Growth Study: The Exact Strategies We Used To Grow A 1,500,000 Visitors/Mo Blog

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Today I’m going to show you how we grew website traffic by 1,500,000+ visitors in a month:

This strategy isn’t right for everyone…

It is designed for aggressive online businesses that sell info products or are ecomm. If you want to:

Grow to millions of monthly visitors…

Hundreds of thousands of leads…

And tens of thousands of customers each year…

Then THIS is the system for you to do it.

We grew the site to now over 1,500,000 monthly visitors organically which generated over $22,000,000 in direct revenue in one year. Then became one of the leaders in the grooming space.

And again in the health and wellness space with 4+ million visitors a month.

Summary Of The Strategies

While there are many factors to explosive SEO growth, there are only a handful that you should focus on:

1. Masterpiece Levels Of Content + The Secret Sauce. More On That Later Though…

2. Link Building & Content Promotion To Epic Proportions 

3. Insane Engagement From The SERP’s 

This list above is what I would consider the 20% in the 80/20 rule for SEO.

This has allowed them to grow their email list an additional  828,062 this year (the men’s grooming client).

Enter, The Kill Shot, Growth Strategy.

The Research Phase

Their (the clients) team decided to put crazy focus on content marketing and SEO efforts.

The keywords that we are ranking the highest for, have large amounts (100k-5mil) of monthly search volume.

This is a keyword that we rank #2-3 for. These are difficult keywords to go after. To have so many of them begs the question… How the hell did we grow to 1,500,000 monthly unique visitors? Before I answer that question, I have to say something…

Yes, I know SEO changes more times in a week than we can keep track of.

Yes, I know SEO is not exactly simple, and often (most) times quite complicated. Yes, I know there are many SEO strategies out there that work or at least claim to.

All I’m here to do is share what’s worked for us repeatedly, time after time.

Our process is simple, repeatable, and gets results. It’s nothing new.

But, you will notice there are key steps we put more focus on than others. That’s where, I think, your attention should be.

These foundations are not exactly the norm,

The first one is…

We listen to our customers.

I’ll explain…

Many SEO’s believe the lie that they need to start with looking at the competitors and seeing what they are doing.

Another lie they might believe, as most do, start with keyword research and intent. Or even start with SERP intent.

My favorite lie though…

You need to pump out weekly, or even daily content to see results from organic growth.

But, we start with interviews of our paying customers (or as close to paying customers as possible).

We try to understand them. Where they are coming from and the problems they so desperately need solved.

We start our process here because they are the actual paying customers.

Why would you want to start with all these other keywords?

They are only assumptions.

Why not first ask them?

We ask them simple questions like (make sure you record the calls with permission):

  • Why did you buy X product?
  • How did it help you?
  • What were you expecting it to help you with?
  • Why us vs anyone else?
  • What are you trying to achieve/solve?
  • What obstacles are/were you facing in trying to solve X?
  • In going after this goal/achievement, what fears did/do you have?
  • What 2-3 burning questions do/did you have about solving this problem?
  • What did you (or do you hope) to benefit from purchasing X product?
  • What have you done to try to reach this goal/achievement, but had no luck with?
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But, the interesting thing is this…

As you  talk to them and begin to understand what their problems are and what they need solved…. THEY literally give you keywords you can actually use for research. 

Let me rephrase that… they tell you their real problems and now you can solve them. You can communicate in a way they understand and can relate to.

I would recommend interviewing as many people as possible. We always do at least 20 – 30.

I go for 20-30 because the more data you have the higher chance you have of your data being accurate.

BUT, 5 should be solid if the customers are actually helpful. But some won’t be. Further, you’ll likely get different results for different customer personas. Sometimes you need to get more to confirm new hypotheses from what customers told you. Which goes back to why I recommend 20-30.

To get them on the phone, I email them. I tell them I’m doing customer research, so I can create content that best serves them. In addition to telling them that, if I’m in a position to give them a discount or free product to get them on the call, I’ll do that.

This is where this Kill Shot Strategy is different. I call it the Kill Shot because we get so honed in on our customers that when we take our shot…

We don’t miss.

We do this by furthering this phase of the research.

I’ll explain…

Once you have your interviews completed, you then create an empathy map and awareness map of their journey.

The journey of becoming problem aware, solution aware, then product aware.

To be able to map out that journey with a series of assumptions to test, we use an empathy map. This tool is nothing new, but not often talked about in the content marketing space.

An empathy map is a collaborative visualization used to articulate what we know about a particular type of user/customer.

