Our most astounding SEO success story … sort of

Marketing / 06.12.21
Mark Vaesen

Back in late 2018 we were wondering what to write about next on our blog. Another insightful article about brand development? Throw in some techie advice on coding websites?

Nah.

We were thinking ahead to the festive season, so we decided to write a rather whimsical article called “105 fun facts about Christmas to impress your friends”.

What happened next is a perfect example of how sometimes, in the world of SEO, you hit a sweet spot and unexpectedly shoot to the top of Google.

The popularity of our Christmas facts page

Many of our blog articles do well and are seen by a lot of people. However, our Christmas article eclipsed them all.

Over the course of two years it was seen by an astounding 109,122 people.

Most of these people had found it through Google searches, as indicated by the “google/organic” line in the Analytics report below:

Can you spot the festive season on this graph?

Why this blog ranked so highly

This article obviously appealed to Google. It’s relevant (if you’re looking for Christmas facts), well written and useful. But how does Google know this?

Firstly, the title tag, url and heading of the article all tell Google what it’s about.

The article’s well written in good English. It’s presented pleasingly with images and headings, plus there are some useful links in there to other sources of information. All this keeps our readers and Google happy.

But the real magic comes in the knock-on effect of this, because:

Lots of other websites link back to the article.

This is one of the key elements of SEO success. Backlinks from reputable websites reinforce to Google how popular the article is. Therefore, Google realised that it’s a great one to return in search results.

This then becomes a virtuous circle – Google displays the article near the top of the search results, more people find it, more websites link back to it, Google pushes it further up…and so on.

But did we make money from this blog post?

At the end of the day, content marketing is there to generate engagement with the right people – ie the ones you want to turn into customers.

So, did we get any new clients courtesy of this article?

The answer isn’t a straightforward one …

Christmas fact researchers don’t tend to need a new brand strategy

On the face of it, no, we won’t get any new clients from this article. The post is entirely off-topic for us, so the people looking are highly unlikely to be our target audience.

If we look in more detail at the Analytics results below, we see that:

  1. The ‘average time on page’ is good, which tells us that people are enjoying the article.
  2. However, the ‘bounce rate’ is poor, with nearly 93% of people just visiting this page and then leaving our website.

In 2021 the article’s ranking plummeted. In all likelihood there was a tweak to Google’s algorithm which signalled that this article doesn’t match the wider context of our website. The heady days of thousands of extra visitors are over, but we don’t really mind because those visitors weren’t likely to convert into clients.

However, if you search bing.com for “fun facts about Christmas” it’s still there! So, for now, it’s a Bing thing.

A little in-joke for parents of small children. Image courtesy of BBC iPlayer.

Should we write more ‘populist’ articles?

It’s tempting to try and replicate the success of our Christmas article. Perhaps “64 things you didn’t know about pancake day” or “105 fun facts about pig farming”.

But an important thing to remember is that every time we write about something off-topic, we dilute the content on our website. More than anything, we want Google to know that we’re a brand marketing agency, and too many articles which don’t relate to this will send mixed message to Google. The upshot could be a wholesale drop in ranking.

SEO and digital marketing support

We know what makes Google tick and how to write great content to attract human and robot readers – even if sometimes our successes come from the most unlikely articles!

If you’re floundering in the lower ranks of Google’s search results, then we can help you to find the problem, fix it and create a long-term strategy for search engine optimisation. Get in touch.