Growth March 28, 2020

The power of good SEO

Harry Dry @harrydry

TLDR - When Grubhub launched in new markets they came up with quite an ingenious link building tactic which is still paying dividends today.

Chicago, 2004. The food delivery service, Grubhub, launched.

By 2007 they were established and had raised $1.1 million. The next challenge was to expand to New York.

A big part of this expansion plan was SEO. Every day, thousands of Americans search for food delivery on Google. Ranking at the top would mean thousands of new customers.

So Grubhub hired their first marketer, Casey Winters.

Casey's first challenge was organising site structure. First he generated a parent page for New York. Then, child pages for specific foods within New York.

Now, no-matter, whether New Yorkers were searching for Food Delivery, Pizza delivery, or Vegan delivery, Grubhub had an indexed page of aggregated restaurants waiting:

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The second challenge was backlinks. In order for Grubhub’s new pages to rank well, Google needed to recognise them as sources of authority. Casey's solution was simple:

We went to the local press, to tell them we were launching in New York, and that we wanted to give their readers $10 off their first order. All they had to do was link to our /new-york page which explained the discount. After a while, that page built enough local links and it would rank #1.

The “link juice” then flowed to each city's specific food pages, helping them climb the search results.

And for every new market they entered, Casey replicated this strategy.

Thirteen years later

Alongside Grubhub, US food delivery is now dominated by Doordash and Uber Eats.

All have similar site structure. Grubhub's organic traffic is 50% higher. Thirteen years later, Casey's link-building is still paying off:

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That's the power of good SEO.

Plant an orchard. And you're eating fruit everyday.

The long game is the shortcut.

Thanks for reading. If you found this useful you might like my marketing newsletter. I write a weekly email full of real world marketing examples like this.

  1. 5

    Thank you for sharing Harry!

    1. 1

      Pleasure Nancy - Hope you're still enjoying IH life :)

  2. 3

    Harry you're a legend. Love these bite-sized tips, you've really hit this type of short but practical content right on the head.

    1. 2

      Cheers Ara, appreciate it.

      Short and sweet it where it's at. Packing as much density as you can into the words you're allowed. Pound for pound value. The writer Bukowski talks about exactly this.

  3. 2

    Obvs not included here but I read your mailer yesterday and wanted to reply: ‘so glad to meet another John Prine fan.’ 😂

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      haha. yes! favourite song / album?

      currently mine probably is bruised orange (from the bruised orange album) or God only knows from tree of forgiveness.

      This is a pretty watch as well

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        There’s a genuinely fantastic live album from 1971 called, ‘John Prine Live’ which I listen to often after a tough day because it always makes me laugh or at least smile. Probably my favourite track is ‘That’s the way the world goes round’. On the live version there’s an amazing anecdote he tells about a woman who misheard the lyrics. I’ll leave you to chuckle at that one.

        I saw him play at an old Miners Institute in Wales a few years ago. It was beautiful. Only about 250 people there.

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          “it's a happy enchilada and you think you're going to drown” - hahah

          Miners Institute sounds great. i think he's coming to London next year. Hopefully I'll get a ticket :)

  4. 2

    Love these posts Harry! Thanks for posting.

    1. 1

      Cheers Pedro - I enjoy writing them

  5. 1

    This was a great read!

  6. 1

    Great post! Thanks for sharing this

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  7. 1

    Nice, thanks for sharing! :-)

    1. 1

      Cheers Tim

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    This comment was deleted 5 months ago.

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    This comment was deleted 5 months ago.

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      Why the fuck would you post that link here dude?