2019 Ongoing SEO Case Study How We’re Growing Linkio into An Authority Site

BY AJAY PAGHDAL
Founder of

OutreachMama and Linkio

A 2020 Update Note

How We're Doing Now

This case study began September 2017 and lasted for 16 months. I stopped updated the monthly progress over a year ago but you should still read through the monthly strategies, especially if you have a new site. This is exactly how you should launch a new site with SEO. 

Organic traffic has become our main lead driver and the content on the Linkio domain continues to rank well, often without any direct link building needed.  These early activities setup cool case studies like this where we were able to rank without any direct backlinks. 

The Linkio domain has also survived several of Google’s algorithm updates. 

Good luck! 

I’m going to be real with you for a minute…

Most SEO case studies suck.

Not because they’re written by bad SEOs or lack accurate content and information.

Rather they focus on the minor aspects of SEO. From optimizing H3 tags to fixing robot.txt files to ensuring obscure–and often unnecessary–pages are indexed by Google, most case studies are written by SEOs for SEOs.

And that’s fine.

But in this case study, I’m not going to talk about any of that.

Firstly, because you can get that same information from from at least 2.3 million other articles that inject much more detail and passion than I could possibly proffer.

And secondly, because this type technical minutiae, although it is relevant if you’re playing in the big leagues or running your own agency, simply doesn’t matter for most people.

Me? I’m focused on the big picture.

For both myself and my clients.

My passion is taking a completely unknown entity–a brand new domain–and turning it into something epic. Into an established, authoritative, and all around badass brand…

And doing so in less time than most people think possible.

SEO just happens to by my favorite tool for getting this job done.

Which is why I started this case study way back in September 2017 and continue updating it to this day.

And just so we’re clear…

This is not my first foray into the trenches of SEO.

I’ve helped dozens of my clients rank for hyper-competitive keywords in under a year and created a detailed case study showing exactly how I landed my company OutreachMama on the first page of Google for four of the most competitive keywords in the entire industry.

And I did it in under 8 months.

Because they were able to watch the growth of my brand in real-time, thousands of marketers were inspired to double down on their link building efforts and achieved some pretty impressive results thanks to their hard work.

But with this case study, I wanted to go bigger.

This doesn’t mean more complicated. Simply doing more of the things that really drive results.

Namely, clear branding, quality content, and lots and lots of backlinks.

After we set up the branding during the first couple of months, the only things my team and I focused on were content and links.

Rinse. Repeat. Vomit. Rinse. Repeat.

And the craziest part?

Over the last year and some change we only published 10 articles in total!

Now, admittedly the aforementioned content was, as the kids say these days, “Primo AF” and finely tuned for my niche.

But 80% of our time and effort was focused on links.

Links. Links. Links.

So many links.

Like, alot…

And our results, as you’ll see in this case study, speak for themselves.

Now, before we dive in, I want to address the skeptics among you.

Those of you who proclaim:

  • Link building doesn’t work!
  • Building links is a scam! Just create great content and you will rank!
  • Google will penalize you if you build links!

I get it…

SEO is confusing, ever-changing, and nauseatingly complicated.

However, if you want to enjoy all of the perks that come from having tens of thousands of organic visitors coming to your site (namely a lot of money), then listen up.

Most people disavow link building because they’re too impatient.

The links you build today won’t make a damn different tomorrow or next week or likely even next month.

Hell, in some cases, they won’t even make a difference this year.

And trust me, working your butt off month after month after month isn’t fun for anyone.

Even me.

But if you will trust this process and follow the steps I’m about to lay out for you, it will work.

You can achieve a first page ranking and you can do it for any site in any niche faster than most people expect.

And today, I’m going to show you how.

MONTH 1:

In The Beginning…

On September 1st, 2017, Linkio was a brand new site. 

It was more emptier than the waiting list for Trump’s hair stylist and didn’t have a single backlink, article, or visitor. 

Zip, nill, nada. 

Just to drive the point home, here’s a screenshot of our backlink profile at the time.

Now, despite these humble beginnings, it was (and is) our goal to turn Linkio.com into one of the most authoritative SEO sites on the internet.

And we already had a battle-proven gameplan (from our results with OutreachMama) with which to achieve it.

Rather conveniently, Linkio just happens to be an SEO management software. Meaning that we were able to use our own tool to boost our own rankings and serve as a case study for more content that would help us further boost our rankings. Talk about a virtuous cycle.

