SEO Case Study: How To 14x Search Traffic In 8x months

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:

SEO doesn’t have to be complicated.

One of the things I notice as a popular SEO blog owner is that people are always looking for the “secret ingredient”

But truth be told:

There isn’t any “super secret” to SEO.

If you want to increase your search traffic it is as simple as-

  1. Conducting an SEO audit
  2. Creating content
  3. Building links

That is the exact approach we used to 14x organic search traffic in today’s case study!

We took traffic from 2,732 visitors per month to 38,420 in just 8x months-

14x search traffic

How did we do it?

Well it was simple really…

A Closer Look At The Case Study Site

This is an affiliate focused website that reviews weight loss supplements targeting the USA & United Kingdom.

Our client’s website provides a platform for users to access trustworthy, specialist reviews and decide which diet supplement is best suited for them.

The main focuses of the campaign were to-

  • Build the website’s authority
  • Push rankings to the first page for high-volume terms

It sounds simple when you write it out like that, right?

That’s because it is!

Except one tiny detail…

read our case studies

The Biggest Challenge We Had To Overcome

The weight loss supplements niche is one of the most competitive niches in SEO (to say the least!)

Most search results are dominated by huge brands like Holland & Barrett-

Competitor strength

Or massive content-based sites like HealthLine-

Healthline stats

Those are some pretty terrifying metrics.

I mean:

Just take a look at some of the top results for one of our target keywords-

weight loss serps

If you click on the image above you’ll also see that we are up against-

  • Sponsored product results
  • 4x Google Adwords results
  • 1x Featured snippet
  • 1x People Also Ask box

And those kind of results are common across this niche.

But if you pay close attention to the green boxes in the image above…

…you’ll see an opportunity!

Because many of the top 10 results are ranking purely out of domain authority rather than individual page level metrics.

That means we have a solid chance of competing with the big boys.

And I am sure you have seen results just like that in your niche right?

Remember: Any health-related content/website is part of the YMYL category, which means that they need to be treated as such and respect the YMYL guidelines.

Creating A Plan Of Attack

When forming your SEO strategy, there is one thing to keep in mind.

Keep It Simple!

People tend to over complicate SEO.

Our strategy was broken down into 3x stages-

  • Technical SEO – Build a solid & healthy website structure
  • Content – Create relevant content that helps people
  • Link Building – Acquire links from relevant websites

The 3 Step SEO Strategy

But of all of that is easier said than done, right?

So let me show you how that translates into the real world…

What Did We Actually Do?

To help you understand our process:

I am going to step you through the core SEO strategy and precisely what we did.

The strategy was broken down into a number of pieces-

And it is the combination of these pieces that were responsible for 14x traffic in 8 months.

Often when clients come to us:

They are completely obsessed with link building.

They say things like-

“Yeah but how many links will you build per month?”

But link building is just 1x component of a complete SEO strategy.

Let me ask you this:

How many links do you think we built to 14x traffic to this site?

Just 76.

76x links to take this sites traffic from 2,732 visitors per month to 38,420

14x search traffic


By addressing all of the moving parts of SEO rather than only focusing on the number of links we build.

(I’ll share the link-building strategy with you later)

But first:

You have to get the basics right-

Step #1 – Keyword Research

The first thing we do with any new client is conduct detailed keyword research.

First, we asked our client for a list of seed keywords that are important to them.

Then used the KeywordShitter tool to expand on them-

Seed keyword list

Once we pulled all the keywords from there…

…we expanded on them further with AnswerThePublic:

Once we had a large list of keywords we started to filter them down-

  1. First we removed duplicate/similar terms
  2. Then we mapped out topic clusters of keywords with similar topics
  3. And thought about the “type” of keywords to focus on

These were the types of keyword we were looking for-

  • Money keywords that drive traffic to key affiliate pages: [brand] review(s)
  • Generic keywords related to different forms of the products: best [product] / best [product] [supplement|brand|pills], most effective [XYZ], weight loss [XYZ]
  • Questions: does [XYZ] work, how to use [XYZ]
  • Strictly informational keywords: [XYZ] information, [XYZ] pros and cons, [XYZ] side effects.

