Awesome! This SEO Campaign = 15% More Organic Traffic

SEO campaign Case Study“If we’re going to make this a success, we have to put a spin on it and make something different.”
-Mike Bonadio, star of today’s case study

As you’re about to see, Mike used Guestographics to create and promote a piece of content that generated:

  • Over 1,000 social shares
  • 12 white hat backlinks
  • A mention in a highly-respected newspaper
  • 15.15% boost in organic traffic

The best part?

His client is in one of the most boring industries on the planet.

And today I’m going to show you the SEO campaign template that Mike used (step-by-step).

Checklist Download: Get your hands on a checklist that walks you through the entire process from this case study.

How Guestographics Make Content Promotion a Breeze

Earlier this year I showed you how Perrin used Guestographics to get a huge influx of targeted traffic to his new pet blog.

Infographic Referral Traffic

And because Perrin’s Guestographic generated a handful of white hat backlinks, his organic traffic skyrocketed:

organic search engine traffic comparison

You might be thinking to yourself:

“Sure, Guestographics work in an interesting niche like pets…

…but what if I run a site in a boring niche?”

Keep reading.

How Mike’s “Impossible” Client Almost Drove Him Crazy (But Didn’t)

A few month ago, Mike Bonadio had a problem.

Mike runs an SEO agency, Leadsmasher, based out of NYC.

mike bonadio

And like many SEO agency owners, Mike uses 100% white hat SEO to rank his clients’ sites.

There was only one problem:

One of Mike’s clients, FCE Pest Control, was in one of the most boring industries imaginable.

Pest control.

pest control website homepage

I mean, how was Mike supposed to create compelling content about mice and cockroaches?

Who would ever share that stuff?

Or as Mike puts it:

Coming up with content for this client was a big challenge. Their niche is incredibly boring and has little tradition of content distribution, community or linking. Bugs? Who cares just get rid of them! I thought to myself, “If we’re going to make this a success, we have to put a spin on it and make something different.”

Mike Bonadio

Fortunately, Mike didn’t throw in the towel.

Instead, he rolled up his sleeves and got to work on creating a Guestographic for his client.

And the results speak for themselves…

Mike’s SEO Campaign Results: 1,117 Social Shares, 12 Backlinks and 15% More Organic Traffic (In 2 Weeks)

Even though the odds were stacked against him, Mike’s Guestographic campaign was a HUGE success.

The infographic he created for his pest control client generated 1,117 social shares:

infographic social shares

An influx of backlinks from 12 different domains.

referring backlinks ahrefs

(Including links from powerhouses like Lifehacker

lifehacker infographic placement

…and a popular newspaper website in Maine called The Bangor Daily News):

newspaper backlink

All these social shares and mentions generated a huge surge in referral traffic:

infographic traffic

It shouldn’t come as a surprise to hear that all of these Grade-A backlinks boosted FCE Pest Control’s Google rankings.

In fact, these backlinks increased FCE’s first page rankings for high-converting keywords like “exterminator NYC”.

google first page search results

And because of this rankings boost, FCE’s overall organic traffic shot up by 15% in just 2 weeks.

sitewide organic search engine traffic google analytics

As you can see, you CAN succeed with white hat SEO…

…even if you’re working in a “boring” niche.

Or as I like to say:

“There are no boring topics. Only boring marketers” (Click to Tweet This)

Now that you’ve seen Mike’s impressive results, it’s time for me to walk you through the step-by-step process that he used.

Step #1: Publish a Useful Infographic
(In A Boring Industry? “Shoulder Niches” Save The Day)

Your first step is to create a compelling, useful infographic.

I’ll be honest with you:

This is tough.

Considering how many infographics come out everyday, it’s harder than ever to stand out.

And that’s assuming that you’re in an industry that’s actually interesting.

And if you’re stuck in a “boring” niche? It’s MUCH harder.

Well, that’s where “Shoulder Niches” come into play.

shoulder niche/shōl'dər nĭch/noun
Definition
1. A niche that is closely related to your site's main topic.

Remember:

Mike knew that creating a straight-up pest control infographic would be content marketing suicide.

Instead, he found a Shoulder Niche.

OK, so how did Mike find his shoulder niche?

First, Mike mindmapped industries that had something to do with pest control. Here’s what his mindmap looked like:

shoulder-niches

And when he studied these shoulder niches, one thing stood out:

Garden bloggers LOVED to write about eliminating garden pests.

blog content

In other words, Mike found a Shoulder Niche that people were interested in (“gardening”).

And he studied that shoulder niche to identify a popular topic.

And just like that — BAM! — Mike found an interesting topic that he could create content around:

Natural pest control for gardeners.

