How we doubled the organic traffic on our blog and tripled the team in 2016! – WAU
The last time I made content like this, the result we had obtained from blog traffic was so incredible that I was euphoric to create something and share it with the world! In November 2015 marketingdeconteudo.com had beaten a surprising result. Something so big that even our own team couldn’t believe it […]
The last time I made content like this, the result we had obtained from blog traffic was so incredible that I was euphoric to create something and share it with the world!
In November 2015 marketingdeconteudo.com had beaten a surprising result. Something so big that even our own team couldn’t believe in our achievement.
When comparing the month of November 2014 with the same period in 2015, our organic traffic had increased by more than 1,772%!
If you want to take a look at what happened last year, read the entire content – after finishing reading this one? – and see for yourself.
Seriously, I myself couldn’t believe that all of our efforts over the course of a year had been able to take our blog so far.
But that was last year.
In today’s content let’s go a little bit beyond traffic. My goal is to summarize everything that happened in 2016 in “few” words, so that you understand how things work here and how we got to where we got to.
In this post you will see:
- How we doubled our organic traffic on the blog marketingdeconteudo.com;
- As our acquisition team has tripled in one year;
- What were the changes in the content strategy of our main blog;
- How we deal with a large number of competitors in organic searches.
If you are a marketing professional, marketing manager, CMO, intern or just curious about the subject and are looking for real success cases with Content Marketing, here’s a great example.
The question that does not want to remain silent: what happened after 1,772%?
“Renato, I want to see next year’s content. Hitting that goal will be impossible! ”
Hard work pays off!
You can be sure it was almost impossible, but we needed to try. After all, our marketing / growth team loves a good challenge!
And so, what happened in the last 365 days was pretty simple. We found flaws, improvements and did the only thing that could be done: we focused all our efforts on do a better job than before.
In the end, we achieved more than double organic traffic blog in a year! And with the size, it gets more and more difficult! O/
For you to have an idea, last year we went from 6 thousand unique users to 116 thousand. In other words, we attracted approximately 110 thousand additional new visitors in 12 months. This year, just to double, we had to add 145 thousand new readers. And we did it!
Although the number does not seem to be as impressive as the past, getting such a result is incredible! There are several aspects that make this growth even more challenging, and that’s basically what I’m going to talk about in this article.
A lot has changed from November 2015 to now. Our own team, the competition, the search engine – as expected – and so many other variables that made this mission somewhat complicated, but challenging and exciting. Feel that there is history!
Expansion of the team: From 2 to 6 people
“Renato, what the hell does the expansion of the team have to do with the result you achieved in the blog traffic?”
We closed 2015 with 6 people on the team. Many people did everything and, until then, our group was able to handle everything that was proposed for marketing. With the arrival of new challenges in 2016 this started to change quickly.
Like our blog, Websites Are Us’s marketing team needed to more than double to account for everything needed to keep the growth machine running at high speed.
We left from 6 people to 16. It was a gradual change over the year, but things really started to work out when we brought exclusive people to take care of marketingdeconteudo.com, leaving things separate and very clear.
About the blog group, we left 2 people who were responsible for MKTC and arrived at what we have today, with 6 WAUers who are responsible for both blogs.
From the moment we expanded our acquisition team, everything was on track and our results could be seen more clearly.
To the great work done by our team, I could not leave my deep thanks to everyone for their commitment! Liz, Jerê, Letícia, Dafne and Ana, thank you for everything!
Now that we’ve gone through the most basic parts of what we faced in 2016, let’s get straight into the strategic changes of what was done on the blog marketingdeconteudo.com and what we did to double our organic traffic in a year.
Changes to our content strategy
During 2015 our strategy was very well structured and was somewhat simple to execute. Our goal was to define monthly themes to base our production on specific subjects, while aligning what should be produced with what the experts in the subject also talked about.
Over the four quarters of the year, this strategy worked perfectly and was largely responsible for helping us to cover most of the issues about Digital Marketing that are spoken in London.
The point is: we needed to evolve!
This strategy became impractical in 2016. At the beginning of January it became clear that it was necessary to find a new way to deal with our monthly production, which took our sleep for a few days.
How we started to find opportunities
Finding the solution to this problem was a little more complicated than it looks. Our production was so focused on this pattern that even I had a hard time trying to find an alternative.
I even considered the possibility that our team had exhausted all possible digital marketing issues that existed, but I was wrong.
We started to focus on subjects that were also linked to marketing and mainly things that were linked to the marketing professional himself in itself.
Besides that, we started looking much more outside of London. We use relevant blogs to assist us in referencing articles that had not yet been produced in London.
What also helped in the other objective of the year: cover territory.
Have you ever played War? That board game that usually makes you lose a friend or two gives us the opportunity to conquer territories and “take over the world”?
SEO is exactly the same. It was more or less out there that we based ourselves to carry out our keyword expansion strategy.
We already have a wide range of keywords bringing traffic to our blog, so the goal of this new strategy was to find all possible keyword variations important for master the results on some subjects.
