How Hotjar Skyrocketed Organic Traffic and Revenue: Lessons from Their User-Centric Blog Strategy

Hotjar, a leading behavioral analytics and user feedback platform, has seen incredible success with their organic content strategy in recent years. From 2019 to 2022, they grew their non-branded organic traffic by an impressive 734% and increased new customers from organic search by 1,398% during the same period.

To put those numbers into perspective, the average annual traffic growth rate for SaaS companies is around 50-100%. Hotjar blew that benchmark out of the water with a 734% increase in just three years. What‘s more, they didn‘t just grow vanity metrics – they converted that traffic into paying customers at an astronomical rate.

So how did they achieve such massive growth in a relatively short timeframe? The secret lies in their relentless focus on user empathy and solving customer pain points with their content. As Hotjar‘s SEO Lead, Ellie Yeardye, explains:

User empathy is at the heart of everything we do at Hotjar, and that extends into our content strategy. By deeply understanding our users‘ needs and structuring our content to address those needs, we‘ve been able to drive the growth we have.

Let‘s dive into some of the key pillars of Hotjar‘s winning approach to organic content.

Embracing Product-Led Content

One of the biggest drivers behind Hotjar‘s organic success has been their adoption of product-led content. Rather than just writing generic content about broad topics, they focus on creating content that showcases how their product solves specific user pain points.

To do this effectively requires a deep understanding of both the product‘s capabilities and target customers‘ needs. Hotjar‘s content and product marketing teams work closely together to identify common issues their audience faces, then produce guides and tutorials demonstrating how Hotjar can address those problems.

For example, their in-depth guide "What is Behavioral Analytics? The Ultimate Beginner‘s Guide" not only covers the fundamentals of the topic, but weaves in highly relevant examples of how Hotjar‘s tools like heatmaps and session recordings support behavioral analytics processes:

hotjar behavioral analytics guide screenshot

By the end of the nearly 3,000-word guide, readers have a clear understanding of both the importance of behavioral analytics and how Hotjar can help them implement it. This piece ranks in the top 3 on Google for competitive keywords like "behavioral analytics" (4,400 searches/mo) and "what is behavioral analytics" (1,000 searches/mo), driving thousands of qualified visitors to the Hotjar site each month.

Through this product-led approach, Hotjar establishes their brand as an authority while simultaneously moving readers down the funnel from awareness to consideration of their solution. And it works – readers who engage with these product-led pieces convert at a 3-5x higher rate compared to their other blog content.

Other standout product-led content examples from Hotjar include:

Product-led content now makes up over half of Hotjar‘s new publishing output and is their biggest driver of both traffic and conversions from organic search.

Building Content Clusters Around the Customer Journey

Another core tenet of Hotjar‘s content strategy involves developing interconnected clusters of content aligned with each stage of the buyer‘s journey. Rather than just focusing on individual, disconnected articles, they design content hubs with the express goal of guiding users from initial interest all the way to becoming paying customers.

Here‘s a simplified version of how they map content to different journey stages:

Funnel Stage Content Types Example Keywords
Awareness Educational guides, tutorials, definitions What is behavioral analytics, user experience testing guide
Consideration Product-focused content, comparisons, alternatives Hotjar vs FullStory, best user feedback tools
Decision Case studies, product demos, free trials Ecommerce UX teardowns, Hotjar product tour

At the top of the funnel, Hotjar creates educational content related to broad topics their target audience is searching for, such as user experience, website optimization, and product management. These pieces aim to capture search demand and introduce new users to the Hotjar brand.

As readers progress, they‘re seamlessly directed to more comparative content that positions Hotjar as the ideal solution for the problems discussed in the initial piece. Hotjar makes this user journey as intuitive as possible through clear calls-to-action and intentional link placement and design.

For instance, their beginner‘s guide to user behavior tracking ends with this CTA linking to a free trial of Hotjar‘s product:

hotjar user behavior tracking guide CTA screenshot

Finally, bottom-of-funnel content like case studies, product demos and free trials are used to convert engaged readers into leads and customers. By stitching together content across the full funnel, Hotjar creates a cohesive journey that builds trust and gently leads customers to their desired action.

The proof is in the pudding – Hotjar‘s full-funnel approach has resulted in a 1,398% increase in new customers from organic search since 2019. Before investing in fleshed out content clusters, less than 1% of their organic traffic converted into signups. Today, that number is closer to 8-10%.

Informing Content with Customer Insights

To ensure their content resonates, Hotjar relies heavily on insights gathered directly from their customers. Their SEO team works closely with product marketing to uncover the topics, questions, and keywords that are most relevant to Hotjar‘s target personas.

Quantitative data like search volumes and keyword rankings certainly play a role in prioritizing content opportunities. However, Hotjar also places huge emphasis on qualitative feedback obtained through user research, surveys, on-site feedback widgets, and interviews.

These qualitative insights help them validate quantitative trends and uncover hidden gems they may have otherwise overlooked. It also ensures they‘re using the same language as their customers in their content, which builds deeper rapport and trust with readers.

Perhaps most importantly, customer feedback enables Hotjar to go beyond just answering the "what" and get to the "why" behind user needs. Ellie explains:

Quantitative data only tells you what‘s happening, not why it‘s happening. That‘s why qualitative insights are so important – they help reduce bias and incorrect assumptions so you can produce content that truly resonates.

