2018 Link Building Case Study | Using White Hat SEO Tactics

Case Study

How We Ranked OutreachMama on the First Page of Google for
4 Competitive Keywords in Just 8 Months

Guest Posting/Editorial Link Building

Outreach Mama is primarily a blogger outreach company.

So that being said… we do lots of blogger outreach.

To the point where our inventory of real bloggers who are willing to accept our content numbers in the hundreds.

This one simple tactic is at the core of our entire strategy and case study and whenever we look to rank a website, it typically comes in the form of guest posting on Domain Authority (DA) 30, 40, 50, or 60 sites or acquiring placements from top tier websites like Forbes, the Huffington Post, or Entrepreneur.

So *queue surprised face* this was the primary strategy that we relied on during operation “Rank the Shit Out of OutreachMama”

Skyscraper Blogging and Link Outreach

We love the skyscraper content strategy.

We love it more than most teenage girls love Justin Bieber and we use it on a very regular basis.

I can already see some of you scratching your head and asking “Ajay, what in the hell is skyscraper blogging?”

Here’s the basic process.

  • Identify the very best content in your industry that has tons of referring links and high authority
  • Figure out how you can create something even better and then publish content that kicks way more ass
  • Reach out to all the people who linked to the original piece of content and [kindly] ask for some of those tasty links.

Simple but effective.

Blogger Outreach for Links

So we briefly mentioned blogger outreach during the last section, but this is a damn important part of our strategy so there’s plenty more where that came from.

A huge part of our 8-month campaign required blogger outreach campaigns designed to secure high level links from high DA websites.

Month Numero Uno:

The Journey Begins

STOP!

Wait a minute. (Fill my cup put some liquor in it?)

Before I start blasting you with the strategies and data that I used, let’s take a second and layout how we measured our progress over the past 8-months.

When we began this process, we decided to forgo the unnecessarily complex measurement strategies followed by so many other SEOs and keep things simple.

So…

We used keyword rankings.

While we still kept track of additional metrics like organic traffic, keyword rankings provided the most concrete and simplest way to determine our success or failure.

So since we are on the same page…. Let’s rewind to that fateful day in August 2016, 1 month after our launch.

In the first month of our launch, we build 48 guest post links to outreachmama.com with the majority of those sites possessing a DA of 40+.

Months 2 through 7:

Want To See The Juicy Step-by-Step Tactics?

Enter your email below to instantly unlock the content.

Month 2:

The Journey Continues

So in the last section of this case study, we laid out the baseline and presented our original plan to grow OutreachMama using our own services.

And as we barreled into the second month, our results were excellent!

As you continue reading, remember that there are no under the table deals of behind the scenes work taking place.

Our results were achieved exclusively by using the services that we offer on this site.

  • Guest posting and editorial link building
  • Publisher partnerships with companies like Forbes and “HuffPo”

So, during the second month of our campaign, we loaded up our offices with free coffee and psychedelic paintings to inspire the creativity of our expert writing team who was hard at work creating high-caliber content for the purpose of securing premium links from well known brands.

Our outreach team targets sites with a Domain Authority score of 30-60 while leveraging existing partnerships to secure links from brands with even more authority.

At this point, we had secured an impressive 350 backlinks from 119 domains

One of our primary focuses at this point in the campaign was to execute a very consistent link building campaign to give our backlink profile a very natural look and incur the favor of the Search Engine gods

For me, the best part of our second month was the caliber of the links that we built.
Even during the early stages of our campaigns, we secured a number of links from some of the largest brands on the web.

The quality of these links had an (almost) immediate and noticeable effect on our search engine ranking.

In just a little over a month, we saw substantial increases on our most profitable keywords, with some keywords jumping as many as 30+ positions since we started tracking!

Keyword Ranking Position
Blogger outreach template +14
Blogger outreach services +6
Guest posting services +31
Blogger outreach company +14

*At this point in the campaign, there was no content targeting the keyword “Link building company”. Just stay patient and we will show you those results later 😉

Month 3 & 4:

Page One Baby!

So a little birdie told me a while back that it takes about 6-12 months before you will see SEO results.

The only problem was the Tweety Bird was lying.

While this is certainly the usual timeline for real results, as we passed the 100-day mark of our campaign, we managed to rank on page 1 for one of our top keywords “blogger outreach services”

Booyah!

THE SEO ACTIVITIES RECAP

So before we keep going, let’s recap what happened over the past 50 days.

At the end of month 2, OutreachMama.com had 119 referring domains.

Now, we have 195.

That’s 76 new referring domains over 50 days!

ONSITE CHANGES

During the third month, the website underwent a complete overhaul with a redesign and rebranding of the homepage.

