Content marketing is complex, and it requires a lot of strategy, consistency, and high quality articles in order to deliver the pay off that you want. And sometimes, content itself just isn’t quite enough to get you over the finish line of top-ranking positions in the SERPs… in those cases, you typically can only excel with the power of backlinks.
That’s something we’re going to look at today in this Mos and uSERP case study: How well-placed and well-timed backlinks can take your ranking to the next level (and higher positions!).
Mos started out as a financial aid resource for students, primarily focused on services like connecting students to financial aid advisors and helping them to find and apply for scholarships and grants. They’ve since pivoted, and now also offer student-focused banking solutions like debit cards.
Mos’ services happen through their mobile app, but they have a strong website with an FAQ about the brand and— of course—a “Learn” section with great content.
When Mos first came to our sister company, Codeless,in July 2022, they were primarily interested in a massive library of content. They knew that this would be needed in order to connect with potential app users in their demographic, and that it would be valuable to their user base.
They needed high-quality, authoritative, and industry-compliant content. They couldn’t afford to offer less-than-ideal (or even slightly incorrect) advice when it came to students looking for ways to pay for college, and any businesses in the financial industry must abide by certain compliance requirements.
Mos started working with us in July of 2022, and we got to work, creating around 40,000 words of content per month. In November, they also started an engagement with uSERP, during which time backlinks went live to their content.
Let’s take a look at the strategy we followed.
We conducted keyword research
Conducting keyword research is always the vital first step in our process here at Codeless and uSERP.
The client wanted content that would offer informational resources to students who were looking into financial topics relevant to them, with posts on everything from debit cards for students to how to apply for scholarships.
We conducted keyword research through Ahrefs, combing for relevant keywords and topics that would be well-suited for the client’s site. Since we were going to be creating 40,000 words of content a month, we knew we’d need a strong list of topics to get us started.
We created detailed briefs for our writers
At Codeless, we always work with specialist writers when it comes to niche industries like finance writing, and we used that same approach for Mos. We only pulled writers onto the project who had strong and demonstrated experience with financial writing.
After selecting the team of writers, we created detailed briefs for each post that we’d create. The briefs included information like the following:
- A link to a brand style guide
- A link to a list of rules that writers needed to follow to create compliant content
- Approved resources for links and research
- Keywords to include in the post
- Outlines and any details that needed to be included in each post
We created a large volume of quality, compliant content
Working together with the client and our team of expert writers, we created around 40,000 words of content each month that would go on to be published on Mos’s blog.
The goal was to create high-quality, high-compliance content that would serve the company well. Each blog post we received from our writers was painstakingly reviewed by an expert team of editors with in-depth knowledge about the financial industry who were exceptionally familiar with the project.
Before long, the client started seeing the content we produced for them climbing high in the rankings, often landing on the first page (or near the first page) of the SERPs. But in a such a high-competition industry and targeting so many high-competition keywords, it was tough to get any higher than slots 7, 8, 9, and 10 in the SERPs. That’s where the backlinking strategy came in.
We elevated the content results with backlinks from uSERP
While continued effort with high-quality content can often lead to higher rankings in a long-term effort, many brands don’t necessarily want to wait a year or more to see if that will happen.
So, in November of 2022, Mos decided to go beyond their exclusively-content contract and signed a contract with our link-building company uSERP.
uSERP is closely aligned with Codeless.io, so we strongly recommended that Mos consider working with our team at uSERP to achieve their ambitious goals more quickly.
Backlinks are a crucial part of increasing ranking potential, but also not something that brands have historically been able to control.
You create outstanding content and hope that people find it and link to it, or you can work with a reputable agency. You have to be careful, though, because too many “link building services” use what we’ll call “black hat” methods that Google can spot a mile away, and which can ultimately hurt your SEO.
uSERP works differently, helping you get earned, quality backlinks on diverse and high-authority sites.
uSERP was able to add strong backlinks linking back to core, high-value blog posts on Mos’ site, like “best student bank accounts,” “bank accounts for teenagers,” and “best student debit cards.”
As a quick recap, Mos began working with Codeless in July 2022, and began their engagement with uSERP so that backlinks began going live in November. The contract in January 2023.
In that time, we created a strong library of content, plenty of which ranked on the first page of the SERPs… but what we really want to look at is a few niche examples of the power of the backlinks from uSERP.
Take a look at the ranking analysis for their primary target keyphrase “student bank accounts,” which was a high-value keyword (and also an exceptionally high competition one) for its associated blog post:
You can see that the position history moved up and down from July to around December; when the backlinks for this post went live, there was a clear upturn where you can see the position continually climbing all the way up the SERPs.
Associated keywords saw drastic changes in position, with some ranking for new keywords and others increasing their position by as much as 26 points up.
The traffic changes aren’t insignificant, with all associated keywords driving well over 150 more new users to their site monthly than they did before the backlinks went live.
Let’s look at the post written for the keyword “banking for teenagers.” You can see the same trend here, where you can see the position start climbing consistently when the backlinks went live in November.
Associated keywords for this blog post, including high competition keywords (with keyword difficulty ratings of 39-54) saw positional changes by an average of around six points.
The traffic increases from these changes were substantial; Mos saw a 36% increase in traffic monthly from the “banking for teenagers” keyword alone.
Since working together, Mos also saw their DR increase from 40 to 63.
And one more final example: The blog post “Best Student Debit Cards.”
Once again, the trend we’ve seen so far shows up again here. The blog post held fairly steady in position, but saw a consistent uptick in ranking once the backlinks went live.
In the time since the backlinks went live, associated keywords for the blog post increased by as much as 17 points, and the primary keyword “student debit card” increased four positions, so that it’s now ranking fourth. All high-value associated keywords that were targeted are ranking in the top 10 positions.
Great content is a good start, but even with a solid strategy and outstanding posts, sometimes you need a little more oomph to rank well in a hyper-competitive industry where many of your competitors are already well-established.
That’s where crucial backlink strategies and services come into play, which is why we’ll recommend uSERP to our clients who need that extra boost to dominate in the SERPs.
It’s like going through the work of getting a degree and having great job experience, but still needing a referral from someone already in the company to get in front of someone for a legitimate interview when you’re trying to land a job. You’ve got all the right pieces in place, and you just need a little help to get that end result.