Back in October of last year, we realized that, in order to improve our client’s search engine visibility on Google, Bing, and Yahoo!, we needed to develop a link building strategy outside of the traditional content marketing, “if you write it, they will link” mentality. Our client is in a very competitive market where competing personal injury firms spend hundreds of thousands each month on Adwords, organic SEO, video marketing, and social media strategies.
We knew we could never compete with these firms unless we came up with a creative approach to obtain more backlinks and improve the amount of authority that our client’s website has with Google.
While analyzing backlinks that competing websites have obtained, we’ve seen other firms obtain backlinks from high-authority .edu college websites by launching offering a college scholarship program.
We approached the client with the idea of us helping them to launch a scholarship program of their own, which we would go out and promote for them in order to raise awareness and attempt to obtain backlinks from other websites. We basically told them to give us three months, and if it doesn’t yield any results in terms of increases in organic traffic, phone calls, and leads, then we’ll step back and re-evaluate.
When launching the scholarship program, the process was basically as follows:
- Come up with a name and disbursement amount for the scholarship
- Identify target audience, and who is eligible to apply (law students, high school students, undergrad students, etc.)
- Generate content for the scholarship entry page which lists requirements, gives more information about the scholarship, etc.
- Create and publish the scholarship entry page, along with a custom form where applicants can input their personal information, upload their transcripts, include links to their social media profiles, upload their essay entry, etc.
- Once the page is published on the client’s website, identify college websites which list third-party and outside scholarship entries
- Contact each University’s financial aid department, through e-mail, and request that they include our client’s scholarship on their website, along with a link back to the page on our client’s site. This takes time, but we focused on being as detailed as possible when contacting these Universities so that they didn’t need to follow-up with any of their own questions.
After spending a few months identifying potential college websites and contacting them, following up with them again after 15 days, spot checking the web pages to see if the links have been added, etc., it’s nice to see some progress. We’ve been able to obtain a number of high-authority .edu links from college and other scholarship websites with Google Pageranks as high as 6 and 7 out of 10.
As of today (February 24th, 2016), here are some results that we’ve obtained after launching the scholarship program for our client 3 months ago. Please note, these are actual Google Analytics reports, but specific data has been removed to protect client privacy.
1) An 82% increase in all traffic
Traffic increasing by 82% is never a bad thing, especially when it’s during holiday months like November and December when traffic is typically down.
2) A 32% increase in organic traffic
More links, more authority with Google, more organic visits! We’ve also seen an increase in phone calls and web form submissions, and organic search rankings continue to improve as well.
To the left of the vertical red line, you’ll see the client’s traffic before we launched the scholarship offering. To the right, as you can see, everything is trending upwards since launching the campaign back in November.
It’s also worth noting that the scholarship program has received applications from students from all over the country, hopefully the client is ready to read through all of those essay submissions and pick a winner in a few months (which we’ll be announcing on the client’s Facebook page and in a blog post).