Tough question. But even though you’re interested enough to read this, I was the one who asked the question. So, it’s on me to answer. Let me try.
First things first:
- You could increase organic traffic with content marketing (or what we call growth content) by 0% in your first year. That wouldn’t be very fun, but it’s on the table.
- Or, you could increase organic traffic from 300 visits per month to 22,000 in one year (+6,790% increase). That’s the best we’ve done in the first year for one of our B2B clients, but alas, this is what we do for a living.
That’s sort of a wide range, so I’ll try to get more specific based on the strategies, tools, and people you bring in to help increase your organic traffic in year one with content.
How to forecast your first-year increase in organic traffic
If you go it alone
If you are on your own producing content for your company, the biggest factor in growth will be your skill level. If you understand keyword research, link building and SEO, you have experience with content marketing, and you can write well (or have access to good writers), then you could do great.
For a side project I’ve been working on personally, I just saw visits increase from 50 in my first month to 8,800 one year later (17,600% increase). But I brought over the skill I’ve developed from Nectafy, some connections for link building, and started in an extremely quick-growing space (meaning, some amount of my growth derived from the topic as a whole growing in interest).
General guidelines on how much growth to expect
There are too many factors to give you a clear guideline on how much you could grow working on growth content by yourself. But we can give some idea of what to expect:
- HubSpot found that companies that blog have 55% more website visitors than those who don’t. Since blogging is a core strategy to growing organic traffic, this can be used as a general proxy.
- The amount you can gain depends a lot on how much you already have. We’ve found that growing from 0 to 1,000 monthly organic visits (phase I of growth content) takes a similar amount of time and effort as it does to grow from 1,000 to 25,000 (phase II).
- If you’re in phase I, I’d expect to see close to nothing happen for 6-12 months. At this phase, you are trying like heck to have Google notice you. It takes a while (and you’re stuck close to 0 the whole time).
- You’ll likely see one blog post drive most of your traffic in the first year. That’s your first winner. Try to do more posts like that one, both in post type and in topic to double down on your gains.
- Once you get above 1,000 monthly organic visits, growth tends to turn exponential for a period after that. Around that point, all of the work you did previously and all the work you’re doing currently start to rank together. That’s the exponential move. Make sure you invest enough time to see the exponential growth play out.
In summary, there isn’t a great way to forecast a solo operator starting into growth content marketing in year one. A broad-sweeping study wouldn’t even be too helpful because of all of the unique factors based on your skill, industry, amount of content, and starting point.
If you really want an estimate as a solo content marketer, use 55% growth with a wide range of potential outcomes.
If you use a software tool to help, like HubSpot
Emily used this analogy recently to describe HubSpot and it’s a good one:
Think about Hubspot as a high-powered race car with all the bells and whistles. It’s an amazing machine to get you from Point A to Point B. But this car is a Formula One race car, not an auto-piloted vehicle—it needs an experienced driver to operate it, gas and motor oil to keep it running, and maintenance when issues arise (and even before).
HubSpot is an amazing tool to help you grow your organic visits, leads, and customers. But it will sit in the garage collecting dust without an operator.
HubSpot states, “Customers see an average of 189% increase in website traffic one year after purchasing HubSpot” (based on 33,366 customers who owned a HubSpot product for at least 12 months between January 2019 and September 2021).
Therefore, if you had HubSpot and you started off with 1,000 organic monthly visits, you could expect 2,890 monthly visits as an average HubSpot operator. You could adjust up or down based on your skill level, the rate at which your industry or topic is growing, your country, your company size, and more.
Check out HubSpot’s 2021 ROI Report to see growth rates segmented by all of those factors.
If you use a content team or agency, like Nectafy
In the first scenario, it was just you out there–the solo marketer.
Then, you added a tool like HubSpot to help (but it still needs the skill and output).
Finally, we get to purchasing your way into the skill and output needed for organic growth–an agency like Nectafy.
Since we have data on the organic growth for all of our existing clients and most of our previous clients, we built a calculator to predict average growth in one year with us.
Enter your existing monthly organic visits into the calculator and we’ll generate the average returns you could see.
How much could your company grow with growth content?
Calculate your expected growth in organic visits based on the average Nectafy client.
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On average, here’s what we learned.
If you have 100 monthly organic visits, you’d expect to grow 1,606% in 12 months.
Here are the outliers who started with Nectafy under 1,000 visits per month:
- Highest growth: One company grew from 330 visits per month to 22,413 in one year (+6,790% increase)
- Lowest growth: One company grew from 506 visits per month to 1,321 in one year (+161% increase)
If you have 10,000 monthly organic visits, you’d expect to grow 262% in 12 months.
Here are the outliers who started with Nectafy between 1,000 and 25,000 visits per month:
- Highest growth: One company grew from 1,616 visits per month to 17,357 in one year (+974% increase)
- Lowest growth: One company grew from 1,369 visits per month to 2,285 in one year (+67% increase)
Can you just give me a final answer please?
- If you go it alone, 55%: If you plan to do this without an agency, team, or software tool, you might expect to grow by about 55% in a year. But that comes with a wide range of possibilities depending on your skill level (0% with no skill and no luck, 1,000%+ with high skill, luck, and output).
- If you use a software tool, 189%: If you have your skills and time and add in a tool like HubSpot to make it all run more smoothly, this would be your average expected growth over one year.
- If you use an agency like Nectafy, 1,606%: Starting off with fewer than 1,000 visits per month, this is the average increase for Nectafy clients in one year. As your starting point increases (10,000 visits, then 100,000 visits), your percent returns decrease, but raw returns of new visits increase.
But keep in mind, there are so many outcomes and factors to consider: your industry, your skill level, your team, how much content you produce, the starting point, the competition of keywords you go after, luck, and many more.
If I want to maximize my organic traffic, how should I do it?
If you are coming up with a random blog idea and writing it, or going after the most competitive keyword in your industry right away, or posting poorly written content, I can guarantee your returns will end up close to 0%.
The best thing you can do is position yourself for success by implementing the right strategies. Follow these steps based on your starting point:
- Phase 1: Authority Building - Fewer than 1,000 visits per month and a Domain Authority of less than 20.
- Phase 2: Keyword Cultivation - From 1,000–25,000 visits per month and a Domain Authority from 20 to 50.
- Phase 3: Sales Growth - Greater than 25,000 visits per month and a Domain Authority from 50 to 100.
Those are the exact strategies we use to drive the returns you learned about above. Best of luck.
P .S. If you’d like to talk a bit more about this, have a conversation with Lance.