Decoding the SEO success secrets of Asana vs Trello

Author:

Andrew Steven
July 22, 2021

Categories: 

You’ve probably heard of (or use) Asana or Trello. Both are powerhouses in the project management space and their traffic is worth millions of dollars. But what is their secret to bringing in such a massive amount of clicks (and growth)? Do they use the same strategy, or do they differ? In this tell-all article we will break down Asana and Trello’s SEO strategies so that you can learn and apply them to increase your own site’s traffic.Hi, Andrew Steven here, I am the founder of 3 SEO companies (HVSEO, IMG Courses, PageOptimizer Pro) and I’m supporting my good friend Viola Eva of Flow SEO, in her series, “Decoding the SEO success secrets”. This is a series where Viola and guests explore the SEO of popular SAAS websites and uncover their strategies. This is the first edition comparing Trello vs Asana’s SEO. You can watch the video below or read the findings further down.

Quick overview of Asana & Trello

Both Trello and Asana are relatively young companies in the project management space, both characterized by meteoric growth and multi-million dollar evaluations. Trello was acquired for $425 million in 2017 and Asana made $227 million in revenue in 2020, with an increase of 59% year-over-year.

Without going too deep into the merits of each, Trello takes the Kanban approach of boards and cards and puts it on steroids, while Asana is a more “hardcore” project management software with dependencies, reporting, and more.

 We are not here to compare the tools, but to figure out their SEO approaches instead. So, let’s start with their overall SEO statistics – we will get into a deep dive afterwards:

Asana’s top 20 pages

Trello’s top 20 pages

In terms of traffic alone, Trello wins. Let’s take apart their strategies one by one.

Breaking down Asana’s SEO strategy

Here are the top finds from an SEO deep dive of Asana’s website:

FINDING1: Asana’s SEO success is rooted in content

<p “=”” =””=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=””>First some quick facts and then some comments afterwards:

    <li “=”” =””=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=”” style=””>Asana heavily focuses on English-speaking countries. <li “=”” =””=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=”” style=””>Their best-performing non-English markets are Japan, Mexico, Germany and France. <li “=”” =””=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=”” style=””>Only a fraction of their overall pages are translated. <li “=”” =””=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=”” style=””>In the USA, Asana ranks for 2,669 keywords related to project management 336 of these keywords are variations of “project management software”. <li “=”” =””=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=”” style=””>However, for the main term, they are out-performed by review and comparison sites such as Capterra. <li “=”” =””=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=”” style=””>They rank for 310 keywords related to teamwork and 290 related to task management.

Asana takes a fundamental approach to SEO and it works. They figure out what potential clients might be searching for and map out a proper content strategy. It is successful as they rank for many keywords related to project management and more importantly “project management software”, a high commercial intent keyword.

FINDING 2: Asana’s website is well-structured

A well-structured website is not only vital for SEO but also for users. The site is divided into 4 main categories: Recourses, Blog, Templates and Use Cases. Asana’s SEO is highly methodical and calculated.

Resources

<p “=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=”” style=””>The resources hub contains in depth guides related to project management. You will find tutorials related to the SCRUM methodology, OKRs and more. Quick facts:

    <li “=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=”” style=””>144 resources indexed. <li “=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=”” style=””>16 of them drive more than 1% of overall organic traffic. <li “=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=”” style=””>The SEO success rate of their resources is 11.1%. <li “=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=”” style=””>718 referring domains and 6.37k backlinks point to the resources.

<p “=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=”” style=””>These are highly targeted articles designed to fulfill user intent, all the while demonstrating how easy it is to use Asana.

Blog

The Asana blog is more conversational with questions, answers, interviews, and more. Quick facts:

  • 1,092 posts written
  • 3,029 referring domains (vs 718 for resource pages)
  • Not particularly targeting keywords or SEO
  • Still interesting for anyone into project management (burnout, stress, productivity, etc.)

Templates

Because Asana is a multi-faceted tool, it can be customized to fit the customer’s needs. Templates give users a quick win and a shorter learning curve. While these templates are not considered user generated content, they are doing SEO in a scalable way (Programmatic SEO).

All they need to do is to mine keywords related to project management + “template” to grow.

