SEO Case Study: How I Increased My Organic Traffic 652% in 7 Days

By 1st November 2018 No Comments

There’s a new SEO strategy that’s crushing it right now.

(“Skyscraper Technique 2.0”)

I recently used this strategy to increase organic traffic to one of my pages by 652.1%.

Skyscraper Technique 2.0 – Traffic increase

(In 7 days)

This same approach helped my brand new post hit the #1 spot in Google… within weeks.

Backlinko – Mobile SEO – Number 1 spot SERPs

And today I’m going to show you exactly how I did it, step-by-step.

My Content Was a Smash Hit… Then It Flopped

On July 26th, 2016 I published this post:

SEO Checklist (2016)

My post got a huge spike in traffic in its first week:

SEO Checklist – Traffic spike in first week

Lots of shares:

SEO Checklist – Social shares

And people quickly started linking to it:

SEO Checklist – Links

Sure enough, my page cracked the top 10 for my target keyword (“SEO checklist”) a few weeks later.

SEO Checklist – Cracking the top 10

All good right?

Well… not really.

You see, my posts usually get more traffic from SEO over time.

Not my SEO checklist page.

In fact: organic traffic to that page decreased as time went on.

SEO Checklist – Traffic drop over time

It got so bad that my post averaged only 4-5 visitors per day.

SEO Checklist – Low daily visitors

And my rankings dropped to the middle of the second page:

SEO Checklist – SERPs, low

That’s When I Wondered: “What Happened?!”

On paper my content had everything going for it:

200+ backlinks.

Lots of comments (which Google likes).

And social shares out the wazoo.

What was missing?

User Intent.

User Intent + SEO = Higher Rankings


Google’s #1 goal is to make users happy.

Which means they need to give people results that match their User Intent.

Never heard of User Intent? Here’s a simple explanation:


User Intent



The main goal behind a user's Google search.

And Google is REALLY good at figuring out User Intent.

In fact, a big part of Google RankBrain is to give users “results that it thinks searchers will like the most”.

RankBrain summary

And the 2018 Google Quality Rater Guidelines has an entire section on User Intent:

Google Guidelines – Understanding user intent

Google has even started asking users about their User Intent:

Google user intent survey

That’s when it hit me:

My post was getting buried because it didn’t satisfy user intent.

Here’s what happened next:

Skyscraper Technique 2.0: (An SEO Strategy That Works GREAT In 2018)

After I optimized my page around User Intent, organic traffic shot up like a rocketship:

SEO Checklist – Traffic increase

And my rankings went from #11 to #5:

SEO Checklist – Rankings change

(And these improved rankings have stuck 4+ months later)

SEO Checklist – Sustained traffic increase

With that, here are the steps for The Skyscraper Technique 2.0:

Step 1: Figure out User Intent

Step 2: Satisfy User Intent

Step 3: Optimize for UX signals

To be clear:

The original Skyscraper Technique still works GREAT.

For example, this list of SEO tools is classic Skyscraper Content.

SEO Tools

Most SEO tools posts list 10-20 tools. So I decided to review over 180:

SEO Tools – Number of tools

And because my page is bigger and better, lots of people have linked to it:

SEO Tools – Ahrefs backlinks

That said:

This page also satisfies User Intent.

Which is why it ranks in the top 3 for my target keyword:

SEO Tools – Top three

In short:

Ideally, you want to use Skyscraper Technique 1.0 AND 2.0.

Skyscraper Techniques 1 & 2

Skyscraper Technique 1.0 helps you get the links you need to hit the first page.

And Skyscraper Technique 2.0 will make sure those rankings stick.

Let’s dive into the steps…

Step #1: Figure Out User Intent

Here are two simple ways to identify User Intent:

Analyze the First Page

Google’s first page gives you a HUGE insight into User Intent.


If something ranks on Google’s first page, you KNOW that it satisfies User Intent.

So all you need to do is search for your keyword…

Sample Google search

…and scan the top 10 results.

Sample Google search results

Specifically, answer the question:

“What kind of intent do these results satisfy?”

Do people want information? If so, are they looking for the basics… or advanced strategies?

Do they want to buy something? If so, are they ready to buy… or comparing two different products?

Types of user content

For example…

If you search for “Office Space Brooklyn”, the results are 100% transactional:

In fact, 10 out of 10 results are sites for booking an office space:

But if you search for “Coworking Space Brooklyn”, you get something completely different:

The results are mostly blog posts about the best coworking spots in the city:

Coworking space Brooklyn – Website


On the surface these keywords seem similar.

But Google’s first page reveals that the User Intent is VERY different.

Look At the Keyword Itself

Sometimes the keyword itself tells you all you need to know.

For example…

With my SEO checklist post, I asked myself:

“What does someone searching for ‘SEO checklist’ actually want?”

Duh! They want an SEO checklist.

Despite that, my original post was a case study… not a checklist.

SEO Checklist – Case study highlight

Sure, there were some steps that resembled a checklist.

SEO Checklist – Steps highlight

But it wasn’t the type of detailed checklist that searchers wanted.

And Google noticed.