We added more services pages specifically for blogger outreach, link building, guest posting, blog writing, and skyscraper articles.

Yes… It was a lot.

My internal web design and coding took care of this much needed redesign, and I’m a HUGE fan of the color scheme, font usage and general informative nature of the new site.
The old site lacked proper SEO optimized landing pages as well, which we fixed with the new iteration.

Remember, a poorly optimized site with a ton of links won’t always get the job done.

A well optimized site with no links won’t get the job done.

A well optimized site with a consistent flow of new content + lots of quality backlinks will always get the job done.

KEYWORD RANKINGS PROGRESS

First, let’s focus on the keyword that hit
page 1 – “blogger outreach services”.

During that exact time frame is when we started
building links at scale.

Typically, a link built today does not show it’s full SEO benefit for about 6 months.

This wasn’t always the case, but as Google’s algorithm has started to evolve, they only want to reward consistent brands with page 1 rankings.

So why was this keyword able to hit page 1 in just over 3 months?

In order to understand why, you must first see what the rest of the rankings look like.

During this time frame, 95% of the inbound links were built directly to the homepage, and the rest were built to random blog posts.

Therefore, it is no surprise, that the homepage started ranking on page 1 for it’s specific term.

Since the internal service pages like the “link building” and “guest posting” page have no direct links, they didn’t benefit as much from the 200 links built at that point in time.

We also built a tremendous number of referring domains to the website in those initial three months.

200 Referring domains over 90 days is nearly unheard of and its true cost is around $40,000, so it’s no surprise that we’re seeing phenomenal results in our rank.

LEADS GENERATED

Now…

All of this seems great, but let’s be real here.

No one really gives a shit about your ranking if you aren’t generating leads and making money!

So, did our campaign help this process at all?

Why yes my young padawan… yes it did.

In the third month of our campaign we generated 9 new organic leads like the one below.

Considering that we were only 3.5 months into this business…
That’s not a bad start!

Month 5:

They See Me Growin’

During the 3rd and 4th months of our campaign, we were able to land a first page ranking for a primary keyword “blogger outreach services”.

And during the 5th month, we saw even more positive movement across the board.

During the fourth month, we had roughly 200 RDs, and now, that number has grown even more.

By sticking to our guns and following the plan that we laid out during the introduction of this article, we were able to grow by over 42 referring domains over the course of our fifth month.

And as you will see momentarily… it’s really beginning to pay off.

ONSITE CHANGES

In the fourth month, our website saw some massive changes with a total redesign and the introduction of some new service pages.

During our fifth month, we expanded on that foundation and launched our landing page for our Scholarship.EDU Link Building Service.

As the holidays were in full swing, we slowed down our blogging during the fifth month and focused primarily on link building.

KEYWORD RANKINGS PROGRESS

During the fifth month of our campaign, there was a lot of positive movement across the board for most of the keywords.

Some of them jumped as many as 70 positions!

Just take a look.

Of our top 17 keywords, 13 saw positive movement, while only 3 keywords saw dips in ranking. Those dips weren’t very substantial, either.

On the whole, our keywords are trending positively after only 5 months, and we expect that to continue.

Digging a little deeper, we can take a look at which inner pages are ranking for which keywords.

All of our largest keywords saw positive movement with very small dips for those that moved negatively.

Although we had not built links directly to all of our inner pages (we were focusing mostly on homepage links), we did start to experience a trickle down effect where all pages on the website were benefiting from the 237 links that we had built.

As a result of all of this positive movement, we experienced some pretty substantial organic traffic gains in December.

As you can see, December was our busiest month in 2016 by a pretty wide margin.

This came as a bit of a surprise since December tends to be a slower period for the SEO and marketing communities (all the crazy hustlers are taking time off for the holidays) because

Additionally, our domain authority (MOZ) received quite a lift, jumping to 39!

Month 6:

Awwwww Shit! Man Down!

This “blogger outreach services” keyword actually made it all the way up to page 1 of Google in Month 4 of the case study, and in Month 6, it dropped lower than ever.

Normally, this is the point in a campaign where we have to talk our clients off the ledge and convince them that everything is ok.

Because frankly… if you have reached this point in your website’s journey, it’s time to get excited!

Really excited.

Yeah… you read that right.

You should get excited whenever your rankings start to decline.

What I have noticed after years of experience is that this is typically the move that Google makes when they are preparing to shoot your rankings higher than ever.

However, for some weird reason, the algorithm feels the need to mess with your head just a little bit (ok a lot bit) and de-rank your site for about 30-60 days.

Whether you want to label it the “Google Dance” or the “Google Mind-f*#@” it simply means that you can expect to report your highest rankings ever in the next month or two.

