SEO + Content Case Study

High-authority media drives client to Page 1

How one data-driven content campaign earned placements in The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, NBC News, CNBC, and 20 other major media outlets, translating to highly valuable SEO outcomes.


  • 137

    media placements

  • 35%

    increase in organic traffic

  • 450%

    increase in page 1 keywords

The Client

Waterstone Management Group (now West Monroe Partners) is an advisory firm for private equity firms and Fortune 500 companies, serving on boards and management teams of more than 100 technology businesses.

The Objective

Improve monthly organic traffic and website visibility for highly competitive keywords in the financial sector, and bolster the website’s backlink profile with authoritative, inbound links.

Digital PR Strategy

Create a content campaign featuring a newsworthy study of Americans’ monthly subscription spending


    The Problem

  • Waterstone’s domain authority was lower than its competitors, it needed to strengthen its digital reputation to appear higher in search.


    The Solution

  • Produce and promote a piece of original research, housed on Waterstone’s website, and earn inbound media placements to their site.

    By earning widespread media attention we aimed to improve Waterstone’s performance in organic search rankings and increase their organic traffic.

    The content we produced was a consumer survey of 2,000 Americans regarding their awareness of monthly spending on subscriptions.

    Each respondent was asked to quickly estimate how much they spend each month on things like cable television, mobile phone service, media streaming services, subscription boxes, etc.

    We then took each participant through a detailed inventory of their subscription-based expenditures, to assess the accuracy of people’s estimates.


    Why it Matters

  • This content subject was relevant enough to Waterstone’s core business, yet tangential enough that it was interesting to general media outlets.

    By balancing relevancy and newsworthiness, we created a piece of content that established Waterstone as an authority on consumer spending. We were able to subtly promote their expertise without sounding overly advertorial.

From July 2018 to June 2019, “America’s Relationship with Subscription Services” earned a total of 137 media placements and 129 backlinks to Waterstone’s website, with highlights including The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, NBC News, Forbes and Business Insider. Alongside digitally published articles, Waterstone and their study were also featured in three TV segments, two radio broadcasts, and on the front page of the Money section in a nationally syndicated print edition of USA Today.


unique domains linking to Waterstone’s website.

The distribution of link types was consistent with what we see from other high-performing campaigns. Our work began by amassing a core of “direct” links, meaning those we could trace to specific media pitches originating from our team. Then we watched coverage amplify through syndication and “organic” links, which are links generated from instances where a journalist finds our study and chooses to write about it without getting a direct pitch from us.


This enviable press translated to highly-value SEO outcomes. At the beginning of the campaign, Waterstone ranked on Page 1 for two core keywords. By the end, Waterstone ranked for 11 core keywords, and compared with their foremost competitor—an entrenched industry leader dozens of times larger—Waterstone ended up with a higher average ranking for all keywords targeted and tracked by the two firms.


increase in organic traffic, year-over-year.

Over the course of 12 months of on-site SEO work and this digital PR link building campaign, the client’s website experienced an average of 9% month-over-month growth in organic traffic and a 35% increase in organic traffic year-over-year.

By the end of the campaign, Waterstone bested its primary competitor in terms of average rank for all keywords targeted and tracked.

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Lyndsey Maddox

Chief Executive Officer

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