SEO

#333 – The Secret to RTINGS.com’s SEO Success

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37 min read
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️ Overview

  • How RTINGS.com plans their content
  • What is RTINGS.com’s link building strategy?
  • How does RTINGS.com review their products?

RTINGS.com is one of the most successful product review sites of all time. Despite ‘only’ having a DR 75 domain and competing against sites like PCMag, Tech Radar, New York Times the Wire Cutter, and CNET – all DR 90+ sites – they have over 4.5 million monthly organic visits. So how exactly did they pull this off?

In this episode, Mark sits down Pauline Duthiel, Head of Digital Marketing at RTINGS.com to take a look behind the scenes at what SEO looks like at one of the world’s most loved review sites.

A special thanks to our sponsors for this episode, Digital PR and link building agency BuzzStream.

The Journey

RTINGS.com launched in 2011 with the mission to revolutionize online product recommendations, starting with TVs. Since then, they’ve evolved from reviewing a singular product category to a diverse portfolio with a systematic testing approach.

They still pay for all of the products they test themselves, and are totally committed to producing user-first, quality content. Their user-first process affects everything they do, including their decision to introduce new product categories, so each and every addition aligns with this core value.

Behind the Scenes

SEO, Rating Systems & Content Strategy

RTINGS have completely shifted their focus from traditional SEO to a user-first approach, which has significantly contributed to their success.

Their office in Montreal doubles as a lab where every team member can actively engage with the products under review. They’ve developed a unique, comprehensive rating system that involves evaluating products against a wide array of criteria.

Their emphasis on using systematic test results means they create high quality, objective reviews with minimal bias. And this is reinforced even more by their decision to keep any monetization data – including any affiliate influences – and content creation totally separate.

Website Architecture

RTINGS.com uses a custom-built, user-friendly site structure that allows for easy navigation and decision-making for visitors.

Their main focus is on making everything easy for users to find, and to answer everything the user might need to know when it comes to buying a particular product. Popular reviews and buying guides get the prime real estate on their site, which again puts the user’s and consumer’s best interests first.

Organic Link Building

Producing user-first content and organic link-building has outperformed aggressive, strategic efforts for RTINGS. According to Pauline, they don’t really have a link building strategy – they believe if the users are happy with the content RTINGS produces and it satisfies user intent, their content will be shared anyway.

Mark’s Analysis

It’s evident that if you want to do great SEO, then the trick is actually to NOT focus on SEO!

RTINGS.com has found incredible success by:

  • Putting the user first in all their training, content creation and decision making
  • Focusing on making high quality content that the user will find valuable
  • Involving their community, who influence their decision making as well as their growth as a whole.

So welcome to the Authority Hacker Podcast, Pauline. How are you doing today?

I’m doing great. Thank you so much for having me.

Yeah, really excited to learn a little bit more about what goes on behind the scenes at what is now one of the biggest review websites, I believe, in the world. I was doing some research for this episode, and it’s hard to find a keyword for a consumer electronics product where RTINGS does not rank either number one or number two. You’re just all over the Internet now. I believe you got, according to Ahrefs, at least, I see you got about 4.5 million visits. Can you tell us then, what is the secret behind your success?

It’s hard to say this is a secret. If we have anything particular going on. I think why we are so successful is because we do everything with our users in mind. So even in terms of SEO strategies that we implement, we’re not trying to optimise for our search engines. We’re really trying to optimise for users and bringing the value for them. I think we do think about things differently than other website do.

You have this incredible rating system this, metrics for all sorts of different values and criteria that you assess. Can you tell us a little bit about how you got started with that and how that’s evolved over the years, please?

Yes.

So RTINGS.com was founded in 2011 by Cedric, the President of the company. And he wanted to help consumers with their buying decision. He started with TVs. I guess he wasn’t happy with the recommendation and reviews he found online. What he wanted to do is eventually put all the products we review under the same test bench. We have a test methodology for each product category, and we put all the products under the same test bench, and you can actually go on our
website and compare the products yourself. I think that’s at the core of our strategy is having a systematic way of reviewing products. We’ve started with TVs and then headphones, and now we have 15 product categories on the website. 

It sounds like a really difficult thing to pull off. In the beginning, when you were a small business, how were you able to buy all the TVs and run all these long tests? I see you do some tests that last sometimes into the years. How did you pull that off in the beginning? 

