SEO case study

HOTH X Gardening Niche Client Scores 900% More Backlinks

How do you fix a sudden dive in web traffic?

Besides calling The HOTH for help, your first step should be to check on what’s happening with your ranking keywords, links, and on-page SEO.

Chances are something needs to be adjusted or expanded on. In the SEO world, we call this optimization.

What you’re about to read is a unique case study because the client had been earning record-breaking gains only a few months before they contacted us.

The problem was their traffic started falling with no end in sight.

We couldn’t be sure whether the quarantine contributed to higher online visits or separate SEO work they did themselves. All we knew was that something had changed and we had to find a way to correct it before they started losing revenue.

This case study will take you through the process of how we conducted a site audit, built a winning SEO strategy from the ground up, and stayed consistent for nine months until their traffic was back up to where it was supposed to be.

By enrolling in HOTH X, our managed SEO program, this client experienced a 900% increase in backlinks!

Keep reading below to find out how we helped them do it.


Adam from Indoor Gardening called us in February 2021 wanting to learn more about how he could increase the traffic to his site, which was first launched in 2019.

His company was designed to be a haven for all gardeners.

Whether a brand new visitor wanting to learn more about building a sustainable garden or veterans with a well-developed green thumb, Indoor Gardening offers something for everyone.

They pride themselves on “providing down-to-earth advice, sensible tips, and doses of daily inspiration to help your indoor plants and gardens blossom.”

The Indoor Gardening website was designed with community building in mind. Adam wanted people to visit his site to share information and learn something new.

For this reason, it was so important to increase his site’s traffic and search ranking so more people could get engaged in his online community.

We recommended that Adam enroll in HOTH X.

This is our fully managed SEO program that would help him to optimize his site, post content with high-performing keywords, and begin link building to boost his search rankings.

Adam would have full access to all of our SEO products in HOTH X, which gives our team the flexibility to do what’s needed to achieve his marketing goals.

He was also assigned a dedicated HOTH X campaign manager, Rachael Strauss, who would help him devise a winning SEO strategy, stay in touch with him regularly, and provide consistent reports on how his campaign was doing.

Launching A Full Site Audit

After Adam enrolled in HOTH X, it was time to start building him a winning SEO strategy.

Before we could crush his goals, we needed a full understanding of how his site was organized and how it was performing.

A screenshot of the Indoor Gardening homepage.

The site produces high-quality, well-researched content that contributes to its growing search ranking. For instance, the article “Helping Grow the Best Indoor Gardens” is their best performing piece of content and it has been shared on Pinterest dozens of times.

Other high-performing articles include “Snake Plant Care: Your Total Guide” and “The Best Hydroponic Systems for Home Gardens.”

Each article contains targeted keywords and helps answer a real question among the online gardening community.

Besides articles on hydroponics, indoor gardening, pest control, or fertilizer, the website also makes recommendations on the best plant lights or gardening kits to purchase. A screenshot of the Indoor Gardening blog.

One section of their site even offers unique planting boxes for sale in partnership with Bergamo Woodworks.

When The HOTH starts working with a new client, our first step is to conduct a full SEO audit. This shows us what they are knocking out of the park and what needs further improvement.

Indoor Gardening had made some impressive traffic gains in July 2020 by hitting a record number of 26,000 monthly visitors. Except, Adam’s new traffic wasn’t stable. It bobbed up and down until November and then dropped to a fraction of what it was at its best (about 9,000).

We had to get that traffic back up to where it was and ensure it continued to grow in the long term.

Checking on Indoor Gardening’s ranking keywords verified the drop. When traffic was at its highest, the company ranked for approximately 11,700 keywords, including over 500 in the #1-3 positions.

Ranking keywords dropped from 11,700 to under 9,000. And what happened to all of those keywords in the top three spots? They also decreased to less than half of 500.

One of the last things we check during an SEO audit is a site’s backlink profile. This includes the number of external sites linking back to the client. Google considers them as a “vote of confidence” and will boost the rankings of any sites with high-authority backlinks.

link building strategy is important for every business because backlinks are one of Google’s top-ranking factors.

While Indoor Gardening’s web traffic and keyword rankings fell, their backlinks remained steady. And they had continued growing slowly since launching the site in early 2019.

This was good news but our team knew we could grow those backlinks much faster.

Running a comprehensive audit for every new client tells us exactly what we’ll need to focus on to get them back on track. The next step was to see what some of Adam’s competition was doing online.

Competitive Gap Analysis

Adam’s business is unique from his competitors but it’s helpful to know what they’re doing because they all operate in the gardening niche.

A competitive gap analysis would show us what strategies were working for them. Not every strategy we encountered would work for Indoor Gardening, but it was a good starting point to figure out what businesses are doing in this niche.

Our SEO team checked out about 44 different sites that were considered direct competitors to Indoor Gardening. We looked at their shared keywords and those the competitor ranked for but Adam did not.

One site was dedicated to being a resource on house plants and ranked for 11,585 unique keywords (which Adam did not). They included “philodendron,” “types of ivy,” and “indirect sunlight.”

We examined sites with unique competitor keywords as high as 267,169 and as low as 215. They were all gardening sites, yet they chose very different keywords for their SEO strategies.

