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Finance Training Course case study – Daily SEO Task list and Content Focus

This is the second post in building an online content based business series. For the first post, please see building an online content business

While Finance Training Courses started attracting traffic from day one (23rd February 2010), it only started generating revenues when we had a psuedo business model of sorts. Once we figured who we wanted as a customer, what they wanted in terms of content, how we could possibly get in front of them and get paid for the service we were providing. Within the initial list there were four candidates: small business owners, business school students, quants and analyst. All four could use the content that was available in different ways, for different needs.

The only question was how reach these segments with what product and why and how would they pay us. The initial thought (from February to September) was that just advertising would be enough but the pace at which we were clocking clicks and the amount of traffic we generated was not enough to cover our costs or even keep me motivated to keep the site up and running. After eight odd versions, the final iteration of the plan and the business model looked something like what you see below but it took us eight months to get to this point.


It was also quickly apparent that running Finance Training Course was a full time job and doing it part time was not going to work. While the first few tasks in the beginning could be handled as an individual, as content and traffic grew without someone looking at the site daily you couldn’t keep up with the growt curve. So we grew the team and pulled in two more resources also as part timers to share the load.

What did we do on a daily basis starting from the word go at Finance Training Course?

Action Item


Result / Rationale/Details

Pick a niche

Corporate Finance, Risk Management, Basel II

We already generate a few hundred pages a year as part of the work that I do

Review existing content and plan for future releases

400 pages available

200 new pages of content a year

Pick a template or content management tool


Blogging since 2004, since 2007 on WordPress. Extensive support, vibrant community and no shortage of plug-ins

Enable Google Analytics and Quantcast

To track traffic, key words and demographics

Used ready made wordpress plugins for integrating Google Analytics and Quantcast

Pick keywords for blog post titles and Headings

Needed to do this for every page and every post to ensure that we ranked for the right word

On average did 50 posts a month for the first six months. Used Google key words tools (Google Adwords), Google Trends, Google wonder wheel to determine what key words to use for post titles and headings.

Experiment with anchor text

Link key words to anchor text, link anchor text to posts, internal and external links

Finance Training Course is the anchor text that allows me to link three key words, Finance, Training and Course to my primary landing page. I could also do Finance Training or Finance Courses or a combination of all three depending on which key word I want to rank on.

Build Internal links

Make it easier for readers to find content through different paths as well as help your key pages rank better by cross linking them with corner stone posts

While the Finance Course Post Index is a really bad example, a better example is the Finance Careers Page or the ICAAP page.

Track Search Engine Results or SERP for top posts and key words

Experimented before settling down with Traffic Travis in July August

For each key word you need to findout how you rank with Google. With hundreds of key words and hundreds of pages you can’t do it manually or online. Traffic Travis was the tool that I finally discovered after struggling for a few months that took care of this need.

Experiment with themes and layout

For readability and access

Directly impacts click through rates, adsense earnings, pages per viewer, time on site and bounce rates. Switched between 10 themes across as many months. Really happy with Pressplay now.

Track site performance using SEO and SEM tracking tools

Woorank, SEM Rush and Chrome SEO

Some daily, other weekly and monthly. Track traffic ranking, key words and SEO performance to see what is working and what is not. As part of a browser extension you can quickly see your indexing performance in bing as well as Google.

Activate Google and Bing webmasters account

More tracking and site performance

Daily tracking of link backs, key word and download performance as well as the pages on your site that have been indexed or de-indexed

Research new and related topics

Adding content to attract more traffic on related key words

A great example was the work we did on Duration and Convexity. What started as a simple formulae post became a traffic magnet and spun off to generate 5 more related posts each of which contributed to rank and traffic. Interestingly enough from a revenue generation point of view the Modified Duration course only contributed a small fraction in earnings and advertising revenue but the traffic it generated came form the very segments that we were trying to target


It became quite apparent by the time we hit September that under the new revamped Google Caffeine rules for traffic and rank to grow you had to add fresh content every day. While linking was important, for us to rank on a given key word we needed related content and embedded internal and external links to attract traffic. Blog roll based link exchanges were ineffective and could only get you so far. You also had to chose the type of partners you were willing to work with, we ended up saying no to most link exchange requests.

This push on content led to our biggest advantage. While our competition focused on selling a handful of high priced courses, we did 30 plus affordable online finance training courses. Some of these online finance courses were just that – free and online. Others gave you the option to download a pdf version supported by worked out examples in the form of downloadable excel solutions. And in most cases you had the option to try out the full course online before you decided to buy the pdf course version or the excel examples


Why Google Caffeine, you may ask? Why not Bing or Yahoo. Here is why.

As you can see for whatever its worth, Google generates more than 90% of our traffic. While Yahoo and Bing added an important incremental chunk of traffic, if you didn’t get Google right from day one, you would miss out on traffic in a big way.

(To be continued)