SEO Case Study: How I Increased My Organic Traffic 652% in 7 Days
by Brian Dean · Updated Jan. 14, 2022
There’s a SEO strategy that’s crushing it right now.
(“Skyscraper Technique 2.0”)
I used this strategy to increase organic traffic to one of my pages by 652.1%:
(In 7 days!)
This same approach helped my brand new post hit the #1 spot in Google… within weeks:
And today’s SEO case study I’m going to show you exactly how I did it, step-by-step.
My Content Was a Smash Hit… Then It Flopped
On July 26th, 2016 I published this post:
My post got a huge spike in traffic in its first week:
Lots of shares:
And people quickly started linking to it:
Sure enough, my page cracked the top 10 for my target keyword (“SEO checklist”) a few weeks later.
All good right?
Well… not really.
You see, my posts usually get more traffic from SEO over time.
Not my SEO checklist page.
In fact: organic search traffic to that page decreased as time went on.
It got so bad that my post averaged only 4-5 visitors per day.
And my rankings dropped to the middle of the second page:
That’s When I Wondered: “What Happened?!”
On paper my content had everything going for it:
Lots of comments (which Google likes).
And social media shares out the wazoo.
What was missing?
User Intent + SEO = Higher Rankings
Google’s #1 goal is to make users happy.
This means they need to give people results that match their User Intent.
Never heard of User Intent? Here’s a simple explanation:
The main goal behind a user's Google search.
And Google is REALLY good at figuring out User Intent (also sometimes called “Search Intent”).
In fact, a big part of Google RankBrain is to give users “results that it thinks searchers will like the most”.
And the 2018 Google Quality Rater Guidelines has an entire section on User Intent:
Google has even started asking users about their User Intent:
That’s when it hit me:
My post was getting buried because it didn’t satisfy user intent.
Here’s what happened next:
Skyscraper Technique 2.0: (An SEO Strategy That’s Working GREAT Right Now)
After I optimized my page around User Intent, organic traffic shot up like a rocketship:
And my rankings went from #11 to #5:
(And these improved rankings have stuck 4+ months later.)
With that, here are the steps for The Skyscraper Technique 2.0:
Step 1: Figure out User Intent
Step 2: Satisfy User Intent
Step 3: Optimize for UX signals
To be clear:
The original Skyscraper Technique still works GREAT.
For example, this list of SEO tools is classic “Skyscraper” content marketing.
Most SEO tools posts list 10-20 tools. So I decided to review over 170:
And because my page is bigger and better, lots of people have linked to it:
This page also satisfies User Intent.
This is why it ranks in the top 3 for my target keyword:
Ideally, you want to use Skyscraper Technique 1.0 AND 2.0.
Skyscraper Technique 1.0 helps you get the links you need to hit the first page.
And Skyscraper Technique 2.0 will make sure those rankings stick.
Let’s dive into the steps…
Step #1: Figure Out User Intent
Here are two simple ways to identify User Intent:
Analyze the First Page
Google’s first page gives you a HUGE insight into User Intent.
If something ranks on Google’s first page, you KNOW that it satisfies User Intent.
So all you need to do is search for your keyword…
…and scan the SERPs.
Specifically, answer the question:
“What kind of intent do these results satisfy?”
Do people want information? If so, are they looking for the basics… or advanced strategies?
Do they want to buy something? If so, are they ready to buy… or comparing two different products?
If you search for “Office Space Brooklyn”, the results are 100% transactional:
In fact, 10 out of 10 results are product pages for booking an office space:
But if you search for “Coworking Space Brooklyn”, you get something completely different:
The results are mostly blog posts about the best coworking spots in the city:
On the surface these keywords seem similar.
But Google’s first page reveals that the User Intent is VERY different.
Look At the Keyword Itself
Sometimes the keyword itself tells you all you need to know.
With my SEO checklist post, I asked myself:
“What does someone searching for ‘SEO checklist’ actually want?”
Duh! They want an SEO checklist.
Despite that, my original post was a case study… not a checklist.