As Mike puts it:

Unlike pest control, I knew gardening was a topic people actually talked about online. So we married the two niches and came up with the angle of ‘pest control methods for gardeners’. That was a topic that a lot of gardeners and their readers actually cared about.

Mike Bonadio

3 Ways to Find Shoulder Niche Topics

If you’re struggling to find topic ideas, Shoulder Niches can be a lifesaver. Here’s how to find compelling topics in ANY niche.

1. First, enter a broad keyword into Buzzsumo

For example, let’s say you run a site that sells construction material.

It’s impossible to find anything interesting about that topic, right?

Wrong.

Let’s see what happens when we enter the keyword “construction” into Buzzsumo.

buzzsumo search

2. Scan the results for interesting shoulder niches and topics

Look at this. I found 3 killer potential shoulder niches that you could use…

Idea #1: “Construction Material of the Future”

content topic 1Idea #2: “Crazy Things People Have Found at Construction Sites”

content topic 2

Idea #3: “How They’ll Built America’s First High-Speed Rail System”

content topic 3

3. If you’re stuck (or just want more ideas), repeat the process at Google News

Here are some interesting construction-related headlines I found using Google News:

google news topic 1 google news topic 2

news topic 3And just like that, you’ve got a laundry list of awesome topics to work with.

Now that Mike had a winning topic in-hand, he got down to business on his infographic.

First, he created a visual mindmap of the topics he wanted to cover.

Each “branch” in his mindmap represented a section of the infographic. infographic sections

Then he filled in each section with insanely practical tips that gardeners could use.

Here’s what his infographic content looked like:

ig-content

Once Mike had his content ready to rock, he sent it to his designer.

The end result?

A fantastic infographic called, DIY Pest Control for the Savvy Gardener.

infographic animated gif

At this point Mike had a high-quality infographic live on his client’s site.

The question was:

Would anyone care?

Step #2: Create a List of People That Are Interested In Your Infographic’s Topic

The sad truth is this:

When most people publish an infographic, they cross their fingers and HOPE that it goes viral.

#facepalm

Mike knew better. He understood that any infographic — even a great one — needs content promotion.

And to give his shiny new infographic the exposure that it needed, he turned to a content promoter’s #1 weapon:

Email outreach.

And the first step of any email outreach campaign is to find people that already write about your content’s topic.

Here’s how Mike created his list of outreach prospects:

Mike knew that there was one specific group that was going to LOVE his infographic: Gardening bloggers.

So searched for as many gardening blogs as he could get his hands on.

First, he Googled keywords like “Gardening blog”.

google search string

Then he mined the top 40 results for quality blogs that write about gardening.

google search results 1

(This is simple, yet effective)

Next, he went to the blog directory AllTop.com.

alltop homepage

And he entered the keyword “gardening” into the search box:

alltop search

That gave Mike a list of over 40 hand-curated gardening blogs:

gardening blogs

Finally, Mike searched for “best blogs” articles.

“Best blogs” articles simply list the best blogs in a niche.

For example, Mike searched for “best gardening blogs”

example google search

And he found hand-curated lists of top-notch blogs in the gardening space.

Like this:

list of high quality blogs

And this:

curated list of blogs

All in all Mike found 97 sites that might want to check out his infographic.

Here’s what happened next…

Step #3: Send Your First Outreach Email

Now it’s time to get in touch with the people you just found.

When it comes to Guestographics, I like to use a two-part outreach sequence.

email outreach flowchart

Your first email is a “feeler” email. This email simply gauges the person’s interest in your infographic.

(That way, you’re not pitching your content to someone that’s not interested)

Here’s Mike’s feeler email script:

And here’s an example of Mike’s script in action:

initial outreach email

Interesting Side Note:

Mike tested two different outreach approaches for this campaign.

Mike sent one group the soft “feeler” email.

And he sent another group a more direct pitch.

(Here’s Mike’s direct pitch script)

direct pitch email script

Which do you think worked better?

The direct pitch got a 16% reply rate.

And the 2-step email sequence that started off with the feeler email?

40%.

outreach reply stats

Boom.

Bottom line: Send a quick “feeler” email before you pitch your infographic. You’ll likely bump up your conversion rate.

Pretty soon responses to your feeler email will start rolling in.

(Like this one that Mike received)

email reply

When you see these emails sprout up in your inbox, move onto the next step…

Step #4: Offer Up a “Unique Intro”

If you want an influential person to share your content, you need to answer the question that’s rattling around in their mind:

“What’s in it for me?”

And keep this in mind:

When a blogger publishes you infographic on their site, they have to write some new content to go along with it.

And they MIGHT get some traffic out of all that effort.

With Guestographics, you remove the potential waste of time and energy.

How?

You grease the wheels with a custom-made introduction.

That way — win or lose — they don’t have to do any work.

