In this case study, I’ll show you how to write a blog post that can (potentially) generate close to a million visits per month.
No, for real.
We actually did that for one of our clients.
Just a single post sent their search engine traffic skyrocketing (at one point, it was bringing in over 912,387 visits per month).
So, if you’re a marketer, blogger, or just someone considering dipping their toes in blogging, keep reading.
In this article, I’m going to breakdown the writing process for that post, how it has performed so far, and what you can do to increase your odds of replicating those results.
How It Went Down
The article in discussion is a list style article we wrote for Lumen5 called 15 Top Free YouTube Downloaders in 2020.
First, I did some keyword research and came across a promising term. I then analyzed the SERPs to see what kind of info people would be looking for. From there, I decided what was missing and put together an outline.
Finally, I whipped up the article, our founder Obaid edited it, and we drafted it on WordPress.
And the rest is history.
In a month or two, it started ranking on the first page of Google for keywords like “YouTube downloaders,” attracting thousands of visitors.
The count kept growing, and eventually, it crossed 900,000 visitors.
That translated to a traffic value of $382,075.
And the best part is, it accomplished all this with just twelve backlinks (that I didn’t build):
Ha! In your face, Content Marketing.
The URL is hidden because this screenshot is from one of Obaid’s old LinkedIn posts, and it’s the only screenshot we have from when this was all happening.
Aside from that, the post also snagged the featured snippet for the keyword “best YouTube downloader,” which has a keyword difficulty of 61 and a monthly search volume of 8,800.
And now, here’s a snapshot of how the post is currently performing over a year later:
Yup, the performance has taken a dip, in terms of both organic traffic and traffic value, but 11,000 visitors isn’t so bad for a year-old post.
The point is – if you find a good content opportunity and properly capitalize on it (which is obviously the hardest part), you’re golden.
“Okayyy… I kinda already knew that. I need you to actually show me how, my guy.”
And that brings me to:
How We Did it [i.e. How to Write a Good Blog Post]
When it comes down to it, everyone has their own definition of “good content.”
I believe it all comes down to what the purpose of the content is. Whether it’s to entertain, to inform, to inspire, or whatever else, if the content fulfills that purpose, it can be considered good.
Now, I’m no blog writing wizard, but I think the results of the Lumen5 article speak for themsleves.
Here’s how you can get similar results from your article.
Find a Topic Worth Writing On
Most topics won’t yield out-of-this-world results.
That’s because the search volume (i.e. the total number of people searching for a keyword/topic) for every keyword is different.
Unless you have some crazy, viral-worthy substance to share, you should first pick a topic that’s:
- Useful to your target audience/readership (to make an impact on business KPIs)
- Mapped around keyword(s) that lots of people search for
In this case, the topic was websites where people could download videos on YouTube for free.
It ticks both “SEO” boxes, because it’s:
- Mapped around a high-volume (1M) keyword
- Relevant to the audience of Lumen5 (a company that offers an easy-to-use online video platform)
Of course, it’s becoming increasingly rare to find content opportunities like that.
However, by flexing that big brain, you’ll eventually come across such chances.
Here are some tips on coming up with good topic ideas:
- Create a word cloud with your main service, product, or category in the middle. Then, create branches of the different topics your audience would find useful. I recommend getting some help from a subject matter expert.
- Go through competitor blogs and Medium articles related to your niche. Your primary goal here is to discover topics that you haven’t covered. Your secondary goal (and this is really important) is to figure out any gaps in your competitors’ content that you can capitalize on.
- Try to come from a creative angle. Your topic is not your keyword or a generic overview of it. The more interesting your angle, the easier your chances of creating something memorable. For example, if your keyword is ’email marketing,’ your topic can be about
- Once you have a list of topics, plug them into a keyword research tool and map them to promising keywords.
Finally, generate Clearscope reports for some related terms and use them to make your content more relevant.
Using Content Gap Analysis to Discover Keyword Opportunities
If you don’t feel like doing all that legwork, there’s an easy alternative (however, it’ll require a subscription to an SEO tool).
A content gap analysis is a process that lets you discover keywords that your main competitors rank for, but you don’t (or haven’t published any content on).
For this example, I’ll be using Ahrefs’ content gap tool.
To get started, enter your URL in the domain overview search bar (or go to your website’s project, if it’s already generated).
In the side-panel, click on Content gap underneath Organic search.
In the page that loads up, you’ll see four fields.
In the three fields at the top, copy and paste the URLs of your competitors.
Then, enter your domain in the last field.
