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Case Study

eCommerce Market Disruption Case Study


Regardless of whether you’re a new business or you have already been in the game for some time, there’s always an opportunity for you to disrupt the search results and boost your organic traffic.

In this case study, we’ll explain how we managed to increase our client’s organic traffic by 368% and monthly revenue from $3k to $15k a month, despite the fact that a major competitor dominates the niche they are in.

Objective

The main objective of this campaign was to build organic traffic to the website, as the client had an almost non-existent online presence, as well as generate sales through eCommerce, all in the shadow of their main competitor, who had already monopolized the market.

Website History

The client makes nicotine alternatives made from natural ingredients, instead of tobacco - making them a great product for people who are looking to quit smoking.

Issues Holding Website Back

Below are the main issues that were preventing our client’s website from reaching its full potential.

  • Lack of Visibility. As a start-up, the client’s site had almost no topical authority. This meant that certain keywords, which had substantial search volume, were out of bounds as the top ranking competitor already dominated the SERPs.
  • Poor UX on the Blog. The blog section required optimization to encourage users to click through and place an order from the client’s site.
  • Lack of Domain Authority. We needed to build brand awareness and grow the site’s domain authority by building backlinks through digital PR.
  • Technical SEO Drawbacks. The website’s URLs had to be changed to be more user-friendly and page performance was slow, resulting in a poor user experience.

Course of Action

Informational Keyword Targeting

Rather than targeting commercial keywords which were already dominated by the client’s main competitor and for which ranking would’ve been difficult due to the lack of authority, we focused on building the website’s visibility for informational keywords.

More specifically, we created content that targets question-based keywords related to smoking.


How to Find Question-Based Keywords to Target

There are two ways to do it - using Ahrefs and People Also Ask.


Ahrefs Keywords Explorer

Here’s how you can find informational keywords relevant to your niche using Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer tool:

  1. Choose a broad seed keyword that is relevant to your website. Pay attention to selecting the country you want to target, as the results will differ depending on your target market. As an example, we’ll choose “coffee” and the United States.
  2. Ahrefs Coffee as Keyword

  3. Scroll down to the “Questions” part of the “Keyword ideas” section and click “View all.”
  4. Ahrefs Keyword Ideas

  5. Filter the results by grouping them by Parent Topic. This will help you in creating your content plan, as it will group similar keywords together.
  6. Ahrefs Matching Terms

  7. What you see is a report of all keywords that are phrased as questions and that are relevant to your niche.
  8. Ahrefs Groups

  9. To find more specific keywords that relate to a topic you want to write an article about, click on the question-based keyword that concerns you, and you’ll have a list of information keywords related to it.
    For instance, there are over 250 keywords with a combined search volume of 225K in the United States that relate to the keyword “how much caffeine is in a cup of coffee.”
  10. Ahrefs Groups Keywords


People Also Ask

The second way of finding question-based keywords is by using Google, specifically the People Also Ask section.

  1. Enter a broad seed keyword relevant to your niche into Google’s Search Bar. Scroll to the “People also ask” section.
  2. People Also Ask

  3. Clicking on any of these questions will unveil the top ranking search result as well as show you more questions related to your keyword.
  4. People Also Ask Expanded

  5. Repeat the process until you find all the necessary inspiration for your page. The advantage of using PAA is that aside from ideas for your own content, you are also given pages that rank the highest for what you want to write about, giving you an insight into what kind of content you’ll need to produce in order to rank at the top of the search results.

How to Write Content for Informational Keywords

Once you have all the terms that you want to target, it’s time to move on to writing content. Here are some tips that might be helpful during this process:

  • Take a look at your competitors - What questions did they answer aside from the main one? Do they go into detail or provide a more general answer? Do they have other types of content, like images or videos? Looking at your competitors’ content can give an insight as to what you should include on your own page.
  • Make sure your answer to the question is clear and concise - Providing a straightforward answer at the beginning of your article increases your chances of appearing as the featured snippet for the search term you’re trying to target. You can go into more detail later on in the article.
  • Show your expertise - Show your readers (and Google) why you are qualified to talk about a specific topic. Include links to authoritative sites (for example, government websites) that support what you’re writing about. If you can, add a bibliography at the bottom of your page, as well as information about the content’s author, especially highlighting their expertise and experience.
  • Add internal linking - Internal links bind your website together and guide your readers to your core pages. In our client’s case, we added several internal links to their products and category pages.
Redesigning Your Blog for UX

While content is crucial, you also should make sure that your website is as user-friendly as possible.

Here are some things that can help you improve the usability of your blog section.


Add A Related Posts Section
Related Posts

A Related Posts section allows you to show your readers other pieces of content that they might be interested in, increasing the time they spend on your website, as well as increasing their engagement.

