6 Things I Love About Zapier’s SEO Strategy: A Case Study

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Zapier is an “automation platform.” If you take a look at this single phrase that defines its class, there may be not a lot search demand: 200 month-to-month searches within the U.S. and round 1.1K globally. It doesn’t appear fairly like a $144M ARR enterprise alternative. And judging by search demand, it’s not one thing you’ll promote with Search engine optimization. 

Yet, Zapier’s weblog alone brings 1.6M natural visits each month. That’s site visitors price about $3.7M and 67.5% of its general natural site visitors. 

Organic traffic to Zapier's blog

So let’s see why Zapier didn’t flip away from Search engine optimization and the way it managed to make Search engine optimization work like a allure.

1. Pitching the product by means of the again door 

Search engine optimization is usually price it if one of many following issues is true:

  1. Potential prospects are looking for what you promote or do.
  2. Potential prospects are looking for options to issues your small business helps to remedy.

But there appears to be a 3rd means. It’s when potential prospects are looking for options you possibly can enhance upon and even disrupt. Zapier appears to observe this tactic exceptionally properly. 

Chart about pitching a product through the back door

The entire idea jogs my memory of utilizing a again door. Here’s an instance. This article about “to-do list” apps can’t presumably speak about Zapier immediately as a result of Zapier is just not that type of app. 

Zapier's article header: "best to do list apps"

So as an alternative, the article introduces the app by means of a collection of “back doors.” Here’s again door #1:

Example of "back door" product pitching in content

And again door #2:

Example of "back door" product pitching in content

There are much more again doorways right here resulting in product advertising and marketing articles:

  • Link to a different weblog put up with extra automation concepts
  • Links to product touchdown pages explaining your complete integration with a given app (example)
  • Link contained in the “related reading” part 

Why construct these again doorways? Because due to high-volume key phrases and their long-tail… 

High volume organic keywords for Zapier's article

… this one article will get 58.8K natural search visits month-to-month. 

"Best to do list" article's total estimated organic traffic

That’s a ton of site visitors Zapier can channel to its cash pages. 

Add some extra articles like that, and also you’ve found the sample behind the best-performing articles on Zapier’s weblog. 

Best-performing articles on Zapier's blog

But not solely is the natural site visitors spectacular right here. Rankings are too. There are 2,397 key phrases with the “best” sample rating in positions #1–3 within the U.S. alone. 

Keywords with the “best” pattern ranking in positions #1–3 in the U.S.

There’s extra. Some of these “best” articles earned backlinks from a whole bunch of referring domains, together with high-DR ones. 

Backlinks from high-DR domains

Takeaway

If you’ll like to duplicate the “back door” tactic, the method can look one thing like this: 

  1. Publish an article explaining a use case of your product 
  2. Look for key phrases with excessive search demand associated to that use case
  3. Write an article immediately concentrating on that prime search quantity key phrase and insert a hyperlink to the article explaining the use case—that hyperlink is the again door 

This means, searchers can get what they anticipate from an article immediately concentrating on the broad key phrase after which some extra, due to your use case. Keep in thoughts, although, that a few of these broader key phrases will be robust to rank for. 

There could also be one other strategy to creating the again door. You can begin from key phrase analysis:

  1. Look for key phrases with excessive search demand and are in some way associated to your product 
  2. See in case your product can enhance what persons are looking for and write an article describing that use case (the again door) 
  3. Write the article concentrating on the broad key phrase and insert the again door contained in the article 

It can also be price noting that this tactic is nearly as good because the signal on the again door, i.e., the decision to motion. I imply, who wouldn’t need to automate their duties for free? 

Zapier's irresistible CTA button
Automate the what? Oh… then sure, please.

2. Ranking for different folks’s key phrases. Because Google and searchers demand it

Let’s check out the subsequent largest supply of site visitors after the weblog. 

Site structure report for zapier.com

So what are “apps”? That’s a bunch of product touchdown pages that get their site visitors from pure demand for Zapier’s apps or options, proper? 

Not precisely. The primary driver of site visitors to these pages is demand for someone else’s apps. 

Zapier doesn’t merely record its apps. It lists different folks’s app integrations with different folks’s apps. 

And if I’m not mistaken, we’re not essentially speaking in regards to the demand that Zapier invented. We’re not speaking about an out-of-the-blue invention like Metallica + Lady Gaga. 

Unstable search demand caused by a one-off event
Don’t get me fallacious. This cross-over connection is sensible when you consider it.

