White Hat SEO Case Study: How I Increased Google Traffic By 1,026% In 3 Months
Today you’re going to learn how I increased Google traffic by more than 1,000% to a brand new website in three months.
(You’ll also see how this new traffic led to a 25x in affiliate commissions).
And I’m going to show you exactly how I did it using something I like to call the GuestoRoundup Technique.
This is a white hat SEO technique that doesn’t involve sending 100 Pinterest group board emails or scheduling Pins in Tailwind or creating 10 different Pins for every piece of content on my site.
No. What drove these results was targeted blogger outreach and white hat SEO, plain and simple.
I’ve done it with my own site and several client sites as well, and it works every single time.
The best part? Any blogger looking to improve their SEO can implement it.
Let’s get right to it.
Combining The Expert Roundup + Guest Post
If you read my earlier case study about how I grew a new affiliate website in the outdoors niche to nearly $100,000 in under two years, you’ll know that I relied heavily on white hat SEO to get links and traffic to the site.
But how did I get other bloggers to link back to me?
I will say, guest posting was a huge part of my strategy when I first launched the site.
But I did it with a little twist.
I developed something I like to call the GuestoRoundup Technique, which involved a little more work upfront but resulted in me getting nearly 25 guest posts published on relevant sites in my niche.
What’s the GuestoRoundup Technique?
It’s a little two-step process …
Instead of your regular old guest posting tactics where you email a random blogger you don’t know begging them to let you post on their site …
You’re leading with value and offering to feature them on your site first before asking them for anything.
To show you how well this works, let me show you some results …
First, here is what my traffic looked like (via Clicky Analytics) when I started implementing the GuestoRoundup Technique:
This was only Month 2 of the blog’s entire existence, so as expected search traffic to the site was pretty low: only 212 visitors from Google that month.
This is also the month that I started getting my first real backlinks to my site via this technique, as shown here:
This is a screenshot from my Ahrefs dashboard which shows all the links built to my site over time, and as you can see I started picking up links with the GuestoRoundup Technique in February 2016 …
When my organic traffic was only 212 visitors the entire month.
Flash forward to the next month, March 2016:
So in one month, I more than doubled search traffic to my site as the links I was building from the GuestoRoundup Technique started to come in.
Here’s April 2016:
After two months of building links to my site, traffic from Google nearly quadrupled.
And then, three months later, in May 2016:
A more than 10x increase in Google traffic in only three months!
To recap …
I started getting links from the GuestoRoundup Technique in February 2016 …
And my traffic totals for February—May looked like this …
Yes, that’s a 1,026% increase in Google traffic in just three months.
These freshly built backlinks were skyrocketing my site up the Google SERPs for my desired keywords.
(By the way, my organic traffic only continued to go up in the months to follow.)
But that’s just the traffic numbers …
25x In Affiliate Revenue
At the end of the day, traffic doesn’t mean much if you can’t turn those visitors into revenue.
Luckily, all this new traffic I was getting from Google as a result of the links I built was resulting in a surge of new affiliate commissions as well.
I don’t have the screenshot because Amazon isn’t letting me search that far back, but in February 2016 I earned a whopping $13.15 from Amazon (hey, it was a brand new site 🙂 )
But just three months later by affiliate income went up 25 times as much!
And much like my traffic, my affiliate income continued to skyrocket as time went on:
Now … I say this not to brag.
But hopefully what this is showing you is the power of white hat SEO ...And how a couple dozen high-quality backlinks can drastically increase your Google traffic and make your blog revenue explode.
How Do You Build Links To A Brand New Blog?
I admit, when you’re a new blogger, it’s really hard to build links back to your site.
Nobody knows who you are.
Nobody is reading your site (yet).
And being honest … no one really cares.
That’s the situation I found myself in when I “launched” my outdoors blog:
Zero followers, zero connections, starting from scratch.
But I’ve been around SEO long enough to know that with a handful of high quality backlinks, I could start to rank my site in Google …
And those higher rankings would lead to more traffic …
And that traffic would be sent to hyper-targeted pages where my audience was looking for affiliate offers.
I just needed an strategy where I could get other bloggers to link back to me if I provided enough value.
The Problem With Guest Posting
I’m a big fan of guest posting for a couple of reasons:
One, it allows you to get your content and your name out there to a new, much bigger audience than your own.
Two, from an SEO perspective, good guest post links really move the needle.
And trust me: I’ve done plenty of guest post pitches in my day.
And even though I’m pretty good with cold outreach, a lot of my pitches end up looking like this:
Has that ever happened to you?
You found a great blog that accepts guest posts and you have a fantastic idea that would fit their audience perfectly …
So you open up your Gmail and fire off the perfect outreach email asking the blogger if you can contribute an awesome post to their blog …
Only that blogger never even bothers to reject your pitch …
They simply ignore you and never respond!
And while I’m a huge fan … that’s the problem with guest posting.
