How To Get 400 Email Subscribers Per Month (FREE) From Organic Search And Rank #3 In Google (A Step-By-Step SEO Case Study)

how to get more subscribers

Building your email list should be your one big priority….

….especially when you have an online business.

One of the best ways to drive traffic and get more email subscribers is none other than good ol’ Google.

Today you’re going to see how one of my former clients, Kellie O'Brien gets around 20 email subscribers PER day.

Sometimes even 30 per day:

All from ONE blog post … and ALL from organic search.

You’ll see how she also ranks #3 for the keyword “media plan template” and has an image ranked in Google image search.

And the one big mistake Kellie made, which cost her over a thousand subscribers.

Let’s get to it. 

Free BONUS: Download a Free PDF Checklist that will walk you through the exact SEO Strategy Kellie used from this post (PLUS 3 bonus strategies not included in this post).

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Get More Email Subscribers From Google: A Smart SEO Strategy

There’s some big milestones to achieve when it comes to building an email list:

Your first 100 subscribers.

Then 1000 subscribers...

...and of course the pinnacle is to reach 10,000 or more email subscribers.

Kellie averages 400 new email subscribers each month just from organic search.

That’s 4800 email subscribers every year.

The best part is that these results are all from a single blog post she published in 2013.

Imagine having 20 blog posts that could achieve similar results?

Even 5?

I’m here to tell you it’s possible and that anyone can replicate Kellie’s SEO strategy.

Here’s the 3-step strategy Kellie used to grow her email list using SEO:

Step 1: Find a relevant, low competition keyword (you don’t have a SEO strategy without choosing the right keywords).

Step 2: Create an actionable and readable post that people can implement immediately.

Step 3: Optimize the post to make it reader and search-friendly.

And that’s it.

Not familiar with how to optimize your blog posts?

This will help you out:

Free PDF Download: How To Write Google-Friendly Blog Posts (Your Readers Will Love) In Under 5 Minutes.

Now that you understand the process Kellie used, it’s time to check out Kellie’s results before we dive into today’s step-by-step case study. 

Kellie’s Outstanding Email Growth From One Blog Post

Kellie published her post on 1 May 2013…

…and her organic traffic has increased by more than 100% over two years.

sessions from organic traffic

The post also ranks #3 for its target keyword “media plan template” (880 searches/month):

rank #3 on Google

These are amazing results considering she did no outreach and the post has no external backlinks (I’ll tell you why later).

I also want to point out that the traffic that lands on this page converts like crazy.

In fact, this single post has generated 7153 new email subscribers since it went live.

What’s interesting is that Kellie says the number of email subscribers fluctuates depending on the day of the week.

On weekends, it can be as low as 5 new signups per day while midweek it can be as high as 30 per day.

Because she ranks #3 for her target keyword and a ton of long tail keywords, organic traffic to that page has been continuous since the day she published it.

Pageviews brought in by organic search alone to this page have increased by more than 79% since it went live.

That’s almost double the pageviews from the previous year.

double the page views from organic search to page

Growth to this page continues to increase by over 10% each month.

month by month page views increase

While organic traffic continues to grow over 17%. 

Organic traffic increase month by month

Want to know how Kellie did it…and how you can do the same thing?

  How Kellie Generates 400 New Email Subscribers Per Year From One Blog Post Using Content-Driven SEO

Now it’s time for you to learn how Kellie created such a successful post so you can replicate it.

But first:

Who is Kellie…and why did she create this post in the first place?

A journalist in a former life, Kellie was helping entrepreneurs and small business owners on how to do their own free PR to boost their profile and increase their reach.

Today she’s an in-demand launch strategist helping entrepreneurs get their businesses, products and services online and specializes in marketing automation and launches.

Kellie O'Brien image

The PR industry was extremely competitive two years ago and remains so today.

But guess what?

It’s just Kellie.

She was up against giants likes PR News, The Publicity Hound and PR Daily.

