From 0 to 30,000 Pageviews in 8 Months: A Process You Can Replicate
Rob is the owner of Podcast Rocket, the industry-leading podcast production service. Rob has helped thousands of podcasters start and offload their podcasts, including TED speakers, Doctors, Therapists, and Business owners.
It was back in the fall of 2019 when we bought a very expensive SEO course from a very popular site. It cost over $3,000 and we were eager to put the learnings to the test.
The course, enticingly named “How to Grow a Blog the Fast Way*”, recommended we post very long, in-depth, detailed content. Even if we had to go months without posting, it recommended working on creating massive posts that would bring the most value.
It didn’t even cover keyword research at all. We were supposed to pick “whatever we felt was most valuable to cover”.
You wouldn’t be very surprised to learn that it was a complete disaster.
For the better part of a whole year, we had literally 0 visits from organic traffic. Our business relied 100% on two ways of attracting new customers: paid ads and word of mouth.
But wait, it gets worse.
We were spending a good chunk of our marketing budget on creating these long pieces of content that didn’t even rank. And even when we started ranking around the end of 2020 we would count ourselves lucky we got 800 pageviews in a month.
It was simply unacceptable. Here we were spending all this money on posts that were getting us nowhere and without having a single idea on how to fix the issue.
It was at the start of 2022 that we said enough was enough. We just had to spend a record amount of our budget on PPC (pay-per-click) advertising and got 0 customers back when we knew we had to radically change our approach.
A New Strategy
After countless hours of reading and researching we found out what you may already know: keyword research is crucial, it’s the first step to any successful blog enterprise. Doing anything else would be just like sailing a boat without a compass.
So we found what you most likely already found as well, that if you want to rank fast, you need to target high volume, low competition keywords.
There is only one problem with that: What the *%$! does that even mean?
I mean, the theory is really easy to understand. It makes sense, you want to write articles around what a lot of people are searching for but that nobody (or very few) has written something about.
The practice is a whole different story though. Very soon you’ll be paying for a very expensive, very complicated tool to give you a list of potential keywords that don’t quite sit well with what you really want to write about and you are not entirely sure it will attract the right kind of people.
But we cracked the code (or a version of it at least).
We found that we could filter keywords and sites on tools like Ahrefs and Semrush that had forums and user-generated content on the front page.
So for example in our case, we could search for a broad keyword like “podcast” and ask the tool to include those keywords that had either Reddit or Quora on the front page of Google. Or we could target keywords where “reddit.com/r/podcasting” was on the front page as well.
This was a game changer because it meant people searching for these keywords would not find a good article for the content and had to fall back on discussions where users may provide contradicting information.
Writing an article around that topic and giving a clear structured response was crucial to rank well for those keywords and they didn’t even need to be very long, 500 to 800 words were most of the time enough to rank for these.
But it wasn’t all easy. As complete newbies in the space, we made the mistake of writing anything that seemed like a good fit without checking further. As we went along we discovered that search intent was a big thing.
For example, a keyword like “podcast editor” could mean either a person doing the editing or a software/app that editors could use to edit. So we had to make sure we wrote the articles with the intent in mind.
In other instances, we wrote articles for software or products that had been since discontinued or abandoned because we didn’t check beforehand.
But we didn’t let that discourage us from writing content that we thought would be relevant, informative, and evergreen.
And… we still didn’t rank.
Four months of researching keywords, and writing articles, sometimes as many as 30 a month and we would still not move the needle.
We needed something else to get this moving.
Enter Link Whisper
We started thinking about backlinking from other sites. We had read a lot about how backlinking could improve a website’s “authority”. Google likes sites that are being linked by other sites.
But we were seeing as well a lot of people on SEO forums and Reddit shares how they had DRs of 2.5 and were bringing in a quarter of a million pageviews a month. (DR is a proprietary number to estimate a site’s authority created by Ahrefs, it’s a number between 0 and 100. For context in May 2022 we had a DR of 22 which is low but not that low).
So how could these sites bring all these pageviews a month without any backlinking? They were doing the same as we were doing: targeting low-competition keywords.