It externalizes knowledge about users in order to 1) create a shared understanding of user needs, and 2) aid in decision making.”

Dave Gray was the original creator of the empathy map, and has since updated it to 7 core steps:

1. WHO are we empathizing with?

  • Who is the person we want to understand?
  • What is the situation they are in?
  • What is their role in the situation?

2. What do they need to DO?

  • What do they need to do differently?
  • What job(s) do they want or need to get done?
  • What decision(s) do they need to make?
  • How will we know they were successful?

3. What do they SEE?

  • What do they see in the marketplace?
  • What do they see in their immediate environment?
  • What do they see others saying and doing?
  • What are they watching and reading?

4. What do they SAY?

  • What have we heard them say?
  • What can we imagine them saying?

5. What do they DO?

  • What do they do today?
  • What behavior have we observed?
  • What can we imagine them doing?

6. What do they HEAR?

  • What are they hearing others say?
  • What are they hearing from friends?
  • What are they hearing from colleagues?
  • What are they hearing second-hand?

7. What do they THINK and FEEL?

  • PAINS –  What are their fears, frustrations, and anxieties?
  • GAINS –  What are their wants, needs, hopes and dreams?

Yes, this is tedious, but necessary. 

If you don’t truly and fully understand your customers…

How do you expect to be able to write content for them that converts?

Unless you’re just one of those people that assume everything… ;P

Now that you completed your Empathy Map, you have an incredible resource to reference. This will aid in understanding Top of Funnel, Middle of Funnel, and Bottom of Funnel behavior.

Quick recap so far – you have:

  1. Interviewed 20+ customer or potential customers
  2. Created your 7 step empathy map

Using this map you can now begin creating your keyword research matrix.

This is not a post on keyword research, so I am not going to get into that much more. That will be a future post.

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    Once you have completed your keyword research, you should have a solid list of keywords. Most good SEO’s will now try to understand the keyword intent. This is needed, but you shouldn’t stop there.

     

    Understanding SERP Intent

    As SEO’s, we all do research to try to discover what the keyword intent is. 

    But, these are just assumptions. Now your assumptions at times can be spot on, but they may not be.

    So, when mapping out a new SEO campaign most SEO’s will say something like this to you (does this sound familiar?):

    Courtesy of Chris Von Wilpert

    “Ask any content marketer or SEO how to get bulk organic traffic to your website, and they’ll tell you this: 

        • Find link-worthy content (content that’s already generated a lot of links.)
        • Make something even better (longer, more up-to-date, better designed.)
        • Do link building to get it to rank on the first page of Google (email site owners that have already linked to similar content.)

    That’s an old strategy from 2013.

    The competition for content is so fierce now, you could link build for months and never see results. And even if you do get it to work, you have no clear strategy for how to get that traffic to convert into sales.”

    Again, this strategy I’m laying out for you yielded 13,000,000 visitors in the last year… for one site.

    This is one of the biggest steps we have taken to ensure our content’s success. It’s by trying to understand our customers, and the SERP intent of said keywords.

    For example…

    Who is smarter at understanding the users’ keywords and what they are trying to solve?

    The SEO with their software, or the algorithms that Google have spent billions on developing?

    You guessed it. Google for the win.

    Google always changes their algorithms. That is based on their users’ behaviors and many other factors.

    The best way we can figure out the SERP intent is to take your keywords and enter them into Google.

    Note: For this step, we use VPNs to avoid our browsing behavior interfering with the SERP.

    When we type in “how to build a computer”. We, the SEO’s might think “oh this person needs to learn how to build a pc”.

    Google though, understands that the people who search that type of keyword are going to be complete beginners.

    How can I tell that?

    I looked at this SERP.

    See Google’s first words after PC in the search were “from scratch” and then “for beginners”.

    In the “People Also Ask” section, Google tries to answer other questions a total noob PC builders will also have.

    And Google knows exactly the BEST content that serves these searchers.

    Several years ago I built my first PC ever.

    And you know what? the content I learned from to build my PC is the same pieces of content that rank #1 still to this day.

    These two pieces of content that have stayed in the first position. This is because they answer the users questions completely. They are evergreen and add immense value.

    See Google’s first words after PC in the search were “from scratch” and then “for beginners”.

    In the “People Also Ask” section, Google tries to answer other questions a total noob PC builders will also have.

    And Google knows exactly the BEST content that serves these searchers.

    Several years ago I built my first PC ever.

    And you know what? the content I learned from to build my PC is the same pieces of content that rank #1 still to this day.