But Kellie knows a thing or two about blogging and digital marketing.

And even though she goes head to head against big brands in the SERPs….

…..she has a secret weapon up her sleeve:

SEO and Content Marketing.

As Kellie explains:

In April and May 2013, I was writing a series of posts on getting PR for entrepreneurs. The next logical post was to show people how to create their own PR plan.

Kellie O'Brien

To compete against the big players in the PR space, she needed a foolproof SEO and content marketing strategy so she could stand out and get noticed.

Her biggest advantage of being “small” was that she was able to respond quickly to what her readers wanted…

…and deliver content that her ideal clients were asking for.

Here’s the step-by-step process Kellie used:

Step 1: Find relevant, low competition keywords

As mentioned above, Kellie was already writing content on ways entrepreneurs could get more PR.

Before she found a target keyword, Kellie first wanted to validate that this was a topic people wanted to read and were likely to share.

Kellie explained that the content was more about what was logical in the order of posts and responding to frequent requests through her email marketing for help with PR. 

So before she put pen to paper, she set out to discover that there was an audience for her topic first.

Once she discovered a topic she knew her readers would eat up, the next step was to find a target keyword.

The first tool Kellie used was Google Trends.

Kellie says:

At the time, Google Trends was my favorite SEO tool - maybe because of its ease of use. I went through Google Trends to see how "PR plan" was trending and future forecasts. Through researching via that, I discovered that the term “media plan” did better.

Kellie O'Brien

And this is the exact reason why you should do keyword research.

Because her topic was about PR plan, Kellie assumed that her target keyword would also be “PR plan.”

It’s a natural assumption to make.

But with SEO you should never make assumptions and with 30 seconds of keyword research, she discovered that “media plan” has a higher amount of monthly searches and is a more popular term.

​The most helpful feature of Google Trends is that you can check a keyword’s popularity over time and determine whether or not there is any interest in your keywords.

google trends forecast

This is a good lesson to stop guessing what keywords you should use and start validating the terms and phrases people do use instead.

Despite Kellie discovering that “media plan” would be a better term to use, and is highly popular with a monthly search volume of 3600, she wasn’t confident she would rank for it.

And I don’t blame her.

When I fire up my trusty keyword research tool of choice, Long Tail Pro, I discover that it’s indeed an extremely competitive keyword.

How To Find Long Tail Keywords (The Quick And Easy Way) Using Long Tail Pro


Long Tail Pro is a keyword research tool that enables you to find hidden and undiscovered keywords for blog posts and authority sites.

longtail pro KC score

I use Long Tail Pro to do all of my keyword research.

It’s extremely versatile because not only does it suggest thousands of long tail keywords from a single seed keyword, it has the ability to calculate a KC Score.

This is a number between 1 and 100 that analyzes the current top 10 Google Results for any given keyword.

The lower the score, the higher chance you can get a better ranking. It represents the authority and how well other competitors are targeting the keyword.

I generally only consider keywords with a KC score below 35.

If you're struggling to find keywords and topic ideas for blog posts, or the thought of doing keyword research leaves you feeling confused and overwhelmed, then let Long Tail Pro do the heavy-lifting for you. 

Here's how you do it:

Step 1: Create a campaign

Longtail pro tutorial

You can create as many campaigns as you like and the name of the project can be anything you choose.

Select the country and language depending on what location you want to see your keyword's competition. 

Then click on "Create Project."

Step 2: Add seed keywords and / or your add your own 

Add seed keywords Longtail Pro

You can enter up to 10 seed keywords per campaign. 

These will be related to your niche or topic so you can be as broad or as narrow as you like.

For example, if you're writing a post about interior design colours, your seed keywords may include "interior design colours," "interior design colour tips" or "decorating colour schemes."

You can also add your own keywords so it makes it really easy to import lists of keywords from other sources. 

For example, you could identify hundreds of new keyword ideas from entering a URL into the landing page field of the Google Keyword Planner Tool and then copy and paste those keywords into Long Tail Pro.

