Hi, I’m Sankar Datti, an AVP at IncNut Digital. Today I would like to share my journey over the past 5 years, and how we were able to build from 0 to 25+ million visitors for two of our sites Stylecraze.com & MomJunction.com
Here I’m writing to reflect on what I’ve learned along the way while doing SEO for the past 12 years.
Why do I want to share my journey? It is because I want to share my knowledge with you. I have been getting a lot of queries from founders, entrepreneurs, bloggers and SEO professionals across India about how I was able to achieve 20+ million visitors per month from Google!
What are the tricks, hacks, secrets? Is it really possible?
Many Founders/entrepreneurs are spending a lot of money and time on SEO but hardly seeing any significant results.
This isn’t a short post of quick tips. It’s a culmination of my hard work spanning more than a decade. Many late nights, long working schedules and algorithm changes were just like a roller coaster. I want to share my experience so that you can learn from it.
It is a long, 2000 word article and is broken down into 7 key points or steps that one should follow to achieve the kind of success that I could.
And if you’re willing to go beyond just browsing— and are interested in reading every word—you’ll learn the SEO secrets I’ve been mastering for over twelve years.
Ready to dive in? Let’s get down to business!
1. Why Is Having A Roadmap So Important?
Call it a roadmap or a strategy, but have one. It is important to have a proper strategy for any SEO Project.
For the past one year, I have been meeting a lot of founders and SEOs. Everyone has the same problem. No clear idea of how much they have to spend on SEO and how long it will take to see results. How to plan and execute their plans.
SEO Results will actually depend on the competition of your niche and the budget you are going to spend on it.
As per my competitor analysis, I require 1000 articles to get 1 Million Visitors. If each article costs 10000 INR to take it to live – including SEO, Design & Publishing Costs then I require 1000*10000= 1,00,00,000 INR to make it a success.
Following are the metrics you have to look at before you start your SEO efforts:
- Total Budget
- Content Plan
- Resource Plan
- Execution Time
- Expected Results
For Example here is the sample roadmap for 1 Million Visitors.
2. So How Does The Google Algorithm Actually Work?
This part plays a crucial role in driving traffic to your website.
Once you publish content or make a web page live on your site, Google will rank your web page and show it to a small set of users.
If they are not happy with your result, then Google will drop your rankings. This is the reason why you may be seeing only some clicks from Google for recent web pages on your website.
If those users are happy with your result, then Google will show it to some more users, if they are also happy then some more. This process continues and saturates at a point where your competitors have better content compared to you.
Now the Big question is “How Google will know whether users are happy or not happy“. Here it is.
If somebody clicks on your webpage and reads it, and then if they click the back button in the browser and click on another result in Google search results…. Then it’s a clear indication that user is not getting information from your webpage and went back to search results page. This is a very clear indication to Google that user is not happy with your webpage.
Of course, we or all Google users will have a habit of checking 3 to 5 pages or sometimes more pages to get the right answer to our query. However, in such cases, Google will consider which page is getting more back button clicks and going to other search results.
For example, users who are visiting Site A got 100 clicks from Google and 50% of users clicked on the back button and then went to a different search result. Site B got 100 clicks and 40% of users clicked back button. Site B will rank on top compared to Site A.
I follow this simple rule and always make sure that users are happy with the content on my pages. I call this process as “content enhancement“.
Using this technique, I have been able to increase traffic by 791% for one article and 292% for another article. You can download the case study for the same below.
3. What Is The 80/20 Rule? Why Do SEO Masters Swear By It?
What is 80/20 Rule? For example, any business will get 80% results in their results from only 20% of their effort. Is it really possible? Yes, it is, here’s an example.
80% Results in SEO will come from Engaging Content + Quality Backlinks.
20% Results will come from Technical SEO like adding keywords, updating meta tags, improving page speed etc.
Recently I ran a survey and personally spoke with more than 50 SEO professionals over a call to know their status/understanding of SEO before I launched my training. Everyone is doing the same mistake, even the high-level publishers with big SEO teams too.
By following 80/20 rule, I am able to drive 1,00,00 visitors within 12 months. Bought an expired domain and published 40 articles.
As it’s an expired domain with good backlinks, quality content helped in traffic increase without any SEO optimisations. Download the detailed case study below.
4. Hire for attitude not for skill:
I always hire people based on their attitude, so that I can train them to work later. If somebody is hired without good attitude, it’s difficult to train them and retain them.
Hiring quality people is the biggest hurdle for any organization. Hiring the right kind of SEO professionals is much more of a headache. I interviewed more than 500 people in the past 5 years. Hardly any of them had touched 1 lakh visitors per month.
