Keyword Research Strategy: How Mindvalley Grew Traffic 870% in 11 Months

Too many times, SEO articles promise to reveal their best secrets… then leave you with high-level “tips” — and no actionable takeaways.

This is not that kind of article.

One year ago, Sebastian Beja joined the Organic Traffic Team at Mindvalley as a Senior SEO Specialist.

In our conversation, Sebastian walked us through the entire keyword research process Mindvalley used to lift organic traffic from under 14k per month to over 122k.

Together the team began an unconventional strategy: first, they choose keywords not to focus on by sacrificing anything with too much volume or competition.

Then, from what was left, they filtered through a huge list to find keywords with lower-volume, but high search intent.

They also created a unique outreach strategy that prioritized value-for-value exchange and long-term relationships — rather than begging for one-off backlinks (we’ll go into great detail on how he did all this in a bit).

The Mindvalley SEO Team

The result wasn’t just traffic. It was relevant traffic.

Traffic that could move the needle for Mindvalley as a business.

Here’s exactly how they did it.

Note: After implementing this keyword research strategy, you’ll receive significantly more organic traffic. Turn that traffic into leads for your business with Fieldboom.

Creating an Effective Keyword Research Strategy

During their keyword research process, Mindvalley used four keyword planning tools:

  • Ahrefs
  • SEMrush
  • Longtail Pro
  • Google Keyword Planner

They spent about 80% of their research time in Ahrefs. They used the other sites to complement their findings when Ahrefs results weren’t comprehensive enough.

The Keywords Mindvalley Avoided

Mindvalley sells courses to teach skills you didn’t learn in school. They focus on topics like public speaking, meditation, productivity, and relationships.

The team chose to tackle popular topics one at a time.

For example, they might focus exclusively on the topic of ‘meditation.’ Then, they’d move on to lucid dreaming. And on from there.

But when they chose keywords, “meditation” wasn’t something they focused on. Why?

Let’s see what happens when you type in the keyword ‘meditation’ to the Ahrefs keyword search bar.


The monthly search volume for “meditation” is massive: 190,000 hits per month!

The problem? It’s impossible to know what someone searching for “meditation” actually wants.

The ‘search intent,’ as it’s sometimes called, could be anything.

They might be looking for pictures of meditation, they might want to find nearby teachers, or they might want soothing music.

The search word doesn’t reveal the intentions of the searcher.

Plus, the competition for ‘meditation’ is cut-throat. With a keyword difficulty rating of 83, it’s a word you want to avoid unless you have Oprah-level site power.

Instead of fighting the big fish for a spot in the ‘meditation’ pond, Mindvalley took a page from the book Blue Ocean Strategy.

They looked for calmer waters: long-tail keywords related to meditation that demonstrated the searcher’s intent was to find training or education about the topic.

How to Find Better Keywords

Even though Mindvalley knew ‘meditation’ wasn’t going to be a focus keyword, ‘meditation” was a great ‘head’ keyword they could use as a starting place in Ahrefs.

After searching for the head keyword, they dug into related results using Ahref’s “Also rank for” tool:


Immediately, a keyword that jumped out was the keyword “how to meditate.”

It still gets 84,000 hits per month—not shabby by any means. And although the keyword difficulty is still 61, that amount of volume still makes it an attractive keyword.

‘How to meditate’ also has much better search intent than the head term ‘meditation.’

That is, when compared to a generic term like ‘meditate,’ someone searching ‘how to meditate’ is much more likely to be a good prospect for Mindvalley’s meditation training products.

The team also used the “having same terms,” “search suggestions,” and “newly discovered” options from the left side of Ahref’s user interface.


To filter the results, they chose the following settings:

  • Keyword difficulty of 0-30
  • Minimum traffic volume of 1,000 searches per month

From there, the team manually qualified all keywords that met those criteria.

The process was long and tedious—Sebastian admitted—but necessary.

“It’s a bit of a long process,” he told us. “But everything you do after that depends on this strategy.”

That said, he found another benefit: “Manually scanning keyword lists like this is also giving you a lot of LSI (latent semantic indexing) terms, a lot of long-tail keywords, and also a lot of the problems people have.”

In other words, manually qualifying results gives you the bigger picture: how people are describing the issues you promise to solve for them.

Next? Check the Rankings

After Mindvalley identified niche keywords (mostly long tail) that “demonstrated search intent,” they checked rankings for those terms.

To illustrate the process, here are the top 5 results in Ahrefs for the keyword “guided meditation”:


Then, they grabbed the link to the top ranking site for that keyword (for this example, we used Tara Brach’s website) and put it into Ahref’s “site explorer” tool.

They looked at the “Organic keywords” option to see what kinds of keywords the competitor’s site was ranking for.


Looking at your competitors the way Mindvalley does will give you keywords you might not find in your initial research.