We also paid close attention to search intent when selecting our final keywords.

It’s important to avoid keywords that return different user intent than the site can satisfy.

The final spreadsheet included additional data pulled from Google Keyword Planner and our rank tracker-

keyword research spreadsheet


There’s 1x part of keyword research people usually miss.

Whilst you’re doing keyword research, make sure to take a look at the SERPS for each one.

Pay attention to the sites that popup and make a list of common competitors.

We will be using that list to our advantage later in the case study!

Pro Tip: Quick & Easy Keyword Research

If your site has any level of existing search traffic…

…I have a great keyword research tip for you.

With this tip you’ll be able to find all of the low hanging easy to rank keywords in a couple of clicks with Ahrefs.

Just head over to Ahrefs Keyword Explorer and paste in your domain and head to the Organic Keywords report-

AHrefs organic keywords report

Then use the filters to show the keywords currently ranking in positions 11-30-

Ahrefs keyword filter

This just returns a list of keywords that you already rank on page 2 & 3 for…

…which are super easy to bump to the top 10-

keyword search results

Targeting these keywords are a great starting point for any SEO strategy.

Step #2 – Competitor Analysis

I can not stress how important this stage is!

It is absolutely critical for your success.

At the moment we have a good list of keywords that are-

  1. Topically relevant
  2. Match the sites user intent

Now we need to take a closer look at who our SERP competitors are.

Do some searches and pay close attention to the first page of results.

You want to look at things like-

  • Content length
  • Page purpose and intent
  • What types of pages are ranking (inner vs homepage or product vs category)
  • How strong the domains are (is it Amazon or just an average Joe)
  • Page layout (e.g. CTA and banner placements)
  • Monetisation

Just by looking at the results, you can get a good idea of the type of SEO elements, structure, intent and content you need to create.

The power of observation is often under utilized in SEO.

Here’s an example of a competitor site’s review my agency sends to clients:

It’s not everything:

But you can see what kind of signals we’re looking at.

Why is this important?

Because Google have been using machine learning algorithms since 2015.

And by looking at the search results we can see what the machine learning algorithm is expecting to see.

You might not realize this:

But every time you search this is what is happening behind the scenes-

  1. You enter your query into Google
  2. Google chops the query into individual words
  3. Google applies natural language processing to figure out meaning
  4. Then it analyses the intent of the query (eg informational or commercial)
  5. This generates a list of relevant results
  6. Additional filters are applied (eg Pagespeed)
  7. The final search results are displayed

Here’s a shot from Rad Paluszak’s Chiang Mai 2018 presentation to help visualize that-

Machine Learning - query steps

But what is most important here is the final step of the process…

Results Satisfaction Analysis.

Because this is the machine learning part that is automatically analyzing the efficiency of the results and tweaking the algorithm.

What’s that got to do with competitors?


The machine learning algorithm is telling us what types of things it expects to see.

We just have to look for those things…

Pro Tip: Spot Check Your Competitors

Do a search for your target keyword and look at the top 5 results.

First look for commonalities in the results such as-

  • Content length
  • Page intent
  • Use of images/videos
  • Page layout
  • Ad placement
  • Trust signals

Then make a note of what you like and don’t like about each result.

This will become the outline for each new piece of content.

Step #3 – Technical SEO & Content Audit

Now we know where we want to go with the SEO campaign…

..It’s time to figure out where we are starting from.

To do that we conducted a comprehensive onsite audit that typically spans about 30 pages.

The goal of this is to identify any issues that might hold it back from performing at its full potential.

It includes things like-

  • Site Structure – Are we using the best site structure to maximize link juice?
  • PageSpeed – Does your site load quickly for Google and visitors?
  • Index Management – Do you have unnecessary index bloat?
  • Duplicate Content – Caused by improper use of tags/categories
  • Internal Redirects – Wasting crawl budget is bad for your site!
  • Internal Linking – Very powerful but underused tool.
  • Trust Signals – Are you sending the right signals to Google?

