With the recent June Core Algorithm Update and subsequent Diversity Update, hundreds of thousands of SEOs around the world are trying to figure out what changed.
What is Google rewarding now that they weren’t before, and how can they adapt so their sites aren’t left behind.
A fraction of those SEOs will write blog posts, tweets and Facebook group updates sharing insights from what they’ve personally seen.
As SEO is a huge part of my personal life and business, I too started writing an update on what we’ve seen for our clients and the sites we track on their behalf.
However, for various reasons I’ll outline, I’ve decided against publishing it.
Instead, my aim with this blog post is to encourage more self-driven analysis of sites you can truly learn from, even if you don’t compete for the same keywords.
I get a lot of value from the algorithm dissection of others – particularly in seeing how they approach ranking fluctuations – but in putting together a public analysis you’ll come across a few issues.
First of all, for every conclusion there are just too many exceptions. You can say Google put all their focus on ‘EAT’ and then highlight websites killing it without so much as author names on their articles.
You can say quality link profiles were given more importance and then find new sites – just a few months old – who are beating those with far more authority.
Typically, factors that apply to one niche probably won’t to another. XE in the currency conversion space pull in millions of visitors to pages with practically no content on them. That wouldn’t work elsewhere.
There’s even a patent about rank transition which, if in place today, could keep SEOs guessing forever.
Every industry is different.
And of course, outside of clients, you’re not analysing perfect data. SEO analysis tools can be wrong. Very wrong. Trying to analyse updates with bad data messes up every argument you can possibly make.
Garbage In Garbage Out (GIGO) is one of the first concepts I learned studying Computer Science in college.
I still see massive value in looking at the data you have but for my own approach, I wasn’t happy my conclusions helped enough people for a public post.
Instead of looking for specific fixes you need to make, I think there’s a better use of your time…
My Recommendation: Broaden Your Knowledge of Relevant Sites Ranking Better Than Ever
It could be the case that you’re missing some of the basics.
You haven’t updated your content for 2019. Your site is more sluggish than ever. You aren’t satisfying searcher intent. You have a lot of ‘thin’, irrelevant pages.
But what after that? What about when you’ve ticked all of the boxes on your site audit?
I think it’s time to get specific.
Really dive in to what others in your niche and related niches are doing (both at home and abroad) and monitor how they fared as each update comes along.
This is not to be reactive — any huge algorithm update can be reversed and swing in another direction. Rather, it’s to help you see areas for improvement going forward.
In the bookkeeping space online? I would be watching what Pilot are going to do content-wise with the $53M they’ve raised.
In the health space? Amy Myers hasn’t picked up as much attention as Dr. Axe or Healthline, but she literally puts pageview counts on every single article which should give you some content ideas.
Run an outdoor gear website in the US? You should be aware of Naturedog who are killing it in this space in France.
Especially since they took the unconventional move into selling pet products.
In the online travel space and looking to expand? Klook have not only grow in Taiwan and their native Hong Kong, but western markets are going to be their next frontier.
Just looking for a business idea (this is Gaps, after all)? Amsterdam-based Scribbr’s revenues blew me away. I never considered there was so much money to be made in the business of proofreading.
The upside is that you won’t just “learn SEO”.
You get content ideas.
Feature inspiration (live chat vs email, home page opt-in header vs free trial CTA) and so much more.
It’s my aim to get the ball rolling for you with some sites you’ve hopefully never seen before and then share the kind of things I like to look at for each.
Before We Dive In: When is It OK to Analyse the SEO Success (or Struggles) of Another Website?
I’ve asked around, and here’s my take…
Gaps is currently undergoing a redesign behind the scenes and I’ve been exploring the idea of putting more emphasis on the search traffic that some sites are receiving, rather than just their revenue numbers.
With that in mind, I’ve been asking the same question on various communities: When is it OK to publicly analyse the SEO success (or shortcomings) of another website?
The responses have been varied, ranging from “It’s all fair game since you can find their data with premium tools” to, “You should get permission from the site owner before you say anything at all.”
I think a nice middle to the feedback mostly resembles my original angle of what I think is fair, as I’ll briefly outline.
If a website is any of the following:
- Attached to a public company
- Open online about their revenues
- Attached to a company that received funding from investors
- A significant part of our daily lives (e.g. Facebook and Instagram)
- Already very public about their SEO success or failures
Then I think it’s fair to cover how well they’re performing in search.
This criteria means that anyone “killing it” who has not decided to talk about their success wouldn’t be mentioned. Even if it’s trivial to find them.
That said, for this blog post I’ve decided not to analyse anyone’s SEO situation in any kind of detail. While the June Core algorithm update was kind and cruel to many of the sites below, I won’t point out to who.
I’m also not going to point out any issues I see on their websites, even if many are missing the very basics.
At most I will cover how reliant on SEO they likely are (with information taken publicly from SimilarWeb) and point out a handful of keywords – at most – they’re ranking well for.
I won’t share anything that you can only find with premium tools.
My primary focus will be introducing you to very exciting businesses and some unique aspect of what they have going on that I think is interesting. Just as I did with Patreon’s top earners and my deep dive into SEO and the stock market.
The businesses below are all hand-picked and incredible. There is so much to learn from diving into each of them.
I also hope you find some of their revenue numbers as inspiring for your own online ventures as I did.
60 Successful Online Businesses Where Search Traffic Matters
For this article I’ve personally gone through all five thousand businesses on the Inc. 5000.
