Creating content is hard.
Creating content worth sharing is even harder.
But Brian Dean from Backlinko has been creating content that’s worth bookmarking since 2012.
His blog Backlinko attracts a lot of traffic, backlinks and social shares.
Brian Dean is also making a lot of money without using traditional monetization strategies like affiliate marketing.
What’s the secret behind his successful SEO blog Backlinko? What can you learn from his success?
Curious to find out? Let’s get started!
Who is Brian Dean and What is His Background?
Brian Dean is the founder of the popular SEO blog Backlinko that attracts millions of visitors every year from search engines.
His blog covers everything related to search engine optimization including content creation, the famous “skyscraper technique”, on-page SEO, off-page SEO, technical SEO, link building, and more.
In 2008, he quit graduate school and started his first online “business” (selling an ebook about nutrition).
In December 2012, he launched Backlinko which has now been featured on major sites like Forbes, Entrepreneur, Inc, The Huffington Post, and more.
In this case study, we’re going to talk about some of the most important things that have contributed to Brian Dean’s online success.
Lesson 1. Less is more
Quality > Quantity
If there’s one thing you can learn from Backlinko’s success, it is this: less is more.
His blog Backlinko has merely 50 blog posts. Yes, you heard it right.
But here’s the thing: almost every single piece of content on his blog is EPIC. His content covers actionable insights on SEO and covers A to Z information.
Side note: He also created content hubs where you can find a ton of topics around keyword research, link building, advanced SEO strategy, and more.
Google loves in-depth content. His content also attracts a ton of social shares, comments, and backlinks. That’s why he often ranks for most of the keywords that attract a ton of visitors from search engines like Google.
What can we learn from it?
Focus on building an authority blog from day 1. Don’t worry much about the number of articles.
Focus ONLY on quality.
1 high-quality blog post is better than 10 mediocre blog posts. Always remember that.
Yes, it takes time to create high-quality posts, but it’s worth your time.
That being said, here are some amazing tips to create link-worthy blog posts like Brian Dean.
Provide answers with your content: One of the major reasons so many people read Backlinko is this: he always provides actionable strategies.
He provides answers with his content. If you can create such insightful content that provides answers to your audience queries, you can easily outrank others in your industry.
Did you know that creating “engaging content” is the biggest challenge for most marketers?
Yes, that’s true.
The best way to create engaging and useful content is to use platforms like Quora to find burning questions in your niche and start creating useful content around those questions.
Update your content regularly: One thing that sets apart Brian from others is he always updates his existing content. He tweaks his headlines, adds new content, optimizes for various new keywords and so on. He always makes changes to his high-traffic posts.
That’s why he’s able to generate (and sustain his current rankings) so much of search traffic to his blog posts.
Lesson 2. His content introduction lines are short yet captivating
Brian Dean writes some of the most powerful introductory lines.
Check out Brian Dean’s copywriting definite guide once.
The introduction lines are short. Just two words in most cases.
But… they are captivating.
They immediately hook the audience to read more.
What can we learn from it?
Learn copywriting. Read blogs from other copywriters or go through blogs like Copyblogger. Invest your time and money into learning copywriting.
Learn how to write captivating introductory lines. Keep them short and sweet. Your goal is to keep your audience engaged throughout the article. That’s how you improve your dwell time and user engagement.
Here are some quick tips to make your content (and introduction) compelling.
- Use short sentences. When you’re writing an introduction, make sure to use a personal tone (use the word “YOU” so your audience can connect with you).
- Remove unwanted words. Don’t use complex words. Make your content easy to understand.
- Use grammar checker tools like Grammarly to write error-free content.
- Use shorter paragraphs. We don’t use more than 2 to 3 lines of paragraphs in our blog posts. Online people love to skim instead of reading the whole text. So keep them short.
Above all, read all the posts from Brian Dean to take inspiration on how to write short and captivating headlines and introductions.
Lesson 3. His SEO courses are lit 🔥
You’ll not find any ads or affiliate links on Backlinko.
Then, how does Brian Dean monetize his blog?
He sells online courses.
And they are all epic.
He currently offers two premium courses which are;
- SEO That Works
- Grow Your Blog Fast
Let’s briefly discuss both of them so you can understand better about his monetization strategy and courses.
SEO That Works by Brian Dean
“SEO That Works” is a premium SEO training program by Brian Dean which teaches you how to get higher rankings in search engines like Google.