For example, when their keyword research tools indicated rising search interest in the topic "product management", Hotjar‘s team conducted surveys and interviews with product managers to dig deeper. They found that one of the biggest challenges facing PMs was getting stakeholder buy-in for user research and discovery activities.

This insight led them to create a comprehensive guide on discovery in product management, including specific tactics for getting executive support. By addressing a known pain point for their audience, the guide attracted over 10,000 pageviews in its first three months and converted at double the rate of their average blog post.

SEO Dream Team: How Hotjar Structures Their Organic Marketing

Of course, none of Hotjar‘s content success would be possible without the right people and processes in place. Ellie leads an SEO team of four, which includes:

  • 1 SEO strategist focused on keyword research and topical analysis
  • 1 technical SEO responsible for site architecture and performance
  • 2 SEO content specialists who collaborate with freelance writers on content briefs and editing

This lean team sits within Hotjar‘s larger marketing org and works closely with stakeholders across product marketing, content strategy, web development, and data analytics.

One unique aspect of their SEO org structure is the deep integration between SEO and content production. Rather than simply handing off keyword briefs to the editorial team, Hotjar‘s SEO content specialists are embedded into the content creation process from start to finish. They provide feedback on outlines, review drafts for optimization opportunities, and even write some of the content themselves.

This tight collaboration between SEO and content ensures every piece they publish is primed for both search performance and reader engagement. No wonder their average time on page for blog content is over 4 minutes!

Measuring Content Performance with Multi-Touch Attribution

With such investment in full-funnel content, Hotjar needed a way to measure the impact of each piece on bottom-line growth. Rather than rely on overly simplistic first- or last-touch attribution models, they developed a custom 40/20/40 multi-touch framework.

Here‘s how it works:

  • 40% of conversion credit is assigned to the first piece of content a user consumes
  • 20% is allocated to intermediate pieces consumed between the first and last touch
  • The remaining 40% goes to the last piece consumed before conversion

This model paints a more holistic picture of how different pieces influence conversions and allows Hotjar to optimize for content that impacts every stage of the funnel, not just the top or bottom.

Using this framework, Hotjar can see that while top-of-funnel pieces drive the most initial engagement, middle- and bottom-funnel content has 2-3x higher conversion rates. They‘ve used this insight to adjust their content calendar to produce more consideration and decision stage pieces, which has improved overall ROI.

Revamping & Refreshing the Content Backlog

Finally, Hotjar invests significant effort into maintaining and optimizing its extensive backlog of published content. With a library of over 1,000 blog posts, they realized some of their biggest SEO wins weren‘t from new content, but from improving existing content.

On a regular basis, Hotjar‘s team audits their content to ensure it still aligns with their customers‘ ever-evolving needs, accurately reflects their product‘s current capabilities, and follows SEO best practices. This proactive approach to content maintenance has several key benefits:

  • Updating outdated content improves user trust and prevents brand damage
  • Refreshing content for new SERP features like featured snippets and video results has helped them win more search real estate
  • Optimizing old posts with new internal links keeps readers engaged and moving through the site
  • Pruning irrelevant or low-quality content helps them focus authority on their most important pages

Through historical optimization, Hotjar is able to get more mileage out of the content they‘ve already invested in producing. It‘s essentially a way to generate "free" traffic and leads without having to create net new pieces from scratch.

For example, when Google released continuous scroll on mobile SERPs in late 2021, Hotjar quickly adapted old posts to have more enticing titles, meta descriptions, and introductions to improve scroll-through rates. They saw a 12% bump in mobile search traffic within two months after implementing these tweaks.

Hotjar‘s Head of Content, Valerio Puggioni, notes:

We see a lot of companies focus solely on pumping out new content. But they‘re missing out on so much untapped potential in their existing content. Often a simple refresh can yield greater gains than 5-10 new posts.

Key Takeaways & Learnings

Hotjar‘s organic content success is a testament to the power of putting users first. By developing an in-depth understanding of their audience and aligning every piece of content to customer needs, they‘ve been able to drive dramatic growth in both traffic and revenue.

Here are some of the key principles marketers can adopt from Hotjar‘s approach:

  • Develop product-led content that showcases your solution in the context of solving user pain points
  • Map content to every stage of the buyer‘s journey to create a cohesive narrative from awareness to conversion
  • Leverage qualitative user insights, not just quantitative data, to produce content that truly resonates
  • Foster close collaboration between SEO and content teams for a balance of engagement and search optimization
  • Implement a multi-touch attribution model to measure full-funnel content impact on revenue
  • Don‘t neglect your content backlog – find opportunities to refresh existing assets for easy wins

Ultimately, Hotjar‘s massive organic success boils down to an authentic commitment to providing as much value as possible to their users. By weaving this user-first ethos into every aspect of their content strategy, they‘ve been able to win at SEO while simultaneously building deeper customer relationships.

Does this mean you need to follow Hotjar‘s exact playbook to see similar organic results? Not necessarily. But adopting some of their key principles – stepping into your customers‘ shoes, aligning content to the buyer journey, and leveraging qualitative insights, just to name a few – can put you on the path to organic search success. Because at the end of the day, what‘s good for users is good for SEO too.