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Online fitness publication monetizes free blog with SEO and makes 6-figure ad revenue in 6 months

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“It takes time - you can’t all of a sudden start monetizing with ads. This was not an overnight success story, but it had a very obvious accelerator - SEO optimization.”
Lindsey Bomgren, Owner of Nourish Move Love

 

About Nourish Move Love:

Nourish Move Love is a health and fitness website that shares free at-home workouts and workout plans. Fitness trainer and NML founder Lindsey Bomgren is passionate about making fitness free and accessible to all women. The publication’s target audience is busy women and moms seeking to fit in quick and effective workouts at home with a set of dumbbells.

Business Challenge: monetize a website full of content that lacked traction

Nourish Move Love was founded in 2015 when its owner, Lindsey Bomgren, set to turn her side hustle of teaching group fitness classes into a popular online resource for women. While most fitness professionals were selling DVDs with workout plans or access to their apps and online platforms, Lindsey went off the beaten path: she decided to offer all her workouts for free and monetize them with ads - much like recipe bloggers. 

After launching the website, Lindsey started publishing as many workout posts and videos as she could. Three years later, she found herself with a site full of high-quality, useful content that wasn’t bringing in any revenue.  

“I spent 80% of my time creating content I thought people liked. But I wasn't looking at the analytics. In year three of business, I asked myself: I have all this existing content, how do I start making money?

Solution: Keyword Research and SEO Optimization

In 2019, Lindsey realized her content strategy was limited by her own judgement on the best topics and workout titles. While she was taking guesses, she was missing opportunities to capitalize on what her audience was really searching for online

It was then that she started using Semrush’s keyword research tools.

“I could type in a keyword and see its monthly search volume, who was ranking for it and how we compete against these websites; that’s amazing,” Lindsey shares.

Semrush Keyword Overview tool

Keyword Research to Avoid Cannibalization

Before competing with other domains, Lindsey needed to make sure she wasn’t competing with herself: 

“At that point, Nourish Move Love had more than 20 full-body workouts. How do we differentiate them without cannibalizing the keywords? The Semrush Keyword Magic Tool really helps with this by giving us all the possible name variations and their metrics.”

Lindsey found her sweet spot in terms with a keyword difficulty of 70 or lower and a search volume of 5,000 or greater.

Finding a keyword niche

While Lindsey was exploring all the title options for her existing videos in the Keyword Magic Tool, she found her niche in naming workouts with “at home” and “for women”. 

As she was publishing the newly optimized content, she discovered that the winning strategy was not chasing the highest-volume broad terms but focusing on lower-volume long-tail keywords

“We created this post, ‘Seven best strength training exercises for women’ - super long and super niche, but it started crushing it for us. So, we replicated the success with other workouts.”

After Lindsey got pregnant, a new fitness area opened up for her - prenatal and postpartum workouts. These keywords turned out to be another success for her business.

Once the main keyword is identified, Lindsey drafts the blog post, focusing on it. Next, she runs Semrush’s SEO Writing Assistant plugin for Wordpress. The tool not only checks the post for readability and originality but also suggests any missing keywords that would contribute to its SEO optimization.

“An exercise I call ‘chest press’ may have variations like ‘dumbbell chest press’ that I didn’t think of. The SEO Writing Assistant helps enrich my articles with the other possible terms; I’m a big fan of it.”

Real-time suggestions for an article in the SEO Writing Assistant tool

Strategic Content Creation

After optimizing the existing content, it was time to continue producing new blog posts and videos. Since discovering SEO, Lindsey takes the same data-driven approach to content creation and makes sure to research the queries relating to each topic. 

“We don’t step into the studio and shoot a random workout, it’s very strategic. We show up to the studio with a 14-page document. Every workout is outlined and tailored to SEO before we even shoot it.

Republishing Content

The work doesn’t stop once the content is live. Lindsey set up Semrush Position Tracking for both the mobile and the desktop site versions to keep an eye on the rankings and get notified of significant position changes immediately via email.

An example of a Position Tracking report sent via email

Seeing if a blog post gets picked up by Google can be a waiting game. If it doesn’t reach the first page within a year, Lindsey goes back, restructures and republishes it for the keyword that is the closest to the SERPs’ top 10.

To identify the best ranking opportunity, she puts the blog URL into the Organic Research tool and gets the list of keywords it’s currently ranking for and its positions. For example, this blog post is just three positions away from ranking on the first page for “arms and abs workout” - a keyword with 3,600 monthly searches. Definitely worth the little extra effort!

“When I finally dove into SEO, I discovered so many ways we could use our existing content to continue to make money by republishing it,” Lindsey shares.

Outranking serious competition

Because of the unusual monetization model for a fitness training business, Nourish Move Love often finds itself competing on the SERPs against the biggest publications like Women’s Health magazine, Shape magazine, and others.

Instead of fighting for every keyword, Lindsey prefers to be smart about it and only challenge the big domains in their weak spots.  

She puts the competitor post’s URL into Semrush’s Organic Research tool to check when it was published, how it has performed over time, and what other keywords it’s optimized for. If a post is a couple of years old, that means there’s a great opportunity to challenge its position with a newer and better piece of content.

An example of a competitor post’s stats

“Every time we outrank the major online magazines for high-volume keywords I feel like we play a lot bigger than we are, but it's all about being strategic and smart,” Lindsey says.

Landing ad placements using SEO data

Lindsey started implementing a more robust SEO strategy in early 2020, when her average monthly traffic was around 193k. A year later, her organic traffic grew by 150% to an average of 480k a month.

NML’s traffic trend

As her SEO optimization continued snowballing throughout 2021, Lindsey’s dream of signing deals with the biggest brands in the industry was closer than ever. She used Semrush data as a means of landing her best contracts to date:

“lululemon has been on my wish list of brands to work with since I started this business. I was finally able to sign a contract with them after pitching them heavily based on SEO. We pulled terms like ‘lululemon leggings’, 'lululemon maternity' and 'lululemon maternity leggings' to show them how popular these searches were and how much area of opportunity there was to work with a pregnant fitness content creator (me)... and we ultimately landed the contract in late 2021!” Lindsey shares.

Additionally, Lindsey uses SEO to help educate her brand partners on how to strategically create blog content with lasting results:

“When they want me to call the align leggings the ‘align pant’ as they have it outlined on their site, I can show them that ‘align leggings’ gets over 22K searches a month whereas ‘align pant’ only gets 3,5K searches a month. That’s how we educate partners on why we strategically choose headlines and H2 to promote their products.”

Results

150% monthly organic traffic growth within a year (an average of 193k a month in 2020 vs. 480k in 2021).

“It takes time - you can’t all of a sudden start monetizing with ads. You have to grow your audience; it was a slow game. This was not an overnight success story, but it had a very obvious accelerator - SEO optimization.

We continue to work on the other traffic and income sources like Pinterest and YouTube, but website traffic has been our bread and butter for the past 2 years,” Lindsey says.

In 2021, Nourish Move Love reached a 6-figure ad revenue in 6 months for the first time.

“This year has truly exceeded several of my long-term goals for this business and makes looking ahead very exciting. It makes the last 6 years and countless late nights and early mornings finally all feel worth it. I wish I had invested in our SEO strategy sooner.”

Lindsey hired two full-time employees in 2021 to continue helping women lead an active life from their homes with little to no investment.

“We get to publish all these free workouts and we're monetizing in a major way. It's just a really fun space to be in with what feels like unlimited growth opportunities,” Lindsey concludes.

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