Traffic puts a smile on every blogger’s face. Not always, but bigger traffic means you can earn more and have a stable revenue + authority in the niche.
But not everyone can achieve desired traffic, and in the process of pleasing Google (to get more traffic), you can even get penalized – losing all your traffic.
The same happened with my friend Arshi.
She owns a health and lifestyle blog called Liveitbeautiful.com and has been working on the blog for some time now.
Although she has posted some great content, she was struggling to get more traffic and earn a stable revenue. In the hope to get more backlinks, she tried building directory links which negatively affected the site.
The site came under Google’s radar, and Arshi started losing all the current rankings.
In this SEO case study, I’m sharing all the steps we took to get her website out of spam, build good quality backlinks, and ultimately improve the organic traffic.
Liveitbeautiful.com started in June 2016, and Arshi kept rolling good quality articles on a regular basis. It is a lifestyle blog covering beauty, health, fitness and parenting topics. However, there are posts on some other categories like coloring pages, fashion, and smart living as well.
Due to the diversification, it was hard for her to build backlinks and continuously push articles covering all the topics.
The primary monetization method used by LiveItBeautiful (LIB) is Google AdSense, and as we all know, it’s hard to earn from Google AdSense if you don’t have a lot of traffic.
Arshi was making cents, and it was harder for her to hire freelance writers because of the financial constraints.
Before I started working on the site, the website:
- Had links from spam directories
- Low traffic and high bounce rate
- Little to no SEO was done
- Very few backlinks from niche-relevant blogs
- Slow loading and poor user experience
- Low AdSense earnings
I’m not boasting or anything, but here are the results after 6 months of I started working on the site:
- 12k backlinks from 211 referring domains
- 50,000+ monthly page views
- Fast website loading and excellent user experience
- Decent SEO rankings
- 410% increase in organic traffic
- Significant AdSense Earnings
- No bad-quality links
Exact Steps I Took to Increase Traffic to 50,000+ Pageviews/mo
Now that you know the results, you must be craving on the “how” part. Below are the steps I took to improve overall metrics of LIB without buying links or paid advertising.
Step #1: Focused on Website Design
The design and feel of a website play a significant role in improving user experience – which in turn is a Google ranking factor. No matter how great your content is, if you’re using a stupid and uneasy theme, you will lose visitors.
From the beginning, Arshi was using a free theme which was decent but could have been improved. Since the targeted users are female; it was even necessary that the website looks good on all devices and doesn’t turn away the readers.
I suggested WooHoo magazine theme from ThemeForest as it is responsive to all devices and have a beautiful layout suitable for lifestyle blogs.
Step #2: Improved Website Loading Time
Another critical ranking factor is loading time. Google aims to provide the best user experience, and a slow site gets thrown to the end of the page or out of it.
The site was using a cheap web hosting service earlier, which was causing frequent downtimes and a *very* long load time. To tackle this, we moved the site to SiteGround.
After the SiteGround team moved the site, I went ahead and optimized the site for best possible results.
I followed this article to speed up the WordPress site, and after some time, the site was loading quite fast – enough to please any random visitor.
Step #3: Removed Low-Quality Links
The next thing we target was to get rid of all the low-quality backlinks Arshi made unknowingly. All of these links were from spammed directories and manually removing them was difficult.
For this reason, we decided to disavow the root domains directly. To get the spam links, I ran the site through SEMRush backlink audit tool.
It gave me a list of all the low-quality domains pointing to the site which I cross-checked by manually visiting each site. We uploaded the disavow file to Google containing 30+ root domains.
Note: I’ve discussed more on disavowing spam links in this case study.
Step #4: Did an SEO Audit
When I was hired, the site had around 200 articles posted, and hardly any of them was Search Engine Optimized.
There were missing meta information, alt text, improper site architecture and many more such small issues which needed to be fixed.
I used SEMRush again for SEO audit and sent the excel file details to Arshi to fix the issues. Below is the exact messages I sent.
As you can see there were some important issues which were needed to be fixed. A complete SEO audit gave us a brighter idea of what to keep in mind when writing articles next time.
If you need me to write a separate article about SEO audit, let me know via comments.
Step #5: Building of Good Quality Links
The next part was to get more good quality links pointing to the site which would help improve SEO rankings and overall traffic.
As discussed, due to the multi-niche, it was a bit difficult to get niche-relevant links. We opted to for guest posting on medium-sized blogs to get backlinks.
I collected a list of sites to which are accepting guest posting and suggested Arshi on how to pitch correctly.
Since she was already an experienced writer, Arshi managed to get some good quality backlinks by reaching out to website owners. As a result, we had some decent quality backlinks pointing to the domain which helped us boost the current rankings.
Apart from guest posting, we also created some social media links and forum backlinks. We didn’t opt for any blackhat way and tried to stick to Google’s guidelines.
Step #6: Improved AdSense Earnings
The amount you can earn from AdSense depends primarily on 2 factors – first the topic and second location of the visitor.
The primary topics covered and keywords targeted on the site had CPC around $0.5 to $1.3 which is pretty decent, but a maximum of traffic was coming from India with very low CPC.
Also, the ad placement matters and it shouldn’t affect the user experience. Earlier, the site was full of banner ads popping from every corner which was quite disturbing for visitors.
To increase the AdSense earnings, we first tried different ad types and ad locations. Ads between posts and a large banner ad in the sidebar turn out to give best results.
To attract traffic from first-tier countries, I suggested Arshi write contents targeted towards the United States and spend more time on Pinterest.
Pinterest has a large number of users from the US and mostly female which are our targeted visitors.
Today around 30% of total traffic is from the United States and Pinterest is top third traffic source for the site.
Combined it churns out a decent monthly revenue which would only increase as we work on other aspects.
I’m not a guru, and I don’t have any SEO degree. But, I know my things, and I’ve learned things by experimenting and failing again and again.
Growing this site was a sweet challenge, and I’m happy that we actually did it.
Feel free to shoot me an email, if you’re struggling to grow your site and need a helping hand. You can contact me via my contact page or use email – firstname.lastname@example.org
Key Takeaways from this SEO Case Study
Below are some key takeaways you can learn from this SEO case study:
- User experience is significant factor if you want to rank higher and want some Google love
- Do not build low-quality backlinks as they’d only harm you
- Disavow the spammed links ASAP and always keep an eye on referring domains
- Content is king and always will be
- Social media can bring good traffic if you stay active and experiment
If you liked this case study, share it with everyone else. Make sure to leave a comment and tell us your thoughts about any part of the case study.
And do not hesitate to ask for a helping hand if you’re struggling to grow your blog traffic. I’m available here to help you (free consultant)