Acquisition Channel of the Week: SEO (starting immediately)

I've analyzed all 490 Indie Hackers interviews and identified 34 acquisition channels that work consistently for founders (see Zero to Users for more details).

In my last post, I talked about how most founders succeeding with SEO first got started with another acquisition channel. There were a group of founders, however, that started with SEO right away and were successful. What did they have in common? Let's consider a few examples.

Jef is the founder of Repost Network ($1.2MM/mo). A "repost" on SoundCloud is like a retweet on Twitter. The whole "repost" word is also closely associated with the SoundCloud community. Jeff bet on this fact, so much so, that he added the "repost" word in his company name. His reason? SEO:

I thought if I named the company Repost and dominated the SEO on that specific search we could get some free inbound traffic. My assumption worked. I believe if you search "SoundCloud repost" in Google we're one of the top hits, and something like 25% of our inbound applicants come organically.

Lesson: Focusing on SEO from the get go may make sense when a word or a phrase is very closely associated with your market (like with Repost Network).

Another reason to consider starting with SEO right away is when people are searching for the type of software you're providing. Consider Kapwing, a very popular meme making tool, and the way they got their first 10 customers:

Organic discovery on Google was definitely our most powerful acquisition channel, and all ten of our first customers found us after searching for "meme maker" or the like.

"Meme maker" has ~267k monthly searches on Google.

But my analysis showed that search volume doesn't matter. Intent does. Take Tettra's ($70K/mo) example. They provide internal knowledge base for teams on Slack and other platforms, and got a lot of their initial users by ranking on "Slack wiki"::

We were also lucky enough to jump on the "Slack Wiki" keyword pretty early on an ranked in the top few slots from the get go. There wasn't much competition for that term at the time, and we've been able to maintain the top non-branded Google result for that. All we did was put the term "Slack Wiki" in our website title tags and headers, and that was good enough to rank for a new term.


"Slack wiki" has ~1253 monthly searches. "Soundcloud repost" is around 564. "Meme maker" has a lot more, but what's common among all 3 is that people were very intentional about what they're looking for. They were looking for a meme maker/Slack wiki/SoundCloud reposts. They weren't looking for "memes"/"Slack apps"/"SoundCloud marketing". Instead, their search intent was to look for a specific product/product feature/service that does the job.

If you find such a keyword in your market, it might be a good idea to focus on SEO right from the start, regardless of the search volume that keyword has.

Hope you found this useful. Talk to you next week!

  1. 2

    Fantastic post, thanks Darko!

    I had kinda given up on SEO because of the crazy high competition for our sector (logo design / logo maker). So many big and well-funded players dominate the SERPS with tons of content...

    I never thought that it could be a viable strategy to go after low volume keywords (< 200 monthly searches) so I was focusing on other channels. But after reading your post, I gave it another look. I dug into it and found a bunch of high intent keywords that play to our strength, and yet are still low competition.

    I think we could get 500-1000 visits a month from it. Not incredible but if it converts well, can be a good stepping stone towards more revenue stability.

    1. 1

      Glad to hear this. One thing with the “logo design” category is that it can be hard to distinguish whether people are looking for a service or a software. With “meme maker”, for example, the chances are bigger they’re looking for software. Have you considered this factor as well?

      1. 1

        You're right, we might be in a case where intent is less clear than your example. We found some good keywords related to "branding" instead of "logo design", which seems higher intent and more fit to our strengths. Also, we do offer both product and service.

        1. 2

          Oh that changes thing. Will be pretty useful to see what converts better if you guys are offering both a software and a service.

  2. 2

    Great post. Although I think it's a good idea to use the Google Keyword Research tool (some of these third party tools might now show keyword volume for low-search keywords).

    1. 1

      Yep, just linked to something that people could verify without having to log-in/do a bunch of actions.

      1. 1

        Makes sense. Thanks.

        1. 1

          If you (or any other person reading this) can offer any good keyword tool suggestions, feel free to post here.

  3. 1

    Great article! Do you have a tip if the competition has a head start with their SEO activities? With paperless.io we just started and are wondering where we should start best.

  4. 1

    Great post Darko!
    SEO is a long term process and starting at the very beginning is the best!

  5. 1

    Thank you for creating post of this topic Darko, changed my perspective!

  6. 1

    love it! kinda why we called ourselves MakeSales.io :D

  7. 1

    Thank you for this!! I wish more people would know the power of SEO. I have seen it in countless client examples where the right strategy and keyword selection can bring tons of customers and value down the road. If you are thinking long-term, SEO should be one of the main priorities.

  8. 1

    Another winning post! I think starting with SEO right away is the go-to strategy, but be patient with the results this is the right "go-to" mindset.

    1. 2

      Agreed, so many acq. channels failed because of lack of patience. My favorite example is people spending $5 on FB Ads and then claiming it doesn’t work :))

  9. 1

    Thanks for the post. Pretty amazing he was able to get paying customers with a keyword with 564 searches.

    1. 1

      May be higher (or lower). Different tools give different estimates.

      1. 1

        Also depends a lot on the country.

  10. 1

    Hey guys, do any of you have success stories to share about getting started with SEO right from the start and succeeding? Let me know.

    1. 1

      I had :) But that was back in 2007, when I could make a simple Weebly page and on a medium-difficulty keyword within 3 weeks. It's pretty much impossible to do that today.

  11. 0

    hello thank for this knowledge that quite relavent


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