Since this was our first month in business, we crafted a four week game plan that was (soul-crushingly) laden with administrative tasks and other necessary evils.

Specifically, we committed to:

The Meat and Potatoes:

  1. Finalize our branding (designing our adorable mascot and optimizing the color scheme of the site)
  2. Writing lip smackingly good homepage copy (an endeavor which, you can no doubt see, succeeded).
  3. Building 30 manual outreach backlinks over the first 30 days.

The Mac & Cheese:

  1. Free Anchor Text Suggestion Tool
  2. Mega SEO tools listicle

And then we got to work.
My team and I bickered endlessly over whether we should use aquamarine or cerulean for our brand’s logo, which phrases we should use in our copy, and whether we wanted to create a list of 497 or 500 top agencies (we chose the latter).

And while this work was undeniably important, it didn’t do much to drive any new visitors or value to the site.

But I was ok with that.

Because I knew it was just the beginning.

MONTH 2:

The Plot Thickens… Thinly

If you’ve read my OutreachMama case study, you’ll remember that during the second month of our brand’s official launch, we achieved some pretty spectacular SEO results, with many of our content pieces jumping 30+ positions in the SERPs.

Alas, this isn’t one of those case studies.

Our second month in business drove very few tangible results in terms of traffic or rankings.

Primarily, because we are targeting much more competitive keywords with Linkio.

However, this was to be expected.

The month was still immeasurably productive as my team and I drove forward on a number of high value projects.

We made solid headway into our website redesign, successfully creating a rather bitching logo, aesthetic color scheme, and truly incredible copy.

And…

We made major progress on a number of important projects (and decided to scrap a few others).

More specifically:

Thankfully, we were able to actually complete an important project during the second month and successfully launched our anchor text generator tool (you should check it out by clicking here).

At this point in the story, the keyword was already ranking on page one of Google and we started experimenting with Facebook ads–blasphemy for an all-organic SEO, I know–successfully generating multiple leads per day.

On the content marketing front, after hours of research and staring at analytics reports, I decided to create the definitive list of SEO tools–covering everything from all-in-ones, onsite auditors, link building managers, blogger outreach tools, link monitoring tools and…

Well, you get the idea.

Like I said, we decided to make it the definitive guide.

However.

Like many of the other projects to which we committed during the second month, we were just getting underway and many moons would pass before our plans would come to fruition.

Now that you have a summary of our onsite initiative during month 2, let’s switch gears and look at the offsite authority building… An endeavor at which we were much more effective.

During our second month, we worked hard to build roughly one backlink a day through continued and hyper-persistent blogger outreach.

Unlike most SEO’s, we didn’t just blast marketing sites and agencies with spammy requests for backlinks.

I mean, we did ask for backlinks, but we also did our best to reciprocate their generosity and provide them with value too.

We continued focusing on homepage and branded links and will continue doing so for the foreseeable future to keep our strategy inline with our brand-first SEO methodology (the same methodology that allowed us to rank OutreachMama so damn quickly). 

So what tangible results did we generate from all of this effort?

Well, if you’ll think back a few minutes, you’ll remember that during the first month, our metrics were a whopping “0” all across the board.

Here’s what changed in month two:

Ouch…

But, once again, I had faith.

I knew that with enough time, a breakthrough in our traffic and authority would happen.

MONTH 3:

All Work and No Pay

During the third month of our marketing campaign, the execution of our major projects began to take off in a BIG way.

And although we still didn’t achieve particularly inspiring results, I wasn’t worried.

I knew we were making headway and didn’t expect to see any real results for at least another 8-9 months.

Anyways…

Here’s what my team and I got up to during the third month.

The One Where We Redesign Our Website

During the third month we made a HUGE step forward…

… Only to take another big step back.

After months of hard work and incessant bickering about color schemes (I mean really… why doesn’t anyone like cerulean?), we promptly decided to do yet another redesign.

Which we pushed into development almost the second the first design went live.

Like they say…

If at first you don’t succeed… Screw it, just start that shit over.

Although our Anchor Text Generator tool continued to generate leads and drive new traffic to the site, we were disappointed in our conversion rate and decided to redesign the generator to force an email capture before users received their initial results.

Ouch…

But, once again, I had faith.

