Skip to content

Case Study: A User-First SEO Strategy That Generated +3700% More Traffic in < 12 Months

Case-Study-User First-SEO-Featured-Image

Through the numerous core algorithm updates announced over the past few years (most recently in March 2024), Google has made it clear that its focus is on rewarding websites with helpful, user-first content.

This means that if your website doesn’t think of your target audience first, you’ll struggle to rank.

In this case study, you’ll learn how my team at The Search Initiative grew our client’s organic traffic by 3,773.46% from 1,040 to 40,284 monthly sessions by adopting a client-customized, user-first SEO strategy and implementing some out-of-the-box tactics.

organic traffic by 3,773.46%

In this case study, you’ll learn how to:

  • Apply a user-first content plan that utilizes AI to bulk-check search intent and improve your content accordingly
  • Configure and use Google’s Indexing API so that you can directly notify Google when pages are added, updated or removed.
  • Create calls-to-action that are perfectly optimized for conversions.
  • Publish engaging white papers that attract organic backlinks.

If you’d prefer to watch rather than read, I cover some of the key insights in this video.

First, though, here’s some background about the site we worked on and the main challenges that we overcame during the campaign.

The Challenge

The client operates in the medical niche, offering a range of drug rehabilitation services and treatments, targeting the UK, Australia and the U.S.A.

The main objective of the campaign was to improve the rankings for these service-based search terms, which are more likely to convert than informational queries.


One of the main challenges was that the client’s key landing pages (i.e. the service pages) were missing out on ranking for key service-related keywords. This was due to the content not aligning with the user’s search intent for the target search term.

This required analyzing the search intent for the keywords and then improving the landing pages on the site so that they aligned with what Google (and searchers) were looking for.

Having created a bunch of new pages, it was important that Google crawled and indexed these URLs as quickly as possible.

To help speed up this process, we used Google’s Indexing API and a plugin to crawl the new content on the site within a few hours of publishing. This is an easy process that can significantly reduce the waiting time for new content to be indexed by Google and appear in search results.

Thanks to our efforts, the client had already started to rank for informational queries. However, their existing blog posts had no calls to action, which encouraged users to browse the key landing pages on the website or contact them.

This was a missed opportunity to increase conversions, so we focused on optimizing the blog posts and the newly created landing pages with CTAs to drive more conversions.

Finally, to build the site’s online presence, we focused our link-building efforts by using the client’s expertise in the industry to produce informational white papers that attracted backlinks organically.

Find out how you can overcome these challenges for your website by following the steps below.

User-First Content Plan

If the content on a web page doesn’t align with what your intended audience is looking for, it won’t rank.


It’s important to ensure that you’re providing users with the right content that will satisfy their search intent for their target keywords.

How to Check User Search Intent

Below, you will learn how to check search intent for a web page using a new Ahrefs feature and AI.

But first, here’s a quick breakdown of the four main types of search intents:

  1. Informational Intent: Users are looking for information or answers to questions. They are in the research phase and might not be ready to make a purchase or take action yet. They’re simply seeking knowledge e.g. “How to make coffee”
  2. Navigational Intent: Users are trying to reach a specific website or page. They already have a destination in mind and use the search engine to get there more quickly e.g. “Starbucks menu”
  3. Commercial Intent: Users are considering a purchase or a specific action in the near future but are still in the process of researching and comparing options. They’re not quite ready to buy yet but are closer to making a decision than those with purely informational intent e.g. “Best coffee machines 2024”
  4. Transactional Intent: Users with transactional intent are ready to make a purchase or perform a specific action. They have completed their research and have decided on what they want e.g. “Buy Nespresso Vertuo capsules”

Each of these intents requires a different approach in content creation and SEO strategy to effectively meet the needs of the user at their specific stage of the search journey.

For example, if you’re targeting a keyword like “best coffee machines,” where the searcher is looking for reviews and comparisons, but you’re serving up a page that sells coffee machines, then the intent doesn’t match.

Not only will Google not like the user signals that your content creates, but as a result, the potential client will leave your page in order to get a better answer to their query – from someone else. Chances are that when they’re ready to buy, they are going to go to the expert who gave them valuable information in the first place, not back to your sales page.

