December 2, 2018

IsItKeto: Returning to a Site that Grew without Me

Back in January, I quietly launched a site called Is It Keto?. I stopped working on it for about nine months and returned to it last week to find some surprises.

What is it?

I started the site after noticing how frequently people post on keto social media groups asking whether a particular food is compatible with the keto diet. When you google "is [food] keto?" most of the results are long-winded blog posts that never answer the question clearly. Or you find heated discussion posts with conflicting information.

Is It Keto is for the average person who just wants a quick, unambiguous answer about whether a food is keto-friendly.

I've abandoned my child!

Shortly after launching Is It Keto, I put it on the back burner for the next six months to focus on an ML service that ultimately failed. I've been busy for the past few months as well, but Is It Keto was always in the back of my mind.

Growth without me

Is It Keto ran on AppEngine and required no maintenance, so it's been just chugging along even though I haven't touched it for almost nine months. Last week, I finally got some time to work on it again and noticed some neat stuff in my analytics:

There were almost 1,000 unique users in January, while I was actively promoting the site on Facebook. This number dropped to 166 in March when I stopped working on it.

Despite my neglect, the site slowly grew organically. Last month, it had almost as many visitors as when I was actively advertising the site.

It turned out that these visitors mainly came from search. I rank 1st in Google search for a few particular terms. In particular, for people trying to figure out the keto-friendliness of Propel fitness water or Pure Via Stevia:

For Pure Via Stevia, Google displays my page at the top as the featured snippet:

Interesting insights

  • I can get traffic from search. I thought I'd have to rely almost entirely on social media.

  • The two top search queries are for particular products

    • I had shifted focus more toward generic foods like "apples" and "carrots" because I thought more people would search those, but it didn't occur to me that more targeted products are better for SEO.

Adding monetization

The first thing I did after picking the project up again was to start monetizing it. My hypothesis is that I can earn money by including related affiliate links at the bottom of articles. For example, if a user looks up "dark chocolate," I can tell them it's keto-friendly and show them curated links where they can buy approved keto-compatible dark chocolate.

No clicks so far, but they've been up for less than 48 hours.

Investing in SEO

I don't know much about SEO, but it seemed like a good idea to make my site friendlier to search engines. To that end, I've added structured data. I'll see if that improves my search rankings.

Next steps

  • Hire someone to write new articles

    • I only have ~55 foods covered so far, so most searches come up empty

    • I don't think this should be too hard. I can probably get someone to research and write for about $5-15 per page.

  • Look for other places to market the site: Whatsapp groups? Discord chats?