Most of the professionals are trained in the wrong way and are still following the spam SEO processes like submitting 50 directories a day etc., and are super confident that they are doing it right and getting good results.
Spam SEO will help you to get few visits like 100 or 200 or max 1000 visits a day, however, after that, it will never grow. They miss this logic as they feel the clients are getting leads and able to show some results.
Out of the 500 people, few people who know that they are doing spam because they don’t know how to do it right, I just hired them and trained them in the right direction.
Here are the Top 5 questions which I always ask, for picking the right SEO Person:
- What are the top 5 Google Ranking Factors which will have the highest impact on traffic?
- What is the traffic growth you have achieved in your best SEO Project so far?
- How are you able to achieve the above traffic? What is the strategy & process behind it? Explain in detail.
- When did the latest Google algorithm update happen i.e. both official and unofficial?
- How many links do you build per month, Give a count, method-wise?
By asking the above questions you can easily find out whether the candidate is really capable or is just faking answers. You will also have a fair understanding of his or her attitude by asking more questions about profession and life in general.
5. Tips to avoid Google Penalty
Most of us are worried about Google Penalties. However, I stopped worrying about Google penalties as I know how to make sure that Google will never penalize me. Also, I know how to recover, even if it penalizes me.
Follow the 80/20 Rule and know how the Google algorithm works, then implement the same to all pages on your site with quality backlinks and good tech built, and then you will never get penalized.
If you build a site with proper whitehat SEO, then it never gets penalized. Even though you see some drop in traffic, that only means the competition is doing a better job compared to you or is a simple Google algorithm issue, which will get rectified after a few days.
I see some founders worrying about 10% to 20% fluctuations in traffic. It’s quite common in SEO, a drop of more than 30% is something you have to worry about and fix.
Here are a few real cases where sites are penalized:
- Having Spam backlinks
- Too many pages, too thin content in each page
- Not updating Content for more than one year
- Getting more unnecessary pages indexed
- Wrong https implementation
- Too many redirections
- Hacked Websites
- The higher percentage of Dead Pages
6. High-level SEO Audit will save your life:
I strongly recommend you to do this High-level SEO Audit, every month for your website.
Traffic Growth Audit:
You have to check monthly organic traffic growth for each URL. Due to continuously changing Google algorithms and higher competitiveness in the SEO industry the chances are higher that each of your page rankings might increase or decrease which leads to a drop or growth in traffic.
Keeping an eye on all pages will help you improve content on drop pages, and regain the lost traffic.
Of course, it will take a lot of time to create this report. I created a small tutorial which will help you get this report ready in less than 10 minutes.
Link Growth Audit:
Links are the backbone of SEO. I strongly recommend you to check your backlinks(root domains) every month.
Let’s assume that last month you have 300 backlinks to your website if you have 350 backlinks then it’s quite natural. However, if you see 500 or 1000+ Backlinks then it’s quite suspicious. Sometimes you will see 10 times more backlinks. It’s a clear indication that somebody is trying to harm your website. This personally happened with one of our websites.
Always keep an eye on new backlinks. If you find any spam backlinks, kindly add them to the disavow file.
Technical SEO Audit:
Sometimes we may overlook some technical mistakes which will lead to a drop in traffic. For example:
- Indexed pages will be higher than the original pages in the website.
- Page speed for each page will go down due to a few tech updates.
- A website will have downtime due to hosting issues.
- Hackers will install malicious scripts etc.
I strongly recommend having a weekly check for technical issues, so that you can prevent major traffic drops.
7. Build Content that ranks:
How to write content that ranks?
Most of the marketers, founders and entrepreneurs think that unique content with 2000+ words, having a lot of keywords, will rank your content on the top.
That strategy is outdated, it used to work well, 3 years ago. But not anymore. Thanks to higher competition in the SEO industry and more awareness about SEO ROI.
That’s why I always plan 10x Content… So what is 10x content?
It is a process I have created for myself and my team, it is a culmination of my years of deep understanding of SEO principles, good content creation methods and personal knowledge in this field.
Search in Google, for the most traffic keyword for a page and analyze the top 10 results for that keyword. Note down what’s great in each of results/pages. Create awesome content which is 10 times better than all top 10 results. So you will not just have to write all the points that are there in the 10 results but also something more, one that’s additional new info for the reader.
Here is the sample sheet which I follow for doing the analysis.
Here are a few techniques like writing the introduction, using AIDA technique, answering pain points, using the reverse pyramid technique etc., which will make your content stand out from the competition.