Before running the checks, you’ll first need to identify a target keyword that you want to rank for so that you can grab the top-ranking competing pages (for ChatGPT). For this, you can grab the URLs by directly searching for your target keyword in Google.


Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer tool

  • Scroll down to the SERP section, where you’ll see the top-ranking pages for your target keyword.

how to grow roses from cuttings

  • Click on “Identify intents”.x

Identify intents

The tool automatically analyzes the search intent and types of content that the top-ranking competing pages have included.

In the example, 57% of the users are looking for: “Guides on Growing Roses from Cuttings”. The top-ranking pages have included comprehensive guides and tutorials on how to successfully grow roses from cuttings.

This is a quick way to find out what type of content you should consider including within your own web page.


You can also use ChatGPT-4 to understand and analyze the content fetched by WebPilot from a specific web page.

  • In order to use WebPilot, head over to the GPTs page (plugins are nearly end-of-life and their functionality will be replaced by GPTs), search for “WebPilot” and enable it.


gpt webpilot

  • Enter this prompt into the chat:
“Use WebPilot to fetch content from [Competing Page URL] and analyze the user intent of its content. I want you to tell me:
  1. Content format (options are: blog post, guide, landing page, service page, category page, product page, homepage)
  2. Content Length
  3. Detail amount (score this out of 10, where 10 is very detailed and 1 is not detailed).
  4. Search intent (options: informational, navigational, commercial investigation, transactional)
  5. The heading structure
  6. How much rich media is used (this includes images, tables, videos etc).

Here’s an example of the prompt being used for an informational article about growing roses from cuttings:

growing roses from cuttings

And here’s an example of an output for a product page:

output for a product page
You can now use the information provided by Ahrefs or ChatGPT to create the content for your own web page.

Optimizing Content to Address Search Intent

Having identified the search intent of your target keyword(s) and page(s), it’s time to optimize your existing content so that it aligns with what your audience is looking for.


All of the below points have been integrated into the above prompt, but here’s some more context which explains why you should pay close attention to them:

Analyze Content Types

  • Content Format: Note whether the top-ranking content is in the form of blog posts, product pages, videos, infographics, etc. This gives you insight into what format users and search engines prefer for these queries.
  • Content Depth: Assess the length and comprehensiveness of the content. How much detail does the competing page go into for each section of the page?
  • Tailor Content Structure to Intent: think about what kind of content is required based on the search intent:
    • Informational: Use clear headings, lists, and FAQ sections to organize information.
    • Navigational: Ensure brand and product names are prominent, and navigation is intuitive.
    • Transactional: Highlight product benefits, use strong CTAs, and streamline the purchase process.
    • Commercial Investigation: Provide detailed comparisons, reviews, and testimonials.

Analyze Content Structure

  • Headings: Analyze the use of H1, H2, etc., for clues on how content is structured to cater to user intent.
  • Rich Media: Has the page included additional content such as images, videos, tables, charts, infographics, calculators etc to support the main textual content?
  • Internal Linking: How and where are internal links used to guide users to related content?

Identify Gaps and Opportunities

  • Content Gaps: Look for questions that aren’t fully answered on your page or topics that could be covered more comprehensively.
  • Unique Angles: Use your experience and expertise within your industry to identify if there’s a unique perspective or new information you can add to stand out.

Following the above steps will ensure that the content on your website is optimized with the end user in mind.

Google’s Indexing API

Once you’ve created new content or adjusted old content, you want them to be crawled and indexed by Google as soon as possible, so that they can rank as soon as possible.

Google Indexing API

There are several ways to help encourage Google’s crawlers to discover your content, but I’ll show you one of the most effective and efficient ways of getting your pages crawled and indexed by Google using its Indexing API. And it’s easier than you think to use.

What is Google’s Indexing API?

The Indexing API is a tool that allows you to directly let Google know when you want pages to be added or removed from its index. This notifies Google to schedule your pages for a fresh crawl, which can lead to higher-quality user traffic.

