How to Create Million Dollar Traffic Streams in Your Business
This method funnels search traffic worth many millions of dollars each year into our client’s websites. It’s straightforward, repeatable and scaleable. In this guide I will be walking you through the exact process step by step as well as giving you hacks and best practices gleaned from our 6+ years of doing this.
But first let’s look at the results that are possible:
As you can see, this method does generate consistent traffic increases over time for websites both large and small. There are ebbs and flows as will be the case with any SEO method. I will be the first to admit that these aren’t overnight success stories, but that’s not to say you won’t start seeing results in a relatively short period of time, here’s one we started on recently:
The title of this post alluded to this method being able to create a million dollar traffic stream for your business, in actual fact it can create a traffic stream worth multiple millions of dollars. If the above clients were to pay for this same traffic via Google’s AdWords program, here’s what it would cost:
Let’s assume for the sake of argument that each of the examples gets $1.5m worth of traffic, I can tell you that none of them invested anything like that amount. The ROI of SEO still huge despite the massive algorithm shifts over recent years. Let’s not forget that this traffic won’t stop either and is likely to continue growing as we continue to scale this method for these clients.
This method isn’t easy and is by no means a shortcut. It takes a lot of hard work and usually some trial and error but I’m sure you’ll agree that based on the above the blood, sweat and tears are worth it.
Now that I’ve outlined what’s possible, let’s dive into the actual method.
What’s the big idea?
This method for us developed out of the increasing difficulties we often faced when attempting to secure links directly to your landing pages. Strong, editorially-awarded links rarely turn up pointing at your pricing page so you’ll usually need something linkworthy if you’re going to be able to secure links at scale.
I’ll show you how to create linkworthy content, use it to generate links, increase your search visibility and boost the amount of traffic your website gets which leads on to more customers. We’re not talking about generating linkbait clicks, highly targeted traffic that you can engage, nurture and then convert via your landing pages.
In a nutshell, you are heading upstream or “up-funnel”, by this I mean, rather than trying to grab a customer at the last second and push into your landing page you are publishing content that steals that person from the search results nearer to the top of the funnel allowing you to then nurture that click into a customer. I’ll be showing you how to create content that isn’t just linkworthy but can actually attract customers.
Here’s a chart to illustrate our two versions of this method (I explain in more detail below):
Informational search that leads into a content asset which nurtures the visitor and then sends on to a landing page for conversion (or in some scenarios perhaps ends up in your funnel another way by taking action like an email signup).
There are 3 individual steps; 1) Person conducts a search for information i.e. something more top of funnel so “how to create an infographic” rather than “infographic software” 2) You are grabbing that person from the SERPs using the content asset then hopefully 3) sending them on to the landing page.
Informational search leads on to a landing page that has a content asset “aspect” to it. This serves to make the landing page more linkable by providing something of value that relates to whatever it is you are offering on the landing page. We often do this with the use of page anchors so we can send prospects during outreach directly to that section to increase our chances of securing the link.
We obviously use both versions of this method and whichever one you use will depend upon your market and your website.
Let’s look at the process behind this method:
- Identify content opportunities
- Create or tailor content
- Launch and promote content
- Start ranking (start maintenance schedule)
Step #1 Identify Content Opportunities
This method requires us to identify keywords and topics that are upstream from your core commercial keywords. Let’s take the example of an online retailer of bodybuilding supplements, their core drivers of business are likely to be some of the following keywords:
Leaving aside the first and last keyword on that list, those searching for the other keywords are likely to have their credit card out ready for a protein powder purchase. The landing pages for these BOFU (Bottom of Funnel) keywords are likely to be product pages that are conversion focused. But there’s rarely anything linkable about a product page.
If we work our way upstream to try and identify topics that people higher up the funnel might use:
We’re looking for a topic that will allow us to create something truly valuable and linkworthy (the rest of the process hinges on this).
Picking off these top of funnel searchers isn’t just about the immediate traffic, there are brand awareness and market dominance benefits here because you are presenting your brand when they are effectively just entering the market (potentially before they know about your competitors).
To use our example again, if you are just getting a feel for what protein powder is for then I would be willing to wager that you’ll likely be loyal to the company that educated you from the outset.
This stage of the process is essentially about working your way backwards from your commercial keywords. I’ve put together a flowchart below to illustrate the process. In many instances, once you arrive at a topic there are likely to be a considerable number of informational keywords that could potentially lead into your commercial terms.
This example is deliberately obvious, I appreciate that in many markets moving upstream is far more subtle.
Prospecting methods and tools:
SEMRush is a good starting point for building up a list of related keywords and to get your mind flowing. We then use Google in most cases to start pulling together a list of websites covering those topics and URLs of specific pieces that already rank for keywords you are looking at targeting.
We’ll throw those URLs into Ahrefs to see how the content has performed and then determine if there is value that we can add by publishing a similar piece; whether that is updating the content, attacking the subject from a different angle or reformatting the piece.
Here’s one we made earlier…
- A high number of referring domains
- High social sharing indicating interest in the topic
- Both of the above help us answer the question of Will This Get Links?
The above screengrab is actually the stats for a client piece we’ve been working on. This URL now ranks for thousands of different keywords, picks up links passively and brings people into the funnel towards a purchase. That all started from designing a piece with the intention of ranking for a handful of informational keywords. From little acorns…
Once we’ve got a few potential options we can multiply by conducting some manual prospecting for broken link opportunities. In many cases you’ll be able to find content around the web on the topic you are considering that is no longer live but has people linking to it. This is a golden opportunity and in fact I did a webinar on this topic – watch the replay here.
