The SEO Anatomy of a One-Million+ Pageview Article

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying “content is king” and I’m also sure you’ve had it up to here with that saying. Good news! That’s not what’s being preached today.

Currently, newspaper ad pricing has a relatively low cost in terms of impressions. To circulate the full state of Pennsylvania – which is a 1,923,610 reach –  we’d pay around $1,500 for a business card sized advertisement. For that same price in a digital environment, we would see a dramatically smaller amount of impressions. For example, $1,500 on Stumble Upon or Facebook would net about 17,000 unique views on average. That’s a massive gap. But if take that same $1,500 – or less – and invest it 100% in research, SEO, and consumer reports, we can potentially target a collection of high-traffic search terms and pull in thousands of unique visitors passively and consistently.

Proper SEO is king. High quality content is nothing more than a pre-requisite to proper SEO. It’s standard.  Some blogs have personalities and quality standards making them rise above competitors, while others have a well-crafted inbound marketing plan;  however, a full-breadth, long-tail SEO plan is arguably the most effective way to safely rank a website and acquire relevant traffic. 

seo anatomy

Today we’re going to look at how a niche website in the health space racks in millions of pageviews with individual articles and ranks on the first page of Google for many highly trafficked terms.

Authority Nutrition pulls in over one-million pageviews for an article entitled “Top 11 Biggest Lies of Mainstream Nutrition.” Take a look at that article – skim through it and see if you notice any SEO-related pattern or tactics. Then return here and compare your thoughts with the analysis below.

Let’s do some digging.

Selecting Terms to Target

authority nutrition page

Google has coined a term known as Zero Moment of Truth or ZMOT for short, as a way to describe and reference online decision-making moments. ZMOT can be influenced by a plethora of factors such as trust and social signals or page speed and visual design. To positively influence ZMOT we really need to understand what the searcher – users – are looking for; their mindests, demographics, and goals.

Authority Nutrition targeted the following main terms in their article:

  • diets
  • diet
  • omega
  • risk
  • low-fat
  • disease
  • protein
  • studies
  • heart
  • foods
  • sugar
  • line
  • meals
  • cholesterol
  • low-carb
  • show
  • time
  • blood
  • health
  • cause

As a brand dedicated to providing healthy living tips and products, these terms were most fitting. These terms reflect a post-article summary, meaning they were the short-tail results of long-tail planning. By looking at H2s and other public information, we can see the more specific terms that were most likely part of an initial planning process.

Using H2s to Your Advantage

Headings and subheadings are not only vital to proper onpage SEO, but they also help readers navigate quicker, finding specific sections/information with little hassle. Headings allow search engine crawlers to determine how relevant a page is for a given term, to determine how consistent a page is related to what an individual is searching for and to determine credibility. While backlinks still make up a big chunk of the ranking power, it’s 100% possible to outrank sites with zero backlinks purely based on a well-optimized page.

On the Authority Nutrition page, the following H2s – or subheadings – are used:

  • Eggs are Unhealthy
  • Saturated Fat is Bad for You
  • Everybody Should Be Eating Grains
  • Eating a Lot of Protein is Bad for Your Bones and Kidneys
  • Low-Fat Foods are Good for You
  • You Should Eat Many Small Meals Throughout the Day
  • Carbs Should Be Your Biggest Source of Calories
  • High Omega-6 Seed and Vegetable Oils are Good for You
  • Low Carb Diets are Dangerous
  • Sugar is Unhealthy because it Contains “Empty” Calories
  • High Fat Foods Will Make You Fat

You’ll notice each of these subheadings is one of the “11 Biggest Lies of Mainstream Nutrition,” referenced in the title. When compared with the target terms listed above, it becomes clear that these subheadings were not chosen arbitrarily, instead, they were written with both SEO and ZMOT in mind.