New post volume
I love to talk about this point in our strategy. Usually people’s reaction to hearing this is of surprise and doubt.
Since June 2016 we we doubled production and we started to publish monthly more of 60 new pieces of content on the blog marketingdeconteudo.com.
That’s more than 14 weekly articles, two publications per day!
Back in 2015, our team tried to double the volume of posts, but we didn’t have enough hands to play this strategy.
As our blog team had tripled, we took on the challenge and made the decision to test whether it would be possible to publish this huge volume of content every month, without losing quality.
After six months of active strategy, I’m sure we did the right thing.
Before continuing, you may be asking yourself the reason for this volume of publication, right?
I’m gonna explain:
- As our goal of covering the greatest possible number of results for different subjects of marketing and Digital Marketing was very aggressive, we needed to have a volume of publication that would be able to carry out this strategy quickly;
- Some of our competitors also started to take their content strategies more aggressively and we needed to find a way to stay on top. Yes, every day someone is attacking an important ranking of our blog;
- We index a large number of pages in search engines every month to strengthen our domain and achieve an absurd amount of results in the search engines, always maintaining quality and relevance.
The start was not easy. Folding a blog post in this way can be challenging, but the result is well worth it. The point here is always to remember that there is no point in doubling the volume of publication if the quality of your content falls.
Focus on updating content
This was, without a doubt, the strategy that carries the greatest weight when we analyze the doubling of our organic traffic in 2016.
Updating content was so essential to our monthly and quarterly planning that we created goals for the number of content updated per month.
Our monthly plan consisted of 60 new blog posts and 20 content updates every month.
Since 2015 our team had started to get good results with content updates – some of which you can check out here in this article – and after understanding what was necessary to get the most out of each update, our result was frightening.
I could write thousands more words here about updating content, to explain in detail what our team discovered – through testing – what should and shouldn’t be done, but the text would be gigantic.
In case you are interested in knowing how to reproduce this part of the strategy, here’s the news: I created an e-book totally focused on updates. You can download the free material here!
Routines, numbers and standardization
As you can see, in 2016 our team increased and so did the responsibilities. On top of this, our conventional goals continued to grow at least 10% per month.
It would be very easy to lose control of everything. To avoid this problem, we decided to create a delivery schedule that would be as important as the goal itself.
This is just a chunk of our monthly delivery schedule. In this spreadsheet, we detail everything that must be produced, delivered and analyzed every month.
There is not much mystery, and we made it very clear to the team that these numbers were as important as the goals of visits, leads and mqls. Yes, we have activity goals here at WAU and we suggest that you adopt them too!
If some activities were not delivered in one month, they should be paid for in the next month and so on, to ensure that they would always be fulfilled!
Thanks to the planning we created, our team was able to organize itself perfectly and, from the beginning, we had very few problems with deliveries. We are Websites Are Us’s biggest customer, even though we are within Websites Are Us.
Having a scalable content marketing platform has helped us to achieve this volume of production and deliveries.
The great learning we learned from this new routine was that you need to make it clear what your team needs to deliver. Having a well-defined activity routine facilitates the execution, monitoring and measurement of results.
I am sure that, if we did not have this concern, our result might not be what I am presenting now.
Competition: Turn competitors into motivation for success
I am an extremely competitive person. I am an amateur athlete in my spare time and there is nothing better than a good competition! There is nothing more motivating – to give that necessary boost of encouragement – than someone wanting to take your place.
Thanks to this competitive characteristic that I have, I feel that I have found the best place in Digital Marketing to fall in love: the fight for rankings. Losing a ranking on Google is the same as losing 7 × 1!
My biggest mentors are guys very connected in SEO and rankings (Vitor Peçanha, Diego Gomes and Alberto André).
In 2015 our expansion plan was very successful. We went after several players in the market and experts in various subjects to find some keyword opportunities that we were not yet working on. I don’t need to say how right it was, right?
Now in 2016, things have changed. What it seems is that many people woke up to a multitude of opportunities that were under their own noses and decided to enter the field.
How to deal with competitors and how to defend yourself
One of the things that motivates me most to work in this area is the need to be better every day. Know something more and always, always seek more knowledge.
There are hundreds of highly trained professionals in Digital Marketing to perform functions similar to mine and those of my teammates. Do you want anything better than a fair competition?
This year our team was faced with great competitors that made us leave our comfort zone!
Do you think that coming up with that plan to cover the largest number of keywords in the market would be something easy to execute? Overnight we started attacking the keywords of blogs and websites of all sizes that had been ranking there for some time and, as I said, there is nothing worse than losing a ranking.
So, let’s say that we have achieved some rankings, and that we also attract the attention of some companies. And that was great!
I usually divide this part of the defense against competitors into 4 stages:
1. Identifying your competitors
The first stage of any competitor analysis strategy must start with the point that generates some constant doubts: who your real competitors are.