Sure, there were some steps that resembled a checklist.
But it wasn’t the type of detailed checklist that searchers wanted.
And Google noticed.
This leads us to…
Step #2: Satisfy User Intent
At this point I had User Intent figured out.
And now it was time to publish a piece of high-quality content to match that User Intent.
Here’s exactly how I did it:
Covered the Basics
I noticed that other content ranking for the “SEO checklist” had steps for people new to SEO:
And I quickly realized something:
My original post was WAY too advanced.
In fact, the first step was: “Delete Dead Weight Pages”.
This is a strategy that people new to SEO should absolutely NOT use.
So I replaced this advanced strategy with steps for SEO newbies:
Changed the Format
Like I mentioned earlier, the original version of my post was a step-by-step case study.
So I changed the format.
This time, I made the content more checklisty.
Covered More Stuff
Google’s top 10 results were clear:
People searching for an “SEO checklist” want checklists that cover LOTS of different stuff.
Despite that, my post had ZERO info on:
- Technical SEO
- Link building
- Keyword research
- SEO software and tools
So I expanded my post to hit on these important subtopics:
I Emphasized “2018”
I noticed a clear pattern in the search results:
Most of the content pointed out that their checklist worked in 2018.
So I emphasized that my checklist was up-to-date.
I included “2018” in my title tag…
…in the introduction…
…and I even mentioned “2018” a few times in the content itself:
In this case, I rewrote an existing post.
But you can use this same strategy for brand new content.
A while ago I wanted to write something about mobile optimization.
The first thing I did was a search for “Mobile SEO”… and scan the results.
And I noticed 3 things about Google’s first page results:
They covered WHY mobile SEO is important.
So I led off my guide with a handful of stats:
2. They wrote about responsive design vs. dynamic serving vs. “M. mobile sites”
So did I:
3. They had tips for improving sitespeed.
So I included a section on that.
The end result was “Mobile SEO: The Definitive Guide”.
And largely thanks to The Skyscraper Technique 2.0, it quickly climbed to #1 for my target keyword:
(Above heavyweights like Moz, Search Engine Land… even Google itself.)
And now it’s time to…
Step #3: Optimize for UX Signals
Here’s the deal:
Your content can be a PERFECT match for User Intent.
But if it looks like this…
…people are gonna leave your site like it’s on fire.
And Google will quickly downrank you:
So now that you’ve nailed User Intent, it’s time to optimize for UX Signals.
Specifically, this step is all about engineering your content to:
- Maximize Dwell Time
- Maximize organic CTR
- Minimize bounce rate
Wistia found that: “people spent on average 2.6x more time on pages with video than without.”
I’ve never seen a video work THAT well.
But videos can definitely keep people on your site longer.
That’s why I embedded a few videos in my SEO checklist post:
Table of Contents
I added a table of contents to the top of my new post:
And this table of contents got me some sweet sitelinks in the search results:
Needless to say, these sitelinks boosted my organic CTR.
What’s the first thing someone does when they land on your post?
They read your intro.
In fact, take a look at this heatmap from the Backlinko blog:
As you can see, there’s A LOT of action on the first few lines of my intro:
And if you start your post off with a long intro… users are gonna bounce.
That’s why I write short and sweet introductions (5-8 sentences).
LOTS of Examples
Examples INSTANTLY separate your content from the regurgitated garbage that most people publish.
So don’t be afraid to use tons of examples in every post.
I included 19 examples in my new SEO checklist post:
H2 and H3 Subheaders
Subheaders break up your content into chunks:
(Which makes your content MUCH easier to read.)
My SEO checklist post had over 9 subheaders:
Short Sentences. Short Paragraphs.
Here’s how to make your content 10x easier to read:
Short sentences. Short paragraphs.
That’s why I write short sentences:
And use 1-2 sentence paragraphs:
This is a big part of why my post’s average time on page is 5:53:
Over To You
Now I’d like to hear from you:
What do you think of this SEO case study?
Maybe you have a question about The Skyscraper Technique 2.0.
Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below right now.