This site had a range of problems that we needed to address.

Here’s how we fixed some of them-

Issue #1 – Page Speed

One of the main problems with the site was that it had almost no page speed optimisation.

The site was loading very slowly in our tests.

We use 2 plugins to fix that-

  • WP Rocket – to optimise pretty much everything, BUT images.
  • ShortPixel – to optimise images.

Or you can checkout my full WP Rocket review which takes a deep dive into how to get the most out of it.

Issue #2 – Wordpress Taxonomies vs Duplicate Content

Wordpress is a great platform to build a website.


It can also make Google index a lot of rubbish.

All this indexed bloat decreases the overall SEO value of the site-

duplicate content

Not only do you risk duplicate content problems but you also waste valuable crawl budget…

To put it simply:

If you have 50 pages indexed, but only 5 that Google should pay attention to…

…you should consider pruning the site.

If the remaining 45 pages are not useful for your users, get rid of them.

Issue #3 – Internal Redirects

When we conducted the technical SEO audit, we spotted a few problems with internal redirects.

This was caused by a variety of things-

  • The site had recently migrated from HTTP to HTTPS (poorly)
  • A lot of the internal links were pointing to old HTTP urls
  • Some pages were renamed or deleted and redirected
  • The theme had some hardcoded redirect loops

All of this was wasting significant crawl budget.

But luckily:

It’s all pretty simple to fix!

With HTTP -> HTTPS URLs, we just tracked all of them down and changed all http:// to https:// manually.

And to fix the redirect problems we just fired up Screaming Frog SEO Spider

  1. Crawl the site
  2. Go to Response Codes at the top
  3. Select “Redirection (3xx)” Filter
  4. Type your domain – this will ensure you are looking at your internal links only.
  5. Click on the URL you’d like to review
  6. This is what the URL is currently.
  7. This is what it should be.

In our case study site for example:

We could fix a lot of the errors by updating hardcoded links in the menus and sidebars.

But every site is different!

Issue #4 – Thin Content

Whilst conudcting the audit, we found a BIG issue with thin content.

Over 50% of the website pages had under 500 words.

Every niche is different!

But after looking at search results and competitor sites…

…It was clear this is a content heavy niche.

Don’t forget:

Google rewards fresh, long form content that addresses user intent. So we adjusted our content strategy to support the main campaign goal.

Content race

With that in mind:

We increased the length of the homepage from 1,500 words to 10,911 words by answering over 20 of the most popular questions around the main affiliate product.

That helped increase visibility of the homepage which now ranks for over 11,200 keywords-

Homepage visiblity improvements

Following the same strategy:

We increased the average word count per page from ~500 words to 2,216 words per page.

In addition to expanding the website’s copy, we also reviewed and optimised-

All of which worked in harmony with each other to pull the sites pages up the search rankings.

Step #4 – Building A Healthy Site Structure

It’s important to create a healthy website architecture.



  • It helps user finds what they need
  • It helps Google understand the site
  • It helps to priortise the most important content
  • It helps distribute link equity throughout the site

The website should follow a logical structure (flat structure or silo structure) with a clear with your core pages located within 3x clicks from the homepage.

We can check this easily in Screaming Frog using the Crawl Depth report.

Here is an example of bad crawl depth

bad crawl depth example

And here is what it should look like-

good crawl depth example

If you wanted to dig deeper…

…You can also use Screaming Frogs Visualization tools-

screaming frog visualization tools

But what are we looking for here?

Well this is an example of a bad site structure

bad site structure

And when you do things right…

…it looks like this-

good site structure example

So with the case study site in mind, we overhauled the site structure so everything was within 3x clicks of the homepage.

We did this by-

  • Building out category pages
  • Linking to those category pages from menus
  • Internal linking between content (I’ll talk more about this later)

A lot of people don’t pay attention to site structure.

But trust me:

Building a healthy site structure from day #1 is critical to your growth.

Step #5 – Content Strategy

As soon as you have a keyword strategy and healthy site foundation to build on…

…It’s time to get your hands dirty with content!