That’s what the focus of this case study will be on, but you can also use the Indexing API to:

  • Remove a URL: After deleting a page from your servers, you can notify Google to remove the page from its index so that it won’t be crawled again.
  • Get the Status of a Previous Request: Check the last time that Google received each kind of notification for a specific URL.
  • Send Batch Indexing Requests: Combine up to 100 calls to the Indexing API so that multiple pages can be indexed at once.

It’s worth noting that Google says that the Indexing API can currently only be used to “crawl pages with either JobPosting or BroadcastEvent embedded in a VideoObject”; however, our tests (and many others) have successfully crawled and indexed all kinds of pages.

I’ll show you how to use the Indexing API with RankMath’s WordPress plugin, but you can also use the API with any other CMS or framework.

How to Configure the Indexing API

Let’s start by configuring the Indexing API.

Google Cloud Platform

  • Fill out the Project Name and Location of your project and click on “CREATE”.

Project Name and Location

  • Once the project is created, you need to enable it to access the API. Select the created project and click “Next”

Access the API

  • Click “Enable” to enable your project to start accessing the Indexing API.

Indexing API

  • Next, you need to create a Service Account. Open this link in a new tab and select your recently created project.

Service Account

  • Click the “Create Service Account” button.

Create Service Account

  • Enter a name and description for your service account, then click “DONE”.


  • To get your API key, click on the three dots under the “Actions” column and select “Manage keys”.

  • Click “Add Key” and then select “Create new key”.

Create new key

  • Select the recommended JSON format when prompted and click “CREATE”.

JSON format

  • The private key (stored as a .json file) will automatically be saved on your device and you’ve successfully created your API key.

private key

  • Add the Service Account as an Owner of your Google Search Console property. Follow the steps outlined in Google’s guide if you haven’t verified ownership of your property.
  • Once you’ve verified your property, open Google Search Console and make sure the right property is selected on the left. Click on Settings at the bottom.

verified your property

  • Click on “Users and permissions”.

Users and permissions

  • Click on “ADD USER”.


  • A popup will appear, and you’ll need to enter your service account ID (the one you copied out earlier) into the “Email address” field.

Email address

  • Ensure you have provided Owner-level Permission, and then click “ADD”.

Owner-level Permission

  • Your Service account should now be listed as an Owner.

You’ve now configured the Indexing API.

How to Use the Indexing API With RankMath

Our client’s website runs on WordPress, so we installed the RankMath SEO plugin which includes a feature dedicated to using the Indexing API, it’s called Instant Indexing.

  • Install the plugin by going to “Plugins > Add New”. then search and install the Instant Indexing plugin.

Instant Indexing plugin

  • Activate the plugin.

Activate the plugin

  • The plugin will appear in the left navigation once activated. Click on it so that you can now connect it to the Indexing API. Copy and paste the info on the JSON file you downloaded earlier (or you can upload the file).

Connect it to the Indexing API

  • Select the types of URLs that you want Google to instantly index once you’ve published them and click “Save Changes”.

For example, if you select “Blog Posts”, then every time you create and publish a new post, the plugin will trigger an API call to Google’s Indexing API.

Blog Posts

This is how it should look when fully configured.

how it should look when fully configured

  • To start indexing new pages, go to the Console tab and paste in the URLs of your pages.
  • Ensure you’ve selected the “Publish.update URL” Action.
  • Click “Send to API”.

Publish.update URL

  • You’ll receive a confirmation like this.


And within hours, your page should appear in Google’s index. In our experience, 90% of the URLs are indexed without any issues within a few hours, but if you find that your pages aren’t showing up, you can simply resubmit the URLs.

A quick way to check whether a page is indexed is to do a site search on Google:

If the page is indexed, it’ll appear like this.

page indexed

Sidenote: I should also mention that the plugin also lets you remove pages from Google’s index. Follow the same steps by pasting in the URLs that you want removed, but this time, select “Remove URL” under the Action.

Remove URL

If your website isn’t on WordPress, you can still use Google’s Indexing API, but it’s a bit more technical as it requires hard coding the requests to use the API. You can find out more about how to use the API in these cases in this guide from Google.

