4 SEO Case Studies (That Actually Worked!)

by  Matt Malone

Do any of these questions apply to you?

Work in SEO? Need powerful case studies to help sell your own services? Just starting out and want to learn SEO tactics that really work? Need proof that SEO can drive new leads?

If you answer yes to any of these, this post is for you.

I’ve scoured the web to find the best SEO case studies that provide actionable examples of recent SEO strategies that actually moved the needle.

This 3,700+ word post is full of hidden gems and powerful tactics used by today’s top SEO experts. I’ve provided links to all resources as well my own notes to help you reproduce any one of these success stories.

By the end of this post you’ll have a clear vision for how to successfully increase leads with:

  • Next-level content promotion
  • Intuitive lead generation tactics
  • Access to the latest free SEO and testing tools
  • Tips for leveraging on-page SEO & word count for higher rankings

It’s important to keep in mind that none of these success stories would have been possible without first setting up a solid foundation through an effective SEO Setup.

Read more here about how an SEO setup, by itself, has dramatically boosted traffic by 650% for our clients.

After reading this post there will be no more excuses for why your SEO plan isn’t working. Without further ado let’s get started.

SEO Case Study #1: From Zero to 50,000 Visitors in One Month

Author: Rob Powell

Industry: Blogging and affiliate marketing

Summary: Rob analyzed some of the most successful bloggers and affiliate marketers to uncover the exact steps they use to promote their content.

Both bloggers and affiliate marketers tend to rely on their site for income so driving A LOT of traffic is critical to their success. This makes them great subjects for an SEO case study.

What I loved about this case study

What makes this case study so powerful is that it focuses on how they generated traffic during their FIRST MONTH of running a blog. Anyone who has started a new website knows how slow initial traffic can be.

What I hated about this case study

Nothing really. Tell me what you didn't like in the comments below.

What stood out the most about this case study

It dissected the success of multiple bloggers from multiple industries. Proving these are truly reproducible strategies for driving more traffic.

SEO tools, actionable tactics, or secret tricks?

There are some huge takeaways in the post, I encourage all of you to read it. The biggest lessons I found when launching a new site included:

  • Don’t just trust in SEO. A new website has little authority and won’t be driving organic traffic for some time. You have to go out and get the traffic - don’t just wait for it to come to you.
  • Writing everyday and relying on valuable content is NOT enough. People won’t find your content via search for another 6-12 months.
  • Stop wasting time redesigning your blog or tweaking a logo. As long as your site is readable and people can find the answers they’re looking for - they’re happy.
  • Waiting for your traffic to snowball is a bad idea. It takes a lot longer than you think to reach the tipping point for massive traffic.

According to expert blogger, Bill Belew:

It typically takes over 400 posts before REAL traffic comes.

It’s best to hang out in forums and becoming an active commenter on relevant blogs to get the attention of a potential audience. Hang out in forums an hour a day answering questions (and carefully sharing your own content.)

Use tools such as Boardreader and Omgili  (stands for 'Oh My God I Love It') to find forums with questions relevant to your niche.

You can also search for forum threads on Google. Just type in any one of the following string searches plus your keyword:

"Powered by Phbb" your keyword
"Powered by vBulletin" your keyword
"Powered by SMF" your keyword
"powered by IPB" your keyword
"powered by PunBB" your keyword

Use this template for leaving a forum response:

I saw your question about __________.

I just recently wrote an article that answers your question. You might find it useful:


Let me know if it helps!

All the best,
Your name

Experts say, as a rule of thumb that every time you publish a new post to immediately spend four hours promoting it through forums, social media and email.

If you're like some bloggers you’ll reach 2,000 unique visitors within the first couple months!

Another outreach method to try is BuzzSumo.

This is how it works:

  • Find a few pieces of content that have performed well in your space.
  • Go to BuzzSumo and enter the URL of the content in the search field (or a keyword related to your content).
  • Click on 'View Sharers' and you'll see a list of influencers who have shared content similar to the content that you did the search on.
  • Now reach out to those influencers to ask if they would like to share your content as well.

In seconds you'll have a results page like this:

Next, use Brian Dean's skyscraper technique (mentioned below). It's one of the best strategies I’ve found for increasing traffic. To oversimplify it, it works like this:

  1. Find existing content that has masses of good quality backlinks
  2. Improve on that content
  3. Approach the people who have linked to the original content and suggest they might like to link to your improved version

Read more about Brian Dean’s skyscraper technique here.

