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In the spring of 2022, Digital Émigré, an online emigration platform, wanted to improve its online position for its major service offering: residency visa support in Portugal.
The company needed more leads in this area, but, as a young company (founded in 2020), it didn't want to spend a lot of money on paid advertising. Instead, the company decided to focus on SEO.
They set a goal of building out a comprehensive topic cluster around all areas of getting residency in Portugal. These informative top-of-the-funnel articles would then drive new leads to the company’s partner network of local immigration lawyers, real estate specialists, and tax professionals.
Digital Émigré’s Head of SEO, Samantha North, was already familiar with the topic cluster content approach, which she had used for building her personal blog about SEO and profitable blogging.
Samantha’s first step was using the Semrush Keyword Overview tool to research relevant keywords for building the Portugal cluster. Here's an example of one such keyword (which she eventually turned into a pillar page).
Samantha took into account the following factors when deciding which keywords to target:
Semrush’s search intent categorization was invaluable for filtering informational intent keywords. As you can see below, the keywords in this list are tagged as “informational.”
Samantha followed this process to build out a list of long-tail keywords around the broader topic of moving to Portugal.
These formed the content calendar for the next 8-12 weeks. Armed with that information, Samantha embarked upon the next step: creating the content.
Once the content creation process got underway, it soon became clear that one person couldn't write content fast enough to meet the kind of velocity Samantha was aiming for.
That’s when she decided to bring on several freelance writers to support the workload. One Semrush tool that she found really useful in this process was the SEO Content Template.
This handy feature analyzes the top 10 ranking competitors for the keyword and provides a snapshot of SEO recommendations based on their pages.
SEO Content Template helps enhance your text with semantically related words, recommends the target length for each article, and offers backlink suggestions.
All this information was put into content briefs for the freelance writers. They could follow the instructions with ease, even without having extensive knowledge of SEO.
In addition to creating new briefs, the SEO Content Template also played an important role in further optimizing the company’s existing content. In particular, they used it to improve content that had dropped or stagnated in the SERPs.
Once Samantha started building a strong base of published content on the blog, the next step was to get some quality external links to give the clusters that all-important visibility boost.
It's important to note that heavy link building wasn't a top priority in her SEO strategy at this point as her efforts were better spent on creating great content in tightly niched topical clusters.
But Samantha recognized the need to build at least a few backlinks, as this is particularly important for establishing credibility and trust.
She approached the link building process in two main ways:
This was also invaluable for screening potential link partners, to avoid falling victim to link farms or other toxic websites that could harm Digital Émigré’s link profile.
Finally, the team kept an eye on their own backlink profile using the Backlink Audit tool. Although they haven't yet used the disavow feature, they may do in the future.
That’s because the website has started to attract its fair share of low-quality links (which tends to happen naturally over time as organic traffic levels increase and the site becomes more visible across the search ecosystem).
The team understood the importance of having a good internal link structure, so the Semrush Internal Linking report helped them keep an eye on any pages that didn’t have enough links, so they could make sure they got what they needed.
In particular, the "Pages passing the most Internal Link Rank” report was essential for informing us which pages were best to link from when individual posts needed an extra boost:
The last piece of this puzzle is tracking the results of Digital Émigré’s content efforts. Semrush offers several great features that they used extensively in this area.
First, Position Tracking, which the team used to keep an eye on the progress of their most important keywords as they worked their way up the rankings.
Second, Semrush’s SEO Dashboard, which provides an all-in-one snapshot of the site’s current situation. It brings together key information such as the number of backlinks, Domain Authority (DA) score, visibility, and much more.
Digital Émigré has published over 60 new blog posts between June 2022 (when the company began building out its Portugal relocation content library) and April 2023.
Those efforts started to bear fruit within a matter of months, with traffic taking a firm upward trajectory from July 2022 onwards. The website has seen: