SEO is not something new, nor cracking it some rocket science. But cracking in Indian space is still tricky. There are few companies who are good at it. There are lot of experts, lots of noise, but less substance.

I am no expert in this field but some tactics worked for my blog and some failed. However, the learning will be definitely help any blogger in India.

Indian Blog Traffic Growth

Blog Traffic Growth: Source – Google Analytics

How Indian SEO environment different from what SEO schools present?

This was major point of struggle for me. Even if you have just started SEO week ago, you would aware of big names in the field, Moz, Ahref, Neil Patel, Growth Hacker Community, SEMrush etc. Now the ideas and hacks provided by these websites are sometimes hard to implement primarily because of low budget and lack of SEO ecosystem.

For example, in India, it’s quite tough to host giveaway contest or attend seminars to build network for backlinks. Every penny you spend on paid link hurts and tough to justify.

When I speak of ecosystem, I means network of bloggger and influencer. In guest posting, providing backlinks for source is rare in India. While plagiarism and buying link is rampant.

What didn’t work for us?

  • Commenting with links on other blogs: It’s trash work. We did this for first two days only. First, most of comment section on the blogs are nofollow. Second, when they are not it’s either shitty blog or closely monitored. Don’t ever try to scale this route.
  • Forum posting: This we did for 2-3 weeks. In the first week itself, it gave us 5 DA (Domain Authority) point jump. But it quickly reached saturation. It stopped affecting our DA, and might be negatively affected afterwards, so we stopped. But it’s quick and easy way to get backlinks. For implementing just follow this, just extract competitor backlink profile using Moz or Ahref (for link analysis I prefer Ahref) to identify do-follow forum. Then just start posting. Restrict number of links from one particular forms to less than 5. Further, don’t target forum with domain authority less than 20.

Guest posting, mildly successful

We couldn’t implement what we planned it, here, but whatever we did benefit. We couldn’t extract even a single backlink. Generally, Indian website with good domain authority want USD 40-50 to post your article with backlink. This is true for even high quality article and info-graphics. Although we could garner backlinks from lower domain authority website for free through these info-graphics.

We were able to get backlnks from our netwoek. They generally don’t ask for link exchange, which is debatable from SEO perspective. We reached out to college friends who are in marketing for guest post opportunity. We also reached out to genuine website struggling with good quality content, which we provided for free. That’s a good deal.

We are still trying to crack this. Our leaning till date – write high quality content for guest. Paying USD 10-20 for good quality backlink is good deal, but we didn’t try. First, to save money. Second. it’s something, which is frowned upon by Google. Don’t go for link exchange.

What worked for us?

1. Rigorous keyword research:

This is the part we cracked. Ahref.com is awesome for this. We used Ahref, Moz, Keyword.io and Adword for this. We were able to find good volume keyword with least competition. This helped us rank without backlinks. What we used to get keyword ideas: Ideas from top question from Quora, competitor keyword analysis, Buzzsumo tool and general keyword analysis.

2. Refinement based on trade-off between effort and reward:

We operate on constrained budget, hence we can’t make every article great! We try to maintain a standard. Every article either is keyword focused or engagement builder, though we want to drive both through same article. How we optimize the effort is by refining and putting extra effort on blogs that are doing well. This saves a lot of energy.

How we optimize:

  • More focused keyword: When we first write article it’s based on keyword analysis using third part tools. Howsoever, accurate they can predict macro search trend, the traction for your blog is a guess. But, once you know that a blog is performing good, you can make use of Google Analytics and Search Console to optimize according to the audience, who are visiting. You can make the content more focused toward the keyword from which you are getting traffic.
  • Optimize the CTR: Benchmark the CTR. The try to optimist basis what other in top searches are mentioning. It’s recommend that keyword should be there in tittle and meta-description, to assure the user that article is about what the user is looking for. Here are some data points to help you benchmark:
    • On average, 71.33% of searches result in a page one organic click. Page two and three get only 5.59% of the clicks.
    • On the first page alone, the first 5 results account for 67.60% of all the clicks and the results from 6 to 10 account for only 3.73%
    • Across all industries, the average CTR for a search ad is 1.91%, and 0.35% for a display ad

Hack for number based keyword title:

After analyzing the top ranking articles in fitness we realized that for these articles – the articles with higher number in tittle generally rank higher, given the quality doesn’t differ much e.g. article titled”45 Healthy Indian Breakfast Options” will generally rank higher than “20 Healthy Indian Breakfast Option”. This is because people will generally click first one more, and stay at that article for longer time. Google will take this as signs of a better quality article.

Once I wrote  a good content reach blog on “Top 10 Delhi Running Routes” but it was ranking second, despite mine being quite exhaustive with pictures and details, while the first one was just a list of 20 routes.  After I found out, I added 14 more routes, then this “Top 24 Delhi Running Routes” was at top.

Surprisingly, a odd number e.g. 33, 41 performs better than even. This might be because, user find it more genuine. StyleCraze just nails this by coming up with large number. Although, sometime they even repeat points and have poor content. I will not recommend that.

3. Making use of correlation between social traffic and organic traffic:

Yeah! Yeah! I know there no proof, but there is correlation. Treat social traffic like any other traffic, if the traffic is engaging then you surely benefit. For the blogs, where we received decent social traffic with good stay time, we started ranking on first page within 2-days. Always work on the social and engagement part of blog. One hack that worked for us – use gifs. People generally watch gifs, increasing the stay time at blog.

There is more to come. Do comment with what worked for you! Who doesn’t love hacks 🙂

That’s How We Did It: Indian SEO Growth Case Study

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