If you’ve been wondering whether you should invest in SEO for your small business, one key metric you want answers to is the ROI.
How much can you actually increase sales, if you spend money and time on SEO?
That’s why I want to share 3 powerful SEO success stories with you.
These small business seo case studies will not only inspire you, but you can also follow the strategies to achieve the same success for your business!
Semrush shared these case studies and success stories with me recently, and I was so impressed by them, I just had to create a post on them.
Related: What is Semrush
SEO success story #1: Niche bakery
How a bakery business achieved rank #1 on Google and generated 1M+ orders.
The first SEO success story is about an online macaron business in the US called Pastreez, founded by two French pastry chefs from Paris.
The macarons are handcrafted by the chefs and delivered all over the US.
Set up and grow a macaron bakery in the United States, focusing on SEO strategies.
In other words, focus on growing their brand awareness and getting their website noticed by Google as the primary channel to get orders and grow business. Advertising and social media would be add-ons to support their SEO.
Before starting to explain the steps taken in this local SEO case study, let me share with you the results.
- 6 months after launch, the website ranked #1 for the keyword ‘macarons near me’
- The business has sold over 1M+ macarons driven mostly by their organic traffic
- Within 4 years of starting online sales, Pastreez was able to open a brick-and-mortar store
- 6 years after launch, the website is still within the top 5 positions on Google
- Today, 55% of sales come from non-branded organic traffic and 10-15% from branded organic traffic
- Expanded their facility and launched a new product line (crepes)
Here is their organic traffic currently.
Want to achieve similar results like this? Start with a 14-day free trial of Semrush.
The SEO strategies
The key SEO strategies used by the team were targeting high-intent and buyer keywords and link outreach.
Read on for the details of this SEO case study and step-by-step process.
1. Find high-intent keywords
Pastreez decided to focus only on high-intent keywords, or keywords that indicate a buying intention, in order to maximize their traffic from people who wanted to buy macarons.
Think about when you search for food options in the region you are in. For example, when you want to visit a bar or restaurant.
You could search for terms like:
“restaurant” + “location”
“cafe” + “near me”
“bakery” + “location”
“bar” + “near me”
So the bakery Pastreez wanted to focus on such high-intent, localized keywords for their macaron business.
At that time, the best keyword they could find with a good search volume and low difficulty in the US was ‘macarons near me’. This keyword also had a stable trend and growth.
Not just that, using the Semrush Keyword Magic Tool, Pastreez saw that the broad keyword and topic of ‘macarons near me’ was also supported by secondary keywords and sub-topics like ‘fresh macarons near me’, ‘best macarons near me’, and more.
All of this pointed to high demand for macarons all over the United States, and that is what Pastreez focused its SEO strategy and business model around: handmade macarons shipped all over the US.
2. Analyze your competition
It is all well and good to target a keyword, but the real trick lies in beating all the domains that rank currently in the top 10.
In other words, the next step of SEO is to analyze the winning strategies of competitors and beat them.
So Pastreez analyzed the domains that were ranking on the top of Google for ‘macarons’ on 2 parameters:
- All organic keywords
The goal was to try to rank for a majority of these keywords and reach out to the domains for linking opportunities.
But more on that later.
Now that the key research part was over, it was time to launch the website and start multiplying revenues!
A simple 5-page website for Pastreez website was launched in September 2017.
3. Invest in content marketing
In SEO, product pages only get you so far. You will have to invest in content marketing sooner or later, to maintain your search engine positioning.
For Pastreez, that was in 2021, when they started a blog and started developing content, consistently, based on a clear digital content strategy.
3. Create topic clusters
Pastreez had one thing that worked in its favor. It sold only one product: macarons.
That was the core pillar.
All they had to do was follow a topic cluster approach, by creating posts on everything related to macarons.
They got these keywords from the Keyword Magic Tool, with these priorities:
- Choose keywords with low keyword difficulty (<30)
- Answer questions that people ask
They found lots of keywords with high volume and low difficulty, and wrote blog posts on them, to build the expertise of their small business website on macarons.
Later, they also created other popular sub-topics like ‘gifts’, ‘vegan’, and ‘gluten free’, to include more posts on macarons related to these sub-topics.
5. Optimize for local SEO keywords
Pastreez always stayed steady on its strategy of targeting keywords with high buyer intent, of people looking for buying options around them (near me).
