If you are smart, you will savor every word of this case study and apply it to your sites. OR hire our agency to help you achieve some crazy, awesome traffic:
When we were hired in late January, the site was getting a decent number of clicks and impressions per day. By any measure, a site owner is usually happy to go from 0-> 300 (ish) clicks per day!
Essentially, this was an aged site with existing posts and pages bringing some traffic in and revenue as well.
BUT, before I jump into this case study, know that this is a “growth” case study, meaning we will be detailing how we took this baby from “not a lot of clicks” to a “butt-ton of clicks” or rather, 3500+ clicks per day!
Or, ummm, 105,000 clicks in ONE MONTH!
Let’s rewind to how we came across this client.
There I was, getting ready to jump off the airplane, clutching my parachute, getting ready for the thrills of a LIFETIME when I saw Marie’s call come through:
Marie with her Texan Accent: Howdy Moon! *chews straw* Look, I just got a potential client in the CBD niche and they want to know if we can help them grow their traffic from 300 clicks a day to 3x that..
Me: Marie, has the moon ever failed the sun?
Me: Has the moon ever failed the earth?
Me: Marie, does the moon not bright so shine every night?
Me: Marie, does the moon not create waves?
Me: Marie, does the mo—
Marie: WTF ARE YOU TRYING TO SAY?! WHERE IS THIS GOING?
Me: I am the Dr. Phil of sites. Show me what else ya got, Marie…
[Only lucky for Marie, I’m way more helpful than Dr. Phil’s ridiculous quotes].
Marie: Sigh, of course, you’re the best looking and smartest SEO I know! But, as I gaze upon these stars and praise the Lord that he partnered me with you, take a look at the rankings once you’re done parachuting.
Moon: Okay, set up a Zoom meeting, and let’s talk to the client about their growth strategy and what we need to work with them. Remember to ask for GSC access and---
Marie: Goodness Gracious! May the Lord always be generous with you, she said, as I heard her riding her Clydesdale into the barn, on her horse.
Okay, now look…
I love these case studies because I get to show you guys how we either grow sites or recover sites.
Growing a site from 0 -> 100 clicks is super exciting.
Growing a site from 100->500 clicks/day is even more exciting.
Dancing with a site and growing it from 300 clicks/day to 3500 clicks/day in 5 months' time is ridiculously fun and exciting for us!
Highlights of this Case Study:
- Client went from ~$1000 -> $25,000 per month
- We ranked client for a 74,000 per month searched term #1 in Google
- From ~300-400 clicks per day to 3,500 clicks per day
The Perfect SEO Client?!
First, yes, let me confirm: we get some awesome clients who are fun to grow sites with, especially the ones that trust our judgment and let us execute a 6-month plan on their sites.
Now, let me explain a couple of things about why this client/site was super perfect:
- Understood we needed quality content and at a steady pace
- Built on a powerful, auction, non-dropped domain with great links already
- Already had about 200 post/pages on it
- Well established business [heavily involved in CBD and hemp business offline, has other thriving businesses and affiliate sites]
- Understood “nature of SEO” and that it would take some time to see the results
Challenges We Faced
In the first month that we take on any client, we do a software audit as well as a manual audit.
While having existing content is awesome, we noticed a few issues we came across:
- Keyword cannibalization involving dozens of pages
- Over optimized internal linking
- 50 pages had thin content
- 68 pages weren’t indexed
We will be touching on each one of these issues in this case study, so keep reading.
Our SEO Strategy – A Three-Pronged Approach
As I type this, I have already downed 3 cups of coffee and am feeling the jitters that only SEO + coffee can provide: jitters of excitement!
One thing I want you to see, and know, is that the strategies that I am about to share in this case study, aren’t just ‘friendly’ to the growth of CBD sites, but literally, any affiliate site, informational site, or an e-commerce site.
Implementing the RYR Quick Wins Strategy
The first thing we do (after running our internal audits and resolving any crazy technical issues) is to document notes on what we internally call “quick wins”.
SO, what is the RYR Quick Wins Strategy?
In a Google Docs spreadsheet, we will lay out 20-30 keywords that are positions 4-10 that belong to 3-4 pages/posts (if possible).