After you publish a new piece of content reach out via social media or email to any authors or influencers you mentioned in the post and give them a link to the article. Typically, they’ll feel flattered and share your content to a MASSIVE audience. Assuming your content is great!

You should also consider writing for someone else's blog. Guest blogging isn’t dead and will probably be the quickest way for you to boost traffic.

You'll need to have written a decent amount of quality posts on your own blog before being accepted.

How to get started guest blogging:

  1. Find a few small blogs in your niche or ask someone you already know
  2. Email the author 3-4 relevant, stand-out headlines as a pitch for a blog post
  3. Be nice, short and concise in your initial e-mail.
  4. That’s it.


SEO Case Study #2: 11,065% More Organic Traffic in 6 Months

Author: Robbie Richards

Summary: Robbie’s 7,000 word case study describes how one of his clients generated over 20K organic pageviews with a single post.

What I loved about this case study

  • It’s highly actionable
  • It’s clearly organized with step-by-step instructions
  • Provides easy-to-use anchor links in a TOC
  • Great use of screenshots from Google Analytics to prove it’s claim

What I hated about this case study

  • A little too salesy. Sounds like a “How I got rich and you can too” pitch.
  • It’s about a super niche industry with little competition - piloting a remote control quadcopter.

What stood out the most about this case study

It's great help for setting timelines and expectations. For example, it took three months to hit the first page and five months to reach the #1 spot on Google.

By the sixth month organic traffic had generated an impressive 20,314 pageviews!

This case study was a great reminder on the impact of email opt-ins for lead capture as well. The quadcopter post captured 2,335 emails, making it a top four lead generator for the business.

Actionable tactics or secret tricks?

SEO case study for content marketing graphic

Follow this infographic from Copy Tactics for topic selection and a content marketing process guaranteed to help find your best opportunities:

SEO tools used to execute this plan:


SEO Case Study #3: How I Used a Case Study to Grow My Sales by 185%

Author: Neil Patel

Industry: SEO & Marketing

Summary: Neil Patel is the co-founder of Crazy Egg and Kissmetrics and runs Quicksprout.com and NeilPatel.com. He is a proven expert in SEO and lead generation.

This particular SEO case study is great because it’s a case study of a case study he created for a client (author and ex-hedge fund manager) where SEO helped earn an extra $1.2 million per year. Read that full post here.

The purpose of Neil’s case study was to prove he was capable of successfully helping his clients. As the co-founder of CrazyEgg and Kissmetrics Neil is of course a master at a/b testing his content to squeeze the most out of each post which I found incredibly insightful.

What I loved about this case study

There are fantastic examples for testing word count variation, email follow-ups, and using a/b tests for calls-to-action. If you want to maximize lead generation opportunities this case study is a must-read!

What I hated about this case study

The pop-ups! There were even audible bells ringing at one point - quite annoying.

What stood out the most about this case study

The original version of this case study was over 2,000 words, but has since been trimmed to just over 600 words and performs better than ever. Neil found that people don’t actually read his case studies so by keeping it tight and utilizing headlines, images and bullets he gained more traction.

Average read time: 2 minutes and 27 seconds: That’s how much time people spent reading the 2,286-word-long case study. When he reduced the word count down to 615 words, people spent 2 minutes and 18 seconds reading it. (Only 9 seconds less than the long version!)

In addition to that, shortening the page increased the number of leads he generated by 39%. That’s not a bad lift for just deleting words.

That wasn’t enough for Neil, so he also tested the following:

  • Added testimonials to the post which boosted leads another 11%.
  • Added a lead generation form at the bottom of the post which increased leads another 8%.
  • Added an exit pop-up that increased leads 64%, but were so low quality he removed it. (Lesson: exit pop-ups generally don’t attract quality leads.)

Actionable tactics or secret tricks I found

Using the case study by itself didn’t increase leads nearly as much as his landing pages, or even homepage, but drastically helped close more leads in the long run.

One strategy in particular was to include links to case studies in a follow-up email after speaking with potential clients. Providing this additional proof of his capabilities built immediate credibility and ultimately more business.

Equally, including these case studies in sales proposals were just as effective. Used together they helped increase close rates by 70%.

