Even since we are in kindergartner until we take our grandchildren to visit the Natural Science Museum, we try to learn something. Luckily, learning is in our human nature. We try to learn something about everything and everything about something. And I think that this is great. Yet, what is even greater and maybe more meaningful is what we do with the things we’ve learned; how we make use of that information and how we change our course of action according to the data that we gathered.
Digital marketing is a very “fashionable” domain, we might say, where you can find “tips and tricks” and “how to” strategies all over the place. And this might be a great thing. Yet, I think that learning from concrete examples, from real life case studies and businesses might be extremely useful, no matter whether you are a digital marketing expert or a noob.
This is why we decided to put under the magnifying glass 9 successful start-ups and see how they “made it”.
I think there is no secret for anyone that at cognitiveSEO we love research and we think that any action should be preceded by an in-depth analysis.
Debunking 9 digital marketing strategies can be really useful when you are prospecting markets, looking to identifying opportunities as well as scrutinizing competitors in order to find out what works for them and what doesn’t.
The Start-ups Selection Process
We put on our list a mix that we think is representative for different segments of online businesses providing both physical and electronic products. Their relevancy is given by the fact that they underline the trends in digital marketing nowadays as well as figuring out what works and what does not. Just like in our previous researches, this time too we feel obliged to mention that in our analysis we double checked all the data and we made sure that we read it as correctly as possible in order to avoid any misreadings. Should you notice any though, just let us know in the comments.
Without any other introduction, let me present to you the 9 start-ups we subjected under this really in-depth “cognitive style” analysis.
1. Kenu – Small & Elegant Car Mount Concept
The market for iPhone accessories is not exactly new, but the number of fresh startups that try to get a slice of the “iPie” is quite impressive. It is also interesting to watch, because given its dynamic nature, nobody is predetermined to fail. The niche marketing of iPhone car accessories, at any rate, still has plenty of room to accommodate new players, and this is where Kenu is trying to fit in.
Kenu has been enjoying a rather bouncy growth in terms of visibility, with a clear rising tendency but numerous ups and downs in between (a tendency more obvious in the UK than in the US, where the growth appears to be smoother). Their SEO Visibility is not that strong though if we look at the actual visibility numbers (maximum is 60 or so, so they only have few traffic from Google).
Despite this, Kenu seems a genuine presence online: it has a remarkable parity of referring domains to links and no unnatural links. It also has a very healthy distribution of incoming links, which are split among blog posts, mostly reviews, people talking about it in Forums, or online retailers selling their actual product. All of these are examples of very targeted and highly relevant interactions. People on blogs and on forums are part of the target audience and, more importantly, are speaking to other people who are part of the target audience. Better yet, all of these sources are signs of natural growth, meaning there is no attempt to mislead online users into clicking on the Kenu’s home page
Kenu uses a really smart technique to gain natural links, probably without being aware of it, based on the “NO SEO Strategy” profile they have.
The Great “Hack” that Kenu uses is to sell their products through online resellers and most of the resellers link back to them in order to provide more info for the product or to associate themselves with the Kenu brand. This technique allowed Kenu to get a lot of high quality natural links from their partners.
The industry split of backlinks is also painting a coherent picture. You have 60% Tech, more than 25% Auto, and almost 15% Travel, Business and Recreation combined. And this all makes sense for a product such as Kenu, because that is who you would expect to be interested: technology aficionados, auto drivers and travel and business companies. In a way, it almost feels like a business-to-business: an extremely targeted, very coherent business model.
Not only Kenu is not interested in other businesses, it is interested in individual customers as well. And when it comes to them, it still has some work to do. For starters, while it is absolutely commendable that they have no commercial anchor text, they also have no content rich related anchor text.
If you already know Kenu, you know what to look for, but that hardly helps expand the business. The fact that they also lack any clear social media strategy is not helpful either. They have so far invested only in their Facebook presence, with an extremely low Twitter presence and zero Google Plus presence, and the only page that had shares was their home page … which proves no social media strategy is in place.
Admittedly, Kenu still seems to be in their early phases. It plays clean, perhaps reminding you of the fresh new candidate running for office who is not using any of the dirty tricks of their older counterparts. But just like that archetype portrayed by Robert Redford in The Candidate, this company needs at the very least to try and meet their “voters” half-way through.
