In 1748, John Montagu spent his leisure time playing cards. And he always craved snacks while playing cards.
One day, he came up with an idea to slip a piece of beef in between the two toast slices. This allowed him to have a meal using one hand and play cards with the other.
This idea led to the invention of the sandwich, which became one of the easiest and most popular meals in western culture.
If you found this story fascinating, it shows the power of stories. They help people learn things in an engaging way. Plus, they make people want to learn more.
Similarly, you can also learn about SEO tactics with the help of stories. And you can easily implement what you learned to improve your search rankings, increase traffic, and achieve other goals.
This is where case studies enter the picture. Case studies help you identify with examples where people achieved measurable business goals that you might want to reach, too. By including the steps they took to get there, these stories can help you learn effectively. They show tactics and strategies being implemented in real life.
Today, we are going to unlock the best SEO case studies and learn how you can improve your SEO. Through this guide, you will be able to learn, remember, and implement actionable SEO tactics without getting bored.
1. Emil Achieved #1 Ranking and Generated $100K Revenue
On his first day in his new job, Emil’s boss commanded him to get some backlinks.
Emil got down to work immediately and the company's homepage traffic increased by 59%.
Emil Shour worked as an SEO and content marketing strategist at SnackNation, a healthy snack delivery service.
Image source: Medium
As his SEO tactics drew high-quality traffic, revenue skyrocketed to $100K per month.
Credit goes to Emil’s skyscraper technique.
How Emil Used the Skyscraper Technique
First of all, Emil discovered that their company was trying to rank for low volume keywords like "healthy office snacks." From there, Emil turned to target broader keywords that their audience often searched for and cared about the most, such as "employee wellness."
Emil made up his mind to rank for broader terms relevant to his company and business. With the help of tools such as Metaglossary, FAQ Fox, and Udemy, he found keywords that users search for. Some of the keywords he shortlisted include weight loss, burn calories, and simple diet tricks.
Finally, the time came when Emil put the skyscraper technique to use. He searched for the top ranking blog posts on particular keywords, analyzed them, found flaws, and created better content than the one ranking #1 in search results.
For example, he Googled, “employee wellness program" and found that the blog post ranking on #1 contains PDFs. PDFs require users to put extra efforts into reading the content. The blog post also lacked images, which have the potential to increase shares by 43%.
Emil created a blog post that was better than those ranking on Google’s first page. In 2015, Emil’s blog post on the similar topic ranked #1. Today, in 2019, his post still ranks #2 and generates a fair amount of traffic.
“Create something that deserves to rank #1.”
- Emil Shour
2. Mario Generated 4X More Traffic Than Competitors in 6 Months
Ever faced a situation when you receive a decent amount of traffic but you still lagged behind the competition?
You can beat your competition with SEO.
One of the best SEO case studies, from Mario Deal, proves this.
Back in April 2018, Mario Deal, an SEO expert, got a health and fitness website to work on. He was asked to increase their traffic.
He was surprised to see that the site already received 68K visitors per month. Their blog posts were generating great traffic and gaining natural links. Their fitness app was also selling well. Everything just seemed perfectly fine.
Then why did the client need a boost in their traffic?
Mario decided to check out the websites of their competitors. One of their competitors was receiving 100,000 to 1,000,000 visitors per month. He understood that the site couldn't compete with such a big fish.
Instead of using general SEO tactics, he audited their website with a different angle, eliminated errors, and quadrupled the traffic in 6 months.
Image source: Authority Builders Co.
Strategies Mario Utilized to Quadruple Traffic
Here’s a quick list of what he did:
- Updated old content.
- Cleaned up 404 error pages and redirect chains.
- Changed page titles to make them more relevant.
- Included more keywords in content that sound natural.
- Started guest posting.
- Instead of just using the brand name, he used relevant keywords as a part of anchor text.
- Focused on relevance.
“There’s always something you can do to make things just slightly better… and those little wins compound over time to turn your site into a powerhouse if you stick with it.”
- Mario Deal
3. Leanne Got Her Content Ranked in the First Two SERP Results
From 3.5 billion searches per day on Google, it is challenging to attract your target audience to each of your blog posts.