CRO Optimization: Focus on CTAs

Producing high-quality content that ranks and attracts organic visitors is one part of the game. The other is turning those visits into paying (or converting) users.


This is something that our client hadn’t focused on, despite having decent organic traffic for informational queries, and as a result, struggled to generate leads before joining.

To fix this, we needed to optimize and create new calls to action, so that users landing their content were compelled to utilize their services.

By doing so, we were able to more than double the number of conversions on the site from 158 to 337 per month.

CRO Optimization

What is a Call to Action (CTA)?

A call to action (or CTA) is a prompt that encourages users to take a specific action, having consumed content on your website.


In the context of SEO, CTAs are most commonly seen in the form of links, buttons or forms with the aim of turning organic visits into leads written through action verbs like “Learn More” or “Add to Cart” to encourage the desired action.

Sometimes, CTAs are designed to create a sense of urgency to motivate the audience to act promptly, for example, “Sign Up Today” or “Buy Now”.

Examples of Calls to Action

Here are some common types of CTAs that you’ll likely have come across:

Submission Forms

Submission forms are a common CTA that allows you to collect information about your audience, such as enquiries (through a contact form), newsletter signups, subscriptions, etc.
Submission Forms


Buttons are used to provide more emphasis to a particular user action, such as “Buy Now” or “Add to Cart” for eCommerce websites or “Sign Up” or “Contact Us” as part of form submissions.

Add to Cart for eCommerce websites

Here’s an example of a permanent button that appears in the header of a website.



Hyperlinks to other pages or material on websites can also be used as CTAs. Below is a subtle example of a hyperlink used as a CTA in the footer, encouraging users to sign up to the site’s newsletter.


You can add a Related Articles section at the bottom of a blog post, which encourages users to stay on your website and read other articles.

Related Articles section

Meta Description

Another type of CTA on your website that may not be as obvious is the meta description.

It’s displayed to searchers in Google’s search results pages and is your chance to persuade users to click through to your page instead of your competitors.

Meta Description

Before you learn how to create effective CTAs for your website, let’s briefly understand why you should do so.

Why are CTAs Important?

CTAs offer a range of opportunities for you to turn clicks into conversions.

  • Drive Action: CTAs serve as direct invitations for your audience to take a specific action, whether it’s making a purchase, signing up for a service, or downloading content. Without a clear CTA, potential customers may hesitate or overlook the desired action, resulting in missed opportunities for engagement and conversion.
  • Increase Engagement: By prompting interaction with your content or products, CTAs encourage deeper engagement from your audience. Whether it’s clicking through to read more, sharing on social media, or participating in a poll, CTAs facilitate meaningful interactions that build brand awareness and loyalty.
  • Create Focus: In a sea of information, CTAs provide a focal point for your audience, guiding their attention toward your desired action or goal. This clarity reduces confusion and ensures that your message is effectively communicated, increasing the likelihood of your desired outcomes.
  • Boost Conversion Rates: Effective CTAs can significantly impact conversion rates by compelling users to take the next step in the customer journey. A well-crafted CTA can turn casual browsers into paying customers, driving revenue and growth for your business.
  • Generate Leads: CTAs are powerful tools for lead generation, providing opportunities to capture contact information or initiate further communication with potential customers. By offering valuable incentives or resources in exchange for contact details, CTAs can help you expand your customer base and nurture leads through the sales funnel.
  • Measure Performance: CTAs offer valuable insights into the effectiveness of your marketing efforts, allowing you to track and analyze audience response. By monitoring click-through rates, conversion rates, and other metrics, you can gain valuable feedback on what resonates with your audience and optimize your CTAs for maximum impact.

4 Effective Tactics to Optimize Your Calls to Actions

Now, let’s look at how you can achieve all of this by looking at some of the best practices for optimizing the CTAs on your website.

Use Clear & Snappy Language

Write calls to action that are clear and concise: let the user know exactly what you want them to do and (ideally) what they can expect when they perform the desired action.

If your CTAs are longer than five words, they’re probably too long and unclear.