If it wants to grow and expand faster, Kenu needs to get a bit savvier about concepts such as content marketing and take serious steps in order to implement a clear social media marketing strategy.
Kenu’s Growth Verdict
Reseller Based Product Growth with No SEO & Social Media Strategy in Place.
Kenu seems to know how important is to make the community talk about you. They are very present on forums, on reviews, on blogs ad usually on the sites that customer seek and trust. Also, the links coming from re-sellers are a great hack for them and a big plus. Yet, they don’t have a clear SEO strategy applied, nor a social media direction and this will probably pull them down on the long term.
2. Groove HQ – A Help Desk Software with a Twist
Help Desk software is a competitive area, and it surely is not easy for new players to make a dent in the market. But Groove HQ seems to be claiming its ground with a strategy that is both content-oriented and safe from a SEO point of view.
So what is Groove HQ doing that is so amazing?
To begin with, GrooveHQ is using social media to its full extent when compared with some of the other start-ups on this list. Not only is its presence on Twitter something to be reckoned with, its Facebook and even Google Plus presence are not far behind. It probably looks a bit like Groove were that annoying kid in your class who was really good in math and physics but was also a popular athlete and somewhat gifted at drawing.
To top it off, GrooveHQ is also a polite “fellow”, as could be inferred – in this metaphor – from the lack of unnatural links and the presence of a very reduced amount of suspect links.
It is also reflected by their steady growth which follows a more troubled start, both in the US and in the UK.
The water holds even at a closer look, because this has been built on content alone, with zero attempts at old hat SEO trickery.
If anything, GrooveHQ has been going out of its way to emphasize quality content by using anchor text that is extremely specific, going all in on content alone. The bet has paid off too, as there is a significant number of successful posts that are highly shared. Moreover, the shares are not driven by any particular social media platform, which instead take turn at popularizing the content. Of course, not everything can be won with content, as evidenced by the fact that the most popular post is a link to a series of software applications perks that you get if you Tweet or Like the page. But while this may be marketing more than content, it is by no means trickery. It is an honest move, much in the sense that famed magician James Randi explained the honesty of magicians: they tell you they are going to trick you, and they do. Groove’s move is not far off from that: they tell you they are going to lure you in with their giveaways, and they do.
The success of GrooveHQ has been built not only on creating content, but also on knowing whom to target.
Everything about their “linking network” revolves around two main fields: Business and Tech, which could not be a more accurate description of who they are.
It is also almost completely reliant on blogs and blog activity, from which occasional article and web directory activity spring.
As we take a look at the webpage type segmentation and those that links back to GrooveHQ, we can easily see that they really have a strategy highly focused on blogs as an overwhelmingly majority of the backlinks that are linking back to their pages come from blogs.
There is no getting away from the fact that social media becomes essential for any business seeking to establish an online presence. And when it comes to the social media strategy, GrooveHQ could give other businesses in the field some lessons. With a strong activity well dispersed on all channels (or at least the one that matters the most for this type of business), GrooveHQ enjoys a widespread popularity on the social field. Yet, there is one peculiar thing that has stirred our interest here. It’s clearly that they have great, shareable content judging by the success with which their posts are shared. We were however a bit surprised with the fact that their most shared page is not their main page but a special one; the page that is pushed in front on their main social media channels is a “free trial offer” page that highly encourages visitors to benefit from free trials on different apps with “the cost” of a share. Overall, regardless of their marketing tactics, GrooveHQ has a strong social media strategy from which it gains a lot of benefits.
GrooveHQ’s Marketing Verdict
Product Growth based on a Clear Content Strategy with no old hat SEO tactics applied.
Through and through Groove HQ provides an excellent content strategy case study because it feeds content, grabs bloggers’ attention and has a great social strategy in place, all the while deploying an ultra-safe SEO strategy to ensure nothing comes back to haunt them.
3. Trello & The Negative SEO Attack
As the world gets smaller and “flatter” and the online world gets wider and taller, work between networks of people at a distance from one another gets easier. One of the markets fostering this change is that of task management software. Organizations are looking for programs that offer a wide range of organization and planning tools, but at the same time do not feel clunky or hard to use. This is what Trello prides itself in offering.
