CONTENTS

Key Findings

Organic Growth Breakdown

Missed Opportunities

Wrapping Up

15 min

The One Tactic That Helped Exploding Topics Get to 150K Visits per Month

Most websites interested in generating online traffic, typically take advantage of various methods and channels to achieve this.

While this is a great tactic to follow (when executed the right way), some argue that you should find one thing you’re really good at and focus on that.

The latter is actually the case with Exploding Topics, a tool co-founded by renowned SEO expert Brian Dean, which helps you find emerging topics before they take off, thus giving you the chance to “ride the wave” early on.

So what’s the one thing that Exploding Topics is really good at, that has helped it reach over 150K monthly organic visits?

This is exactly what we’re going to break down in our third post of this series, as well as how it has managed to reach impressive organic growth in general, in such a relatively short period of time.

Disclaimer:
Most of the data we’re using to conduct this analysis is provided by SEO software Ahrefs. As with most SEO software, we’re not getting absolute numbers on any of the metrics (e.g. search volume), rather the information is averages based on the various data sources Ahrefs uses to provide us with this data. Practically, this means that you should always take the data presented below with a pinch of salt. Everything presented here is accurate as of today, November 28th, 2022.

Key Findings

  • 95% of the website’s total organic traffic comes from the blog section
  • List posts are the main drive for organic traffic, making almost 90% of the total blog posts published
  • Brian Dean played a key role in the website’s growth after acquiring it

Organic Growth Breakdown

In order for a website to grow organically, there are several factors to look into, and Exploding Topics is no exception.

Coming up, we’ll see the 3 main elements that have helped the website achieve its impressive organic results, so let’s get started with the main organic traffic sources.

Element #1: Organic Traffic Sources

Usually in our case studies, we dive deep into each website’s architecture to see how each page contributes from an organic perspective.

Unlike other websites, Exploding Topics is quite straightforward since it doesn’t consist of many subfolders and landing pages.

Blog

In our case, the blog section is the main source of traffic, so our focus will be on that. 

Image Source: ExplodingTopics

In fact, the blog section is accountable for almost 95% of the website’s total traffic, or else responsible for 142K monthly visits out of the 150K total ones.

With the remaining 5% being from other sources, which we’ll briefly cover further on.

It’s also worth mentioning that the blog section has visibility for over 63K keywords…

…or else 93% of the website’s total number of keywords.

Since we’re focusing on the blog section, there are currently 314 blog posts on the website, as of today November 28th 2022, but obviously not all perform equally well.

Actually, the vast majority of them are responsible for less than 1% of the blog’s traffic, with just 3 blog posts really standing out.

Blog A: The first one is a list of the fastest growing startups, which as of today receives 8.4K monthly visits on average and is responsible for 6% of the blog’s traffic, or else 5.6% of the website’s total organic traffic.

Blog B: The second one, a list post of the fastest growing US cities, currently receives 6.2K monthly visits on average and is responsible for 4.4% of the blog’s total traffic, or 4.1% of the total website traffic.

Blog C: Last but not least, the third best performing post which is based on how many cryptocurrencies there are, attracts 4.6K monthly visitors which translates to 3.2% of the blog’s traffic and 3% of the website’s total traffic.

It’s also interesting to examine how the blog performs in other areas as well, besides the organic traffic and keywords, such as the traffic value.

To be precise, the website’s total traffic value is currently $195K.

Note: According to Ahrefs, the traffic value shows the estimated value of a website’s monthly organic search traffic.

What’s impressive is the fact that the blog section is responsible for almost 100% of that value!

If we were to narrow this down, the blog on the fastest growing cities alone (aka the second best performing blog post which we saw earlier) is accountable for almost 35% of the total traffic value.

Let’s do a quick overview of how much the blog section contributes to Exploding Topics’s organic growth.

From a quick glance above, we can clearly see that the blog folder plays a vital role in the website’s organic visibility.

Let’s now see what other pages contribute to the total growth.

Topics

Another part of the website that’s somewhat important in terms of organic growth, is the topics subfolder.

Essentially, users can get a good idea of how the product works by browsing through different trends.

All they have to do for a start, is select a certain category from the homepage.

Assuming their choice is Fitness, they can then browse various trends around this category and see their progress over the years.

Plus, some trends are hidden in order to prompt users to subscribe to the tool.

After selecting a certain trend (for example Padel Racket) users can see more information about it, as well as related topics.

Each trend page separately lives under the topic subfolder, so following the same example the URL comes in the form of:

explodingtopics.com/topic/padel-racket

If we have a look at the data from Ahrefs, as of today these are the top-10 topic pages in terms of organic traffic, in the US:

While in total the subfolder only generates around 200 monthly visits, or else 0.13% of the total traffic, it’s interesting to see what the pages are all about and how much they contribute organically.

What’s interesting is the fact that one year ago, the subfolder attracted over 8K monthly organic visits, but has since been in a downtrend.

In terms of organic keywords, it currently has visibility for 1.2K of them, which translates to 1.77% of the website’s total keywords.

When it comes to the traffic value it stands at just $10, with the topic of gaming gloves alone receiving 80% of it.

