How They Turned Organic Traffic Into Millions


User empathy is at the heart of everything we do at Hotjar, and that extends to our content strategy.

This is how we increased unbranded organic search traffic by 734% in just 3 years (2022 vs. 2019). More importantly, this is also how we were able to turn that traffic into 1,398% growth in new paying customers during the same period.

Our annual number of new unbranded visitors now stands in the millions, and the highs we’ve reached over the past two years in particular are testament to the user-centric approach we’ve applied.

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So how did we do it?

We have been able to achieve our growth by carefully balancing the needs of existing and potential Hotjar users with the demands of search engines.

We are relentlessly committed to satisfying our readers, but we are not naive in playing the search engine game. To succeed at a high level, it takes a lot of nuance to get it right. For us, this comes across a number of areas, but there are a handful of core principles that stand out:

  • Embrace product-focused content
  • Group content around the user journey
  • Powering Keyword Research with Customer Insights
  • Leverage qualitative and quantitative data
  • Nourishing your historical library

But before we go any further, I’d be remiss if I didn’t touch on the very fabric that holds it all together: without deep synergy between our strategic and editorial experts, the growth we’ve achieved simply wouldn’t have happened. place.

Creating a frank, respectful and ongoing dialogue between these two areas is the fuel that has ignited the road map of growth we have seen. Recognizing the equal importance between these two disciplines and fostering collaboration between the two fields will be essential to your ultimate success.

With that in mind, let’s look at these fundamental principles:

Embrace product-focused content

Product-focused content can boost your ability to convert organic visitors into paying customers, and this has been the key to Hotjar’s organic content success so far.

Start with your target audience’s common problems and common tasks that need to be accomplished. Then, use this information to optimize your keyword and topic selection. Finally, structure your content to address these issues and explain why your product is essential to achieving them.

To do things right, you have have a in-depth understanding of your product. You should also be obsessed with your customers. Without these two elements, you are unlikely to succeed.

A product-focused approach is at the heart of our guides content, where we always provide several examples of how Hotjar can help solve problems related to a broader topic that interests our target audience, like behavior analysis or website tracking.

screen recording on the beginner's guide to behavior analysis

Group content around the user journey

The age-old principle of content bundling is a method that has been driving SEO success for many years. But you can take the traditional approach to another level by inspiring readers towards a multi-touch, connected journey through the clusters you create.

This point is particularly relevant at a time when the risk of zero-click search is greater than ever. You to have do everything you can to keep people on your website and compel them to dig deeper into your content, especially if they are only in the demand generation phase when they come to your website.

At Hotjar, our content clusters are our guides, and we have a plot of these. They remain one of our biggest drivers of SEO growth. This gives us a clear understanding of what works and what doesn’t. With this in mind, there are two important things you can do to improve content cluster performance beyond the basics related to page ranking:

  • Develop an understanding of the different intent points a potential customer might have in one of your target topical areas
  • Work with UX/UI to help funnel readers through your clusters from their initial entry point to the point of conversion

This comes down to a simple summary. Develop a clear understanding of what the education, consideration, and purchase phases look like for your readers. Then, use UX/UI to make it as simple as possible for readers to navigate through these phases.

usability test screen recording

Powering keyword research with customer information

It’s intimidating to go up against the biggest competitors in your industry when it comes to SEO, but all of these websites started somewhere. This was also the case with Hotjar.

Our monthly content output may now be up to 10x what it was 3 years ago, but back then we were still able to dominate our largest organic verticals, even if we only produced a handful of content each month. We also did it on a modest budget.

Success for us then depended on the same things as it does today: identifying a set of customer-focused vertical niches at the intersection between projected business value, search engine satisfaction, and solving business problems. current audience.

Our approach allowed us to establish authority with Google, but it also allowed us to establish deeper trust with our audience. This ultimately results in more conversions. More conversions means more spending potential, and with this additional investment you can strengthen your position.

Finding the right balance always requires constant collaboration between our content, SEO, product, and product marketing teams. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to create content that deeply relates to our ICP.

It seems obvious, but too few businesses fail to get started this way. Customer needs should always come first. Without a deep understanding of your audience’s needs, you will never create a content library that satisfies them or Google.

Be data obsessed – and balance the qualitative And Use of quantitative data

True SEO success depends on data analysis and manipulation. For many businesses, it ends up being all about quantity. This is clearly an important part of the analytical picture, but quantitative data only tells you what is this event. This doesn’t tell you Why. That’s why you also need to take care of the qualitative part.

I won’t deny that I’m spending more time with quantitative data. But I’m always surprised at how much Qualitative analysis can help reduce bias and assumptions based solely on numbers. This is something we discuss and act on a lot at Hotjar.

We believe in the importance of user feedback and our content and SEO staff use our own product regularly. Recordings, heatmaps, surveys, and on-site feedback help inform our team on everything from topic to format selection. Us too actually talk to customers. It’s so often overlooked but it’s so important.

On digital data, we use 40/20/40 attribution to try to create a fairer reflection of the increasingly multi-channel/multi-touch conversion journey. Of course, no attribution is perfect, but this at least helps distribute credit more realistically.

Our SEO team spends hours every day with this data. We’ve built filtering around demand generation versus demand cap, target themes, user personas and much more. All of this helps us refine how we select content topics that can drive our growth.

Nourish your historical library

The need to drive growth is constant and it can be difficult to hit the pause button when creating new content. Often, however, your biggest organic opportunities are hidden in the content you’ve already created. So don’t be afraid to slow down production from time to time to allow time to improve the content you already have.

At Hotjar, we now have a library of over 1,000 pieces of content. Developing this content effectively takes more and more time, but it’s also where we find some of our biggest wins.

There are many reasons to spend time auditing and updating your content. This comes down to ensuring that what’s good for Google is good for your readers. Here’s how we think about it:

  • The needs of our readers are constantly evolving. What was useful to them several years ago may no longer be useful
  • Just because Google always ranks an article in position 1 doesn’t mean the content always does its job. In fact, if the article contains outdated information, you risk harming your brand perception.
  • Our product is constantly evolving. Old features may reach the end of the line and new features may enhance old capabilities. When hundreds of articles talk (or don’t talk) about these features, it becomes a problem if you don’t update your content accordingly.
  • Search algorithms are ephemeral, especially when it comes to how the SERP is displayed. For example, if you fail to like a new type of snippet, you might still hold position 1, but you’ll lose traffic due to someone else owning the snippet.

Ultimately, we put a lot of time and effort into making every part we work on. We care deeply about what we offer to our users and how search engines perceive it. So it’s just as important for us to nurture the content we already have as it is to create new content streams.

Place customer needs at the heart of your approach

While the fundamentals outlined in this article are not exhaustive, they are the foundations that continue to support Hotjar’s success in organic search. Each is imbued with a commitment to putting customer needs at the heart of our approach. Not only does this help us build trust and transparency with our audience, but it also means we do a better job of driving growth for our business.

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