Our job was to pick what keywords would work for Adam’s company and start using them on his website.

Finding Easy Win Keywords

At this point in the planning process, we had thousands of potential keywords to use. But, as we explained above, any keywords we selected for Indoor Gardening had to be relevant to their unique business.

We also had to take a look at how each of these keywords was ranking. Keywords in the top three spots would be more difficult to rank for and take longer to get.

There are others we call “easy win” keywords, which include those a client is already ranking for in positions #4-30.

All we have to do is add some of them to Adam’s web pages and get a quick SEO boost. That’s why we call them easy wins! 

What were some of Adam’s “easy win” keywords? Our SEO team added keywords like “indoor hydroponic garden” in #5, “plant supplies” in #8, “hydroponic unit” in #20, and “home gardening kits” in #29.

You’ll see under the results section how effective these types of keywords truly were.

Indoor Gardening SEO Strategy

It took a while but our team finally collected all of the information we’d need to build Adam his brand new SEO strategy.

Keep in mind that all of our strategies are based on real data and proven SEO methods. There’s no guessing about what we think might work. We know exactly what’ll work based on the numbers!

Our recommendation for Adam was to enroll in HOTH X. It would get him back on track and he could choose to be as hands-on or hands-off as he wanted.

His dedicated campaign manager, Rachael, would help beef up keywords, post new blogs, write new web copy, or build links as needed.

Otherwise, he would have to purchase each of those SEO products separately.

Earlier in this case study, we pointed out how his backlinks didn’t drop as much as traffic and keywords. We knew there was potential for high growth with link building, so that’s where we started.

From March 2021 until December 2021, he provided several guest posts per month. HOTH Guest Post is one of our link-building products where clients order blogs that are published on high-authority sites with a link back to them.

Many businesses like to do their guest post outreach but it’s time-consuming. Our team can take care of everything for you by writing high-quality posts with specific anchor text and publishing them for you on another site with high domain authority (DA).

HOTH Guest Post gives the option of focusing on traffic or domain authority, depending on your goals. Below is the type of guest posts that Adam ordered during our campaign and he decided to choose DA.

  • DA20 Guest Post: 2 Pack
  • DA30 Guest Post: 1 Pack
  • DA40 Guest Post: 1 Pack

All guest post content is relevant to the client’s business. Some of Indoor Gardening’s posts were “The Complete Guide to Picking Indoor Plants,” “How to Set Up An Indoor Greenhouse,” and “5 Incredible Health Benefits of Gardening.”

We also set Indoor Gardening up with HOTH Foundations, which is a service providing in-content, contextual links to their site. Foundations helped them to build a natural link profile.

Adam was specifically interested in HOTH Foundations Medium, which provided three URLs with five anchors per URL, 32 authority site links, and four top-level blogs.

Once everything was in place we got to sit back and watch the results. Our primary concern was to ensure all link building was done consistently and naturally.

Scroll below to see the results!

The SEO Results

After nine months of Adam’s new SEO strategy for Indoor Gardening, we were ecstatic to see the tremendous gains he made.

He received regular performance reports from his campaign manager every step of the way, but it’s also exciting to step back over nine months and see how much his traffic and keyword rankings increased.

Indoor Gardening’s web traffic jumped from 12,600 when they first contacted us to 19,434 today!

A chart showing Indoor Gardening's growth in organic traffic after working with The HOTH.

And, as you guessed it, new keywords had a lot to do with this growth. All of the new content and guest posts we churned out resulted in more than 3X the keywords from 9,000 to 30,248.

Even more impressive is the noticeable spike in our “easy win” keywords ranked between #4-10.

A chart showing Indoor Gardening's growth in ranking keywords.

Last but not least, we had to see what effect all of our link building and guest posts had on Indoor Gardening’s backlinks.

Their number of referring domains jumped from 230 to 1,954. Just think about how much of that “link juice” from high authority sites catapulted Indoor Gardening to where they are today.

Not to mention that’s an increase of 900% in backlinks!

A chart showing how Indoor Gardening experienced a 900% increase in backlinks.

Here’s another awesome stat: the value of Indoor Gardening’s traffic is now $6,000.

Adam isn’t doing paid advertising or PPC, but he would have to pay that much to receive the same amount of traffic he’s currently getting with our SEO strategy.

PPC is a viable option for him in the future if his business continues to grow like this. The HOTH also offers paid advertising products and a fully managed PPC program.


What could you learn about reading this case study for Indoor Gardening? The most important lesson is to create a data-backed SEO strategy and make sure it’s applied consistently.

It’s clear that something was working for Adam’s site before he contacted us in February 2021, but for whatever reason, those activities halted and his traffic dropped.

Businesses wanting to optimize their SEO should also understand that it takes time to see results. PPC may be immediate but SEO campaigns can take three months or more to start moving the needle. Running a campaign up to nine months like Indoor Gardening is optimal.

How would you like to see some of these results for your business?

All you have to do is schedule a consultation with one of our digital marketing experts so they can tell you about our best-selling managed SEO program, HOTH X, and all of our effective products. Click here to get started.