Increase Organic Web Traffic By Building A Glossary: Case Study

Every online publisher is chasing after more and more organic search traffic vs. paid web traffic.


Organic search traffic is by FAR more profitable, both by margin and long term cumulative monies.

Why (again)?

The only direct cost, is the cost to write the content (*No platform fees.)

But how should you go about successfully generating organic search visits to your website at scale?

Scale is a key attribute to any successful organic search campaign. Google serves user content. Reason would have it that the more content you offer Google, the more it offers to its users (searchers) and the more occasion your business or organisation has to be found by its audiences.

Glossaries on a website are great for SEO,

A glossary therefore is fit for purpose as a key building block for drawing in the bulk organic search rankings for any website – including yours.

On the internet there are cases everywhere of glossaries which have catapulted a business website into organic search success.

But how do glossaries help sites topple the Google search engine rankings?

According to Google in their ‘How Google works’ guidelines, these are the key characteristics that their search software (aka algorithm) accounts for when assigning search rankings to web pages:

“…the best information we (Google) can offer…”

  1. freshness of the content,
  2. number of times your search terms appear
  3. whether the page has a good user experience
  4. we look for sites that many users seem to value for similar queries
  5. If other prominent websites on the subject link to the page, that’s a good sign that the information is of high quality.

So, want to rank highly on Google for your chosen keywords?

The 5 points above is simply how it’s done.

Let’s expand on them a little to add some practicality to the advice:

  • Freshness = how often you release new content onto the Google database of indexed pages
  • No. times your search terms appear in ranking (impressions) = times searchers see you pages in the rankings
  • Good user experience = users enjoy visiting your page
  • Many users seem to value for similar queries = related terms also attract searches
  • ‘Other’ prominent websites on the subject link to the page = get favourable SERP positions as other good sites vote your content up the ranks

So, firmly considering the idea of hosting a content glossary on your website, let’s examine the make-up a glossary has, which make it a solid fit for achieving Google’s ideal standard for SEO.

What is a glossary?

According the etymonline (the online etymological dictionary),

…the word glossary is derived from the late Latin word:

  • glossa meaning –
    • obsolete or foreign word

In other words, a glossary does the important job of translating words which are not understood to make their meanings common to the audience members. A teaching tool.

The nature of a glossary is that is must be encyclopedic in nature.

It has got to do the job of covering a full range of A-Z vocabulary in order to add the value of opening up an entire subject to its readers.

In doing so, the scale of content must also be comprehensive.

Let’s see how the nature of a glossary satisfies Google’s criteria of best information:

  • freshness – new technical glossary terms are continually translated and interpreted to feed the audience with up to date instruction
  • impressions in search – covering every term (A-Z) in your niche with a well targeted page bearing the definition of each word gives every opportunity to turn up in a SERP
  • users enjoy the page – searchers are looking for instant answers to their problems. A well indexed glossary delivers immediate understanding of the technical term searched for, plus definitions of all other related terms. This makes for an enjoyable user experience with plenty follow through traffic from page to page.
  • related terms – the nature of a glossary is that pages for related terms are interlinked offering extension of learning from the seed word searched for
  • links from other prominent sites – a glossary is great link bait. It is a universally useful resource which takes a lot of planning and writing effort to produce – and therefore is not easily imitated. Once written, your glossary shouldn’t cease to attract links from prominent sites whose writing staff will use it for reference.

[Note: if you find in your industry that a glossary is already topping the charts, don’t give up – why not produce another one, but with a different value adding perspective. Rather than dictionary definitions, why not give new meaning to the words with an innovative slant.]

Example glossary with full case study

Amidst all the talk in the SEO press of longform web content and its merits for ranking on Google…

…the following case study breaks all the trends and proves that answering the user’s question, no matter how brief, makes all the difference for search performance.

The niche: IT for beginners

In arguably one of the most competitive niches online, a little known website outranks some of the biggest tech names in the industry – with ease.

The focus website’s pages are not nearly as loaded as its neighbours pages in the search ranking.

…they have fewer words per page, rarely use images on the page, have unrecognizable URL structures – in fact they really seem to be going against the grain of SEO industry trend, however…

…you CANNOT deny their results.


Released: November 1, 1998

Glossary: over 15,000 computer terms

Computer Hope Dictionary

Over all page number: 50,000+

Computer Hope Registered Pages on Google
Computer Hope has over 50K indexed content pages on Google

Owner: Nathan Emberton, a computer technician who started the project when he was 16.

Computer Hope Organic Traffic
Computer Hope’s organic traffic estimate – courtesy of Ubersuggest

Computer Hope has an estimated monthly traffic of just over 7million hits.