  • Download Your Free PDF Today
  • Click here to download your free PDF today.


Inspire Action & Create a Sense of Urgency

A call to action, as its name suggests, is designed to drive some sort of action from your audience. Therefore, you should aim to include language that inspires action.

The key here is to use verbs and picture the phrase “I want to…” before the text when

To compel users to take action immediately instead of putting it off for later, add a sense of urgency.

Here are some action words that you can use:

  • Discover
  • Learn
  • Buy
  • Subscribe
  • Explore
  • Claim
  • Reserve
  • Download
  • Join

And some phrases/words that you can pair them with to create a sense of urgency:

  • Now
  • Today
  • Hurry
  • Last chance
  • Limited time offer
  • Offer expires
  • Ends soon
  • Before it’s gone
  • Shop now for 10% off!
  • Our products are great. Check them out sometime!


Don’t Overdo It

It’s quite common to have multiple CTAs on a page, but having too many can distract and confuse users. It can ultimately lead them to making a different action to what you really wanted them to take, or, taking no action at all.

From the below example, which CTA is most important?

Don’t Overdo It

When it comes to choosing which CTAs to include on a particular page, go back to the phrase from earlier, “I want to…”. For example, on a product page, you probably aren’t too interested in users signing up for your newsletter. Instead, you’re more interested in them adding the product to their cart.

On a blog post or landing page, however, the desired action may be different, or, you may have multiple desired actions like in the example above.

The key takeaway is to have a clear idea of what the desired action is for each type of page on your website and build your CTAs around that.

Make it Visible

You want your CTAs to stand out and catch the user’s attention without overpowering the overall experience. This is because, although you want to drive the conversion, you don’t want to put users off by displaying a massive CTA that essentially detracts from what they likely originally landed on the page for: the content.

Here are a few ways that you can help make your CTAs more visible without overwhelming your target user:

  • Add Contrast – using a unique color that isn’t seen elsewhere on your page is a great way of helping your CTAs stand out. Oftentimes, you’ll see websites using a bright button color to contrast against the general color palette of the website.

Add Contrast

You can see that Adobe has used the same blue for all of their CTAs to stand out against the rest of the content. This immediately tells the user that when they see this color, they’re expected to perform some sort of action.


Importantly, notice that there are two CTAs here: one for the free trial and one for buying the product outright. The free trial CTA is purposefully in the same white as the rest of the text so that you are instead drawn to the blue “Buy Now” button.

To ensure the call to action stands out even more on the page, it’s important to use a color and font size that is large enough to command attention.

Here’s a great website that lets you pin two colors against each other to see how well they contrast. This might be especially helpful if you’re building a brand-new website and haven’t settled on a color scheme.

building a brand-new website

You can also improve your score by clicking “Click to enhance,” which gives you the option to automatically adjust the color of the text, the background, or both to improve the contrast.

Click to enhance

  • Place It Well – apart from how it looks, the placement of your CTAs is also important. You want to make it as easy as possible for users to find them in the first place.

It’s good practice to include a CTA above the fold, where it’s immediately visible to users without scrolling. You’ve already seen examples of this above, but here’s one more:

Place It Well

Additionally, place CTAs strategically within your content, aligning them with relevant information and at natural breaks to capture attention.


The sidebar navigation is also a common area to place your CTAs.

sidebar navigation

You can also place CTAs within the footer – but remember, not everyone will reach the bottom of your web page, so avoid including your most important CTA here.

Remember to ensure that all of your CTAs are also prominently featured on mobile devices, considering the smaller screen size. For example, the CTA that appeared above the fold on Mildreds’ website for desktop users is now displayed at the bottom of the screen for mobile users.

By implementing these tips within your own CTAs, you’ll make the most of the organic visitors that land on your website.

Publishing White Papers to Attract Organic Backlinks

As our client operates within a great website niche (these are topics that could significantly impact someone’s health, financial stability, safety, or well-being), it’s even more important that the content produced conveys accurate information from a trustworthy source.


A great way to achieve this while also creating an asset that attracts backlinks is to publish white papers.

