The Anatomy Of An (Accidental) Monster Post – One Year On

Monster/laptop image
Just over one year ago, on 6th March 2013, I published How To Remove Slanderous Google Reviews – A Case Study. It’s the story of how I managed to remove a fake 1-star review from my parents’ business’ Google Places account.

At the time, that’s all it was: a story. Events unfolded and I decided to write about them, as I thought that my experience might be helpful to others. Beyond that, I thought nothing of it. Even as an SEO, I didn’t expect the post to be big – but over the year, it took off. Majorly.

One year on, I wanted to look back at the stats in Google Analytics and suggest what I think may be behind its success.

The data

From 6th March 2013 to 5th March 2014, my blog had over 15k unique visits and over 22k unique pageviews. The post had over 7,000 unique pageviews – a third of all pageviews to the entire 150+ page blog

GA Top 5 Pages screenshot
(Click to enlarge)

It’s also been viewed twice as many times as my homepage. The blog’s second most popular post during that time received a seventh of the views of the main post (just shy of 1,000 unique pageviews)… In other words, it makes the rest of my content look crap in comparison, haha!

Interestingly, when looking at the Top Pages section in Open Site Explorer, things are different. From a Page Authority point of view, it’s the blog’s fifth most popular page:

OSE Top 5 Pages screenshot
(Click to enlarge)

Less links and less shares compared to a couple of other posts and pages.

So what’s attributed to its success, if social shares and links aren’t behind it? Organic search.

In this graph, the blue line is All Visits to the post over the year, while the orange line is Non-paid Search Visits. As you can see, there’s really not much in it – i.e. the majority of visits came from non-paid (organic) search.

GA All Visits vs. Organic screenshot
(Click to enlarge)

Looking back, I think that there are a few major factors that really helped with its pick-up and click-through from Google Search…

(Brief) keyword research and keyword inclusion

Although I said that I didn’t intend for it to be a big hit via SEO, I still took the opportunity to see if a) people search for this topic, and b) what they search for exactly.

A few keywords each get a few dozen searches a month worldwide…

  • “how to remove google reviews” = 140 searches per month,
  • “remove google review” = 90,
  • “how to delete a google review” = 70
  • “how to remove a bad google review” = 30
  • “how to remove negative google reviews” = 20, and so on…

From what a brief bit of keyword research shows, nobody really searches for removing “slanderous” reviews – they just search for removing reviews full stop, or removing bad/negative reviews. Or instead of “remove,” they may use “delete.”

I didn’t spend a ridiculous amount of time on it admittedly, but when I wrote the post, I made sure to include mentions of the relevant words and phrases such as “bad review” and “delete.” I’ve just noticed that while I didn’t include the word “negative” in the original post, it’s been used in the comments a couple of times – going to show that comments can add to the overall copy and can be a long-tail goldmine.

…We’ll just forget the fact that – according to this forum thread – I apparently got slander and libel mixed up. Oops… Oh well. (I could’ve sworn I got it right?)

Ignoring the pesky “(not provided)” and also “(not set)”, here’s a rundown of some of the keywords that it has been found for:

GA Top Keywords screenshot
(Click to enlarge)

rel="author" – a HUGE help

One thing I’ve noticed when checking the SERPs for keywords is that my result is one of the only ones that has Google Authorship (a.k.a. rel="author") enabled. Here’s an example SERP:

Google SERP screenshot
(Click to… well, you know the drill)

Google’s own support/help pages on the subject are almost always at the top, and obviously they don’t have authorship, providing a golden opportunity. Not only that, but for many of the keywords I’ve checked, not many of them show rel="author" for any of the results (aside from mine).

I love rel="author" and I’ve talked about its benefits before, especially in terms of click-through rate. I wouldn’t be surprised that in instances where I’ve not even ranked 1st or 2nd, searchers have leapfrogged over the non-author results and gone to mine, simply because the authorship snippet is so attention-grabbing and eye-catching.

In other words: if you haven’t implemented rel="author" yet, which can take as little as 5 mins to do, then what the hell is stopping you…?!

If you’re researching a topic to write about and to rank for, in addition to checking its search volume via keyword research, it may be worth doing some SERP research as well. What appears for the keywords? Are there many (or any) other results displaying authorship? If not, it could be even more of an opportunity for you.