This it generates from ranking for over 1.5million known keywords.

Here are the top performing pages on the Computer Hope website, ordered by organic search traffic:

Top traffic pages on the Computer Hope website
Top performing pages, by organic traffic to Computer Hope website – courtesy of Ubersuggest

As highlighted in the figure above, Computer Hope website ranks very predominantly for some of the highest traffic keywords in the computer-related, IT support for beginners niche.

For example, a keyword such as ‘binary‘ – generates the Computer Hope website an estimated 14,715 organic search visits per month. This number therefore comprises Computer Hope’s share of traffic from that particular root keyword.

The keyword ‘binary‘ itself, though, is estimated to attract in total over 90,000 organic searches per month via Google:

Binary keyword organic monthly searches
Total number of organic monthly searches via Google for keyword ‘binary’ – courtesy of Ubersuggest

We would expect that for Computer Hope to attract such a significant proportion of organic search traffic from this keyword alone, it must rank fairly prominently for it in the Google SERP….take a look:

Google SERP for binary keyword
Google SERP for keyword ‘binary‘ – courtesy of Google

We guessed right.

The snapshot above shows Computer Hope at the number 1 position of keyword search ‘binary’, on Google.

This means that out of 190,000,000 plus pages on the topic of binary, which are indexed for Google’s ranking, Computer Hope’s definition page is #1 of 190,000,000.

Other prominent websites which Computer Hope exceeds in the ranking for the keyword ‘binary’ are:

  • Wikipedia
  • Tech Target

What about a comparison of on-page factors?

Computer Hope’s binary page has:

  • 529 words
  • Moz DA: 82
  • Moz PA: 53
  • Backlinks: 553

In comparison, Wikipedia’s effort has:

  • 7,407 words
  • Moz DA: 98
  • Moz PA: 77
  • Backlinks: 93K+

Computer Hope registered not even a 10th of the words that Wikipedia by comparison published on the subject, lower domain authority score, lower page authority score and a tiny fraction of the backlinks (0.6% backlinks).

But that said, why is it that Computer Hope outranks Wikipedia for such a competitive keyword as ‘binary’?

One sentence:

The sheer scale of thematic content which is firmly rooted ‘on topic‘.

This produces a critical mass.

With 197,000,000 total indexed pages ranking for the word ‘binary’ on Google…

Computer Hope with it tightly themed subject matter and over 50,000 pages of unique content – gives it enough float to soar above Wikipedia for definitive terms like ‘binary’…which in a user context, is a IT beginner type of search.

Clearly, anyone who really knows anything about computers will know what ‘binary‘ is.

So we see from this example keyword that the combination of IT subject matter and beginner level query will most likely throw up a Computer Hope page within the top 5 results on Google.

Let’s try it…

Type into Google search:

  • motherboard
  • caret symbol
  • computer literacy

…you’ll find Computer Hope comfortably within the top 5 results.

The cumulative effort of every one of those 50,000+ pages of content is to produce an influx of over 7million hits per month of organic search traffic from Google.

Again, let us remember the niche this website sits in (‘IT support’) – being perhaps the most competitive niche online. The numbers alone speak for themselves. There is huge global demand for free IT support. Just think about the prevalence of computer users worldwide…according to Statistia, there are over 1 billion computer users worldwide (that’s 1 in 7 people in the earth)!

If a glossary works so successfully in this market, it should likewise work in any other.

Let’s breakdown the ROI

Let’s look at the output of number of pages written in light of production to see the efforts required to achieve such scale:

If one single person was to have written 50,000 pages which on average were 500 words long on topics related to their expertise (i.e. IT support), each page might take 40 minutes to write.

That would equal 2,000,000 minutes of writing time, or 33,333 hours.

If that person (writer) wrote consistently for 10 hours per day – it would take 3,333.33 days to bulk write the Computer Hope website content, or 9 years.

If you have 9 suitably qualified people writing 10 hours per day and you achieve the same goal in only 1 year (x9 your output).

But if those writers were hired, you’ll have 9x full time professional salaries to pay – but the outcome of scale and therefore ranking is still achievable.

If 9x salaries amounted to $350,000 and you managed to achieve even half of the Computer Hope traffic throughput i.e. 3.5 million visits per month – and let’s say your average revenue generated per web visit was $0.10 per visit…

…You’d breakeven after receiving the equivalent of 1 month’s full results ($350,000).