I’ve literally opened every single website to see what kind of business they are in.
Almost all of the sites below – with associated revenue numbers – are from that list. They’ve all applied to be included and submitted revenue verification to go with it.
There are a handful of exceptions, where their numbers have either been posted on Crunchbase or the Financial Times.
While the majority of businesses covered on Inc or Crunchbase don’t rely on search traffic, a significant percentage do, which was part of the criteria for being mentioned below.
I felt it was important to cover a lot of sites in a variety of industries as to shine a dimmer spotlight on any particular company.
That said, if anyone doesn’t want to be featured here, I’ll happily remove them.
Let’s dive in and see why your scrollbar is now tiny…
Partybell.com (Party Supplies) – $2M Annual Revenue
Their traffic numbers are low but I don’t expect that to continue
At first glance Partybell looks like a prime candidate to be dominating search results but honestly, they’re just getting started.
When compared to other eCommerce stores their traffic numbers aren’t huge, but when they’re generating so much revenue, search will no doubt become a bigger focus of theirs going forward.
As with FindMeaGift below, some of their best months will be seasonal – they’ve got their product pages ready for Halloween – but they’re in a prime position to rank well for the ongoing search for boys and girls party gifts.
CuddleClones.com (Personalised Stuffed Animals) – $2.5M Annual Revenue
They answer visitors pet questions then funnel them into their products
With the focus of turning your best friend into a stuffed alternative, CuddleClones’ personalised items are ripe for attention on the likes of Instagram and Facebook.
That said, SimilarWeb actually reports search traffic as the primary driver of visitors to their site. They don’t just sell cuddly teddies but also golf club covers, mugs, blankets, figurines and more.
The primary terms they’re ranking for are actually thanks to the content they publish on their blog, rather than their products. They educate their audience through answers to their pet questions then funnel them back into the items they have for sale.
While I don’t imagine too many people can compete – their USP is likely in the creation of personalised products – the terms they’re bidding on via Google Ads are also worth looking into.
MarketBeat.com (Stock Market News) – $3.5M Annual Revenue
With over one million subscribers to their daily newsletter, they’ve hedged their traffic sources
With more than one million subscribers to their daily newsletter, anyone who invests in the stock market will likely be familiar with MarketBeat.
Founded in 2011 by American Matt Paulson, search is responsible for over a quarter of the millions of visitors the site picks up each month. Hedged by the presence they have in their users’ inboxes.
Sometimes publishing dozens of articles per day, their focus is on helping individual investors make better trades with the money they have at stake.
In a 2015 interview Poulson said the site uses computer generated articles which get picked up by Google Finance, but I couldn’t find any data on whether that’s still part of their focus today.
JamaicaCottageShop.com (Cabin Kits & Plans) – $3.7M Annual Revenue
I love how successful they’ve become with a niche product
Founded in 1995, Jamaica Cottage Shop sells prefabricated sheds, cottages and cabins from its headquarters in Vermont.
More recently the business has capitalised on the growing “tiny house” trend, a profitable niche I first wrote about in 2016.
As far as search engine rankings go, they’ve certainly seen SERP turbulence during the June algorithm update that’s worth looking into further if you have any connection to this industry.
While the products they sell are very specific, their revenue numbers confirm they clearly appeal to a wider audience.
Naturedog.fr (Outdoor Gear) – $3.9M Annual Revenue
Combining two traditionally separate industries can work very well
Focused on outdoor gear for both humans and pets, Naturedog pulled in over €3.5M euros in 2018, with annual revenue growth of 254%.
As you can guess from their domain name, they’re focused on the French market, where their search visibility changes in June have been dramatic.
In business for seven years, they’re now promoting their own branded products alongside those from other companies.
While you might not get too much value from the site if you don’t speak French, it might be worth getting a translator on board if they show any signs of being an international competitor of yours.
JoshsFrogs.com (Online Reptile Supplies) – $4.8M Annual Revenue
An incredibly personal company, for an incredibly niche offering
I love this success story so much that I had to share it in our private Gaps Facebook group before this post went live (if you can find the group, we’ll let you in).
It’s one of those industries that you just never think about – or at least I don’t – but when you take a look at their facilities you get a sense of the scale of this operation and how personal they are.
With 65% of visitors to the site coming from search engines, Josh and his team are at least partially reliant on maintaining Google rankings to bring in new customers and keep the business going.
I think this is an example of a site that’s missing some of the basics but still clearly doing more than enough to satisfy searcher intent.
MoveBumpers.com (Custom Truck Bumpers) – $4.9M Annual Revenue
A niche product for US-based customers to upgrade their trucks
One for the automotive enthusiasts, MoveBumpers are starting to become well cemented in the Google search results for their space.
Selling over 600 custom truck bumper kits, when trucks are a common feature on United States roads it shouldn’t be a surprise that’s the market they’re focused on.
Producing their own bumpers rather than relying on outside suppliers, this allows them to grow without being held back by slow suppliers or markups that cut into their profit margins.
Golden.com (Wikipedia Competitor) – Raised $5M
How can you not watch a company that wants to take on Wikipedia?
I’ve been slightly obsessed with Golden.com since they raised $5M to battle Wikipedia.
As I noted in that linked tweet, they’ve already started ranking for some very impressive keywords that a new site typically wouldn’t. I’m sure the links they picked up as a byproduct of the fundraising haven’t hurt the mission so far.
With how prominent Wikipedia stand in the world’s search results today I think SEOs in any industry will be wise to watch how this one plays out.
