Small Business SEO Case Study: 100% Growth In Organic Traffic

Ranking a website with low domain authority in a competitive market is a challenge many small businesses face. 

Dapper Marketing, a marketing agency that helps small businesses with their online presence, shows us that it’s very much doable - especially with the right tools.

We sat down with Daan van Lonkhuizen, the owner of Dapper Marketing, to understand their approach to small business SEO and how Surfer fits into it.

Before Surfer, Daan admitted to doing most things manually: identifying competitors, doing keyword research using a tool like Ubersuggest, creating an article layout, and then writing the article.

After finding out about Surfer, their goal switched to quickly optimizing their clients’ old content and repurposing it into newer content so it could rank higher in the SERPs. 

And the results speak for themselves.

“Using Surfer, I was able to realize 100% growth in organic traffic, 150 new leads, and 3 sales for one of my clients in just 2 months.”

- Daan van Lonkhuizen, Owner at Dapper Marketing

While the traffic may not be in the thousands, keep in mind that these are enterprise software users with average ticket sizes in the thousands of dollars.

Here’s the process Daan uses to consistently achieve such remarkable results for his SEO clients. 

SEO strategy implementation

When taking on the SEO strategy of a new client, Dapper Marketing implements a threefold approach that focuses on the following areas:

  • Optimize old website content
  • Focus on specific keywords and build content around those topics
  • Drive organic website traffic: their goal is 50% growth per client

1. Understand the market, business, and competitors

The first step to building a successful SEO strategy is to understand the business and the environment in which it operates. 

That’s exactly what Daan does when working with a new client. He aims to answer the question: What are they offering, and what are the main drivers and challenges of the business?

For example, Daan tells us that for one of his small business clients, the market is competitive, and therefore, it is a challenge to create the best content that answers the audience's questions and fills the information gap. 

The company offers business intelligence dashboarding services. That market is quite competitive in the Netherlands as many companies, mainly big players, write a lot of content on those topics. 

When you are a small player in a competitive market, competing for the top spots in search results can be challenging, albeit not impossible. 

2. Keyword research and clustering 

Based on the main drivers of the business, Daan conducts keyword research to identify keywords that are important to rank for.

His team looks at specific terms and phrases that their target audience uses to search for information, products, or services online. 

"At this point, I also identify what type of content is the right fit per keyword and what the intention of the content is."

- Daan van Lonkhuizen, Owner at Dapper Marketing

You can easily automate this process using tools like Surfer Keyword Research

If we look at the topic of “Power BI” in the Netherlands market using Surfer’s Keyword Research tool, we can easily spot relevant keywords and their metrics, as well as what type of content to create based on the search intent behind the keywords. 

Surfer automatically takes care of keyword clustering as well.

Clustering organizes keywords around themes, improving site structure and boosting the relevance of your pages in search engine results. 

Websites with low DA operating in a competitive market can initially focus on clusters with a medium keyword difficulty to start building niche authority. 

Take this lucrative keyword cluster, for example. It has a keyword difficulty of 6 and a relatively high search volume. 

The cluster is dominated by informational content, so the team can write a long-form blog post on “power bi dashboards examples” to satisfy search intent.

3. Identify information gaps

Next, the team looks for opportunities where their client can provide unique, valuable content that the competitors are missing, addressing unmet needs or questions. 

“The main goal of this step is to identify a keyword gap between my client's website and the competitor.” 

- Daan van Lonkhuizen, Owner at Dapper Marketing

Essentially, it involves comparing your content to that of your competitors to identify areas you can cover more comprehensively or content they may have left out.

Daan picks 2-3 main competitors and conducts keyword research based on their website. 

You can do this manually or automate it using Surfer’s Keyword Research tool.

For that, you’ll have to connect Surfer to your client’s Google Search Console (GSC). 

So, let’s look at the example of Surfer’s website. 

You don’t have to limit your research to 2-3 competitors. Surfer will automatically select all relevant ones based on topical coverage. However, you can choose which competitors to focus on.

The tool will compare your topical coverage to that of your competitors to help you identify information gaps.

For instance, in the left-hand panel, we can see that we’ve covered 8/17 keywords for the “SEO Keywords” cluster.

In the right-hand panel, we find article ideas on how to cover the rest of the keywords in the cluster. 

Topical coverage ensures your content comprehensively addresses a subject, signaling to search engines and users alike that your site is a valuable and authoritative resource on the topic.

4. Optimize content

At this point, you should have multiple keyword clusters that are important to rank for and information gaps to fill. 

In this step, it’s important to identify whether you need to create new content or optimize existing articles.

If your existing articles are outdated, underperforming, or no longer align with search intent, updating them can rejuvenate their relevance and ranking. 

Conversely, creating new content is the way to go if you identify new opportunities, trends, or gaps in your content library.

Updating existing content

When updating existing articles, Daan and his team edit the content based on the keyword and competitor research from the previous steps. 

They also use Surfer’s Content Editor to track keyword optimization and ensure the article touches on the most important topics. 

Surfer Audit can also help you optimize published content with recommendations beyond keyword optimization. 

The tool analyzes key on-page factors and provides actionable recommendations to enhance the content's relevance and SEO performance.

It points out elements like:

  • Internal linking opportunities
  • Relevant keywords to add 
  • Page structure changes
  • Title and meta description length recommendations
  • Page speed insights 
  • Backlinking opportunities 

This way, you know exactly in which areas to focus to boost existing content in SERPs.

Writing new articles

When creating new content, Daan relies on Surfer AI and the Content Editor.

Writing an article with Surfer AI is very straightforward. Simply enter your keyword(s) and target country and follow the tool's steps. 

Surfer AI allows you to:

  1. Choose the type of article you want to write
  2. Set your preferred tone of voice
  3. Add specific sources, knowledge, and URLs
  4. Pick which competitors to base the article on

Based on the above, Surfer AI will create an article outline, which you can further customize.

“This way, I can be sure to cover every piece of information that competitors are writing about, plus add extra information.”

- Daan van Lonkhuizen, Owner at Dapper Marketing

Surfer AI will then generate a fully optimized article that’s ready for editing and publishing.

Don’t neglect the editing process. This is your opportunity to complement the AI article with your unique insights and add internal links. 

5. Convert organic traffic into leads

Attracting visitors through organic search results is a testament to the relevance and quality of your content in the eyes of search engines. 

However, the journey doesn't end with attracting visitors; the next step is converting visitors into leads.

The Dapper Marketing team employs a strategic funnel approach to achieve this. 

Initially, they aim to capture the attention of organic traffic and guide these visitors towards downloading a whitepaper, which acts as a lead magnet.

The key is to create a whitepaper that addresses a common challenge or emerging trend in the industry. 

For instance, for their Power BI client, they might focus on a topic like "Advanced Data Visualization Techniques in Power BI for Enhanced Business Insights." This topic addresses a specific need for improving data presentation and decision-making processes.

The whitepaper should be well-researched and offer actionable solutions for the target audience.

Downloading the white paper would invite users to book a consulting call with a BI professional. These leads were converted into paying customers over the call, bringing Daan’s clients a return on their SEO investment. 


The above strategy helped Dapper Marketing achieve 100% organic growth in 2 months for their client in the Power BI industry. 

As you can see from the graph below, Daan’s clients doubled their traffic.

More importantly, this translated to business value in the form of 150 warm leads, of which 3 converted into high-ticket customers. 

Daan used his expertise and Surfer to recreate such results for other small businesses. 

It’s important to note that both websites are relatively new and have little to no authority by traditional keyword metrics. 

This shows that by taking a strategic approach to updating existing content, filling content information gaps, and using the right tools, every website can rank on the first page of Google and attract more visitors.

Key takeaways 

Despite low domain authority, Dapper Marketing demonstrates that small businesses can rank well in search engines and compete with big players.

Their approach involves optimizing existing content, focusing on strategic keywords, and converting organic traffic into leads via lead magnets. 

They conduct thorough market and competitor analyses to identify keyword gaps and create content that addresses them. 

Using tools like Surfer Keyword Research, you can automate keyword research and clustering and then leverage Surfer AI to create and optimize articles. 

This strategy has led to significant increases in organic traffic, lead generation, and sales for their clients, proving that a focused content strategy coupled with smart tools can yield impressive results for small businesses in competitive markets.

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Screenshot of Surfer SEO Content Editor interface, displaying the 'Essential Content Marketing Metrics' article with a content score of 82/100. The editor highlights sections like 'Key Takeaways' and offers SEO suggestions for terms such as 'content marketing metrics