Setting Up The Avalanche Case Study

September 10th, 2023.

Welcome to the Member Sherpa Avalanche search marketing case study. This will be an ongoing case study conducted in real time showing how we can use a simple content marketing strategy – Avalanche SEO – to easily grow our search traffic in a highly competitive niche.

Internet marketing is a crowded space, so the keyword profile in this niche is ‘difficult’ to say the least. Still, I think we can produce some very solid growth for our site using the Avalanche SEO strategy. In fact, we should see much better growth than many other established sites.

Avalanche SEO Strategy

The Avalanche SEO strategy’s aim is to progressively lift the ranking “power” or “authority” of a website. This is basically a measure of what terms Google will trust your site for without any SEO.

Google will rank articles without much in the way of SEO effort or links based on how much authority a site has. This authority is derived from the amount of traffic already coming in to the site from articles that the site admin has not implemented SEO tactics or links to boost. As a site publishes these sort of articles and gains traffic, it is able to rank for progressively higher volume keywords as the site gains more traffic without the use of anything but the most basic SEO.

What type of keywords can you rank for without really any SEO effort? 

Easy keywords.

These keywords tend to have ultra low volume as indicated by popular keyword tools, and have a very low keyword golden ratio (KGR). The keyword golden ratio is a ratio of the number of articles directly targeting a search term divided by the estimated monthly search volume.

Aside from including the keyword in the title, H1, and URL, we’re only using the keyword in the body of the article at least once. We’re not doing anything else in terms of on page SEO. No keyword density, no optimizing for secondary keywords or alternative terms, no optimized images, no focus on including the right article sections, bullet points, alt tags, etc… just the title, H1, URL, and a keyword in the body at least once. This is extremely lazy SEO.

We won’t be doing any extensive link building for ranking purposes, either. Instead, we’re going to be linking internally between these ultra easy Avalanche articles and a hub page or other target page. We may get links from other industry websites along the way, but not through any effort on our part.

We will, however, be linking from our social accounts back to our website and be submitting our business information on various directories. I do not expect social or directory links to provide page rank because Google looks at these as EAT signals rather than links that should pass page rank. This EAT effort is all basic stuff that any business will want to do to help satisfy Google’s EAT requirements. We will also provide some links from 3 of our other owned properties to to help Google find and start indexing the site. We’re not doing link building aside from this, though, and these links will have minimal impact on our SEO.

We will – I should point out – be creating basic non-optimized pages for important terms that we want to use as hub or target pages that have very high volume but that are also very competitive to rank for. I do not expect to get much or any traffic from these pages, though. We’re a new site and have no authority so it’s not realistic to think that we can rank for these pages. We’ll create them because they are important to have for our readers and because we want to cover the membership site niche thoroughly.

Why go the Avalanche route?

This strategy provides ROBUST website traffic without having to worry about Google updates as we are not boosting the site via links or highly tailored SEO content. Google updates should actually benefit us. It is also extremely effective in elbowing our way into a very competitive niche for search. We’ll face much less competition using this strategy since almost everyone just goes after the tough high volume keywords. Lastly, growing our website tier will help us more easily rank for tougher keywords further down the line.

To Sum: We’re going to be writing on very easy no volume keywords and gradually ramping up the volume of the keywords we write on. We won’t be doing much / any SEO aside from having the keyword in the Google title, H1, URL, and the body of the article, and we won’t be building any links to help us rank.

Goals and Projections

While this is case study, not an experiment, it make sense to have some goals to work towards. So, here’s what I think we can do over the next 12 months:

  • Goal: I am setting the goal of 40 average daily unique search visitors by the end of the 12 month period
  • Projection: It will take us about 2 to 3 months to start seeing our content indexed on Google due to Google’s issues indexing new sites
  • Projection: We will see very small traffic growth over the first 6 months. This is expected as we are writing initially on very low volume keywords
  • Projection: We will see the largest increases in absolute search traffic towards the end of the 12 month period as we progressively move to larger volume Avalanche keywords

Our ability to hit that 40 number will really come down to how soon Google finds and indexes our website, and the number of easy higher volume Avalanche keywords we can find. If Google does not index us for 3 months, it will put us 3 months behind; and obviously we can gain much more search traffic if we write on higher volume keywords.

Remember, internet marketing is a tough niche in which to rank. Most sites build their SEO traffic using boost, such as backlinks and other off page / on page tactics. This approach allows sites to rank for keywords that would otherwise be outside of their natural tier. The problem with this is that Google can take that boost away when it sees fit, resulting in very erratic traffic and a lot of work trying to put out fires to maintain your traffic.

By building a site using the avalanche strategy, there’s no boost to take away, so traffic continues fairly smoothly, without you having to put out fires to try to regain rankings. As one competitor falls out of the top search rankings, your site is left and can take their spot.