Scribbr.com (Proofreading & Editing) – $5M Annual Revenue
Forgetting about SEO for a second, there could be a gap in the market here
I mentioned this one in the introduction because I love the concept as a business idea, rather than just as a site to monitor for their SEO success.
Ranking for almost 9,000 keywords, their APA citation generator seems to bring in the most targeted traffic to the site besides brand-related terms.
While the concept of their offering is relatively simple, they have executed on the end result in style. Their proofreading and editing service page, for example, is one of the best designed landing pages I’ve seen in a while (and I don’t say that lightly).
Note that their Inc. 5000 entry lists them as having between $5-10M in annual revenue but I stuck to the more conservative number.
Quimbee.com (Law School Prep) – $5.1M Annual Revenue
The name doesn’t give away much, but their homepage reveals all
Their name doesn’t give too much away but the niche they’re in is one I’m intimately focused on: Helping people prep for exams to further their education. I’ll have an article going live about this in the very near future.
With over 287,000 customers who have gone through their training, they boast having the largest case brief database on the internet, with over 14,000 in total.
12 years in the making, the social proof on their homepage doesn’t get much better and it’s clearly something they’ve tested to see if it helps their conversion rate.
Direct and search traffic are their clear moneymakers, so if you’re in a related space, keep an eye on this one.
Homelectrical.com (Electrical Supplies) – $5.4M Annual Revenue
Interesting to see featured products in each navigation bar category drop-down
They don’t have the most attractive website and their name probably gets misspelled hundreds of times per day but Homelectricals’ revenue numbers are nothing to forget.
Pulling in $5.4m in 2017 with three-year growth of 152%, the company distributes lighting and electrical supplies, primarily to contractors.
While their search traffic numbers are low overall, I think they’re an interesting candidate to watch because of a likely upcoming redesign and more focus on digital marketing channels going forward.
SpartanArmorSystems.com (Body Armor) – $5.4M Annual Revenue
Very smart use of user reviews to direct people straight to the products in question
Spartan Armor Systems came out of the gate with a simple mission for their body armor and ballistic plates: Protect what’s yours.
I admittedly know very little about this space but I know in the US especially they’re in an industry with a lot of buyers.
Their homepage proudly features images from their customers, linking to pop-ups featuring the product in question and its top review which no doubt helps conversion rates. If nothing else, that angle alone may be something you want to look into.
JSBerryLaw.com (Lincoln Criminal Lawyer) – $5.5M Annual Revenue
A growing authority in one of the most competitive spaces online
Berry Law Firm has been serving clients in Lincoln, Omaha since 1965.
The firm has experienced rapid growth in more recent years, with its three-year growth rate of 101% securing it a place on the 2018 Inc. 5000 list.
While organic traffic is undoubtedly important to Berry Law, it’s obvious that a clear branding strategy and a personal approach to clients also play a key part in their outstanding performance.
As someone who has discussed the business opportunity behind “Rank and Rent” sites over the years, we’ve always known how much money leads can be worth to lawyers so this one was especially interesting for me to dive into.
SpiceJungle.com (Spices eCommerce) – $6M Annual Revenue
The products themselves really do all of the selling
I don’t think it’s fair to criticise the design of any website here but I do think it’s fair to say that the homepage header for Spice Jungle isn’t the vibrant, colourful introduction to the site you would expect it to be.
That said, it does help their products stand out, with vibrant featured items almost looking like they have a spotlight shining on them.
While their revenue numbers I was able to find are from 2017, the Rockford, MI based company had experienced three-year growth of 209% when they shared that number so it has likely increased.
Specialising in hard to find spices, they offer over 500 unique varieties. You don’t get much more niche than this one.
AmyMyersMD.com (Health Advice) – $6.4M Annual Revenue
Great quiz call to action on her homepage & public pageview counts
Whenever you hear about SEO updates impacting sites in the health space, the usual Dr. Axe, Healthline and WebMD come up in discussion.
Amy Myers? Not so much.
That’s surprising when its founder is not only a successful entrepreneur but also a two-time New York Times Bestseller.
While rankings have been notably turbulent in the health space in the past year, search accounts for a significant amount of traffic landing on Amy’s website so I’m sure it’s not going ignored.
As I hinted at in the introduction, with public pageview counts on each of their articles, you might be able to get some content inspiration just by clicking around.
GoodDog.com (Dog Breeders & Shelters) – Raised $6.7M
Beautiful design in a traditionally unattractive niche
One of the smaller sites traffic-wise that I’ll be covering today, I think Good Dog makes for a worthy inclusion because they’ve grown so quickly (in scale) over the past few months.
While their numbers right now certainly aren’t mind-blowing, keep in mind that they were at zero at the start of this year.
As a slight perfectionist when it comes to web design I have to say I just love the look of the project as well. Directory-style sites typically aren’t the best looking and they’ve managed to break the trend there (check out the video headers on each dog breed).
If you’re in the space I would make it a priority to monitor how they’ll spend their funding as it pertains to digital marketing.
TenonTours.com (European Vacation Packages) – $6.7M Annual Revenue
When American’s visit Europe, Tenon Tours is there to help
Looking for a vacation package to Europe? Tenon Tours has you covered, primarily focusing on trips to England, Ireland, Wales and Italy.
With an aim of attracting US-based customers looking to go abroad, they rely on search to bring in over 80% of visitors to the site. Paid ads for terms like “Scottish honeymoon” also make up a percentage of that.
