In this Lumen5 case study, I’ll show you how to write a blog post that can (potentially) rack up close to a million monthly visitors.
No, for real.
We actually did that for one of our clients.
Just a single post sent their search engine traffic skyrocketing (at its peak, 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 share how that post has performed so far, and what you can do to increase your odds of replicating those results.
Let’s get to it.
What We Did
The article in discussion is a list style article I wrote for Lumen5 called 15 Top Free YouTube Downloaders in 2020.
We did some keyword research and came across a promising term. We analyzed SERPs to see what kind of info people would be looking for. We then decided what was missing and put together an outline.
I took all that information and turned it into a thorough article.
Obaid – our agency’s founder – edited it, made some final tweaks to refine it, and published it on Lumen5’s blog.
And the rest is history.
In a month or two, it started ranking on the first page of Google search results for “YouTube downloaders,” attracting thousands of visitors.
The count kept growing, and eventually 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:
The URL is hidden because this screenshot is from a LinkedIn post, 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 25,000 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 an Article]
Is that blog article good enough to be considered “good content?”
Everyone describes good content in different ways.
For performance-driven marketers and bloggers, great content is one that performs well and hits those KPIs.
And I think the results of our Lumen5 article speak for themselves.
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 topic/keyword is different.
Unless you have some crazy, viral-worthy substance to share, you must first pick a topic that’s:
- Mapped around keyword(s) that thousands of people search for
- Useful to your target audience/readership (to make an impact on business KPIs)
In our case, the topic was websites where people can 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 maker)
Of course, it’s becoming increasingly rare to find lucrative content opportunities like that.
However, by flexing that big brain, you’ll eventually come across those opportunities.
Here are some tips:
- 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.
- Once you have a list of topics, plug them into a keyword research tool (we use Ahrefs) and map them around high-volume terms.
Finally, generate Clearscope reports for those high-volume 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, we’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 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 Kickass Outline with All the Data
Once we select a keyword/topic that’s worth chasing after, we start writing an awesome 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.
We look at other articles on the same (or similar) topics, try to gauge what makes them special, and identify the gaps in them that we can fill with our own content (mostly in terms of the depth of the substance).
The most important thing here is that we don’t create a mere skeleton.
Our outlines are properly formatted, and under each heading and subheading, we include:
- A brief description of the main points and what needs to be discussed
- Links to relevant resources
- Important stats (if applicable)
- Relevant visuals (screenshots, GIFs, etc.)
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).
- Have proper keyword placement – use keywords in your URL, intro (or the very first sentence), headers, meta 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 article highly 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 highly relevant to the topic at hand.
The tool then grades your content on the basis of the usage of those key terms (with A++ being the highest). We always 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 on the web).
Include Additional Information
Share any additional information that you feel your readers might find useful.
For instance, in our 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 fluff content.
Distribute Away and Build Links
A good writer doesn’t call it a day when they click on publish.
Instead, they get to distributing 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 kick-starting 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
- Finding out a way to pitch your content in the best way possible
- 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 the basics.
Once you get a process down that works for you, execute it on a consistent basis.
In the end, a little luck matters, as well.
We published our article during the pandemic – when everyone was on lockdown and stuck in quarantine.
This could be a stretch, but perhaps one of the reasons why our article 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 we always follow all of the steps I just took you through in this case study. And they almost always result in well-performing posts.
Now that you know exactly what we did to get those results, try it out and see how it goes!
And if you’re interested in learning more about how to create good content, check out our idea-driven content development framework.