How We Ranked OutreachMama on the First Page of Google for 4 Competitive Keywords in Just 8 Months
**A Note Now That It’s 2020**
Wow, this link building case study is from 2017. So much has changed with SEO in just the past 3 years.
There’s no way this case study could still be relevant now in 2020, right?
Here are our January 13, 2020 Google keyword rankings compared to the date this case study was published.
In a world where Google’s June and September 2019 algorithm annihilated so many websites, most of our important keywords are in the top 3 positions.
Everything in this case study is still highly relevant – the way we built links, what pages we targetted, what anchor text we used and the timelines.
So check it out and happy implementing!
Let me let you in on a little secret.
Ranking on the first page of Google for any major keyword is hard. Extremely hard.
And with the constant updates, unbelievable amounts of competition, and the psychological warfare that Google wages, most people believe that it’s impossible to get your website on the first page in less than a year.
And most people are wrong.
We launched outreachmama.com roughly 8 months ago.
When we started, we had no referring links, no authority, and no online presence.
We rank on the first page for 4 of our target keywords and rank in the top 3 results for 2 of those keywords!
This wasn’t luck, it wasn’t random chance, and it wasn’t the result of any secret tactics or techniques.
It was a simple, tactical approach to link building that relied on three key components.
Yes, our strategy will take hard work, it will take time, and most of all patience.
But if you are willing to put in the work, I can all but guarantee that you will see results and rank your website for competitive keywords faster than you ever thought possible.
Today, I am going to take you through the exact process that we followed from start to finish.
I am going to reveal the month-by-month actions that we took to reach page 1 and I am going to share simple strategies to help you do the same.
So pull another shot of espresso and keep on reading…
Our Simple 3-Step Strategy for Achieving First Page Rankings
Our goal with this entire case study was to rank our website on the first page of Google for our selected terms using our own services.
I believe this is known as eating your own dog food.
At OutreachMama, we use a simple, 3-step strategy to rank any website on the first page of Google.
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.
That’s the intro.
You still with me? Good.
Now, before we deep dive into the nitty gritty of the case study and I reveal the exact ways I implemented these tactics, let’s recap.
If you (yes you, beautiful) want to get your website to rank on the first page of Google for [Insert Desired Keyword] then here is the only strategy that you need to follow.
- Follow a weekly blogging/editorial link building schedule
- Skyscrape the crap out of a few great pieces of content
- Reach out to other bloggers in your niche requesting links
No really… Don’t believe me?
Well, without any further ado, here is the 8-month case study revealing exactly how we did it and the measurable results that we achieved.
Month Numero Uno:
The Journey Begins
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.
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+.
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!
|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 😉
During the second month, we published 2 new articles:
ORGANIC TRAFFIC WE GENERATED (IN LESS THAN 2 MONTHS!)
Because of our rapid improvements to our search engine ranking, we also experienced an influx of high quality traffics from our new links.
Take a look at the graph below and notice the traffic spike that we experienced in the second month.
SOCIAL MEDIA TRAFFIC GENERATED
Before we move onto month three, let’s have a look at how the content that we published was able to generate (unpaid) traffic from social media!
Not bad for 2 months of work, eh?
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”
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!
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.
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!
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.
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!
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!
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 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|
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
At the time of this case study the https://www.outreachmama.com/services/guest-posting/ URL only had 6 referring domains and https://www.outreachmama.com/services/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 UPDATE
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.
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.
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?
And finally… The big papa.
The whole reason that we endured the 8 months of ups and downs.
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.
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.