Once you’ve done that, click on “Show keywords.”
Ahrefs will then generate a list of keywords that you’re missing out on.
However, that list could include hundreds of thousands of keywords, including branded keywords (the names of your competitors) that you most probably wouldn’t want to rank for.
You can use the “Exclude keyword” filter at the top to refine your results and narrow your focus.
You can further refine your results by aiming for keywords that have specific search volumes, keyword difficulty, and more.
Create a Thorough Outline with All the Data
Once I have my keyword and topic down, I start creating an outline.
Most people don’t realize the importance of having an in-depth outline. It’s basically a way to collect your thoughts, organize them in a coherent way, and avoid writer’s block when writing a first draft.
Of course, the process begins with some in-depth research.
I’ll check out other articles on the same (or similar) topics, try to gauge what makes them special, and identify the gaps in them that I can fill with my own content (mostly in terms of the depth or the substance).
The most important thing here is that I don’t create a mere skeleton.
My outlines are properly formatted, and under each heading and subheading, I include:
- A brief description of the main points and what needs to be discussed
- Bullet points listing out the unique perspectives, insights, and examples I want to share
- Links to relevant resources
- Important stats (if applicable)
- Relevant visuals (screenshots, GIFs, infographics, etc.)
I also write out multiple titles to find a great headline.
The reason we go all in on this step is so that we don’t miss out on anything important.
Another reason is that it allows you to avoid writer’s block.
The process takes a lot of time. In fact, on average, it takes me longer to write an outline than an actual article. And it’s definitely worth it.
Create an In-Depth, Properly Optimized Draft
Once you’ve conducted your research and crafted an outline, it’s time to buckle up and put your article writing skills to use.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the do’s:
- The intro matters a lot – your first paragraph should be short, grab the reader’s attention, and paint a clear picture of what they’ll get from the article.
- Use headings – formatting matters a lot. The rest of the article should be broken down into different headings (in case you skipped the outlining process).
- Use proper keyword placement – use keywords in your URL, intro (or the very first sentence), headers, meta description/tags, and alt tags/image descriptions.
- Use visuals – the best articles have pictures. Considering that, sprinkle relevant, high-quality, and engaging visuals throughout the entire article.
- Link to relevant pages – include both relevant internal and outbound links in your article.
Apart from the above, make sure that you make your blog post in-depth and engaging.
But how do you know if your article is highly relevant and comprehensive?
Luckily, there’s Clearscope for that.
Clearscope is a content optimization software that takes your keyword, analyzes the existing content on the web for that keyword, and generates a list of terms that are relevant to the topic at hand.
The tool then grades your blog content based on the usage of those terms (with A++ being the highest). I usually aim for at least an A+.
In addition, the tool provides a typical readability level that you should aim for, along with an estimated word count target (based on the existing content ranking in search engine results).
Include Additional Information
Share any additional information that you feel your readers might find useful.
For instance, in the Lumen5 article, I could have wrapped things up after talking about the last tool on the list.
However, I felt something was missing.
I realized that while YouTube downloaders are cool, people can misuse them and steal other people’s content.
For that reason, I gave a heads up that it’s not exactly legal to download YouTube videos, unless certain conditions are met.
Take your time to think about what else you could include in your article.
However, remember to stay within the scope of the topic and avoid fluffy content.
Distribute Away and Build Links
A good marketer doesn’t call it a day when they hit publish.
Instead, they distribute their content using various social media platforms, other websites, and/or email.
That initial push that drives people to read your article for the first time is extremely crucial. Think of it as a way to kickstart the process, which can potentially lead to hundreds of thousands of visitors every month.
In addition, use content outreach to build high-quality backlinks, especially if you’re targeting a keyword with high difficulty.
- Creating a list of the email addresses of all the people, with similar audiences, who would be interested in linking to your content
- Making sure that every email you send out has a personal touch to it
Of course, there’s a lot more that goes into proper outreach, but those are some basics.
Once you get a process down that works for you, keep iterating, and executing it on a consistent basis.
In the end, a little luck matters, as well.
I published the Lumen5 blog post during the pandemic – when everyone was on lockdown and stuck in quarantine.
This could be a stretch, but perhaps one of the reasons why that post performed so well was that hundreds of thousands of people were stuck at home (and had extra free time) and thought about downloading YouTube videos for the first time.
We’ll never know for sure.
But what I do know is that I always follow the steps I just took you through in this case study. And it almost always results in well-performing posts.
Now that you know exactly what I did to get those results, try it out and see how it goes!