Here’s the email Mike sent to the people that replied to his feeler email with “send it over”.

mike email 2

As you can see, Mike’s response is short and to-the-point.

This email has a link to the infographic and offers up the custom introduction.

Simple.

Now:

When people reply to THAT email, it’s time to whip up a high-quality introduction.

Here’s an example of one of Mike’s intros (sent in HTML).

guestographic introduction

Once the intro is polished, send it over ASAP.

And here’s the email that Mike used to send his unique intro:

sending the introduction

Important Reminder: Make sure your introduction contains a single backlink back to your site. And you want to avoid spammy exact match anchor text.

Instead, your link should have branded anchor text…

branded anchor text

…or descriptive anchor text.

descriptive anchor text

Side Note: One of Mike’s big “takeaway lessons” from this experience was that — when you do outreach the right way — people are happy to hear from you.

As Mike told me:

One of the big takeaways from me was how receptive people are to email outreach when you add value and are not pushy in your approach. If you have something cool to share, people actually want to hear from you. Some will even thank you for contacting them.

Mike Bonadio

Once your intros are sent, it’s time for the last step.

Step #5: Get Your Contextual, White Hat Backlinks

At this point you’ve sent your awesome infographic (with unique intros) to several people.

When those bad boys are published, you’ll find yourself with a handful of high-quality, contextual backlinks.

Nice work.

To give you an idea of what these links look like, here are two placements from Mike’s campaign:

example backlink

and

example backlink 2

All in all, Mike sent out 97 Guestographic outreach emails and got 12 total links.

(That’s a very solid 12.5% conversion rate)

Besides SEO, Mike noticed another benefit that came from all these Guestographic placements:

The placements led to a viral spread of his infographic.

(Well, as viral as gardening content gets 🙂 )

For example:

An editor at a newspaper website (Bangor Daily News) saw Mike’s infographic.

That editor liked the infographic so much he published an article about it (with a link back to Mike’s client).

newspaper backlink

How to Mike “Social Proofed” His Way to Higher Outreach Conversions

You just saw how Mike got a mention in a popular newspaper website.

Most people would have high-fived themselves and left it at that.

(Yes, it’s possible to high-five yourself. I just did 🙂 )

But Mike realized he could turn his big mentions into massive social proof.

For example:

Mike’s infographic was featured on the health mega-site Mother Earth News.

blog title

As soon as the placement was confirmed, he started to mention this fact in this outreach emails:

outreach email with social proof

When someone sees a mention like that they think to themselves, “Well if Mother Earth News shared it, maybe I should too…”.

Pretty smart, eh?

Now back to Mike’s viral infographic…

Another example of Mike’s infographic getting shared around the web:

Quite a few people that saw Mike’s Guestographic shared it on places like Flipboard…

flipboard-share

….and Pinterest.

pinterest infographic

Which led to a healthy boost in their referral traffic:

google analytics referral traffic

(Not to mention the 15.15% boost in organic traffic that I mentioned earlier)

sitewide organic search engine traffic google analytics

Not bad for a single infographic, eh?

Now It’s Your Turn

You just saw a real life example of an SEO campaign in action.

But for you to get value from this post, you need to take action on it.

And step #1 is to download the checklist below.

Click on the image and enter your email to get access to the free checklist:

seo campaign blog post checklist

415 Comments

Prince

Hey Brian,

Awesome case study I’ll definitely gonna try this on my site

Hope this help to boost my organic traffic

Cheers,
Prince

Reply
Brian Dean

Hey Prince, sounds like a plan.

Step #1 is to create an infographic people want to share. So I’d start with that 🙂

Reply
Jimmy Winskowski

This is the most solid advice. Great content with a nice promotional plan with go a long way. Crappy content – even with the best promotional efforts – won’t get shared naturally or picked up by the sites you *really* want to be on. Great case study. Thanks for sharing, Brian!

Reply
Brian Dean

You’re welcome, Jimmy. Absolutely. You can’t just have promo or just great content. You need both.

Reply
Suprabhat Kumar

Well done Mike..

Reply
Farhan

Disappointed first time ever by brian post!
Looking like it was just to give backlink to mike SEO agency and FCE Pest Control

Reply
Brian Dean

Are you serious? This case study rocks.

Reply
Brian Dean

You’re welcome, Maria. Glad you liked it 🙂

Reply
Andrew

Geez, you give some people Gold and they start digging for the Silver. Really appreciate the case study Brian. #hatersgonnahate

Brian Dean

LOL, exactly Andrew. Also, glad to see that you liked the case study.

