SEO Case Study: How to rule Google Search even if you don't like SEO!
The following is an SEO Case Study for a Blockchain Conference called Crypto Rockstars that I organized back in 2018. These results are easy to reproduce for any startup niche, not just events. So stay tuned!
If you are only interested in the result and don´t want to read the full story, you can jump to the results by clicking here.
How it came to pass
Here is the full story of how we ended up with the most unexpected results that later on sparked the idea of developing the ViSPR Network. But it needs a bit of explanation, and I have to point out that the circumstances were less than ideal. But little did I know that these dire times were the perfect starting point. So strap on your seat belts and enjoy the craziness of this rollercoaster ride.
Remember back around X-Mas 2017 when Bitcoin jumped to a new all-time high of about 16000 USD almost overnight? The media hype was just plain crazy. Suddenly so many people were trying to open new crypto trading accounts. Even some of the most popular crypto exchanges couldn’t handle the onslaught. They went dark for weeks, and everyone was desperately looking for any exchange platform that still offered the chance to open an account.
If you are working for a startup, here is an important lesson to be learned.
If the hype hits the fan, never shut down the doors for new potential users/customers. No matter if your server breaks or you cannot handle the manual workload. Click To Tweet
Activate all your human resources, scale your infrastructure, slave through night shifts, but never ever shut down the registration process in the middle of a hype. People will be looking for an alternative and stick to it forever! Because they were able to satisfy their needs in time.
Of course, I went all-in.
Up to that point, I had smiled at the idea of buying Bitcoin even though I liked the underlying concept of unbanking the system. I even had talked my wife out of it about a year ago, when Bitcoin was still hovering around 800 USD. But meeting a score of ordinary people every day that couldn’t stop chattering about getting rich overnight like junkies on a sugar flash does something to your head. So I tried opening an account myself – and failed miserably!
It took me about two weeks to find an exchange platform that still accepted new registrations and wasn’t a total scam. Bitcoin had just crossed that historical mark, and of course, by then, it was already falling like hot potatoes. I knew I was too late for the show. But I was infected with all that hype. So I crossed my fingers, jumped on board – and lost a few thousand dollars over the next few weeks, like so many others.
Lessons learned, or not?
After that first disaster, I still saw the vast potential. So I started learning everything about Bitcoin, Altcoins, Crypto, and Blockchain as fast as I could. I lost count on how many YouTube videos I watched. Days were just slipping by. But the more I learned, the more it became apparent that I was in over my head. This stuff is complicated as hell!
The next thing I realized was that I was chattering away like crazy, precisely like all those other addicts. As a public speaker, I wanted to educate my friends and frame the opportunity here. Still, I was terrible at explaining even the most essential blockchain basics and mostly just confused people.
If you are terrible at something, start interviewing experts. Click To Tweet
And that was what I did. Together with another infected friend, we organized a compact eLearning course for beginners about how to start with trading cryptocurrency. We wanted to interview experts, throw the most important questions at them, and bounce back some juicy answers.
But what we started would soon become a fully-loaded Blockchain conference. Before we knew it, it had transformed into an event management monster with way too many heads. And then Google and Facebook decided to kick everyone in the nuts.
What to do when paid ads stop working? Click To Tweet
At first, we didn’t spend much thought on promoting the event. I am a performance marketing manager. For me, it was clear that we would use paid ads to reach our target audience. But then Google and Facebook shut down promoting anything related to crypto overnight. Too many scammers had been trying to take advantage of newbies and ran with the money. The blind leading the blind, it was a real mess.
I have to admit that scamming uneducated people was just too easy. But aside from blowing a big hole in our only marketing strategy, that was the best proof for us. We needed to educate people about cryptocurrency and stop gambling away their savings.
But even for a legit blockchain event, there was no exception. Paid ads were out of the window, and we needed to get creative. Fast.
SEO? No, we don't have time for that!
I created the event page with WordPress, but we didn’t even consider doing any SEO. It is well-known that SEO takes a lot of effort, content, and time. All things that we didn’t have. The event was about to start in only a few months. So no time for overcomplicated, magic SEO experiments. Way too unreliable and too much work. We just didn’t have time for that.
