Five Ways to Grow Through SEO That Are Not Content Marketing
How brands like Shopify, TripAdvisor, Veed generate quality organic search traffic
We've reached a common consensus on the value of SEO. SEO is internet real estate. It's a moat that brings companies like Shopify $244 million ARR. Yet, when talking to leads and clients about SEO, I often see we are not talking about the same thing.
Client: How do we define which keywords to focus on for our content marketing strategy?
Me: How can we increase the volume and quality of organic search traffic?
Yes, we all know that when it comes to Search, original content is king. But there are multiple effective ways to generate quality and original SEO traffic. And some of those ways don't require writing a single article.
Templates, API-generated content and custom tools are how companies like Airtable, TripAdvisor and Veed generate quality search traffic.
In this article, I show how they do that by covering five types of successful SEO initiatives.
1. Problem-focused landing pages
Your product and its features solve problems. Users search for solutions for their problems on Google. A problem-focused landing page exists in that intersection. It's a web page focused on one single problem that’s solvable by your product.
These pages are built based on your target audience and the SEO opportunities:
Audience: What problem(s) do you solve for your audience and how do they word that problem?
Opportunity: What problem(s) that you solve for your audience have high volume (and, preferably, low competition)?
Veed has 50+ landing pages for each video editing problem they solve
Video Editing tool Veed is knocking SEO out of the park by doing just that. They have created 50+ problem-focused pages. Each page focuses on a different problem they solve. For example "Add Subtitles to Video":
The problem-focused pages reach users experiencing a real problem that Veed solves. This is the opposite of vanity traffic.
"Add Subtitles" is not the only problem-focused landing page Veed has. The website has similar pages for rotating videos, translations and transcription.
The product is sliced feature by feature, use case by use case, audience by audience. With this, Veed indexes for more keywords. And they also provide hyper-targeted pages for their audience.
Bonus: Custom onboarding to decrease time to value for SEO landers
Hyper-targeted pages usually have higher conversion rates. Veed takes conversion up a notch with custom FTUEs (first-time user experience).
Veed's onboarding flow is customised based on the landing page. New users are taken straight to the feature that can solve their problems.
This decreases the time-to-value from landing to one single click.
Below we can see where the user lands after clicking on "Choose File" in "Add Subtitles to Video". There's no sign up / enter email flow beforehand.
2. Templates help user onboarding and are a powerful SEO tool
Templates work similarly to problem-focused landing pages. They're also effective to reach leads when they’re in the search for a solution.
But, as well as generating traffic, templates provide value for the mid-to-end funnel.
Conversion to trial / free user: Templates teach leads what they can do with a product. They concretise and sell the value that's provided.
Activation: Templates smoothen the onboarding and decrease the time to value for new users.
Slite and Airtable use templates to generate SEO traffic and concretise product’s value
Slite and Airtable are both open-ended products employed for diverse use cases.
In the pages below, we can see how templates concretise the value of these companies.
"Look at the different things you can do with my product and how it helps to solve your problem."
How Homerun built a Template tool to generate organic search traffic
Homerun is an ATS targeted at creative SMBs. Their target audience is in the market for simple, automated solutions to recruiting.
At Homerun, we identified "job descriptions" as valuable keywords for the business. They had low competition and good enough volume. Most importantly, they were keywords used by our audience.
We created job descriptions for ±50 roles. We picked the roles based on the audience and opportunity.
Audience: What jobs are often published by Homerun's userbase?
Opportunity: What job(s) have high volume and, preferably, low competition?
To increase the conversion to trial, we built the FTUE "Open in Homerun" that loads the selected job description in-app.
3. Build a tool that solves a problem your audience has
You've probably noticed by now that all these activities involve building a page to "solve a problem for your audience". Bang on. That's because of two reasons:
Volume: Solving a problem is precisely why Search is best for users. How to make rice, how to pick insurance — you know the drill. "How to" and solution seeking queries are very popular.
Lead quality: Leads hunting for a solution are the most valuable type of leads a business can have. They have a problem, they identified what the problem is and they're searching for a solution. They're reaching the "shut up and take my money" stage: the bottom of the funnel.
That's why our next SEO activity can return great ROI.
Shopify’s business name generator tool reaches future shop owners at the right time
One of their most successful tools, Business Name Generator, is a great example of how simple and effective an SEO tool can be:
According to Foundation Inc, that page alone is driving 400k sessions with a monthly value of $540k. Every. Month!