Because white papers contain original research and are very much more in-depth than any blog article, they can be used as references by journalists, bloggers, social media posts and anyone else who wants to reference original, valuable information. Becoming a source for this type of information makes you an expert in your niche.

Shortly after the publication of our client’s white paper, they gained many top-quality links from websites like Wikipedia and Yahoo.

Publishing White Papers

What are White Papers?

White papers (see example) are authoritative documents that provide comprehensive information or solutions to a particular issue, often in a persuasive and educational format. They are typically longer than blog posts or articles and delve deeply into a specific topic, presenting detailed research, analysis, and insights.

white paper

Their informative nature and in-depth content make them valuable resources for professionals seeking reliable information and solutions.

Most of the time, white papers are available for download via PDF. In a lot of cases, they are accessible only after the user inputs their contact information, along with other data (job title, niche, etc.)

The downloadable PDFs are presented with branded, professional designs that can also optionally be printed as a booklet. Here is a sample of what these might look like:

Example 1:

Example 1

Example 2:

White paper layout 2

Your white paper format might depend on factors like goals, budget, or how you plan to approach your link campaign.

How White Papers Can Improve Your SEO

Publishing white papers on your website has many SEO benefits:

  • Build Authority: search engines value authoritative content, so publishing white papers can help boost your website’s credibility and authority by showcasing your expertise and thought leadership within your niche.
  • Generate Backlinks: High-quality white papers attract organic backlinks from other websites, blogs, and publications looking to reference reliable information. These backlinks signal to search engines that your content is trustworthy and deserving of higher rankings.
  • Increase Website Traffic: Compelling white papers can drive targeted traffic to your website as readers seek out valuable resources and information. Increased traffic signals to search engines that your content is relevant and valuable, potentially improving your website’s search visibility and rankings.
  • Enhances Keyword Optimization: White papers provide opportunities to naturally incorporate relevant keywords and phrases related to your industry or niche. By optimizing white paper titles, headings, and content with targeted keywords, you can improve your website’s relevance and visibility for those search terms.
  • Encourages Social Sharing: Engaging white papers generates shares on social media platforms, increasing their reach and exposure. Social signals, such as likes, shares, and comments, can indirectly impact SEO by driving traffic to your website and signaling to search engines that your content is popular and valuable to users.
  • Support Long-Term Traffic Growth: Unlike shorter-form content that may lose relevance over time, well-researched white papers can continue to attract organic traffic and backlinks long after you first publish them. This sustained traffic contributes to your website’s overall SEO performance and visibility.

How to Write White Papers That Attract Backlinks

Writing a white paper might sound intimidating, but don’t worry. You don’t need to be a professional researcher. You just need a good plan to follow.

Existing resources are your friends!

Leverage industry reports, articles, and even competitor materials to gather the information you need. By focusing on clear communication and a well-structured plan, you can create a compelling white paper that informs your audience without getting bogged down in complex research.


Follow the steps outlined below to write and publish white papers that attract backlinks.

Choose a Relevant Topic

Select a topic that resonates with your target audience’s pain points, preferences, and challenges. Identify a particular problem or obstacle your potential customers or audience encounter and offer a solution that highlights your unique value proposition.

Now, let’s say you have a software company that creates AI tools. One of these tools automatically creates assets for all social media platforms, i.e., TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and X (formerly Twitter).

Here are more examples to the above questions, from another point of view:

  • Biggest Challenges of the Target Audience: Our target audience would consist of marketing professionals and social media managers who face challenges in creating and managing content across multiple social media platforms efficiently and effectively.
  • Industry Trends or Developments: The industry is witnessing a surge in demand for AI-driven tools that automate content creation and optimization, particularly for social media platforms.
  • Unique Insights or Expertise: Our company specializes in AI-powered tools that streamline content creation and optimization for social media platforms, offering customizable solutions to meet the unique needs of each platform.
  • Frequent Customer Queries: Customers often inquire about the best practices for leveraging AI tools to enhance their social media marketing strategies and maximize engagement across multiple platforms.
  • Emerging Technologies or Innovations: There is growing interest in AI-driven solutions that leverage machine learning algorithms to analyze audience preferences and trends, enabling more targeted and personalized content creation.
  • Business Goals and Objectives: Your primary business goal is to position your company as a leader in AI-driven social media marketing solutions and drive the adoption of your tools among marketing professionals and businesses.