As the company plan everything from your accommodation, transport and sightseeing, it’s clear why they were able to hit three-year-growth figures of 120%.
eBasesLoaded.com (Baseball & Softball Superstore) – $7.8M Annual Revenue
An objectively dated design is seemingly not holding this company back
Bases Loaded is one of the largest retailers in the US that focuses solely on softball and baseball gear.
Selling products via both a large physical store in California and its online eCommerce platform, Bases Loaded has featured on the Inc. 5000 list four years in a row.
Though it’s fair to say their design is dated, the site is quick, functional and according to Sistrix, has seen a significant change in their organic visibility in June of 2019.
WolfandBadger.com (Shop Independent Designers) – $8.2M Annual Revenue
Minimal in every sense — even forgoing product reviews
Ahrefs and Sistrix couldn’t agree more on how search visibility is going for Wolf and Badger in recent weeks so you might want to dive in further if you see them as a competitor.
Describing themselves as an online marketplace for “independent brands”, they not only focused on fashion – which is a big enough industry in itself – but also homeware and beauty.
Rankings remain strong for terms like “mens necklace pendants” and “cricket jumper london” which are no doubt bringing in customers with purchasing intent. Note that I took these numbers from SimilarWeb public data, so I’m not revealing private insights from any premium tools.
Search is second only to direct traffic if their numbers are to be believed, responsible for 38% of the traffic that arrives on the site each month.
ProTitleUSA.com (Property Title Search) – $8.4M Annual Revenue
One of the best three-year-growth rates on this entire list
It’s easy to click over to the ProTitleUSA website and be mistaken for thinking it’s a side project for the founder but their revenue numbers certainly paint a different story.
Based out of Southampton, PA, their three-year growth comes in at an enviable 690%, landing them a top one thousand position on the Inc. 5000.
It’s their fourth year in a row on the list after having been in business for more than 15 years, showing that search traffic hasn’t been instrumental to their success but will likely be an important focus going forward.
TruTechTools.com (HVAC Tools eCommerce) – $8.7M Annual Revenue
A clear focus on reward points to keep users coming back
You’re probably not in the business of selling gas leak and duct leak testers but for those who are, TruTechTools is one worth following.
Squeezing into the final 10% of the Inc. 5000 at position #4,509, the Akron, Ohio based company was founded twelve years ago in 2007.
With their reward points category being the second link on both their top and left-hand navigation bars, it’s clearly important to them to not just acquire new customers, but keep old ones coming back.
FunandFunction.com (Therapy Toys & Products) – $9.9M Annual Revenue
I love seeing life-changing businesses do well
This one is pretty special for me, if for no other reason than they’re focused on helping those who can see true life changes from their offering.
A lot of SEO-focused Gaps readers will see an opportunity for improving their SEO but if the team behind the site are reading this, I’m more than happy to help you for free. No credit or testimonial required.
I love their mission of products focused to help kids be kids, with their weighted compression vests changing lives and helping the company grow in the process.
ConfirmBioSciences.com (Drug Testing Kits) – $10M Annual Revenue
Not a niche you tend to think about, until it’s staring at you in the urinal
While Sistrix surprisingly doesn’t have any data on this one, the numbers from Ahrefs are clear: June had a big impact on CBS’s search visibility.
In another example of a niche that you never really think about until you realise “Of course there’s someone selling and producing these”, ConfirmBioSciences focus on selling drug test kits in bulk.
While their search traffic numbers are relatively low for the amount of revenue they bring in, searchers are very buyer-intent focused when they land on the site.
It’s also probably the case that one single customer can account for huge bulk orders.
Selling their own branded products, they also ship the items of others, potentially meaning there’s space for others to compete without their own manufacturing process.
I should note that their Inc. 5000 revenue numbers are listed as $10-20M but I’ve been conservative and stuck with $10M for this entry.
Warehouse-Lighting.com (Lighting Products) – $10.3M Annual Revenue
Dive into how they sort and categorise such a huge list of products
The name of the site doesn’t leave you guessing as to what they cover, with over 24,000 lighting products available on Warehouse Lighting’s website.
Though they serve a niche market, anyone in the eCommerce space can learn from how they categorise and sort their massive inventory.
While their three-year-growth isn’t as impressive as some other sites on this list, it’s still an enviable 63% with revenue numbers to back it up.
VinylMePlease.com (Online Record Club) – $10.4M Annual Revenue
Records aren’t dead just yet, and this company is taking advantage of that
I have over 200 vinyl records sitting in a box at home so this one was interesting to me on a personal level.
Vinyl Me, Please aren’t actually as laser-focused on selling records as you might expect, with their homepage used to showcase interviews and stories about what’s happening in the music industry.
With subscription tiers starting at $25/m, members get access to exclusive vinyl’s which likely help to seal the deal.
Sorry in advance if you’re like me and spend a little too much time on this one without any kind of SEO focus.
Giglio.com (Luxury Designer Clothes) – $10.5M Annual Revenue
One of Europe’s fastest growing companies, focused on the Italian market
I don’t think many people would be able to guess what Giglio covers by their name alone but you might be able to guess that their target customers are based in Italy.
An online store for designer fashion, you’ll find items from Giorgio Armani, Yves Saint Laurent, Roberto Cavalli, Jimmy Choo and more.
Founded in 2007, they’re still one of the fastest growing companies in the whole of Europe, with a growing search presence to boot.