To be honest, I have no idea how Cedric did it when he started. He started small in the sense that we had the TV product categories for years and years before we started adding new product categories. And that’s the same now. Yes, we are more aggressive with the number of product categories we launch, but compared to other product review websites, we’re not as aggressive because whereas some websites can launch a new product category no matter of just a few weeks, for us, it takes months of research. We need to buy all the products ourselves. So like you said, it is costly. And then testing them, reviewing, writing all the content. So it is very costly for us. So we are careful about which product category we launch because it is a tough decision. 

And is that decision to launch a new category driven by SEO? I mean, do you observe that there’s traffic and potential revenue to be made there, or is it more driven by what
you can and cannot test in-house? 

No. So it’s not a keyword opportunity or even monetisation opportunity. We want to cover everything. We We believe that we can bring value reviewing all kinds of products and services. It all starts with us with, where can we bring value to consumers right now? Of course, we do market research that includes understanding the popularity and audience for specific projects or product categories. But the fundamental question we ask ourselves is, how can we bring value
by reviewing this product category? What can we have that isn’t there on the internet yet? Yes, we’re going to look at a few metrics. Even SEO-wise, I’m going to see the type of articles we can write after launch, but it’s not an SEO decision. It’s not my team that makes this decision. It’s really with the expertise and the reason that we have, how we can see we can have value
right now compared to the competition. 

And can you give us a sense of the size of the team and the environment that you have set up to run all these tests? I know you got a big office in… Is it Montreal you’re based in?

Yes. We are based in Montreal. We have a big office. I can’t really say how big it is, but what is cool about our office is that it is set up as a lab. Our inventory is spread out, every product is displayed with its accessories, and all the employees can access the products to retest, to verify some results, or simply if they want to try it out for themselves. Having all of these products is a big advantage. For example, we can retest products after major somewhere updates. In terms of the teams, we do have specialised roles. We have the engineers that do the test methodology, create how we are going to test the products. Then we have the tech testers who test all the products, and then we have the writers who do all the content. 

Do the writers at the end, do they have any input into the testing methodology, or are they given that and then they have to write up the article based on the results. How do those teams interact, rather? 

There is collaboration, but we keep that separate. I’m not really involved in that side of the company, so I don’t know the details, but we do want the engineers to have the say on how it’s going to be done based on their expertise. Then the testers are going to test and the writers are going to write. We want to keep that separate. But of course, there’s always collaboration involved and feedback, and that’s how we work in general. 

When you’re a writer, your writing team are given the data and the test results, what process do you then go to to bring into a finished published article? 

I mean, on the editorial aspect, I don’t know. It’s not my area of expertise. I know they get the test results, they’re able to try the products for themselves. It’s highly encouraged. But at the end of the day, with our systematic approach to testing, what we want the writers to do is not to write about the products based on their personal feelings. We want them to write based on the data we have to be as objective as possible. So that’s really our goal, and that’s why we have this approach in general. 

And you really cover each category, each type of product, very well. You’ve got your individual reviews and then you’ve got your, for example, I was looking at a mouse, a travel mouse. I actually bought one based on the recommendation from RTINGS earlier this year. And it’s really cool. You’ve got the individual product review, and then you might have a roundup review or several roundup reviews where a product will feature in. Are you reusing the same content
across these different pages? Or how much do you care about the uniqueness or duplicate
content issues there? 

That’s interesting. I think we don’t really think too much about duplicated content in general. For us, it’s always about what makes sense for users to have in terms of information. Sometimes in some aspect of the website, we can have duplicate section of content, but we think that it’s bringing value to users. If it’s beneficial to users, we’re not going to get penalised for that. For us, it’s more in term of the type of content that we write. We have the reviews, and then we write the best of articles based on those reviews. But on the details of what we use, where, it’s not something that we really look at. 

I see you’ve got over 15,000 indexed pages on your site. Knowing the types of products you’re
reviewing, they’re mostly electronic gadgets and things like that, which change I imagine, pretty regularly. It must be a pretty comprehensive task to have to keep all that regularly updated. 