Similarly to before, let’s do an overview of the subfolder’s contribution to the website’s organic growth.

As you can see, the contribution is low, significantly lower than the blog section, but it’s nevertheless an important part of the website, even not from an organic point of view.

Before we move on to the next section, it’s worth mentioning that almost 1.2K monthly visits derive from branded terms, such as people searching for:

  • exploding topics
  • exploding topics.com
  • exploding topic

And other variations.

Let’s now have a look at another element worth analyzing.

Element #2: List posts

We can now reveal the one tactic that has contributed the most to the organic growth of Exploding Topics.

Although we only saw one example, by having a quick look at the website’s blog posts, we can clearly spot a pattern: the vast majority of them are list posts.

Is this a coincidence?

Probably not. Our guess is that this was a conscious decision, due to the fact that they can easily be associated with what the product is all about.

This is actually something the team at Exploding Topics has done exceptionally well; people can discover interesting lists and trends in a way that also demonstrates how the product works in action. 

For instance, in the list of the fastest growing companies, each company is presented with a chart of its search growth over time and when readers click on it, they can see exactly how the product works.

Most likely, this is why the majority of blogs are in the form of a list post, instead of a guide for example.

Plus, the content is more often than not enhanced with informative infographics…

Image Source: Exploding Topics

…as well as interesting charts and graphs…

…all of which provide readers with an even better user experience.

In fact, out of the 315 blog posts currently published, 279 are list posts, which translates to 88.5% of the total amount.

 

Most of those list posts are trends, such as:

As well as stats pages, like:

In fact, stats pages have played a key role in Exploding Topics’s organic growth, according to the co-founder and CEO, Brian Dean, in a recent interview.

What’s more, according to the same interview, content that gives an answer to a specific question with a number, also generates a great deal of online attention. An example of such content is the one on how many cryptocurrencies there are.

Once Brian Dean said:

What do the best for us, are these specific stats pages targeting a question people are asking, and the answer is a number.

Overall, targeted list posts have been crucial to the website’s growth, considering they generate more than 80% of the total organic traffic, making this tactic the most vital one for Exploding Topics!

Although list posts have proven to be the website’s secret sauce for organic growth, it’s also worth examining how off-page tactics have contributed to its success too.

Element #3: Off-page SEO

Since we talked about how on-page optimizations have helped Exploding Topics reach great heights, it only makes sense to analyze the role of off-page SEO as well.

In a nutshell, off page SEO refers to actions done outside a website that don’t directly involve it, but aim to help it perform better.

Such actions can be link building, digital PR, utilizing social media, and more.

Those are things that all “good” websites more or less do, but Exploding Topics has an edge when it comes to its branding, and that is Brian Dean.

Brian Dean, who bought the website back in 2019 when it was still named Trennd.co (and before that: Trendlist.io), is a globally renowned SEO expert with a great deal of respect from the community, having founded Backlinko.com (recently acquired by Semrush).

He also has a large online following, with more than:

  • 74K LinkedIn followers
  • 125K Twitter followers
  • 7K Medium followers

Which means that any piece of valuable content he shares can receive a great deal of awareness, just like the website’s launch announcement on his Twitter profile:

Image Source: Twitter

Although social media engagement doesn’t affect rankings, it’s a great way to get a new product started and constantly promote it to the right kind of people, especially when good branding is already in place.

Another off-page action that helped Exploding Topics was their successful launch on Product Hunt, where the tool was named product of the month.

Image Source: Producthunt

What’s more, it got more than 3.7K upvotes and many positive reviews!

Generally speaking, forums and online communities are yet another great way to get people to talk about your product and spark meaningful conversations.

For instance, Josh Howarth (the tool’s initial founder), took advantage of Reddit to get the word out about Exploding Topics from the early days.

Image Source: Reddit

This started a long thread of people talking about the tool, which helped it raise valuable awareness.

Such conversations might not always have a significant impact on the traffic, but they can really help out during a website’s early days.

Actually, according to Brian Dean, from actions on platforms like:

  • Twitter
  • Product Hunt
  • Medium

And email marketing, Exploding Topics received 25K visits on its launch day!

Needless to mention the contribution of third party people with large online followings, such as Rand Fishkin…

…who shared the tool on his Twitter profile and gave it a good boost.

According to Josh Howarth:

The number of likes and retweets on the back of this was insane too. I’m a twitter newbie, so to get this kind of exposure blew my mind! It also led to us getting picked up by the hackernewsletter and kottke.org which drove some good traffic our way too.

Overall, such off-page actions that generate traffic and awareness can be crucial for a website, especially in its early days, and can even provide a decent amount of business value by converting the traffic into paid clients.

So why not see the growth of Exploding Topics over the years, by using the tool itself?

Image Source: Explodingtopics

Clearly, we can see demand for it really taking off in early 2020, which is shortly after Briand Dean acquired it and both off- and on-page SEO actions took place.

Now that we did a good overview of the main elements behind the growth of Exploding Topics, let’s have a look at certain opportunities we noticed, all with the purpose of helping the website perform even better.