So it expanded its keywords and blog posts to keywords that included ‘near me.
Here are some of the local keywords of ‘near me’ that the business website ranks for now.
5. Conduct innovative link outreach
Remember the competition research that Pastreez did earlier? It evaluated all the high-ranking domains that were linking to these competition sites and did a link outreach in a very special way.
Instead of sending an email asking for a link, the business sent free macarons to domains, accompanied by a request for links. Who can say no to that? Genius!
6. Conduct SEO maintenance
SEO success, even for local SEO is very steady, but over a period of time, it is very easy to slip in rankings.
That is why you need to do constant ongoing SEO maintenance to increase sales with SEO, which Pastreez also did.
These are some of the SEO maintenance steps done by the bakery:
- Regular site audits: Pastreez always kept a close eye on the technical health of its website, as well as used the insights from the Semrush site audits to improve and optimize content
- On-page optimization: The team also ensured that all the website pages were optimized for SEO with the correct meta tags, heading tags, and other HTML elements.
- Position tracking: A bit of ups and downs are inevitable in SEO. But Pastreez kept a close eye on its rankings and if there was a big drop, the team took action immediately to refresh the content and regain the ranking.
If you want to copy this SEO success story, you can get a 14-day trial of Semrush and try the same strategies yourself!
SEO Success Story #2: Travel blog
How a travel business used blogging to achieve over 5 million pageviews and more than $200K in revenue
The next small business SEO success story is about a travel website called The Smokies that creates content especially about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park near Tennessee, United States.
The blog owners were initially getting 90% of their traffic from social media which they were monetizing.
But it was barely scratching the surface in terms of revenue because social media traffic can be quite unstable.
Change the primary source of traffic from social media to organic traffic.
Boost website traffic with SEO and monetize the blog with ad partnerships and affiliate income.
The website and 3 other blogs together started generating over $200,000 in revenues within 18 months.
Currently, the website gets almost 170K monthly traffic.
Check out the growth of this website over time.
The SEO strategies
The key strategies used by the team to achieve their SEO success story was consistently creating SEO-friendly content and improving their technical SEO.
Read on for the details of what the business did, step by step.
1. Improve site health with a site audit
One of the first things the business did was to clean up its site health by running a site audit with Semrush.
They fixed all structural issues, improved the site speed, and also worked through all the content optimization suggestions.
They also disavowed all the spammy backlinks.
2. Find content ideas
The next step was to find content to target.
There are many ways to find content ideas. In this case, the team decided to use the Semrush Keyword Gap Tool to find keywords that their competition was ranking for but they weren’t or weren’t ranking high.
They then sorted the keywords with the highest volumes but keyword difficulty of less than 30, just like the above SEO success story of Pastreez.
3. Create content targeting long-tail keywords
Now that the team identified the content topics, they needed to find long-tail, semantic, and related keywords to use in their content.
They used the Semrush Magic Tool to find these keywords and use them in their content. See the example below.
4. Content optimization
Creating content is one thing. But to really give it that edge and rank it at the top of Google, you have to make sure that it is optimized for search engines.
An easy and efficient way to do this optimization is with the Semrush SEO Writing Assistant included in the Semrush Content Toolkit.
The SWA offers suggestions on how to optimize your existing content keywords, post length, readability, and more, so that it ranks better than the top pages in the SERP.
5. Link building with Wikipedia
Backlinks are still precious for SEO, but the small business in this case did not specifically do a link outreach.
They just wrote high-quality content and submitted them to high-authority informational sites like Wikipedia as resources.
By focusing on a few core SEO strategies, the small business of The Smokies was able to not just get more than $200k in annual revenue from their blog but was also able to launch 3 new blogs with similar strategies.
The total revenue they now expect from their website is more than $500K annually. They generate this mostly from ad revenues, which are this high because of their immense website traffic.
This is the core SEO success story for a blog: Use SEO to get insanely high traffic to your blog and amplify your ad/ affiliate revenues.
Want to copy this SEO case study step-by-step? Start with a 14-day free trial of Semrush.
SEO Success Story #3: Foods marketplace
How a sustainable foods marketplace built its ecommerce setup and achieved 230% growth
The 3rd SEO success story is about a Netherlands-based startup called SmaakGenot that’s all about eco-friendly and socially responsible food shopping.
Sustainable producers from across the world can offer their products with their exclusive stores within the marketplace to consumers who care about high-quality and environmentally-friendly foods.