You should start crafting the content as soon as possible because this is often a bottleneck for many businesses.

editorial calendar

This is how we approached it-

  • First we selected our primary target keywords
  • Then we reviewed our competitors in Google for each keyword
  • That allowed us to create a “content specification”
  • Which was then sent to our writing team

Based on what we had learned about the thin content issues during the SEO audit…

…we made sure that all new pieces of content were at least 2,500 words.

We continued to produce 2x new pieces of content per month throughout the campaign.

Step #6 – Internal Linking

Once we developed our killer content and restructure strategy…

We needed to help Google navigate the website easier to discover all the pages we updated/created.

The goal of our internal link building strategy was to distribute link value throughout the site, from pages with authority to others with less authority.

We used a balanced combination of targeted, branded and generic anchors to help Google determine the relationship between them-

target keyword percentage

Along with links we placed manually, we also installed and tested a number of plugins to help place internal links-

The one we ended up using is Yuzo Related Posts:

We chose this because it helped us customise the display on the front end of the site-

related products display

This meant we could cross-link key pages across the site structure automatically.

Very handy!

Need help fixing your SEO issues? Check out my 45+ steps SEO checklist to get rid of your most important SEO issues.

Step #7 – Link Building

There is no doubt about it:

link building

Backlinks are the most important ranking factor in Google. 

But that is amplified 10x when you have built a good site structure backed with solid content.

With all of that in place we started to build the overall domain authority using links from relevant websites in the fitness, health and lifestyle niche.

We took the backlink profile from 27x referring domains to 374x referring domains

number of referring domains growth

How did we do that?

By keeping things simple!

First we scraped a huge list of relevant websites with SEO value, traffic & authority.

Then we published high quality content targeted at their audience to secure a backlink where possible.

We didn’t do anything beyond that.

This is the exact link building strategy and schedule we used to meet the clients budget-

Month 1

  • 12x PBN Links
  • 1x Outreach

Month 2

  • 10x PBN Links
  • 3x Outreach Links
  • 15x Quora Links

Month 3

  • 12x PBN Links
  • 3x Outreach

Month 4

  • 10x PBN Links
  • 3x Outreach

Month 5

  • 4x Outreach Links

Month 6

  • 3x Outreach Links

The strategy was simple-

  • First build authority and topical relevancy as quickly as possible with PBN links
  • Once established (month 4), we switched to outreach only
  • In month 5+ the site starts ranking & picking up links naturally to fuel growth

And that’s all we did.

In month 7+ we didn’t build any additional links to the site.

Once the site started to rank it was picking up links naturally and rankings have continued to improve.

Do You Struggle With Link Building?

Take a look at some of these free resources to help you build awesome links-

Want me to rank your site?

The Results Speak For Themselves

The site has had 8x months of amazing growth.

Traffic has grown from 2,732 visitors per month to 38,420.

Let me put that in different words…

14X. In. Eight. Months! 

14x search traffic

If we take a closer look at things…

…we managed to increase-

  • DR from 45 to 59
  • UR from 10 to 41
  • Referring domains from 27 to 374
  • Backlinks from 45 to 2,540

Metrics – Start of the Campaign

Metrics at the start of the campaign

Metrics – End of the Campaign

Metrics at the end of the campaign

That increased domain authority also increased keyword visibility.

At the start of the campaign there were-

  • 68x top 3 rankings
  • 345x top 10 rankings

But at the end of the campaign…

There are now 637x keywords in the top 3 positions!

And 2,221 keywords in the top 10-

Homepage visiblity improvements

Although throughout the campaign we were only monitoring 48x core keywords…

..they had a net increase of 894x positions in Google

ranking progress

And a number of those keywords…

…had high search volumes and were dropping into the #1 positions-

tracked keyword rankings

With a number of other high volume search keywords breaking into the top 10.

All of which made for some really pretty Google Search Console data-

google search console growth

Not bad right?

Especially in such a competitive niche (more on that soon).

14x Search Traffic SEO Case Study Infographic

If you want help ranking your website…

Click Here Now!

Wrapping It Up

So there you have it:

How to 14x search traffic in 8x months. 

