Decoding the SEO Success Secrets of Drift

July 20, 2022
Sofie Couwenbergh

There is this saying that it’s better to be a big fish in a small pond than to be a small fish in a big pond. Chatbot, prospecting, and CRM tool Drift took it a step further and made sure it was the only fish in its pool by creating its own industry category.

The company certainly doesn’t offer the only chatbot solution out there, but it set itself apart by coining the term “conversational marketing” to describe how it helps companies grow their revenue.

Through different types of content and influencer marketing, Drift managed to turn this made-up phrase into something people are actively looking for. More so: established sites such as G2 now recognize conversational marketing as an industry category.

Searches for “conversational marketing” have gone up ever since Drift coined the term.

Sites such as G2 now acknowledge “conversational marketing” as an industry category.

Drift’s SEO Performance

Drift isn’t just good at marketing new concepts. The company also knows its SEO. Founded in 2015, Drift has over the years built up a solid Domain Rating backed by a strong link profile and lots of ranking keywords.

Here’s a look at their overall growth in rankings:

Data taken from Ahrefs

And here you can see how they’ve been able to consistently grow the number of keywords they rank for on the first page of Google: 

Data taken from Ahrefs

Drift’s Website Structure 

When we look up Drift’s pages on Google, the search engine finds over 9,000 of them but in reality, “only” 1,621 of those are content pages. The others are podcast pages, development documents, help center pages, and others.

Of those 1.621 content pages, over 60% are blog posts. 

We were able to break down Drift’s content pages by type so easily because of the brand’s clean URL structure. For example, all of the blog posts live under drift.com/blog/, all of the press releases under drift.com/press-releases/, and all of the newsletters under drift.com/newsletters/.

Neatly organizing your types of content like this also helps with SEO silo-ing or pillar creation and tracking.

Drift’s SEO Content

Out of all the content Drift has, there are four categories that are interesting from an SEO perspective:

  • Drift’s blog posts
  • Drift’s “Learn” center
  • Drift’s feature pages (platform)
  • Drift’s Solution pages

These are interesting for SEO because they:

  • Are or can be evergreen
  • Are long-form
  • Follow a clear keyword plan

Drift’s Blog

Aside from evergreen SEO pieces, Drift’s blog is also home to editorial content and time-bound updates. As you can see, the menu only breaks down these different blog posts per content type and not per topic or category, which is a missed opportunity. Organizing content per topic is a great way to create SEO pillars and also helps users find what they’re looking for more easily.

AVERAGE WORD COUNT

The mix of SEO and other content on the Drift blog makes it hard to get an idea of the average word count of their SEO pieces. Articles such as product updates tend to be shorter and bring that average down, while SEO posts tend to be longer.

PUBLISHING CADENCE

More interesting is this chart showcasing how much Drift has published over the years. Since 2019, they’ve published around or more than 200 posts per year, which means an average of about 18 posts per month. 

The momentum it’s created by consistently publishing a lot of new content lies at the basis of its site’s strong DR and a high number of well-ranking keywords.

Drift’s “Learn” Center

If you’re worried about flooding your blog with SEO content or want to publish content that is somewhat different from a blog post, you can create a separate resource section or – a Drift did – a Learn center.

Contrary to its blog, the content within Drift’s Learn center is organized per topic. Also interesting is that this is where a lot of the brand’s pillar pages live. When we look at the word count of the pages within the Learn center, we can clearly see the presence of some pillar hub pages (shorter in content) and some 10x pillar pages (detailed, usually long-form guides). 

On top of that, Drift is out-writing its competitors for highly competitive search terms such as “demand generation marketing”:

This strategy is working well for the brand, as many of its Learn pages are ranking on the first page of Google. 

Note that out of the 30 pages that live within the Learn center, 18 were published in 2019 and 12 in 2020, but all of the pages have been updated since. Keeping your content up-to-date is crucial for safeguarding its rankings. 

Drift’s Feature Pages

Drift uses the URL structure /platform/ and the menu item “Platform” for its feature pages. Other brands talk about “Features” or “Product”. The terminology you go for is up to you as long as it’s clear to your audience and you properly organize these pages using the same URL structure.

Drift’s Solution Pages

You can see the same type of clean organization for Drift’s solution pages, which focus on slightly higher-level transactional keywords than the feature pages do.

Drift’s Funnel

Aside from individually attracting organic traffic, Drift’s website pages also work together to guide prospects through its marketing and sales funnel.

Most AwareProduct-awareSolution-awareProblem-awareUnaware
Bottom of FunnelBottom of FunnelMiddle of FunnelTop of FunnelTop of Funnel
ProductReviewsFeature pagesBuying guidesReviewsCase studiesCompetitor comparisonClaimsProofCase studiesSolution pagesBenefits PainsBlog postsGuidesWhite papersStudiesStoriesSecretsBlog postsGuides

At the top of the funnel are prospects who are unaware. These are people who don’t know that there’s a better way to generate leads. They’re still using basic lead forms and haven’t yet heard about chatbots. 

Problem-aware prospects know they have a problem but are unaware that there’s a solution for their problem, while solution-aware people know there’s a solution, but not where to find it. That changes when they come across one or more services or tools that can help them and become product-aware.

At the bottom of the funnel are the people who are most aware. These people know they have a problem, what the potential solutions are, what benefits to expect, and what the main players are in the space. They’re looking to make a decision right now.

Different types of content can lead prospects from being unaware to becoming most aware and ready to buy. 

  • Blog posts and learn/resources centers are aimed at informing and engaging unaware and problem-aware prospects.
  • Things such as case studies, testimonials, and solution pages educate solution-aware prospects on how your product is the solution to their problem.
  • Buying guides, reviews, and comparison articles make your product jump out as the best possible solution.
  • Demos of your product, reviews, and your feature pages are there to give prospects who are highly likely to buy from you the final push to do so.

By visualizing Drift’s funnel from right to left, we can lay it on top op of the brand’s website structure and see how Drift has organized its content based on the different stages their leads go through:

Something we added that’s not part of Drift’s website structure, is the “Industries” menu item. If your product serves a variety of audiences, it can be interesting to show users how your product offers a solution for their industry specifically. In Drift’s case, that could mean creating a page about “chatbots for financial services”.

Marrying Category Creation & SEO

Looking at the data below, we can see that while search volume for “conversational marketing” has grown, searches for “chatbot” have grown even more and the latter term has a significantly higher search volume.

Data taken from Ahrefs

If Drift had focused solely on marketing the term “conversation marketing”, it would have lost out on a lot of traffic. Luckily, the brand realized that even if its new industry category would become widely known, a large part of its target audience would still be searching for chatbots, so it targeted both keywords. 

Drift did this by creating two different content pillars, one focused on “conversational marketing” and one focused on “chatbot”, each headed by its own pillar page.

To strengthen its SEO even further, Drift made sure to have a clean website structure that neatly organizes different types of content based on where leads may find themselves within the brand’s marketing and sales funnel. 

For what concerns its top-of-the-funnel content, Drift out-wrote its competitors by publishing evergreen long-form content both on its blog and in its Learn center, and by publishing it at a high frequency.

Drift’s route to SEO success is one that requires resources, but even if you can’t publish 18 posts a month, there is a lot you can take away from this SEO breakdown to apply to your own brand.

If that’s something you’d love some guidance on, get in touch. We can help you define the strategies that will move the needle most.

Author

Sofie Couwenbergh
Sofie is an SEO-savvy content strategist, consultant, and writer. She helps brands generate more qualified leads and keep customers engaged with engaging optimized articles like the one you’ve just read.
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