Missed Opportunities

As we mentioned, the opportunities identified below are all with the goal of optimizing the website even more, always in terms of content and seo.

After all, no matter how much a website is growing organically, there’s always room for improvement. 

Let’s get started with the first opportunity.

Opportunity #1: Data for non-English speaking countries

By visiting Exploding Topic’s website, it’s easy to see that it isn’t translated into other languages.

Obviously, this isn’t a simple website that can just be translated into other languages, considering that the data provided (trending topics) need to make sense for each country too.

For example, while an English term like “Core Web Vitals” might have an X amount of growth in an Y period of time, this might not be the case for the same term in another country (e.g. Germany).

To give you an idea, here are the top-10 countries where the website’s search traffic comes from:

As expected, English-speaking countries like the US, Canada, and the UK are all up there, but there are also some other countries like Germany, France and Brazil, each with their own language.

What can be done is to translate both the blog posts, as well as create trending topics that are based on data from other countries as well, apart from the US.

Blog 

In terms of the blog, it would be good to identify some of the top searched terms for each country and create content around them –when it makes sense to do so– in order to attract organic traffic.

For example, in the case of Germany, a keyword like “technology terms” is translated into “technologische trends” in the German language.

As we can see above, it has a decent amount of search volume from Germany and other German speaking countries (e.g. Switzerland) and a low keyword difficulty, which means it won’t be as difficult to rank for the term.

Plus, the main SERP intent (list posts) is ideal for Exploding Topics to target.

Let’s have a look at another example.

The keyword “market trends”  can be translated into “tendencias mercado” in Portuguese, if we want to target the Brazilian audience.

It has an average monthly volume of 200 searches and a relatively low keyword difficulty, making it another good case for Exploding Topics to target and create useful content around it, in order to attract organic traffic from Brazil.

Note: For each country the website is translated into, the right hreflang attribute should be added to the HTML. 

Creating blog content in different languages is a good tactic to follow, so let’s see how the website can follow the same approach to its trending topics.

Trending topics

What Exploding Topics is all about is helping people find emerging topics before they even take off.

Obviously, those topics are in English, but what if they were in other languages too?

This isn’t as easy as simply translating the topics, since a topic’s data needs to represent the demand it has for each country.

For example, the topic of “tiktok ads” is one of the many presented by the tool.

As we can see below, the data is based on the number of monthly Google searches in the US.

But what if someone is interested in finding emerging topics that don’t solely focus in the US?

This is where getting data from non-english Google searches would be valuable, for many people.

For instance, here’s what the demand looks like for the same term in Brazil, according to Google Trends.

It’s been on the rise lately and will most likely continue rising, so it’s something that would potentially have value for people from Brazil who use Exploding Topics.

While both of the cases above aren’t easy to implement, they would definitely allow Exploding Topics to reach a wider audience and grow even more organically.

Let’s move on to the next opportunity we spotted.

Opportunity #2: Embed interactive charts in list posts

As we saw earlier, list posts are the tactic that have helped Exploding Topics get to 150K monthly visits.

However, there’s always room for improvement. Not necessarily strictly in terms of SEO, but transforming a page so it provides users a better experience and showcases the product’s value at the same time.

In our opinion, this can be achieved by embedding interactive charts in list posts that feature topic trends.

After all, as we’ve seen already, there’s a great deal of lists posts that feature useful stats and trends, just like the one on the most trending companies.

As you can see, each company is accompanied by a chart of its search growth over time…

…which is a static image that users can’t interact with, unlike when you select the topic and visit its page, where you can see how Exploding Topics works in action.

In this case, users can interact with the graph and see the topic’s search volume on a monthly basis, by hovering their mouse over the chart.

Obviously this provides good product involvement and demonstrates how it works in action, so the interactive charts could be embedded to the actual lists posts as well.

Additionally, considering most lists posts are quite lengthy, one must reach the very end of the post to discover the CTA.

 

Alternatively, a CTA could be added after every list item, which will potentially drive more conversions, considering only a small percentage of readers reach the very end of blog posts.

This is how it could potentially look like:

As you can see, the CTA banner is at the end of a list item, before the next one starts, meaning that people are more frequently prompted to discover the tool.

Overall, while Exploding Topics has done a tremendous job both in terms of on-page and off-page SEO, there’s always room for improvement, so we truly hope our recommendations will prove to be useful.

Let’s wrap things up with some final thoughts.

Wrapping Up

Undoubtedly Exploding Topics has done a great job to reach the place it is now, in terms of organic growth.

While there have been quite a few actions implemented, one really stands out, and that is focusing heavily on lists posts.

Considering this tactic has worked wonders so far, it only makes sense for Brian Dean and his team to continue following it.

Whether further actions to enhance it will take place is unsure, but it goes to show that Exploding Topics is a great example of what we mentioned in this case study’s intro:

The fact that you should find one thing that works for you and focus on it.

In the next post of this series, we’ll present you with another case study of a company that has achieved great success through content and SEO.

Feel free to share this post if you’ve found it useful and go ahead and reach out to us if you have any examples of companies you think we should feature in one of our future posts, by sending us an email to hello@minuttia.com.

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