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Programmatic SEO: How RTINGS.com built a moat by truly understanding search behaviour
What happens, if you combine a deep customer understanding with best-in-class content and a strong site architecture? You get organic traffic like RTINGS.com!
RTINGS.com is an affiliate website that started by reviewing televisions.
This is something that continues to have a great effect today. Its “tv” subfolder, has over 2.5K pages and is responsible for 22% of the website’s total organic traffic. It generates almost 2 million clicks per month.
Let’s dive into how this works!
1. Understanding consumers’ search behaviour
Product reviews are at the center of everything RTINGS.com does.
And product review content does in fact drive a lot of traffic. But that’s not the full story.
The staff at RTINGS.com really understand how people search. And how to match the underlying search behaviour with the right content.
In general, they identified four categories of search queries. People usually look for:
Reviews of individual products
e.g. LG B8 OLED Review
Best of products
Comparison of products
e.g. What is Input Lag
Each one of these content types answers a specific search intent or search behaviour in the customer journey.
Often people first search for the best product within a category e.g. “best gaming TV”, then look at specific products that were recommended and finally compare the preferred product against its nearest competitors, before making a final decision.
Where RTINGS.com really differentiated itself, is by recognizing that people looking for similar products can have wildly different search criteria.
So they haven’t just created content around the cheapest or best TV.
They created content around TVs by:
They even created a page for “best TVs for bright rooms”…
2. Combining a clear site architecture with clever internal linking
Covering a variety of content types can quickly become chaotic.
However, RTINGS.com maintains a clear site architecture that keeps everything in its proper place.
This is accomplished by directly mirroring the search behavior of their audience.
Here’s an overview of the TV hub’s information architecture:
A site structure shouldn’t just look nice on paper. You also need to make sure it works in reality.
That’s where your internal linking strategy comes into play.
Internal links not only pass link equity but also improve discoverability and create a delightful experience for the reader.
This screenshot shows, that even product pages deep within the site structure receive thousands of internal links.
RTINGS.com achieves this with the following tactics:
Linking from category to product pages and vice versa
Linking to related articles and products
3. Creating the content your customers want
Of course, all of this is useless if your content is poor.
But not to worry, RTINGS.com has this covered.
RTINGS.com does some of the most thorough product testing of all review sites. Even the famous Wirecutter cannot keep up when it comes to their R&D Lab! They have a specific testing methodology for each product type and are very committed to their testing standards.
Big Advantage: By following a clear methodology for every product review, all products within a specific category become directly comparable. This enables RTINGS.com to target thousands of comparison keywords without having to create any additional content. Now, that's programmatic SEO at its finest.
All of their content is regularly reviewed, and this activity is logged in detail. Again, they seem to really care to get it right.
They also feature the current date or season in their title tag, H1, etc.
Even more important: They are often the first ones to conduct a review and launch product pages, even when the products are not fully tested yet. As a result, they will have their content indexed by Google first, receive more clicks, and likely gather more backlinks than their competition.
In 2023, E-E-A-T signals are crucial, particularly for YMYL topics like expensive consumer goods.
Transparently declaring who is behind the review builds trust with Google and consumers.
To be fair, their tester profiles could probably use an update, but that is a high-level complaint.
How can you use this to your advantage?
Whether you run an affiliate site or are simply looking to gain a competitive advantage, you can apply the following learnings to boost the SEO performance of almost any website.
Research: Determine the various methods people use to search for your products and services. Don't hesitate to conduct customer interviews, investigate and dive deep, even into niche areas.
Architecture: Your site structure should ideally reflect how people search. This is often best for both Google and users. Utilize internal links to drive link equity to important pages.
Content: Knowing how people search allows you to create better content that is tailored to consumers' needs. RTINGS.com uses that know-how to create the most thorough review content available, and always goes the extra mile. They are proud of what they do, and you can feel it when reading their content. Even though they are an affiliate website, they take no shortcuts. Ever.
A big thank you goes out to Himanshu Gupta who first wrote about RTINGS.com and heavily inspired this SEO example.