Let’s dig in the digital marketing strategies and characteristics used on Trello.
Even though not identified as commercial anchor text, there are quite a handful of weird linking anchors among the ranks of those linking back to Trello. The most jarring are those related to popular movies of the moment (such as “47 Ronin” or “300 Rise of an Empire”), but there are others, equally puzzling as well, related to casinos, slot games or weight loss pills. It does not necessarily mean that Trello attempted any old-school “not cool” SEO tricks, but it certainly means that it is not paying nearly enough attention to its linking pedigree.
Chances are high that Trello was the target of a Negative SEO attack or they were abused by a Parasite Hosting style of Ranking Scheme.
There is a significant number of unnatural links, most of them coming either from low authority sources, bookmarks sites and forums.
The reason for suggesting this is a “set-up” rather than proof of Trello’s bad intent is,firstly, the actual anchor text that is applied to these links. It seems to be unrelated to the task management as a niche nor it will not bring any useful visibility to Trello.
Secondly, Trello actually seems to have a healthy viral growth. It focuses mostly on Facebook, but tries to keep up with Twitter and Google Plus, has a fairly good ratio of referring domains to links, and barring one weirdly aggressive spike has enjoyed a steady but slowly rise in visibility.
What about that spike though? A lot of times such a spike may be indicative of questionable SEO practices, especially when you run into someone who has a considerable amount of unnatural links. In this case, this might indicate the suspected Negative SEO attach that I mentioned before. If we look close the spike in links appeared in March 2014 while the same spike in SEO Visibility appeared in the same month. It seems Google was fooled by this but after a few weeks their SEO Visibility got back to the values before the attack. No penalty was applied. Google figured out it was a negative seo attack!
Looking in Google Trends for the keyword Trello you will see a growing trend for it. This is because the “freemium” model of the business allowed everyone to test it and play with it and by doing so it allowed the company to become popular.
Looking at the sharing landscape, two things become apparent. One is that the overall success of the Trello posts is moderate to low (despite this, their focus on content-driven shares stands out and contributes to our trust in their good faith).
It seems that Trello does not a have a very good social media strategy in place. For a site of that size much more social media activity should be seen.
Just by taking a look at some of the blog and forum posts during that time, we can clearly notice that these are all organic instances of linking, which at a certain point started snowballing and created the rise in popularity we noticed.
After all, isn’t a virality snowballing effect the moment all start-ups dream of?
Growth based on the Freemium Model that allowed organic growth based on a blog posting and forum commenting snowballing effect.
Trello definitely seems like one of the good guys out there, with a nice growth with the freemium model and lots of organic linkers. But being in the “good” camp is not always enough. You also have to be on the look out for the “bad” camp. More attention to their link profile and a firmer grasp on the social media strategy is likely going to do them good. They obviously have potential, as seen from the spike in popularity, but potential is not enough if not looked after. To echo Robert de Niro’s character in the movie “A Bronx Tale”, the saddest thing on the web is wasted potential.
Negative SEO or Parasite Hosting did not affect a Trustworthy Site!
4. Help Scout – Another Competitive Help Desk Software
We remain in the highly competitive world of help desk software with another entry on our list, HelpScout.
Help Scout has been enjoying stable visibility trajectories in the US and UK alike and has proved itself to be a very active player on the social networks. It also shows a very close connection between the evolution of referring domains and that of its links, suggesting a steady, organic growth. Some things, however, present a less smooth picture when analyzed at a deeper level.
Though the vast majority of links are positioned within short paragraphs of text or within blog posts or forum threads, there is an almost unnoticeable number of troubling links that show up in blog comments and in author signatures.
Similarly troubling is the presence of a reduced number of links coming from Article Directory web pages, as they suggest, again, either association with SEO tactics of the past or negligence in keeping a clean record.
These instances, though apparently harmless in terms of sheer number (or lack thereof, as they make up less than 4% of the total number of links), could at some point come back to hurt the site and its rankings. This would be the equivalent of plagiarizing a paper in college – because hey, who is going to notice, right? – and then running for public office. There is a slim chance that this of all things will come up, but if it does, it might hurt you disproportionately. Author signatures in particular are likely to show up on the search engines’ radar as a negative signal and become dangerous if their number were to increase.
