SEO Case Study: How to Rank on a Small Budget

So this is an SEO case study where I will share the information it took to rank this website, what was done to rank them well on a small SEO budget. It can be done, it obviously won’t work in every niche quite as easily as I done this, but I will explain my thoughts and how some good basic on-page SEO can get you a massive head start when trying to win business online.

With this particular SEO case study, the job was handed to me on a plate as technically the website was in great shape, it had a lot of CRO and many other tweaks to make the most of what traffic was already on there, as you can imagine that is music to my ears not having to deal with devs and iron out a ton of tedious problems which is regular with SEO.

Now with this case study, you can check the graphs and stuff using Ahrefs which are the ones used in the below screenshots.

The website

The website is a Magento E-commerce website, it’s very well built and was lucky enough to manage a website that had a good solid SEO structure and the guys there had a good understanding of on-page SEO.

So to be very clear, this client has a good solid foundation to work from, a nice internal linking structure, they had worked for a while on CRO and overall their developers were fairly savvy so it was a good foundation for me to come in and work on from the link building side.

So this client had a wide range of blinds to sell so the project started Mid September 2017, the client was a friend of a friend who basically needed a website audit and overview that everything was in good shape and then needed work on the backlink profile as what was a weak area for them.

SEO Case Study Rankings

Screenshot 2019 01 18 at 19.34.08

You will see the website has a small amount of steady traffic over 2017 until around the September time which is when I started to implement some  work on the backlink side of things, Now luckily over the years, I have been fortunate enough to have worked a lot in the home improvement niche which has allowed me to be able to get links fairly easily for this particular client, which I drip fed on over months to get the desired impact on the rankings.

Technical SEO and Site Structure

I was extremely lucky to have taken over this project with a website being in almost perfect shape, and that isn’t always the case, but I do feel getting a good solid foundation to work from is one of the most important things that you can do. People don’t always take the technical side of SEO seriously, they think it is all about content and links, but you can get massive gains on making a bad website good from a technical point of view. But as I say this wasn’t something I had to implement in this particular case.

Link Building Strategy

So as far as things go, links were the missing piece of the jigsaw with this client, with little or no links other than some local citations this website had poor domain metrics and poor rankings, with a handful of keywords on page 1, and the rest on page 2 and below I started to use some of the websites I already had access too, old client sites, some of my lead gen sites and sites that some of my SEO friends manage.

Drip feeding these links on over a few months started to see the website rankings increase at quite a decent rate, now I didn’t go hammering out 100+ links on this project, it was around 25 decent very relevant links, with the vast majority of these links being placed on websites in a guest post type format, new article that was relevant to this particular client.

So this process took about 10 weeks to do and by around December 2017, we had seen the traffic jump up from around 1000 hits per month to around 5000 hits per month.

Screenshot 2019 01 18 at 19.43.03

So there was significant growth in the first 3 months of SEO, this client was wanting to rank for nationwide search terms just so you are aware, so it was nice to get that jump in traffic and the client was over the moon.

Getting from 5k hits to 10k per month

So the next step of the job was for me to continue to improve the clients’ organic traffic, although delighted with what was happening, clients always want more. And it did take me another 5 months to get them from 5000 monthly hits to 10,000 monthly hits as there is increased competition on some of the generic search terms that get a lot of searches, so working on them over the next 5 months was the goal so that we could continue to see a good rise in traffic.

But adding a low amount of good quality relevant links wasn’t going to cut it, so the link building strategy had to become a little more aggressive, but by May 2018 I managed to get the website to exactly where I wanted it to be as you can see from the below screenshot.

Screenshot 2019 01 18 at 19.46.28

So what did I do here?

So as well as still tapping into the guest blog opportunities I was able to get from my contacts, I was using someone who was a specialist in outreach, again getting some good quality relevant links in a guest blog type of format, so the person doing the outreach was getting me links on some decent relevant websites, but there was a twist, I was then using PBN’s, Niche Edits and some automated tools to juice up these guest posts I was getting via outreach.

So why do that? Well getting a link on a website is all good and well, but we want that link to be as powerful as possible, so many SEO‘s will use PBN’s, Niche Edits and a number of other things to make those guest posts more powerful, this means that the client site is not at risk of any penalty, but we can utilise more sketchy tactics, but ensuring that the clients website was never at risk.

This tactic was used as I was in a competitive market working on a tight budget and didn’t have the resources to go out and acquire the big powerful links that are out there, so I created powerful links using alternative tactics.

So where next after 10,000 monthly hits?

So with good growth getting the 10,000 monthly hits, what was my next goal? Well with this client, they didn’t fully appreciate or understand SEO and didn’t want to spend any more money, so we were on the same budget, so it was pretty much rinse and repeat what I had done above to see how much more growth I could get, and by December 2018 I had managed to get the website up to 14,000 monthly hits, so in the space of 12 months i got them 13 x more traffic which was a good achievement.

Screenshot 2019 01 18 at 20.01.10

As of December 2018, the client felt the website was starting to stagnate, with no increase in the budget it was a case of maintaining what traffic was there and trying to squeeze any more traffic that I could get out of the campaign but was a pretty impressive job. But the client started to think that they should be saying the same level of growth on a constant basis, and without an increased budget it is impossible to provide that, so the client relationship started to break down, although I tried to educate the client to the best of my ability, they felt they would move on and see if someone else could get constant growth for the budget they were on.

Client SEO Conclusion

So working on a project like this where a client pays you and you rank well, and all of a sudden when the client gets to where they want to be you can very often find yourself cast aside as the client may or may not fully understand what you have done for them and to what actual volume. I did this for this client as it was a friend of a friend no other reason and wanted to help this guy out, he was a great guy and didn’t part on any bad terms.

However one point in this case study I would like to make is to always keep client expectations realistic, as there is never going to be constant growth, it will peak and level out at some point unless you do increase your spend and scale up accordingly.

But with some good simple link building techniques, I was able to get this growth for this client using those exact tactics.

SEO Shopping List

So a number of people after initially publishing this post have asked for further information, so if you want to have a mixed range of links and want to follow a similar strategy to the one I used then I can show you some of the vendors used to help me fulfil some of the work done here.

Guest Posts:

General Links:

General Links:

These are three good well-known link vendors who provide links of very high quality, there are many others on the market, but given years of networking and trying and testing different vendors, I would highly recommend using a mix of the above if you are unable to build links yourself.

PBN Links

The PBN links I used were my own or friends that I know who have sites in some relevant niches, these are links for obvious reasons I do not wish to share, people will always want to see a snipped or something so they can reverse engineer this, but if you have any level of experience you will understand the reasons that people tend to keep this type of thing off the radar.

Budget for SEO

This client was on a very low budget, it was a friend of a friend and the budget was £400 for anyone looking to know what I personally would determine a low-end budget, with the average link costing around £100 per link a £400 per month budget with no profit would be lucky to get you 4 links per month, which isn’t enough to be able to do a real solid SEO campaign. Which is why I had to use my contacts and my own PBNs to get the site moving in the right direction, using low-cost link opportunities and calling in favours was my first port of call.

Using automation to power up some guest blog posts also had to form part of the strategy, if this wasn’t implemented then we wouldn’t have the results we got, low cost and risky yes, but when working on a small budget the key is to do what you can to get results, low-cost SEO does mean there is a lot more risk. But some people are happy with that risk and its a case of getting someone with the right level of experience to take that risk, without getting you any penalties.

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Craig Campbell

I am a Glasgow based SEO expert who has been doing SEO for 18 years.

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