How Canva Templated Their SEO to Success

Author:

Kyle Roof
April 7, 2021

Categories: 

Canva’s filled a huge gap in the market when it was founded in 2012 - a graphic design tool for non-graphic designers. However, its massive growth was not simply because of its market positioning. 

It can be attributed to their well-orchestrated marketing campaign that persists to this very day. How they promoted their brand and structured the site led to a $6 billion valuation and 30 million monthly active users!

In this post, we’ll focus on how Canva rolled out their SEO strategy that became one of the pillars of their success.

Create landing pages based on search intent

As of this writing, Canva ranks 1st and 2nd for “create certificate” and “free certificate template,” respectively, for different pages.

Both have transactional keyword intent. So why did Canva have to create separate pages for each keyword, when they could have just combined the content from both pages into a single page and optimize for that?

The reason is simple:


People searching for “create certificate” want to design the certificate themselves

While those who searched for “free certificate template” are looking for certificate templates to download for free.


Because the reason why they typed in the keyword is different, it only makes sense to assign a specific page for each intent!


Here’s the page for “create certificate”:

And here’s the page for “free certificate template:”

As you can see, each page is optimally designed according to the search intent.

It’s interesting to note that users will be redirected to the Canva design editor to work on the certificate, whether you start designing yourself or select any of the templates above.


Ultimately, Canva’s end-goal is to get more users onboard their platform. And by creating pages geared towards the target keyword’s intent, it’s much easier to convert people into users regardless of where they are in the sales funnel.

Organize content into a parent-child structure

Canva structures its site to have parent and child pages. The parent pages consist of its print products, ex. Invitations.

The parent page encourages you to design custom invitations using the platform.


But if you scroll down the page, you’ll also see links to its child pages, which point to specific designs and templates of the print product, i.e. wedding invitations, graduation invitations, etc.

The child pages are where people can access and work with that specific design.


This site structure is completely intentional. By creating parent-child relationships among related pages, Canva can increase their semantic relevance for target keywords.


Currently, Canva is ranking for almost 50,000 keywords for “invitation” in the US alone. In fact, a lot of the traffic the site is generating comes from their child pages.

The performance of all their parent and child pages can be traced back to how they interlinked and structured them together to create a cluster of pages optimized for a topic.

Use a scalable template on landing pages

If you compare the format of their parent pages, you’ll easily notice a pattern.

Here is Canva’s business cards page:

And below is the page for custom mugs:

We can break down the pages into something like this:

  • Call to action (H1 - Keyword or topic; Description - Shop/order [keyword] to [benefit]. [Talk about how to design the product using Canva.]; Button)
  • 4-column description - eco-conscious printing, free delivery, hundreds of free templates to choose from, or whichever USP applies here.
  • Browse by category/template - Help users choose the right design/type for their needs.
  • Shop section - Discuss different designs, formats, types, paper stock/finish, etc.
  • Get estimate on cost - Allow people to compute the costs of getting their designs printed for their product based on quantity and quality
  • How to design/order [keyword] - Enumerates the exact steps with a CTA button linking to Canva’s design editor
  • FAQs - Covers common questions about the keyword in an accordion format
  • Everything you need to know about [keyword] - Links to articles and guides about the product
  • More print products - Links to related parent pages within the site
  • Final call to action - similar to the one above (H1, description, button) but using text variations

Having a uniform template or pattern for your landing pages allows you to scale and measure the results of the page properly just like Canva has here.


If something goes wrong on some of the pages - the page drops in ranking, for example - it’s much easier to isolate which factors could have caused the issues. Because if the other pages using the same template didn’t experience the same problem, then the problem isn’t with the content!

Build links without asking for them

Unlike most outreach link building campaigns, Canva takes a refreshing approach to theirs.


Because there’s a particular factor in the emails that make them truly effective. Let’s see if you can spot what that is.


Here’s one of the emails they sent to a blogger regarding a post s/he wrote about digital marketing tools:

Here’s another one they sent in 2019 to a different blogger regarding a post that they want to create an embeddable presentation for:

Finally, here’s from the same guy who followed up with the same blogger. He’s promoting Canva’s photo collage and certification maker here:

First, they targeted bloggers and site owners that mention the target keywords Canva wants to be associated with like “digital marketing tools”. 


And aside from the cool personalization in the final email, did you notice anything different about their language?

  • “We’d love to be included in your post!”
  • “Canva will use your content to create an embeddable presentation, for free!
  • “If you have other content you’d like to see in an embeddable presentation, we’d be more than happy to design that instead…
  • “I wanted to reach out again to see if you’re looking for an added resource for your content.”

Notice that, instead of saying “link” or “backlink” in their email, they used “included” and “added”. Beyond that, they’re more than happy to go out of their way to help you - no strings attached (as seen in the second email).


This is outreach as it best - the less it feels like it’s asking for a backlink, the better is it!

The fact that it’s written in a way that’s not demanding anything makes it natural for the blogger to become more receptive to their requests.


It also doesn’t hurt that the content they want to share is useful to the bloggers audience. 

Read more about Decoding the SEO success secrets of Asana vs Trello.

Conclusion

From the breakdown of Canva’s SEO strategy above, these things are very clear:

  • Create landing pages optimized towards a specific keyword intent to maximize conversions.
  • Structure pages of the site that make perfect sense to search engines and users.
  • Use a proven page template that you can recreate and scale at large to replicate its success.
  • Send outreach to provide value to users and without any hint of asking for links

It’s a pretty simple approach that allowed Canva to exponentially grow its brand on a global scale!


If you’re looking for a more deliberate and fine-tuned approach to your SEO strategy similar to Canva, give us a call and we’ll tell you what we can do.

Read more about The Hidden Hero of On Page SEO: Reverse Content Silos.

About the author 

Kyle Roof

Kyle is responsible for the development and implementation of all SEO techniques used by the SEO agency High Voltage SEO and the SEO tool PageOptimizer Pro. Kyle is also the co-founder of Internet Marketing Gold, a global community of 3000+ SEO professionals who test and prove cutting edge SEO techniques. Kyle is also co-host of SEO Fight Club a weekly YouTube show that covers a multitude of SEO topics. Kyle’s SEO techniques and discoveries are followed by many SEO professionals and business leaders, he has been featured in many respected publications and is a regular speaker on SEO and SEO testing at conferences throughout the world.

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