Leanne Wong’s SEO case study shared a 5-step strategy to beat the challenge and rank #1 or #2 in Google’s search results.
Image source: Leanne Wong
Leanne Wong’s 5-Step SEO Strategy
Let’s take a look at the 5-step strategy mentioned in his SEO case study.
Step 1: Target Medium-Tail Keywords
- Short-tail keywords: SEO, digital marketing
- Long-tail keywords: digital marketing for SMBs, SEO for local businesses
- Medium-tail keywords: white hat SEO, SEO strategy examples
Short-tail keywords and long-tail keywords are often the most competitive as marketers run behind them to rank in the SERPs. That’s why Leanne suggests that you take the middle path.
You should target medium-tail keywords (3-4 word phrases) with low competition and higher monthly search volume (1K-10K).
The keywords you choose should include phrases that people search for when they have an intent of taking action.
For example, a person who searches for "travel" may not be sure of traveling yet. But a person who searches for "travel to Paris" is likely to take an action. They might actually be planning a trip or business travel.
Step 2: Use Google’s Predictive Searches
You don’t always need to use Google’s Keyword Planner for keyword research. Google's predictive searches can also give you a bucket full of relevant medium-tail keywords.
Step 3: Create Content That Revolves Around Medium-Tail Keywords
The first rule of creating effective content is to choose a topic that is relevant to your list of medium-tail keywords. You need to make sure that the topic you choose is useful for your target audience.
Only then you can plan and write an in-depth post on that topic. You should ensure that your content length is around 800 words or more.
Here’s one such topic that includes the medium-tail keyword, “Paris travel tips”:
Step 4: Optimize the URL, Title, and First Paragraph of Your Blog Post
While writing your blog post, you should try to include medium-tail keywords in the URL, title, and first paragraph of your post. You also need to ensure that the keywords sound natural, not forced.
Here’s an example:
Image source: Thrillist
Step 5: Promote Your Content
Once you create and optimize your content, it is time to promote it. You should promote your article on social media. You can also reach out to relevant influencers, who can promote your article to their audiences.
You can also repurpose the content of your blog posts in various other formats such as images, videos, and podcasts. This way, you’ll have more channels to reach users such as YouTube, Instagram, and Pinterest.
“Medium-tail keywords can help you drive more traffic + they’re not too difficult to rank for.”
- Leanne Wong
4. Matthew Increased Website Traffic From 2,732 to 38,420 Visitors Per Month
Tired of using complicated SEO strategies?
Matthew Woodward’s best SEO case study mentions three simple SEO tactics that he used to increase website traffic for a health brand.
When everyone is learning new SEO tricks, Matthew, an SEO blogger, stuck with old-school, timeless, strategies to increase traffic on a health site that sells weight loss supplements.
He said that the site competed with big brands like Holland & Barrett and Healthline.
When he searched for "best weight loss supplements," Healthline ranked at the top.
Matthew broke the barriers to increase their website traffic from 2K to over 38K visitors per month.
Image source: Matthew Woodward
Want to read his SEO success story?
3 Timeless SEO Strategies That Matthew Woodward Implemented
Here are the 3 simple SEO tactics that Matthew used:
#1. Strengthen Your Technical SEO
He performed an SEO audit for that health website that sells weight loss supplements. Conducting an SEO audit helped him identify issues as well as improvement opportunities.
He utilized this opportunity to create a healthy website structure. He worked to improve their page load speed, delete duplicate content, and improve internal linking.
#2. Create Great Content
He selected some primary keywords and then looked for effective keywords that their competitors were ranking for. Once he shortlisted the list of target keywords, he focused on creating a content strategy based on those keywords.
Since the site he was working on belonged to the health niche, he focused on creating long-form content. The blog posts he created were 2500 words long or more.
#3. Leverage Link Building
Matthew claims that backlinks can increase traffic to a website by ten times. He published high-quality content on highly-valuable and relevant sites. With link building alone, referring domains of the website increased dramatically from 27X to 374X.
If nothing else, Matthew suggests that you be simple, relevant, and focus on quality.