I knew that with enough time, a breakthrough in our traffic and authority would happen.

SEO Tools Article

Although our Anchor Text Generator tool continued to generate leads and drive new traffic to the site, we were disappointed in our conversion rate and decided to redesign the generator to force an email capture before users received their initial results.

Anchor Text Categorizer

One of the biggest developments during our third month was the inception of our second free tool–the anchor text categorizer.

As unsexy as it might sound, when combined with the Anchor Text Generator, I believed these this duo would provide SEOs with a powerful tool set to dominate their link building (and I was right… funny how often that happens).

On the software front we began looking to roll both of these tools into actual software with a much higher amount of automation.

But…

This particular project would not see the light of day for about another month.

So we’ll revisit it later.

In the meantime, let’s look at the progress we made with our link building.

As we continued to deliver links via blogger outreach on niche-relevant sites we started seeing some substantial results in terms of the volume of backlinks we generated.

However, as I’ve alluded to throughout this entire case study…

… The results we were looking for in terms of traffic and rankings continued to elude us.

But I still wasn’t worried. After more than a decade of playing the game, I’ve learned that this isht takes time.

Here’s how the Ahrefs metrics evolved over the first three months:

We continue delivering links via blogger outreach on niche relevant sites. We’re getting lots of links from SEO blogs thus far.

Here’s how the Ahrefs metrics have evolved over the 3 months:

Next, let’s have a look at ranking positions…

Keyword Rankings

I’m going to let you in on a little secret.

You ready?

When you understand how SEO works, you’re much better equipped to handle the emotional (and sometimes financial) roller coaster of launching and ranking an authority site.

To be frank, if I hadn’t started this project with the expectation that we wouldn’t rank for a significant keyword for at least 12-13 months…

… I probably would have given up, sold all of my possessions, and moved to a Tibetan monastery (or maybe to the beach… I’m pretty fond of my hair).

But I did have that expectation.

I knew that we wouldn’t see our rankings shoot up within the third month. Especially not with a new site attempting to rank for hyper competitive keywords.

With that in mind, here’s where we stood at the end of month three:

But regardless of the time required to hit our goals, I knew that every activity in which we were engaged was essential for building a sustainable online business.

MONTH 4:

New Name, Same Game

In month #4, we hit a HUGE milestone…

We completed the rebrand and redesign of our software app and, because of this, were able to redirect our original site (managebacklinks.io) to our new–and much cooler sounding–site Linkio.com.

I haven’t mentioned the Manage Backlinks site yet, because it wasn’t that important but it was the original name we choose, and had a simple landing page created for it while my development team worked on the MVP of our SaaS.

had been live for 7 months and we’d built more than 90 branded homepage links to the site, but instead of redirecting those domain to the Linkio homepage, I decided to redirect the entire site to: https://www.linkio.com/manage-backlinks/

The reason was simple.

I wanted to keep Linkio’s homepage and branded anchor text profile as clean as Nun’s nose without sacrificing the hard work we’d invested into managebacklinks.io.

With this simple redirect, I was able to keep the original domain names in the URL, making everything appear much more natural.

Equally as awesome, this redirect increased the number of our referring domains by 150%, which Ahrefs would eventually pick up.

But in the meantime, here’s how our progress looked.

Although our authority, traffic, and rankings were growing, there were two primary factors hindering our growth: Ahrefs is picking up the increase in authority, rankings and traffic. There are currently two factors that will continue hindering the growth in traffic over the next several months.

  1. It was a brand new site… And let’s just be real, new sites never rank for valuable keywords within the first year unless they get lucky (or have a few million to throw at the project).
  2. There was almost no content on our site. The only rankable pages we had at the end of month four were the homepage, a features page, this (then uncompleted) case study, and a few free tools.

And since we were focused on building a solid foundation of branded SEO and creating the most valuable app possible, content became the red-headed step child of our marketing campaign and took a long ride in the back seat.

But I digress…

Here’s what our rankings looked like at the end of the month.

The keyword “backlink management software” went from #nothing to #2 because of the re-direct we did and we expected the ranking to stick because the page managebacklinks.io redirects to a URL that includes  /manage-backlinks/.

Our branding-heavy focus also helped up bump our ranking for “Linkio” from #4 to #2.

And the best part?

Our strategy hasn’t changed one bit.

