Today I am going to show you how my specialist SEO team built 1,951 first page rankings in the seasonal travel hire niche-
656 of those keywords are ranking in the top 3.
Which has had a significant impact on organic search traffic year on year-
How did we do all of that?
Well keep reading and I’ll break down the complete strategy for you step by step!
What Will I Learn?
This is a European company operating in a highly competitive international travel hire niche.
They sell in locations all over the world and offer a multilingual site.
Our main focus was to increase rankings by improving user experience because there is absolutely no substitute for getting the basics right when it comes to SEO.
That meant that we had to:
It’s safe to say that when we took over the site it was a “fixer-upper”.
And it presented us with several major challenges…
The travel hire niche is brutally competitive with lots of well-established brands with big budgets fighting for keywords.
All of which have intuitive user interfaces on fast websites with well-written content.
And our website had, well…none of that.
It was complete chaos. We had to deal with:
This is what happens when you only focus on link building and ignore the basics of SEO.
So to tackle these challenges and make sure we were building our castle on rock and not sand, we had to:
Which as I write this, was way easier said than done!
We broke our strategy down into 7x steps and each of those steps had its own goal:
Each of those areas plays a role in supporting organic growth and its important that you address all of these areas to see success.
This can mean different things for different sites but let me walk you through how we did it this time around.
The first step was to identify benchmark keywords.
These are keywords we track daily to show us the:
If the metrics move in our favor we’re doing our job right.
We then researched a broader set of keywords. These keywords interlink with our core keywords but could also rank on their own.
Then we categorised those keywords into topic-based clusters:
This provided us with an almost endless database of relevant topics and their keywords that we could attack across the site.
Backlinks ARE an important part of SEO. There’s no denying it.
So we needed to:
Ahrefs showed us that 96% of their links were of the lowest possible quality:
These low quality links were coming from:
Thanks to the clients needless obsessive compulsive backlink disorder, there were 1000s of links we needed to disavow.
The Ahrefs “Referring IPs” tool was VERY really useful in this process:
Here we could identify harmful links in large batches to disavow them.
However, this isn’t a “one and done” process.
We had to routinely check our link profile because we have no control over WHO links to the site.
This means low-quality links pop up all the time:
So we had to regularly check (and disavow) these links as they appeared.
Don’t know how to disavow your bad links? Follow my step by step how to disavow backlinks tutorial.
User experience is CRITICAL for rankings because it feeds into and influences so many other signals.
It’s important to remember that Google’s main job as a search engine is to pair users with websites that provide answers.
Which means you must make sure there are zero barriers between answers and users.
To understand what that means in our specific niche, we looked at our organic search competitors.
We needed to create an industry benchmark we could work from-
To create this benchmark we explored every possible user experience element.
We looked at:
Anything that our potential users would come into contact with.
This gave us all the information we needed to create user and SEO-focused templates for:
For example, we updated the home page to make bookings available above-the-fold which increased both user engagement signals and conversions signficiantly-
We also did some competitor backlink analysis to see how and where they acquired high-quality links.
Using Ahrefs Link Intersect tool we were able to see the most common sites:
Which gave us an actionable starting point for our link building strategies which we will talk about in a moment.
After following the last few steps, we had acquired enough information to build out a complete content strategy.
So before creating any new content, the first thing we did was to address existing content.
On a post-by-post basis we took one of 3x actions:
For example, the site had lots of 300-500 word blog posts that were very light on information and added next to no value.
So we increased the overall length, quality and relevance of those pages by adding extra sections that actually answered related search queries.
Once the existing content was fixed, we switched our focus to creating new content.
We created a monthly posting schedule that looked like this:
This meant we had a growing database of high quality content which we could later leverage for link building.
It was obvious from the beginning this site had lots of technical issues. But it was only when we performed a complete technical SEO audit that we understood the extent of it.
So let’s take a look at each of the problems we found and how we went about fixing them.
The client’s site was missing a clear hierarchy which made it hard to understand for search engine spiders. They had:
This meant the site was a nightmare for both users and Google to navigate. It was a labyrinth of dead ends that left your scratching your heard.
In the perfect world ALL website pages should be accessible within 4x clicks of the homepage.
It’s paramount a travel hire website has easily accessible destination pages.
It should be no more than a 3x click process:
Google > Homepage > Destinations Page > Greece
The website was lacking this logical structure. So we spent a lot of time getting this right.
One process that really helped us was…
The site was so hard to navigate because there were so few internal links. We found this to be really bad on location specific landing pages.
But internal link building is critically important for a number of reasons-
Let’s say you searching for something in the travel hire niche and landed on a popular page of our client’s site.
The page would provide internal links to pages about:
But those 3x pages would have 0x internal links. You couldn’t get to:
This meant the user (and Google’s crawlers) instantly hit a dead end!
Which as you can probably imagine created tons of problems like:
So our process focused on adding logical internal links to streamline the site and make the experience much more enjoyable for both users and Google.
To try and combat the navigation issues the client had created lots of duplicate pages.
Now it’s no secret that Google doesn’t like duplicate content-
And they really don’t like it when there are 3x exact replicas of the homepage!
It seemed like the previous SEOs had added a copy-and-pasted page at every dead end.
This was…seriously problematic because it created a ton of issues like:
It also made the site INCREDIBLY slow, so to deal with all of this we-
Then we could start to optimize the remaining pages to target important keywords.
Resolving these technical issues made the next step possible…
The user experience was ABYSMAL to say the very least.
Competitors websites performed 1000x better than ours and despite 50% of traffic coming from mobile devices, the site wasn’t responsive.
To combat this we:
I won’t lie…
There are still elements that need to go live. But we have being improving things and deploying them consistently.
I’d say around 75% of the necessary fixes have being deployed to date and the results have been staggering so far.
But there’s still one more step before we get to those…
Link building was ALWAYS going to be a part of our SEO strategy but there are 5x things this case study should show:
This is precisely why link building is step 7 and not step 1 in our case study today because you are not ready for link building until you have built a solid foundation.
And because we spent time revamping a lot of the existing content, link building was mostly a downhill battle because no one wants to link to poor content.
We made sure the link building strategies we used were tailored to focus on-
It’s easy to overstep the mark here and get excited but you’ll be amazed just how much impact a handful of relevant links can have on a properly built site.
Each link we built came from well-established sites that we considered to be equal (or better) than our own.
Outreach based link building is a time-consuming process.
But we were able to build lots of high-quality links:
And it is the most sustainable way to build links that ensures the longevity of your site.
The site’s growth has been incredible.
Traffic has grown from an average of 9,846 visitors per month to 58,883 at the very peak of high season.
Overall we have more than tripled organic search traffic and more importantly, increased revenue during the off season as well.
We also increased the number of top 3 results from 197 to 656.
And of course:
This all made for some glorious Google Search Console data-
All of which is absolutely fantastic result given how competitive this niche is and how much money is on the line during peak season.
If you want help ranking your website… Click Here Now!
So there you have it.
That is how you can triple organic search traffic in competitive niche by just focusing on the foundations of SEO.
It’s not rocket science. You just need to follow my simple 3 step SEO strategy:
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