Despite these slips, HelpScout seems like a genuinely good company which is more interested in providing good content than in cutting corners. We have probably all had at least one moment (buried deep in the corners of shame and awkwardness in our minds) where we probably looked like douches but really were just clueless and/or misguided. That certainly seems to be the case with HelpScout if we look at their social media marketing strategy. Their Twitter presence is quite impressive and their preference for Google Plus over Facebook at the very least intriguing. Also, the fact that their homepage address barely makes the top 10 most shared pages, trailing off behind posted articles, is another sign of their good will.
HelpScout also has a very low incidence of suspect links, reinforcing our belief that the previously mentioned missteps are simply the fruit of not paying enough attention or not playing the game safe enough.
But suspicion rears its ugly head again as we notice that some of the anchor text keywords fit the commercial profile (“help desk system” or “affordable desk system”). These are, of course, not examples of the worst offenders when it comes to commercial links, but they do suggest more caution is needed if HelpScout hopes to remain long enough in the fight to make the ranks.
Currently the ranks only place HelpScout on the 3rd page of Google results for the keyword. This may mean that exact match anchor text was not much of a help, or that it was (and they would be much lower if not for it). But it could also mean there is a slight chance they may have ranked higher without it. Either way, probability would suggest the smart money is on abandoning commercial anchor text altogether and focus on the good thing already going for HelpScout:
High Quality Content and Strategic Marketing.
Growth based on Strategic Content Marketing Authority Building
On Help Scout we have seen a negligible mix of old hat – new hat SEO strategies that definitely leaves room form improvement. Yet, their growth driven by content marketing should be analyzed and appreciated in the same time as many businesses could draw some lessons from here.
5. Leap Motion – Innovative Touch Technology
A lot of the start-ups in the tech world play things rather safe for a field that feeds on the word “progress”: a little improvement here, something made marginally easier there. The overall principle seems to be that you do not want to take too much of a gamble with the general audience’s innovation adoption rate. But every once in a while a company that breaks this mold might also have something to gain in the business. To put it simply (but not modestly):
Leap Motion “lets you control objects on your computer screen just like Tony Stark does in ‘Iron Man’.”
This, by the way, is a quote from a title in Business Insider India, but we’ll come back to this later.
Leap Motion is a bit different than some of the other players in this list in terms of sheer volumes. Its Twitter and Google share alone are higher than anyone else’s in this list, while the amount of Facebook Shares might even be higher than all of the others’ combined. Its visibility profile is also somewhat different: moderate rises and drops, it actually looks more like it has stabilized at a certain level range, rather than that it is generally rising or dropping. The link velocity numbers are not a very close match either: fluctuations in the number of referring domains are only sometimes met with corresponding fluctuations in the number of links. This is however more than balanced by the fact that at this level of numbers, there is not one unnatural link to be detected, which is an impressive feat in itself.
So everything about Leap Motion seems natural and a staggering amount of anchor text is brand-related (more than 80%), with absolutely no commercial anchors to be found.
That looks great; does it mean that Leap Motion is a prime example of content marketing? Well… not exactly. There does not seem to be much content to begin with. Remember all those shares on Facebook, Google Plus and Twitter? 70% of them are of the main page. So what is really going on here? Nothing weird, really. Leap Motion is simply big enough that it lets others do the talking.
As the not-so-old adage goes, if you talk about yourself, it is called marketing; if others talk about you, it is called public relations.
And Leap Motion seems to be enjoying plenty of the latter. Their product seems to be interesting enough that others cannot get enough talking about it.
Others may mean many people around the globe, but mostly those in English-speaking countries. Judging by the other languages that are present, the preference for English is not really an intentional one, but rather one that was established naturally.
The industry orientation also comes natural, as this product is clearly “Tech” and tech people are the ones talking about it (making up close to 80% of the total population talking about Leap). It comes as no surprise that the vast majority of web pages linking to Leap are then blogs and forums, since that is where you will find English-speaking Tech-oriented people.
There are, of course, other sources that help the popularity (such as web directories, e-commerce, personal sites and even wikis), but they are clearly not the main power-horse since they do not even amount to 15% of the sources when taken together.
