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Due to the nature of our client’s industry, we are unable to disclose company details. This is a niche that is crammed with other aggressive, unethical SEOs (who often partake in risky link building tactics and schemes), so it is in the best interest of our client’s business that we keep them confidential in this case study.
However, our client was kind enough to provide a review of our Fully Managed SEO services. Thank you, Dyar! ?
Our Client’s Business
Our client’s business operates in the highly competitive social media marketing services industry.
Prior to hiring Rankfluence, our client’s business was already generating a significant amount of traffic and revenue, but we all knew there was still so much more potential. Here’s an overview of their organic keyword rankings before we kickstarted our SEO campaign.
Our client has strong aspirations to become the most well known within the industry. Their services were purchased by hundreds of customers on a daily basis, many of which were famous figures in various verticals (actors, comedians, musicians, influencers, etc). We used these favorable circumstances to our advantage when it was time to outreach to prospects. Think about it. Who would a typical webmaster link out to? A business with real, credible clients? Or a brand new site that no one has heard of?
Although we’re able to land links for all clients, regardless of how old the business may be, outreach is far easier when you have a trusted brand.
After taking a thorough look at our client’s traffic analytics, we were able to make approximate calculations for the traffic we could potentially achieve. By analysing and crunching further numbers, we became confident that there was the opportunity to increase overall monthly revenue by 3-4x.
Ultimately, the goal was to become the dominant market leader in their industry. This wasn’t going to be an easy task, but it definitely wasn’t impossible. With the correct research and planning, we developed an ambitious 6 month SEO campaign that would allow us to achieve our objectives.
Calculating ROI With SEO
As a customer purchasing an SEO service, you want to make a return on your investment… right?
But how exactly do you calculate ROI with SEO?
If you’re paying an agency $10k per month to handle your SEO, how exactly do you measure the success and overall profitability of that investment?
How do you decide if you should even bother investing in SEO in the first place?
We get questions like this all the time, and fortunately, there are various approaches you can take to gauge the value of your SEO expenditure.
In this case study, we’ll go over one of the simplest formulas you can use to measure the long term ROI of SEO.
- Total monthly searches: This is the overall search volume for the keyword(s) you’re targeting
- Approx CTR: This is the estimated click-through rate for the keyword(s) based on the target position
- Approx value per visit: This is the estimated value of each visit
To give you a better idea of how to use this formula, let’s use an example with one of the buyer intent keywords we targeted in our client’s SEO campaign.
To begin with, we need the total monthly searches.
In this example, the targeted keyword has a monthly search volume of 25,000.
To calculate the approx CTR, we use a tool offered by Advanced Web Tracking. They provide a monthly updated chart that shows the organic click-through rates for searches (based on over 2.5 million keywords and almost 50,000 websites).
On average, as of April 2019, the #1 position in organic search results brings in roughly 26.5% of total traffic (the average of both desktop/mobile traffic).
Since our goal is to achieve the #1 position for our targeted keyword, we’ll be using this 26.5% figure for our CTR number input on the formula. You can also utilise the CTR figures for the #2 and #3 positions for a more complete and varied calculation.
And finally, to conclude the formula, we need to know the approx value per visit. To calculate this, we multiply the average conversion rate with the average order value.
We used Google Analytics to determine the average conversion rate and order value for the specific money page we were targeting (our client had already set up Goals/Conversions tracking).
Inside Google Analytics, go to: Behavior > Site Content > Landing Pages and enable the “Organic Traffic” segment.
From this example, we can see that the conversion rate for this page is 8.45%.
We then divided the total revenue with the total number of transactions in order to quantify the average order value, which was $10.
By multiplying the average conversion rate and order value, we get our approx value per visit (8.45% x 10 = $4.22).
Every click from organic search to the targeted money page is valued at $4.22. This is the approx value per visit.
Let’s now plug all the numbers back into our original formula.
- Total monthly searches: 25,000
- Approx CTR: 26.5%
- Approx value per visit: $4.22
Ranking #1 for this particular keyword could bring our client just under $30,000 per month. As our client actually ranks #1 for this keyword now, we were able to cross-check the real revenue numbers and they were extremely close to our estimation.
By repeating the above steps for all your buyer intent keywords, you’ll be able to roughly calculate your total potential earnings, which you can them compare alongside your SEO investment to see if makes sense from a financial standpoint.
Note: This is a very straightforward formula (one of many) for calculating potential ROI from your SEO efforts. However, it isn’t always 100% accurate – and you shouldn’t expect it to be either. Due to the different factors involved in SEO, making a guaranteed ROI claim isn’t possible – but the best we can do is make a calculated guess using data that is available. For better accuracy, you can look at overall traffic coming to your target page from specific individual keywords – and then calculate the approx value per visit using those precise numbers.