Even though you are offering value by contributing awesome content to another blog for free, you are still pitching cold.
The other blogger has no idea who you are!
And that’s a BIG problem.
Putting A New Twist On Guest Posting
That’s the predicament I found myself in …
So what’s a determined blogger to do?
I knew I had to get on these bloggers’ radar, but how?
Most outreach tips you’ll find out there will tell you to do some variation of the following:
And when you think about it, this is not terrible advice.
I’ve done it before.
It works reasonably well.
(So long as you’re being genuine and leading with value, and not spamming people).
But what’s the main problem with this approach?
It takes a TON of time!
Think about it: say your goal was to land 10 successful guest posts.
Even with a 25% success rate—which is pretty good—you’d not only have to send 40 pitches, but you’d have to do the whole follow/share/comment song-and-dance for all 40 of your targets!
Do you realize how long that takes?
To share their content and leave meaningful comments in a genuine way for 40 different bloggers?
But then it hit me …
What if I simply leveraged the “expert roundup” technique as part of my outreach, and pivoted after that into a guest post pitch?
Breaking The Ice With The Expert Roundup
I definitely didn’t invent the concept of the expert roundup, but it’s one of my go-to link building tools.
An expert roundup simply involves emailing a bunch of bloggers in your niche with a quick question and asking them to answer it, telling them that they’ll be featured alongside a lot of other bloggers in their niche.
Then, you aggregate all of the answers into an epic piece of content and feature all of the bloggers who participated in it.
I like how Zac Johnson summarizes the entire process here:
- 1Choose a hot topic or question relevant to your niche
- 2Email/outreach experts the question within your space
- 3Once you get enough answers, publish them all to your site
- 4Send outreach again to your experts and ask them to share you post
(I actually think it’s helpful to add in another step between #1 and #2, and that’s making a list of expert bloggers in your niche, so that’s what we’ll do below).
So let’s break down this process one step at a time using an example of an expert roundup that Ahrefs did about white hat link building.
Step 1: Choose Your Topic And Question
First you want to choose a topic that’s extremely relevant to your niche and which makes for a good discussion point (meaning people will be glad to talk about it).
In the Ahrefs example, obviously they picked a very relevant topic to the SEO niche (link building).
Step 2: Make A List Of The Top Bloggers In Your Niche
Now that we have our topic and question in mind, it’s time to start outreaching!
How many bloggers should you contact?
As many as you can find in your niche!
In the Ahrefs roundup, they emailed over 100 bloggers!
Why is this important?
One, it makes for a much better headline.
I mean, which headline sounds better to you and makes you want to click more?
“90 SEO Experts Talk White Hat Link Building, Outsourcing And Scaling”
“8 SEO Experts Talk White Hat Link Building, Outsourcing And Scaling”
Two, the more responses you have, the longer and more epic your content will be!
The Ahrefs roundup turned into a massive 33,000 word guide on white hat link building! That’s insane.
Three, the more bloggers you connect with, the more opportunities you’ll have down the line to pitch your guest post ideas to (we’ll get to this later).
But how are we supposed to even find all of these bloggers to email in the first place?
You can check out my free video which shows you how to do it step-by-step:
Step 3: Email Them Your Question
Now that we have a huge list of bloggers that would be perfect for our expert roundup, it’s time to send them our email.
How do we actually get their email addresses in the first place?
You could simply go to their contact page and find it there, or you could install the free Hunter.io Chrome extension to help you out.
Basically, this extension scrapes the website that you’re on and tries to find all the email addresses, like this:
It can definitely save you a few clicks instead of manually navigating to Contact pages and scanning for the email address.
Copy the email address and add it to our spreadsheet:
Ok. So now we have a massive spreadsheet with all the top bloggers in our niche as well as their contact information (name and email address).
Now it’s time to send our email!
When we’re outreaching to influencers in our niche for an expert roundup at scale, we want to keep a few best-practices in mind:
Now, typically with blogger outreach, I like to personalize my emails a lot more and not use templates.
Our goal is to email 100+ bloggers for this roundup, so we simply don’t have the time to deeply personalize each one.
And because we are offering real value in return (featuring them on our website along other influences and linking back to them) instead of just asking for a favor, it’s totally fine to send a templated email.
Once we’ve sent our email, it’s time to wait for the answers to start rolling in.
And since we’ve given them a strict one-week deadline, we should start to receive replies in 2-3 days.
What happens if you don’t get a reply?
I recommend waiting 5-6 days and then sending a single, simple follow up reminder.
If you download the templates, you’ll see we’re doing a couple of things with this follow up email.
First, we’re letting the blogger know that we already have a bunch of other bloggers on board, which gives us a little bit of social proof.
Two, for even more social proof, we’re name-dropping a couple of big-name bloggers in our niche as well. (Of course, only do this if it’s actually true).
I’ve found that a single follow-up email can increase response rate by an additional 25%+, so definitely don’t be afraid to gently follow up.