It really isn’t that difficult to do – you just need to follow the 3x stages of SEO-

  • Technical SEO – Build a solid & healthy website structure
  • Content – Create relevant content that helps people
  • Link Building – Acquire links from relevant websites

And the best is that you can use free seo tools to help you out!

Or if you want to do it the easy way:

Click here to have my team do all the hard work for you.

If you have any questions about the case study, please ask below!

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What Are Your Thoughts?

346 Responses

  1. Hi Matthew. Thanks for the post! What ratio of target keywords, branded keywords, generic phrases did you use for linkbuilding, particularly for PBN?

  2. Wow! What a great article! Glad I followed the link in the email I got. This will definitely help influence how I continue to work on my site. Thank you for sharing this in-depth case study!

  3. Hi MatthewLot of value from your content, much appreciated.Can you write about SEO in Shopify stores and how to improve it? Thanks a lot !Best wishes!

  4. Can you please help me out with my website.I am fighting a lot for a keyword. But unable to rank even if my back links are more. I have good seo and everything but even after 8 months I am unable to rank. KD is also low.

  5. Hey Matthew, I’m new to your site and I love it! You’ve got exceptionally helpful content with terrific insights on SEO. I’ve got a question about this article. How do you get keyword data (search volume, etc.) on KWs that you find using KeywordShitter and AskThePublic? Or do you use those KWs without knowing these data points about them, and if so, how are they useful that way?

  6. Wow. Thanks for sharing these important points. I am trying to be better in link building. I want some other post related to link building.

  7. Another good article.. was wondering if you have written any article about site architecture. The world is divided on SILO

  8. Case study is amazing! It’s real good to know some of these things from the get go, because it can really come back to bite you in the butt if you have to go back and redo everything after you’ve already built the whole website.Will take Screaming frog into consideration! Thank you!

    1. Hey Pablo – yes being as prepared as possible will certainly help and case studies are the perfect way to learn from someone else’s mistakes.

  9. This is a f**king awesome case study. I appreciate the transparency with PBN links. Refreshing. You sir, have a new follower!

  10. Another brilliant post.I get sooo much value from your blog.Why do I waste my time watching N*** P***L videos when I can come here and learn so much more :o)

  11. Hi MathewGreat strategy but I have a quick question. I know that you offer SEO services, and I know that you offer PBN services too. Do you offer SEO audit services? Where you will just audit a site for the customer? I kind of think this is the most technical part of SEO.Also, would it be an idea for you to offer bespoke strategies to your customers who can then work on their own sites? Meaning could you look up a site, check out what it needs, in terms of audit, which keywords to use, link building (i.e. a list of links to target by reverse engineering top competitors) and prepare it as a pdf report and then the customer buys it from you and gets to work straight away.I know your intelligent sheets do help but still, as business owners it does take our time up to do all the research, we would rather have it down and just follow it daily, putting aside and an hour or so whilst still running our other areas of the business.

  12. hi Matthew recently found your blog and reading this , this case study was good , congrats also, i have a website about tours and travels, 4 years am working on it but no more than 200 google visitors per day contents are unique and I’m also doing some backlinks but I don’t know exactly what the problem with my site maybe structure maybe some poor backlinks

  13. Thank You for very informative post, I learn a lot, how to increase website traffic to boost business. thank

  14. HiVery Nice and informative post. Why don’t you have any customised strategy for Would like to have some knowledge about that search engine.

  15. Great insight articles. I agreed with your all points you mentioned in article. I definitely try this and audit again all website.

  16. Neil Patel is good, Brian is awesome, Chris Lee opened my eye to great things and they worked well, but I will have to admit Matthew Woodward is the best. Mark my comment man, I’ll steal and use this strategy for good, and I’ll personally send you the result, God bless you.

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How To 14x Search Traffic In 8x months

Campaign Challenges:

  • The weight loss supplement niche is very competitive
  • Most search results are dominated by huge household brands
  • The site had huge issues with thin content and zero structure
Campaign Results:

Organic Traffic


Top 3 Rankings

Case Studies

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