Here’s what this training program teaches:
The program opens only twice a year and he closes the doors within a few days after reopening it. Thousands of people have already enrolled in this premium course.
He also offers a 30-day money-back guarantee for this training, so you can get a refund if you’re not happy with the content.
Grow Your Blog Fast from Brian Dean
“Grow Your Blog Fast” is another premium training program from Brian where he teaches beginners how to get more traffic and subscribers fast.
Here’s what it includes;
What can we learn from it?
Gone are the days when you can use Adsense, banner ads, affiliate links, etc to make money from blogging. You can also make millions of dollars by selling online courses.
That’s exactly what Brian Dean does with his SEO blog Backlinko. The best part? His premium training courses sell like hotcakes and the seats get filled pretty quickly.
If you want to make money by selling premium courses, make sure to create great content, and provide it for free first.
If people love your free content, then they won’t mind paying for your premium content.
That being said, here are some practical ways to make money by selling online courses or training programs.
Stick to solving ONE problem: The best way to create a premium training course is to create material that solves a specific problem. Don’t try to teach everything under the sun. stick to one topic.
Brian also does the same. His training program SEO That works solves just one problem and that is “how to get more search traffic”.
Create scarcity: People don’t take immediate action on things that are available all the time. They buy if something is only available for a “limited time”. That’s why merchants make millions of dollars during Black Friday week (which comes only once a year).
The same is the case with training courses as well. Create scarcity. Don’t make your courses available all the time. Brian also does the same as he opens his program only once or twice a year.
The rest of the time, his programs are closed and he asks you to enter your email to join the waiting list.
Offer a refund policy: Most people are skeptical about premium online courses. You should eliminate their fear. The best way to do that is to offer a generous refund policy.
Brian Dean usually offers a 30-day refund policy. You can also consider the same or even better a 60-day refund policy to give more confidence to your website audience.
Lesson 4. Don’t be shy to introduce NEW SEO terms
SEO is an ocean. There are thousands of SEO phrases people use regularly (such as domain authority, rank tracking, page authority, and more).
How can you differentiate yourself if you’re also using the same terms on your blog?
Brian Dean is a marketing genius and he knows that to stand out in a crowd, he needs to introduce NEW SEO terms.
Let me demonstrate some of the terms he introduced into the SEO world.
When you search for the keyword term “skyscraper technique SEO” – you’ll discover over 400,000 search results. That’s how popular that term is.
Brian is the one who introduced this technique to the SEO world and this one technique attracted thousands of backlinks and social shares.
There are 3 core principles of this technique. Here’s how this technique works.
- Find popular content in your niche (use tools like SEMrush, Buzzsumo)
- Create 10x better content on the same topic and publish it on your own site
- Promote your content to the right people to attract more links and shares
Sounds simple, right? It works almost in any niche too and Brian already posted a ton of case studies around it on his blog.
Most people write huge blocks of text in their introduction lines. Majority of the online readers skip reading such huge introductions.
To overcome this problem, Brian comes with his own version of “PBC Formula” which means;
- P (Preview)
- B (Benefits)
- C (Call to action)
So if you want to learn how to capture your readers’ attention from the beginning, learn to use the PBC formula.
Brian calls “high-performing blog posts” as the power posts.
Almost all his blog posts are power posts.
They take a lot of time to create but they also work like a charm as they attract a lot of links and social shares.
Did you know that one of his “Power Posts” called: “How to Write a Blog Post: The Definitive Guide” took almost 50 hours of work.
That post alone generated more than 10,000 visitors within the first week including thousands of social shares.
Similarly, Brian coins such new SEO terms and makes them go viral.
What’s the lesson for us?
Don’t be afraid to toss your own terms or phrases in your industry. Try to come up with new ideas. Or make small tweaks to the existing strategies in your niche and use catchy words to name those terms.
If there’s one thing most people love about Backlinko, it is this: Backlinko is full of case studies.
Almost all the posts you find on his blog are in-depth and insightful case studies. They are filled with actionable strategies and a ton of visuals.
And yes… he also invests in creating a ton of eye-grabbing visuals such as images, infographics, and so on.
His content is 10x better than most of his competitors (both visually and content-wise). That’s why he’s able to attract so many social shares, links, and comments.
What can we learn from it?
If you want to build an authority site from scratch, start creating case studies.