Honesty & Transparency
If you remember from our previous SEO case study – at Rankfluence, we like to keep our approach to SEO as simple as possible.
More often than not, SEOs tend to over-complicate the simple concepts, which usually leads to frustration and underwhelming results.
With our Fully Managed SEO service, we don’t work with everyone. We only work with businesses where we genuinely believe there is significant growth to be achieved. This level of honesty and transparency has allowed us to work with some awesome clients from all over the world.
Why is this relevant to this case study, you ask?
The majority of SEO campaigns we create for our clients begin with a complete technical SEO audit. This is where we assess every aspect of a website to ensure it is optimised correctly for adequate indexation and visibility.
However, in this case, our client had already optimised their website themselves. Most sites always require several adjustments and tweaks, but in our client’s case, we didn’t need to do much (our team carried out some minor changes on a page-level using our on-page SEO optimisation service).
A problem we see often in the SEO world — agencies and consultants overcharging their customers for work that isn’t necessary. Honesty and transparency are part of our core values. Recognizing that our client’s website was already optimised at an acceptable level, a full technical audit and implementation were not required. Not only did this save time, but it also meant our client wasn’t faced with an extra bill for something that wasn’t needed.
Sadly, an alarmingly high number of SEO agencies and consultants bill their clients for heaps of “technical SEO work”, without actually focusing on the most vital part of a successful SEO campaign: links. We understand that SEO can be a confusing and intimidating subject for many, but when working with Rankfluence, we promise to be 100% transparent from the get-go, and this means we’ll only quote you for SEO work that is absolutely necessary.
Our focus point for this campaign was link outreach. As the website already had well-known celebrities and endorsements, it made sense for us to shift our focus entirely to link building.
To achieve our goal with this campaign, it was important we formulated a winning outreach strategy that would result in valuable links from relevant and appropriate sources.
Links continue to be the strongest ranking factor in Google’s search algorithm. However, at the same time, Google’s algorithm has improved its ability to identify (and penalize) unethical link building practices, which means it’s even more important to prepare a safe and effective outreach strategy.
Outreach, when done correctly, can lead to explosive growth in organic search visibility, high-quality traffic, and sales/revenue.
What is link outreach in SEO?
Outreach in SEO is where you reach out to webmasters in your niche and introduce them to your business or content, with the objective of securing a link on their website back to yours.
It sounds easy, but with the growing number of SEOs continuously reaching out to webmasters in all sorts of niches, link outreach has gotten exceptionally harder, and problematic.
If you struggle to secure relevant white hat links for your website, why not take a look at some of our services? If this sounds interesting, click here to see our link placements service and click here to see our guest posts service.
We’ve listed a few strategies below – mostly related to link outreach – that we used in this campaign over the course of 6 months.
Stop Following The Herd
There is no doubt you’ve heard this from us a few times now, but at Rankfluence, we don’t follow the herd or blindly listen to industry influencers. Instead, we form our own conclusions based on in-house SEO tests and experiments.
What does this have to do with outreach?
If you do a quick Google search, you’ll find a multitude of articles along the lines of “The Best Link Building Outreach Templates”.
The problem is: these cookie cutter templates don’t work… anymore.
Thousands of SEOs are reaching out to webmasters on a daily basis, and a surprisingly high majority of them are using templates found online. Although they are helpful to an extent, once a template has been used one too many times, it becomes ineffective and mediocre.
We’re talking about these:
Most outreach templates will tell you to either pitch how phenomenal your content is or to shower the webmaster with compliments.
This works – to an extent – but as mentioned above, once a template gets used enough times, it ends up doing more harm than good.
Most webmasters will immediately delete or ignore your emails if all you’ve done is just copied and pasted a template. Wouldn’t you?
For our client, we set up an outreach campaign with uniquely written emails, sprinkled with a personal touch. Here are a few pointers to always remember:
Personalise Your Outreach. Establish a human-to-human connection with the reader. Webmasters receive mountains of emails from SEOs on a daily basis – so the perfect way to attract their attention is to personalise your email. For example, you can talk about something the webmaster has tweeted or blogged about recently (and make sure your comments are genuine and don’t feel forced).
Provide Value. Why should the recipient of your email care? What’s in it for them? Find an angle where your content serves a purpose for the readers of the webmaster’s blog. With outreach, most people are always asking for something (a link, mention, guest post, etc). Why not consider giving something yourself? This is what we did with our client’s outreach.
Instead of asking for something in our first email, we introduced our client and offered to provide the webmaster with a freebie that was just too good to pass up. We weren’t fussed about landing a link on their blog straight away, because we were more keen on building a relationship – which eventually resulted in much more than just a link on their blog (we ended up receiving a link, full-featured article, several social media shout outs, and most of all, a fruitful relationship).