- Grow website traffic and brand awareness for products that were high in demand and bring in maximum revenues, quickly.
- Combine advertising with SEO and boost organic traffic.
Over the course of one year, SmaakGenot achieved huge improvements in its site traffic and revenues:
- A 257% increase in site traffic
- A 230% increase in revenue
- 100% increase in the number of keywords in Google’s top 10
- Decrease in acquisition costs
Talk about SEO e-commerce success stories!
Here’s a quick look at their current traffic metrics.
The SEO strategies
The key SEO strategy the team used was to find keywords with high volume that could potentially generate huge website traffic. Then the team used a topic cluster model specifically for product pages.
They created their product pages as pillar pages or topical targeting the high-volume keywords, and vendor pages as cluster pages using related keywords with low difficulty.
Read the steps in detail below.
1. Market Research
SmaakGenot knew that to understand the demand for products, they had to consider seasonality in the food industry – customers have different preferences in summer versus winter.
To identify key seasonal trends, the team used Semrush Traffic Analytics to analyze traffic patterns of larger food chains and product pages.
2. Analyze competition traffic sources
The key goal was to understand the traffic generation strategies of the competition.
For this, the team first used Semrush Keyword Overview for seed keywords and check who was ranking in the top 10 positions in the SERP.
They then used the Semrush Traffic Analytics tool for these domains to get an idea of the traffic generation channels for their competitors.
They realized that organic traffic was key to winning, so they started focusing on this channel.
3. Keyword Research
The next step was to select target keywords. The team analyzed each competitor using Semrush Organic Research to see which keywords these brands were getting the maximum traffic from.
This gave the team an idea of which kind of keywords they should focus on to get their traffic as well.
4. Create topic clusters for product pages
To compete against larger supermarket chains in the Dutch market, SmaakGenot decided to focus on directing traffic to their product category pages rather than individual seller pages.
The team realized that their audience was interested in the origin of their food.
So they made their product descriptions almost like pillar pages with background stories, fun facts, environmental footprint, producer details, and other information about the products that would interest their audience.
The pillar pages are linked to the vendor pages where the audience could actually buy the food.
They used the Semrush Keyword Magic Tool to only select keywords with high volume, as that would drive the revenue, and targeted these keywords for their pillar product pages.
5. Target featured snippets
Since the business was in an industry where the audience had lots of questions, one SEO strategy the business implemented was to target questions that people were asking on a topic, and answer them with FAQ schemas.
This would increase the chances of them getting Featured Snippets for these keywords.
6. Simultaneous link-building and traffic generation
The business had limited resources and didn’t have the time to explore link-building from various sites.
So they decided to combine link-building and traffic generation.
They used the Semrush Backlink Analytics Tool to analyze which of the referring domains had the highest traffic and authority.
They targeted these domains specifically because links from them would help both the SEO of SmaakGenot and increase referral traffic.
SmaakGenot has consistently been able to improve its organic traffic and its e-commerce business by slowly and steadily following SEO methods specific to its business.
Instead of simply creating basic product descriptions, it used the power of keywords and content marketing to turn its product pages into huge traffic acquisition pages.
These high-traffic pages passed on the traffic juice to commercial and money pages, driving conversions up.
Now SmaakGenot has become a stable business and is constantly adding new products to its portfolio and also considering expanding into new markets.
Want to scale your small business SEO success story like SmaakGenot?
SEO success stories – Learnings and conclusion
Each of the SEO success stories and case studies mentioned above is unique, even if they are all small businesses, as they come from different industries and business models.
However, there are some common factors that can help you achieve your own SEO and sales success story.
These are some of the SEO steps you must do:
- Identify specific goals
- Know your audience in detail
- Prioritize keywords that can drive sales, not just traffic
- Use long-tail keywords and create topic clusters
- Research your competitors to gain insight into their strategies
- Create SEO-friendly content that’s relevant to your audience
- Answer questions asked by your audience
- Optimize your content and web pages
- Ensure technical SEO
- Build high-quality links
SEO is a long-term game, and you will definitely see results as the above businesses did. These above SEO case studies and success stories are proof that SEO does indeed help to boost sales, even for small businesses.
Create your brand story, identify your business, SEO, and website goals and objectives, and develop a clear SEO strategy, and you are bound to see results.
Do you have an SEO success story to share? Would love to hear it in the comments!