But in the meantime, let’s take a look at the other ranking factors that came into play here.

REFERRING DOMAINS UPDATE

The end of month 6 put us at 254 referring domains, about a 20 domain increase over those 30 days.

A vast majority of these were branded links to the homepage, continuing with our conservative strategy of building the branding authority of the domain before worrying about keyword-relevant anchor text.

TRAFFIC STATS

Traffic was suppressed at the start of the month due to the new year, but steadily normalized as the weeks progressed.

Direct is usually a misleading traffic type since Google throws whatever it can’t figure out into that bucket.

However, there was a healthy mix of traffic from Organic, Social, Referral and Display.

Even though this is a SEO case study, the number one objective is to build a sustainable business, so you can’t put all your eggs in the Google basket.

If you check my blog section, you’ll see I’m publishing frequently and auto-syndicating to Social Media using Meet Edgar.

Traffic Type Percentage of Overall Traffic
Direct 53.94%
Organic Search 22.60%
Social 10.61%
Referral 6.43%
Display 5.85%

CONVERSIONS

During the sixth month, we had 32 contact form submissions.
Which meant that even with the ranking drop we experienced our highest lead count ever!

Month 7:

The Comeback Kid

Are you still with me?

Hang in there tiger, I know that this case study is pretty lengthy, but I promise it will be worth it.

So during the sixth month of the campaign, we experienced our worst rankings ever.

Everything was happy go lucky in OutreachMama’s world and then BAM!

Google deployed its psychological warfare, destroyed our rankings, and left everyone (who didn’t know what was happening) with tears in their eyes.

But we kept our chins up and continued doing what we were doing because (as you should remember) I knew Google was just playing some mind games.

And I was right.

RANKINGS UPDATE

Just like James J. Braddock in the final round of Cinderella Man, our team kept swinging, and finally landed some solid punches, pulling OutreachMama back into the ring and putting it back on the first page of Google.

Most keywords that we were tracking saw a dramatic jump in month 7, including our main keyword making it all the way from #16 to #2 in Google.

Here’s a closer look at individual keyword rankings jumps month over month.

Here is a 3 month daily rankings trend analysis of the same keywords:

Looking at average rankings is a great way to figure out how your overall link building campaign is going.

Solo keyword tracking is fun… but often times it’s random and doesn’t offer any actionable insights into your progress.

However, when you take the average of all your rankings and plot them over time, you start seeing patterns within the algorithm.

Similar to a technical analysis of the stock market, once you get used to seeing certain trends, you become able to predict the future with some level of accuracy.

Because of my experience with previous campaigns and clients, I felt comfortable predicting the jump in month 7.

Which made the drop off during month 6 a little more bearable.

REFERRING DOMAINS UPDATE

The end of month 7 put us at 314 referring domains, an increase of 60 over the previous month.

76% of the links were built to the homepage, with a vast majority being branded anchor text.

13% of the links were built to blog posts and 7% of the links were built to service pages.

TRAFFIC STATS

In addition to the spike in our rankings, organic traffic continued to reach new highs during month 7.

Although the traffic volume was relatively paltry, this didn’t come as a surprise.

Since SEO and link building related content is extremely competitive and most of the current high organic rankings are for low volume buyer keywords, low traffic volume is little more than an occupational hazard.

CONVERSIONS

Just as “Man cannot subsist on bread alone”, “Successful businesses cannot subsist on good rankings alone”.

So even though this case study is predominantly focused on our path from Search Engine Zero to First Page Hero, I wanted to take a moment to point towards the only metric that really matters in business.

Conversions and revenue.

You need to have a steady flow of leads coming into your business or you are doomed.

I don’t care how high you rank.

With that thought in mind, we had 51 contact form submissions in Month 7 (up from 32 in month 6).

Making month 7 one of our most profitable and successful months to date.

Month 8:

The Road Goes Ever On and On

In month 7, we saw our main homepage keyword hit the top 3 spots of Google and almost all of our keywords have a sizeable increase.

Our assumption was that Google had finally taken off the training wheels off and given credence to our site’s authority and reach.

Due to the 300+ branded homepage links that we built, it is safe to say that Google now views us as a trustworthy and high-caliber brand.

So what happens when you pour a great deal of time, effort and money into building a strong SEO brand?

Have a look and see for yourself.

RANKINGS UPDATE & RECAP

If you look back at month 7, you will remember that only one of our keywords “blogger outreach services” had reached page one of Google.

I actually had a very keen subscriber and astute observer reach out and ask me “So you spent all that time and money over 7 months for one single ranking? Big deal!”

My response was to sit back, smirk, and take another sip of my Bulletproof coffee, instructing the friendly subscriber to sit back and wait.

