Here are some things that you shouldn’t do when building an internet startup:
Completely rebuild your marketing page when you have meaningful web traffic
So yeah, this one is self explanatory. Swift Starter Kits went through several product phases, each time pivoting the product and its messaging to reduce scope and increase focus. The biggest marketing page rework was in March, when search traffic had surpassed thousands of visits per month (small, but a meaningful uptick). This was when I removed Firebase as a dependency and stopped marketing the kit as being a “Firebase enabled iOS starter kit”, instead focusing on subscription revenue tooling and a faster out of the box experience.
Turns out most of the Swift Starter Kits site traffic was looking for a Firebase enabled starter kit, traffic has gone down to the lower hundreds /month as of July.
Change the product’s name
This change was subtle, but around April I went through all of the Swift Starter Kits web pages, and changed every reference of “SwiftStarterKits” to “Swift Starter Kits”. This actually may have been a good move, but time will tell.
My thinking was this: If somebody is searching for the term “SwiftStarterKits” (one word, no spaces), they already know what they are looking for and the domain will rank for this automatically. But changing all URL references over to “Swift Starter Kits” (3 words, with spaces) makes clear the intent that this is an actual query that I’d like to rank for. I want the site to broadcast “hey, if you’re looking for a starter kit for Swift and SwiftUI, you may want what I built”. This was the entire idea around the domain name Swift Starter Kits in the first place.
What’s interesting though, is that while traffic has decreased overall, Swift Starter Kits now ranks in the top three for “Swift Starter Kit” and “Swift Starter Kits”, which it wasn’t before.
Learn about The Long Tail after building a product
Tongue in cheek aside. I read The Long Tail in April, after reading about its insights from patio11’s treasure trove of startup essay’s (seriously, if you’re serious about building internet startups and want to learn about internet marketing, you should start at the beginning of his journey in the early 2010’s and print every blog post onto physical paper, and read until you’re done).
The gist is that I learned about all the things I did wrong in ideating and building the Swift Starter Kits product. I built a product that I assumed somebody out there needed, but had no data to back this up. Then I learned about search keywords, SEO, and finding “Long Tail” keywords to enable focus on niche traffic. Once learning about all of this, I took a step back and thought “shoot, I have a product that doesn’t allow me to generate content for any of these queries”.
Looking around at keywords that are super close to what I had been ranking for, there were much better choices that get a lot more traffic – but would require a slight product rework to ensure I wasn’t lying about what Swift Starter Kits does.
So, the lesson is this: Have a general idea for how a product will fit into search engine queries before hand. Search engine traffic takes months to materialize and underutilizing 100 hours of product work sucks.