Think blogging about SEO is hard? What about ranking for SEO related keywords overnight without backlinks?
And that is what this case study is all about – how Stephen Hockman, an SEO expert, grew his brand using Keyword Chef. Not only will we learn how he used the Keyword Chef software, but how he was able to rank many of his keywords in 24 hours using only on-page SEO tactics.
This is an exciting case study for three reasons:
- Blogging about SEO is extremely competitive. Blogging in this space means competing against top SEOs who have been established for years.
- Stephen shares some of his on-page SEO tactics he used to help rank fast without link building.
- He shares exactly how much he earned based on keywords found in Keyword Chef.
While we will be highlighting Keyword Chef in this case study, I also wanted to make sure Stephen shared some of his tactics when it came to optimizing sites to rank faster.
Let’s get started…
Keyword Research Strategy
Here we will discover the type of site and how Stephen found and chose his keywords.
- Stephen used Keyword Chef to find keywords for his site in the SEO niche.
- Targeted wildcard and question-based keywords
- Targeted keywords with a SERP Score of 1 and above
- Used Keyword Chef’s clustering feature to group together keywords with a 50% match of higher
What kind of site is this?
The results from this case study were for SEO Chatter.
SEO Chatter shares the latest in SEO news from around the web and free SEO tips on the blog to help people increase their website traffic and rankings. The blog is updated daily with new content that teaches powerful strategies for improving on-page and off-page search engine optimization.
Did you use Keyword Chef to find keywords or did you import them?
I only used the search functions within Keyword Chef to find keywords for this case study.
What keyword categories did you use and why?
I used the keyword categories for “Wildcard” and “Questions” because I had specific types of content I wanted to publish on the blog for my readers.
How did you know what to search for in Keyword Chef?
My primary goal between January to March 2022 was to publish content that answered common questions about SEO, keyword research, and link building on the SEO Chatter blog. These questions started with words like “what”, “why”, and “how”. That’s why I only used the Wildcard and Questions keyword categories in Keyword Chef; to find low competition question-based keywords.
Which SERP Score and search volume did you target?
I targeted a SERP Score of 1 and above for the keywords to focus on for this case study. If there was at least one low competition site in the top 10 ranking positions, then I knew I could easily rank on the first page of Google.
I did not worry about the search volume for any keyword I chose because a lot of the keywords with a good SERP score did not have very high search volume. The SEO niche is a very competitive space, so the keywords with high search volume often had a 0 SERP Score and I didn’t want to waste time writing content on phrases I wasn’t guaranteed to rank high in Google for.
Did you use the Similar or PAA keywords?
Yes, the Similar keywords feature in Keyword Chef was a great way for me to quickly find out what other keywords I could potentially rank for if I chose a particular topic. The Similar keywords feature also gave me additional phrases to use in the content as secondary keywords to target for on-page SEO. If there was a 50% or more match with a similar keyword, then I knew I could also potentially rank for it.
I also used the People Also Asked (PAA) feature in Keyword Chef to find subtopics to cover in my articles. This was helpful because I didn’t have to open up a new web browser and perform a manual search on Google to get that information. The PAA feature helped speed up the process for creating my content outlines.
Were there any other tools used in your keyword research process?
I also subscribe to Mangools and have access to their keyword research tool called KWFinder. At first, I used it to cross-check the keyword phrases from Keyword Chef to make sure I wasn’t missing any other good opportunities for relevant keywords like the Similar keywords feature in Keyword Chef provides. But for the most part, it wasn’t necessary to cross-check the keyword data because Keyword Chef gave me mostly the same phrases through the Similar keywords feature. After doing this research for a few articles, I stopped cross-checking the keywords in KWFinder and just used the Keyword Chef data.
Tracking the Results
Now that we understood the Keyword Research process, how was Stephen able to rank these keywords so quickly?
- Published 45 articles all between 1,000 – 1,500 words each
- Nearly all articles ranked in 24 hours on the front page
- Focused on topical authority and understood search intent
- Used on-page optimization tactics
- The total revenue earned was $377.39 from display ads in 3 months
How many articles were published based on keywords from Keyword Chef?
I published 45 articles between January to March 2022 based on keywords I found with Keyword Chef. The average article length for each article was between 1,000 to 1,500 words.
How quickly did those articles start to rank?
Around 95% of the articles ranked in the top 10 positions within 24 hours after they were published. I have a very specific on-page SEO and content writing process I follow to rank my content as high as possible without backlinks. Combining that with low competition aspects of keywords found with Keyword Chef, it was almost guaranteed that I would rank fast and high with these articles.
One of the most important SEO tips I can give new website owners to achieve better rankings is to focus on one specific area of topical relevance for their websites before they move on to another vertical. In my experience, Google rewards websites that have proven expertise on a particular topic. And if you pick one thing to be an “expert” in, and exhaust that topic, you can see greater results for your publishing efforts.
For example, I’ve written a lot about keywords in general for SEO. Therefore, when I post an article about a topic related to “keywords”, then Google typically favors that content for indexing in the search engine. Google’s algorithm already knows that SEO Chatter has demonstrated expertise on the topic of “keywords”, so it’s much easier for the site to rank for those types of queries.
Second, you need to make sure you’re meeting the search intent for the query. This is where I see a lot of people get things wrong and wonder why they cannot rank a web page higher than page 3 on Google. And then, they just waste money by throwing a bunch of backlinks at it, thinking that is the answer.
If there’s a mismatch between user search intent and what you wrote on the page, you’ll rarely ever rank in the top 10 positions on Google. Therefore, you have to make sure you write the correct type of content and structure it how Google’s algorithm wants to see it. And the best way to get those answers is to do a search on Google for your target keyword phrase.