Another term for the avalanche approach to SEO is “compound SEO,” because the steady work helps your web traffic compound over time. As you keep publishing, your traffic continues to compound and you end up going from a small site with no reputation to very large traffic numbers in just a couple of years. While 40 clicks per day seems boring, at the end of year 2, I would expect far higher traffic numbers – maybe 500 to 1000 clicks per day.

We start writing September 15th, 2023. It should be fun to watch!

Month 1 Of Our Avalanche Technique Case Study

October 15th, 2023

We had a productive month, publishing a number of articles and other pages:

  • 22 Avalanche support pages
  •  1 Target page
  •  2 Category pages
  •  1 Tools page
  •  7 Administrative pages
  •  4 Writer pages, and one team page
  •  3 Case studies

This was a productive month, but our aim is to publish 30 support articles per month. We fell short in this regards, but were still able to publish a total of 41 pages. 

Our support pages were specifically picked for their ease of ranking and estimated volume. We need to write on keywords in our tier, as assessed by estimated volume. While some of our administrative pages will rank, and have ranked this month, there’s no guarantee that they will rank because we don’t typically identify keywords for those pages ahead of time. Our category and writer pages will follow the same trend.

Our sole target page is not ranking, as expected, since it is a high volume keyword with moderate difficulty and we are a new site. 

Search traffic is anemic, as expected for our first month. Impressions have really stepped up and we are starting to see a couple of visits here or there, but we’re not a search powerhouse by any means. We’re sitting just under 9 impressions per day on average for the last 7 days. Next month’s report should see a small improvement from here.

Avalanche Tiers…

Fresh sites need to start on Avalanche Tier Zero, targeting keywords that are reported on keyword tools to have no traffic. The original strategy had sites moving up to the next tier, Avalanche Tier 10, as their organic search traffic stepped up to 10 visits per day.

There is an alternative assessment, though, for smaller volume tiers. Rather than assessing your tier based on visits, you can also use average daily impressions.

This month we decided to move up to the second tier, Avalanche Tier 10, since we’re sitting just under 10 impressions per day on average and have 7 no volume keyword articles completed and waiting to publish. The articles we write will also take time to rise in the Google SERP, and we’ll see more impressions and clicks from them over the next two months. If we waited, we’d rise in average daily volume accordingly, and that would allow us to rank for Avalanche keywords that have slightly higher volume.

My thinking is that we might as well write Avalanche Tier 10 keywords now because we’re virtually guaranteed to be in that next higher tier in a week or two based on the articles we’ve already written. When that happens, our Avalanche Tier 10 articles will start to rank pretty easily.

Important note: All this talk of writing articles for zero volume keywords and hoping to move up to articles with an average monthly volume of 10 seems pretty silly. But, you have to remember that the word “Avalanche” in this strategy’s name implies compound growth, so traffic should get very large over the course of a year or two. We’re rolling a snowball down a hill. Near the bottom of the hill the snowball should be a towering giant, but we have to start with a tiny bit of snow.

Month 2: SEO Crisis! …But New Avalanche Tier

November 16th, 2023

This month we were swamped with additional work due to a perceived limitation with our original website platform’s SEO functionality.

We were using Kleq software, which we found great, but decided to move the site and all contents due to limitations with adding schema, and questions about how Google would treat sites with <p> tags wrapped in <div> tags.

When you are competing in a tough niche, such as internet marketing, small limitations will really hold you back. So, despite being otherwise happy with Kleq, we moved.

Despite the work involved to set up a new site and republish all fo our content, we still managed to get a solid number of articles up.

  • 1 Case Study
  • 1 Admin Page
  • 2 Target Pages
  • 30 Avalanche Support Pages
  • 60 Target or Support Articles Published to Date

This hits our target of 30 Avalanche support articles per month. These are easy to write, typically taking 2 hours max per article. If you have significant knowledge in your niche and are a good writer, it may only take you 30 minutes per article.

Growth has been good. We moved up to a new Avalanche tier, Tier 20, as we’ve seen some robust impression growth. Visits will ultimately follow impressions over time.

We ended the month hitting 106 daily impressions and we’re still climbing today, the start of month 3, recording 116 impressions.

I expect things to keep moving in the right direction for month 3 and to see some increases in web visits. As previously mentioned, visits should be anemic but inch upwards for the first few months.

It typically takes 3-4 months for support articles in your tier to hit page 1, so we should start to see impressions and traffic really start to climb in January, the middle of month 4. More on this in my next post.

Month 3: SEO Case Study Update

December 16th, 2023.

We had a pretty slow period for the remaining month in our 3 month sprint, since 2 of our key team members are on holiday for December. Therefore, we only managed to write 14 articles for the month.

Our impressions continue to climb and we’re seeing more articles ranking. Our peak impressions were 177, with a low of 26 over the 30 day period.

Over time, clicks will come with impressions, so we just have to keep writing good articles in our tier and keep moving up the ladder as soon as we can.

We’ll begin writing again on January 2nd, 2024, and will hopefully start to see some good ranking gains by mid month.