TheSSLStore.com (SSL Certificates) – $12.4M Annual Revenue
A business reliant on Google, helped by Google’s push for more secure websites
No doubt helped by Google’s ranking factor associated with having a secure website (even if it’s a small benefit), The SSL Store are growing well year on year.
I’ve been critical of providers in this space before – some used to ask for sneaky links on their client websites – but with a seemingly endless potential audience, it’s an interesting business to keep in mind.
Just shy of 75% of their visitors come from search engines so this business definitely has some marketing eggs in the Google basket, but deals with domain registrars and similar likely work out well for them.
StickerGiant.com (Custom Stickers & Labels) – $12.6M Annual Revenue
Born out of the success of a single sticker, search traffic is crucial to the company
I have a feeling people will be checking this site out even if they have no interest in stickers. The screenshot above just looks…cool (I think so, anyway).
With a mission of becoming the “Amazon of Stickers”, the business took off after the 2000 presidential elections when founder John Fischer designed the “He’s Not My President” bumper sticker.
With 62 full-time employees making sure people get the products they want, fast, this is a business where search traffic undoubtedly helps to pay for those salaries (SimilarWeb reports search makes up 72% of visitors to their site).
Influenster.com (Product Reviews) – $13M Annual Revenue
Gaps readers with Amazon affiliate sites will enjoy this one
Even if I wasn’t initially focusing this update on search traffic changes, Influenster is an interesting business in its own right.
With 35 million product reviews primarily for health and beauty products, they’re still venturing out into other areas, promoting the best retractable dog leashes on their homepage as I write this.
I have no doubt that Gaps readers with Amazon affiliate-focused websites will want to reverse analyse this one in private.
As promised I won’t dissect their search presence though you can guess from their revenue numbers that they aren’t doing badly. I had actually never heard of the website until scanning the Inc. 5000 so they likely have a large audience to reach yet.
Tip: If you are an affiliate webmaster, you might want to look into the products on their site with the most reviews to get some inspiration for what you can promote next.
Freepik.com (Graphics Marketplace) – $13.6M Annual Revenue
One of the leaders in an incredibly popular space, just wait till you see those download numbers
Many readers familiar with Freepik might have more interest in their revenue numbers than anything I have to say about their search traffic. Webmasters tend to need graphics after all, and many of you have likely found your way over to the platform.
Founded in 2010, they own some of the most enviable rankings online, including for terms such as “free vectors” which drive a lot of traffic to the site.
That traffic helps generate over 100 million monthly graphic downloads and I don’t see those numbers slowing down any time soon.
Municibid.com (Online Government Auctions) – $13.9M Annual Revenue
Doing incredible numbers in a niche I’ve never even considered
Municibid is an auction website that allows anyone to buy surplus and forfeiture goods from US government agencies.
Founded in 2006 by ex-councilman Greg Berry, the business has experienced phenomenal growth, reaching $13.9 million in revenue in 2017.
Greg attributes much of the business’ growth to referrals, and claims to be signing up 50 new government agency sellers per month.
Having said that, he is particularly excited about the potential growth on the buyer-side, citing an increase in individual buyers using the platform.
If the business continues to develop in that direction, organic traffic is sure to be an increasingly important factor for Municibid in the months and years to come.
Farmacosmo.it (Beauty Products) – $16.2M Annual Revenue
An Amazon-like focus on fast delivery and constant deals
I won’t claim to speak Italian very well but it’s clear from looking into Farmacosmo they are one of the top online beauty stores in Italy.
With an impressive 9.5 Trustpilot rating from 2,537 reviews, it would make logical sense for Google to be rewarding the brand with top rankings in their native country.
The June Core Update did have a significant impact on their results but it’s only something you should really look into if you’re in this space yourself. I like highlighting sites in other countries doing well so thanks to their public revenue figures, this one made the grade.
HappyTrailerSales.com (Trailers) – $16.2M Annual Revenue
It will be interesting to see how their June 11th redesign plays out
Based in Texas, Happy Trailer Sales has grown from zero to $16.2M in revenue in 4 years.
According to founder Ronnie Enns, one contributing factor to that success is a deliberate focus on a high-volume / low margin strategy.
Happy Trailer Sales sells trailers not only locally in Texas, but right across the US and further afield.
The site actually underwent a redesign on the 11th of June which probably makes their numbers harder to analyse, but will make next year’s Inc. 5000 listing even more interesting.
MJBizDaily.com (Marijuana Business News) – $18.2M Annual Revenue
Their business directory is a really smart source of revenue
Founded by female entrepreneur Cassandra Farrington in 2011, Marijuana Business Daily has capitalised on loosening regulations of a plant that is changing both the medical and recreational world.
With three-year growth just shy of 600%, there are some incredibly smart features about this website, not withstanding their business directory that companies have to pay to be a part of.
Search accounts for almost half of the traffic coming to the site, though I can assume their Google News presence is a major contributor to this, other than solely static rankings around popular terms.
FindMeaGift.co.uk (Unique Presents) – $19M Annual Revenue
The holiday season is incredibly important to their overall sales
It’s no secret that the Christmas holiday period is important for online retailers.
For Find Me A Gift, the figures couldn’t be starker: It generates 50% of its annual revenue during the six weeks leading up to Christmas.
During the rest of the year, the business fulfils an average of 1,000 orders per day. In the run up to the festive holiday, that figure explodes to 12,000 orders per day.
