Case Study: Growing Organic Traffic 243% To A Niche eCommerce Shopify Store

This is a case study of how we leveraged the domain authority of a niche eCommerce brand to increase organic traffic by 243.21% in 17 months to nearly 30,000 sessions per month. 

We published 46 articles totaling 61,653 words of content (~1,340 words each) over a period of 1.5 years.

Looking back, the traffic results could have been expedited and amplified by following a more aggressive publishing schedule to publish more content, faster.

Here’s are the high-level results of what we were able to accomplish for the business in the period we worked on it, versus the same period before we got started:

+170%

Increase in Organic Traffic

+143%

Increase in Organic Orders

+135%

Increase in Organic Revenue

Background

In 2019, we started working with Bird Cages Now, a dropshipping eCommerce store selling (you guessed it): 

Bird cages.

This brand has been around since 2012-2013 under several owners with fairly consistent—albeit low—traffic levels.

Organic traffic had bottomed out in 2017 at around 2,000 sessions per month… 

The owner had performed some on-page and technical SEO fixes which grew the traffic levels past 10,000 monthly sessions for the better part of 2018 before it started to decline again…

They had run out of ideas as to how to further optimize the existing content base and had tapped out the low hanging fruit. 

That’s when the owner realized they needed to start investing in new content.

The store was already ranking fairly well for buyer-intent keywords to their category pages for terms like “African grey cage,” “macaw bird cage,” and “bird cage covers.” 

However, there was a lot of room to grow the existing organic traffic base by answering common questions on how to properly raise and take care of pet birds. 

Plus, there was an untapped opportunity to add an extra income stream to the store that could potentially make the new content pay for itself.

Sounds promising, right? 

More on this in a bit…

Two-Pronged Content Strategy

We took a two-pronged approach with the content strategy for Bird Cages Now, which would look to leverage the brand’s long history and substantial authority in the pet bird industry.

One prong focused on bringing in more top-of-the-funnel potential bird cage buyers and increasing topical relevancy for pet bird-related queries, generally targeted toward new and beginner pet bird owners.

The second prong focused on generating passive income by reviewing and promoting bird-related products such as bird feeders and bird baths. 

These types of products are outside the scope of the products for sale on the site and were assumed to be close enough related to the main topic of the site (bird cages) that we could easily rank for them.

Does your eCommerce business need a new content marketing strategy? Contact us here to discuss the optimal content strategy to generate more traffic and sales to your website.

Prong #1: Informational Content

Publishing informational content is fundamental for eCommerce brands seeking to expand their organic reach.

Info-related queries—especially answering popular questions—provide readers with relevant advice and give you an opportunity to mention and link to your category and product pages to drive more sales. 

Additionally, you can collect emails on these pages by offering ebooks or other relevant lead magnets to readers. 

For example, someone searching for the ‘best foods to feed a Parakeet’ is fairly likely to be interested in a guide on ‘How To Avoid The Top 5 Mistakes New Pet Bird Owners Make.’ After receiving their email you can continue marketing to them to eventually convert them into a paying customer.

These articles help develop your site’s topical relevance and build authority in your niche, in addition to establishing trust with potential customers. Plus, they indirectly add value to the business by helping build an email list and providing brand exposure.

Prong #2: Affiliate Content

While this approach may not work for all (or even most) eCommerce brands focused on selling more of their own products, it made complete sense in this case.

Here’s why:

First of all, publishing this type of content is a low-risk way for an eCommerce brand to gauge interest and test new product categories and ideas without having to develop or manufacture any new products themselves. 

Plus, it is a way to directly monetize articles from visitors that aren’t necessarily interested in buying a product from your store anyway. For example, most people searching for the ‘best bird bath heater’ are not even pet bird owners and wouldn’t be looking to buy one of the store’s core products. 

One issue with eCommerce stores selling higher-ticket items is how the relatively low order volume can cause revenue to fluctuate significantly from month-to-month.

The Unexpected Benefits

A new passive income stream from promoting products as an affiliate provides a way for the business to establish a new income stream not directly tied to the number of bird cage sales. 

Here’s the kicker:

This new income stream could potentially pay for not only all content creation costs but also basic operating expenses such as hosting and customer service.

However, the biggest win is the increase in asset value on the sale of the business, which will typically add 25-40 times the monthly affiliate earnings to the sale price. So every additional $100 per month in profit leads to an extra $2,500-$4,000 to the exit value of the business. 

The Inspiration

This strategy was inspired by what we saw going on at Greenbelly Meals, which is a company that produces pre-made bars and meals for hikers and backpackers.