In this case, we may not even speak of direct business competitors. In the example of Websites Are Us itself, we currently have no competitor in the London market. But think about it: how many people want to rank for keywords like “marketing” and “digital marketing”?
What needs to be made clear here is that, to identify competitors, you need to identify which domains are ranking for the terms you want to position your articles.
Analysis of SERP of Content Marketing:
Taking the results that are from our own pages, we find results from the following sites / blogs:
- Digital Results
- Neil Patel
- Live Blog
Are all these companies competing with Websites Are Us? No!
But, when we are analyzing the results of one of our keywords, these companies / blogs are our competitors for a given search term. And this is basically how we identify organic traffic competitors in our strategy.
At Google, virtually any blog that writes about marketing is a competitor. We want to stay at the top.
After identifying who our main competitors were for all of our main keywords, it was necessary to understand the content of each one.
We analyzed what each page contained, as well as its backlinks. After all, we are now talking about positioning on the first search page for some keywords from a mature market in Digital Marketing. It wouldn’t just be a well-written article that would get us to the top.
3. Identify attacks (how to look at all sides)
What do we consider to be an attack on a keyword? Well, there are at least three types:
- When the competitor create a new article for a specific keyword that we are ranking;
- When the competitor update an old article;
- When the competitor makes backlink generation campaigns for an article.
Identifying these attacks is simple. In the vast majority of cases it is possible to identify when this happens basically by analyzing competitors’ newsletters and using tools such as SEMrush and BuzzSumo.
Other than that, it is also interesting to keep an eye on the backlinks that are being sent to these pages. Who are the domains they are indicating, how often and what is the quality of these links.
4. How to defend your rankings
Once the attack is identified, the standard procedure for our team is to recognize the change in the old content or to study the new article created by the competitor.
If the new content contains something that is missing from us, a variation of keyword that we work on or even a different media (infographic, images, video or podcast), we need to do something to make our content better than this other one.
What were the main lessons learned for 2017
Like any good retrospective, I could not fail to mention 5 of the most important points we learned in 2016.
1. Never stop specializing
This learning has always been part of our resolutions. One of the main points of the Websites Are Us culture is learning. So never stop studying and always try to be a better professional than you are.
Remember that while you spend hours on Facebook, there may be someone studying different ways to achieve what you already have. Resting is essential, but learn to invest time in your knowledge.
To help you with this, we have WAU University and the SEO course I prepared for her.
2. SEO is still essential to success
I can say that I even lost count of how many articles I read during the year that spoke about the blasphemy of SEO’s death.
This subject will always exist, as well as several others who spoke about other parts of Digital Marketing such as the end of email, the death of Inbound Marketing or the decay of social networks.
If you have a Digital Marketing strategy that uses Content Marketing to acquire new customers, listen carefully: focus your SEO efforts. We are entering 2017 and there are still hundreds of professionals who do not pay due attention to this, but this is becoming increasingly rare.
3. Sew out an acquisition channel before switching to others
This article is the second annual case I have produced since I joined Websites Are Us. If you had the opportunity to read both, you must have noticed that we always talk about SEO.
This is due to the simple fact that if the channel is still paying off, we will continue to invest time and money until the source dries up, literally.
We know that this acquisition channel will not work forever, which is why we are always testing alternatives so that we can migrate our efforts to another alternative, when necessary.
Always be prepared for the worst!
4. If you want bigger results, have a bigger team and invest in training
Throughout this article I talked about expanding our team. In 2016 our team tripled in size, and what is planned for 2017 is that this will be even greater.
If you’re looking for better results, hire! I say this for the simple reason that I have been working at Websites Are Us since when the marketing team was just two people.
We were able to do everything. Blog, Social Media, Email Marketing, Lead Generation and everything else that a company expects to generate results with Inbound Marketing. Despite this, our results amplified in a surprising way each time we brought a new member to our team.
And speaking of team expansion, another essential point comes next.
5. Hire only the best
It may take a lot longer than you want, but never hire a professional on the go. As much as your team needs to fill a vacancy, if possible, choose to interview as many people as possible until you find that professional who perfectly identifies with the culture and principles of your company.
When it comes to finding interns, you will hardly be able to find those people who are prepared to take up a position, even an analyst. In the vast majority of cases you will come across a large number of students who are aiming to “get there”.
At those times, what worked very well for our team was to identify people who have a culture similar to ours: learn, teach and solve.
Here at Websites Are Us, these three factors, together with punctuality and seriousness to deadlines – points that we can observe during our technical test of the selection process – are the key to hiring.
Interestingly, this year, we met three people with this profile during a selection process. Our goal was to bring only one, but we ended up bringing the three people to our team.
2016 was an amazing year and it is even difficult to list everything that happened only in this content. Now we are entering December, a scary month for any marketer in the B2B market, but we are already preparing to enter 2017 in full swing.
Once again we ended the year with many lessons learned and with the certainty that in 2017 the challenges will be bigger and more intriguing!
If you were in doubt about something I said, you can comment below! If you want to share any incredible results you have achieved this year… guess what? Comment down there too! ?