Step 3: Customize data and pre-filter

Customize data long tail pro

This will vary depending on what your objectives are.

I generally only pre-select the suggested bid, local and global search volumes and the number of words (keywords with two or more keywords in it).

Then click "Generate Keywords & Fetch Data."

Once you do that, you will see something like this:

Long tail pro keyword research

Step 4: Sort the keywords based on either local or global search volume

How you sort the keywords will vary depending on what your objectives are.

I usually sort keywords based on global search volume because my business and most of my clients businesses have a worldwide focus.

​You can add a filter to find keywords with a minimum of amount of search volume as well as a maximum amount. 

You can also add filters for the suggested bid amount and number of words​.

In the screenshot below, I added filters to find keywords with two or more words in them, a suggested bid amount of more than 20 cents and a global search volume amount between 50 and 10,000 monthly searches. 

parameters longtail pro

I could also add a filter to only find keywords with a minimum amount of local monthly searches too.

Step 5: Calculate Average Keyword Competitiveness 

You can only access this feature if you have the platinum version. 

To find out ​how much competition you will have face if you want to rank for certain keywords, you need to calculate the keyword competitiveness. 

average keyword competitiveness score

The higher the number, the tougher the keyword will be to rank on its own unless you have a powerful back linking strategy in place.

As I mentioned above, if I don't want to build links or do any outreach, I usually only target keywords with a score of less than 35. 

Kellie knew that she had to find a less competitive keyword.

Because she wasn’t confident she would rank for such a popular term like “media plan,” she made the wise decision to target a long tail keyword.

She then used the Google Keyword Planner to find similar keywords with less search volume and a moderate amount of commercial intent.

That’s when she decided that “media plan template” would probably be a better keyword to target.

So Kellie checked both search terms on the GKP tool – “media plan template” and “PR plan template.”

She discovered that both keywords had low competition and a good amount of traffic according to the GKP tool but “media plan template” had more search volume.

GKP image keyword

What Kellie didn’t realize at the time was that the competition score in GKP is NOT the right metric to use to assess the competitiveness of a keyword.

Why You Should Not Use The Google Adwords Keyword Planner To Assess Keyword Competitiveness


The Google AdWords Keyword Planner Tool (GKP) displays PPC competition, not SEO competition.

competition column

In other words, the competition column measures the number of advertisers (worldwide) that are bidding on a keyword, which is related to Google Adwords or PPC advertising.

It is NOT an indication of the competitiveness of the keyword itself among competing websites on organic search.

Nevertheless, after two years of continuous organic traffic and despite the fact that the search term she chose had high competition, her post does rank on page 1 on Google.

(Need help coming up with keywords? Then check out this video on How To Do Keyword Research Using The Google Keyword Planner Tool.)

Now that she had a topic and chosen a keyword to target, it was time to create the post.

Step 2: Create An Actionable And Readable Post That People Can Implement Immediately

Kellie knew from her mummy blogging days that if you offer a free downloadable template, people would eat it up like crazy.

This was perfect because the keyword she had chosen had the word “template” in it.

Kellie used a few techniques to make her post stand out:

1. She created a super-actionable post

Here’s the thing about content that does well on the web:

It utilizes a share trigger called Utility.

Brian Dean of Backlinko talks about this a lot.

“No matter what industry you’re in, people want information they can use right away.”

And that’s exactly what Kellie did.

She made a huge effort to provide a step-by-step detailed breakdown of how to create your own PR plan.

step by step actionable blog post

Who wouldn’t want that?

The key with creating super actionable content is that you want techniques and tactics that people can use that day.

Preferably within minutes.

The more actionable the items, the better your post will perform.

But most people fail to do this.

If you read a post and you need to go elsewhere to find the information to execute those tips, then the post has failed.

That’s why so many list posts are terrible.

Don’t be afraid to tell people EXACTLY what to do.

