Student Loan Hero – Organic Traffic Growth
During my time at Student Loan Hero, organic traffic grew by approx. 50 times over 3 years (January 2015 to January 2018).
The SLH site was receiving ~800,000 monthly unique visitors from organic traffic when I left in January 2018.
Case Study #1 – Student Loan Hero Debt Statistics Page
I spent a lot of time working on ideas for content that would generate backlinks to the SLH site. To do this, I looked at what other websites, including news sites, were linking to. I noticed that they often quoted different student loan debt statistics, like the total number of borrowers or average debt per borrower, in stories.
However, I noticed that they seemed to have different values and sources, which suggested to me that reporters and writers were having a difficult time finding a trustworthy source that was easy to access.
With this, I came up with the idea of putting a wide array of student loan debt statistics on one page as an easy resource for writers to refer to. I figured it may get a few links and be helpful to some.
I published the student loan debt statistics page (see here). I added some internal links to the new page within our content to seed it a bit. Soon enough, the page found its way onto the first page in Google as there was little competition.
Then, the backlinks from sites started pouring in from all over the place. We’d see new backlinks added almost daily through our reports, many from noteworthy and authoritative sites like Bloomberg, CNBC, Business Insider, Buzzfeed, PBS.org, and many more.
Currently, this page has links for 2,376 referring domains according to Ahrefs. Nearly all these links were generated organically and without outreach and other link building campaigns
Not only did this page end up ranking number one for “student loan debt statistics” like I had hoped, but it also ranked in top three for highly-searched terms like “student loan debt.” This resulted in the page generating tens of thousands of visitors to the site each month.
Case study #2 – “The Complete List of Student Loan Forgiveness Programs and Options” post
After some wins with long-tail student loan keywords, I started to implement a strategy to target essentially any student loan keyword that we thought might be valuable. This included some very high-value search terms. One was “student loan forgiveness,” which gets about 145,000 monthly searches in Google.
This keyword was dominated by .gov web pages from the Department of Education. I thought it was a long shot we could beat these pages, but I figured even getting on the first page of Google may be worth a small piece of that traffic.
Our site had an existing post targeting the “student loan forgiveness” keyword. However, I didn’t feel it was a comprehensive as it could be. I worked with the editorial team to add more depth to the article, making a true “complete” resource.
Within a few months, this post started to climb in rankings. This page first made it to the #2 position, and then finally it overtook the StudentLoans.gov page and ranked number one.
As a result, we saw a huge amount of traffic to this page due to the high monthly search volume. It became one of the top 10 trafficked pages on the site. Due to its prominent position, it also earned many organic backlinks.
Case study #3 – “Student loans” keyword post
This is similar to #2 above, but we decided to target the “student loans” keyword as well. We knew we had the domain authority to rank for it. However, we struggled with which page to attempt to get to rank for this keyword. For a while, our home page was ranking, but only on page two of Google results.
We ended up determining that most people searching for “student loans” are likely searching for new student loans (rather than repayment). With that in mind, we created one page we thought was best positioned for this term (see here).
This took several months of work with our outreach team to build links and to move up in Google, but this page has reached the #3 ranking in Google for “student loans” and other related keywords.