This is an episode of Tear-Apart, a format in which I dissect over-performing pages and sites.
Today, I’m showing you how a single article gets:
- 50,000 monthly visitors
- 1,110 backlinks
- 1,900 top 10 keywords
- A traffic value of $265,000 (AHREFS)
It’s a comparison of meal kit delivery services on self.com: https://www.self.com/story/the-12-best-meal-kit-delivery-services-for-easy-pre-prepped-dinners-and-smoothies!
Self is a site around health and beauty - a very competitive vertical.
Discover new workout ideas, healthy-eating recipes, makeup looks, skin-care advice, the best beauty products and tips, trends, and more from SELF.
It’s part of the Condé Nast conglomerate. Avid readers will remember the interview with Paul Shapiro who joined Condé Nast as head of technical SEO.
According to AHREFS, the article went live in early October 2016 but its publish date on the page says May 19, 2020 (see below).
It’s a common tactic to update the publish date whenever you make a change. Google doesn’t like it but can’t tell the difference, so it works and signals freshness. In fact, when you go to the page today, you’ll see that it continuously updates the date about a month back.
From the URL, you can also see that self.com updates the article with additions to the list of meal kit services. The page and title list “17 best…” whereas the URL says “12 best…”. It's an important point to keep in mind when building skyscraper articles to keep updating them.
The article ranks for 335 #1 keywords (as of 6/15). Look at those juicy queries:
You quickly understand why the site value is so high with CPCs of $7. Some of the SERPs the sites rank in are a bit disheartening, though. See Google’s new Discovery ads with a thumbnail, for example (top ad in the screenshot below), which looks like an organic result.
Or the knowledge carousel that shows a selection of meal kit services in the SERPs.
Or the ad carousel with pricing data…
Apart from that, the article performs really well and is a best practice to showcase the power of topics > keywords because it ranks for so many variations and related keywords.
Social-wise, it got good engagement on Facebook with 440 likes, 710 shares, and 615 comments.
That’s nothing compared to other articles with almost 100,000 social signals but given the topic of the article, it feels about right.
In terms of backlinks, the article got a nice reference from Merriam Webster in the “recent examples from the web” section (see below).
I don’t think the link was bought but it’s interesting to think about how Merriam Webster selects the links that appear there. They also got some good links from Capital One, Ark Invest, cleveland.com, and other food sites like Myrecipes.
It probably also helps to have mainly keyword-rich anchor text links.
I think though that these links are “natural”. Maybe self.com did some outreach, but I see the reason in the high quality of the content.
What makes this content high-quality:
- no fluff, straight to the point: why should you go with this meal prep service
- provides availability during COVID -> the article provides relevance in perspective of current events
- updated publish date
- cost of the services
I also discovered a nebulous subdomain: nutritiondata.self.com with 3M backlinks…
It looks like this calculator was once living on another site and has been migrated to a subdomain. The traffic is declining - probably because the subdomain hasn’t been updated in ages - but the backlinks should help quite a bit with the site’s rankings!
There is another article I would probably consolidate with this one (https://www.self.com/gallery/10-healthy-meal-delivery-services) because it targets the same user intent. They don’t have exact match duplicate content but the same list of services and the second article ranks much worse than the main article of this tear-apart.
To close this out, I think the links and the high-quality content together make this piece rank so well. You can also write so much when comparing meal kit delivery services, so to me, it comes down to good backlinks, covering the criteria users have in mind when evaluating a meal kit services, and providing the most value compared to all other articles out there.