If you’re struggling for inspiration, you can look at what kind of topics have already been covered.

In the case of the software company that creates AI tools in our example, there are some white papers already that we can use for brainstorming:

The topics that will be a good fit for the example software company will depend on the target audience they are trying to reach.

A simple Google search can do the trick – search for: “[your industry/niche] white papers”, i.e. “social media marketing white papers.”

Browse the topics covered by other businesses and publications.

social media marketing white papers

Ultimately, you know your business and customers better than anyone else, so answering these questions should help you come up with a topic that will be useful and relevant to your audience.

Write an Engaging Title

The title of your white paper plays a vital role in capturing attention and generating clicks.

Craft a title that is:

  • Succinct
  • Captivating
  • Clearly conveys the primary benefit or result of your white paper.

You also want your white paper to rank for keywords, so think about what kind of terms or phrases your audience would be searching for. In our example, our audience is likely searching for AI tools for social media marketing and AI tools for social media content.

A search on Ahrefs Keywords Explorer shows that these keywords have search demand.

Ahrefs Keywords Explorer

Based on the above, here’s a relevant title for our imaginary AI software company’s white paper: “AI Tool for Social Media Marketing: Maximizing Engagement Across Platforms”.

Do Your Research

Once you’ve settled on a topic and title, the next step is to gather data, statistics, case studies, and other supporting evidence to back up your arguments and recommendations. Ensure your white paper offers credible and authoritative information that adds value to the reader.

Here are a few ways that you can achieve this:

  • Primary Research: Conduct original research by collecting data directly from your target audience through surveys, interviews, or focus groups. This firsthand information can provide invaluable insights and validate your arguments and recommendations. It also sets you apart from your competitors, so I highly recommend going through the effort of doing this.
    • Expert Interviews: Interview industry experts within your company, external thought leaders, or professionals with specialized knowledge relevant to your topic. Their insights and perspectives can provide additional credibility and authority to your white paper.
    • Surveys and Polls: Create and distribute surveys or polls to gather opinions, preferences, and feedback from a broader audience. Analyze the responses to identify trends, patterns, and areas of interest that can inform your white paper content. This will allow you to create unique charts and statistics that nobody else will have.
    • Case Studies: Include real-life case studies or success stories that demonstrate the effectiveness of your recommendations or solutions. Look for examples from your own experiences, customer testimonials, or industry case studies that illustrate the practical application of your ideas.

For our AI software company example, this would mean including successful social media campaigns where the AI-generated social assets drove more engagement for our “clients”.

  • Secondary Research: Utilize existing sources of information such as industry reports, academic journals, market studies, and reputable websites to gather data and statistics related to your topic. Look for recent and relevant sources to ensure the information is up-to-date and accurate.
    • Literature Review: Conduct a comprehensive literature review to gather relevant research studies, articles, and publications related to your topic. Summarize key findings and insights from existing literature to support your arguments and recommendations in the white paper.
    • Cross-Referencing: Cross-reference information from multiple sources to ensure accuracy and reliability. Verify data and statistics from different sources to corroborate findings and strengthen the credibility of your white paper.

By employing these research methods, you can gather robust data, statistics, case studies, and other supporting evidence to enhance the credibility and authority of your white paper, ultimately adding value to the reader.

