Last updated on
If you’re trying to grow your website’s rankings, conversions or traffic, you are probably following all the authoritative blogs in the industry religiously. I’m certain you also tried to replicate many of the case-studies you found on there, but for some reason, they never had the same results that the original authors led you to believe. I also tried and failed miserably. Most of the times.
You might think I didn’t try hard enough, but believe me, I tried. I spent countless hours looking for the perfect keyword, perfecting my skyscraper article, and analysing my competition. I spend even more time trying to promote my piece, and while I did get a handful of high-quality links and social media buzz, my article never generated over 204,000 visitors in 4-months. Why?
Certainly I was the one doing something wrong. Instead of pointing fingers I decided to find out what that was. That saved me from another 50-something hours trying to replicate a successful case-study. In the end, I identified 6 reasons why you cannot replicate famous case-studies, yet.
Disclaimer: I have mentioned the Skyscraper technique several times throughout the article because I believe it’s one of the best SEO strategies out there.
1. You Stopped too Early
Many SEOs struggle to replicate famous case-studies. Some are successful, some not so much. An interesting discussion on Inboud.org, regarding the infamous Skyscraper technique peaked my curiosity. Here’s what Jimmy Daly, the author of a 65k skyscraper says:
“We never stopped promoting it. Ever. That post is 9 months old and I’m still promoting it. We’ve built it into our email campaigns, recommend it to new customers, repurpose parts for new content, link to it from new posts etc. We’re simply not letting go of the momentum.”
How many months did you spend trying to promote your article? I stopped after two months. That doesn’t even come close to the amount of time that Jimmy and Brian spent trying to promote their skyscrapers. In the world of white-hat SEO there are no short-cuts. If you really want your strategies to yield amazing results you have to commit 100%.
2. You Targeted the Wrong Niche or Keyword
The driving force behind the SkyScraper technique is that exceptional content alone is enough. For maximum results, Brian Dean advised his followers to choose low-competition keywords that are in high demand. He also recommended using unconventional keyword research methods to uncover related phrases and checking out top ranking articles from competitors. So I did. Or at least I thought I did.
Finding a great keyword in the right niche is difficult, and one of the reasons why my SEO strategies failed in the past was because I chose the wrong ones. Here are a few tips that will help you choose the right keywords for your next campaign:
- Go for keywords that have low competition and decent search volume. You can evaluate Keyword Difficulty with SemRush or Google Analytics.
- Take a look at your keyword’s CPC and number of paid listings (with SemRush), to determine buyer intent.
- Manually check the first 10 Google results for that keyword and evaluate the strength of the domain and the quality of the pages to see if you have any chance to outrank them.
- Look for related keywords that can be included in your content (e.g. “how to start a fire” with “survival tips” or “starting a fire”).
Another reason why your strategy isn’t panning out might be the niche. Some niches simply don’t need another skyscraper. But there are many that do (e.g. lifestyle, health, SEO, marketing, technology, beauty etc.). If you’re not sure whether or not your content will be well received I recommend that you conduct a small survey asking people if they would be interested in your piece.
3. Some Things Only Work Once
Another reason why you can’t replicate famous strategies is that some things only work once. The first example that comes to my mind are the infamous ‘expert round-ups’ or ‘ego-baits’. When expert roundups first became a thing they were actually cool (e.g. 40+ Experts Share Marketing Tips).
At some point, case-studies talking about the huge benefits of creating roundups (easy way to build links and social media shares) popped up online, and the SEO world went bonkers. All of a sudden, cool & insightful roundups transformed into “50 Experts Nobody has Ever Heard of Share their Top Networking Tips.” Jacob King expressed his frustration in a tragic, yet hilarious post – Why SEOs can’t have Nice Things.
This goes to prove that some things only work once. In other words, just because a strategy worked for your favourite SEO Guru that doesn’t mean that it’s going to work for you. That’s why you should always consider your site’s possibilities, constraints, and come up with a personalized approach.