You don’t want to choose keyphrases that belong to “too many pages”, as that will require more energy, more effort, more resources; instead, group key phrase clusters/pages that will benefit the most from this strategy.
Say, you spot 6 key phrases (long tail or not, doesn’t matter, but quicker results on long tails!) that belong to one page or post that is ranking in positions 4-10 for them.
List them in that Google Docs Sheet. Okay, so what can we do now to push them to top 3 positions in Google?!
If these key phrases are super relevant to the topic at hand, what can you do to take top positions (or at least, more improved rankings!) for those keywords?
- Is the page properly optimized for those keywords?
- Can the keyword density be adjusted?
- Can the topic/keyword be expanded on just a bit more?
- Can you do some internal linking or build on the existing link silo to strengthen it?
Once you begin the actual work on the site, this should be one of the first things you do, as nothing is more pleasing to the client when they see increased rankings and hence, increased traffic.
Also, because you can’t predict exactly when you’ll see the rankings increase, it’s extremely important to time this properly. Executing this 3 months later isn’t advised… [sarcasm].
Because even though this is titled RYR Quick Wins, everything in SEO takes time and you absolutely want your client to see some ROI, if possible!
Imagine doing this every month with 2-3 pages, around 10-30 key phrases.
But now, let’s take a look at a few more things, way more challenging because the cutesy stuff is over.
Overall SEO Strategy
Getting quick wins is awesome, but clients pay us for our expertise in helping them gain rankings in top positions for big keywords, the shake that brings all the boys to the yard, y’know:
This is another CBD site we took on in mid of 2019 that was much further along and super fun to work on. [Sidenote: It took around 8 months to gain these rankings for the 22k/m and 8k/m keywords].
The bigger keywords take a few months to get to top positions and for good reason: Google doesn’t want SEOs to game the search engines like we once used to. Sigh.
It really tests your patience, but here at the RYR agency, we are up for the challenge.
Anyways, SEO in 2022 requires true patience.
The steps are the same, but the slice of patience it takes to see top rankings depends on a lot of factors:
- Site age
- Content and Age of Content
- Is the site an ‘authority site’ level yet?
- Does it have solid backlinks?
…… dozens of other things.
Even though our client had quite a few content pages (200), this was no match for how big and competitive the CBD industry is and they definitely wanted their site to be a mega-site.
Questions we asked the client:
- What is your goal with the site?
- What is your overall business goal?
- What products provide you the most ROI?
- Can you grant us access to GSC?
And those questions are enough to get a solid conversation going. We always ask if they have performed any SEO work themselves or hired an SEO agency previously and what work was performed, etc.
How we Organized the Work For this project:
- Which pages/keywords were in the RYR Quick Wins plan
- Which products provided the highest ROI and which pages did we need great rankings in 6-8 months’ timeline
- Break up quick wins for each month over the next 6 months
- Was their current content plan enough? Run content gap and figure out content strategy
- Break up on page optimization, entities + internal linking strategy for #2 over 6 months
- Lay out their backlink strategy so they apply them within the SILO to help achieve overall goals (our agency does not provide backlinks however; we do work with the client’s overall backlink strategy to make sure it compliments their overall goals)
Step 1: We devised their entire content strategy. We advised that they need 50-75 quality pieces of content based on the RYR Content Gap. By quality, we don’t mean 700-word guides; the idea was to create killer content that would cover the content in great detail, so anywhere from 2000–8000 word articles.
PRO TIP: For beginner sites, aim for 1500–2000 word articles and do your best to cover the topic in-depth, with proper keyword clustering and mapping.
We came up with the overall keyword clustering and mapping for the entire site, and the content plan, to aim for highly targeted keywords.
Once their writer was done with a set of articles, they would put it in the draft. The next step would be for the RYR team to optimize the page with the RYR protocols.
After a final check, we would publish the content and keep an eye on the indexing of these new sets of pages.
It must be noted that 50 pieces of the long-form content bill out to $10,000-$20,000 with a great writer, so this was a huge investment for our client, with their own writers in place.
Why the huge gap? It obviously depends on what your writer is charging you and there are huge gaps in the market. Expect a quality writer to charge you a healthy rate.
