The online design tool Canva was founded in 2013 and has since grown to be one of the best-known tools for easily designing anything from social media posts to invitations and resumes.
SEO has plaid a huge role in its success, as illustrated by these numbers from Ahrefs:
- Domain Rating of 92
- 17.6 million backlinks
- 5.7 million keywords, of which well over 500.000 rank in the first 3 positions on Google, and close to 1.5 million rank in the top 10.
Zoomed in view of Canva’s top 10 rankings using Ahrefs:
While Canva does have a blog, it differs from a lot of other SaaS blogs out there in that it is highly product-led. Product-led SEO drives the brand’s content marketing strategy and as such, has given it a strong competitive advantage.
But what does “product-led” mean, exactly?
This post is based on a webinar with Flow SEO founder Viola Eva. Be sure to check it out for some extra tips and tricks.
Table of Contents
What is Product-Led Growth?
Product-led growth is created by delivering value through your product. Contrary to marketing or sales-led approaches, product-let companies focus on acquiring and retaining customers via the product experience they offer and their unique value proposition.
One of the strategies Canva uses to generate product-led growth is the creation of product-led content.
What is Product-Led Content?
“Product-led content is content that helps the reader solve their problems using your product. This is not a hard sell. It’s not an aggressive pitch either— (…) it’s done naturally by strategically weaving your product and its use cases into the narrative of your content.” (Ahrefs)
Example: Ahrefs’ product-led content
Product-led blog posts
SEO tool Ahrefs has this article that ranks for “long-tail keywords”. Within that article, there is a section that focuses on “how to find long-tail keywords,” which provides the brand with a natural way to demonstrate how Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer tool allows you to find long-tail keywords easily.
This is a very different approach than adding a CTA to an article that says something like: “If you are interested in doing long-tail keyword research, click here” and then links to a sales page.
Optimized product pages
Another interesting example from Ahrefs is how it has optimized this product page for its Keyword Rank Checker for SEO.
Instead of creating a long-form guide on how to check your rankings – which would be the more typical SEO approach – Ahrefs has optimized the product page itself and by doing so, managed to rank in the first spot for search queries such as “rankchecker” and “serp checker”.
For someone who is searching for a rank checker, the Ahrefs Keyword Rank Checker page actually provides more value than a long-form informative article as it gives the user exactly what they need. In other words, it meets search intent.
Once they’ve found the Rank Checker, users will give it a go, after which they can:
- Share it with others.
- Talk about it.
- Bookmark it.
- Create an account.
- Upgrade to the paid tool.
When to Weave Your Product into Your Content
Whenever you’re preparing a new blog post, you can use a scoring system like the one below from Ahrefs to determine how suitable it is to include your product into that blog post.
What this comes down to is answering the question: “How irreplaceable or necessary is our solution or product for solving the issue addressed in the article?”
Advantages of Product-Led Content
- You get your audience to interact with your product.
- You satisfy their needs.
- You generate PQLs (product-qualified leads) as searchers start using your product
- You generate word-of-mouth and referral.
- You acquire new customers and retain existing customers.
- You future-proof your SEO by meeting search intent.
- You collect natural backlinks – This especially applies if you offer a free (version of your) tool.
Canva’s Product-Led SEO
Canva’s product-led content is highly focused on
- Meeting search intent.
- Positioning the tool as an irreplaceable solution for people who want to design things but aren’t graphic designers with access to more sophisticated tools such as InDesign or Adobe Illustrator, or for designers who are in need of some inspiration and want to get things done quickly.
We’ll have a look at three types of product-led content Canva publishes:
- Create pages.
- Inspirational pages.
Lastly, we’ll go into two more content strategies Canva applies to support its SEO success:
- Industry-specific content.
- Translated content.
The first way in which Canva provides value to searches is through its Create pages. These are pages dedicated to all of the things you can design with Canva, such as brochures, cards, Facebook posts, and infographics.
Note how Canva went all-in on this and created pages for anything that you could want to create a graphic for:
When you open one of these pages, such as the resumes one, you are instantly invited to use Canva’s builder. These page do have a bit of content on them, but as you scroll down, you are constantly invited to – in this case – “create a new resume.”
And when you click one of the CTAs, Canva takes you straight into its tool, where you can start using resume templates to create your own without even needing to sign up first.
This strategy works well for them. As you can see below, Canva is ranking in top positions for really high-volume keywords thanks to its Create pages.
How to create similar product-led pages
If you want to create product-led pages similar to Canva’s Create pages, you need to:
- Do keyword research and determine which keywords to prioritize.
- Create a content plan to execute. In Canva’s case, this would mean decided which Create pages to create.
- Create a landing page template that you can use for each of the pages within a certain section on your website.
- Include the following in these pages:
- Keyword-focused H1.