Mike Bourke

Exactly, it does rock. My heads spinning with great ideas for my healthier.tips site I have here in Oz and I will be crediting Mike and Backlinko for any content I use, or just their ideas !! Why are you using Brians exc FREE Info and then bagging him. Here in OZ, our polite way of saying pissoff is “Onya Bike”. so “Onya bike, this i9nfo rocks”. Brian Exc as always,Mike.

Reply
Daath Boucher

Dude! Don’t you see the value of this post?!?

Thanks Brian, I will try this right now!

Reply
Darren Davis

Wow. Clearly missed it. Don’t be jealous, Farhan!

Brian, this case study DOES rock and is very inspirational!

Best,
Darren

Reply
Brian Dean

Haters gonna hate, Darren.

Also, glad you enjoyed the case study 🙂

Reply
Shantell

I would have to disagree. I am very new to learning SEO and building back links. I thought this was insightful, and most importantly doable.

Reply
Jimmy Winskowski

Might have been just to give a link to Mike. But this is solid content marketing at its best. This is super solid advice for SEOs with clients in “non-sexy” injuries.

Reply
Jason Noel

Question for you then… how would you create a case study that didnt provide a sample walkthrough, images, quotes, and of course “links”? Rediculous! I bet you contemplated adding a nofollow link to your comment

Reply
Franklin Hatchett

Wow, those are some super powerful links! Great article and another awesome way to increase organic search while getting some super link juice at the same time.

A lot of good stuff to learn from this post.

Reply
Brian Dean

Thanks Franklin. I know, right? And links to a pest control company no less 🙂

Reply
Gertrude

Hi Brian,

This is a great post. It is so wonderful to see that these techniques don’t just work in the “healthy, wealthy and wise” niches but in a niche as “boring” as pest control.

What this drove home for me especially is the fact that Mike put in the hard work. He put in e-mail pitches to 97 places and got 12 responses. A lot of bloggers and website owners are not willing to do that.

I know when I started reading your blog I was like “Whoa, all that work ?” I know better now – especially when it comes to blogger outreach and getting those links.

A second thing I enjoyed – you did not show us some website that was already getting 1000 hits per day and then grew that to 20,000 with your techniques. This is certainly relatable and is exactly where a lot of us are in our blogging journeys.

Great post ! Thanks Brian.

Reply
Brian Dean

Hey Getrude, thanks!

Absolutely, hard work is a big part of this. 99% of marketers aren’t willing to send 97 outreach emails 🙂

Reply
Shounak Gupte

Yet another awesome article Brian. Added to my buffer and shared on inbound. 🙂

Reply
Brian Dean

Hey Shounak, thanks for the complement and for spreading the word 🙂

Reply
waseem dar

Awesome post. I shall follow all these instructions for my next project. Thanks for sharing it Brian 🙂

Reply
Brian Dean

You’re welcome, Waseem.

Reply
Darren DeMatas

Awesome case study. I’ve read that people are turned off by saying stuff like “it was mentioned in big site xyz” so I’ve always avoided that.

Ill give it a try though

Reply
Brian Dean

Thanks Darren. It seemed to work well for Mike but it’s something worth testing. If it’s, “Hey I was featured in X and therefore you should feature me too” then I can see how that would come off as bragging.

Reply
Felix

A good way to couch it might be to say “I think your audience will like this infographic, xyz.com recently posted it and they got # comments and # shares”. This way you show them the value and social proof of your content.

Reply
Brian Dean

Good call Felix.

Reply
Kundan

Loved the content idea and how the shoulder niche was leveraged to grab interest. Superb content marketing and excellent case study. Kudos!

Reply
Brian Dean

Thanks Kundan. With an industry like pest control, Shoulder Niches are a must.

Reply
Jolie

Amazing, as usual Brian! Thanks for making this so simple that anyone could follow the process!

Reply
Brian Dean

You’re welcome, Jolie. As they say, the devil’s in the details 🙂

Reply
Karlis Kikuts

Great article. One of my client also have a boring niche. Pallet collars (wooden packaging boxes). Now it’s perfect time to try your strategy. 🙂

Reply
Brian Dean

Karlis, that seems like the perfect niche for the Shoulder Niche approach.

Reply
Janelle Trees

Interested to see what you do with that, Karlis. What comes to my mind? The disastrous mess that occurs when the pallet collar fails — a spectacular mess of cutlery, chemicals, food, china spreading over an Indian highway. Can we get some chickens and a goat in that?

Reply
Karlis Kikuts

Awesome and creative idea. Thank you! 😀

Reply
James Darvell

Janelle, I think you just leaked the plot to the next Michael Bay movie.

Reply
Gary Evans

Yet another great case study Brian. These are pure Gold and just shows that with the right tips you can tap into any market.

Cheers

Gary

Reply
Brian Dean

Thanks Gary. Exactly! You can have success in any market with white hat SEO. Just takes a little bit of creativity.

Reply

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