The flow is as simple as it gets. The user types in their business and then Shopify generates a few tens of names they can use.
Building this product didn't require machine learning or extensive engineering resources. Just a CMS and a database.
Once the user clicks Next, they've registered for Shopify and claimed the name. They get taken to the account set-up and afterwards to the product onboarding.
"Business name generator" alone has 121k monthly impressions. But the tool's success is not just because of the volume. This is very valuable traffic. The reason for this value is due the moment when the user experiences this problem.
People search for business name ideas just before they decide to open their own business. Is there a better time to introduce Shopify?
Crontab created a cron job tool with hundreds of page variations
“Cron jobs” are scheduled tasks that occur in certain time intervals: every second, every 2 hours, every 6 days, etc.
Cronitor — a cron jobs monitoring SaaS — built Crontab: a cron job editor that gives cron schedule expressions for different time intervals.
Whenever a developer searches for “Cron job every [time interval]”, they’re likely to land at Crontab. Crontab ranks #1 for multiple time intervals and generates 120k organic entrances per month.
The tool alone is not the reason for this traffic machine. The success lays in how this was executed. Crontab has a separate landing page for each time interval:
4. Programatic SEO (through CMS or API-generated content)
Cronitor’s tool was able to generate high organic volume because hundreds of pages were built: one for each time interval.
Those pages were (likely) automatically built through a CMS (Content Management System). This tactic is known as programmatic SEO.
Programmatic SEO extracts even more value from Shopify’s Business Name Generator
We saw Shopify’s Business Name Generator generates half a million dollars worth of traffic every month.
One of the reasons for the tool's success is the 250 niche sub-pages in the directory, like
These sub-pages were also likely automatically created with their CMS and didn't require many more engineering/design resources. But having niche sub-pages are very powerful and they allow Shopify to:
Rank for niche terms: Otherwise, it's likely they wouldn't rank (or not as high) for some of these terms such as architecture and dog grooming.
Increases internal backlinking: These 250+ pages all link to
How we used Webflow to give Job Dispatch an SEO edge and how we can use APIs to scale this
Job Dispatch allows job seekers to subscribe to job alerts of hundreds of tech companies. For Job Dispatch, we used Webflow’s CMS to create 200 fully functional individual "company pages" (see Adyen example below). Through these pages, a user can subscribe to new jobs of each specific company.
Each company page is built through four data points: a company name, description of the company, their logo and API endpoint URL. We use the API endpoint URL to fetch the jobs.
Once we upload these four pieces of information to the Webflow CMS, it automatically creates the fully functional page.
This process could be automated even further. With web scraping or an enrichment API (like Clearbit), we could build thousands of "company pages".
5. User-Generated Content (UGC)
User-generated content (UGC) is a powerful source of both original and relevant content. Social products like Reddit and Quora generate most of their traffic from organic search, with content written by their own users.
But it’s not just social products that can use UGC for SEO. Customer reviews and customer profiles can also be a powerful ally for your SEO strategy.
Trip Advisor uses reviews to enrich their pages with original content
Trip Advisor builds multiple pages without needing to write any original content themselves. They do this with a combination of programmatic SEO and user generated content.
The page Top Attractions in Amsterdam's content is products sold through the platform and reviews written by users.
By using users' reviews, TripAdvisor achieves:
Another layer of relevant keywords.
Increased originality of the page without needing to write the content themselves.
RemoteOK uses candidate’s profile information to build landing pages targeted at employers
RemoteOK is a job board of remote roles. Since it's a marketplace, they must acquire two different audiences: job seekers searching for jobs and employers searching for candidates.
These are wholly unique pages that weren't created using querying or filtering (e.g.
Although many still associate SEO with just content marketing, there are many ways to generate organic traffic that don’t involve writing articles or whitepapers.
Using your product’s original content to create SEO-targeted landing pages is a great and scalable route. As we saw with our examples of Job Dispatch, RemoteOK and TripAdvisor.
Building tools that provide value for your audience, like Shopify and Cronitor did, can generate tropes of organic traffic if well executed.
Templates and problem-focused landing pages are also a powerful way to reach quality leads that are experiencing a problem you can solve. If paired with custom FTUE, like Veed does, these can become the engine of your growth.
Searching for the right search strategy?
Hi, hi! My name is Barbara and I’m a growth marketing consultant who has helped companies like WeTransfer, Microsoft and Homerun grow better and faster. Email me if you want to talk projects!
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