Our plan and it’s execution are simple… and by delivering it with consistency our rankings continued (and will continue) to improve.

However…

The one thing that did change was our marketing plan.

Marketing Plan Update

After refreshing the design of our anchor text generator and publishing our #freshaf anchor text categorizer we realized that our new “Email first, results second” delivery needed a follow up sequence to actually start generating profit.

So, after consuming enough coffee to leave the entire Eastern Seaboard with the jitters, I put my head down and crafted a 20-day autoresponder sequence.

And I’ll explain more about how it fits into the overall SEO picture in the next section.

MONTH 5 & 6:

The Flatline Continues

With January and February 2018 in the books, Linkio continued to see growth (miniscule as it might have been) in both rankings and traffic.

The keyword SEO management software jumped from page 6 to page 1 and, for those of you who don’t appreciate the gravity of this statement, let me reiterate.

A brand new site achieved PAGE ONE rankings within 5 months and NO keyword optimized anchor text.

That’s the power of branded SEO…

As we continued our link building efforts–mainly by trying to get listed on as many SEO blogs as possible–we went from 84 to 203 referring domains.

And as we broke the 100 domain mark, I felt safe to say that Linkio was officially an authority site.

Now…

I know that spending several months building your foundation instead of targeting your favorite keywords is probably the last thing you want to do.

But allow me to illustrate how our brand focused anchor text strategy works with one of the most overused metaphors in the entire entrepreneurial community.

Lions.

When you’re a lion in the Sahara, the herds of Zebra you’re targeting are constantly on high alert for any warning signs or stimuli indicating that you’re about to turn them into an afternoon snack.

But eventually, as you bide your time, blend in with the surroundings, and stay patient, the herd relaxes.

And that’s when you pounce on those striped sons of bitches and smile while David Attenborough narrates your grisly feast.

Similarly, Google is on high alert for spammy SEOs.

But when you begin your forays by focusing on branded anchors first Google doesn’t see you as a threat. So when you do start focusing on keywords Google is more receptive to your advances.

Since 73% of our homepage links at this time were branded, I felt safe to shift our focus and begin building other types of branded anchors to even out the ratios.

Even though our referring domain count during these months was impressive, our traffic from Google was… less so.

With only 150 weekly organic visitors, many of you might be wondering…

“Ajay, what the hell man? If you built 200 links, you should have had WAY more visitors than that.”

And you’re right…

So why didn’t I?

Simple…

A) It was still a brand new site and visibility was improving

B) So far, the site is only ranking for low volume middle of funnel, high intent keywords like “SEO management software” and “Anchor text generator”

Not exactly the kind of content that caters to high volume keywords.

However… We set plans in motion to change that over the ensuing six months with the launch of our massive SEO tools guide.

And as you’ll see in a bit, this move paid off…

… Big time.

MONTH 7, 8, 9 & 10:

Mutiny Incoming

During the past four month, we invested heavily into building the authority of the homepage and launching premium content.

So how did these efforts pay off?

Well, let’s take a look, shall we?

Starting with rankings…

Here’s a breakdown of hte rankings progress over the past four months:

Note that several of our high volume keywords were starting to move into the top 100 and above. For example, SEO Tools (my real target) went from 93 to 68 and ‘seo tool’ went from “not even on yo radar” to page 9.

Not too shabby.

But not great either.

I mean for feck’s sake my team and I were ten months into this campaign!

But…

SEO is an extremely mature industry with an insanely competitive first page. And beating the big dogs takes time.

For those of you with a keen eye, you might notice that our SEO case study (the page you’re reading right now) actually regressed in the rankings. And while this was a mild frustration, we weren’t targeting this as a focus keyword so I knew it would rebound with time.

The biggest driver in our rankings improvement was the successful launch of a super article aimed specifically at SEO tools and SEO software related keywords.

After noticing that Google prefers to show results that have multiple tools listed, I figured it was worth a shot.

And luckily, I was right.

Now, let’s take a look at how our SEO authority fared over these months.

During these four months, we continued working hard to build a link a day and gained an impressive 111 referring domains.

And although the metrics were higher than ever we simply weren’t up to par with the bigger players in the space.

So we set our sights on a a massive, 10,000 word, 5 video SEO tutorial series to generate more links, target new keywords, and turn Linkio into an underdog success story.

