How this $4B bootstrapped profitable startup uses SEO to get 500K+ traffic?

BrowserStack's user base of developer benefit a ton from their in-depth content and its also a goldmine for SEO. Let's learn all about it!

22nd June 2022
2 min read

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Tag wise split:

    Stage 100

  • Early stage 33
  • Mature 34
  • Growth 33

  • Topic 100

  • Marketing 20
  • Product 20
  • Sales 20
  • SEO 40

  • Content Type 100

  • Startup Analysis 50
  • Learning 50

In a nutshell

BrowserStack is a cross-browser testing tool that can be used to test software on different browsers and applications.

Their target audience is primarily developers. They are highly technical and appreciate in-depth tech content.

Secondly, testing is frustrating. So, these devs would not go research multiple sources to find the best way to do anything in testing.

Given these 2 points, BrowserStack took a leap to create guides for its audience that are highly technical and in-depth in nature.

Their SEO strategy looks something like this:
1) Find relevant queries related to software testing and specifically their product
2) Create a detailed guide to wow tech folks, so they rave about the content and share it.
3) Optimize for SEO & hope Google ranks them.

BrowserStack uses this high technical, in-depth guides to wow their users, so they rave about them to other developers. When readers love this content and share it, eventually Google also recognized your effort!

Content is KING! And when you publish in-depth content that your readers rave about, Google absolutely LOVES it.

So, when BrowserStack, a wildly popular software testing platform, used the strategy of publishing highly technical, in-depth guides, the result was 500K+ monthly users from Google!

This article is a deep dive into BrowserStack's SEO strategy and a reminder that high-quality content is key to SEO success. Read on.

Firstly, what is this BrowserStack? And, how did they get started?

BrowserStack's success story is a tale of persistence.

It started with two IIT Bombay students with a dream to buildd their own company one day. They dappled with 2 solid ideas which failed to generate any excitement in investors.

After trying for 3+ years & not raising a single penny, these dreamers had to go back to holding their day jobs. But, they didn't give up!

While working on their third company the duo came across a problem. Both the founders absolute hated testing software. They got into an argument over who would be testing that day. But, out of that argument came a billion-dollar idea.

You see, when a developer buildds a piece of software, they have to test it on different devices, browsers and platforms, to make sure the software function properly. Before BrowserStack, this process was a complete hassle.

In fact, in 2011, when BrowserStack was still in conception, the founders found some 100 people complaining to Microsoft about how difficult it is to test their websites on Internet Explorer. This served as a validation for BrowserStack & the duo set out to buildd the world's software tester!

Today, BrowserStack is a one-stop cross-browser testing app that was bootstrapped for 7 years to $50M revenue and $40M profits!

Lesson ➝ Your startup doesn't need to fail fast. It can succeed slow.

So, how are they doing SEO-wise?

SEO so far has been the most effective marketing channel for BrowserStack. According to Similar web, ~60% of BrowserStack's traffic comes through "Search".

So, let's see how they are doing!

  1. BrowserStack gets 528,000 monthly visitors & it ranks for 192K keywords
  2. Moreover, it has a DR of 83, with 945K backlinks! 🤯
  3. Their most popular subfolder is their "guides" blog, which we will learn more about in the next section.
Browserstack SEO casestudy

Great! So, what's their SEO strategy?

Now, the most direct way users could discover BrowserStack is:

    i) Searching for BrowserStack's page directly

    ii) Searching for cross-browser testing tools

But, only a handful of people search directly for BrowserStack (20k+) or for "cross-browser testing tools" on Google per month. So, there should be some other way to get these users.

Understanding your target audience

With any SEO strategy, the key is to accurately understand who your users are and what they want.

For BrowserStack,

  1. The target audience is primarily developers. They are highly technical and appreciate in-depth tech content.
  2. Secondly, testing is a frustrating activity for developers. So, they would not go the extra mile to research multiple sources to find the best way to do anything in testing.

Given this, BrowserStack took a leap to create highly technical, in-depth guides for their developer audience. Rather than just having simple how-tos or short blogs that address only specific queries.

Now, creating guides is no easy task. It takes a lot of time & effort and may seem counter-intuitive when your primary objective is to drive traffic via SEO.

But, BrowserStack's key goal was to appeal to a specific audience and wow them. By doing so, they hoped to get great conversions to paying users.

Lesson ➝ You don’t need millions of traffic, but only thousands of visitors converting to paying users.

BrowserStack's SEO strategy!

So, BrowserStack's approach to SEO looks something like this:

  1. Find relevant queries related to software testing and specifically their product.
  2. Create detailed guides to wow tech folks, so that they rave about the content.
  3. Of course, optimise for SEO and hope Google picks up the signals to rank them for even difficult keywords.

