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 months 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:

Mike Bonadio

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
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

shoulder niche

/shōl'dər nĭch/

noun

Definition

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:

Mike Bonadio

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
Mike Bonadio

3 Ways to Find Shoulder Niche Topics

The Backlinko guide

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 Build 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.

He 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 your 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:

Mike Bonadio

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
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 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 his 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
  1. Hey Brian, a very interesting case study. I have often thought about creating or getting an infographic created but have enver taken action on it. Not at the top of my to do list. My niche detox really lends itself to infographics but I would never have thought about approaching other bloggers with the idea of sharing it on their site. Certainly looks like it’s worth persuing. Would you get a decent infographic created on Fiverr do you think?

    1. Hey Sandy, thanks. That does seem like a topic that would lend itself to infographics. I’m sure you might find something good on Fiverr, but I wouldn’t expect greatness…

      1. Hey Brian, on that note, who (or what group) do you recommend for creating the best infographics? I recall you mentioning some guy in the past but I can’t seem to find my notes on Infographics. Thank you, Joe

        1. Hi Joe, I actually only recommend specific providers that I use for SEO That Works students. But in general, I recommend hitting up sites like UpWork to find a designer that specializes in infographic design.

    1. Thanks Maria. Short answer=create a resource on your site worth linking to…and link to your service page from that.

        1. No problemo.
          Like I said, I’d create a crazy valuable piece of content on your site in a Shoulder Niche. Doesn’t have to be on that specific page.

          1. Thanko,

            But, there are more than 100 services, If the content is not in that page where should i place? and will there be any collision with other service pages?

        2. Hi Maria,

          In this case study, the resource was an infographic. Infographics are just one type of resource that you can use to attract links, and this blog is full of different ideas you can use as well.

          After taking a quick look at Buzzsumo, I’ve come up with a couple of topics you could build a resource around:

          1: How to pay less tax.
          2: Crazy tax advice from the IRS (eg. instructions to help drug dealers calculate their deductible expenses and taxable profit)

          These 2 topics came up a couple of times in content that went viral.

          Bear in mind that these are just a couple of topics I picked up on in a couple of minutes. If I was in your position, I might spend a few hours brainstorming to come up with lots of other related topics.

          I’m sure you can pick out some amazing ideas.

          Follow the steps in this post, and pretty soon you’ll have an appealing infographic. In the case study, the infographic was published in a blog post.

          Of course, that’s not an option for your site, as it isn’t a blog. One option is to add a new page to the site to host your new infographic.

          Then you would make a list of targets and reach out to them with a 2 step process.

          When people link to your new resource page, it will bring link-juice into your site.

          You can flow that link juice to the “Financial Advisors in New York” page with a link from the resource page.

          I have seen people use this technique to rank content that nobody would ever link to directly!

          I hope that all makes sense!

  2. Great stuff! It’s awesome seeing how infographics can help even “boring” industries. I bet a solid blog coupled with some decent content marketing could do great in the pest control industry.

    I’m about to finish up an infographic myself, your blog posts are definitely an inspiration on getting it put together. I’m pretty curious how it will do.

    1. Thanks Dallas. The format (like an infographic) is important for Guestographics. But like you said, Mike could have created some solid content as a text-based blog post.

      I highly recommend promoting your IG with the scripts that Mike used (or close variations). They work great.

  3. incredible post Brain. I also want to share a post that how i got traffic 0 to 469% in one day without any connection and also want let you know that how i got link from inc.com site and other smart links without any connection.

      1. First, i did launch a roundup post then make a infographic of that post. May be it could become your next case study 🙂

    1. Thanks Luis. I actually don’t know who Mike used, but he’ll be around later today and will share his designer if he’s comfortable sharing.

  4. Awesome case study as always Brian.

    I’ve started using similar outreach emails each time I post a new blog article or guide – the results are much higher converting than a standard “hey here’s my new article, I’d love it if you linked to me”.

    I recently tried guestographics too, and that went well. Hoping to tap into this technique again for some other clients – this guide will definitely help for those in “boring” industries!

    One thing I’d add – I find it’s a good idea to let any sources know that you’ve used their work in your content, whether it’s a blog post or infographic. This has certainly worked in getting a few additional shares and even links from top influencers. 🙂

    1. Thanks Carl.

      It shouldn’t come as a surprise that this approach works better than straight-up link begging. Yet I see a lot of people beg and plead for links.

      Good call there. Sometimes I even include sources strategically for this exact reason 😉

  5. Great article, Brian. Props to Mike on the excellent follow through. I’ve been in the industry since 2000 and get energized every time I read one of your articles. Keep the goodies flowing 🙂

    1. Thanks Jonathan. I know, right? Mike killed it with this campaign.

      I’ll keep the good stuff coming. No worries there 🙂

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