Yes, yes it is. So it involves a lot of maintenance, also prioritising how we work. We spend a lot of time running new reviews, but also updating older ones. Since we are constantly publishing new reviews, we need to make sure that the best of articles accurately reflects the best product we tested. It takes time. It’s a lot of maintenance. We also want to make sure we cover all the topics users are looking for. In terms of prioritisation, it It really depends on the type of content, how it is popular with our users. For example, if it’s a TV that we reviewed five years ago, it’s not going to be sold anymore, so we’re not going to update this type of content. Whereas for very popular reviews or articles that really show some interest from our users, then we’re going to maintain them way more. 

Can you tell us a little bit about your site structure and why you’ve chosen to organise the site in the way you have? 

Yes. First of all, we have a custom site, so we’re not using a CMS. I’m not sure how the site
structure was decided. It was before I started, but the URL structure hasn’t changed a lot over the years. It always has been structured as a tree, as far as I’m aware of. We have product categories at the top, then subcategories for reviews, best of articles, tools. The thought process is, really, we want to make sure that it’s easy for users to find all the information they are looking for. Since we focus on the buying decision aspect, it means highlighting popular reviews, buying guides, the tools. We’re not looking for consumers to stay on our website as long as possible, to look at a lot of pages. We want to make it really easy for them to find what they’re looking for. It can be as little or as much content as they need to be sure of their decision. But our goal is really having that information easy to find. 

Sure. And you have over 36,000 links, according to Ahrefs. You mentioned 64 times on Wikipedia, plus you have links from just about every newspaper and tech publication in the world. What is your link building strategy? I mean, how do you get so many links in such a short space of time? 

Well, we don’t have a link building strategy, which can be surprising. There are probably some opportunities that we’re missing without having one in place. But we think that if we succeed in providing useful content, people are going to share it. Instead of spending time building strategies to acquire links, it’s more productive for us to spend time improving our tests and the quality of articles because we see a direct impact of that. If consumers are happy with what we
deliver, they’re going to share our articles, whether it’s on Reddit or social media. And if they don’t, well, we need to listen to their feedback and improve. So we’re not trying to convince people to share our content, but whether we really want to reach and fully exceed the expectations so that happens organically. 

Is that the same for… I see you have a number of pages, essentially tools that you’ve built. There’s one which is like a size to distance relationship for how big of a TV you should purchase. That page has over a thousand links. Was that designed just to help the consumer or were you thinking, Hey, this type of thing will get some links as well? 

No, We were actually very surprised by the popularity of this article. It was really designed
years and years ago just to have consumers who wasn’t sure the right TV size to get and the amount, not only of links, but of traffic and people talking about it and sharing it was surprising. So we’re maintaining the article, but it wasn’t done for links. It’s always, how can we help users? And that’s why I say that with that mindset in mind, we do see the results and it allows us not to think too much about how to acquire links in general. 

Are there any other sites or businesses that you look to and you draw inspiration? You see cool things that they’re doing from an SEO or marketing perspective, or are you just really just focused on making great content and staying in your review bubble? 

The latter. Honestly, we don’t really look at the competition in general, just because the way we work about just being focused on the users is what’s working for us in every way. We don’t want to look at the competition. Yeah, it can be useful at time, but I mean, especially at the beginning where I was more micro-optimising everything, it makes sense. But for us, now it’s really taking a step back and where can we bring value to users? Like I say over and over again, it’s really improving the quality for users and making a great job. When we work that way, it brings good results. That’s our strategy all the way. 

Is there a specific process that an article will go through before publishing? Do you add in keywords or do you have an internal linking strategy or anything like that to try and optimise SEO? 

We mostly work with guidelines that we have in general, so how to use keywords and how to write the H1. But even in terms of internal linking, yes, we do it, but it’s not done by the marketing team. It’s not done by me or my team. Instead, we let the writers, the editorial team, do it themselves because they know best how to redirect users to articles that could be interesting, that could help them with their buying decisions. They have general guidelines,
but we’re not trying to optimise every single part of the article before it’s being published. 

Do you pay much attention to anything Google says regarding SEO? I know from time to time, they do release guidance and they had the product reviews update a year or so ago, and they released some updated guidance on what a good review is. Do you look at this and adjust things, or, again, are you just focused on doing what you think the users want? 

