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Clever Content Club Blog

A Case Study On Growing Blog Traffic 650% In Two Years

By Tom Salvat 11 November, 2019 0 Comments

Growing blog traffic is a content marketing KPI. More traffic means more eyeballs looking at your site’s content and more chances for conversions. But let’s be frank. Most business blogs are, shall we say, sluggish.

We came across an article on Moz that described a case study on improving a business blog’s visits by an impressive amount. The writer managed to grow a blog on motor oil, of all things, over 650% in two years. They went from under 5,000 sessions per month to over 100,000 sessions per month. That’s an incredible growth rate.

We want to pick apart the case study and see what bits of wisdom other content marketers can learn from it. Let’s dive in!

The Baseline

The content marketer was given a goal: grow traffic. She had free reign on the blog but had no access to change things on the corporate website. Three contributors were on the blog. They would meet weekly to hash out topics, but there was no regular posting schedule.

The business was also in a difficult niche for interesting topics. The company sold motor oil online and there’s only so much you can write about it without getting technical. At the time she came on, the blog was receiving 5,000 visitors every month.

Summary Of The Strategy

First thing’s first. The author had to create a content marketing strategy from scratch. We’ve written many posts on this topic in the past because it’s so important. Without a strategy, the success of a content marketing campaign is like throwing noodles at the wall. You might get some to stick, but most of them are going to land in a sticky mess.

The strategy was a complete overhaul. Among the improvements were:

  • Creating an editorial calendar
  • Increasing the number of writers
  • Improving technical parts of the blog
  • Deciding on a voice
  • Curating new ideas on social media

Creating An Editorial Calendar

Ad-hoc publishing will keep people away from a blog. Period. Posts have to go up on a regular schedule so people can know when to check for new information. Imagine if a newspaper decided to publish sporadically. It would never be able to hold subscribers. The same goes for your blog. Our case study blog decided to publish three days a week.

Another tool they used was a shared document for collecting ideas and post topics from all the writers. These would be analyzed quarterly through keyword and social research to see how different audiences would respond to the topics. They landed on three main topic areas: search query articles, persona-focused articles, and event-based articles.

While quarterly is a good time frame for an analysis of the state of the market, a company that wants to stay at the forefront of the conversation may need something that will analyze possible topics at a faster speed. That’s where AI-powered tools like CONCURED come in. CONCURED can determine what topics are likely on your audience’s minds in real-time based on thousands of data points.

Gathering More Writers

Writing is hard work, make no bones about it. Throwing all the responsibility for blog content onto a few writers can burn them out fast, to say nothing of doing it to some poor lone writer at your company.  Even with technology, it’s hard for a small group to craft pieces on a relentless schedule.

In our case study, the content marketer reached out to other people in the company to ask for voluntary contributions to the blog. She wanted to find people who would be willing to make new pieces 1-2 times a month. Once they volunteered, they were assigned a writer that would act as a proofreader and editor for the posts so that the volunteer didn’t have to worry about perfection.

This strategy grew the blog’s writing staff from three people to eight people, giving everyone more opportunity to think about topics without the pressure of a posting deadline. Before you set a posting pace in stone, consider doing a similar outreach in your company so that your writers can do their best work. You might find that your coworkers have some hidden writing talents.

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Improving Technical Aspects

Website content and SEO go hand-in-hand, but our case study blog made a conscious decision to focus their SEO efforts only on pieces that pulled in more traffic than the average. The company hired interns to go over the content and make SEO improvements on the best pieces.

Some of the tactics used were basic ones like adding alt tags, improving permalinks and titles, and adding anchor links for longer pieces. They also added subheadings that were friendly to web crawlers, humans, and voice searchers. Other things they did included adding relevant videos and lengthening pieces.

There’s a good sample of top-of-fold SEO for one of their posts on the page that you can try on some of your pages in the Moz article. We like this focus on improving only the higher-performing posts instead of pushing for SEO perfection across all pieces. Not every piece is worth the effort.

Another thing they leaned into was creating Accelerated Mobile Pages for their pieces. This created a huge boost in search traffic. However, there was a snag. AMP formatting stripped out parts of the blog’s template used for conversion. Visitors could not sign up for emails or enter the shop from the AMP pages.

Redesigning the blog to make those parts AMP-compliant was out of the budget, so they had to put in product and page placements into the blog content. We agree that using AMP is a wonderful way to get mobile attention. Just make sure that it doesn’t wreck your funnel in the process, like in this case.

Deciding On A Voice

Voice is a sensitive topic because it’s intimately linked with branding. We’ve written on finding a voice for your blog in the past. Our case study took a different approach by allowing each of the blog’s contributors to write in their own voices. Each of the three main writers had a distinct voice and not all of them aligned with the tone taken on the main website.

The benefit they found was that allowing writers their own voice made it easier for them to create content. They didn’t have the extra cognitive load of making their writing conform to a voice. This allowed them to make more content than they could otherwise.

We think, in this case, having multiple voices wouldn’t harm the brand. The writers, we assume, were focused mostly on the blog. Thankfully, there’s an assumption on blogs that the content there is more casual and natural. The writer doesn’t have to be completely ‘on-brand’.

Ultimately, it would depend on the audience. Motor oil is used by practically every adult so having multiple voices could draw in multiple audiences. If the audience was more niche or occupied a certain socioeconomic bracket, the voice would have to be tighter to comply with audience expectations.

Curating Ideas On Social Media

A fantastic idea that we loved was their approach to curating ideas on social media. The blog team would ask people for ideas on social media for posts. If they accepted one, they would add a credit in the post to the source of the idea. That’s a really powerful way of showing the audience that you’re paying attention!

Taking Your Time

Now, we don’t want to give the impression that if you do all these ideas at once that your blog traffic will explode overnight. This was a slow process. In the first year of adding improvements they only doubled their traffic. Not bad at all, but not nearly the results they got the next year.

They focused on one improvement at a time. As each one became solid, it became a stepping stone for the next one. But how do you keep management invested in your content marketing plan when it takes so long?

The key is to know how each improvement helps with the overall goal of the campaign and figure out a way to show how that improvement is moving the needle. For something like an editorial calendar, it could be showing changes in how many posts are scheduled in advance and the list of new topic ideas. Something technical like implementing AMP can be shown through mobile visit improvements and SERP rankings on mobile devices. 

Content marketers know that each piece of the strategy serves a purpose and that the whole is more than the sum of the parts. It’s not enough to just do one thing. Again, you must have a content marketing strategy to guide you.

Take a moment to review your current blogging strategy. Do you have an editorial calendar? Are you reaching out to others in the business for content and ideas? Is your SEO up to par, and have you decided on a voice? Read our past articles on these topics to get more insight, then go out there and improve your business blogs!

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