So we analyzed it further and we found out about another SEO trick we were not using at all: internal linking.
We literally had two categories at the time: podcast creators and podcast listeners. That’s it.
They both were a mess of non-linked posts that sit on their own and I would estimate that about 90% of them were orphaned (just means nobody pointed to them from any other pages or posts in our site, so robots from search engines like Google couldn’t find them).
Looking into improving this further we found that there are two ways to use internal linking to rank better: silos and content hubs.
After reading a very convincing article on Ahrefs.com, we decided content hubs were the modern way to go, but they are very similar strategies:
Basically, Google likes sites that are being pointed out by other sites, right? Well, the same is true about internal pages on your site.
When all your posts have a menu and that menu has a link back home, what you are telling Google is that “home” is a very important page on your site.
Which it kind of is. But the problem is that we never really thought about this before. We never explicitly went out to say: “This is the most important page that we would like Google to rank.”
So we used Link Whisper to analyze our linking structure by going to Reports, Internal Linking, and exporting that to CSV.
Once in Excel, we could order the data to see where the links were going and we could see that posts about microphones were going to podcasting which was going to software, which was going to top shows, just a weird jumble of nonsense. (Apart from a lot of orphaned pages as I mentioned before).
So we deliberately went out and created a structure.
We listed all the posts we had on the site at the time (you can also do this from Link Whisper’s Reports screen by pressing on Posts and then exporting to CSV at the top) and combed through the whole list to find possible categories to group them under.
It was a massive job and we had to bring a VA to help us.
Once it was all said and done we created 18 new categories and moved all posts to each category. But this was only half the battle.
Next, we had to go through each post manually and interlink them together but not at random. The idea of a content hub is that you create a longer piece of content, a “main post” if you will, that lists a lot of ideas.
Then each section of this content piece can link to other posts where the topic can be expanded further.
As an example, we created an in-depth article called “How to Start a Podcast”. As you can imagine, that was a long article. But even then we couldn’t go into a lot of detail in each step. So we linked to other articles we had written.
For example, we could link to an article about picking the right hosting, the right equipment, etc. The key then is to link back from those back to the “main” article. And you want to link to one or two other smaller articles in the same category as well.
So each category had a main post that acted as the “hub” for the topic and then each small article pointed back to this big article and vice-versa. And the smaller articles pointed to at least one other smaller article.
This helps massively with SEO because now you are sharing the “link juice” effectively. You are telling Google that the hubs are important pages. And you are linking all the articles well so the robots can find all pages and index them in the search algorithm.
As you can imagine, doing all this was a lot of work and again we had to hire a VA to do the heavy lifting for us. But we had Link Whisper which can also help with this.
Link Whisper has the Suggested Links feature we all love that will provide ideas for linking to other posts. What is also really cool is that you can filter by category as well, so it will only suggest posts within the same category. This is super important to make sure you share the “link juice” or tell Google which pages are important and how to index them by interlinking your posts in the same category.
We started the work in May 2022 and started seeing the results in just a couple of weeks.
8 months later we finished the year with the month of December achieving 33,000 pageviews.
Why it Works
These results are the culmination of a lot of mistakes and hard work. We put in the work and got a bit over 300 posts in a year on the site targeting low-hanging fruit keywords but we couldn’t have made it without organizing the content into content hubs.
We believe that content hubs are extremely important, especially going forward as Google now sees our site as clusters of related information and can very accurately tell what we are experts about.
Now when we publish a post about podcasting we get ranked within hours. This is massive. A year ago, Google didn’t even know what we were about, now it knows that we provide deep information about a specific topic and will help us serve new content about that topic to more people.
As I write this article, the website is exploding. One week after the above screenshot we have just reached 47,000 pageviews, just a week after hitting 33,000.
It’s one of those things where each page is a small part of bringing users to the site and as you add more, it compounds the results.
We are excited about the future and we hope we keep learning and making mistakes and learning from them and keep applying more of what works and less of what doesn’t. And we hope you do the same.
Best of luck on your blogging journey!
Owner of Podcast Rocket
* The course had a different but similar name. Changed to avoid recognition.