We’re speaking about issues that individuals everywhere in the U.S. really plug into Google as a result of they want issues like Dropbox and Google Drive integration of their lives. 

Organic keywords showing Dropbox and Google Drive integration demand

But why are we even speaking about integrating Dropbox with Google Drive and never Dropbox and Zapier? 

Here’s the factor. Zapier integrates with Dropbox, which will be built-in with YouTube, Gmail, Office 365, Notion, and tons of different apps. This signifies that Zapier integrates with the above apps too. On high of that, there are additionally three-way connections like Dropbox + Drive + Slack. 

If that’s the precise performance of the app and a few of these connections have “impossible to ignore” search demand, then Zapier might want to create a touchdown web page for every of these conditions. 

Guess what. That’s precisely what Zapier did. And it turned out fantastically, driving 16% of your complete natural site visitors. Here are a few of the top-performing integrations by way of site visitors. 

Zapier's top-performing app integrations landing pages (in terms of organic traffic)

Let’s see what’s inside that “apps folder.”

When you decide one of many apps, you get a touchdown web page with a corresponding title, H1, and URL. 

Example of programmatic landing page

Then you add one other app to the combination. Again, a touchdown web page with customized H1 and URL. 

Example of programmatic landing page

But what if the client desires to attach Google Sheets, Trello, AND Slack? This calls for one more touchdown web page (only one extra connection earlier than turning right into a Rube Goldberg machine). 

Example of programmatic landing page
By the way in which, these app logos act as breadcrumbs.

Perfect. However, the longer that “train” will get, the less key phrases the ensuing “wagons” rank for. The first web page from the above will get an estimated 1.9K natural visits whereas rating for 444 key phrases. But the final web page (Sheets-Trello-Slack) will get no natural site visitors.

Programmatic landing page with no organic traffic

The means you create tens of 1000’s of touchdown pages inside one lifetime seems to be programmatic Search engine optimization and Zapier Partner Program.

Thanks to programmatic Search engine optimization, Zapier was capable of generate the pages as an alternative of manually creating them. While the “human touch” high quality of inserting distinctive content material into every of these pages was offered by permitting house owners of the apps to jot down it. 

Recommendation

According to this study by Ryan Berg, Zapier has just lately transitioned to a pure programmatic strategy. I’m not solely certain that is the case, however evidently the quantity of authentic content material on the “integrations” pages has, in truth, diminished. 

Before:

App profile before the change
More textual content, and it’s distinctive.

After: 

App profile after the change
Less textual content, and it’s pulled from one other web page.

Check out Ryan’s case examine to be taught extra in regards to the results of the programmatic strategy over time. (Ryan began analyzing Zapier in 2018.) And whereas we’re at different Zapier case research, that is additionally an fascinating one by Jessica Greene: Does Updating Website Content Work? [Zapier Case Study].  

Zapier makes use of this type of touchdown pages to leverage branded search too.

Keyword analysis for “zapier” reveals over 25K leads to the U.S. And that record is stuffed with branded key phrases like these: 

Some of Zapier's branded keywords

Most, if not all, of these key phrases have already got corresponding programmatically generated touchdown pages. 

By the way in which, I gained’t be shocked if it makes use of key phrase analysis for market analysis. It can simply see what folks plug in Google to ask new companions or construct new options. 

Takeaway

There are in all probability a number of takeaways right here. But the principle one is search intent, in the event you ask me. 

Zapier’s app touchdown pages get a lot site visitors from different folks’s branded key phrases as a result of these pages align with search intent flawlessly. 

If you take a look at the SERP for “google sheet integrations,” there are hardly any content material sorts totally different from a product touchdown web page. So the funding in devising a system to generate all of these app touchdown pages appears to work rather well. Good factor Zapier didn’t attempt to goal these with how-to weblog posts. Blog posts probably don’t stand an opportunity right here. 

SERP for "google sheets integrations" with a clear dominating content type

By the way in which, I discover it fascinating that its Google Sheets integrations touchdown web page ranks at #12 for merely “google sheets.” 

Google Sheets integrations landing page ranks at #12 for “google sheets”

I ponder if there’s something Search engine optimization-wise it could do to leap again to the highest 10 like in 2018. 

Google Sheets integrations landing page used to rank at #8 for “google sheets”

3. Self-building content material hubs

What I name a self-building content material hub (aka matter cluster) is a scenario the place you set up your current content material right into a content material hub construction and hyperlink new associated content material (subpages) as you create it. 