Doing so:

  • Increases page views and reduced bounce rates
  • Provides internal linking opportunities towards your core pages
  • Increases the user’s time spent on your website
  • Improves content discoverability, especially for older or just generally less visible pages
  • Increases chances of a reader sharing your content

Here are some tips on adding Related Posts section:

  • Choose articles that are related to the content of the page you’re going to be adding the section to, so that the readers are encouraged to click on them to learn more.
  • The typical place to insert a Related Posts section is at the bottom of the page.
  • Add between 3 to 5 posts - there’s no need for more.
  • If your website is on WordPress, consider using the Contextual Related Posts plugin or the Custom Related Posts plugin.

Add a Sidebar

Even though blog posts are primarily used to educate your readers on a particular topic, it doesn’t mean that they cannot become customers along the way. One great way to do it is by adding Calls to Action (CTAs) to your sidebar.

Some of the things you can add to your sidebar include:

  • Sign-up forms - encourage your readers to sign up, for example, to your newsletter.
  • Sign Up Form

  • Social share buttons - Adding social media buttons to your sidebar encourages readers to share content on their accounts.
  • Social Share Buttons

  • Search bar - adding a search bar to your sidebar might encourage users to look for more content on your website related to what they already read on the page they are on.
  • Search Bar

You can also add:

Once you have all the terms that you want to target, it’s time to move on to writing content. Here are some tips that might be helpful during this process:

  • Reviews and testimonials - positive reviews are something to be proud of and can help you build the trust of potential customers, so show them off.
  • Contact button or information - make it easy for the reader to reach you by adding contact information to the sidebar.
  • Downloads - if you have e-books or other downloadable resources that could be of help to the reader, the sidebar is a great place to add them.

Add Internal Links

Internal links, in their traditional form, are hyperlinks that you add to your content that will redirect the person that clicks on them to another page within your website. They help you connect different pages with each other and allow Google and other search engines to understand the structure of your site.

Here are some tips that will help you when implementing internal linking:

  • Use anchors that reflect what is written on the page the link will redirect to. If a page is about americano coffee, don’t use “cappuccino” as anchor text.
  • Try to make the internal links look natural.
  • Don’t add too many internal links.
  • Only link to relevant pages.
  • Try to add internal linking to the blog post you’re using as a hyperlink as well so that both pages benefit from it.
How to Build PR Links - Useful Tips

As mentioned, the client this case study concerns had almost non-existent domain authority, and the products on their page had zero search volume, which is why we needed to change that.

Instead of regular blogger outreach, we focused on creating content that revolves around smoking alternatives, that showcases our client’s unique products and builds brand awareness via digital PR.

PR links are backlinks that, rather than a blog, come from a newspaper, a magazine, or a journalist and that serve as a way to create interest in a website or brand.

There are several reasons why they are valuable for SEO, with the most important ones being increased brand visibility, credibility as well as referral traffic. When you get a backlink from a reputable website, such as a media outlet, it shows Google that your own website is trustworthy and relevant, which, in turn, can affect your search engine position. By building relationships with journalists within your industry, you gain a way to promote your brand long-term rather than a one-time opportunity.


How to Find Journalists to Pitch to

Here are some tips that can help you when trying to build PR links to your site:

  • Identify your audience - To ensure your digital PR campaign is successful, you need to start with the basics, which is identifying who would be part of your target audience. Think about where someone within your industry would go for news. What publications are your readers most likely to be reading? Are there any influencers within your industry that you can reach out to? Answering questions that concern your audience’s online activity can help you understand how you can get your brand in front of them.
  • Do your research - Research people and platforms that are relevant to your niche and that you can reach out to for link building opportunities.
  • Create great content - Once you know who you have to reach out to in order to get your digital PR campaign going, it’s time for probably the most important part - creating content that not only your readers but also reputable websites and journalists would find interesting enough to share. For this campaign, we focused on creating content that highlights the unique selling point of their products, which is the fact that they’re nicotine alternatives that don’t contain tobacco and that are made from natural ingredients, making them a healthier alternative to smoking.
  • Craft an effective pitch - When the content is created, you can start pitching it to websites and journalists you found while doing your research. Remember a few things when creating your pitch - it should:
    • be personal.
    • have a clear subject line.
    • explain why your content might be worth sharing.
    • explain what sharing your content would add value to their publication and audience.
  • Monitor the progress - Once you’ve sent out emails, keep track of what worked best for getting the attention of the people you send them too. You might find that certain subject lines or email copy work better than others.
Implementing a User-Friendly URL Structure

Our client had a number of technical issues that negatively affected the site and prevented it from ranking higher. One of those was a poor URL structure.

A URL, or Uniform Resource Locator, is the address that specifies the location of a resource within the internet. This could be a webpage or a file.

There are a few reasons why URLs are important.

The URL is one of the things that Google uses in order to understand what the specific content is about. Since it’s displayed on Google’s search results, it helps a potential reader see whether the page would be relevant to what they’re looking for.

Url Structure

Additionally, a user-friendly URL structure will make it easier for someone to remember, making them more likely to share it.