Yeah, it’s a good question.
Yes, of course, we’re aware of their guidelines when they update, I’ll go with it. But we never want to react quickly after the changes. First, It takes time for the search results to be final in the terms of how it works. You don’t want to be too reactive in that sense. But also for us, ultimately, we want we also believe that we are aligned with what the search engines and what Google is trying to do, which is to have a better experience per user. We do share the concern that they seem to have, which is, especially with product review websites, consumers might have difficulty in terms of the trust. How can we trust this website and another one to make the buying decision, especially when they’re affiliate links? We think we share same concern, but we don’t
want to necessarily apply all of the guideline, but instead think, again, okay, if we take that concern, if we take that issue, what do we think we should do to help the users? And we work towards that goal. 

And are you worried at all about the upcoming Google SGE or any AI implications for search and how that might affect traffic for big sites such as yours? 

No. To be honest, it’s not really at the top of our mind. We don’t use AI, we don’t plan to use AI. Is it going to affect search results? Probably it’s going to be more interactive. It’s going to change a few things. But ultimately, how consumers find our content, we’re not really worried about that. If we need to adjust, we will. But we don’t really focus on that for now. 

And have you noticed has any impact of featured snippets or Google Shopping results, pushing the organic results down a bit? And has that ever impacted any of your results? 

We’ve seen volatility, but I can’t say that we were impacted negatively or positively by it. Let’s just say that we do see that there are changes in how they are trying to display search results. And I think they’re a lot of different things. Does it always make sense to us?
No. But ultimately, again, I think it’s going to align. 

Can you give us an idea of what a day in the life of your role would look like? Oh, that’s a good question. I started seven years ago. I was the editor and SEO specialist, and over the years, I built the marketing team. I think, for example, at the beginning, I really had an end-on approach of content and a lot of change since I started. Now, I’m not doing day-to-day SEO. For example, it’s mostly defining our SEO efforts on not a case-by-case type, but on the overall situation. What can we do to better support the editorial team to improve the quality, but also to find different types of content that could be valuable to users. That’s a big part of my role.
I’m in charge of the deals on the website, so that is especially busy during Black Friday or Prime Day. We have the newsletters, but also we’re trying to optimise different key metrics
that are important for the company. So a lot of different projects, very interesting, varies day to day. 

And can you share some insights into how you’ve built up your community over the years? I see that it seems to be a very important part of not only providing feedback, but also input into the way future tests are evolved and decided. 

Yes. So the community is definitely a big impact, a big reason. We are very conscious that our users are the reason we’re able to do what we do. So first, we take the time to try and answer almost every single user question that comes in. Since our goal is to ensure that our reviews accurately reflect the same experience as a user would have at home, we put a lot of work on understanding the community sentiment around products or product categories. We really value the community feedback on our work. With their help, we’ve been improving tests, we added new tests, and we’re really we’re grateful to have such an awesome community. From our perspective, if we can have a good understanding of the things that are important to our community, then this can help us improve the work we do and improve the quality
of our tests and reviews.
That means we want to involve the community as much as possible. We have the forums, we have the comment sections, we have the review pipeline. It’s a great way to involve the community directly because we can ask them to vote for the products they would like us to review. It allows us to give a feedback, but also to create a place for them to speak and share and contribute. The community is a big aspect of our work. 

I see you’ve also launched RTINGS Insider. Can you tell us a little bit about what that is and how that’s impacted the business? 

The Insider programme is one of the ways we make money as a company. It’s a paid membership. You can choose monthly or yearly. That gives consumers access to all the test results, extra features, tools, personalised advice from our team. But it’s also a way for people
to support our consumer-focused mission. I mean, for years, we’ve been asked, How can I support your company? How can I make a donation? So we’ve decided to launch Insider
programme for that reason and actually give benefits to the consumers that support us. 

Interesting. You mentioned a while ago that you have your own custom CMS. Is there anything else you can tell us about your tech stack at all? How does it actually work from a data storage perspective? Are your writers able to pull in different bits of data from tests? Or is that done on Google Docs, or is it all done in one place? How does it work? 

On the technical aspect of thing, it’s really out of my area. I don’t think I can say too much,
but everything is done internally. So we don’t have Google Docs. We save our text on our employee platform. We even have a lot of tools, even for SEO, a lot of tools are created,
who have been created by our team of devs. They are all amazing. For the keyword planning, the keyword research, I mostly do it with our tools and not with external tools. We do use a Semrush, but most of the work is done with the tools we have that have been built by the devs. 