Using this technique, you possibly can decide to creating extra content material provided that the subpages make sense themselves. In different phrases, you don’t have to take massive dangers investing in creating or increasing a content material hub.

Let’s take a look at the massive image to offer this extra context.

Some content material entrepreneurs construct matter clusters in a set-and-forget strategy. You see a chance, design a subject cluster, construct it, and that’s it. You by no means or rarely come again to it. 

Nothing fallacious with that. 

But right here’s the factor. If you proceed to create extra content material on the identical matter, that signifies that the preliminary cluster has been increasing all alongside. And an even bigger matter cluster is often a greater matter cluster as a result of it’s extra complete. All you might want to do is to make the connection like Zapier does. 

To illustrate, we’ve received this information (a subject cluster, technically talking) on distant work. In 2017, it was a set of 14 hyperlinks. It contained solely content material developed specifically for that hub. 

Remote work content hub in 2017 via Wayback Machine

But Zapier hasn’t stopped publishing extra stuff about distant work. It’s been busy with creating extra guides, listicles, movies, case research, and stories. 

So it’s included hyperlinks to all of that new content material within the hub. And proper now, some 5 years later, that record of 14 hyperlinks has grown to over 50 hyperlinks and a few embedded movies. All of them organized into seven classes, plus the preliminary information from 2017. 

Seven categories in Zapier's remote work content hub

But why create a content material hub within the first place? 

So let’s think about it hadn’t created that cluster in any respect. Then it wouldn’t have amassed 4.4K backlinks from 1.1K domains so far. Nor wouldn’t it have reached the purpose of 1.1K natural site visitors each month to that single web page. And that’s on high of the outcomes that every of the linked subpages will get. 

Overview of Zapier's remote work hub via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

And like I stated, Zapier doesn’t have to create extra content material for the hub. As it creates content material, it could merely hyperlink subpages that make sense to the hub.

SEO metrics overview from one of the cluster content pieces linked to the hub
An instance of a subpage integrated right into a content material hub. Judging by natural site visitors, Zapier may create it only for the sake of itself and never essentially for the hub.

What if it hadn’t added all of these extra hyperlinks to the cluster? That’s a harder query to reply. But I suppose that’s a part of the explanation why referring domains to the pillar web page continue to grow steadily over time. After all, including extra useful content material ought to make the hub extra engaging, therefore link-worthy. 

Referring domains graph for Zapier's remote work hub

Let’s not neglect these hyperlinks are, in truth, inside hyperlinks that distribute hyperlink fairness from the pillar web page to the linked pages. 

All in all, the entire construction of this matter cluster reinforces itself. More content material makes the subject cluster extra useful and link-worthy. And when the pillar web page will get backlinks, it “gives back” to the linked content material by distributing hyperlink fairness. 

Takeaway

Simply put, think about making a content material hub using your current content material. You can then increase it with new subpages provided that they make sense themselves. 

Have a content material hub already? See if there may be any extra content material you possibly can hyperlink to on the pillar web page. 

Of course, making a content material hub from scratch remains to be a good suggestion. That’s what Zapier initially did after which expanded. As we will see from its outcomes, it creates a brand new “entity” capable of generate backlinks and site visitors on its personal. 

4. Link baiting on the fee of 1.5 domains per phrase 

Original analysis makes nice hyperlink bait. 

But what makes authentic analysis ok to make folks hyperlink?

This Zapier research reveals that it’s not essentially in regards to the size of the examine. 

Header of original research by Zapier

Excuse me whereas I take advantage of a very made-up metric. But simply to indicate how “efficient” that hyperlink bait is, there are 1.5 domains linking to that web page per each phrase used to explain it. That’s together with the title and the methodology word. 

But are the linking domains any good?

Here are a few of the +90 DR domains linking to this 637-word analysis, together with their site visitors: 

Some of the +90 DR domains linking to Zapier's research

I feel this bite-sized analysis is so highly effective as a result of:

  • It solutions a extremely well-posed query: How many Americans had a facet hustle? 
  • Side hustles are an indication of the occasions. 
  • The analysis will get proper to the purpose. It begins with crucial factor (the reply).
  • There are graphics that inform the story, simply ready to be shared by linkers.
  • After all of that goodness, I don’t assume anyone has any issues with the examine content material together with a gentle PR pitch of Zapier and some related hyperlinks to its content material. Naturally, these hyperlinks assist to distribute hyperlink fairness. 

Takeaway

Original analysis can get you a whole bunch and even 1000’s of hyperlinks. But doing that’s no small feat. 