Step 4: Publish Their Answers On Your Site
Now that everyone has sent in their answers, it’s time to publish them all on our site.
You can structure the post a few different ways, but here’s what I like to do.
First, write a brief introduction explaining:
You can see this introduction formula in play in the Ahrefs roundup:
Then, we’re going to just copy and paste all of the answers into a nicely formatted post, making sure to feature the blogger’s picture, name, and link back to their website like this:
One other tip I recommend is putting the biggest names at the top of the roundup.
So if we were doing a personal finance roundup and got Mr Money Mustache to participate, we’d lead the post off with his answer. This just adds to the credibility and social proof of the post.
Step 5: Let The Bloggers Know The Post Is Live
Once we’ve published the post, now the easy part begins: letting the participants know that it’s live!
At the end of our email, instead of just sending them the link and hoping for the best, I recommend giving them a little nudge asking them to help “spread the word” and “share” the post.
And that’s because we really want them to share and link to our roundup!
Step 6: Get Your Social Shares (And A Few Links)
Now, since you thought of them and asked them to participate, and because they were featured in the post, most bloggers are more than happy to at least share the post on social media.
Here’s one response I got:
And here you’ll see the social shares of the Ahrefs roundup:
And while those don’t look like a lot of shares—and they’re not—you have to remember SEO is not exactly a niche that’s known to kill it on social media (you’ll see they don’t even bother with Pinterest at all!)
And while social shares are nice and all, keep in mind that our goal here is to acquire backlinks that will help improve our SEO.
And because the Ahrefs roundup was so epic with 90 bloggers participating and over 33,000 words long, it has attracted dozens of links since it was published:
For just a single piece of content, getting 84 links is a great success!
Expert Roundup Recap
So just on its own, doing an expert roundup is a good way to build links—if you publish a post that features enough bloggers and adds a lot of value, some of them will naturally link to it since it was such a good post (and since they were featured in it).
And when I was building links for my outdoors website, this is exactly what I did:
I sent a ton of expert roundup outreach emails to bloggers in my niche and received a lot of replies like this one:
Yes, I had people thanking me (a brand new blogger they’ve never heard of) for reaching out to them cold and asking them for something.
Because I was leading with value.
Even though I was asking them for something …
I was also offering them something in return: the chance to be featured, with their picture and blog name, on a site in their niche, alongside dozens of other bloggers in their niche!
And all they had to do was take two to three minutes to answer a simple question.
Bottom line: it was a win-win for both me and the bloggers I was reaching out to.
Now, here’s the thing:
When most people put together these expert roundups ... they leave it at that.
They notify the bloggers that the post has been published, hope for a handful of social shares and links, and then they do nothing!
But this is a huge wasted opportunity!
Remember earlier in the post when I said that the biggest hurdle in getting other bloggers to allow to guest post on their site was that they simply didn’t know who you were?
Well, when you reach out to 100+ bloggers in your niche for an expert roundup …
100+ bloggers now know who you are!
And all of them who participated in your roundup not only know who you are …
But now you have an actual relationship with them!
And this is critically important, because it makes future outreach efforts that much easier.
And it also makes guest posting on their site that much easier.
Landing Your Guest Posts
So we have a giant spreadsheet of bloggers in our niche that we put together from our expert roundup …
We also have (hopefully) dozens of bloggers who actually participated in our roundup …
So what are we going to do next to land our guest posts?
We’re going to send the quickest, easiest guest post pitch you’ve ever seen!
The Guest Post Pitch
Here’s how it all plays out …
Once we send our email letting everyone know that the post is live …
Most of our influencers will respond with at least a “thank you” and maybe even letting us know that they’ve shared the post …
And now this is our opportunity to reply with our guest post ask.
After thanking them for sharing our post, we send the shortest, simplest outreach email you’ve ever seen:
And that’s the entire email!
All you have to do is sit back and watch the “yes” replies to your pitch come in:
Then you write up your guest posts, send them along, and watch the backlinks to your site pile up.
And the best part about these guest posts?If you’re smart, you’ll be able to land at least 1 link with each guest post that meets all 5 characteristics of a good backlink:
- 3Within the context of a post or page
- 4On a website with good “authority”
- 5Niche-relevant to our site or our specific post
And it’s because the guest post links I built to my outdoors site met all 5 characteristics that I was able to 10x my Google traffic and 25x my earnings in only three months!
Now that’s the power of a well-executed backlink building strategy.
Yes, it’s a lot of work but the links you build today will pay dividends for months and years to come.
Over To You
If you enjoyed this post, here’s what to do next …
I’ve put together an over-the-shoulder video of me walking through the steps on how to find bloggers in your niche to send emails to.
I’ve also included swipe files you can steal of my email templates I use to send to bloggers to participate in expert roundups and then my guest post pitches.
Just sign up below to get free access to the video and email templates.
And let me know below if you have any questions or comments!