 SEO: keywords are being targeted to specifically rank for a mix of high-traffic terms and on-page content works to target those terms

 ZMOT: keywords and content are crafted to ensure users will convert or meet a goal

To take it one step further, each subheading has run through Google’s AdWords Planner. Below are the top keyword and keyword phrase results based on each phrase with their average monthly searches — meaning these words would be linked by a search engine crawler. Notice how each headline corresponds to words listed in the original search term list:

  • Eggs are Unhealthy: what is high cholesterol (5,400), cholesterol reducing foods (2,400),foods high in cholesterol (1,600)
  • Saturated Fat is Bad for You: low carb foods (60,500), high cholesterol foods (22,000), low cholesterol diet (27,000)
  • Everybody Should Be Eating Grains: gluten free diet (246,000), gluten free (135,000), gluten free foods (49,500)
  • Eating a Lot of Protein is Bad for Your Bones and Kidneys: how to lose weight (368,000), healthy recipes (301,000), how to lose weight fast (301,000)
  • Low-Fat Foods are Good for You: how to lose weight (368,000), healthy recipes (301,000), how to lose weight fast (301,000)
  • You Should Eat Many Small Meals Throughout the Day: how to lose weight (368,000), weight loss (201,000), detox diet (135,000)
  • Carbs Should Be Your Biggest Source of Calories: carbohydrates (165,000), low carb diet (135,000), low carb (110,000)
  • High Omega-6 Seed and Vegetable Oils are Good for You: coconut oil (450,000), protein foods (60,500), low carb foods (60,000)
  • Low Carb Diets are Dangerous: how to lose weight (368,000), carbohydrates (165,000), low carb diet (135,000)
  • Sugar is Unhealthy because it Contains “Empty” Calories: calorie chart (12,100), calorie counter chart (1,600), calorie list (1,300)
  • High Fat Foods Will Make You Fat: high protein foods (90,500), protein foods (60,500), low carb foods (60,500).

Notice how each search term plays into additional keywords – many used in the original list – along with the actual web content. This tactic lends itself to higher traffic levels.

This is also a breaking point for people who try to do the same thing but don’t take it an extra tier or two deeper. That means we have multiple keywords groups in the Adwords planner for a main term and we optimize content for each group that has enough variation and also enough traffic to make it worthwhile. For example, using the “Eggs are Unhealthy” term we get:

adwords groups example

Collectively, these groups contribute to about 700,000 monthly searches. Authority Nutrition essentially plucked a few groups with a worthwhile amount of avg. monthly searches for each of their 11 myths. A rough math estimate (3-4 groups = 100,000 searches) could easily allow them to target one-million and more searches.

Another big part of this is analyzing trends. Take “coconut oil” for example:

coconut oil trends

Authority nutrition noticed this spike in search interest over a year ago and capitalized on it with an article entirely dedicated to coconut oil. This article has the term “coconut oil” in it 33 times, both in H2s, the URL, meta description, and body. He targets ad groups for coconut oil as well as ZMOT terms, such as someone who doesn’t really know what coconut oil is or what the controversy is about.

The URL and Meta Description

Keywords and subheadings aren’t the only important pieces of a one-million-plus page view webpage. The URL and Meta Description are just as critical. Once again, search engine crawlers analyze these pieces of data while populating results.

On the Authority Nutrition page:

  • the URL (11-biggest-lies-of-mainstream-nutrition)
  • meta description (There is a lot of misinformation out there about nutrition, even among authority figures. Here are the top 11 biggest lies, myths and misconceptions.)

When run through the keyword planner, each of these returns similar relevant keywords, used in the original list. It quickly becomes apparent that “keyword stuffing” isn’t as important as using the right relevant terms throughout the piece – in headings, URLS and tags.

This article is specifically tapping into the mind of the skeptic; someone who questions everything and values an article that includes scholarly sources.

Backlinks Still Matter

Even with a solid keyword strategy in place, getting help from outside sources is a great way to boost your potential for one-million-plus pageviews. Links on other sites that come back to your own help drive traffic that doesn’t originate from search engines. It’s an organic way of increasing pageviews that doesn’t have to be a challenge. Guest posting, trading links, creating a resource page, and finding your way onto other resource pages make it simple. Furthermore, the more relevant and educational your content is, the more likely other sites will be to link to it.

When the backlinks are checked on Authority Nutrition’s page, the results are astounding. With over 92,000 backlinks on 4,000 unique domains, the page in question generates traffic passively.

backlinks health seo

Taking a page from an average number of visitors to one-million or more is daunting but it’s definitely possible, even for one-person operations.

The potential is influenced by a commitment to both SEO and ZMOT terms. The SERPs will have many competitors, so look at what the first-page results are doing and see if they’ve left out any ad groups or ZMOT words. More often than not a page that ranks highly in the past will get pushed off the first page if they don’t update it when a trend kicks-in.

Good luck finding your coconut oil!

About author View all posts

Jesse Aaron

I'm a blogger, homebrewer, and community manager. Aside from writing, I have a passion for music and design.

Leave a Reply