For the coming year, I’m going to reduce our target to 20 articles per month from 30, and aim for much higher quality content. I’m pretty happy with what we have now, but I want this site to be the go-to resource and you can only do that with great quality.

I do not think this will affect our search traffic progression much, but will have a big impact on visitor satisfaction so should bring more people back to the site to read other articles. It’s also more sustainable than producing a boat load of human-created content.

We’re using humans rather than AI aided or written content because in technical niches such as niche software, you end up with a lot of inaccurate and generalized content that is not conducive to a good output.

Month 4: Avalanche case Study Update

We’re back to work on the site and have managed to pump out 9 articles for the first two weeks of the month (completing month 4). We’re completing each month mid-month as we started in the middle of September, so each month ends in the middle of the month for our case study.

We have one writer who has not yet started, so I expect productivity to pick up significantly for the second half of the month.

Views and traffic are ramping up nicely, and it appears that we’re set for our easy avalanche articles, as determined by the keyword golden ratio and Mangool’s KD, to start popping on to page 1 of Google’s SERP. The frequency and number of daily visits seems to have already picked up, and I bet that we’ll see this grow a lot over the coming month.

Despite rising substantially in terms of views, we’re sticking with avalanche Tier 20 as the clicks start to roll in.

Month 5: Avalanche SEO Traffic Update

We’ve just completed our 5th month of Avalanche SEO work, and continue up the hockey stick curve.

This month we published a total of 27 pages:

  • 1 membership case study
  • 4 target pages
  • 22 support articles

As of the time of writing this, we have 77 articles indexed, and 20 articles listed in a top 10 position. More articles should rank on page one as time passes, and Google allows them to ascend the hierarchy. Building more authority through additional article writing will be a big part of this.

We have increased clicks meaningfully on a percentage basis, and expect this exponential growth to continue. As mentioned previously, we expect very little traffic in the first 6 months, and the bulk of the traffic to be added in the last 2 or 3 months of this 12 month case study. More on that next month.

Month 6th: Avalanche Traffic Lifting Off

This past month we’ve seen a noticeable uptick in traffic. Yes, traffic is still small, but the total number of visitors increased significantly on a percentage basis and will keep growing rapidly from here.

Our progress over the past 30 days:

  • 25 pages published total for the month, consisting of…
  • 24 support articles
  • 1 case study

This is about where we want to be in terms of production. Consistently publishing articles since late September 2023 has lead to this trend in visits:

For the first half of March 2024, we’ve averaged 5.33 visits per day. This compares to:

September 15-30th 2023 (Case study start): 0.12 visits per day

December 1st-15th 2023: 0.33 visits per day

January 1st-15th 2024: 1 visit per day

February 1st-15th 2024: 1.27 visits per day

Interestingly, our compound monthly rate of growth is very large:

From December: 152% monthly CAGR

From January: 131% monthly CAGR

From February: 320% monthly CAGR

This may say something about our trajectory, but our approach is still the tortoise vs the hare. I think a 320% growth rate is a way too high for the rest of the year, so consider this an outlier. But, we should be able to maintain a good growth rate for the 12 month period and hit that 40 figure mentioned in the opening post. Anything more is a bonus.

Month 7: Case Study Update

We just completed our 7th month of running this case study. Things continue to inch forward.

Over the past 30 days, we published:

  • Support Articles: 22
  • Target Pages: 1
  • Admin Pages: Zero

We are just hitting our numbers for number of articles we desire to publish. Traffic has climbed, but not as much as it did last month.

We averaged 7.46 clicks per day over the past 30 days, up from 4.21 the previous month. While impressions are growing, clicks did not maintain the same high level relative to impressions that we achieved last month.

This month our clickthrough ratio came in at 1.03% while last month we saw 1.13%. It’s a small difference but on a large number of views it makes a big difference on average daily clicks. A growing site, though, should see the CTR pressured as the site picks up more keywords, the many thousands of additional keywords that you didn’t actually write on but that Google feels you need credit for. These will usually exist far down the SERP.

Importantly, our impressions continue to increase nicely and clicks should follow.

Month 8: Avalanche Case Study Update

Unfortunately, we took a bit of a hit half way through the Google update rollout, with traffic taking a dip from April 20th. Traffic and views remains at the same level that we had at the start of April.

We’re lucky that the traffic hit (and, more importantly, the impressions hit) was pretty small, maybe a 25% drop. Compare this to other sites that saw a -50 to -75% hit in traffic. This will undoubtedly knock us off our growth trajectory, but I expect to resume growth as we continue to post within our tier. Our plan for recovery is simply that – to keep posting within our tier.

This past month we published 15 articles, lower than desired. We plan to bump this back up above 20 for the current month.

Member Sherpa Avalanche SEO Growth - 8 Months

Interestingly, despite being knocked back a bit, we were able to match the April high in traffic of 14 visits just this past week. More next month…