Which leads us to…

Step #2: Satisfy User Intent

At this point I had User Intent figured out.

And now it was time to publish something to match that User Intent.

Here’s exactly how I did it:

Covered the Basics

I noticed that other content ranking for “SEO checklist” had steps for people new to SEO:

Other SEO Checklist content had steps

And I quickly realized something:

My original post was WAY too advanced.

In fact, the first step was: “Delete Dead Weight Pages”.

SEO Checklist – Delete dead weight pages

This is a strategy that people new to SEO should absolutely NOT use.

So I replaced this advanced strategy with steps for SEO newbies:

SEO Checklist – New first step

Changed the Format

Like I mentioned earlier, the original version of my post was a step-by-step case study.

So I changed the format.

This time, I made the content more checklisty.

SEO Checklist – Add SERPs

Covered More Stuff

Google’s top 10 results were clear:

People searching for “SEO checklist” want checklists that cover LOTS of different stuff.

People want SEO checklists that cover a lot

Despite that, my post had ZERO info on:

  • Technical SEO
  • Link building
  • Keyword research
  • SEO software and tools

So I expanded my post to hit on these important subtopics:

Important subtopics

I Emphasized “2018”

I noticed a clear pattern in the search results:

Most of the content pointed out that their checklist worked in 2018.

SEO Checklist – SERPs year focus

So I emphasized that my checklist was up-to-date.


I included “2018” in my title tag…

SEO Checklist – New title tag

…in the introduction…

SEO Checklist year in intro

…and I even mentioned “2018” a few times in the content itself:

SEO Checklist year in content


In this case I rewrote an existing post.

But you can use this same strategy for brand new content.

For example…

A few months ago I wanted to write something about mobile optimization.

The first thing I did was search for “Mobile SEO”… and scan the results.

And I noticed 3 things about Google’s first page results:

They covered WHY mobile SEO is important.

Importance of Mobile SEO result

So I led off my guide with a handful of stats:

Why is Mobile SEO Important?

2. They wrote about responsive design vs. dynamic serving vs. “M. mobile sites”

Other site – Responsive design section

So did I:

Responsive design section

3. They had tips for improving sitespeed.

Other site – Site speed section

So I included a section on that.

Site speed section

The end result was “Mobile SEO: The Definitive Guide”.

Mobile SEO Guide

And largely thanks to The Skyscraper Technique 2.0, it quickly climbed to the #1 for my target keyword:

Mobile SEO Guide – SERPs

(Above heavyweights like Moz, Search Engine Land… even Google itself)

And now it’s time to…

Step #3: Optimize for UX Signals

Here’s the deal:

Your content can be a PERFECT match for User Intent.

But if it looks like this…

Ugly website

…people are gonna leave your site like it’s on fire.

And Google will quickly downrank you:

Google downranks sites that are poor matches for user intent

So now that you’ve nailed User Intent, it’s time to optimize for UX Signals.

Specifically, this step is all about engineering your content to:

  • Maximize Dwell Time
  • Maximize organic CTR
  • Minimize bounce rate

Here’s how:

Embed Videos

Wistia found that: “people spent on average 2.6x more time on pages with video than without.”

Average time spent on page


I’ve never seen a video work THAT well.

But videos can definitely keep people on your site longer.

That’s why I embedded a few videos in my SEO checklist post:

SEO Checklist – Video embeds

Table of Contents

I added a table of contents to the top of my new post:

SEO Checklist – Table of contents

And this table of contents got me some sweet sitelinks in the search results:

SEO Checklist – Sitelinks in SERPs

Needless to say, these sitelinks boosted my organic CTR.

Short Introductions

What’s the first thing someone does when they land on your post?

They read your intro.

In fact, take a look at this heatmap from the Backlinko blog:

Backlinko blog – Heatmap

As you can see, there’s A LOT of action on the first few lines of my intro:

Backlinko blog – Heatmap intro focus

And if you start your post off with a long intro… users are gonna bounce.

That’s why I write short and sweet introductions (5-8 sentences).

SEO Checklist – Intro

LOTS of Examples

Examples INSTANTLY separate your content from the regurgitated garbage that most people publish.

So don’t be afraid to use tons of examples in every post.

For example:

I included 19 examples in my new SEO checklist post:

SEO Checklist – Examples

H2 and H3 Subheaders

Subheaders break up your content into chunks:

SEO Checklist – Subheaders

(Which makes your content MUCH easier to read)

In fact:

My SEO checklist post has over 9 subheaders:

SEO Checklist – Subheaders count

Short Sentences. Short Paragraphs.

Here’s how to make your content 10x easier to read:

Short sentences. Short paragraphs.

That’s why I write short sentences:

Short sentences

And use 1-2 sentence paragraphs:

One-to-two sentence paragraphs

Which is a big part of why my post’s average time on page is 5:53.

Google Analytics – Average time on page

Over To You

Now I’d like to hear from you:

What do you think of The Skyscraper Technique 2.0?

Or maybe you have a question.

Either way, let me know by leaving a comment below right now.

The post SEO Case Study: How I Increased My Organic Traffic 652% in 7 Days appeared first on Backlinko.

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