Growth November 24, 2020

300,000 Monthly Users, 80% from SEO

Anthony Castrio @AntCas

Last week we invited @1hakr to Indie Worldwide for a Q&A about how he's built multiple successful micro-startups generating more than $10k in MRR total.

The full recording is available to watch here:

You're best known at this point for VisaList, can you explain what it does?

VisaList helps you cut down on all the research required to figure out how to get a Visa.

It started with a simple idea, if you're from a country like Canada or Australia your passport has a lot of power, but if you're from many countries with a less powerful passport, then you need to get a Visa.

It's a laborious process.

I had this problem myself, I wanted to travel to the Philippines with my Indian passport and the Google search results told me it was visa free. I didn't figure out until the last minute that the search result snippet was actually for Singapore and I ended up getting denied for my Visa.

That was the beginning

How did you launch and grow VisaList?

I think we first went viral from Product Hunt. In the span of a week new outlets picked it up and we got around 150,000 users, without any monetization set up unfortunately.

After a month the reality hit hard and we nose-dived down to just 20,000 monthly users.

The trajectory was painful.

How did you recover?

I was inspired by Pieter Levels and how he built NomadList. So I had this idea that SEO was always going to be the way for VisaList to grow and I never lost sight of that.

It was my first time attempting to do SEO and it took a lot of experimenting, but eventually I cracked it. Now we get 300,000 page views per month and 85% of that is from SEO.

What made SEO work so well for VisaList?

There are 2 aspects to SEO,

  1. Optimizing the page itself. So things like the title, content, description, etc. That's only the foundation of it.
  2. What you build on top of that foundation.

A lot of people just give up before they get to step 2.

There's a couple tactics specifically that that I've learned through experimentation.

The first thing is the title.

Most people use the first generic title that comes to their mind, but it order for Google to recognize you, you want your title to be unique. What I realized was that by changing the order of key information in the title we could rank better.

Push all the unique keywords to the start of the title, that actually helps.

The other thing I learned was to take a broad strategy to SEO.

Certain popular keywords are fought over by blogs optimizing for those exact words, but there might be many similar search queries with much less competition.

By using our data VisaList is able to compete on thousands of different of combinations of keywords and cover a very broad range of possible search results.

This is the same strategy that NomadList uses.

If you combine these not-high search traffic pages, the trickle down affect of ranking well for so many pages adds lots of value over time to your domain.

No one else can compete unless they gather the data.

That's just the beginning of the story. To learn how Hari grew his next company, SimpleOps, even larger than VisaList, check out the full interview here:

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