Best of Growth Memo

This is a selection of the best and most popular posts on the Growth Memo across SEO, Content, Growth, Product, Strategy, Case Studies, Tech and Mental Models.

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To get started, please find this selection of the best articles over the past years across SEO, Content, Growth, Product, Strategy, Tech, Case Studies, Tech and Mental Models.


SEO first principles
It’s easy to get lost in wild speculations with SEO, but good strategies and tactics are always the results of reasoning from first principles.
A modern understanding of SEO
SEO doesn’t work the same way it used to work 5 years ago. These days, we have to test everything. Let me explain why.
The 10 SEO ranking factors we know to be true
Google only confirmed 10 SEO ranking factors publicly in its history. In this article, I narrow in on what’s true and what’s speculation, how important each SEO ranking factor is, and the evidence we have for it.
5 fundamental problems in SEO
Knowing the fundamental problems in an industry helps you truly understand it. In this article, I outline the 5 fundamental problems in SEO.
12 reasons your SEO traffic is plateauing and how to fix it
In this article, I explain 12 different types ways to solve traffic plateaus.
The ROI of SEO - how to predict traffic and revenue
Predicting SEO revenue is one of the biggest problems in SEO - and one of the most crucial to solve! In this article, I show you how to project SEO traffic and revenue.
A better approach to keyword research for content marketing
In this article, I challenge the classic approach to keyword research and propose a new approach.
The importance of custom click curves
In this article, I explain how to build custom click curves for better traffic predictions and outlier detection.
How to master the art of inhouse SEO
Over my 10 year career, I was lucky to observe the skills and strategies that distinguish successful in-house SEOs from the unsuccessful ones. You read that right, in-house SEO is a skill. Those who master it drive rapid growth. Those who don’t are left behind.
5 principles of an ideal SEO team structure
There is a method to (re)structuring an SEO team. In this article, I explain the 5 guiding principles to keep in mind.
What is User Intent? How to optimize for it like a pro
User Intent has become one of the most important concepts in modern SEO. In this guide, I explain what it is, how to identify it, and how to optimize for it.
Solving Fragmented User Intent
Fragmented User Intent describes keywords that serve several intents. This post explains how to create a model to track and understand that.
Patters of SERP Volatility
SERP Volatility follows distinct patterns that can change overnight. Learn how in this post!
How to measure topical authority
Topical Authority is still a mystical concept, partly because we don’t have a good way to measure it. In this post, I want to offer a method to quantify Topic Authority.
Topical Authority: myth or reality?
Be careful with the concept of Topical Authority when arguing for SEO recommendations. The concept doesn’t stand on a robust logic.
The expert guide for internal linking for SEO (2022)
This guide to internal linking shows what really works and busts the myths. It comes with lots of best practices, strategies, and examples
TIPR lite
In this post, I’m presenting an updated lite version of my TIPR model for internal linking optimization.
Internal Link Optimization with TIPR
Internal link optimization is incomplete without factoring in backlinks. In this article, I introduce a model called TIPR that helps you to optimize the internal link graph of your site.
The best internal linking structure depends on your business model
Opposite to common belief, internal linking best practices are not commonly applicable but vary by site type and business model. This article shows what model to apply in which case.
How Google tests new content in the search results
This article is a case study that shows how Google ranks new content for different keywords to test its quality.
My favorite tool alternatives to Google Search Volume
Google Search Volume is inherently flawed. In this article, I show some tools you can use as a replcaement
User intent mapping on steroids
User intent is one of the most important parts of Search today. In this article, I explain how to identify it at scale.
The inaccuracy and flaws of search volume
Search volume is a double-edged sword. On one side, it guides our strategy. On the other side, it’s so fundamentally flawed that we should handle it with extreme care. In this article, I explain why and how.
How to drive millions of sessions with glossaries
Glossaries as a traffic-driver were forgotten like the Jedi in The Force Awakens. But now, they’re making a comeback.
How to run Bayesian SEO tests
Bayesian a/b testing for SEO can help you discover factors that move the needle, but you first need to learn how to set a good test up.
How stable is SEO as a growth channel?
Organic traffic fluctuations can be frustrating and induce a lot of stress. They can occur naturally due to algorithm updates or be the result of changes on a website.
Lessons from the best Solution pages in SaaS
Product solution pages are the unsung heroes of SaaS SEO. They are easy to forget but, as I will show you in a moment, they can drive substantial traffic. I dug out some of the best examples and will explain what they do extraordinarily well so you can learn from it.
Semantic content optimization with entities
This article seeks to answer the question of how we can use entities to optimize content today and how we, as SEOs, should look at them.
How to think about video and SEO
In this article, I explain how videos can help organic visibility and dispel common myths.