Many consultants and agencies who utilize a similar traffic attraction method as this will recommend some form of “keyword difficulty analysis”. Personally I think most of these numbers are meaningless (particularly auto-generated scores) and trying to estimate how difficult it is going to be to rank for a particular informational keyword is a waste of time.
I do think though that it is important to pick realistic targets based on your circumstances. Internally we’ll check the URLs that already rank and make an assessment of how realistic it is for a client to expect to rank. We’ll consider factors such as:
- Number of referring domains to URL
- Domain Ranking / Domain Authority
- Freshness of content – is there a likelihood we could outrank just because everything else is so out of date?
- Quality of content – can we blow the competition out of the water?
Step #2 – Create or Tailor the Content
The fundamentals of creating effective content:
- Utility – fits purpose, covers topic comprehensively, overall considered useful and to be of value to the average searcher.
- Trust – demonstrating that you’re not pulling a bait and switch (important when it comes to outreach).
- Authority – demonstrating that people can trust the information that you are offering.
- Simplicity / Usability – ease of access, how digestible the piece is and how suited it is to the audience.
Step #3 – Launch & Promote the Content
In most cases, launching a piece of content does not guarantee a top ranking so outreach to secure those initial/seed links is essential.
Content outreach can be broken down into the following steps:
- Response Handling
There are so many ways you can source prospects. If you went hunting for broken link opportunities in the first step of this method then you’ll have a list of prospects ready to go. If not, a good starting point is to look to those websites already linking to similar or related content.
If they’ve linked before and you’ve got a good angle or a superb piece then you are greatly increasing your chances of them linking to you as well.
Prospecting can be a somewhat manual process but with Google and Ahrefs you can easily pull yourself together a few hundred prospects in around 30 mins or less of work.
- Head to Google.com
- Fire up a spreadsheet for you to put the research URLs into
- Start entering keywords and variations into Google
- Select 3-5 URLs already ranking
- Throw each one into Ahrefs and download the links
- Combine the lists and de-dupe
- You’ve got yourself a prospect list ready to be filtered.
In our experience, targeting the links that those already ranking have you are increasing your chances of ranking the asset.
If it turns into a big list we’ll often use a tool like URLProfiler to conduct some initial filtering by whatever criteria we feel is important for a project.
By and large though we will conduct a manual check of each link prospect. We’re assessing the quality and suitability of the site but we’re also gathering contact details in one visit.
When Gregory Ciotti put together this post on how to email busy people, I don’t think he had content outreach in mind but I send everyone to the article because it has some email fundamentals that can be very helpful to any would-be linkbuilder.
We pulled the numbers on our outreach campaigns and it is clear that short emails tend to perform better.
It does nobody any favors for me to hand out an email template for you to use (even though we have many that have been tested and finely-tuned from 500+ campaigns). In the past when I’ve published outreach templates it literally takes weeks for me to start receiving the same outreach email to some of our owned-properties as a consequence their effectiveness decreases which harms everyone as people arriving at this blog post in a few months time may fire up the template and get a terrible response leading them to assume I don’t know what I’m talking about :-).
Whilst I don’t want to hand out an outreach template I think the perfect email can be summed up as:
- Explain why they are getting the email
- Explain why they should listen to you
- Explain what you want them to do
This is a critical part of the outreach process. So often the initial email can become the start of a relationship so be sure to carefully monitor any inbox used for the content outreach campaign. If you don’t you’ll miss out on opportunities where prospect just needed some clarification or had a query. It also means you’ll upset people by ignoring them and just about every industry on the planet is a “small world” these days so don’t go ruining your reputation by blasting off some emails then never coming back to them.
Step #4 – Start Ranking and Implement Maintenance Schedule
Following your outreach to seed the piece you’ll likely start to see the asset ranking. If it doesn’t then it is a case of doubling down on outreach until it does.
Once you get the piece ranking you’ll be in the position of having an asset that passively attracts links over time.
Many of you will be familiar with Robert T. Kiyosaki’s book Rich Dad Poor Dad. It’s worth a read if you haven’t. Kiyosaki’s premise is that the rich don’t work for money; instead, they have money work for them. He explains that as he grew up, effectively, he had two dads (one being his friend’s dad); one died a multimillionaire, and one died broke, despite having had a decent job and a good education. Long story short, you get rich (and subsequently richer) by thinking differently from everyone else.
Comparisons can be drawn between the book’s theme and most things in our daily lives; the fit get fitter, the rich get richer, bestsellers sell better, and so on and so forth. SEO is no different.
Mike Grehan wrote a paper discussing this concept, specifically in relation to links and search engines.
He highlighted ‘…how great the bias is for high ranking pages which are fundamentally ordered on link based algorithms, to attract more links’.
In essence, he says that pages that rank prominently strengthen their lead naturally, because they attract more links as a result of ranking at the top.
Smart marketers can turn some links into more links.
Now is also the time to plan in when you intend to maintain the piece so as to keep it up to date. The reason for this is two-fold; firstly it makes sense to keep your content updated so that visitors see your latest thoughts on a given topic but it is also worth doing because a well-maintained content asset might be enough to put off any lazy competitors considering following this traffic stream method themselves!
The beauty of this method as I said at the start is that it is repeatable and scaleable. There is no reason you can’t create dozens or even hundreds of these traffic streams into your website. Get them ranking and you’ll have not only a traffic juggernaut but a link earning machine. Then every month it is a case of building and strengthening what you already have.