This is nothing new, Canva (Online design tool) and FreshBooks (Accounting and billing software) did the same by programmatically targeting template related keywords. Quick facts:

  • 65 template pages indexed
  • Volume of Traffic : 18.7K
  • Percentage of Traffic: 8.5 %

Use cases

This is the final hub for Asana where they dramatize how one can use the tool for project management, remote work, and other use cases. Quick facts:

    • <li “=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=”” style=””>

20 pages indexed

    • <li “=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=”” style=””>

Volume of Traffic : 19.2K

    • <li “=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=”” style=””>

Percentage of Traffic: 8.72 %

    • <li “=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=”” style=””>

Ranks number 5 for “Project Management”

    • <li “=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=”” style=””>

Ranks number 7 for page and 3rd for video for “Kanban Boards”

    • <li “=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=”” style=””>

Ranks 10th for “Agile Management”

<p “=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=””>

FINDING 3: Low-hanging fruits (left unpicked)

<p “=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=””>While Asana has a rock solid SEO strategy and site structure, they are leaving a lot on the table with their lack of follow up. After signing up for an ebook on the site a week ago I haven’t received a single email since then. The fortune is in the follow-up: they could start sending automatic emails taking me through a sequence, and driving me to more value.Also, no ads have been following me around from neither Asana nor Trello. I’m obviously deep in the research / comparison phase by my behavior, and Facebook retargeting is a low-hanging fruit to increase sign-ups that both companies could deploy.

<p “=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=””>

Summary of Asana’s SEO

<p “=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=””>Asana is 60% content SEO, 20% programmatic (templates, integrations), and 10% product pages. They have a deliberate and diversified SEO strategy covering TOFU to BOFU. They’ve invested a massive amount more in content than Trello, but still get less traffic overall.

<p “=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=””> <p “=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=””>

Breaking down Trello’s SEO strategy

<p “=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=””>Let’s leave Asana behind and take a deep dive into the SEO game of Trello. Here is what we’ve uncovered:

FINDING 1: International SEO success

<p “=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=””>Trello successfully ranks in the English-speaking markets, but also offers their software in different languages, and that in turn drives a lot of traffic. Here are some quick facts:

    • <li “=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=”” style=””>

Trello performs best in the USA, but also ranks well in the UK, Australia, Canada and India.

    • <li “=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=”” style=””>

In the USA, Trello ranks for 755 keywords related to project management.

    • <li “=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=”” style=””>

They rank for 490 keywords related to Kanban.

    • <li “=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=”” style=””>

They also rank for 976 keywords that include the modifier software, indicating purchasing intent.

    • <li “=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=”” style=””>

Trello has a multi-language approach and offers native content in Vietnam, Brazil, France, Germany, Mexico, Spain and Russia.

Ranking in non-English markets is almost always a lot easier than ranking in the USA, but Trello still ranks well for more difficult keywords like “Project management”.

They are, however, behind in SEO traffic as they rank for only 755 keywords related to project management (vs 2,669 for Asana).

<p “=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=””>This international foothold offers Trello the first mover advantage in these regions, as it will be very hard to dislodge once competitors start targeting international markets. They only have one hub (which is the blog) and only one of their articles is one of their top 20 pages. So, the bulk of their traffic doesn’t come from their team’s efforts.

FINDING 2: An army of free content writers

<p “=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=””>Trello has a gargantuan amount of content because they have an army of free content writers: the public. Trello boards set to public (meaning anyone can see them) are indexed by Google, and this rakes in a large amount of keywords.

<p “=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=””>One of their best-performing pages is the public board for the game Project Jojo. 46,000 people search for this specific board every single month since October 2018— and this is not the only fan community driving traffic to Trello. Gaming communities use it to publish cheats and strategies, and many traditional companies use it to show their public roadmap. With 50 million users in 2019 and a lot of these boards being set to public, you have an idea of the scale. For some terms, the board itself has a higher search frequency.Because boards have a theme, this creates semantically rich pages that Google loves. While this is a perk of user generated content, there is a huge downside: this is technically not Trello’s own content. Communities and projects can get shut down and the board can be deleted at the owner’s whim. However, the amount of new content and keywords generated probably make up for any losses along the way.  <p “=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=””>

FINDING 3: The avalanche theory behind Trello’s success

<p “=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=””>It is hard to look at Trello’s SEO success without talking about “Avalanche Theory”, advanced by Chris Carter. It postulates that each website has a natural traffic tier that Google trusts them to create content in. So if your site generates on average 100 visits a day, you can rank easily for other keywords that have around 100 searches a month.As your site grows and Google trusts you more, it lets you rank for keyword terms with higher search volumes. With nearly 6 million pages, you can see how this could have played out. At first Google ranked the low traffic pages, and as new pages get added, the little snowballs turn into an avalanche. More traffic is essentially rewarded with more traffic, all from user generated content.

Trello’s SEO Summary

<p “=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=””>Trello’s traffic is 90% user generated, 5% product/brand and 5 percent content. On one hand they have a solid feedback loop going on with Google in terms of authority / traffic / backlinks with the user generated content. The problem is they are not ranking any pages related to their funnel or product in a substantial way.This is where we have to speculate a bit because we do not have access to Trello’s sales data. An SEO strategy like this is most likely not driving in many sign-ups in the short term. But in the long term, it might be a genius strategy. They are getting an estimated half a million new users per month to try their product and a portion of these will eventually turn into paid users. Even if they never upgrade, the fact that they are using and linking to Trello boards is subtle word-of-mouth marketing.