Make Your Email Concise. When a webmaster opens your email, you only have a few seconds to gain their full attention. If you fail, your email either gets deleted or ignored. It’s important to make your email concise and easy to read. Avoid long essays (who wants to read 1000 words from a stranger?) Instead, keep your sentences short and simple. A well thought out email that is strategically written can make all the difference when it comes to receiving a response or being ignored.
Always Follow-up. Writing a follow-up email may feel slightly uncomfortable. After all, if the webmaster hasn’t replied to you, surely they aren’t interested? This is not always the case. The truth is life can get busy and sometimes webmasters may just forget to reply to you. A friendly, personalised follow-up email could improve your response rates significantly.
In fact, a case study by IKO System found that the response rate was noticeably higher after 4 follow-ups.
Leverage Existing Links/Articles
As our client’s business was already well established (since 2013), they had amassed hundreds of links over time.
Using a combination of paid tools and in-house applications, we were able to filter the links by several metrics (the type of link, link platform, language, and traffic).
Our objective was to narrow down the entire link profile to just the contextual links. In particular, we wanted to see how many guest post backlinks the website had.
Our client’s website had a total of 378 unique contextual links which were obtained over the course of 5 years. By manually refining this list further, we were left with 32 guest post links (our client had purchased these previously from another SEO vendor).
We carried out a final round of auditing on the 32 guest post links in order to assess the overall quality.
From the 32 guest posts, 12 of them were on high-traffic, industry-recognized sites, such as TechCrunch, Social Media Explorer, and the Gary Vaynerchuk Blog.
These are popular marketing-related sites that have been around for years, receive consistent traffic, and boast huge audiences.
The plan was to leverage these existing links when reaching out to other similar sites in our outreach campaign.
These days, webmasters are cautious and hesitant about linking out to third-party sites, so it’s gotten trickier to gain their confidence.
Showcasing to webmasters that you’ve already been featured by industry-leading sites will prove to them that you’re not “just another site” looking for free links.
Anchor Text Strategy
When a webmaster links to another site, they usually do so via an anchor text backlink.
There are several conflicting ideas and theories on how to use anchor text correctly.
Back in 2010, the easiest and quickest way to rank in Google was to use an exact anchor. This is where you target the main keywords in your link building. If you were attempting to rank for “best headphones”, you would build all your links with this exact anchor text, in order to pass all link equity/page rank (also known as “link juice”) to that specific keyword.
Over the years, as Google’s algorithm advanced, so has the importance and value of anchor text.
Nowadays, building links with exact anchor text on a mass scale isn’t advised, as it looks unnatural, and could potentially trigger penalties.
This doesn’t mean exact anchor text links are ineffective. They still prove valuable, but it’s important to ensure that the link fits naturally within the content and doesn’t look like a blatant paid link.
However, we decided to take the safest approach by following a branded anchor text strategy. For example, the branded anchor text for Rankfluence.co would be “Rankfluence” and “Rankfluence.co”.
Instead of just using branded anchor text on its own, we kindly requested webmasters to surround the link with a paragraph that included some of the main keywords our client was trying to rank for. This would allow Google to easily distinguish the connection between the keywords in the content and the linked anchor text.
For example, if we were trying to rank the Rankfluence website for the keyword “SEO services”, here’s what our link would look like when taking the branded anchor text strategy:
Although some would claim branded anchor text links are weak and “don’t work”, our findings and results say otherwise.
In fact, in February 2019, Google updated one of its patents relating to the use of anchor text.
(click here for the full documentation)
The patent describes the way Google’s algorithm is able to associate the surrounding text that is located within a certain distance of the linked anchor text.
If Google is indeed using this process in their algorithm, it means they can now assess the neighboring content of your linked anchor text in order to evaluate the merit and relevancy a link should pass.
This makes total sense, and the incredible results we achieved for our client using a branded anchor text strategy is further proof that you don’t always need to acquire links with an exact anchor text.
And now for the results you’ve been waiting for.
By the end of the 6-month campaign, Rankfluence successfully achieved a total of 120 links from real and relevant sources using our outreach strategy.
To recap, these were the organic keyword rankings before we started our SEO campaign:
Here are the organic keyword rankings as of today:
Overall traffic has risen from under 3500 visits to over 20,000 visits per day, and revenue has increased from $225k to over $825k per month.
To give you an idea of how competitive this niche is, here are the before and after keyword rankings for the main terms (these are all high buyer intent keywords):
Satisfied and pleased with the results Rankfluence achieved in only the first 6 months, our client has renewed their SEO campaign with us for another 6 months.
If you’d also like us to take care of all your SEO efforts, please click here to request a free quote. Or if you have any questions, just send us a message and we’ll get back to you within a few hours! Sound good?