“There isn’t any super secret to SEO.”
- Matthew Woodward
5. Michael’s Post Ranked #1 on Google, Outranking Big Brands Like Mashable
Can you expect 11,065% increase in traffic in six months with the help of a single post?
This SEO success story shocked me too.
Michael Karp, an author and content marketing strategist, started working on a UAV coach site that provides drone training, news, and free resources.
He knew that sites like Mashable rank on Google’s first page for relevant searches. So he focused on creating higher-quality content to outrank them.
He created his first post for the UAV coach site on, "How to Fly a Quadcopter - The Ultimate Guide." It's an in-depth, 4400-word guide that teaches readers how to indulge in safe piloting using a remote control quadcopter.
The article ranked #1 on Google and outranked Mashable for over 1300 secondary keywords.
Image source: Robbie Richards
This post alone brought 21.4% of their total traffic.
The post also resulted in increased conversions with 2335 new email subscribers. For a website owner, such posts work like effective lead generation tools.
Want to know how Michael did this?
Michael's 6-Step Strategy to Rank #1 on Google
Let’s take a look at the 6-step strategy he mentioned in his SEO case study.
Step 1: Keyword Research and Competitor Analysis
You should fill your basket with primary and secondary keywords using Google's auto-suggest feature and “People Also Ask” boxes. They generally revolve around trending questions.
You should also conduct a competitive analysis to identify their top-ranking keywords, backlinks, and organic traffic. You should note these down and jump to step 2.
Step 2: Content Creation
Once you finalize your list of keywords, you should create content around your keywords. Just like, Michael went on to create a 4500-word post that included valuable details.
Long-form content allows you to create the best content on the web and include hoards of keywords. However, you need to ensure that the content you create consists of actionable tips. The aim is to provide value to the readers.
Step 3: On-Page Optimization
On-page optimization includes a clear answer to Google’s three questions:
- What is your site about?
- Which keywords is your site ranking for?
- How is the quality of your content?
Michael’s post answered all three of them.
Step 4: List Building
I read it ten times to make sure that I am reading list building, not link building.
List building is building a list of like-minded people who would be interested in similar products or services.
Michael built a list of users interested in drone technology by converting visitors into email subscribers. He offered freebies like ebooks and put pop-ups on blog posts to get visitors to sign up for their newsletter. He kept growing his email list to engage and convert potential customers.
Step 5: Content Promotion
He promoted content on social media, Quora, forums, and Scoop.it. He automated content sharing on social media.
Step 6: Unique Link Building Tactics
He built backlinks from 100 unique referring domains to boost the search rankings of his guide post. He considers link building as one of the critical reasons why his post ranked #1 on Google.
Just like his post, his link building tactics are also unique.
- He contacted sites that linked to the websites of their competitors. The idea was to approach sites that linked to similar content in the past as they might also link to similar trending content again.
- He reached out to publishers who curated weekly roundups. Weekly roundup articles curate and publish the best content of the week in one single post. You can contact such publishers and ask them to include your article in the list.
- You should find resources which link to and promote the best resources of your niche. You can approach them to link to your post too.
When I searched for "how to fly a drone," UAV Coach's article still ranks first with the snippet.
“I want to create the best piece of content on this topic — period.”
- Michael Karp
Overwhelmed by These Best SEO Case Studies?
Want to apply the SEO strategies mentioned above?
Not a bad idea, considering the fact that trials and errors are part of the SEO world...But where should you begin?
Follow these steps from the best SEO case studies mentioned above.
Step 1: Get onboard with all types of keyword research.
Step 2: Conduct in-depth competitive analysis.
Step 3: Get the most out of the skyscraper technique.
Step 4: Fix your website’s architecture.
Step 5: Optimize your website based on technical SEO guidelines.
Step 6: Create long-form content (2500-4500 words) using keywords, competitor analysis, and the skyscraper technique.
Step 7: Optimize your content.
Step 8: Promote your content.
Step 9: Practice link building.
Step 10: Implement list building.
Refer to the best SEO case studies to learn how to follow all of these steps to improve your search rankings.