What is surprising, however, is the quality of the content that links back to Leap Motion. Not many tech business can pride themselves in getting Business Insider all hyped-up and metaphoric (especially since having it link back to your business is usually endorsement enough). High quality tech news reporting from around the world (from India to Australia) that links to Leap is definitely one of the core aspects of their current success.
The blog posts about them are not to be trifled either. They are carefully written, savvy about the business and its history and provide in-depth reviews of the product. By all accounts, they are akin to mainstream journalism, just with less fame.
Last but not least, forum posts are a great source of links as well. The links are inserted organically in the posts, not simply thrown randomly or inserted as author signature. This is what it means to thrive on your product and the idea behind it: nobody is looking to hype it up, since the reality of it is already captivating enough that people naturally want to bring it into the conversation.
Shares always seem to drive the links on all social platforms and its presence is considerable. Not all businesses can afford to go by this model, even when they do become successful, but at the same time not all businesses that do so remain successful – and this is Leap’s merit.
Leap Motion’s Verdict
Unique and innovative product that generated without too much effort a lot of natural traction.
Even though Leap Motion is not a classic content-oriented player, it definitely knows how to stay ahead of the game and stay clean while doing so. Their focus on innovation is what lifted up Leap Motion.
6. Moqups – Not Just Another Wireframing Software
Web-building apps come dime a dozen so in order to succeed you need a very clearly defined niche to work on. As the web gets more tangled, apps that help users navigate their way more easily and have a better grasp on the process become more valuable. Being able to closely control how your web product will look like is an example of such a valuable commodity. Moqups is an HTML5 app that can be used to create wireframes, mockups or UI concepts, prototypes. So is Mockup Builder, a similar app that could be considered a direct competitor for Moqups.
Mockup Builder has had the earlier start, but that does not necessarily mean it came up with the better product. In fact, the contrary might be true. At any rate, Moqups seems to have enjoyed the more rapid success in terms of both links and referring domains. Whether Mockup Builder simply paved the road for others to come and reap the benefits or whether Moqups simply has a more appealing combination of qualities is open to speculation. What is not, though, are their SEO strategies.
Both seem to focus on blogs and forums for support and popularization, but Moqups has the upper hand. What is impressive is not only their more than double (maybe even triple?) number of links coming from blogs, but also how their foot is much more firmly stepped in the forums, where Mockup Builder seems to have an almost negligible presence. They seem rather tied for web directory as a source, but they are probably both aware that is not where the growth in visibility is to be expected.
In terms of social media presence, Moqups seems to be outperforming Mockup Builder on every level: more referring domains, a whole lot more shares on Twitter and Google Plus and an order of magnitude more shares on Facebook. The link velocity also favors Moqups, with a far better referring domains-to-links ratio. The visibility trend for them seems a bit choppy, but it also seems to indicate a rising tendency. For Mockup Builder on the other hand, visibility that earlier enjoyed a steady and solid rise now seems at best stale and at worst falling.
With respect to referring domains, not only does Moqups have more (almost 3 times as many as Mockup Builder), but also more backlinks are coming from these domains. For the latter, the average number of links from a domain is 2.97. For the former, this number is 3.39. As the number of referring domains increases, the number of links increases, if not exponentially, at the very least at a much higher rate. There is an important takeaway from this: it is not just the number of referring domains that matter but also their dynamic and trustworthy character.
If there is one area in which both these app developers are equally lacking is with that related to their social media strategy. Only the main page gets shared and there seems to be little, if any content beyond that.
It is obvious from some of the other examples in this list that content is not always necessary, but if you are in your early stages you can definitely benefit from it. Content offers a unique opportunity for people to share your page without necessarily feeling they are sharing or endorsing you. Which is fine, because the more people are reading you and start to think you know what you are talking about, the higher the chance that they will transfer some of this good will towards your product(s) as well. If you are not popular enough yet so that people talk about you, establishing credibility first is a good way to get recognition.
Growth is based on the innovative product combined with the freemium model.
Moqups knew how to outrank its competitors on all levels: backlinks, referring domains, shares on social media. We don’t now for sure if they did an in-depth audit of the market before starting their business, but it surely looks like they did. They seem to have taken the best lessons out of their competitors’ strategies and avoided their mistake, managing, in the end to outdistance them.