4. There aren’t Many Comprehensive SEO Case-Studies Available
Have you noticed that there aren’t many SEO case studies out there? Sure, we have the 126 Must-Read Traffic Generation Case-Studies published by NinjaOutreach, and several others, but most of them are outdated and old. Or they are simply ranking reports for a bunch of keywords that have been blurred out. YouMoz, Ahrefs, QuickSprout and Backlinko are some of the very few places where I found actionable, comprehensive, step-by-step case-studies with conversion metrics and useful advice.
According to Ahrefs there are several reasons why we don’t see many case-studies online:
- There’s nothing to show. Think about it, would a case-study entitled “How I increased my website traffic by 5% in 3 months” excite you? Probably not. SEO experts conduct many case-studies at the same time, but they only publish the most successful ones. Here are a few examples: Increasing Organic SEO Traffic by 400,000 Unique Visitors a month or How Advanced SEO Helped an SEO Agency find 40 New Clients.
- Another reason why we don’t see to many case-studies is because SEO providers are lazy, or they don’t want to give too much information about their strategies for free.
- Some SEOs resort to questionable strategies (e.g. buying or selling links). Others outsource 100% of their work.
- In the white-hat world results don’t appear overnight. Some strategies take weeks, even months, to become effective.
5. You Overestimated Yourself
When people work passionately on a project they become subjective. The tendency that people have to overrate their abilities never ceases to amaze me.
“People overestimate themselves, but more than that, they really seem to believe it. I’ve been trying to figure out where that certainty of belief comes from.” David Dunning, Cornell University social psychologist
Are you, by any chance, overestimating yourself? To be honest, the case-studies I read and applied wielded much better results than anything I tried before. Just because they didn’t attract hundreds of links and thousands of subscribers doesn’t mean that they did not benefit my website.
Furthermore, you can’t expect one successful SkyScraper, outreach campaign or SEO Audit to push your site all the way to number one. It takes a lot of time, patience, networking and hard-work to gain online authority.
Here are two other ways in which you might be overestimating your work:
- Your content isn’t as good as you thought. Again, since you spent more than 10 hours crafting your content, you probably think it’s the best. But this doesn’t mean it actually is. I advise you to ask for a second opinion. Improve your content then ask for a third opinion.
- Your network isn’t big enough. The size of your network matters. Neil Patel has 186K loyal Twitter followers. Brian Dean has 29K. If you can barely make the 100 mark it will be impossible to obtain the same results. I’m not going to lie, networking is a lot harder when you’re a ‘nobody’.
6. You Didn’t Go Above and Beyond
If you want an SEO strategy to work you have to do more than just try. You have to give it your all. I may have poured more than 50 hours in my previous campaigns, but was it really enough? Of course, I’m not saying that you should waste precious time on something that isn’t going to benefit your business. This is why you must try to answer the following questions before going the extra-mile:
- Do you truly believe that this strategy will work for your site?
- Are you sure you chose the right niche and keywords?
- Have you done everything in your power to ensure that your strategy is successful?
- Have you reached out to the right people and influencers?
- Do your visitors actually need the thing that you’re working on?
These are some of the most common reasons why you couldn’t replicate the success of SEO case-studies. Yet. Don’t be discouraged, though. A smart person once said that giving up is the only sure way to fail. Take the case-studies you find with a grain of salt, mix in your own strategies (e.g. Mix SkyScraper promotion with guest-blogging), and some-day you will become that guy who got 204,000 visitors in 4 months.
Webmaster’s Note: This is a guest post from Mike Pace – he is the Founder & CEO of PaceSEM, a results driven digital marketing agency based in Los Angeles, California. They specialize in SEO, Paid Advertising, Social Media, and Web Design. Mike also writes in-depth actionable content on his blog and many other industry blogs about how to grow your businesses revenue through several digital marketing channels.”