With SimilarWeb reporting that over three quarters of the site’s traffic comes from organic search, they’ll be hoping for strong rankings before the 2019 holiday season gets underway.
Care2.com (Causes Social Network) – $19.3M Annual Revenue
A unique take on the traditional social network
Describing themselves as the world’s “largest social network for good”, Care2 partner with non-profit organisations to help them get their message out to more people.
They’re definitely a for-profit company though, allowing people to invest in their operations over at StartEngine.
It’s said that charitable organisations are willing to spend a lot to acquire a new donor since those people often go on to donate many times more, and Care2 is one platform helping them get those new people through the door.
HumMutrition.com (Premium Vitamins) – Raised $20M
They funnel users into personalised advice before they’re recommended to buy anything
Despite your first impression likely being that this is a brand built for the social media generation, SimilarWeb estimate more than half of Hum’s traffic currently comes from search engines.
Of course, you still can’t discount how much they’ll be able to diversify their revenue with sales on Instagram, Facebook and their own newsletter.
The biggest takeaway for me is their focus on having you get a personalised nutrition report before you’re recommended to pick up any of their products. This kind of approach probably lends itself well to a lot of different industries.
SustainableSupply.com (Building Supplies Marketplace) – $20M Annual Revenue
Often focus on image-based navigation, even forgoing category names at times
It’s hard to define this site under any specific niche, especially when their products range from outdoor toilet partitions to portable sinks.
With over one million products on offer, one of the most interesting things you can reverse engineer from their success is how they categorise and filter such a huge inventory.
I personally found their category navigation the most interesting, where they often don’t even use item names and rely solely on images to help you decide what to click on.
MacofAllTrades.com (Refurbished Apple Products) – $21.5M Annual Revenue
Growing success in parallel with Apple’s popularity
Mac of All Trades has built a huge business dealing in second hand Apple products since founder & CEO Michael Snyder created the company back in 1995.
Of course, Apple products have exploded in popularity since the early 2000’s. Due to the premium price that they command, a busy second-hand market has emerged.
They’ve certainly taken advantage of that opportunity, establishing a full range of used and refurbished Apple products.
It’s a market I’ve never had much interest in (or knowledge of) myself but their numbers are nothing to gloss over.
WED2B.co.uk (Wedding & Bridal Wear) – $22.4M Annual Revenue
Not exclusively online, but still some great deals to watch
Pulling in 17.7M euros for the year 2017 (which I converted to dollars above), SimilarWeb estimates WED2B are hugely reliant on search with it accounting for more than 70% of visitors to their site.
That said, it’s important to note WED2B have a lot of offline stores. Not only in the UK but in Ireland, The Netherlands and Belgium as well.
Still, with the seeming “death of the high street” in the UK, I think their digital marketing efforts will be interesting to watch.
Food52.com (Food Community) – $22.7M Annual Revenue
With over 2 million followers on Instagram, they’ve been smart about diversifying traffic sources
Founded by two female entrepreneurs over a decade ago, the name Food52 comes from the idea that their readers are going to be cooking 52 weeks per year.
Though they’re well known for their online presence and success, the site also won a James Beard Award and is the home of multiple New York Times bestsellers.
Boasting over 2.3 million followers on Instagram, they aren’t as susceptible to storms in search traffic as some of their competitors, though SimilarWeb does estimate that search accounts for almost half of their traffic.
With three-year growth of 278%, they are showing no signs of slowing down their success.
CellularOutfitter.com (Wholesale Mobile Accessories) – $26.9M Annual Revenue
An interesting look at the SEO approach to wholesale products
Cellular Outfitter’s mission is a simple one: to offer customers the biggest selection of mobile accessories at wholesale pricing.
Staying true to that ethos has helped its operating company, Mobovida, appear in the Inc. 5000 list of fast-growing private companies for 11 years in a row (!).
Mobovida also have another online property in the mobile accessory niche, Wireless Emporium, which I think is also worth watching.
If you are looking for hints for what is currently working in the mobile eCommerce space, they certainly seem to have found their stride.
Mount-It.com (Premium Office Products) – $28.1M Annual Revenue
They’re really just getting started so definitely one to watch
Mount-It has appeared in the Inc. 5000 list for three years in a row, posting annual revenues of $28.1M in 2017.
Operating from California, Mount-It supplies mounting brackets for televisions, computers and tablets. It also supplies office equipment such as standing desks, computer accessories and footrests.
Built on the Shopify platform, their traffic numbers are currently low but they’re a brand I expect to grow their search visibility rapidly.
Data suggests that there is a lot more room for growth in this market so it’ll be interesting to see how their online strategy develops in response.
VitalityMedical.com (Medical Supplies Online) – $28.2M Annual Revenue
Probably not a niche you’re in, but interesting nonetheless
Founded in the year 2000, Vitality Medical have sold medical supplies to over two and a half million customers.
There’s no reason to doubt that sitewide header claim when they’re getting new TrustPilot reviews every few hours.
This is a niche where I don’t imagine too many Gaps readers will be able to compete – especially due to the importance of having incredible, certified products – but how they structure their items and funnel visitors around the site should hopefully be interesting to some.
StoryBlocks.com (Stock Video & Audio) – $28.8M Annual Revenue
This was one of my favourite sites to find (they’re going to save me quite a bit of money)
I once planned a subscription box business with a similar name but Storyblocks couldn’t be further from my mission: They’re focused on providing stock audio and video that businesses can use in their projects.
With unlimited downloads for a very reasonable monthly fee, their pricing beats what I pay for a stock image subscription alone.