    These two pieces of content that have stayed in the first position. This is because they answer the users questions completely. They are evergreen and add immense value.

    I want to say this one last time before moving on…

    I can’t stress enough how important it is to understand the SERP intent… BEFORE producing your content. 

    For example… A good friend of mine has won the build the business contest with Shopify. His business does a little over 15 million in revenue a year.

    He was very proud to show me all 60+ articles he had written recently.

    I asked him… “How did you come up with all these articles?”

    He answered, “These are articles I think our customers will like.”

    He did zero research and spent thousands of dollars producing that content.

    After digging into the posts… we discovered they had little to no value to his customers and almost no search volume backing them.

    He assumed and failed.

    Don’t do that.

    Creating Top Performing Content

    Now you have a look into the core research process we used that yielded 13,000,000 annual visitors for one site. 

    Now let’s see the content approach and why it worked and converted so well.

    By the time you are ready to actually create your content you should have done this type of research by now.

    We design our content to convert to cash and rank. The following elements are what we focus on.

    1 – The Headline

    Here is the fast and dirty method I use to find a click worthy headline. It’s simple, fast, and easy.

    The first place I learned this from was Tim Ferriss’ Four Hour Work Week. on my moms couch 12 years ago when I was first getting started.

    Facebook ads, but only doing headline tests.

    The purpose of this test is to create all the headlines you can think of.  Then A/B test which ones will get the most and cheapest clicks. That way when your post goes live, you will have the best chances of having a searcher from Google click on your post.

    Below are the Facebook ad campaign settings I use to test the headlines.

    Here are the guidelines for the headlines ads tests.

    • Do not test more than 6 headlines at a time (make sure they are hook headlines)
    • The same headline has to be in the headline part of your ad.
    • Do not add any copy above the ad
    • The headline must be on a bright colored image that is one solid color for the background.
    • Lifetime budget of $10-15 for every 10 headlines you test. We normally never test more than 30.

    Here is what the ad looks like:

    As you can see there is a very clear winner here. It has a link CTR of 4.06%.

    If you are still struggling to come up with good headlines checkout this video by Russell Brunson.

    Then use the headline generator by Sumo.

    Once you have your list of headlines, run them all through this headline analyzer to check their emotional value.

    Edit your lowest scoring headlines to have a higher score. Then run them all through the ad testing process above.

    2 – Word Count

    Yes, I know more words doesn’t mean a post will rank. Though, we do know content that answers the users’ questions has a much better chance.

    For example…

    A content strategy I learned about 5 years ago from Digital Marketers, Rolan Fraiser. It is a specific way to approach list posts.

    They created a post on paracord projects.

    In the first several months of this post being live it was generating over 65k in monthly traffic.

    Why? 

    It was a list post where each point in the list was its own major keyword.

    To promote it they did, 1. a link building campaign and 2. Content promotion campaign telling relevant people about it.

    While this was a list post and ours wasn’t, the approach was the same. Our post had every major keyword in it that was relevant to the topic. In saying that, I don’t recommend keyword stuffing.

    Rather, organically using the keywords throughout the content.   The end goal here is actually adding value to the user.

    AKA created a masterpiece for them.

    Which leads me to…

    3 – Content Quality

    We have one simple rule when it comes to our content quality.

    You have heard of skyscraper content, cornerstone content, and all the other names out there.

    We have a different name and philosophy for it.

    We call it Masterpiece Content.

    A Masterpiece Content is a post that goes after a big keyword (usually). For us the Masterpiece content has 3k words or more, and will have many other pieces of content developed around it (supporting content). It’s a piece that oftentimes, will be evergreen and become the “go to” piece of content on a specific topic.

    So then, the  philosophy is simple. When a post goes live, it has to be the #1 best piece of content on the internet for that topic.

    A Masterpiece.

    And when it’s not, it gets put back into the queue and made as such.

    We hired the best writers in the world on the topic to write this content. It wasn’t cheap either.

    For those of you who don’t have massive budgets you can still do this same approach too.

    Still produce the best content you know how to. Follow this guide (make sure to answer your buyers questions). Produce the content at a frequency that you’re able to handle. While you may not hit 1mil/mo readers or even 10mil, you can hit 100k+/mo readers.

    This is a side hustle site of mine I took to well over 100k+/mo visitors and we put out 4 posts a month. That’s it.

    As for the content plan for it, we used the interviews of our customers and the SERP intent to produce a writers brief for our writers.