While focusing on selling their own food products for hikers and backpackers, they had expanded their blog content to cover just about anything and everything remotely related to hiking and backpacking.

From “nude hiking” to “how to identify poison ivy” to “best backpacking tent”—they cover it all.

And it is working like a charm for them, to the tune of hundreds of thousands of visitors per month (note the below estimate is conservative, and actual traffic numbers could be 2-3x the amount shown):

Greenbelly.co Estimated Organic Traffic From Ahrefs From 2016-2020

The applicable part here is they not only went after informational keywords for their target audience of hikers, but they actually reviewed and promoted other company’s products as affiliates. 

The Takeaway

Our strategy inspired by GreenBelly was to add relevant, low competition content reviewing products related to birds that the company doesn’t sell themselves such as bird feeders and bird baths.

Can you successfully apply this strategy to your eCommerce business? Contact us here to discuss the optimal content strategy to generate more traffic and sales to your website.

Execution

On the client’s side, it was as simple as having one comprehensive onboarding call with us going over the plan and sharing a Shopify login so we could publish and optimize the content as it was ready.

On our side, we got to work identifying the top competitors for both the informational and affiliate content to brainstorm topics and lucrative keywords. 

Here’s how it turned out:

In total, we planned out 46 total articles split up as 13 affiliate reviews and 23 informational articles. This resulted in 61,653 total words of new content added to the site.

Our content writers got to work producing each piece of content. Once drafted, our editor not only reviewed each piece for the basics such as grammar, spelling, and plagiarism; but also to make sure each article was SEO-optimized and matched the tone and voice of the existing site.

For each approved draft, our publishing team got to work uploading each article to Shopify, adding appropriate images, as well as Amazon affiliate links for each affiliate article.

The client was able to track the progress of the content from keyword research through to seeing the published URL, word count, and publishing date for full transparency and insights into how we were contributing to growing their business. 

Now for the fun part…

Results

For us, creating and publishing optimized content is the easy part.

The hard part is waiting for the results to come in.

Luckily, with this project we didn’t have to wait long before seeing significant traffic growth in Google Analytics.

This was due to the meticulous keyword research in which we sought out low competition keywords with high traffic potential that we could rank for very quickly by leveraging the domain’s existing authority.

Traffic Gains

Below is the analytics chart for organic traffic to BirdCagesNow.com from January 2017 to September 2020. 

We got started publishing in January 2019 and published the final article in August 2020.

Fun fact: to this day, the very first article we published is still the highest traffic page on the site!

BirdCagesNow.com Organic Traffic History 2017-2020

Revenue Gains

While the gain in traffic is nice, what most businesses—especially eCommerce companies—are really looking for is to generate more sales and revenue.

And that’s exactly what happened.

Over the 20-month period in which we were creating and publishing content on the website, the business sales revenue from organic traffic grew 134.66% over the previous period from $64,484.43 to $151,321.83.

BirdCagesNow.com Organic Traffic Comparison (Jan 2019-Sept 2020 vs Jan 2017-Sept 2018)

Note that these figures do not account for direct or referral sales, which are tracked differently in analytics. For example, if someone finds the site via Google, then returns directly to the store in another session to make their purchase, the sale is counted as a direct or referral sale.

Plus, the opt-in forms displayed across the new content helped to add hundreds of new subscribers to the email list (we don’t have the exact numbers here, unfortunately…).

New Affiliate Income Stream

In addition to driving more bird cage and bird cage cover sales and customers, the affiliate content resulted in a new recurring passive income stream for the business. 

For the 2019-2020 period, the affiliate content generated a total of $2,719.30 in revenue and typically earns the business an extra $100-$300 per month.

These earnings cover the business’s basic operating expenses such as Shopify hosting, email marketing software, etc with a few extra dollars leftover.

Here’s the best part:

This extra income is making the content pay for itself! 

Not only has this content already generated nearly $3,000 for the company to date, but it has added an extra $3,750-$6,000 to the exit value of the business (assuming a 25-40x multiple at an average of $150/month).

Conclusion

The right content strategy approach combined with solid execution and SEO-optimization can lead to significant traffic and revenue growth for eCommerce businesses.

And the example here is no outlier. 

I’d say the results here could have been amplified with a more aggressive approach, publishing all 46 articles in 2-3 months instead of over a prolonged period of more than a year… 

However, the owner was happy with the results which have driven more traffic and sales to the business for a minimal investment (which has paid for itself, nonetheless…).

Could your eCommerce business benefit from additional content marketing? Contact us here to discuss the optimal content strategy to generate more traffic and sales to your website.
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