However, Zapier reveals that this type of content material doesn’t must be lengthy to get a ton of hyperlinks. You don’t even have to do it your self (Zapier outsourced its personal). 

Just make your analysis well timed, vital to your audience and/or the viewers you need to pitch to, and get proper to the level. 

Some “auto promotion” right here and there probably gained’t be frowned upon. But first, give folks what they got here for. 

Oh, and don’t fear in case your report gained’t take off on social media.

Remember that one of many causes folks use social media is leisure. Even LinkedIn.

Man celebrating Friday by sipping wine from a wine glass while sitting in a bathtub

5. In Zapier’s world, every thing is related. Or no less than interlinked 

What struck me about Zapier’s Search engine optimization is how every thing is densely interlinked. 

We’ve received:

  • Links contained in the weblog posts to different content material and product options. 
  • Links inside content material hubs.
  • Links from authentic stories. 
  • Links as breadcrumbs within the app listing. 
  • Links to chose content material on the homepage. 
Zapier's homepage footer with dense interlinking
The homepage’s footer, or ought to I say a fastidiously woven web of strategic inside hyperlinks.

And it issues as a result of inside hyperlinks assist pages rank increased. Google makes use of inside hyperlinks to:

  • Discover new pages.
  • Pass hyperlink fairness between pages.
  • Understand what a web page is about.

Takeaway 

Use pages with a whole lot of backlinks to spice up different pages. You can enhance your “boring” cash pages with hyperlink fairness from pages with a whole lot of backlinks. This is known as the intermediary methodology. 

But bear in mind these two caveats to utilizing inside hyperlinks: 

  • Theoretically, the extra hyperlinks you could have on the web page, the extra they may compete with one another for clicks and “dilute” the authority transferred to different pages. So simply be careful for “spamming” your pages with inside hyperlinks. 
  • Too many inside hyperlinks, particularly contained in the content material of an article, can result in poorer UX. 

6. Zapier blogs about substituting espresso with scorching water???

If Zapier is so good at Search engine optimization, why does it create content material that will get little-to-no search site visitors? Sometimes, these articles don’t even have any type of search demand. 

And why are they so… unrelated? Examples:

  • Don’t work extra whenever you work from residence.
  • ​​How to be co-worker to your pets.
  • Why I changed my morning espresso with a cup of heat water.
  • What an enormous pile of laundry taught me about productiveness.
  • How a mid-day stroll modified my vitality ranges—at work and at residence.

Clearly, these articles haven’t been created for Search engine optimization causes…

One of Zapier's articles ranking for irrelevant keywords

By no means is that this an try to troll Zapier. I get it. All of the above titles are actually an fascinating learn for folks involved about productiveness and well-being. 

My level is that whereas Zapier is nice in Search engine optimization, it doesn’t make its content material advertising and marketing solely about rating for key phrases with site visitors potential.

When you tie solely Search engine optimization objectives to your content material advertising and marketing, you threat creating an operations-centric strategy as an alternative of a customer-centric strategy.

A customer-centric strategy is when you realize sure subjects curiosity your viewers, so that you pursue them. Even if they’ve 0 search quantity and also you gained’t rank in one million years. But hey, your viewers will nonetheless recognize your effort. 

One situation, although: You have to have a option to talk along with your viewers immediately, resembling a e-newsletter. 

Zapier's newsletter sign-up form

Takeaway

When you’re nice at Search engine optimization content material, there’s a temptation to focus solely on Search engine optimization content material that “converts.” It’s good to know the place to attract the line. 

If you’re attempting to nurture an viewers, develop a relationship with them, make them learn each e-newsletter you ship them, and make them belief and suggest your weblog, then perhaps it’s a good suggestion to take a step again and assume outdoors of key phrase analysis. 

So if in case you have a chance to publish an fascinating article that gained’t essentially deliver you natural site visitors, it nonetheless could also be price it in the event you can advertise by way of your direct advertising and marketing channels. 

Final ideas 

I’ve heard a few occasions from totally different entrepreneurs that they don’t pursue Search engine optimization as a result of they’re in “a new niche with no search demand yet.” I feel Zapier’s case reveals that in the event you dig a bit deeper, chances are you’ll hit a motherload of Search engine optimization alternatives. But chances are you’ll have to enter by means of the “back door.” 

After all, theoretically, there have to be some form of market demand that you simply’re constructing your product on. And if there’s market demand, you’ll probably discover search demand. 

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