    4 – Content Architecture 

    This is a topic you don’t see discussed much.

    Silos (content clusters or link wheels).

    To say Silos played a major part in our SEO success would be an extreme understatement.

    Silos do several things. They:

    1. Make it improve your website’s information structure and user experience.
    2. Encourages the user to dig deeper into your site and the information you are presenting.
    3. Makes it easier for the search engine to figure out what the content is about.

    What is a silo though?

    A silo is an internal link structure. It connects a group of related pages while separating unrelated pages.

    This strengthens the individual pages of each silo.

    A silo tells the bots to connect these specific pages together around a specific keyword. Increasing your likelihood of ranking for said keyword/s.

    Now there are two types of silos…

    Physical Silos and Virtual Silos.

    Physical has to do with the actual file structure. While virtual has to do with internal linking structure.

    In most cases we weren’t able to focus on physical, so we only focused on the virtual.

    Virtual silos use a drill-down cross-linking structure to create distinct subject categories. In other words, the theme of the top landing page is supported by relevant pages linking to it.”

    Here is how we do that…

    The key here is all the supporting pages need to only link to each other and the masterpiece content. It will dilute your pagerank otherwise.

    These supporting pieces of content will come from your keyword research. Don’t assume what they should be.

    Here are our key points when creating a virtual silo:

    • Masterpiece content has to be your big keyword you are going after. Think parent topic.
    • The silos can only (at first) link within its own silo. Once you have multiple you can strategically cross link your silos.
    • The content does not have to be in the same directory, only silo/inter link structure.
    • If possible and when it makes sense, create a custom menu for your silo. This makes linking them all together even easier.
    • If you HAVE to link other pages to your silo, use a  rel=”nofollow” link attribute. This will ensure there is no delusion  of link juice.
    • When link building to your silo/s, we throw 60-70% of our total links at the Masterpiece content and 30-40% at the supporting content.
    • The content within the silo directly comes from the empathy map and awareness map. Then backed by keyword data.

    Again, I can’t stress enough how important siloing is if you want real SEO success.

    Even though this siloing is common knowledge, I smoke my competition with silos. They are part of my “secret weapon”.

    If you are reading this post looking for a ‘secret’ that will set you apart from your competition while increasing your profit…

    Siloing is it.

    5 – Optimizing For User Signals 

    I’m hesitant to share this part because of how impactful it was to our success…

    User engagement signals.

    Too many SEOs never think about this, let alone get serious about optimizing for user signals.

    But, what are they?…

    99% of the time, Google does not care about who has the most backlinks or best on-page optimization.

    Google LOVES to put sites at the top that other people love.

    Sites that answer their users’ questions and solve their problems (think back to the interviews I mentioned).

    4 years ago in 2015 (that’s like a lifetime for SEO) Rank Fishkin ran this experiment and posted this on Twitter:

    The task was simple, but the results still ring true today.

    Within 70 minutes and 4,500 interactions later, the post jumped to the top ranking position. 

    948 referring domains to one post.

    The method we use is not new.

    It’s easy to do, but even easier to mess up and I see most people doing it wrong.

    Note: A solid 60+% of our links come from this method.

    Outreach For Linkbuilding

    Insert Video from Sujan P.: Mailshake outreach guidelines

    Part 1: Determine Your Prospects

    I will come up with a list of prospects I want a link from.

    Here are just some of the specs I want their site to have:

    • Existing traffic. (Usually No less than 5k/mo)
    • DR of 35+
    • Really good anchor text diversification (that’s a topic in itself)
    • Regular and consistent inbound links within the last 60-90 days
    • Relevant to my topics

    Part 2: Engagement With Your Targets

    I will engage with them on the main social platforms they are on for 1 week. My goal is for them to know my name when I email them.

    I (or whoever is sending the emails) will engage with my prospect with thoughtful questions and comments on what they are putting out. It could be blog comments all the way down to a retweet. 

    But, I will do it every day until I email them.

    During this time I am also looking for a angle to email them about something they are passionate about. It has to be important to them.

    I do this same approach when going after clients. It’s how I’ve landed multiple fortune 50 clients.

    Russell Brunson just posted this AMAZING video on this very thing (but in a different context).

    In that same video above and for high value targets/prospects, John Lee Dumas, said “Be strategic”.

    He continued…

    “There are times in every entrepreneur/business man’s life when they are in promotion mode. They just launched a book or some product, etc…”

    “In the early podcast I got Gary vee, Tim Ferriss, Seth Godin, Barbra Corcoran and Chris Brogan. And people would always ask me how I got them on my podcast. Well I waited until they were in promotion mode to invite them.”