Wow, that’s really cool. Is there anything you can share about what those tools would do or how they work? Feel free to safeguard your industry’s secrets, but it’s just really interesting to hear that you don’t use these commercial SEO tools so much. 

Well, in terms of SEO, we have access to the volume and the ranking and the traffic that we get, and that’s how we track the performance of our articles. And we have dashboards that we use with all the metrics that each team needs. So it’s very customised to everyone needs, and it really makes our work easier. 

I see that you’ve also started a YouTube channel. Is video going to be an important part of your future strategy? So YouTube videos, it has been a lot of years that we’ve started, and it’s not really a big part of our SEO strategy, at least for now. For us, we see YouTube as a big platform for people to understand products and to make buying decisions. So of course, we want to utilise that as much as possible. We want to have a bigger presence on YouTube. We are actually in the process of growing a video team. If you’re interested, you can come apply for a job. But yeah, some people prefer videos of our articles. That’s a great way to reach most consumers. Videos also help in other ways, such as increasing trust, because you can actually see in our videos that we have facilities that are designed around rigorously testing and comparing products that we actually have all the products we talk about, and that makes us
confident in what we’re saying. We believe that if people can better understand how we work and see that for themselves, they will see why they should trust us and come back to us and hopefully recommend us to others. So for the future, I don’t know the exact plan, but a lot more videos are planned for the year. Yeah.

And when it comes to the rest of your traffic, then I presume the majority of it comes from Google. Are there any diversification plans or are you really just focused on organic search traffic? 

We are really focused on organic search traffic. We might be open to explore over areas in the future, but for us right now, that makes the most sense in the terms of how to reach users. So that’s the main focus for the company. 

Can you tell us how you use A/B testing in any of your SEO efforts? 

We have done more like A/B testing. Comparing one version and making a slight change to another version with CTAs or tests like that in the past. But for now, we haven’t done that many tests. I don’t think it’s our plan for the short term. But I mean, there’s always a way to optimise your website to make it better for the users in terms of the user experience and how we display information. So at some point we might do more, but it has been limited in the past. 

It really strikes me interviewing you, talking to you today, that RTINGS just has a singular focus
on making great reviews that help people. And all the other things just seem to slot in place automatically, well, not quite, but much more easily because you have that focus. I see a lot of other businesses, they make SEO their focus, and then the quality of the content and the dedication to consumer comes as a secondary or tertiary thing. Do you see that as well when you look at other sites or other businesses? Do you think that most people or other
businesses should switch focus and not really focus on SEO quite so much in that way? 

I do think so, but I also think that it is particular in terms of how we operate in the company. I think it’s really a culture thing that was created and nurtured by the president of the company. Because even speaking from my experience, when I started, I had this marketing background, so I didn’t really have the mindset that the president was doing. I was thinking on how we can optimise and how can we increase traffic. I was always suggesting new strategies, and he always asked me, but what’s the value for users in doing that. If there’s no value in users, if it doesn’t benefit them, then we’re not going to implement that. It really shifted my mindset. I’ve been here for seven years now. It’s a long time. But I think more and more, this culture
is very clear in everything that we do. I do think that it’s something that should inspire other companies to do as well. 

That’s really interesting. How does that culture then manifest itself in the day-to-day of the company? Do you have company values which set this in stone? Or are team leaders and management explaining it on a regular basis? Or how is that, how do new employees get swept up in that? 

We have presentations for new employees of what the company values are, then the pillar, the trust. It’s even reminded on our dashboard so that we don’t lose our focus. But it’s also always on top of our mind because we, even myself, I still ask the question, if I want to implement something, I do need to ask myself, what is the value for users in doing that? I think it’s always on top above the management positions in general and all the employees is we are doing what we do because we want to help users with their buying decision. So it’s not… SEO is secondary to all of that. And I think it’s why our SEO is so strong is because it’s secondary to all of our decisions.

If you were to start again from zero today in 2024, what would you do and what would you do differently? 

In this position, you mean? 

I mean, RTINGS in general. I guess the question is, if you hadn’t had all this experience
with the site you’re starting today from a fresh domain with the same business, what would you do differently? 