Sounds simple, but it's the execution that's intensive.

Browserstack SEO casestudy

And, what was the result?

All of these guide pages come under the subfolder, which brings in 304K traffic to the website per month. That's ~58% of its total traffic!

Moreover, the keywords these pages rank for have extremely high-intent & hence high-conversion rates!

Browserstack SEO casestudy

Over time, writing these in-depth guides has helped them establish unparalleled authority in their field and as a result, they win on all fronts:

a) SEO traffic
b) Getting backlinks
c) Ranking for high-intent keywords with high-difficulty

What are the key takeaways for us?

So, what can we learn from BrowserStack?

Well, there are a few hidden takeaways that founders can learn through this strategy:

  1. SEO is not just about getting traffic. You should also plan for conversions and building brand & authority.
  2. Writing in-depth guides in your industry is a tedious process — requires a lot of time & effort. It will also take you time to see results, but it’s the best way to establish long-term authority in your field and be able to rank for high difficulty, high intent keywords
  3. A great SEO strategy would be to have a mix of these initiatives —
    • i) Targeting low-difficulty keywords to drive traffic & see medium-term results

      ii) Targeting high intent keywords & writing in-depth content to establish long-term authority


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How Glassdoor dominates backlinks through data-driven content

Simply put, Glassdoor offers 'data-driven content'. Let me explain.
It is a:
1) Job posting portal — employers can post & advertise open jobs
2) Job review portal — employees can share feedback about their company

On Glassdoor's website users share about everything from bosses & salaries to work culture & the hiring process. This data is then organized by the platform across different parameters.

Glassdoor uses the data to create:
1) Lists of top founders, companies, etc
2) Surveys presenting employee choices
3) Reports about trends & employee preferences

Data-driven content is shared extensively.
A couple years ago we published a report titled 'State of Remote Work'. People loved the insights that were included and shared it.
This report generated backlinks from 141 unique domains.

The Glassdoor website is full of data-driven content.
For example, they recently published the Workplace trends for 2022. This has insights around economic recovery after Covid-19, for instance. The information can be used by employees, newspapers and politicians.
So, the content is bound to be shared. When that happens, it generates backlinks.
This Glassdoor article has 360 backlinks in just over 2 months.

With so many high authority website backlinks, Glassdoor's domain authority is bound to go up. Glassdoor's DR is as high as 91, so they always rank at the top. Competitors would be lucky to beat Glassdoor!

So, finally, here's what you can learn from Glassdoor's SEO initiative:
1) Use data-driven content to get attention and links.
2) Website authority is key! It takes time & effort to buildd authority, but it's a huge boost to rank any content on your website higher on Google.

Not everyone gets it! - CRED's Ad Spend

CRED is used to pay credit card bills instantly which earns users “CRED coins”. They can use these coins to claim rewards and benefits.

But, that’s not it. Only users with a high credit score are allowed to access CRED, which helps CRED build a network of financially trustworthy individuals.

What next? CRED can lay different business models on top of this network like rent payments & peer-to-peer lending.

So IPL ads are a way for CRED to acquire users at scale, to build this trusted network.

But these ads cost CRED a whopping INR 216 Crores! That's INR 1271 to acquire a new user!

Over a lifetime, if 5% of users generate revenue, each user will have to generate INR 25,420 to make CRED money.

SEO Masterclass - Canva's strategy that powers 70M+ traffic!

Canva is doing extremely well in terms of SEO. It get's 73.2M organic traffic, has 12M+ backlinks & ranks for more than 5.5M keywords.

The top landing pages (subfolders) that significantly contribute to their website traffic are /create & /template page.

Canva has designed these pages to rank for two sets of keywords with different intent. The intent for the first set of keywords is "Informational". Users are basically looking for information about tools to make/build/create a design/poster/card.

On the other hand, for the second set, the intent is "Navigational". The user is looking to navigate to a particular template page. So they are essentially looking for birthday card templates to eventually create their own cards.

The /create page ranks for the first set, while the /template page ranks for the second set. These pages are divided into categories like logos, poster, flyers. These categories are then further divided into subcategories like marketing, birthday card, business, etc.

All the category & sub-category pages are internally linked. So, Canva can rank for a range of keywords - from generic keywords like "graphic templates" to very niche keywords like "thanksgiving flyer template".

Internal linking also translates the authority juice from top pages to the other pages on the website.

To make sure these category & sub-category pages are easily replicable, Canva uses a simple template where you only have to change a few elements to create a new page.