Develop a Clear Structure

Here’s what you’ll need to include in order to develop a clear structure for your white paper:

  • An Executive Summary: Begin with a concise and engaging introduction that outlines the purpose and scope of the white paper. Clearly state the problem or topic you’ll be addressing and preview the key points or arguments you’ll be presenting.
  • Problem Definition: Provide background information or context to frame the problem that you’ve identified and help readers understand the significance of the topic. Summarize relevant industry trends, challenges, or developments that set the stage for your white paper.
For our example, this would mean explaining how, without an AI tool, marketing managers and social media managers would have to manually create and recreate the same asset for different social media platforms.
  • Main Body: Organize the main body of your white paper into sections with clear headings and subheadings. Each section should focus on a specific aspect of your topic and present supporting evidence, arguments, or recommendations.
    • Add Visual Elements: Break up text-heavy sections with relevant graphs, diagrams, charts, or infographics. Present key findings or analyses derived from your research and data.
    • Solution Description: Describe in detail how your product or service solves the problem that you defined in your problem definition. List and describe the benefits that your target audience will have by using your proposed solution.
    • Case Studies: Incorporate relevant case studies, examples, or success stories to illustrate your points and provide real-world context. Highlight specific instances where your recommendations or solutions have been implemented successfully and resulted in positive outcomes.
  • Conclusion: Conclude your white paper with a summary of the key points and arguments presented. Reinforce the main takeaways and emphasize the significance of your findings or recommendations.
  • Calls to Action: Provide a call-to-action ii. e. to your product/service page, a contact form, sharing links to make it easier for readers to share your white paper on social media, or next steps for readers to further explore the topic or implement your suggestions.

How you format your white paper is just as important as the contents itself. The design is the thing people will form their first impression on about your paper, so consider getting a designer to reformat your content to look the part.

Create A Well Designed Landing Page

It’s time to publish. To grab attention, your white paper needs a clear, keyword-rich title and a description highlighting benefits.


Make it easy to find with prominent placement and a strong call to action. Finally, use visuals to entice readers and ensure easy readability with clear formatting.

In order to market this content and start getting organic links, you still have some work to do.

After publishing your white paper on your landing page, proactively promote it across your website, blog, social media platforms, press releases, email newsletters, and relevant industry publications.

Encourage your audience to share it to broaden its exposure and attract backlinks from credible sources.

Your landing page should have the following:

  • A clear and engaging headline i.e. the title of your white paper

title of your white paper

  • A brief and persuasive introduction that summarizes what your white paper is about

what your white paper is about

  • A list of what the reader will learn or benefit by reading your white paper

reading your white paper

  • Relevant and appealing imagery (graphics/illustrations/photographs etc) to make it pop

make it pop

A great tool to help create beautifully designed landing pages is Shorthand. It allows you to create highly engaging, interactive web pages without the need for any coding.

If you don’t want your white paper to be publicly accessible and instead want visitors to download it as a PDF, you should have a simple and visible form that asks for the key pieces of information that you’d like to collect about your visitors i.e. their name, email address, company, etc.


The Results

Within 12 months, the organic traffic grew by 3,773.46% from 1,040 to 40,284 monthly sessions.

organic traffic grew by 3,773.46%

The number of keywords that the site ranks for in the top 10 positions of Google increased to an all-time high of 693 keywords in the past twelve months.

693 keywords

This is also true for the site’s overall keyword visibility, where they’re now ranking for 10,792 keywords within the top 100 positions.

10,792 keywords


In this case study, I’ve shown how you can take newly optimized content and get it indexed using Google’s new Indexing API.

You’ve learned how to:

  • Identify the user intent of a keyword and top-ranking competing pages.
  • Create and optimize content based on this analysis so that you provide the user with the right content that they’re looking for.
  • Use Google’s Indexing API to speed up the process of getting your content crawled and indexed.
  • Optimize your calls to action so that they convert better
  • Write white papers that attract organic backlinks

If you’re looking for help with your site’s SEO, get in touch with my team at The Search Initiative.


Get a Free Website Consultation from The Search Initiative:



    Article by

    Matt Diggity

    Matt is the founder of Diggity Marketing, LeadSpring, The Search Initiative, The Affiliate Lab, and the Chiang Mai SEO Conference. He actually does SEO too.

    Want to rank easier, higher and faster?

    Sign up and join 100,000+ other subscribers and get SEO test results sent straight to your inbox.

    moz sidebar

    "One of the most effective SEOs I've ever met"- Cyrus Sheppard

    As Seen On...

    Search Engine Journal
    New York Post
    ahrefs brand