Search brings in almost half of the monthly visitors to the site, with an impressive ranking for ‘stock photos’ that is likely bringing in new customers on a daily basis.
DuranteRentals.com (Construction Equipment Rental) – $30.8M Annual Revenue
Some incredible rankings likely turn into high-ticket customers
I’ll be honest upfront in stating that I don’t think DuranteRentals are too reliant on search engine rankings to make their business a success. After all, they “only” get around 8,000 people each month landing on their site from Google.
That said, they do rank well for big keywords like “cherry picker rental” and “scissor lift rental” so they’re no doubt getting some big customers from the free traffic they’re receiving.
Those keywords are from public SimilarWeb data, which also estimates that search is responsible for around 90% of the traffic they pick up.
Reaching 2017 revenues of $30.8M, the latest Google updates appear to have been kind to them.
Topix.com (Pop Culture News) – $38.8M Annual Revenue
This blast from the past is still going strong
If you know of Topix and haven’t been to the site in a while, you’ll be as surprised as I was to see how they’ve changed their design in recent years.
Clearly doing all they can to keep up with a changing audience, their homepage proudly highlights reaching over 25 million Americans each month who spend an average of 7 minutes on the site.
Their pop culture focus is BuzzFeed-esque, with the owners regularly sharing listicle posts that focus on nostalgia to keep users engaged.
BudgetDumpster.com (Dumpster Rentals) – $51.5M Annual Revenue
Their dumpsters have been rented over 500,000 times
A lot of times there’s money to be made in unsexy industries and Budget Dumpsters are proving that with their posted numbers.
Having rented out dumpsters over half a million times, they have a nice hold on a market where people need their offering for a temporary period of time.
While they’re focused on serving the biggest cities (and states) in the US, pricing isn’t prominently revealed on their website and instead they have a strong focus on getting people to call them to make a transaction.
That’s clearly an approach that works for them, with search traffic being (by far) their most prominent source of new business.
USPatriotTactical.com (Tactical Gear) – $52.4M Annual Revenue
Likely the least reliant on their website, I still find the business interesting
US Patriot Tactical supplies military and tactical equipment to law enforcement personnel.
In addition to 55 retail locations worldwide, they have a busy eCommerce outlet that attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors per month.
While rises and falls in search traffic are never fun to go through, they are one of a limited number of US Government approved military equipment suppliers so likely aren’t as concerned by them as some of their competitors.
That said, I still find the focus of the business interesting and they’re one I’ll be watching for fluctuations going forward.
Carchex.com (Car Warranties) – $56.6M Annual Revenue
Smart content approach for some very high-value keywords
Offering car warranties doesn’t make for the most exciting of websites but this is a niche where there’s a lot of money to be made.
With specific articles for each main car brand, Carchex clearly understand how important specific, top search engine rankings are to their success.
As search accounts for almost 80% of the visitors finding their site each month you can be sure it’s something they’ll hope to maintain for many years to come.
Pilot.com (Bookkeeping for Software Companies) – Raised $58.3M
Watching how they spend their money should be fascinating if you’re in this space
I’m going to be honest upfront: I included this listing for myself.
Pilot don’t get that much search traffic at the moment – probably the least on this entire list – but I think they’re one to watch for the future.
Sistrix and Ahrefs both show very different results for the site in June so don’t rely too heavily on your tool of choice for further analysis at the moment but they should become more reliable as Pilot’s numbers increase.
If you have any business at all in the space of bookkeeping and accounting, I think the real insights here will be from watching how Pilot spend the money they’ve raised on content and link acquisition.
Fashionphile.com (Used Designer Marketplace) – $62.5M Annual Revenue
Seeing huge changes in June, this used marketplace is one to watch
While their ranking changes aren’t as pronounced in Ahrefs, Sistrix is showing in Fashionphile’s visibility index seeing huge changes in the June Core algorithm update.
Founded in Carlsbad, CA with three-year growth of 233%, the company allows its users to buy, sell and consign designer luxury goods that have already been used.
While direct traffic is undoubtedly their biggest source – and means they don’t have too many eggs in the search traffic basket – at almost 30% of traffic to the site, it’s undoubtedly still valuable for them.
CruisePlanners.com (Cruise Experts) – $65.4M Annual Revenue
A clear focus on educating users before selling to them seems smart
It’s not fair to attribute much of CruisePlanners.com’s success to their website due to the fact it’s a franchise business as part of American Express.
However, the site itself is a growing entity in the travel space so I think competitors would be foolish to rule out its background.
The site almost feels like a niche affiliate site you would expect to see as a case study from a make money online blogger – rather than being affiliated with one of the biggest companies in the world – which is part of the reason I find it interesting.
Focused on educating their market as much as selling to them, “help me plan my cruise” is one of the top terms driving traffic to the site.
LoveHolidays.com (Travel Booking) – $81.6M Annual Revenue
Recently acquired, they’re one of the biggest travel booking sites in the UK
Unlike some of the other businesses on this list, the name certainly gives this one away: Love Holidays help you book your perfect vacation.
Almost solely focused on the UK-market, if you’re in the UK travel space as well they’re a company you’ve probably all too familiar with.
While I won’t say too much about their numbers, rankings fluctuated a lot for the company in 2018 which is likely something they would want to be more stable throughout the rest of 2019.