For example, if you search for the phrase “best window air conditioners” on Google, then you’ll see a list of roundup affiliate buying guides dominating the top 10 spots. And they’re mostly structured the same way: an introduction followed by a list of 5-10 items reviewed.
Now compare that to the keyword phrase without the word “best” in it by searching for just “window air conditioners”. It displays ecommerce listings like Home Depot, Lowes, and Amazon. Those pages are structured very differently with a grid layout, current prices, add to cart buttons, etc, but absolutely no review information.
Now search for “how do window air conditioners work” on Google to really drive home this idea of user search intent for writing your content to rank. The top-ranking results are question-based articles that answer the question for the user. They also mention the various parts that make a window air conditioner work. It’s basically a wall of text without any images, review content, or ways to buy an air conditioner for a window, which makes perfect sense for the user.
As you can see, the search intent is drastically different for each of these keyword phrases, and therefore, Google delivers different types of results. So if you want to succeed with your content, and get it to rank high in the search engine results pages (SERPs), then make sure you give Google the exact type of content and structure it wants to see on the page.
Third, after you’ve written a great article, you need to optimize it for on-page SEO. Without good on-page SEO, you’ll often have a tougher time ranking on the first page of Google unless you do a ton of link building to help Google’s algorithm understand what keywords the content should be ranked for. And before you do any type of backlink building, you should always maximize the on-page SEO value of your content so you can save your hard earned money.
Students of my Mastering On-Page SEO course have seen dramatic increases from pages 3-4 on Google to the top 1-5 ranking positions just by fixing their on-page SEO alone. Absolutely zero link building was done. That proves the power of on-page SEO.
Here are some quick tips to help you get started:
- Pick one main keyword to focus on for the page. (Ideally, you’ll want 3-5.)
- Put that main keyword in the meta title, meta description, H1 tag, and first H2 tag on the page.
- Include the exact match keyword phrase several times throughout the content in the article.
- Include variations of the main keyword as well in the content.
- Optimize the ALT tag and filename of one image on the page for the keyword.
Doing those basic things can help improve your web page’s rankings. However, there are about 11 spots in total I optimize each web page for with on-page SEO to get the most ranking value out of my content. You can find out what those HTML locations are in the Mastering On-Page SEO course and how to optimize them the right way if you want instructor-led teaching. Otherwise, you can just look through the articles on the SEO Chatter blog to pick up some tips on the topic of on-page SEO and piece it all together yourself.
In the end, if you combine the three strategies I outlined above: topical relevance, matching search intent, and doing good on-page SEO, you can rank your content higher and faster than ever before for a lot of the keywords you find with Keyword Chef that have a SERP Score of 1 or higher.
Did you find the SERP Score accurate (example – green scores ranked all first page)?
I found the SERP Score to be mostly accurate when there was a score of 2 or higher. However, there were times when it reported a score of 1; meaning that only a single low competition URL was ranking in the top 10 positions. But when I did a manual search on Google for the keyword, I did not see the low competition site in the SERP. However, that didn’t stop me from publishing an article based on that keyword. I still wrote the blog post and often ranked in the top 10 positions regardless of that conflict with the SERP Score because my website had established authority on the topic.
How much traffic are those articles bringing in each?
If we look at the individual organic traffic metrics for all 45 articles published, it ranged from 3 to 1,507 visits per URL between January to March 2022. Also, 10 of the articles were published in March so the total organic traffic has not even been fully realized yet.
But this question brings up a good point to cover: you can’t always take the average search volume reported by every keyword research tool at face value.
For example, the top-performing keyword reported an average of 140 visits in Keyword Chef; however, that page actually received 1,507 visits over a 3-month time period. It was one of the first articles I published and averages out to be 518 visits per month. SEO Chatter ranks #1 for that keyword on Google.
Another example is the second-best performing article that was based on a keyword with a reported average of 90 visits with Keyword Chef. That article delivered 1,018 visits over the same 3-month time period, which averages around 359 visits per month. SEO Chatter ranks #3 for that keyword on Google.
A third example shows a less impressive result but drives home the idea of not always knowing how much traffic you’ll get from a target keyword. The reported average for one of the keywords was 70 visits according to Keyword Chef, but it only brought in a total of 49 visits between February 19 to March 31, which averages out to be 32 visits per month (49 ÷ 1.5 months = 32). SEO Chatter ranks #8 for that keyword on Google.
Basically, what this means is that you never know what you’re going to get when you publish an article based on the average keyword traffic data. It may be more or less. Plus, your article may rank for many other relevant keywords that the average search volume for a single keyword doesn’t take into account. Even a zero search volume keyword can send you 100s to even thousands of new visitors per month.
As for the total traffic for all of the 45 articles combined, the website received 5,384 organic sessions between January to March 2022.
How much revenue did these keywords bring in?
The only revenue I tracked for this case study was the Ezoic earnings, which is the advertising network I use on the website. I didn’t track how many of the visitors purchased one of my SEO training courses.
As for the total Ezoic earnings, the 45 articles I wrote based on Keyword Chef keywords were $377.39 between January to March 2022. I consider that to be an excellent return on investment (ROI) for the $20 I spent on the Keyword Chef credits to use for his case study. An ROI of 1,786.95% to be exact!
Plus, these articles will continue to earn ad revenue on an ongoing basis. Ten of them were published less than 30 days ago, so I’m excited to see how much more traffic and money those can bring in!
About Stephen Hockman
Stephen has been doing SEO since 2005 and runs SEO Chatter where he shares his best SEO strategies and insights. He also provides online courses and consultations to help people maximize their website rankings and traffic.