10 factors that make great content great
Everybody knows great content is important but what makes “great content” great? That’s the question I answer (from an SEO perspective) in this article.
The content commodity trap
Content exists on a commodity spectrum. When it’s easy to replicate, you have a problem. When it’s differentiated, it’s a business moat.
Building content moats for stronger competitive advantages
Undifferentiated content is a commodity. In this post, I explain how to make your content stand out and irreplicable.
Content-Market Fit
Content-Market Fit is the point at which your content meets and exceeds your audience’s expectations. Here is how you get there.
How could Google recognize AI content?
Recent advances in machine learning put search engines and the web in front of new challenges.
The case FOR AI Content
With the release of the Helpful Content Update emphasizes the importance of human-created content. But why shouldn’t some content be created by AI?
How well does AI content perform in SEO?
At the hand of Bankrate, Cnet and, we can now better understand the impact of AI content on SEO.


Early Adopter Marketing - How startups get their first users
Early adopters play a crucial role in achieving PMF and growth at scale. In this post, I’ll show you why they are so important, how to get them, and what to do with them.
SEO growth loops
Certain types of companies can build self-reinforcing growth loops on organic search. In this post, I explain the mechanics and constraints of SEO Growth Loops.
Slack and the Land and Expand Model
Slack follows the classic Land & Expand handbook. In this article, I explain how and what sets Slack apart from Atlassian.
Strategic decisions to find the next growth lever
This article deals with the problem of finding the growth lever after the initial growth phase.
A tear-apart of Asana’s Land & Expand Model
In this post, I explain the land and expand model at the hand of Asana.
The Red Ventures Growth playbook
Affiliate is a hard business, but there is a company that figured it out at scale and is on track to drive $1.6b in revenue from it next year. The big question of this article is “how do they grow sites so successfully?”
9 Growth ideas for turning Twitter back around
In this article, I explore 9 Growth ideas that could turn Twitter around after Elon Musk’s acquisition.
Can Network Effects replace Performance Marketing?
Airbnb crushed the third quarter of 2022. Bookings reached almost 100M and increased +25% year-over-year with a +42% improvement in net income margin. On the call, CFO David E. Stephenson called out a strategic pivot (bolding mine): In terms of the active bookers, taking a step back and look at
The 4 only scalable customer-acquisition channels
There are really only four customer acquisition channels: SEO, online ads, sales, and virality.
Wordle’s growth loop
Wordle’s virality is no accident, it’s engineered. In this post, I explain the growth mechanics of the game that was just acquired for a 7-figure sum.
Innovation vs. best practices
Innovation and best practices are at odds, but only when we obsess over the outcome. When we focus on the process, they are complementary.


Great product features are key to SEO traffic for large sites
There are two types of sites: content and inventory-driven sites. For the latter, you basically need to develop great product features.
UX and SEO red herrings
SEO is full of Red Herrings, misleading assumptions due to cognitive biases. In this case study, I show what this can look like.


Integrator vs Aggregator Growth
Aggregators and Integrators have fundamentally different approaches to Growth. Learn what they are and how to leverage them in this post!
An introduction to Integrator SEO strategies
Integrators scale SEO very differently than aggregators. In this post, I explain the basic SEO strategies.
Aggregator strategies for Integrators
Some integrators have the potential to grow with aggregator strategies. In this article, I explain how to find out whether that’s true for your site.
SEO strategy archetypes and how to leverage them
Every business grows with one of several SEO strategy archetypes. In this article, you learn what they are and how to leverage them.
Creating an SEO strategy from scratch
Creating an SEO strategy is not easy and hardly ever talked about. This article provides a detailed step-by-step manual to put an effective SEO strategy together.
5 examples of product-led SEO
In this post, I highlight 5 examples of product-led growth and how they are different from each other.
The changing dynamic of programmatic SEO
Wish you could get more traffic from Google? Half the battle is understanding WHAT you need to fix on your site. This is the power of Ahrefs Webmaster Tools! A cost-friendlier alternative to expensive audits. AWT shows which keywords your pages rank for, how Google sees your content, and what
The nasty side-effects of Google Search Traffic
Organic Search traffic is a great gift to many businesses, but it can also be a drug that’s hard to get off of.
Offense vs. defense SEO
A good SEO strategy has both: offense and defense. In this post, I explain how to balance and prioritize the two.
Platform Confluence
Platform Confluence is the strategy of bringing several apps and sites in an ecosystem together to improve user experience and monetiation.