But in the meantime, the effort we’d already put into quality content like our anchor text analysis tool, started gaining organic links from incredibly authoritative articles like this one from  Neil Patel.

Although our lack of serious results came close to driving my team to mutiny, I knew that big things were just around the corner.

MONTH 11:

Eleventh Verse Same as the First

During our eleventh month, we tested out a novel SEO strategy that you’ve likely never heard of.

We published content and built links…

…The exact same thing we’d been doing for 11 months.

Remember, at this point, SEO is a formula. A science.

It might take longer to see results than it takes George R.R. Martin to write the final Game of Thrones book (seriously dude, we’re all waiting for that new season), but it works.

Rankings​

Here’s an overview of our progress over the past four months, starting with our rankings.

The change we saw over the past months was interesting.

“SEO tools”, my highest volume keyword (Google Keyword Planner estimates 50,000 monthly searches), has gone from position 66 to position 40.

And only five months ago, it wasn’t even ranked in the top 200.

This was exciting progress, especially when you consider how dead simple out strategy for achieving this result was.

And, as slowly as we did it, we also started building links to the SEO tools list we created.

Here’s a breakdown of links we generated specifically for that page.

Considering that most pages ranking for this keyword have hundreds of referring domains going to that specific page, it’s pretty clear that we had a long way to go.

And because this was a long term link building campaign, it was imperative that we kept our anchor text profile looking natural to avoid shooting ourselves in the foot (feet?) and wasting the hundreds of hours we’d invested into link building.

Luckily, we had a nifty little software called Linkio which, when combined with our anchor text generator allowed my team to calculate the ideal anchor text percentage to target based on the percentages of our top competitors.

This was the result of that combination.

As you can see, there was a metric crapton of variety and almost no repeat usage. To even the most highly trained eye, there was no way to distinguish Linkio’s anchor profile from a website with the slogan “IDGAF about links.”

As we continued along, we also published another mega article–– this SEO tutorial for beginners.

Although our link building efforts for this asset had only just begun, there were already some promising page 3-6 rankings coming in.

But enough about links, let’s keep this party bus moving and talk about authority and traffic.

Authority

With a net gain of more than 24 referring domains over the course of the month, we continued our link per day (I’ve heard it keeps the bad rankings away), trajectory.

Although Ahrefs had yet to pick up on the bump in SEO tools or SEO tutorials rankings, I’ll reveal the keyword and traffic stats in the next section.

Traffic

Over the past 11 months, our traffic showed a pattern that is all but axiomatic with new SEO campaigns.

Flat. Flat. Flat. BIG bump. Flat. Flat. Bump.

Tiring though it was, my team and I knew that if we continued doing exactly what we’d been doing and extrapolated the trajectory of this graph over the next 12 months, we’d been well on our way to the rankings we desired.

And we were right…

MONTH 12:

The One Where We Finally Strike it Big

Ho-lee-cow.

In month number 12, we’d just passed the one year mark (obviously) of our SEO campaign and case study, and guess what?

To bring in the end of our first year in business, we finally hit page #1 for our first uber-competitive, high volume keyword:

Rankings​

Here’s an overview of our progress over the past four months, starting with our rankings.

The change we saw over the past months was interesting.

“SEO tools”, my highest volume keyword (Google Keyword Planner estimates 50,000 monthly searches), has gone from position 66 to position 40.

And only five months ago, it wasn’t even ranked in the top 200.

This was exciting progress, especially when you consider how dead simple out strategy for achieving this result was.

And, as slowly as we did it, we also started building links to the SEO tools list we created.

Here’s a breakdown of links we generated specifically for that page.

Considering that most pages ranking for this keyword have hundreds of referring domains going to that specific page, it’s pretty clear that we had a long way to go.

And because this was a long term link building campaign, it was imperative that we kept our anchor text profile looking natural to avoid shooting ourselves in the foot (feet?) and wasting the hundreds of hours we’d invested into link building.

Luckily, we had a nifty little software called Linkio which, when combined with our anchor text generator allowed my team to calculate the ideal anchor text percentage to target based on the percentages of our top competitors.

This was the result of that combination.

As you can see, there was a metric crapton of variety and almost no repeat usage. To even the most highly trained eye, there was no way to distinguish Linkio’s anchor profile from a website with the slogan “IDGAF about links.”

As we continued along, we also published another mega article–– this SEO tutorial for beginners.