After the first month, they were able to produce an average of 9 articles per month, which we were extremely happy with.
Step 2: As we helped publish these amazing pieces of content, we also worked on their main product pages and the content guides the client wanted us to rank.
Every month, we would take the primary key phrase for these pages and optimize the pages for them.
This would include meta title, h1, URL redirected (only in badly needed cases, and we handled these with 301s), and full-on implementation of our current RYR SOPs to properly optimize content without the danger of overoptimization or keyword cannibalization.
This sounds easy but is a thorough process. If we saw any keyword cannibalization issues, we would fix them before moving on to step 3.
Step 3: Internal Linking Audit
If you weren’t paying attention to the Google Updates this summer, know that Google is very touchy with overoptimization…. And internal linking is a part of this.
**If you missed our case study regarding the new levels of overoptimization guidelines be sure to read this case study here: RYR Google Updates Case Study with New Over-optimization guidelines.
In our findings, on-page SEO combined with internal linking – there needs to be a delicate and smart balance with a set percentage so that you don’t sink the site with the next Google Algo update!
Most pages on the site had internal linking done, but a fair amount of the internal linking to the ranking pages was… quite aggressive.
For example, if the page was about say, best CBD oils, and that’s the main key phrase the client wants their page to rank for, then, here’s what most of the internal linking looked like:
- Best cbd oil
- Cbd oil
- Best CBD Oils in 2021
- Top CBD Oil for your healthy
- Best cbd oil options for anxiety and health
- CBD Oil options
- Cbd Oils
- CBD Oil
- CBD OIL
- Best cbd oil
- Best cbd oil
- Best cbd oils
- Best cbd oils
- Best cbd oils
- Best cbd oils
- Best cbd oils
- Top CBD Oil
- Top CBD Oils 2021 Reviews
- Top CBD Oil reviews
- CBD Oil reviews
- CBD Oil reviews
- Best CBD Oil reviews
……… and so on.
That’s not an exaggeration.
Having done affiliate SEO for a long, long time, I understand the addiction to green arrows and “optimization.”
You create an internal link with “best CBD oil” and see an amazing boost.
So you try to do it again and again and again.
The point is, Google isn’t going to notify you as you reach the tip of overoptimization. You don’t know if the next anchor could make your page fall to the deep pits of hell:
Imagine doing internal linking on alllllllll of your pages like this and when your site gets caught in a Google algorithm update.. oomph.
SO, what did we do?
We talked to the client and explained we needed to make the anchor text ratios safe and build on it from there, using the RYR % ratios that we know work.
Safe Internal Linking Anchor Text Ratio
Here’s the thing. Everyone wants a magic formula regarding a safe internal linking strategy and the anchors to be used.
The main thing to remember is this: partial keywords are awesome, an exact match sprinkled 1-3x is okay, but repeatedly hammering away anchors in the way we have shown here, won’t be “okay” for the long run especially if the main ranking page is highly optimized.
You can safely create a nice mix of anchors such as:
- A “few” exact match sprinkled in [we are extremely careful about this]
- Click here, read more, this article
You will definitely have to experiment and make sure you have a safe ratio.
Back to the case study.
We warned the client that initially they may see fluctuations in rankings, but that this was a necessary step. By fluctuations, we warned them there may be some downward settling before we see a nice boost.
And ugly, it does get when making adjustments on a site. Again, we are not suggesting you go and rip apart internal linking for a page that is ranking high/well.
If the page is highly optimized and then you hit it with super targeted exact match anchors, you’re really gambling with Google. Back to the fluctuations initially:
After dialing back, the aggressiveness, we also fortified the tier 1 anchors with a few special ingredients, but like In-N-Out burger, we can’t hand out our special sauce ingredients.
In all seriousness, we have figured out a very healthy ratio especially for our CBD, hemp, and marijuana niched clients.
For the pages that weren’t internally linked, we executed a safe game plan, and after laying down the first round of internal anchors and observing the results, we built on these pages month after month.