They work like a charm. Yes, creating case studies takes a lot of time. But they attract a lot of traffic and buzz online.
Case studies also attract a ton of backlinks.
Here are a few proven ways to create great case studies like Brian Dean.
Include Real Statistics: You can use websites like Statista (we often use that to provide data) to find in-depth statistics on a topic. You can link to those sources and provide illustrations.
Cover ACTIONABLE Strategies: While creating case studies, you need to talk about proven strategies that work.
For instance, if you’re active on Twitter and know how to get thousands of followers, you can create a case study and list out every strategy that worked well for you.
Show all the screenshots of how you got started and how you were able to grow your followers on Twitter.
Are you getting it? You can create great case studies by listing those strategies that your audience can apply immediately.
Try Different Content Formats: You don’t have to always create the typical blog posts. You can also create videos, in-depth tutorials, infographics, and more.
Or you can also make your blog posts visually appealing by designing them from scratch.
For instance, check out our tutorial on starting a new blog.
Instead of writing in a regular format, we designed it as a landing page and added a ton of visuals. We also changed the whole content format.
Yes, it takes extra time and effort but that’s how you can create something unique to stay ahead of your competitors.
Lesson 6. He spends 80% of his time on content promotion and 20% on creation
Brian Dean and his team spend a TON of time to create content. There’s no doubt about it.
But if they spend 100 hours to create a guide, they’re going to spend 10x more time to promote that piece of content.
All the successful bloggers spend 80% of their time on content promotion and 20% time on creating that content.
You should also do the same. If you build it, they won’t come. You’ve to promote it hard.
What’s the lesson for us?
Spend more time to promote your content. If you don’t promote your content, no one will ever read that content. It’s as simple as that.
Here are some effective ways to promote your blog posts to reach maximum people online.
Reach out to other bloggers: There are so many bloggers (including influencers) often send blogger outreach emails to promote their content.
Even I often get such blogger outreach emails.
Have a look;
As you can see above, one of the influential bloggers Larry Kim sent me an outreach email asking me to add a link to his website. I added his blog to one of my blog posts and in return, he promoted that blog post.
So yes, blogger outreach still works like a charm. You just need to make your outreach emails short and sweet and make sure they gain something by linking to your posts.
Repurpose your content: One of the smartest ways to get more exposure to your content is repurpose it. You can repurpose your blog’s content in so many ways including;
- Turning your posts into slides and upload them on to Slideshare
- Turn them into infographics
- Make videos around the same topic
- Create podcasts
- Turn your content into eBooks (so you can use them as content upgrades to build your email lists)
- Create guest posts on the same topic covering a different angle
- And the list goes on
Build your own email list: Brian Dean has a huge email list and whenever he publishes a new blog post or case study, he sends an email about it. Viola, he instantly gets thousands of new visitors to read his posts.
If you’re not building an email list yet, you should build one from today as email has the highest ROI.
Lesson 7. His SEO blog is full of visual illustrations
Almost every single blog post or guide you find on Backlinko is full of images and illustrations.
And boy… They are all of high-quality.
Also, mostly his content is research-backed, so his illustrations are also made in such a way to show that research-backed data.
Here’s how they look like;
What’s the lesson for us?
Create your own illustrations. Either invest money on creating graphics and illustrations for your case studies or posts (OR) you can use tools like Canva to create graphics on your own.
Here are a few amazing image editing tools to help you create great graphics for your content.
You can also find a ton of video tutorials on YouTube on how to use the image editing tools such as Canva to create stunning images or visual illustrations for your blog posts.
Lesson 8. His blog ranks #1 for highly competitive keywords in the SEO industry
Brian’s blog Backlinko ranks #1 for many competitive keywords.
Have a look at some of them;
Similarly, his blog ranks for a ton of keywords on #1 position which helps him generate huge traffic from search engines.
He knows how to get into the first page search results for most of his keywords with his content.
What’s the lesson for us?
Learn how to rank your keywords on the first page of Google search results. Here are some proven ways to rank #1 for your keywords.
Pick realistic keywords: Unless you’re running an authority site with a ton of backlinks, don’t pick highly competitive keywords. It’s always a smart idea to target long-tail keywords because they often have less competition and they are easier to rank for.
So be realistic while choosing keywords. Use keyword tools like SEMrush, Ahrefs etc to find better keywords in your niche. You can also perform competitor analysis to make a list of all the keywords they are ranking for.
