(Also featured in our resource Topic Clusters: the Key to Long-Term SEO Success.)

Ecommerce websites thrive on organic visibility—website traffic is practically their lifeblood. So, when online CBD product retailer CBD For Life got the boot from Shopify’s legal team, they reached out to their network to get some help ramping back up.

CBD For Life & PubLoft: love at first write

In July of 2018, our friend Kirk Morales over at Persosa made an introduction to Julie, the COO of CBD For Life, who was desperately looking for help rebuilding website traffic, and knew that consistent content publishing could help bigtime.

screenshot of google analytics for customer content

We saw this as a unique challenge, and PubLoft officially closed our first monthly recurring customer at the turn of the following month. As soon as we secured CBD For Life as a customer, we began a complete analysis of the current keywords and SEO trends pertaining to the CBD industry. We narrowed down keywords that presented unique ranking opportunities for CBD, and created a comprehensive content plan based on our findings.

We conducted CBD industry keyword research to find search terms with a high search volume. We assigned articles to our first few writers, some of whom have gone on to become the marketing strategists we’re so thankful for today. They wrote beautifully, and we optimized every piece for SEO—high quality images with alt tags, readability checks, meta descriptions. Mat suggested we write a “Primer on CBD” as one of the first articles, and we did.

screenshot of blog posts published for customer

We published every piece on CBD For Life’s Wordpress blog, and as the content bank grew we even updated past articles to include links to the newer ones. At the time, it made sense to find ways to keep readers reading content on CBD For Life’s website, and that was one way we knew we could help. We continued on like this for several months, not pausing to track metrics.

Their first twelve articles were live within a span of just over two months, one of them titled “A Primer on CBD: the Definitive Guide.” Within this Primer, we linked out to all of our other articles, and each article linked back into the Primer. Unbeknownst to us, this was the very technique we’re discussing—topic clustering—and it’s adored by search algorithms.

A revelation of epic proportions

One day in late December, Mat & I happened to wonder how PubLoft’s months of content was performing for CBD For Life. As we pulled up SEMrush, we made bets on how good—or bad—the results would be.

(It still fascinates me to look back on a time when results were out-of-sight-out-of-mind, but remember: this is a story about accidentally learning how to do something really well. We were naïve, wannabe pyrotechnicians playing with fire.)

My heart skipped the first beat when SEMrush Position Tracking returned first-page positions for several high-volume keywords. It was clear that we’d done something right, but we didn’t know how it impacted their traffic. So, we did what any curious data nuts might—we dove into Google Analytics, and here’s what we saw:

screenshot of google analytics for customer content

By October 2018, CBD For Life’s blog was slowly but steadily creeping up the Google rankings. In November, their blog content brought in over 3,000 website visitors from organic search. By the end of December, the number had surpassed 15,000, and it more than doubled again in February, exceeding 30,000 organic website sessions in a single month. By early March, CBD For Life was receiving 10,000 organic sessions per week from their blog alone.

google analytics showing organic traffic increase

A word to the wise: don’t get complacent with content creation

Our content had driven tens of thousands of site visitors to CBD For Life in the span of just 6 months. Then, on March 12, 2018, Google released a core algorithm update that will haunt the dreams of CBD-industry SEOs for months to come:

google analytics showing organic traffic increase

In one fell swoop, Google’s algorithm update managed to destroy two-thirds of CBD For Life’s organic visibility, and the free website traffic it was bringing in. If this sounds a bit discouraging, it’s understandable. Frankly, we’re all at the mercy of Google, and there’s only one remedy for a significant loss in ranking. As one marketing professional explains on Inc.,

“Continually adding new content to your website that matches what your target audience is searching for is always the best SEO strategy… If you see that your website has dropped in rankings, consider adding a series of new, high-quality blog posts about your industry to give Google new content to index for your site.”

Put simply, we’re all stuck playing the content game if we want our sites to show up on Google. To bring it all back around, the confusion and misinformation around SEO rankings is precisely the case for working with a marketing partner like PubLoft. We adapt your marketing strategy when things change, so you can keep focus on your product and customers.

Get a demo today at publoft.com/demo ✌️