OnTheBeach.co.uk (UK Holiday Deals) – $93.4M Annual Revenue
Sometimes advising users where to go, rather than waiting for their intentions
Like LoveHolidays, On the Beach are focused on helping UK holidaymakers book their next dream holiday for the best deal they can get.
Claiming to have over six million people on their email list, they’re definitely diversifying their traffic sources, though SimilarWeb still report search accounts for around 67% of people finding their site each month.
I found their specific landing pages interesting, where they attempt to guide users to specific destinations, rather than waiting for users to tell them explicitly where they want to go.
Nykaa.com (Online Beauty Store) – $152.6M Annual Revenue
Focused on the Indian market, they also have an impressive retail presence
Having reached over 500,000 customers in their first three years in business, Nykaa has been an online success story in their home country of India.
Sistrix don’t have a visibility focus on India but Ahrefs do, where it’s clear they saw significant changes during recent algorithm updates.
You can’t ignore that their revenues also come from a significant retail presence, but they are in an industry that lends itself to online sales around the globe.
SDBullion.com (Buy Gold & Silver) – $157M Annual Revenue
Not a fan of crypto? Many are hedging their wealth with gold and silver…
Both Ahrefs and Sistrix report that June has been an interesting month for SDBullion.
Having proudly served over 100,000 customers looking to buy gold and silver bullion, they also have a service which involves buying the metals back from their customers.
Ranking for some incredibly valuable terms like “buy gold”, “gold price” and “gold bullion”, Google no doubt sends this website incredibly valuable customers each day.
YoungCapital.nl (Netherlands Job Finder) – $364M Annual Revenue
Anyone in the temporary employment space and beyond can learn a thing or two here
Boasting over 2,600 current job vacancies on their homepage, Young Capital relies on search in order to bring an estimated 41% of their monthly traffic.
2018 was a significant year for their search traffic overall, with the June Core Update continuing that trend.
With one of their top referring domains being the Dutch version of Indeed.com (an online careers powerhouse in their own right), they clearly have the authority in place that Google are likely to reward.
Klook.com (Online Travel Booking) – Raised $521.5M
Watching their move into Western search results should be fascinating
Focused on travel in Asian destinations, Hong Kong-based Klook have raised over half a billion dollars to help people find “the most amazing things to do at exclusive prices.”
The June Core algorithm update was big for the site, so it’s definitely worth looking into further if you’re at all involved in the travel space (especially in Asia).
Klook is a unique site to analyse as their traffic primarily comes from Google search in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Vietnam and Thailand. That said, even their western traffic is should be fascinating to watch.
The company are likely going to be highly reliant on search traffic to bring a return for their deep-pocketed investors.
Chewy.com (Pet Food & Supplies) – $3.53B Annual Revenue
With an IPO just after the June algorithm update, things are going well for Chewy
Pet supplies retailer Chewy.com did revenues of $2 billion in 2017, rising to $3.53 billion in 2018.
To put this figure in context, it equates to more than half of all pet food and litter sales in the US.
SimilarWeb reports that 32% of the site’s traffic comes from organic traffic, sowhile search isn’t as crucial to them as some sites it’s definitely still a priority.
In any event, investors didn’t seem concerned about Google algorithm updates when Chewy had its IPO on Friday the 14th of June. Shares in Chewy opened at $36, 64% above the target IPO price of $22.
Tracking the Rankings of Hundreds of Sites: My Personal Approach
As I covered in the introduction, I don’t think it was my place to publicly analyse what happened to the sites above in recent algorithm updates, even though search visibility changes were significant for many of them
That said, I analyse them in great detail in private, along with hundreds of other sites (primarily because we have a lot of clients who rely on our advice).
I’m a paying customer of both Ahrefs and Sistrix when it comes to analysing sites, with my Crunchbase membership used to help me find more of them.
Analysing the winners and losers of the Google June Algorithm Update with the @sistrix API. So nice to have all of the charts on one page. Here's a sample from the Travel space (reworded each site slightly out of respect). pic.twitter.com/DrLt6IWoa1
— Glen Allsopp (@ViperChill) June 6, 2019
Premium tools will tell you how sites perform based on specific keywords, specific countries and even on specific days.
They aren’t the be all and end all of analysis though. From an SEO perspective, there’s so much more you can look into without any tools at your disposal.
I personally dive into things like:
- How often are the sites publishing new content?
- How are they approaching internal linking across thousands of products?
- Are product descriptions, meta descriptions and similar automated or hand-written?
- Do their title tags change monthly or are they rather static?
- Are articles written by industry professionals or interns?
- Is link building a clear focus or are they just picking up links “naturally”?
Anything that I think Google might care about, I try to look at how it may factor into the sites we’re competing against.
If you’re reliant on search traffic for a significant portion of your online business success, I think it’s something you should be doing as well.
Of course, if you’re only focused on ranking one site in one niche, you won’t have to spend as much time monitoring your competition.
I’ve hopefully inspired you however to broaden your focus about who deserves your attention, especially when algorithm updates come along.
I covered Nykaa, Giglio, Farmacosmo, Naturedog, Young Capital and On the Beach whose primary focus are on rankings in India, Italy, France, the Netherlands the UK respectively.
You can learn from them without needing to compete for the same users.
We’re at 8,600 words now so I think we’re at the point worthy of a plug: If you haven’t been getting the search results you want in recent updates, let one of our experts (or very likely myself) take a dive into your website and point out where we see signs for improvement. Click here for more information on our offering.
I really hope you got a lot of value out of this one and as always, thank you for reading!314