Diet Doctor is a meal planning SaaS that charges $9.99 a month for access to premium content and software features on its mobile and web apps. Its about page claims 75,000 members, which would put it at approximately $9M ARR. They are completely boot strapped, and haven’t taken any outside funding.
According to SimilarWeb they received 6.86M visits in August, 2020. A whopping 74% of that came from search, or roughly 5M visits.
What’s most remarkable is that 63% of that search traffic comes from a single topic cluster made up of 1,115 pages (source: Ahrefs), covering the topic of low carb diets. And if we follow the 80/20 principle even deeper, 2/3 of that topic cluster’s traffic comes from a single sub-cluster made up of only 98 pages, covering the topic of keto diets. I’ll save you the math: that comes out to approximately 2M visitors a month from that 98 page cluster, or 20,000 visits a month per page on average.
In the article below I’ll break down:
- How Diet Doctor has essentially built their entire business on the back of a single topic cluster.
- How this ultra focused SEO strategy has allowed them to achieve deep authority on that topic in the eyes of Google.
- And how that authority has opened a flood gate of traffic from Google in a health niche notoriously difficult to achieve rankings in.
A Niche Strategy Pays Off
Diet Doctor makes a very specific niche value proposition that permeates through its product, marketing, and into its SEO strategy.
Rather than offering a broad range of meal plans and recipes to fit any kind of diet, Diet Doctor has focused solely on the low carb and keto niche.
Niche SEO as a Natural Extension of Niche Product Positioning
While Diet Doctor’s story ends with massive niche SEO success, it really begins with their niche product positioning. By building their product around the low carb and keto niche, its only natural that their SEO would follow a niche strategy focusing on low carb and keto related search terms.
Some might view this niche positioning as a limitation, after all you are excluding yourself from lots of other viable dietary preferences, market segments, and search terms. But there are also some significant SEO advantages to taking an ultra focused approach on one or two core topics like low carb and keto. Especially in markets like health and finance where Google sets a high bar for what sites and content pass its expertise, authority, and trustworthiness standards.
In fact, Google published a letter on September 10, 2020 stating the following (emphasis mine):
For topics where quality information is particularly important—like health, finance, civic information, and crisis situations—we place an even greater emphasis on factors related to expertise and trustworthiness. We’ve learned that sites that demonstrate authoritativeness and expertise on a topic are less likely to publish false or misleading information, so if we can build our systems to identify signals of those characteristics, we can continue to provide reliable information. The design of these systems is our greatest defense against low-quality content, including potential misinformation, and is work that we’ve been investing in for many years.Danny Sullivan
Google Public Liaison for Search
Building Topical Authority In SEO
The key thing to take note of in the above quote from Google’s letter is that they are thinking about authoritativeness and expertise topically. And they are building their algorithms to look for signals and traits that demonstrate that topical authority on a site.
They are not just talking about a single piece of content here, but the authority a site as a whole demonstrates on a given topic. That’s a really key distinction, since most SEO tactics tend to focus on beefing up the length and quality of a specific piece of content. But generally don’t account for the overall breadth and depth of the topic across the site itself.
While we may see a rise of new SEO hacks and tools that measure the depth and authority of a topic sitewide, its not that hard to put yourself in a visitors shoes and think about how they might perceive whether or not to trust your site on a given topic. And in fact, this is not far off from what Google does to train and develop their algorithm:
We consider a variety of other quality signals, and to understand if our mixture of quality signals is working, we run a lot of tests. We have more than 10,000 search quality raters, people who collectively perform millions of sample searches and rate the quality of the results according to how well they measure up against what we call E-A-T: Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness.Danny Sullivan
Google Public Liaison for Search
How Diet Doctor’s Niche SEO Strategy Demonstrates Extensive Topical Expertise, Authority, and Trust
So let’s connect some of these dots together.
Diet Doctor’s product has very niche positioning, focusing primarily on the low carb and keto niches. This naturally leads to a niche SEO strategy focusing on those topics.
Google has stated that their algorithm is measuring whether or not a site (not just a single piece of content) demonstrates authority and expertise on a topic. And they calibrate their algorithm based on feedback from real live people a.k.a. search quality raters.
Putting yourself in the shoes of a potential searcher, which site would you feel had more authority on low carb and keto topics?
Site A: that built out an extensive library of high quality content focused only on the topics of low carb and keto diets?
Or Site B: that has a few articles on low carb and keto diets mixed in with hundreds of other articles on a variety of different diets, plus other miscellaneous health and wellness topics?
To answer this question more quantitatively, let’s look at the ranking results for the term “keto diet” – an extremely competitive term with over a million searches a month, that Diet Doctor’s keto topic cluster pillar page ranks in the 3rd position for.
Here we can see Diet Doctor ranking against a laundry list of heavy hitting sites with higher DR (domain rank – which measures the backlink authority of a site as a whole). Including a higher ranking than Wikipedia that also has significantly more backlinks to its wiki page vs. Diet Doctor’s pillar page. And the only other site in the results page that isn’t a household brand name? A site called Ruled.me that is also niche focused solely on keto content.
What Does Google Say About Your Brand’s Niche Positioning?
Niche positioning is far from a new idea in business, but Diet Doctor provides a compelling case study in how a product’s niche focus can translate to SEO success in the new era of topical authority algorithms.
And it’s really a natural progression when you step back and think about it. Niche marketing has worked for decades because people tend to trust the brand most focused on their specific problem, and that narrower focus tends to create better outcomes for the customer because the brand can deliver deeper expertise in their chosen niche.
So it only makes sense that these same dynamics would show up in how Google’s search quality raters perceive the websites served up by Google’s algorithms. People expect a niche focus to deliver better outcomes based on a lifetime of experience.
This makes SEO much more of a natural extension of your brand and product positioning. But it also makes SEO a potentially bigger strategic consideration in the positioning you choose. In Diet Doctor’s case, high volume search terms like “keto diet” indicated a ripe opportunity for positioning the brand around low carb and keto diets. And because of the significant volume around these terms, they’ve been able to build an 8 figure ARR business from the niche positioning they chose.