For example, Tara Branch’s site ranks for the keyword “guided mindfulness meditation,” a great keyword they might consider for an article.


From there? “Rinse and repeat,” Sebastian said.

Find keywords that indicate intent, check to see what sites are ranking for that term, then see what other keywords those sites rank for.


This process can help you find more (and better) long tail keywords so you can hone in on the ones that work best for your business.

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The Writing Phase: Mindvalley’s Favorite SEO Tricks

After an exhaustive search, the Organic Traffic team chose five keywords to use with Brian Dean’s Skyscraper technique.

Then, the team got to writing.

One of their successful posts was a guide centered around the keyword “how to meditate.”

Note: Mindvalley is currently migrating content to its new blog, blog.mindvalley.com, so view counts have been reset.


Here’s everything they did during the writing process that helped them boost their SEO:

1. Include the Keyword in the Title and the URL

They made sure to include their chosen keyword in the title and in the URL.


They used the headline analyzer from Coschedule to choose the title, keeping it below seventy characters.

2. Test the Title’s Click-through Rate Using a $20 Facebook Ads Test

Since they knew a good click-through rate would improve the page’s organic ranking, they tested variations of the article title and the meta description with Facebook ads.

They spent around $20-$50 to test the description.

3. Aim for 1,300-2,000 Words

For the post itself, they aimed for 1300-2000 words in length. This ensured that they had a larger page on the subject than their competitors at the time.

4. Optimize the Article Using Tags, LSIs, and Links

Next, they made sure that on-page SEO was up to snuff. That involved things like…

  • Making sure the h1, h2, etc., tags were optimized
  • Adding LSIs and synonym keywords (often with LSI Graph)
  • Including internal and external links every 500 words or so

5. Add a Video to Increase Time on Page

Finally, they like to add an educational video at the end of blog posts when relevant.

It helps increase time on site—another factor in your organic ranking — and they can use it to boost traffic to Mindvalley’s growing YouTube channel.

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Phase 2, Outreach: How Mindvalley Got a 60% Response Rate on Cold Outreach

Each month, the team focuses on one niche for outreach—such as meditation. They find sites, reach out, establish a relationship, and keep working to improve those relationships over time.

The secret to their success is their insistence on finding relevant sites with which they can build long-term relationships.


They rarely reached out to top domains. Instead, they focus on finding sites with two characteristics:

  • Domain ranking of over 30
  • Relevancy

“Relevancy is the name of the game”, Sebastian said. “You can have a link from a really powerful site, but if that site is talking about books, then it won’t serve you as much in the SERPs as a site that has less power but is really relevant.”

Building Relationships

Once they’ve identified good candidates for outreach, the Mindvalley team sends an email to warm things up. The goal is to land 25 guest posts per month.

Sebastian’s view on outreach is that it’s so much more than just asking for backlinks. “It’s more like a relationship,” he mused.

So when Sebastian’s teammate Ahmed El Sanhoury reached out to site owners, it wasn’t to pitch one specific post. Instead, he emphasized a partnership with Mindvalley.


Ahmed got a 60% response rate from these kinds of emails.

That’s a crazy high number compared to most “Skyscraper”-style outreach programs, which often generate less than a 10% response.

Parts of the email used a template; other parts were personalized.

Many of those sites became affiliates or established an agreement to swap content regularly.

In return for backlinks and guest posts, site owners get to publish on Mindvalley’s “FinerMinds” website.

This value-added approach has made all the difference in Mindvalley’s promotion success.


As a result, Mindvalley now has a reliable network to promote new courses and content.

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The Organic Traffic Results for Mindvalley

In January of 2017, before the team began their push to improve organic traffic, Mindvalley was earning just under 14,000 visits per month from organic searches.


11 months later, the site peaked at almost 123,000 visits in one month.


Now, traffic to the old Mindvalley site—MindvalleyAcademy—is declining while they migrate to www.mindvalley.com.

Ultimately, Sebastian believes the migration will enhance their search rankings. In the meantime, they’re forging ahead with their SEO strategy.

Their post on “Best Guided Meditation,” for example, has already accrued 10,000+ views in the four weeks since it was reposted.


The post itself ranks for 966 keywords and is on the first page of results for ‘guided meditation,’ along with a handful of other keywords.

Throughout the process, he feels like he focused on “small hinges that move big doors.”

Big doors that opened a flood of organic traffic for Mindvalley.

In summary, Mindvalley’s strategy is to…

  1. Exhaustively search for long tail keywords that demonstrate intent (even if they aren’t #1 for traffic)
  2. Optimize blog posts for click-through rate (even using paid ads) in addition to other SEO best practices
  3. Build long-term relationships with relevant influencers (even if they’re small) — and maintain a blog for their guest posts

Note: After implementing this keyword research strategy, you’ll receive significantly more organic traffic. Turn that traffic into leads for your business with Fieldboom.