7. Gecko Board – Business Dashboards
GeckoBoard allows users to display metrics-driven data in a user-friendly way and to share it with others.
For a company that deals in the digital field though, it does seem slightly unbalanced when it comes to charging the social media scene: their grab of Twitter shares is quite impressive, but that impression might also be a side-effect of the stark contrast with the reduced magnitude of shares on the other two platforms: Facebook and Google Plus.
Only a handful of articles stand out in terms of social media shares and judging by the title of the most popular, it seems that this is the case of a site which had one really popular article because of its subject topic, but whose readers never made a mental note to remember to come back for other articles. Sort of like that band that had a really promising EP at the start of their career but never made their stardom stick.
Even on Twitter, they seem to post or share a moderate amount. They are, however, very good at the following game: follow you to follow me. Reciprocity is the obvious strategy here, and it is a necessary one, too.
GeckoBoard is as clean as they come when searched for unnatural links and has a really good correspondence of referring domains and links (almost all spikes of the latter seem to follow natural spikes of the former). While it enjoyed quite the steady rise in visibility both in the US and in the UK during the first 2 quarters of 2014, summer hit GeckoBoard it seems to be sort of deranking that happened for some of its pages.
Even when factoring in their drop, the overall interest for them seems to stay on the rise, lending them a certain “stickiness” factor.
The story so far does not seem to paint GeckoBoard as very digital-savvy, but on closer inspection you may find that their strategy is just fine. One of Gecko’s strengths comes from the fact that they are ostensibly “blog-propelled”. Blogs are their main advocates and everything else comes from there. Posts seem to be inviting other posts, in a very tightly connected network, but they also spins outside, into article and web directories, e-commerce and personal sites.
Another important thing GeckoBoard has going for it is the significant number of power domain linkers it has accrued. Domains such forbes.com rank up high in the trust index, so getting linked from this or similarly ranked domains could mean a serious boost, even if you might look like you are lacking in other areas.
As far as GeckoBoard is concerned though, it might just not be interested in those areas. Just looking at the webpage categories of incoming links, 95% of them are from Tech and Business, meaning the company has got covered exactly the domains it is interested in.
Growth based on product stickiness and high authority endorsements.
Judging from everything we have analyzed, it seems like GeckoBoard is focusing on building a solid business even at the cost of a slower growth. It is a strategy that is bound to pay off in the end, as they are focusing on content, networking and power domain linkers and do not seem to be in the least interested in cheap SEO tricks: their links look 100% brand-related and 0% commercial. Once they get their social media strategy up to speed and focus on producing more share-able content, their growth can only expand.
8. GetVero – Cool Email Marketing Software
GetVero is quite an interesting online marketing tool. It allows you to trigger emails and newsletters based on individuals’ actions and, presumably, to make mass mailings feel more personal for each of the recipients.
Judging by the link array, this is a company that is practicing what it preaches: almost 75% of all links are coming from blogs, which is great, as blog posts are usually indicative of an organic process.
Yet, Get Vero’s links are not coming from recommended sources only. Although most of them are high quality links, placed in related blog posts, on the heat-map below you can see that Get Vero has also some “not recommended” links coming from guest posts, author signature or web directories.
It focuses extensively on Twitter, and it shows: articles get a fair amount of traction over there, with the number of shares for the actual homepage not even making the top 15. This is what content marketing is truly about: becoming famous through what you write about way ahead of who you are. Much like getting people into classical music, you are better off getting people hooked on the catchy parts (like the title of the most shared article from Get Vero, “50 awesome marketing blogs”) and then tempting them back for more on account of their initial goodwill.
Even though GetVero has been visible in the US for a while, growing steadily with natural ups and downs, it has only recent begun its ascent in the UK and it did so in an exemplary fashion: steady, but determined, with the number of links spiking only after a considerable struggle for a healthy amount of referring domains.
GetVero does not seem to have cut any corners, as tempting as that may have been. It has not flooded Twitter with shares, at the risk of a slower pace (going for the art movie vibe rather than the summer blockbuster) and it maintained a very healthy ratio of following-to-followers numbers. Principled or business-oriented? At this point the question is hardly relevant, as long as the company is serious about following through with this path.