The event name Crypto Rockstars consists of two super high-level and generic keywords that I estimated to be nearly impossible to rank. So I didn’t even install an SEO plugin and didn’t even bother to connect the website to the Google Search Console.
I thought anything related to SEO would be a complete waste of time.
That is why we didn’t do any technical SEO at all! Instead, we focussed on building partnerships with media outlets and blockchain startups. The hard way – 1 on 1. The goal was to get any coverage that included a backlink to our event page. All we really wanted was to profit from the partner’s traffic and peruse their target audience. The basic idea was that people would find us through other niche websites.
Reaching out cold is as hard as it sounds! Click To Tweet
I whipped up a Media Kit and reached out cold to niche blogs, crypto influencers, and blockchain startups. I have to admit the workload of the process was making me sweat. The first eight weeks, I dedicated all my time to it, but no one would respond as we did not yet have any speakers or social proof on the website. Progress was excruciatingly slow, and I was getting desperate and started to doubt the whole dumb idea.
Then I decided to submit the conference to as many event calendars as possible.
And that made all the difference. After about two months of relentless outreach, the first related blogs started to take note of our hybrid conference format and finally answered my emails. Our conference had this virtual summit format which had already been established in the online marketing space for some years. Still, no one had ever seen this with a Blockchain conference before. We were the first to transfer it into that niche.
As I write this post one year into the Corona pandemic in May 2021, Zoom calls, virtual conferences, and online interviews might look like a lame old hat. Still, at that time, back in 2018, it was revolutionary for this niche.
What is your Golden Ticket?
The online aspect was our golden ticket to win over the first speakers and media partners. They were well aware that we could open up the conference to attendees from all around the globe. Especially when tickets to local events targeted rich people, sold with exclusive perks, and ranged in the hundreds if not thousands of dollars.
Our media partners just loved the new angle. Finally, an event that everyone could afford and attend. The sites would just copy and paste our ready-made event description. In terms of SEO, it was mostly all duplicate content. They earned a percentage of each sale with a simple affiliate link while automatically donating a do-follow backlink to our website.
Suddenly my email inbox started to explode!
And thus, after nearly three months of relentless outreach and a few updates to my Media Kit later, we finally broke through a barrier. We had made it. Suddenly, I got more partnership requests than I could handle, and it seemed that everyone wanted to work with us. The main reason was that we were featuring all partners with a logo and do-follow backlink quite exclusively on the homepage of our event – social proof deluxe.
From then, I was able to cherry-pick the people that we wanted to work with. And so I started to check their web traffic with Similarweb.com to see if they could even send us any traffic or just wanted to borrow from us. The same approach that we used at the beginning with our potential partners. In the end, I only accepted the top media partners and 30 speakers that all linked back to our event page.
Excluding the event calendar listings, which were primarily no-follow, we had earned around 50 do-follow backlinks. Click To Tweet
A High Caliber Speaker Lineup thanks to our Media Partners
With only about three weeks left up to the event, we had filled up all our speaker slots. Using all that media attention and social proof from our partners, we had been able to interview some very fascinating people.
Like Lyn Ulbricht, the mother of the infamous and convicted founder of the illegal Darknet marketplace Silk Road – Ross Ulbricht. Or Stephen McCarthy, the right hand of the prime minister of Malta. He is the Digital Innovation Authority CEO, which created the leading legislation framework for Blockchain regulation in Europe. Or Tatiana Moroz, a well-known singer-songwriter in the crypto space. As well as a somewhat dubious representative of the popular crypto exchange Binance. Just to name a few.
Hey guys, you are dominating Google Search. Wait, what? Click To Tweet
I was scheduling the last open interviews to shoot the videos when that delicious call came in. It was Didi Taihuttu, a crypto influencer that might be better known as “the man who sold his house for Bitcoin.” He was well known for having sold his family home to go all-in with Bitcoin long before the crypto hype hit the moon. He told me that he wanted to speak at the conference, no matter what. I was a bit baffled because that guy had gone through the international press.