SEO Tools they used to reach the #1 ranking

There wasn’t a lot of detail into the tools used for the case study, but I’m fairly certain Crazy Egg heatmaps were involved! CrazyEgg is a great heatmapping and testing tool.

Another option, which I highly recommend, is Hotjar which offers a free version to get you started.


SEO Case Study #4: From 0 to 1 Million Pageviews in 12-Months

Author: Matthew Barby

Industry: SaaS, but applies to all

Summary: This is another long post (48-minute read) that covers tactical details for repeating Matthew’s success.

As with all successful case studies the initial research is a foundational piece. So much so that I’ve summarized what this includes and urge you to read the full case study here.

Matthew’s research and strategy can be broken into four areas of focus:

Competitor Analysis

The competitive research is divided into separate areas of focus, which can be used to see how YOU stack up against the competition. These areas include important search metrics and ranking signals that will identify strengths and weaknesses.

I’ve include the best SEO tool to use to find this information in parenthesis.

  • Estimated search traffic (SEMrush)
  • Domain Authority (Moz)
  • Trust Flow (Majestic SEO)
  • # of External Links (Moz, SEMrush, Screaming Frog)
  • # of Linking Domains (Moz, SEMrush, Ahrefs)
  • Monthly Branded Searches (SEMrush)

Potential Traffic Opportunity

Taking a deep dive into keyword research is going to uncover how much traffic you’re going to be capable of attracting each month. 

Once you have a complete list of potential keywords it’s time to:

  • Categorize - group each keyword into a topic-focus category (Personal note, also tag them as an informational term, or a buying term to help identify user intent)
  • Analyze - understand the monthly search volume and competitiveness for each keyword.
  • Prioritize - Sort your keyword list by terms with the highest number of monthly searches, yet the lowest competition.

Auditing Existing Content

Identify your existing content that tends to drive the most traffic or that you believe holds valuable content. Re-examine it to see if it might benefit from a new keyword focus, more (or different) calls-to-actions, additional word count, etc.

Industry Content Analysis

Use tools like BuzzSumo, Ahrefs, or Moz’s Open Site Explorer to plug in your competitors URLs and keywords that describe your main services or products. These tools provide a broad look at who is talking about similar topics and identify the most popular topics, products, services, etc.

What I loved about this case study

It has great on-page readability. All sections have their own table of contents with anchor links to each specific topic.

There is incredible detail into how others can execute this same strategy, no stone was unturned.

My favorite section was about the traffic generation strategy. There are easy-to-follow instructions to using tactics such as:

  • Guest writing
  • Leverage self-publishing sites like Buzzfeed or Medium
  • Using communities like Product Hunt (especially for the SaaS industry)
  • Influencer outreach by getting noticed by publications such as Forbes, Huffington Post, Entrepreneur, etc.
  • Blog strategies that include building an influencer team and effective content planning
  • Using sponsorships
  • Journalist outreach
  • Building a glossary

What I hated about this case study

I didn’t see many direct comparisons to how these tactics influenced his client’s traffic and lead generation. It was great at providing how-to instructions, but lacked in showing the proof.

What stood out the most about this case study

It was the first time I read such a thorough example for how to utilize Product Hunt for generating new leads.

SEO Tools, actionable tactics, or secret tricks I found

Specific SEO tools used throughout this post include:



I read over two-dozen SEO case studies on how to rank a website in preparation for this post and came up overwhelming disappointed. Nearly all case studies were:

  • Not quantifiable
  • Did not provide proof (of any kind)
  • Overly self-promotional
  • Lacking in substance

The case studies shared in this post are the best examples of step-by-step and replicable strategies that we can all implement immediately.

Glaring Opportunities

The lack of depth and transparency for most case studies provides an amazing opportunity for anyone looking to sell SEO services. (Through promotion of your own case study!)

Seriously, you should use the Skyscraper Technique (linked below) and research your industry's case study results - then take advantage of the low hanging fruit. If nothing else, you’ll have highly motivating examples of your work to include in sales proposals and follow-up emails to potential clients.

Additional resources I re-read often when I’m looking for step-by-step tactics and new ideas are below - bookmark all of these!

Matthew Woodward:
How I Built a Top 100 Blog in 12 Months
Generating Income with a 90-Day Blogging Strategy

Brian Dean:
How to Use the Guestographic Technique to Flood Your Traffic
How to Use the Skyscraper Technique to Dominate Your Competition

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