User-Friendly URLs - Useful Tips
  • Make sure the URLs are concise and provide a clear understanding of what is the content on the page. Keep in mind that shorter URLs are better as they’re easier to remember.
  • ✅ example.com/blog/las-vegas/
    ❌ example.com/blog/las-vegas-the-city-that-never-sleeps/

  • Use the main keyword you’re trying to rank for in the URL, but don’t overdo it by adding several.
  • ✅ example.com/blog/las-vegas/
    ❌ example.com/blog/las-vegas-nevada-united-states-of-america/

  • Use hyphens to separate the words, not underscores. Also, avoid not separating the words at all.
  • ✅ example.com/blog/las-vegas/
    ❌ example.com/blog/las_vegas/
    ❌ example.com/blog/lasvegas/

  • Use subfolders to create logical hierarchical structure and help search engines understand the relationship between different pages of your website.
  • ✅ example.com/blog/united-states/las-vegas/
    ❌ example.com/blog/folder1/las-vegas/

  • Ensure that the URL contains only necessary information that is relevant to the content of the page. This means avoiding adding the publication date etc.
  • ✅ example.com/blog/content-creation/
    ❌example.com/blog/2023-08-12-how-to-create-content-that-ranks-and-gains-peoples-interest/

  • Try to use the minimum amount of query parameters and session IDs in your URLs.
  • ✅ example.com/blog/las-vegas/
    ❌ example.com/blog/las-vegas?id=360&sid=3aa6f849f730f1

  • Use lowercase letters instead of uppercase ones - it will prevent any case sensitivity issues.
  • ✅ example.com/blog/las-vegas/
    ❌ example.com/blog/Las-Vegas/

  • Use HTTPS to ensure your readers can browse your website securely. Additionally, HTTPS is a lightweight ranking factor.
  • ✅ https://example.com/blog/las-vegas/
    ❌ http://example.com/blog/las-vegas/

  • Choose a unique domain name that your readers and customers will be able to easily remember.
  • If you want your website to target a specific location, make sure to choose the appropriate ccTLD (country-code top-level domain). For example, if you want to target France, choose .fr, Italy - .it, Spain - .es, etc. For a global audience, choose a gTLD (generic top-level domain) such as .org or .com.
Improving Page Performance

Your page’s performance, specifically how fast it loads, can significantly affect the experience users have on your website. It can also affect your rankings, as Google prefers to prioritize fast-loading pages, which is why it’s important that you minimize your website’s load times.

Two ways to do it are image optimization and minification.


Image Optimization

If you have an eCommerce business, your main aim is to showcase your products in the best possible light so that your potential customers will be inclined to buy them. That’s not possible if you’re using low-quality images. However, high-quality images tend to be large in size, which can negatively affect your page’s loading speed. That’s exactly what happened with our client, who had several product images which were over 100 Kb in size.


Image Compression

Image compression is a good way to reduce the size of an image without compromising its quality. There are several free resources that allow you to do that, including TinyPNG, Smush, and Imagify.


Lazy-Loading Images

Lazy-loading holds off loading the images and other non-critical content until necessary, which results in less frequent unnecessary network requests and data transfer between the web browser and the server.

This is especially useful for mobile users, as only what you’re currently viewing will be loaded. If there are any images or videos at the bottom of the page, they will be loaded only once you reach that point.


Minification

Another thing that can affect the speed with which page loads are CSS stylesheets and JavaScript files - minification can help with that.

Minification is the process of deleting unnecessary code from those files without affecting the actual functionality and involves, for example, removing unnecessary whitespace and line breaks, among other things.

Here’s an example of some JavaScript code before minification:

function factorial(n) {
	let result = 1;
	for (let i = 2; i <= n; i++) {
		result *= i;
	}
	return result;
}

Once minification is done, here’s how it should look:

function factorial(n){let t=1;for(let r=2;r<=n;r++)t*=r;return t}

There are a number of online tools that can help you with minification, such as Terser for JS files or Totpal for CSS. In the case of the client this case study concerns we opted for NitroPack, which, if you can, we would definitely recommend investing in.

Results

Within half a year of implementing the strategies highlighted above, we managed to achieve significant results:

The monthly traffic to the site increased by 368%, growing from 1,649 sessions to 7,720 sessions.

Organic Traffic

The monthly revenue noticed an even higher increase of 445%, growing from $2,908.85 to $15,873.88. The client also started to sell significantly more than when we began the campaign.

Monthly Revenue

The number of keywords within the top 10 positions increased from 12 to 387, an increase of 3125%.

Keywords Increase

The number of keywords ranking within the top 100 positions increased from 140 to 2,455 keywords.

Position Growth

Even if most of the search terms you wish to rank for are already dominated by bigger competitors, nothing’s lost - you can still increase your site’s ranking as long as you decide on the right keywords to target. Combine it with a good digital PR link building campaign and fixing technical issues, and soon enough you’ll be on your way to increasing your website’s traffic and overall SEO performance.

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