And while GetVero may be using the occasional commercial anchor text, it does so very rarely and it has little significance in the larger picture: a mere 6% of all anchor texts are commercial. Whether those are the result of carelessness or isolated cases of old habits dying hard, the company more than makes up for them by employing niche related keywords which are both specific and indicative of more complex, content-oriented posts. Much like that kid at your high school who was occasionally bragging about the cool activities (s)he was involved in, GetVero actually has the goods to back it up a surprising amount of times. The set-up so far is good, the rest might just be a matter of expansion.
Organic Growth based on a Mix of Strategic Content & Few “Old Hat” SEO Techniques.
It seems like smart high quality content is a very good way to attract both people and SEO Visibility. GetVero had a nice growth driven by content marketing, soft touches of old hat SEO and a high activity on Twitter.
9. Server Density – A Server Monitoring Software
As the web expands, the knots that hold it together become increasingly important. So do the tools that ensure their health. Server Density provides a server monitoring service and appears to have a no-nonsense approach to the business, as made evident from their main page slogan, “Server monitoring that doesn’t suck”. With the numbers they are churning though, that is obviously just a sample of fined tune humor. Do they manage to “not suck” in terms of their online presence?
Server Density seems to still ways to go in terms of growing, but already shows positive signs of success from a SEO perspective. Their visibility trend may not be easy to read, but it makes clear that Server Density has the ability to come back from drops and that the rises are not accidents of chance. Link velocity also shows that there is a clear strategy at work, as more often than not the rise in the number of links mirrors almost perfectly the rise in the number of referring domains.They do not yet have a very firm grasp on the social media scene, but pay attention to the major platforms in a balanced way, with a slightly elevated number of shares on Twitter and comparable numbers on Facebook and Google Plus.
While the home page certainly ranks up in the most shared pages list, there are plenty of articles to be found too, with shares spread across all social platforms (but a visible emphasis on Twitter). The range of topics is varied, but within each topic the approach seems specific, which makes for easily shareable content. The reason for which Server Density hasn’t taken off in a bigger way yet is not easy to pin down, but when one of your articles has a similar number of shares with your home page, you are in good shape.
Here is something else they have going for them: Server Density gets linked almost exclusively from blogs and forums, meaning from environments where at least some of the people are either experts or in the know.
Given their field of activity, this makes perfect sense. It also makes perfect business sense. They speak to a niche audience and do not make any efforts to hide this. Most of their popular posts are about MongoDB, the “weapon-of-choice” NoSQL database currently. Not all companies need to tackle a general audience in order for them to thrive, and Server Density seems comfortable enough in that knowledge.
Remember when we said they were no-nonsense? They really are and they have the SEO techniques to back it up. Two thirds of their anchor text is brand related and the insignificant percentage that gets recognized as commercial is a very atypical one of that, being quite possibly among the most specific commercial anchor text that can be found out there (because really, how many people stumble upon “secure encrypted backup using duplicity for linux and mac” by mistake?)
Server Density knows what it wants and works to get it. It targets people with specific tech knowledge from English-speaking countries (because that is where their core audience is most likely to be) , and gives them the content they are looking for.
And even though their growth is not out of this world, it definitely is there if you look at the steady trend of link velocity. You do not always have to go big or go home. Sometimes you can go small and get around.
Server Density’s Verdict
ServerDensity’s Growth is based on a Smart Micro Niched Content Marketing Domination Campaign mixed with modern SEO Techniques
Although not spectacular, it is certain that Server Density’s growth had a lot to do with their content strategy. Providing great content and good blog posts, , they managed to gain a lot of links from blogs and forums but also lots of shares on social platforms, focusing mostly on the MongoDB micro niche.
This analysis does not claim to give you the “success recipe” but it should guide you in what successful companies use for their marketing strategies. Learning from this case studies will only bring you benefits, regardless whether you are a manager, a SEO Expert or a SEO agency or a Grown Hacking type of guy. For instance, as we could see, some businesses ignore SEO and this may be an opportunity for agencies that do SEO to pitch them. Also, product owners that work in a market where their competitors do not use SEO as a marketing strategy could take a big advantage from this. After deeply analyzing these business models, I think it goes without saying that links and social signals do tell a lot. The only trick is to “read” them carefully.