At GrowTraffic we regularly run experiments and tests to try to prove or disprove a hypothesis and we often have to rerun the same tests due to the changing nature of search.
One hypothesis we had is it’s possible to rank a webpage using links and specific anchor text from multiple new blog posts without carrying out any external link building. We’ve tested this before in past but it’s come to a point where we have to test it again.
I wanted to rank a page for the phrase content marketing agency, which is the ongoing strategy we focus our services on, so I thought this was a great opportunity to retest whether using exact match keywords from new blogs would rather the money page for the phrase content marketing agency.
Accepted internal link building tactics state that a website can overcome the effects of keyword cannibalisation – which is where a page ranks for a page you want a different page to rank – by including links from the wrong page to the page that should be ranking. This internal link should use the keyword or phrase you want to rank the money page for the link’s anchor text.
The first thing I did was to create a content calendar that had a focus on content marketing keywords, with almost every title containing the phrase content marketing agency. The content calendar would focus on two pieces of targeted content each week as well as one piece of newjacked content. which would also include content marketing keywords wherever possible.
The test has been running for around two months and we’ve got quite a bit more content to create before the content calendar and therefore the experiment is complete, however, I am already seeing a very obvious trend.
These are the pieces of targeted content we’ve created during the experiment:
- Is My Content Marketing Agency Any Good?
- How To Choose A Content Marketing Agency
- Do Content Marketing Agencies Use The Same Strategies?
- What’s The Best Mix Of Blogs, Video And Graphics When Content Marketing?
- What Type Of Content Does A Content Marketing Agency Produce?
- Do I Need A Content Marketing Agency And A Social Media Marketing Agency?
- Why You Should Look North Rather Than Choosing A London Content Marketing Agency
- Should you hire a PR Agency Or A Content Marketing Agency?
- Which Is The Best Content Marketing Agency In The UK
- How Much Do I Need To Spend On Content Marketing?
- What’s The Difference Between Inbound Marketing And Content Marketing?
- Is Using A Content Marketing Agency Good For Startups?
- In-House Content Marketing vs Agency: Which is Best?
In addition to these blogs, we’ve also created a wide number of blogs that relate back to the Coronavirus COVID-19 crisis – which started during this experiment – and a variety of newsjacked posts, many of which contained links back to the content marketing money page and which contained hyperlinks using the phrase content marketing agency as anchor text.
Here are our average rankings for terms that contain the word “content” since the start of July 2019:
Clearly there has been a jump in the average rankings for ‘content’ related keywords since the start of March and whilst there is some fluctuation a new normal has been created.
So, by creating a load of targeted content around the content phrases we’ve definitely seen an improvement in average rankings, but our hypothesis stated that by creating content containing internal links to the money page we should be able to get that money page to rank for the term we use in the link anchor texts. IIn this case those anchor texts featured the term content marketing agency.
Ranking changes for content marketing agency terms
By looking at the average rankings for the term content marketing agency we can see that there has been a dramatic improvement. Indeed, prior to this experiment, GrowTraffic didn’t rank in the top 100 places for the term content marketing agency at all.
We went from ranking outside the top 100 rankings to ranking on page two on average. In fact, we managed to get the website ranking on page one at position ten That’s not bad going and definitely something we can improve on over time, but it doesn’t prove our hypothesis right. In fact, when you drill into the data there’s something else going on.
So the next thing I did was to look at the pages that have been ranking for the phrase content marketing agency.
These are the pages that ranked for the phrase content marketing agency and the dates they ranked for it:
- Mar-02 2020 – https://www.growtraffic.co.uk/in-house-content-marketing-vs-agency/
- Mar-05 2020 – https://www.growtraffic.co.uk/digital-marketing-agency-vs-in-house-which-is-better-for-business/
- Mar-07 2020 – https://www.growtraffic.co.uk/in-house-content-marketing-vs-agency/
- Mar-08 2020 – https://www.growtraffic.co.uk/is-using-a-content-marketing-agency-good-for-startups/
- Mar-11 2020 – https://www.growtraffic.co.uk/digital-marketing-agency-vs-in-house-which-is-better-for-business/
- Mar-12 2020 – https://www.growtraffic.co.uk/is-using-a-content-marketing-agency-good-for-startups/
- Mar-13 2020 – https://www.growtraffic.co.uk/in-house-content-marketing-vs-agency/
- Mar-15 2020 – https://www.growtraffic.co.uk/is-using-a-content-marketing-agency-good-for-startups/
- Mar-19 2020 – https://www.growtraffic.co.uk/should-you-hire-a-pr-agency-or-a-content-marketing-agency/
- Mar-20 2020 – https://www.growtraffic.co.uk/which-is-the-best-content-marketing-agency-in-the-uk/
- Mar-30 2020 – https://www.growtraffic.co.uk/do-i-need-content-marketing-agency-and-social-media-agency/
- Apr-01 2020 – https://www.growtraffic.co.uk/what-type-of-content-does-a-content-marketing-agency-produce/
- Apr-03 2020 – https://www.growtraffic.co.uk/should-you-hire-a-pr-agency-or-a-content-marketing-agency/
- Apr-04 2020 – https://www.growtraffic.co.uk/which-is-the-best-content-marketing-agency-in-the-uk/
When looking through that list there is one thing that should jump out at you, it doesn’t contain the money page: https://www.growtraffic.co.uk/services/digital-marketing/content-marketing despite every page we’d created containing a link back to that page with exact match anchor text. The other thing to bear in mind that these pages aren’t as well optimised for this term either.
But this used to work. My gut feeling is this has become a much weaker signal for ranking in Google, perhaps in part because there’s more and more content being produced.
It’s also worth pointing out that Google seems to have settled on “which is the best content marketing agency in the UK?” which is the one blog post we promoted and is a blog that also contains references to other content marketing agencies. Whilst that might give us some indication why that page is ranking,
There are a lot of factors that go into ranking a page and it could be that this internal link building tactic does still work in some capacity. For example, I only checked up to position 100, so the page could be bouncing around with each internal link, plus in the SEO and content marketing industry there is naturally quite a lot of content out there being created and it could be that it’s just very hard to get a money page to rank well. That said, I did manage to get the blog post to rank at position 10 fairly easily.
I’d love to hear some of other people’s experiencing in using internal links from blogs in order to rank a money page. Also, if I’ve missed something or my logic is flawed please feel free to set me straight.
We’re going to keep going with this approach for a little bit longer but because this is not just an SEO test but it also provides valuable information to business owners and marketers who are looking to work with content marketing agencies.
I imagine the next step to meet the objective of getting our money page for content marketing agency will revolve around getting some links pointed at the page.