Optimize your sales conversion ratio better and score on average $0.30 per web visit, plus collect a mailing list and tie that into your sales funnel – adding another $0.05 per visit…

…Your earnings are now $1,225,000 (or 250% ROI) in one month.

But this example above is really based on perhaps one of the most competitive global markets: Free global IT support for beginners…it’s competing with Wikipedia, BBC and Techtarget – websites with millions to billions of pages.

Ok, so let’s take a niche that could be more representative of one of your client’s…

‘Wireless network equipment’…

Ubiquiti Nano station
Ubiquiti Networks Nanostation – courtesy of Flytec Computers

Say your client’s top products are wireless broad antennas & their mounts – for roofs, for cars, on poles, on tripods – as well as, all the associated hardware connectors and cables that come with them.

The sell to marine and aviation specialists, DXers and networking professionals especially.

On the first page of Google for their top products, like roof mounts – the types of websites currently featuring are specialist SME sized distributors.

Total number of pages per site vary between 5,000+ to 16,000+

Theme-wise they tend to supply amateur radio equipment of all sorts.

Naturally, most of the pages published are category/product pages – detailing little more than just jargon filled list-based product spec.

To occupy this type of niche prominently – you could advise your client to produce a glossary covering A-Z definitions for topics in the niche.

Ubiquitous terms like ‘coaxial cable’ might provide good volume potential and feasibility to rank. Some websites amidst the top 5 results for such a keyword host only 700+ pages by comparison to our Computer Hope example.

If the focal theme of the website was precise (inc. a relevant domain name), then you might expect to rank 1st page on Google across a wide variety of WiFi networking terms with perhaps only 1,000+ pages added.

The product pages would be exempted from this – assuming the client already has product pages online.

Let’s say the average word count for some of these pages is around 750 words, which take an hour to produce each.

This would require 1,000 hours of content production (750,000 words).

At 8 hours per day for a suitably qualified writer (or full time equivalent)…this would be 125 days or 4+ months.

At a pro-rata wage amount of $35,000 per annum, this project would cost $12,133.

Let’s look at it another way, what if you were to farm out your project to iWriter, TextBroker or any content mill service at, for example, $0.05 per word – your overall cost would be = $37,500 (300% increase in cost)

But what might be your ROI on a project like this in terms of increased business?

For example, let’s take site like – a broadband networking solutions provider, which has published a glossary / FAQs series on its website covering related topics to your wireless network client’s niche.

PPC Online Home Page
PPC Online Homepage –

The website has only 906 pages by comparison to our previous Computer Hope, IT Support example.

PPC Online Total Pages Indexed on Google
Total no. of pages indexed on Google from PPC Online Website – courtesy of Google search’s highest grossing organic traffic pages are definitions for: ‘coax cables‘ and ‘fiber connectors‘.

It is estimated that the website generates over 37,000 visits from organic search per month.

If you implemented a glossary project to produce 1,000 pages of web content and achieved a similar influx of related traffic to, not to mention an increase in rankings of product pages from massively increasing the scale of precisely themed topics (all interlinked), plus user engagement and site flow…

Your client is likely to see a considerable 1st year increase in sales from the increased organic search traffic alone.

If the average revenue per visit is $0.20, for example – your client might see a dilution of this due to the dictionary (high funnel) nature of some of the terms – say to $0.05 per visit…

But if the client saw an estimated increase in traffic of 30,000 visits per month from the glossary alone and say another 5,000 visits a month for better adjusted product page rankings due to improved content scale…

Your client should see ROI

…after only 3.5 months against the full-time equivalent writer model vs….

15 months using the piecemeal content-mill model.

As for cumulative, ongoing results MoM/YoY this could really rapidly expand without even writing another word of content,…but why?

As we said early on in the article, an online resource like a glossary is great link bait – more prominent sites will link to your clients pages for definitive reference.

More links, means improve ranking & for more keywords = much more traffic.

This is the expected snowball effect from launching one single bulk content production project.

Conclusion: Building a Glossary

The decision to build a glossary for a website could be one of the single most profitable online marketing investments made by any business.

From Google’s search engine guidelines the:

  • scale,
  • usability
  • range
  • reference value

…of a glossary single-handedly satisfies Google’s quality content criteria and therefore will definitely gain significant favour for the host site in online rankings, once implemented.

The cumulative benefits over months and years of executing such a project as an niche, jargon-busting dictionary are massive.

And once started a project like this will produce a snowball effect of increased, traffic, engagement, links and sales.

The start-up capital needed to invest compared to the potential gains – even across 2 years are very small, you could even say negligible.

What about the benefit?

Long lasting authority in your client’s niche for years to come. Invaluable.

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