the site with what we know Google likes, in a massively cost-effective way.

Notice we hide text behind a button to keep the page UI clean.

This is a valid tactic, and works, as long as the text loads with the page. If the text does not load with the page, you reduce the effectiveness of hiding the text behind the button.

Gateway pages

The success of the automated page build out proved organic search was a viable acquisition channel, and CampusReel began expanding the scope of their ambitions.

The next keyword targets they executed on were:

  1. Calculators for college prospects
  2. Transferring to universities in their database

Once users land on the page, they are funneled to video reviews of that college.

And the page does a great job at structuring their content.

Internal linking.

And increasing user engagement metrics via embedded calculators.

Conclusion

This was a very unusual project to work on, and very fun.

It was our first project trying to rank a site with very little written content, and we’re very proud of what we were able to achieve on a shoestring budget.

Since then, we’ve figured out our sweet spot when it comes to our offering and market fit, started focusing more on publishing great content at scale and achieved successes even bigger than this one with clients like DoNotPay, ClickUp, Privacy, Austin Bank, and others.

Still, this case study serves as a reminder that you can achieve great success in SEO when you get creative, even with very limited resources.

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