Wow, that’s an interesting question. We learn a lot over the years, for sure. I think we spent some time, especially for myself as an SEO role, trying to optimise for almost everything. The biggest impact on the result that we had is when we took a step back and think, what are we trying to achieve? And how can we achieve that? And bringing the value to the users. For myself, an SEO, even targeting new keyword or creating articles, it really took time to have
the mindset that we have now in really identifying the concerns and the needs of specific users when they are looking for that keyword and understanding how to bring the value to them
by the personalization aspect. So I think I learned and grew a lot. But in terms of the company in general, I think we’ve learned so much anyway from our mistakes that I don’t think
we will do things differently. 

Is there anything that stands out in your mind as a really big mistake that the company’s made that you’ve learned from over the years? 

Yeah, that’s a good question, too. I think maybe it’s always for us a tricky decision where we’re trying to launch new product categories in terms of the pace we want to go because we do want to grow, but we want to maintain the same quality for all of the product categories. So it’s just a matter of finding the right pace. And maybe in the past, we had big period of growth, and then
we took a step back and make sure that the quality was really high for everything before we launched again. So I think having a good pace in mind is something that we learn as we grow, but we, hopefully, we’ve found it now. 

And I imagine that’s quite complex, having all these physical products, buying them, getting hold of test models, storage, that thing. Just how big of a task is this for your company to manage? 

I mean, there are some logistics involved. So we have a dedicated an employee to take care of the logistics. We are constantly adjusting racks and spaces based on how many products we want to keep in stock and for how long. And like you said, since we buy all the products ourselves and we keep them for a while, it takes a lot of space, and then we want to sell them locally for our website. People can email us and we set up an appointment to pick up the products. But the fact that we keep all of those products for so long, it also allows us to do things that other websites can’t. 

For example, the biggest test we’ve ever done is the longevity test. We’ve decided to run 100 TVs for a two-year accelerated longevity test to see how long they last. Every two months, we take measurements to see how they age over time, and we post updates. But it’s really something that is cool to do that takes a lot of space, but it’s worthwhile for us. People are happy about this test and see what we do. We post videos about it, so it’s more concrete for users, our mission and our goal. 

I’m based over in the UK, and I know you’re based in Canada. So my question is, are there any logistical challenges in being outside the US in terms of acquiring new products early
or when they’re first released? 

I think the biggest challenge is not necessarily being in Canada, but the fact that we buy the products ourselves because other product review websites, since the review needs are usually sent by the manufacturers, it’s before its launch. We sometimes have delay in testing the product or reviewing the products compared to the competition. In terms of the logistic aspect of buying products, we do have to get quite a few products shipped from the US. 

Just to be clear, you don’t accept any review or test products, you buy 100% of the products yourself? 

Yes. It might change at some point in the sense that if we want to review a product early,
we might change that. I don’t know. It’s not my decision, but we buy 100% of the products we review. 

Is that done from an impartiality perspective? So you can say to consumers, Hey, we buy 100% of things ourselves, so there’s no way we could be biased? 

There is that, but there’s also the fact that we don’t want any cherry-picked units because we do see degrees of variance between products, especially if you think that TVs, there are TVs that perform better on the test than others. We want to make sure that we have the same experience a normal customer would buying at a store or online, and we want to replicate that experience
with our company. 

Nice. And will you ever buy Ratings. com with an A? 

I don’t think so. I think we looked briefly at it like not really seriously, and it’s so expensive. We don’t really see the point of buying the site to have a redirect. So not in our plan, no. 

You probably got a lot of people who search R-T-I-N-G-S, specifically for you now anyway,
because you’ve become so popular. So it’s probably counterproductive in that sense. 

Well, even if it then misspelt, usually it’s the name of a product review, and then they will put ‘rating’ and we will appear first anyway. So like you said, it’s no real point to buying the domain. 

Great. So is there anything that I haven’t asked you today that I should have asked you today? 

I think one aspect that is interesting also that it might be different from another website, and I’ve listened to a lot of episode of your podcast is the fact that the way we operate, we keep the monetisation aspect very separate at the company. So even that is not something we look at when we update our content or prioritise our content because we don’t have access to that information. We don’t know which projects bring the most money. We don’t know which articles bring the most money. It’s entirely secret for the editorial team, for the SEO team. I think that also helps with impartiality. And I think sometimes consumer might be worried about, Oh, do we recommend that product or that brand because they pay us or we gain more money, but that’s not the case at all. 

