How Masterclass.com Mastered their SEO

Author:

Kyle Roof
shallots
February 25, 2021

Categories: 

Implementing a well thought-out SEO strategy is paramount to growing a business.


And no other brand has done this quite like Masterclass.com.


In just five short years, it was able to rise up the ranks to become one of the most popular brands right now. And we’ll talk about how they did it in this post.


How Masterclass.com Elevated its Brand with SEO


Masterclass.com is like the Netflix of online courses - lessons are taught by the best and most popular people in their industry.


At this point, you’re probably aware of its impressive roster of instructors (Gordon Ramsey, Anne Leibowitz, David Sedaris, etc.)


However, the success of Masterclass.com can also be attributed to its MAIN source of traffic.


Hint: IT’S NOT PAID ADS!


This is interesting considering that Masterclass.com spent over $6.5 MILLION for ads in 2019 and even more the following year according to Business Insider.


Are you ready to know the answer?


Its BIGGEST growth driver is organic search at 46%.


The second is direct traffic (35%) while social (9%) comes in at third.


Who would’ve thunk?


Mind you, its success on organic search is no accident at all. In fact, it’s a well-coordinated strategy built upon three concepts:

  • Identifying searcher intent - Finding out what people actually want to know in order to build the best page for that search term.
  • Building semantic pages - Creating pages optimized for many phrases related to your main term.
  • Creating traffic silos - Developing top-of-funnel pages, i.e. supporting content, in the traffic silo and linking them to the specific middle silo page to help circulate authority.

Let’s break down all three starting with searcher intent.


Masterclass.com has a firm grasp of what people search for on Google and why. And this is evident with how they rank # 1 on SERPs for the term “shallots.”

So far, this is what we know about the keyword:

  • The term has 120,000 monthly searches in the US (and 222,000 monthly searches globally) according to Ahrefs. And without delving deep into its keyword difficulty, it’s easy to say that ranking for it is a very tall order.
  • “Shallots” is a top-of-the-funnel keyword. People searching for this are amateur cooks but they’re not directly looking to buy a cooking course.

Now, let’s look at what Google thinks about the keyword. We can do this by simply searching for it.


And through reviewing Google’s SERP for the term ‘shallot’, Masterclass.com was able to uncover what Google users ACTUALLY want to know when they search for this term.


Most users want to know what a shallot is and then, what the difference between onions and shallots are?


Through figuring this out, Masterclass.com was able to create the perfect page in Google’s eyes to satisfy this searcher intent for this keyword, get rewarded by Google, and then use this as a top of funnel traffic acquisition strategy.


The second part about the keyword selection is going deeper into the persona of the searcher, knowing that anyone searching for this word, ‘Shallot’ and its variations, is most likely reading a recipe. If they’re reading a recipe, they probably like to cook. If they like to cook, possibly they would be interested in a cooking course. There are assumptions in there, but logical and not too big a jump from one end to the other.

Now take a look at 2 things on the landing page.

  • How they have built-in conversion points into the page for that small % of traffic who may be ‘ready to buy.’
  • The other function of this page is simply to cookie the visitor. Now you’ve visited this page, Masterclass.com knows you’re into cooking and can target you with specific ads on social media to bring you further down their sales funnel.

The last one is important because not all visitors to this page will convert into subscribers. However, this allows MasterClass.com to deliver ads on Facebook and Instagram in the hopes of getting them on board as a subscriber once they’re ready to level up their cooking game.


Masterclass.com was able to replicate this same process across all its course categories and ranks # 1 for other one-word search terms.

Conclusion

As you can see, developing an SEO strategy is not as complex as it seems. You just need to approach the process systematically.

  1. Type in one of your main keywords in Google and analyze the results. What kinds of pages appear? What questions do they seem to answer?
  2. Look for SERP features like Featured Snippets, People Also Ask, and rich snippets to help you with the things you need to include in your content.
  3. Once you’ve optimized your content for its search intent, create semantic pages using related keywords from SERPs for your first keyword.
  4. Create your content silo. 

While the process may be straight forward, it's still a ton of work. If you need help, book a call.

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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