<p “=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=””>As author Sabri Suby points out, only 3 percent of a market are in a buying behavior at any time. 60% percent are problem unaware. Meaning they don’t even realize they have a problem, so they are not searching for a solution. Giving them a free trial to Trello without even them knowing they wanted one is genius. It is however hard to measure, but the flip side is some of the most effective strategies are by nature hard to quantify. <p “=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=””>

Miscellaneous findings

Below are a few interesting findings in our research:

Asana outranks Trello for “Kanban boards”

Trello is primarily a Kanban board application. This is its core functionality, and yet Asana outranks it for the term “Kanban boards”. Asana’s feature-set includes a Kanban view for tasks, but it’s not well known for that. Trello on the other hand doesn’t even mention the word Kanban on its homepage.

Double the competition

One of Asana’s top 20 pages is a comparison of Asana vs Jira. People seem to compare these two MORE than Asana vs Trello. What is interesting here is that both Jira and Trello are Atlassian products.

<p “=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=””>

A word on Link-building

<p “=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=””>Before looking at the key takeaways, let’s take a moment to look at links.

Top linked content

<p “=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=””>The top linked content pieces on Asana are:

<p “=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=””>The top linked content on Trello are:

<p “=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=””>In short: Asana has a lot of links going to pages that further link to their money pages. Trello has a lot of links going to user generated boards.

Trust flow

<p “=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=””>This is the Majestic trust flow for Asana and Trello, with two other project management software programs for comparison. This metric helps us compare the trustworthiness of different sites by evaluating the quality of its backlinks.

Proactive vs passive link-building

<p “=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=””>Asana is most likely building links. Partial match anchors to their content pages like “OKR” and “Executive Summary” might be a sign of this. Additional evidence would be the ratio between volume and amount of referring domains on key commercial pages.Trello on the other hand, is passive link building at it’s finest. People create their board and link it themselves. That is how Trello can get top gaming stores (like Epic Games) to link to them: Their roadmap is on their platform, so it attracts links from Epic Games themselves and the legion of gamers following their every move.

Passing on the trust

<p “=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=””>If the amount of keywords that Trello ranks for is of any indication: Google loves Trello. And some of that trust can be forwarded to other sites. That is why at HVSEO we use highly optimized boards to build links and pass on that SEO trust factor to our client sites, ultimately making them rank higher.

Bringing it all together

<p “=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=””>It is evident that both SAAS sites bring in thousands of visitors, but each do so differently. <p “=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=””>

Asana SEO (Primarily Intent based SEO)

Trello SEO (Primarily Emergent based SEO)

Targeted to meet user intent Mostly user generated content that ranks
Easily tracked and controlled Easily scaled and attracts relevant links
Structured and methodical Can also easily lose links
Linkable, revelant assets Hard to track R.O.I.
Can’t match user created content scale Enter your text here…

Emergent vs Intent-based SEO

<p “=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=””>When looking at Asana’s vs Trello’s SEO strategy, they are radically different. One could call Trello’s SEO emergent, which is when a property emerges from a system (in this case user generated boards), while Asana is primarily a mix of intent-based and Programmatic SEO. <p “=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=””> <p “=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=””>They figure out what their prospects might be searching for and target them at scale. You can see their programmatic SEO play with their easily scaled templates hub.

Key takeaways and actionable tips

<p “=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=””>1- Create SEO-driven content marketing to meet customers in every stage of the funnel.2- Translate across different languages to easily win valuable rankings and effectively expand internationally.3- Programmatic page creation to grow your page count, keyword rankings, and overall organic traffic by leveraging other brands and communities.

Conclusion

<p “=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=””>I hope you enjoyed the findings of our first “Decoding the success secrets of” series. If you don’t want to miss a future breakdown, sign up for our newsletter now to be notified.  <p “=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=””> <p “=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=””>We can implement any of these strategies for your own site, click here to start a conversation with us. <p “=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=””> <p “=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=””>Read more about How Canva Templated Their SEO to Success. <p “=”” dir=”ltr” tve-droppable”=””>

About the author 

Andrew Steven

Andrew has been building and managing SEO teams since 2008 where he led the largest SEO firm in Australia. Since meeting Kyle and partnering to form High Voltage SEO Andrew has been Kyle Roof’s man behind the scenes and together with Maria Dubretic have since co-founded the SEO tool PageOptimizer Pro. Andrew wishes he could stop dreaming about digital marketing in his sleep and would love to hear from anyone who has a cure for this.

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