- Keyword-focused Page Title and Meta Description.
- Up to 1.000 words of content.
- Product-specific FAQ.
- Clear and prominent CTAs to the product.
- Set a clear URL structure for each page, e.g. https://www.canva.com/create/type/
This approach is very similar to how you would set up glossaries, which you can read all about in our Decoding the SEO Success of Personio article.
Aside from its Create pages, Canva also has pages that focus on its free templates users can adapt to their liking.
But why these two types of pages when both the Create pages also link through to the tool in which users can get to work with templates?
Because of search intent. While Google nowadays seems to rank the same pages for maker-focused and template-focused queries, there is a chance that it didn’t do so in the past. And even if it did, it’s possible that Canva assumed people looking for “makers” would want something else than people looking for “templates”.
Moving on from that little side note on site structure, this is what Canva’s Template pages look like:
These pages only have a little bit of content at the top and then go straight into showcasing the different templates available. When you click a template, it opens in a pop-up to give you a preview, from where you can click through to immediately start using the template – again, without needing to sign up first.
In this sense, Canva’s template library is better compared to an e-commerce catalog than a content library. Getting the technical setup correct is crucial here, which means paying attention to the hierarchy of template categories, URL structure, and filtering options.
Just like an e-commerce store would have a shop category “shirt” and below that sub-categories such as “long-sleeved shirt”, “T-shirt”, and “sleeveless shirt”, Canva has an Invitation templates category that further filters down on Christmas Invitation Templates, Holiday Invitation Templates, Birthday Invitation Templates, and so on.
In other words, Canva has different dedicated pages to better meet search intent. Someone who wants to create an invitation for a Christmas party will likely use a different template than someone who wants to create an invitation to a baby shower.
This pillar strategy allows Canva to rank on page 1 for 151 invitation template pages:
How to create template pages
If you want to create template pages similar to those of Canva, do the following:
- Think of your template library as an e-commerce store:
- Create a solid hierarchy.
- Consider indexing and the effect of faceted navigation. In Canva’s case, the differently themed templates which are optimized to rank and target a specific keyword (invitation templates, Christmas Invitation Templates, Birthday Invitation Templates) are indexed, but the pages that are created based on other filtering options such as price and style (red Christmas Invitation Templates, green Christmas Invitation Template) are not. The latter create a lot of duplicate content that you wouldn’t want indexed.
- Create a page template.
- Include the following on each page:
- Keyword-focused H1.
- Keyword-focused page title and meta description.
- Minimum 250 words of content.
- Prominent CTAs.
- Offer a preview of your templates.
- Set a clear URL structure, e.g. https://www.canva.com/type/templates/specific/
You can even consider following the typical e-commerce page structure where you add SEO content at the bottom of the page, as Canva does as well with a text like this:
As for the meta titles and descriptions, you want to both avoid duplicate titles and make your titles keyword-focused. Here’s how Canva does this for its main Invitation Templates page, and its Christmas Invitation Templates page:
Canva’s Create pages and Templates target people who already know what they want to design. To catch potential customers further up in the funnel, Canva has created pages that deliver design ideas, again using its massive template library to get people to use its product.
This allows the brand to rank for terms such as “picture collage ideas” and “Christmas list design ideas.”
Having these different types of content (Create pages, Template pages, and Design Ideas – as well as a blog ) allows Canva to target people in various stages of the sales funnel:
Lastly, Canva goes above and beyond to deliver what it knows its audience is looking for. A good example of this is its color wheel tool, which isn’t as directly related to its product as the pages we discussed above, but is still highly relevant to its users and meets the search intent for whoever is searching for a “color wheel.”
Also, inline with creating content for its target audience are Canva’s industry-specific pages. As the brand’s tool caters to many different kinds of users, Canva has created content that caters to specific subsets of users. Agencies are just one example, as you can see in the landing page example above.
Another smart strategy Canva uses to generate more traffic, is content translation. While Canva did start in English, it realized it could translate this content in other languages to reach other markets.
And it did so well: when you look at where Canva gets its organic traffic from, you see that the US is not at the top, Brazil is. And there are many other countries Canva gets good traffic from.
Canva’s SEO Success Secret: Product-Led Content
Canva is proof that you can have great SEO success without publishing high volumes of long-form blog content. Instead, the brand leverages its product to create content assets. This product-led SEO strategy brings them excellent rankings while both generating new leads and keeping existing customers engaged.
Two key ingredients to this approach are:
- Positioning your product as an irreplaceable solution.
- Meeting search intent.
To combine these two, you need a solid content strategy based on thorough keyword research, an understanding of your audience, and a user-focused analysis of your product. Not sure where to start with that? Send us a message to discuss how we can help set you up for product-led SEO success.