Although our link building efforts for this asset had only just begun, there were already some promising page 3-6 rankings coming in.

But enough about links, let’s keep this party bus moving and talk about authority and traffic.

Authority

With a net gain of more than 24 referring domains over the course of the month, we continued our link per day (I’ve heard it keeps the bad rankings away), trajectory.

Although Ahrefs had yet to pick up on the bump in SEO tools or SEO tutorials rankings, I’ll reveal the keyword and traffic stats in the next section.

Traffic

Over the past 11 months, our traffic showed a pattern that is all but axiomatic with new SEO campaigns.

Flat. Flat. Flat. BIG bump. Flat. Flat. Bump.

Tiring though it was, my team and I knew that if we continued doing exactly what we’d been doing and extrapolated the trajectory of this graph over the next 12 months, we’d been well on our way to the rankings we desired.

And we were right…

SEO Tutorial.

The best part?

I only needed 13 links with the following anchor text percentages to do it.

Compared to massive number of links pointing to our first page neighbors (you know… 529, 96, 177, 125, 11,000, 466) landing on the first page with only 13 links doesn’t just seem unlikely, it seems downright impossible.

And yet…

It happened.

Here’s the rankings graph for the top 5 sites in Google for the keyword “SEO tutorial”:

And this is how we did it:

… Actually, let’s first rewind for a second.

The day I started version 1.0 of this case study, I told you that I wouldn’t be focusing on anything but branded homepage links for at least 6 months.

And  kept that promise and then some.

In fact, I ended up focusing exclusively on branded homepage links for eight whole months.

Sure, it felt like time stood still for those eight months and I often wondered if I would ever escape the torture…

But I knew that if we established branded SEO and built real authority in our industry, ranking for our target keywords wouldn’t be a problem.

And during month 10 I finally published this SEO article:

https://www.linkio.com/seo-tutorial/

All in all, this bad boy–filled with 9,000+ words, five videos, a downloadable upgrade, and crsip copy– took more than 60 days to create.

And for those of you thinking we went a little overboard, let me remind you that the best SEO strategy is still creating amazing content.

Everything becomes easier after that.

With the guide created, I then set about creating an anchor text plan for my link building campaign.

I took the page URLs that ranked on page 1 for the term “SEO tutorial” and calculated the average of their anchor text percentages with Linkio.

Here’s what I found:

It’s important to note that since these are inner pages, keyword-based anchors are much higher than the branded anchors… a sharp contrast from how homepages should look.

(It’s only because my homepage already has its ideal percentages that I’m able to get more aggressive with internal page link building).

With our game plan devised and our strategy set, we decided to do the polite thing…

And go directly for our competitor’s backlinks (all is fair in love and internet marketing).

After downloading backlinks for all of the competitors who ranked on page one, we then set out to find our “hitlist” of bloggers to target by filtering the result for indexed dofollow links.

We then sent out a barrage of emails–introducing our article and asking for a link–to these bloggers on our list every day.

The emails basically introduced them to our SEO tutorial article and asked for a link on the same page that the competitor has a link from (basic skyscraper strategy).

Since that day, we’ve built more than 13 referring domains and here are how our anchor text percentages match up to our target.

Anchor Type Percentage
Branded 5.59%
Keyword 45.30%
Hybrid 17.58%
URL 12.00%
Natural 19.53%

It’s important to note that since these are inner pages, keyword-based anchors are much higher than the branded anchors… a sharp contrast from how homepages should look.

(It’s only because my homepage already has its ideal percentages that I’m able to get more aggressive with internal page link building).

With our game plan devised and our strategy set, we decided to do the polite thing…

And go directly for our competitor’s backlinks (all is fair in love and internet marketing).

After downloading backlinks for all of the competitors who ranked on page one, we then set out to find our “hitlist” of bloggers to target by filtering the result for indexed dofollow links.

We then sent out a barrage of emails–introducing our article and asking for a link–to these bloggers on our list every day.

The emails basically introduced them to our SEO tutorial article and asked for a link on the same page that the competitor has a link from (basic skyscraper strategy).

Since that day, we’ve built more than 13 referring domains and here are how our anchor text percentages match up to our target.

As you can see, the percentages were very close to ideal.

And here’s the rankings graph at the time for the top 5 sites in Google for the keyword “SEO tutorial”:

Not bad, eh.

Soooo.

