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Inbound Marketing Blog

    15 Inspiring SEO Case Studies and Research Reports

    Posted by Bill Faeth

    What are the Best SEO Case Studies?


    Fresh research and stats are critical in any professional realm - especially if you’re in a field that changes as quickly as SEO. What worked a few months ago is no longer effective, which is why a SEO professional’s abilities depend on their willingness to keep up with the latest changes and updates.

    If you’re using the holiday weekend to boost your knowledge of the latest SEO tactics, we’ve done the legwork on your behalf and compiled a long list of the smartest reports on the block:

    1. White Hat SEO Case Study: 348% More Organic Traffic in 7 Days

    Have you ever heard anyone use the phrase “just post great content, and people will come?” Brian Dean did, too, which is why he used that tactic for his blog. It worked well, but not brilliantly. It wasn’t until he leveraged some very white hat tactics, including social outreach, to promote his blog that his traffic exploded.

    2. Benchmark Report: 2012 Search Marketing - SEO Edition

    MarketingSherpa is one of the best-respected names in modern marketing research. Their annual report promises “research and insights on creating and capitalizing on a rich end-user search experience” - and it definitely delivers. Whether you’re preparing a presentation for executive buy-in or training a new hire, it’s among the best reports in it’s class.

    3. Nike Golf SEO Case Study

    Nike had a traffic and leads problem? Well, probably not, but SEO is a practice of continual improvement. Learn how the sportswear giant balanced their innovative UX with a need for improved SEO through intelligent updates to their company website.

    4. Research Report: How Manual Tasks Sabotage the Potential of Natural Search Marketers

    Do you know how much of your daily work load is automated, and how much is manual? Everyone wants to make their job a little easier. While this research report doesn’t offer the secret to keeping your inbox under control, it shares insights on just how much SEO professionals can streamline with the help of the right tools.

    5. Hilltop: A Search Engine based on Expert Documents

    Within the academic framework, some articles are referred to as “seminal,” because their insights are so rich they effectively change dialogue around a topic. This report, prepared by a Professor of Computer Science and Google Researcher is much the same. Learn how they approached the idea of writing a quality-based algorithm, and there’s a good chance you’ll leave with a far better understanding of what Google, Bing and Yahoo are looking for.

    6. Avella Specialty Pharmacy Optimizes Patient Health

    Local SEO is an entirely different animal, as I’m sure you know. This isn’t the most in-depth case study on the list, but it goes to show the incredible improvements both local and national brands can accomplish through simple identification and correction of minor SEO issues.

    7. MTV Networks Identifies and Discovers Power of Social Media Influencers

    This particular case study is more a tale of a brilliant inbound marketing strategy than pure SEO work, but it’s still worth mentioning. The social graph only continues to become more important to SEO-focused brands, and this particular case also deals with concepts of co-branding, digital influencers, and other concepts that are continuing to matter more and more.

    8. Enterprise SEO Tools: The Marketer’s Guide

    What’s an SEO without the right platforms to measure, automate, and engage in the right actions? The importance of tools only increases as you work with larger and larger brands. While this report is targeted towards enterprise-sized companies, it’s got vendor profiles and insights around 10 of the best-known organizations, including gShift Labs, BrightEdge, Conductor, Blueprint and more.

    9. A History of Search Engines: From 1945 to Google Today

    If you only read one report, this should be it. Originally published in The Atlantic, this article places modern concepts of search engines within a larger historical framework, including a glimpse at the pre-Internet days when some of the smartest minds were focused on purely conceptual solutions.

    10. SEO for Small Medical Practices

    This page actually offers four case studies in one - all of which surround small medical practices, which range from a plastic surgeon to a hand and wrist specialist. If you needed any evidence that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work in SEO, it’s here. While these companies focuses are similar at a high level, the SEO methodology that lead to their success certainly wasn’t.

    11. Combating Web Spam with TrustRank

    This paper isn’t for the faint of heart. In fact, you probably need a graduate degree to fully understand it. If you’re brave enough to plunge into it’s pages, you’ll emerge with a better understanding of the basic tactics used by search engines to sniff out - and punish - black hat SEOs.

    12. Kauai Vacation Rentals Case Study

    Have you ever had a client - or employer - who’s seemingly stuck on the 3rd, 4th, or 5th page of Google and won’t budge? Of course you have. Kauai Vacation Rental’s problem isn’t unique, and neither is the root issue of their SEO woes - Google penalties for accidental issues for their website. Learn how they fixed the problem, and soared to the first page of SERPs in almost no time.

    13. The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine

    If this title makes your eyes glaze over, take heed and click over anyway. Scroll all the way to the bottom of the page, and join me in a resounding chorus of “awwwwww” over the author pictures of a very young Lawrence Page and Sergey Brim. Yup - this SEO research report was authored by the co-founders of Google, back when they were fresh-faced graduate students at Stanford University. It’s a treasure.

    14. The Seven Ages of Information Retrieval

    This paper is another doozy, pure and simple. It’s an academic work which places search marketing at the heart of what it really is - a very complex, knowledge management issue. This paper is about the academic, historical, and technological context that surrounds SEO as we know it.

    15. Information Retrieval Data Structures & Algorithms

    Do SEO professionals really need to understand data structures, or can they leave that to the geniuses in Google’s labs? To answer your question, you can probably do brilliantly without really understanding things like lexical files, but think of all the power you’ll hold if you do. You can impress your dates, your boss, or bore anyone to sleep who dares ask. I’m joking (of course), but this paper is another incredible tool for SEOs seeking to strengthen their professional knowledge base.

    What are your favorite SEO case studies and research reports to add to this list?

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    Topics: SEO