We first went through all of our target search verticals, as dictated by our chosen go-to-market categories, which I think was roughly 19 to start.
The next step was to identify the top 100 highest search volume terms within those verticals and scrape the top 100 URL’s that were currently ranking.
From here we began what started out as an exhaustive process of evaluating the opportunities for each keyword, and then aggregating opportunities to discern which categories we needed to focus on to grow traffic.
I watched (obsessively) which phrases and topics generated the most traffic.
As soon as a topic began to grow legs, we would focus additional keyword research on finding concepts and phrases that were both complimentary and contextually relevant.
This is the single hardest part of any content-focused website or project.
The key to success on this particular project was taking a page out of Jeff Bezos’ book, and becoming obsessed with our ers.
We not only embarked on an aggressive a/b testing schedule, but we constantly reached out to our users for feedback.
We asked tough questions, ranging from what users’ liked and disliked (colors, fonts, and layouts) but also the specific components of the website they found to be less than ideal or even ‘sub-par.’ We took the responses seriously, making changes as they came in, trying to take something constructive from every piece of feedback, and pushing as many as 10 deployments a week. Once we saw the needle begin to move on our user engagement metrics; time on site, pages per visit, and direct or branded traffic, we moved onto the next phase of our strategy; analyzing our audience. I can honestly say from the experience of working on this project it is almost never as it seems.
We began with targeting a very large segment of users (remember that time I talked about a keyword database of over 50,000 keywords?
) but after a few months it turned out our largest (and most active) users were finding us from only a handful of targeted categories.
This is a case study on how I built a website that receives over 100,000 visitors per month, in less than 1 year, without spending on advertising.