To recap:


Create amazing content. Have a link building game plan. Execute.

And most importantly of all… don’t cut corners. Build a strong brand first and then everything will be easier.

Let’s see how everything else is going:

Authority Growth

New highs across the board. We’d even started scoring organic links now (booyah!) as sites continued finding us on other lists.

Keyword Rankings​

Rankings were bouncing around.

Some up, some down – all good.

Traffic Update

Finally, our traffic for the month continued trending upwards in a big way.

Not a bad way to end your first year in business… If I do say so myself.

MONTH 13-14:

C’mon Get Higher

As we entered into the second year of not only this SEO case study but our entire SEO campaign, we arrived at a point where–since trust and thematic relevance had been established with Google–ranking for my target keywords became much easier.

In fact, during the first two months of our new year, we received a substantial bump in rankings–attaining the highest highs to date.

Here’s the all time rank tracker.

That’s right… Snoop Dogg has nothing on us.

Now, I’ll admit that nine months is an unbelievably LONG time for by big commercial keywords (like SEO software, SEO tools, and SEO management software) to remain stagnant.

And it becomes even more unbelievable when you see the metric shite load of link building work we expended during those nine months.

For nine months, our rankings flat-lined.

And during those nine months, we added over 240 referring domains (more than 27 a month!).

Although many of you might wonder why I stuck it out for so long, the truth is… I never considered quitting in the first place.

In competitive industries, this is simply what’s required for SEO.

Remember, the formula is simple: Quality content + good links + time = rankings.

Besides…

Despite our stagnant rankings we still generated plenty of traffic, both organically and from referral links, and managed to get organic mentions from top publishers like Search Engine Journal!

Oh and speaking of traffic.

Here’s how things panned out over those nine months

And at this point, things continued trending in the right direction.

As for our authority… Just read on.

Authority

During month 13 and 14, our trends remained positive.

But, patient though I may be with results I am very impatient with the processes that drive them.

I decided I wanted our referring domain count to get higher faster and added an additional resource to aid in that goal.

Oh, and I almost forgot…

I also published a massive article targeting the keyword Directory Submission Sites and began an outreach campaign to track its rankings.

As I continue (even to this day) building links both to this new article and my other SEO assets, I expect the numbers will continue to trend in our favor.

Rankings Changes

I feel no need to clarify this chart with words.

It kind of speaks for itself.

MONTH 15-16:

Go All The Way Up

Do you remember that directory submissions article from the last section? I’ve heard humans now have the attention spans of a goldfish so that was (sadly) not a rhetorical question.

Anyways, if you don’t remember it, scroll your mouse up about 2 mm and review that section.

Otherwise, check out what the rankings look like now…

I won’t kid you…

The speed and tenacity with which this page shot up in the rankings surprised even me.

Want to hear something even crazier?

There were absolutely zero backlinks built to this page!

At this point, you might be wondering… How is this even possible?

Earlier I wrote “quality content + good links + time = rankings.”

In this case, the formula is quality content + no links + no time = rankings.

What the hell?!

Well, like I’ve mentioned throughout this entire guide.

This is the power of building a strong brand with high levels of thematic relevance.

Sure, it might be a pain in the neck and move slower than molasses on a frog’s ass.

But there are no other tactics (at least none that I know of), that can help you rank this quickly.

And this is what the Ahrefs metrics update looks like today:

As we continue down our, now very proven, path we’re continuing to see steady increases across the board as I invest in link building and launch one new mega guide every three months.

Oh, and the organic traffic has reached new highs too. Here’s the latest:

Sadly, there was one small “hiccup” recently.

Some ass hole in his mom’s basement decided to launch a negative SEO attack on Linkio and build more than 100,000 shitty links to my site.

THOUSANDS of crap links.

But guess what?

It hasn’t negatively impacted our rankings at all (I’ll still disavow just in case).

Better luck next time buddy.

Anyways, I’m off to work on our latest super duper 10,000 word mega guide anchor text.

It’s probably got another 30-days to go so stay tuned.

In the meantime, take the lessons you’ve learned from this case study, apply them to your own business, and let us know your new strategy in the comments below (it’d better have something to do with quality content + links + time!)

And if you have any questions or want to learn more about how Linkio or Outreachmama can help you jump to the top of the rankings and own your target keyword feel free to shoot us an email and we’ll be in touch.