While some keep struggling to optimise their sites for Google, I was always confident that if you follow the SEO best practices, eventually, results will come. In this post, I would like to talk about a case study for one of my sites and show how I managed to increase its traffic by 210%, in the last year. Over the course of two years, the organic traffic increased from approximately 250 visits per day to 1500. I’ll start by showing some screenshots.
Here’s the monthly organic traffic growth for the last two years. The growth is constant and looks natural.
And here’s a look at the organic traffic growth for the last 12 months, shown in my Monitor Backlinks account.
It’s also obvious how the improvement of my average keyword position has contributed to the visits increase.
Before I start showing the steps I’ve followed to grow my traffic, let me emphasise something important.
To be successful with SEO, you have to pay very close attention to your site’s backlinks and content. One can’t go without the other. It’s almost impossible to rank high in Google without having proper content and without quality backlinks. Both of these factors are equally important.
These are the tools I can’t live without and the ones that I used to analyse and optimise my site:
Aside from the above tools, you don’t need anything else to do SEO.
Now let me show you the steps I used to increase my traffic from Google.
Step 1. Analyse existing backlinks and decide which ones are bad and good
This step is not is not the first one by accident. From my experience, I know that it’s critical to maintain a clean backlinks profile and only keep the backlinks that are good for SEO. The bad links can cause penalties and I don’t want to take that risk. Having too many low-quality links can also keep your rankings stuck and then wonder why you are not improving.
Even if you’ve never built low-quality links for your site, you might have some because others have built them for you.
I started analysing all my links with the help of Monitor Backlinks. Because it shows more than 15 different metrics for each link and also offers an excellent disavow tool, this tool is irreplaceable for me. For my site’s backlinks that have poor metrics, I get a warning sign on the left side of the link row, as in the screenshot below.
Google only considers dofollow links when determining what site is worth ranking higher; therefore I decided to ignore the nofollow links. From the filters located on the right side, I selected to see only the backlinks that have a status of “followed”.
Because I applied that filter, I only had to analyse 164 backlinks instead of 385.
Next, I paid closer attention to the links that had warnings for poor metrics. If you hold your mouse over the warning, you’ll see why the link might be dangerous for SEO. You can analyse if it’s worth having a link from a site by checking its reputation and if it provides value to the reader. If the page linking to you gives value to the user, you can keep the link. However, you shouldn’t links from article directories, low-quality directories, spammy blog comments or any other link that are easy to create.
To get more geeky about analysing my links, I filtered my links as shown in the video below.
Step 2. Disavow the bad backlinks
Whenever I found a bad link that I was sure it affects my SEO in a negative way, I added it to my disavow links from Monitor Backlinks. There are several ways to disavow a link. If it’s a link that had a warning, you can just click the red “disavow domain” button. Alternately, if you want to disavow multiple links at once, select them and then click on “Disavow Domain”.
All the links I considered them to be bad are given a disavow tag and all I had to do is Export them and submit the report to the Google Disavow Tool.
From now on, Google knew what links I don’t endorse for my site’s SEO and my backlinks profile was clean again.
Step 3. Create a plan for content writing
After fixing my backlinks profile, I had to do keyword research and find new topic ideas for my blog posts. More quality content can only do good and help me rank for new keywords.
My research process is very simple. I created a spreadsheet with all the new keywords I haven’t optimised before, so I can include them in my future posts.
With Alexa, I got to see the most popular keywords that were sending traffic to my competitors. All that was left to do is optimise my site for the same set of keywords and steal their rankings and traffic.
Step 4. Create a solid link building strategy
What better way to find new opportunities to build quality links than to spy on your competitors? I always like to check what my primary competitors are doing to rank high in Google. Whenever someone ranks higher than you, it means they have done on-page SEO better or they must have better links pointing to their site.
As content and backlinks are by far the most important ranking factors in Google, to make sure my new content will reach the top results, I had to create quality backlinks from authoritative sites.
To analyse my competitor’s links, I went back to Monitor Backlinks and started to search for new opportunities. On the competitors page, I got to see a list of all their backlinks listed by the date when they acquired them. The tool automatically re-checks their backlinks profile every 10 days and whenever they earn some new links, they will be added to the table. However, when I’m just starting spying one of my new competitors, instead of looking at the date when their links were created, I prefer to sort them by their Domain Authority, so I can see which of their links carry the most value.
What’s great about Monitor Backlinks is that it indicates the links from where my site already has a backlink, by highlighting the row in green.
The part of replicating my competitor’s links is relatively simple afterwards. As long as my site is good and it’s worth linking to it, I should have no problem getting a link from the same places where my competitors have been featured.
Nonetheless, if you want to spy on your competitors and reproduce the same links, do consider that not all of their links are good. Just as you have some bad links that you’ve disavowed, others might have the same. Therefore, you have to analyse if it’s worth having a link from those sites, and only try to get quality links from reputable and trusted sources.
One of my favourite ways to build links is by checking competitor’s backlinks that have guest blogging as their main source of promoting their site. Needless to say, I take guest blogging very seriously and only write on good sites. Don’t be of the hype that was created a few months ago, with self-called experts that claimed the death of guest blogging has come. That’s entirely false, as I’ve demonstrated in my one of my older posts where I showed how Google itself is accepting guest bloggers.
By spying my competitors, I managed to create tens of quality links that significantly contributed to my organic traffic increase.
To check the primary sources of referring traffic of my competitors, I used SimilarWeb. Aside from showing the percentage of traffic, each channel is sending to their site, SimilarWeb can also show the main traffic referrals.
Even though those sites might link back to my site with a nofollow link because my competitor was getting a good amount of traffic from them, I was aware of the potential of getting my site listed there.
With SimilarWeb, you can also see a list of the main keywords that are organically sending traffic to the site you are analysing. Most often, the data is more accurate than the one from Alexa.
Step 5. Check and fix pages that were not performing well enough
There’s always a chance to make your site better. With that in mind, I started to analyse how my site is performing in Google by checking the Search Console.
I already had my sitemap submitted and no errors were highlighted, but something else grabbed my attention. Some of my pages were getting more clicks in Google’s results, even though they had a similar average keyword position.
Here’s an example showing how one page had a 5.16% CTR (Click through rate) with an average keyword position of 9.0 while another page has a CTR of 14.43%, even though the average keyword position was much lower.
That was a clear signal that I can improve my meta title & description to make my post more appealing in the search results and potentially convince more users to visit my site.
I spent some time analysing all pages that had a higher potential but did not have a good enough CTR and improved the meta titles to make them more appealing to the user. As a result, in less than one month, the CTR has improved from 2.21% to 5.71% for all my pages.
Conclusion on improving organic traffic
Getting more visits from Google is not easy but not impossible. If you improve your content and get more quality backlinks, success is guaranteed.
These are the steps I followed to improve my site’s SEO and you can too:
- Analyse my backlinks using Monitor Backlinks.
- Disavow bad links
- Write awesome content and target new keywords
- Create quality backlinks by replicating my competitor’s most important links.
- Improve my site’s performance in the search results by increasing CTR.
How’s your SEO progress going? Did you face any challenges?