He was basically the real Crypto Rockstar, and we had been trying to get him on board for a few months now without any response. He told me he was back from Thailand with his family and currently on a European tour. He wanted to speak at the event because we would be dominating the first few pages of Google Search, and everyone in his Telegram group was talking about us.
I didn’t even know what he was talking about and had to google “Crypto Rockstars” to see for myself. And there it was. Including the three videos below, we had been named and listed in twelve out of thirteen results on the first page of Google Search. There was only one result that had a direct hit using both keywords in their domain name. Still, there was basically nowhere you could click and not hit anything related to our conference. Even all three videos included footage from or about us. It didn’t even matter where you clicked or ended up; everything pointed straight back to us. But see for yourself:
At the time of the event, I was too deeply immersed in the organizational part of the conference. I wasn’t even aware of the reason for our Google success. It hit me much later when I read about a proven ranking strategy in a new SEO case study from Brian Dean of Backlinko.
Brian is a well-known SEO expert and consistently ranks his blog posts on the first page of Google Search. I also remembered reading an even older SEO case study from him. He claimed that writing fresh content every week is useless unless you have a strong partner network that shares and links to your post. He backed it up by showcasing that he only had a handful of posts on his blog, but all of them ranking on the first page for their respective keywords. Back then, this wasn’t supposed to be possible under the established assumptions about how the Google algorithm was supposed to work.
Then he demonstrated the power of the network effect, where he asks people in his niche to share and link to his posts. This process works so great that he can outrank even well-established high content blogs all the time.
What does all of this have to do with the ViSPR Network?
Glad that you asked. Coming full circle, I just connected the dots. Brian speaks about the power of ranking high on Google by getting do-follow backlinks in a niche network. I found success with do-follow backlinks from media partners and other startups for the event, so I had direct proof that this strategy works well. But that made me think about how hard it was to reach out cold to all these people getting nowhere for weeks on end.
The Perfect Solution - A Ready-Made Directory of Partner Pages
My idea was that it would be much easier if you already had an established network that automatically donates a backlink from each connected partner. And that grows more powerful with each new partner that joins the network.
I created this SEO case study to introduce you to ViSPR – the do-follow backlinks exchange network for solving SEO for startups that don’t like SEO. List your startup in our network and embed the ready-made directory on your partner page. You will automatically receive backlinks from all connected partners and donate a link to them as well. It has never been easier to spin a big SEO net for the Google spider to find you.
SEO Case Study - Summary
Missed Opportunities – What we didn’t do:
- No SEO plugin installed
- Not connected to the Google Search Console
- No SEO optimized content
- No blog post
- No sharing on Social Media
- We did nothing in terms of technical on-page SEO at all
Strategy – What we did instead:
- Three months of relentless 1:1 Partner Outreach by Cold Email including a Media Kit
- Submitting the event to every event calendar in the Blockchain niche that we could find.
- Featuring all 30 speakers and 20 media partners with their logo and do-follow backlink on our homepage.
- In return, the partners used copy/paste event descriptions to link back to our website. All of which can be considered 100% duplicate content.
- It took only 8 weeks to dominate the Google Search Results page with 12 of 13 results, including 3 videos.
- These results are for the high-level generic keyword combination “Crypto Rockstars,” the event’s name.
- Social Proof went through the roof and we received more partner requests than we could handle and were able to cherry-pick who to work with or not.
- We got the attention of niche blogs and mass-market media outlets through event calendar submissions. Even in China.
- Featured interviews with 30 speakers
- Worked with 20 media outlets
- Raised 5 premium event sponsorships
- Found new friends and partners that we are still working with today after all these years.
The event was repeated under new management in 2021. But they are still using the same partner backlink strategy. When you google Crypto Rockstars today, you can see that it is currently dominating the first 3 pages of Google Search results.
Proof this partner backlink strategy works for as long as you keep the links activated 🙂
Let us take the stress out of your partner outreach process and sign up for the FREE TRIAL of the ViSPR do-follow backlinks exchange network today. Get your startup listed, embed our ready-made partner directory, and supercharge your SEO rankings in no time.