This is the same strategy we repeated for another client’s CBD focused site:
Here are some affiliate product pages where they reviewed products; this rankings snapshot is “in transition” as we were making changes to the pages:
While we worked on dozens of keywords, longtails from long-form content (remember Step 1?) started kicking in nicely. And I mean, VERY nicely:
One Killer Challenge That Even Experienced SEOs Are Frustrated By…
One note to include is that Google’s indexing was unreliable and still is. What we would “see” is Google not indexing the content and then, about 2-3 months in, we would start seeing keywords in the top 100, and in another 4 weeks, we would see dozens more “waking up”.
No lie: the indexing ‘issue’ with Google is a major pain in the butt and even healthy sites are experiencing this.
When it came to “helping index”, it really was a waiting game with Google and I would consider 8 weeks delay the “normal”. I’ve seen healthy sites that have tons of crawled but not indexed or discovered but not indexed with tons of pages/posts not being indexed.
Since the client had a Twitter account, we told them to cycle through new and old content (2 tweets/day) and to post it on Twitter without going nuts.
They have a nice social following and the CTR to the new pages worked nicely to help the bots discover the new pages. We would also like to note that the typical indexing services don’t seem to be working at the moment.
The Hammer Droppp!
After we performed our work in June, unfortunately, the work was paused because the client didn’t predict how quickly their site may take off.
It’s a great problem to have!
Enjoy the buttload of traffic!
Enjoy creating a giant list, all the traffic to your own products, plus ads + affiliate profits.
But there's more:
With that said, we usually have 4-5 CBD and, hemp clients, at any given time (all targeting different keywords and countries) and it’s so much fun to see all the variables performing.
In the next image, we are showcasing another CBD strict affiliate site that the client who wanted to add 50 more content pieces (informational). We began working with them in March 2021 and finished the scope of work in October.
It’s really funny because you see a steady rise in traffic starting in July and August but you really see the site reap the benefits starting in September.
Time and time again, we have seen this happen in the most competitive industries/niches, and I suppose that’s what separates the experts from the novices: applying long-lasting SEO strategies (not tactics that expire every few months) and knowing the payoff is there, whether Google holds out on you or not.
With all the CBD/Hemp sites we have worked on in 2021 and are continuing to in 2022, here is the theme: to succeed in this niche, you need to have excellent informational and educational content that is optimized really, combined with great on-page SEO (including internal linking) and links.
Content really pays off!
What you can’t do is put up half-assed content and call it a day, especially in these competitive niches and the how much importance there is on content given by Google.
You cannot cut corners when it comes to content anymore.
Here are some basic rules to follow:
- Proper keyword research
- Good keyword mapping to proper content pages
- Content should cover topic in depth
- It should contain proper entities
- Should be nicely optimized (and not overoptimized)
You should use tools for optimization, but do your due diligence as an SEO to not overoptimize the page, as the tools don’t take into account the overall SEO strategy you may be implementing.
Don’t do horseshit SEO.
In all seriousness, CBD and hemp niche are quite competitive yet lucrative, as evidenced here. To especially succeed here, you need as many ‘advantages’ as you can line up here.
In the case of this particular client and his site, he understood ‘pacing’, building on a non-dropped domain (with a nice set of backlinks) and not getting in the way of his site.
The Work Completed
All in all, we added:
- 50 new pieces of awesomely optimized content
- Fixed major cannibalization issues
- Updated content on thin pages or killed them
- Optimized product pages according to RYR protocols
- Fixed internal linking on existing pages and added it for new content (tier 1 and tier 2 link silo structure)
As I was getting ready to write this case study, I thought I would take another look to see how this site was doing for one of its intended ‘mega’ keywords:
And remember those longtails? Here’s how they look as of writing this case study:
Just from the keyword rankings, we helped them with, they are receiving amazing traffic and decided to capture email addresses (newsletter, so they can sell their own e-commerce products down the line), and have monetized through ads as well as affiliate sales.
As it stands, we are guesstimating the client is making over $25,000/m from the pages we have helped to get on page 1 and they will CONTINUE to grow that number as long as they keep capturing those email addresses and remain focused on their goal for the site.
The client is planning on returning in February 2022 and we can’t wait to see what he has in store for us to work on 😉
But one more time, this was the story of a site that we took from ~300-400 clicks per day to 105,00 clicks per month!
If you have enjoyed this CBD case study, please spread the love and share it.