Because, quite simply, if Google trusts your website enough for 1 keyword to get to page 1, it’ll trust your site to put a lot more there as well.

It just takes time.

Now we see our homepage also ranks in the top 3 for the keyword “Blogger Outreach Service” without the “s”.

What I’m really excited about here is the new page 1 rankings for the terms related to guest posting and link building.

These are actually internal pages that are ranking:

https://www.outreachmama.com/guest-posting/ and https://www.outreachmama.com/link-building-for-agencies/ respectively.

At the time of this case study the https://www.outreachmama.com/guest-posting/ URL only had 6 referring domains and https://www.outreachmama.com/link-building-for-agencies/ only had 3, yet they are both ranked on page 1 for their main keywords.

This is the extremely powerful benefit from focusing the first several months of an SEO campaign on branding, branding and more branding.

Did I mention that you should focus on branding?

And here’s the real kicker.

Once you’ve built 100’s of links to your homepage and established a brand, the main pages on your site benefit from the trickle down effect of your brand’s strength and link “juice”.

Which means that you need significantly fewer backlinks to rank your internal pages.

And of course, since we talked about the importance of tracking the average of all your keywords, let’s take a look at the results from month 8.

Starting from the beginning of month 7 to the middle of month 8, the website reached new highs on almost a daily basis until finally stopping to catch it’s breath.

Now of course, this is the expected pattern and we are expecting plenty more ranking spikes as time continues.

REFERRING DOMAINS

I’m not entirely sure what substances my team was using during the 8th month…

But I sincerely hope that they continue with them for the foreseeable future, because they were able to add a whopping 113 new referring domains in month 8.

113!

During this time, one particularly eager subscriber sent an inquiry asking just how expensive this would be if a “normal” business tried to pull this off.

And I just want to take a moment and point out that not all of these links came from high priced guest posts.

Our business’s coffers aren’t that deep.

While you certainly want a healthy mix of guest posts from real, high DA websites, you can also get great links from web 2.0 sites to help drive the overall RD count up.

Having a website exclusively web 2.0 RD’s won’t get the job done and neither will having a website that is exclusively blog comments.

It is a laser like focus on diversity and consistency that ultimately leads to success.

TRAFFIC STATS

So now, many of you might be wondering just how much traffic these drastic rank increases pulled in…

I will just put it this way, it was not a small amount.

Organic traffic for new users more than doubled during the 8th month and overall organic traffic increased by 50%.

Not too shabby, eh?

CONVERSIONS

And finally… The big papa.

The whole reason that we endured the 8 months of ups and downs.

Conversion.

During the eighth month of our SEO campaign, we saw our highest conversion numbers to date.
We generated a total of 80 conversion (up 29 from month seven’s 51) .

So not only did month 8 bring about our highest search engine rankings, and organic traffic, but it also brought in more revenue than any month prior.

All in all… Not a bad day’s work.

IN CONCLUSION

If you managed to stick it out through the entire case study, then go ahead and buy yourself a cookie… You’ve earned it!

After you have demolished said cookie, it’s time for you to try this out yourself.

If you have followed this study carefully and can see how our link building and blogger outreach services can help you and your company succeed, then enter your email below and we will be in touch!

Have any questions about the process or the data? Have you accomplished similar feats of SEO glory on your website? Let us know in the comments below.

  • Brian Hansen

    Thank you for sharing your journey and congrats on a great early start. I think Outreach Mama is on the road to success. What I like most about this case study is the tactics you used are the services you are selling. Thanks again!

    • Ajay Paghdal

      Thanks Brian!

  • Dominic Mondal

    This is an amazing real case study. I can see your DA is 52. This is a great achievement for a new site. I am also building back links slowly and publishing blog content daily on 7 months old Coupon site from India. I don’t rank well for any commercial keyword but some of my blog keywords bringing me over 300 daily visitor from Google.

    • Ajay Paghdal

      Thanks Dominic! Make sure your branded SEO is dialed in.

      • Dominic Mondal

        Thanks for your kind advice.

  • QuestionCage

    Hello, Ajay that sounded awesome… linkbuilding is the toughest part for any blogger
    Your blog progress is great in a short span on time. I am on the same path of Guest blogging. Writing on many blogs these days..

    I knew the Skyscraper idea of blogging, probably time to implement it to get the link juice flow…

  • That’s a great case study. You mentioned, that you spent about $40K for the linkbuilding. Is that the overall cost for your project? Or was the actual cost a lot higher? By the way, your sign-up form is currently not working. (“Invalid shortcode parameters”) https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f92246b0b6ab16c113350fc2f19e7c3b127ecb278a89d5bca8aa5c8beb021c2e.png (Attached a screenshot).