    What John is saying is he had something of value and communicated that in a personal way to his prospects.

    Link building is really just relationship building.

    How did I learn to get hundreds of links a month?

    I learned from books like:

    The Soulmate Sequence by Richard La Ruina. In here you will learn how to connect with anyone via understanding the real dynamics of a quality conversation and how to create one.

    The Laws Of Human Nature by Robert Greene – We are social animals. Our very lives depend on our relationships with people. Knowing why people do what they do is the most important tool we can possess, without which our other talents can only take us so far. Greene teaches you how to detach yourself from your own emotions. How to develop the empathy that leads to insight, how to look behind people’s masks.

    Crucial Conversations by Kerry Patterson – The title says it all. How to have effective crucial conversations when stakes are high. When you need that high value link, you’ve got one shot to connect with the right person. This book will teach you how to make the most of the first encounter.

    Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi – You know the phrase, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” This book has put me in one on one dinners with billionaires. This book has impacted my business life more than anything else. I have learned how to get private dinners with billionaires. One on one sit downs with CEO’s of fortune 5 companies. If I can do this, then you can use the same strategies to get the links you need.

    The secret to this approach?

    Its building relationships that will outlast the backlink.

    It’s not easy, but it’s the most effective.

    Period.

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    Part 3: The Email they Won’t Forget

    Sure you can send the broken link and all the other kinds of emails…

    The “I saw you link to person X” (please don’t)…

    The “I thought you would be interested in X because”…

    Just don’t.

    You are emailing a HUMAN BEING.

    Treat them like one.

    This of the golden rule here. What emails would you respond to and what emails do you delete?

    Spend time learning about them (read the books I mentioned above).

    Learn to care about them and their wellbeing. No one likes having their time wasted.

    Here is the first email I sent to hopefully get a link for this client:

    (Img 1)

    She responded 45 min after I sent it.

    The next day the link was live. DR 82, over 20mil/mo visitors, and my link is the first link in that article.

    Note: Before this post went live I asked a good bit of people for feedback. 50%+ of them wanted to see how I transitioned from the first email into the link. So here you go. 🙂

     

    (Img 2)

    Takeaways on the emails:

    Takeaway #1 – I mentioned palm reading because 1. I actually had it done prior to this email for fun so I could talk about it with her, and 2. Because I did my research and knew she loved palm reading. When I was doing my research on her I was looking for things I could connect with her on. And no, I don’t believe in palm reading. ;P

    Takeaway #2 – I didn’t say anything else other than answering her question because I wanted to see where she was going to take it.

    Takeaway #3 – When I pitched showing her the post, I left her an out to say no. I didn’t want to pressure her. And in this email I decided to be blunt with her since she asked. I also mentioned I’m still happy to chat because I do enjoy connecting with people. I wasn’t only talking to her because I wanted the link.

    (Img 3)

    Takeaway #4 – I offered to write the paragraph AND to find where it would be best places. By doing this, I was able to take things off her plate that she would have to do to give me the link. Plus I get to control the anchor text (provided she didn’t edit them).

    #5 Research. A couple months before the time of this email, this woman posted a small series of pictures on her Instagram. They were on how to make homemade blueberry cheesecake milkshakes and her love of palm reading.

    I had just recently got back from San Diego (where she lived) and had the same milkshakes she was talking about.

    That — was my in for starting a great conversation.

    We are still friends to this day…. Even if she now lives in Bali. #notjealous 😉

    Read at least one of the books I mentioned and then read this post by Tim Soulo of Ahrefs.

    He wrote an outreach article that pairs perfectly with this post.

    No joke, you have to spend time crafting an email that connects with its recipient. If you can’t do that you won’t be good at this style of link building.

     

    Conclusion

    If you are in a similar position as this client once was, you certainly have your work cut out for you. However, I hope this brief has helped you to see what areas they are strong in and where they might be weak.

    You should be thinking about how you can apply what we are doing to YOUR market.

    You should not be thinking my business is different, so none of this applies. Trust me after having run over thousands of campaigns in 50+ verticals – no business is that different. These strategies work in all markets.

    But, they do take time. Sometimes months and other times years.

    Also, take notice as to what is not here. The strategies we are and aren’t using are important to identify.

    What strategies and tactics are not showing up here that some experts say you MUST be doing. I find it much more effective to learn from what’s actually in play and working with the biggest players, than to learn from how to courses.

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