It’s a topic of frustration and confusion

When the review struck my parents’ Places listing, we were frustrated. In all honesty, I think that we were very, very lucky to get it removed (and in such a short space of time). I love the fact that the post has had 20+ comments on it – I adore those that suggest success (“THIS WORKED!!! THANK YOU FOR THE TIPS!”) and likewise I feel a little sad when I see instances where people are still struggling (“Tried your suggestions… but [G]oogle [didn’t] do anything”).

I think said frustration/confusion has led to the number of comments on the post. A lot of people want to share their experiences – good, bad or ugly. This has kept the post ‘fresh’ (i.e. with lots of fresh comments hitting it frequently, even recently), which – as mentioned previously – all contribute to the words/phrases and keyword usage on the page.

A blessing and a curse…

When I worked at Box UK (before going self-employed), they also had one standout blog post that was a hit compared to the rest. I thought that it was awesome – it generated traffic, links and social shares in its own right – so I was surprised when one of the internal marketing team made it out like it was a curse. I thought: “pfft, how can they possibly think that?”

Well, truth be told, posts like these can be a bit of a timesuck post-publication. For Box UK, they had a lot of spammy comments hit the post, which took time to maintain. For me, I’ve had emails from a lot of people asking for help. As it says at the beginning in the post, “if you’ve followed the steps in this post and you’re still having problems, then there’s not really much else I can do…” yet I still get the odd email asking for help. I even had one cheeky Australian email me simply saying “call me: [phone number].” Call you? In Australia? To help you out for free? Err, no thanks…

Also, given the topic, you don’t know if someone’s suffered a slanderous/libellous review or if it’s a genuine bad review that they’re simply hoping to pass off as slander. Sometimes it’s tough to tell.

On the plus side though, the post has led to normal enquiries though for freelance work, which is awesome.

Replicating success (or lack of…)

If there’s anything that I’ve learnt from this experience, it’s this: it’s very, very difficult to replicate success.

As I mentioned, I never intended this post to be a success. But more recently, I wrote and published a post called 2-3 WordPress Plugins For Reducing Comment Spam (From 100s To <10 Per Day). I thought that it’d be a hit, but… I was wrong. Way wrong. It’s only been live just over a month, but it’s only had a paltry 35 unique pageviews since its publication on 6th February (to put that into perspective, during the same timeframe, the slanderous reviews post has had over 1,800 unique pageviews)…

A fitting summary for this section, and this post in general: you just never know when a post will be a hit, and sometimes the posts that you hope will be hits will flop miserably.

And that’s it! That’s the story of my monster post. Do you have a monster post? I’d be really interested to learn more about your experiences – please feel free to leave a comment below or tweet me.

[Domo MacBook image credit – Christian Stangier]


  • Emma

    March 20, 2014 at 11:06 am Reply

    I liked this post – it’s very interesting to see – your post is legitimately very helpful, and it’s always good when people have successes, but suck when people still struggle.

    MY monster post is in fact YOUR monster post – the “How to fix my missing follower glitch in Skyrim” guest post you wrote for my blog. It’s a great “how to” post, and it gets LOADS of traffic because a LOT of people are having this problem. Sometimes it fixes the problem, sometimes people comment with other fixes, and sometimes people ask “how can I get my dog back” and I’m like “Dunno, Steve wrote this…” It’s pretty funny. So long and thanks for all the traffic 😉

    • Steve

      March 20, 2014 at 11:12 am Reply

      Yes! I keep forgetting about that (here’s a link for anyone reading this). 50+ comments? Whoa! It’s funny though how you reply to all the people and I completely forget about it and stuff. Haha! Sorry dude. 🙂

      EDIT: OMG, it’s had 24k unique pageviews in 10 months… Wow.

      • Emma

        March 20, 2014 at 11:20 am Reply

        Yep! I hope it helped some of those people! (I imagine it did!!) Got a few links from forums as well. Whoever said guest posts were a bad thing!?

  • […] few years ago, I wrote a monster post. It became so popular that it dwarfed all other pages on my website (even the homepage) – even though I never expected or intended for it to do so. In fact, as I […]

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