What do you think I’m doing in this post? 😉

2. The post is scannable and reader-friendly

Just because people come to your blog doesn’t mean they’re actually going to read your content.

Research has proven that online readers use vastly different sections of the brain than offline readers.

Mashable highlighted a study investigating the changes in our reading habits behaviors in the digital age and concluded that we tend to skim webpages to find the information we want.

Now that the Internet has rewired our brains, what’s the solution?

Write content crafted for the scanners and skimmers.

When you load up Kellie’s post, you’re not staring down long, unbroken blocks of copy.

If you were, chances are you’d get frustrated and exit the page.

And that’s what you need to avoid:

Abandonment of your content.

Kellie’s post:

  • Uses plenty of white space
  • Is led with a benefit-driven keyword in the headline - ((FREE) downloadable media plan). This helps your reader signal when they’ve found the information they’re looking for.
  • Uses subheads - people scan subheads as they search for relevant information, so use them to guide your readers.
  • Has no more than two sentences per paragraph. Most are a one-sentence paragraph.

3. She provided a ‘done-for-you’ template

Kellie said her goal was to create a super actionable post…

…that gave people step-by-step instructions on how to create their own PR plan.

But what about the people that didn’t want to start the process from scratch?

No worries.

Kellie had them covered too.

She provided a done-for-you media plan template.

image of free media plan template

Of course, you need to opt-in to her email list to get it. 🙂

But this is why she gets around 20 new email subscribers per day.

So what’s the end result?

A Free downloadable media plan template to step up your PR efforts

A free downloadable media plan blog post

Step 3: Optimize The Post To Make It Search-Friendly

Now that Kellie created the post, it was time to move on to the next step:

Optimize it to make it search AND of course, reader-friendly.

Before we move on, there’s something I want to clarify.

When you optimize a post to make it search-friendly, this does not mean that you neglect your readers (you know, the humans that read your content).

The reason you need to optimize your posts is to give the search engines the appropriate clues about your content.

If you don’t, you may not see your post on the SERPs.

Google is now all about the user experience. 

I prefer that you focus on creating the best piece of content possible and optimize your post to improve the user experience.

Rant-alert: it annoys me to no-end when misguided people assume that all you need to do is just write natural content and Google will just figure it out.

Google is smart, but not magic.

I’ll leave the last word on this to Cyrus Shepard at Moz:

“Every page delivered in search results should be unique, valuable, and more often than not contain technical clues to help search engines sort them from the billions of possible pages on the web. Without these qualities, search marketing is a game of chance that almost always loses.”

There were 6 tactics Kellie used to do just that:

1. She made “PR plan” her secondary keyword

Even though Kellie’s target keyword was “media plan template,” that didn’t exclude her using other keywords in her post.

There’s more than one main keyword driving traffic to her site.

Brian Dean from Backlinko says "if you only include one keyword in your title tag you’re leaving A LOT of search engine traffic on the table." (And no, he's not referring to keyword stuffing).

A quick look at the queries tab in Google Analytics reveals that there are multiple long tail keywords driving traffic to this blog post.

multiple_keywords_to_Kellie's_site
multiple keywords driving traffic image copy

Long tail keywords will drive more traffic than your main keywords.

So don't be afraid to use groups of long tail keywords in your content. 

For example, people that search for “media schedule template” and “free PR plan template download” are looking for information on the same topic.

There’s always more than one way to skin a cat.

Because Kellie also wanted to target “PR plan”, she put the keyword in the headline:

keyword in title tag

‘A FREE downloadable media plan template to step up your PR efforts’

(Kellie said she wasn’t sure if this would work but thought it was worth a try.)

Well it has clearly worked.

Kellie hasn’t used “PR plan” in the exact match format.

It would be nonsensical to repeat the word ‘plan’ twice in the same title (not to mention you risk a penalty from Google if you over-optimize).

But because she has the word “PR” and “media plan template” in the headline, she’s still driving traffic to her site from various keywords like "PR plan" and "PR strategy template."