Then, you can pick low competitive keywords to create better content. You can use various keyword metrics like search volume, CPC, keyword difficulty etc to find low competitive keywords.
Optimize properly: On-page optimization is extremely important. You need to optimize your blog posts for multiple relevant keywords.
Make sure to pick a PRIMARY keyword for every post you write. Then, you can try to include that primary keyword in various places including;
- Subheadings such as h2, h3
- Image alt tags
- Blog post URL
- Meta description and so on
If you’re using WordPress, make sure to install an optimization plugin like Rank Math which helps you easily optimize your content for your target keywords.
Attract relevant links: Brian’s content ranks #1 for one BIG reason: backlinks. His content attracts a ton of backlinks. He does everything (from blogger outreach to influencer marketing) to build high-quality links to his content.
If you want to rank #1 on Google for your keywords, learn how to build relevant links to your site. There’s no other way around. You can try various link building strategies like;
- Guest blogging
- Creating infographics
- Writing testimonials for the products or services you use
- Email outreach
- Broken link building
- Influencer marketing and so on
Lesson 9. Stay in for the long haul
It takes years to build a successful blog.
Backlinko is no exception. Brian has been practicing SEO for more than a decade.
That’s why he’s so good at it.
What can we learn?
If you want to build a highly successful blog like Backlinko from scratch, you’ve to stay in the game for a long time.
You can’t build a successful blog within 6 months especially when you’ve no connections online..
You need to work hard to create great content, build an audience and grow your search traffic. It will usually take a couple of years.
You need to be consistent all the time. That’s how you build a great blog that generates cash in the long run.
Lesson 10. He’s EVERYWHERE
One common trait of most successful bloggers (or entrepreneurs) is this: they are EVERYWHERE.
You open Instagram. You can find them.
Open Twitter. You can find a ton of useful tweets.
Open YouTube and you’ll find amazing videos.
That’s why most authority websites often get a ton of traffic because the blog owners are active on almost every platform.
The same is the case with Brian Dean as well.
Although he was active only on his blog initially, once his blog started to grow, he started expanding. He started exploring other platforms as well such as Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook.
For example, his YouTube channel “Brian Dean” covers insanely actionable SEO, link building, and content marketing strategies that you can use to grow your website online.
His Twitter handle is often filled with a ton of useful tweets and SEO strategies.
What can we learn from it?
Start focusing on ONE platform at a time.
Brian Dean did not become active on every platform such as YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter.
He first used marketing forums like Warrior Forum to share insider SEO tips which ultimately helped him to get some traffic to his blog.
Then, he started producing REALLY amazing content and reached out to influential bloggers to build lots of authority links. All of these things helped him get more visitors from Google.
Once he started getting a decent amount of traffic, he started diversifying his traffic sources.
He then started engaging with others on Twitter and Facebook. After that, he launched his own YouTube channel to reach more people.
You should also follow a similar path. Focus on one platform at a time. Become better at it. Then, you can move on to another platform to reach more audiences.
Here are some frequently asked questions about Brian Dean and his blog Backlinko.
How does Brian Dean make money?
Brian Dean runs Backlinko.com, a site that he has been running since 2012 and that has developed into one of the BIGGEST SEO sites for learning about search engine optimization. Brian now makes millions of dollars per year mostly from his premium SEO training courses such as SEO That Works and Grow Your Blog Fast.
Does Brian Dean have a YouTube channel?
Yes, Brian Dean runs a YouTube channel under his name (here’s the link) where he primarily educates people about PROVEN search engine optimization techniques to rank higher in search engines like Google.
Backlinko is one of the popular marketing blogs that primarily covers SEO (search engine optimization). Brian Dean is the founder of Backlinko who launched it in 2012 and producing high-quality SEO content on his blog since then.
How can I connect with Brian Dean?
What are the SEO training courses by Brian Dean?
Brian Dean currently has two premium SEO training programs which are SEO That Works and Grow Your Blog Fast. They are opened once/twice a year so you can enroll your email by visiting those websites to join the waiting list.
From zero to building a million dollar online business, Brian Dean has come a long way. He is consistent, produces high-quality content, and always connects with his audience. That’s why he was able to build such a huge SEO blog.
So what are your thoughts about Brian Dean’s SEO success? Did we miss anything? Please share your thoughts in the comments and if you like this case study on Brian Dean, share it with others.