Case studies

WebMD vs. Healthline - when industries shift
Healthline passed WebMD in SEO performance. In this article, I dissect what drove this tectonic shift.
SEO strategy case study: Instacart
This case study highlights Instacart’s strategic SEO choices and how it could unlock new growth.
Substack’s SEO opportunity
Substack is a platform that has an opportunity to tap into an aggregator play by adapting its SEO strategy.
Case Study AI content punished by the HCU update
Google’s HCU update punished low-quality AI content after all. In this case study, I show why and how to detect it.
How Adobe unlocked new SEO Growth
In this Growth Memo, I explain how Adobe unlocked new organic Growth after a period of flat traffic.
Where TikTok’s SEO strategy fails
Tik Tok is not a social network but competes with Instagram, Snap, Facebook, & Co for attention. Besides their speedy growth, their SEO strategy fails. In this post, I explain why.
How to build a product around trust like DocuSign
Some products are highly trust-sensitive and therefore a bit trickier to grow. In this article, I want to show you how to do that based on DocuSign, a digital signature SaaS company that went public in April 2018 at a $6b valuation.
Airbnb’s new categories and the problem with site taxonomy
Airbnb’s new categories present an opportunity to grow non-branded traffic, but unfortunately, the company misses an important step.
Uber Eats: SEO aggregation case study
Uber Eats is a smart product expansion but also a smart SEO aggregator play. In this article, I explain how it works and why it might have saved Uber.
The Growth strategies of the top BNPL providers
BNPL providers like Klarna, Affirm, or Afterpay follow specific organic growth strategies that slightly differ and might decide between winner and loser in this winner-takes-it-all game.
Nike’s explosive online growth
Nike is a great example of retail brands that use SEO to accelerate their business. In this case, I explain how Nike uses SEO to accelerate its online growth.


Pinterest, the inspirational search engine
Pinterest processes more searches than DuckDuckGo and is the #1 destination for inspirational searches. Compared to Google, Pinterest has significant competitive advantages in the way it serves search results.
Google I/O 2022 - Ambient Computing is getting real
Every announcement at Google I/O 2022 had AI at its heart. No surprise for an “AI-first” company but what used to be a vision in 2021 finally becomes reality.
Here is the longtail
In this post, I look at thousands of keywords to understand the differences between shorthead and longtail keywords.
Local Search is Google’s weapon against Amazon
Even though Google is still growing at a rapid pace, it needs to think about where future growth will come from and where to find competitive advantages against Amazon.
The stagnation of Consumer Platforms
The growth and diversity of the consumer landscape has been stunted by the chokehold of a few nation-state tech players. As a result, the B2B space is booming but user acquisition comes at a price.
Short-form video is winning - what does that mean for SEO?
Tik Tok recently surpassed Youtube in engagement. As a result, ad monetization on Youtube has slowed down. What does this mean for SEO?
How big is Google’s market share really?
Google’s market share is not black and white. For a more nuanced view, I analyzed the market share of 30 Google products in different markets.
The most successful startup in history
Google is the most successful startup in history, at least based on revenue growth.
Google’s concentration of ad revenue
Google’s most recent Q3 earnings call shows that advertising is no longer a sustainable business model on the internet.
Google’s index is smaller than we think - and might not grow at all
Google’s index size is not as straightforward as it might seem and that’s important to understand for SEOs.
Google’s Freemium Leverage
In this Growth Memo, I write about the Freemium business model, and how Google uses it to drive revenue.

Mental models

The full guide to Power Laws and the Pareto Principle
Idea: Power Laws, Pareto Principle Other names: Pareto Law, Pareto Distribution, Scale-free distribution, MatthewEffect Summary of the idea: Many things in life have a disproportionate relationshipbetween cause and effect. Examples of the idea: 20% of the people own 80% of the land, Just 1.4 pe…
The Bayesian Growth Mindset
Bayesian Thinking is the constant updating of our beliefs based on prior data and the best way to reason toward the truth.
Mental Models and why you need to master them
Mental models help you make better decisions and solve problems. In this post, I explain why and what my top 5 mental models are.
Systems thinking 101
Systems thinking can help us see the bigger picture, make better decisions, and identify patterns.