2. She optimized the URL

Kellie used her main keyword in the permalink of her post.

keyword in permalink

When you're optimizing the URL, the shorter the better. 

Generally, I like to use the main keyword (like Kellie has used in her post) as the URL.​

3. A H2 tag was used

Kellie optimized one of her H2 tag subheadings with her keyword.

h2 tag in post

These tags are used as headings and are a logical way to layout the structure of your page.

They can also increase a search engine’s ability to pick up content relevancy.

4. Meta description

Kellie wrote a compelling meta description tag. If you’re not sure what a description tag is, it’s the little snippet that appears under the title tag in your search engine listing.

The Page Title and your Meta Description tag is your search engine listing.

Your organic click-through rate is determined by your position in Google. The higher you are on the page, the more clicks you get.

(Find out how to boost your click-through rate from the search results page.)

meta description tag in post

As you can see, she’s used her keyword in there. But more importantly, it’s optimized for maximum click-through.

5. Related words and phrases

Through the use of semantic search, Google’s gotten a lot smarter.

So Kellie sprinkled her keyword in the body of the post.

Not just her main keyword but also related words and phrases:

related words and phrases image

This helps Google understand the context of your page.

For example, because Kellie’s post is about how to create a media/PR plan, it’s natural to use other words and phrases that are related to the topic such as ‘publicity,’ ‘customer avatars,’ ‘media outlets,’ and ‘public relations news calendar.’

6. Image alt text

Not only is Kellie driving traffic to her site from the post itself, she’s also getting traffic from Google image search.

image optimization in post

How do you optimize an image?

There are two ways:

  • filename
  • alt text

The filename is ‘media plan template download.”

Looking for copyright-free images for your blog? Here are 65+ Sites To Find Awe-Inspiring Public Domain Images

The Big Mistake Kellie Made That Cost Her A Thousand Subscribers

When Kellie first published her post, she had a free download of the media plan in it.

However, it wasn’t hooked up as a lead magnet.

Over 1000 people downloaded it before she realized she should have had an opt-in on her post to help build her email list.

That’s 1000 potential leads she’ll never know about that could have purchased one of her digital products or signed up for one-on-one coaching.

If someone comes to your website and you don't ask for them for an email address, there's a good chance that the visitor may never come back to your site.

You're basically hoping to close them on their first visit, which is highly unlikely.

If you want more clients, an email list can definitely help because traffic for traffic sake is a huge waste.

Today, this post is one of Kellie’s main drivers for growing her email list and building her audience…. …without costing her a single cent on any paid traffic.

Targeting Low Competition Keywords = Easier Higher Rankings

The biggest mistake I see people make is choosing keywords that have super high search volumes.

(Actually the biggest mistake people make is NOT doing any keyword research but that’s a topic for another day).

You must concentrate your efforts on keywords that are easier to rank for.

They are:

Low competition keywords.

Invariably low competition keywords do have a lower level of traffic but you want to avoid optimizing for high competition keywords, especially if you don't want to do any outreach or link building.

Kellie’s post has been so successful because she chose a low competition keyword that still had a decent amount of monthly searches.

That means she was able to create a targeted article that ranks high without needing a lot of backlinks.

In fact, this post has NO backlinks.

Yet she was still able to get her post on page 1 of Google.

This would have been impossible had she NOT chosen a low competition keyword.

If Kellie had chosen a high competition keyword, she would need to promote the heck out of it to earn and build a lot of backlinks to her post.

All that takes time….

….plus it would take her a lot longer (maybe years) for the post to get a page 1 ranking.

Being able to pick and choose the right keywords is the number 1 skill you need to master if you want SEO success and page 1 rankings.

Ready To Replicate Kellie's Success?

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When you do, you’ll get access to a free download that walks you through the exact SEO Strategy Kellie used, plus 3 bonus strategies not included in this post.

So download it, bookmark this post and read it thrice before you publish your next blog post.

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