Wow.
So your company has essentially been built with these barriers in place to ensure impartiality like that. That’s quite impressive, actually.
Yeah. Thank you.
Fantastic. So thanks Pauline so much for taking the time to come on today. I really appreciate it.
I learned a lot. Really interesting to see how RTINGS has been built and grown over the
And thank you to the listener at home. Hope you enjoyed this episode. 

If you did, if you’re watching on YouTube, be sure to leave this episode a like and drop a comment below and subscribe so you don’t miss the next episode. 

Okay, now I’m going to do a quick post analysis of the interview and really get into some of the takeaways from it. 

Now, my main takeaway from all this was that if you want to do great SEO,
don’t focus too much on SEO. I know it sounds super counterintuitive, and you’ve probably
heard it I know I have. It always comes across as such a vague and inconsistent piece of advice. I’m thinking, well, what does that mean? How do I follow those principles? And what does that actually look like? Well, I think there are a few really interesting takeaways that shows what that philosophy can look like in practise. 

RTINGS do a few things differently. They’ve really built a culture around putting the user first, and their entire focus of all of their teams is on doing that. This is reflected in the employee
training, the values within the company. Pauline even said she doesn’t do anything related to SEO or marketing without asking herself first, will this benefit the user? They’re really putting the user ahead of their own success. In doing that, they’re actually making themselves more successful because that’s what users want. 

It was super interesting to see that they built a system of checks and balances within their own business where their SEO and content team can’t see what’s converting and can’t see the financial results. This means that they don’t have to worry about being influenced by commission rates and all these types of things. They just focus on making great content
and the best possible quality reviews. And their users love them for this. And you can’t really argue with the results of all this. 

This concept of resisting the urge to make a quick buck at the expense of your users, it’s a really tempting thing for most businesses, especially in the affiliate space, with those juicy commissions at stake. But all of the top companies, the best businesses, not just in SEO, but globally, they put the user first and they make an excellent product or an excellent
service that people really love. 

I mean, their exact match keyword, Ratings, has an estimated traffic volume of 39,000 per month. 

They’re really building a loyal following here, and that’s something that’s also reflected in the community aspect of what they do. They have a passionate community that helps them to even develop their product review frameworks and their rating systems, not to mention all the comments and content on the forums that that creates as well. 

And this is something that we saw in the previous podcast where we looked at sites that did quite well after the helpful content update last year. A lot of them tended to have big communities that they interacted with regularly and really became a core part of the business. 

And another interesting takeaway was their caution at not going into a new product category and just starting to create content there. They’re very cautious and not doing that until they were ready. They wanted to ensure that their product reviews, their testing framework were really thought through and would essentially be the best in the world. Plus, they also wanted to make sure that they could maintain their existing content before taking on the burden and the ongoing burden of not only creating new content, but having to maintain that too. 

That’s something I see a lot of SEOs make mistakes on, where they get really good at creating new content, going into new categories, but then they don’t have such a robust system for maintaining and updating content. Some of it gets out of date. And in the case of product reviews, that can really impact some roundup reviews, best of type keywords. You saw Pauline say that she was focused on making sure that the roundup reviews they had were always true. So you go to RTINGS, you can be sure that the best left-handed mouse that they’re reviewing is actually that at the time which you read the content. 

And the secondary benefit of doing this is that they don’t really have a link acquisition strategy, yet they acquire loads and loads of links. And okay, there are a few things that maybe they can steer things in the right direction. Some of those tools that they created, really interesting, and have obviously acquired a lot of links. But just by having the best content in the world about their topic, they’ve acquired tens of thousands of amazing links from some of the best publications in the world. So for all the effort some of us sometimes put on link building and optimising things
and on all this, if we maybe put that same amount of effort on just making really good best in class content, it’s another way of looking at things, sure. 

And of course, both approaches can work. But this is really living proof that this methodology can bring extreme success as well. So it’s at least something to consider as part of your overall content, SEO and link building strategy. 

If you enjoyed this video, please give it a like on YouTube. And we’d also love to hear your thoughts. If you were in charge of SEO at RTINGS, what would you do?

about the author
Hi I'm Mark. One of the guys behind Authority Hacker. I build and market awesome websites. If you want to know more about me, check out the about page.

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