Learning from TheWirecutter and TheSweetHome

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Learning from others is always better than learning from your mistakes. That’s why business schools exist and why case studies are so popular.

Two of the best examples of how SEO and content creation can be powerful are both owned by the same man, Brian Lam. In the past few months, he went on to sell the majority stake in both of his websites to The New York Times.

If that doesn’t say success, we’re not sure what does.

What are The Wirecutter and The SweetHome?

Both of these websites are affiliate review sites. What that means is that they test hundreds of different products each month and write ‘best’ style articles targeting keywords like:

Best Vacuum

What is the Best Power Drill?

Best Smartphone for Teenagers

Most companies that target these keywords don’t test the products themselves; they rely on syndicating reviews from eCommerce websites and other review sites.

Both of these websites are earning millions of dollars each year in affiliate revenue, and it appears to be growing month on month. They are great examples of how a one person company can use SEO and content creation to expand into an international powerhouse that employees tens of people across the globe.

Creating Mind-blowing Content

More than anything, what these websites do amazingly is produce mind-blowing content that is 10x better than their competitors. This isn’t particularly surprising when you find out that Brian Lam was the editor at Gizmodo which is owned by Gawker.

He’s spent his entire career creating high-quality technology content for some of the top news sites in the world and translated that to his own company.

When you look at the types of reviews that his competitors are creating it’s easy to see why he’s beating them.

They pay for all of the products to be sent to reviewers who will test them extensively for weeks or months to give you the most reliable information that they can. Most of their reviews seem to be over 10,000 words in length, whereas many of their competitors can only manage a few thousand.

Google takes into account the length of content when they’re ranking pages, and that’s why both these websites rank so high for their intended keywords.

It’s Possible to Build Links to Commercial Content

One of the most common excuses that business owners have is that they can’t rank their product pages because it’s ‘impossible’ to build links to commercial pages.

However, The Wirecutter has proven that if you create content that offers enough value to readers, you can build links to commercial pages. It’s clear that the key is to combine information with commercial content on a single page to generate revenue as well as to build links.

Cult Followings

Both of these websites have developed their cult following. The Wirecutter has a section on their blog each week where all they would do was create a short 500-word post that shared some links to other websites on the internet that were relevant to the reviews they did that week.

These short posts quickly earned a cult following and when they eventually stopped there was an outpouring of comments asking them to continue. These short posts provided tremendous value to people because they gave them a list of interesting things to check out, rather than people having to find the content themselves.

This just goes to show the power that a weekly newsletter post can have if it’s done correctly.

Ask for Feedback

Brian and his team weren’t scared to ask for feedback from their reviewers or their users. To this day they even have a section on their website where you can ask them to review certain products for you, and according to those who have used it, they are responsive and often pursue the ideas.

For local businesses, it’s particularly important to continue to ask for feedback, even if it ends up being negative. It’s far better to have your feelings hurt than to let your business continue to make the same mistakes over and over.

Be Willing to Invest

In an interview a few years back Brian Lam said that each piece of content they create costs between $5,000 and $10,000 to create. When the website was first started they didn’t take any investor capital, Brian ran it himself and used his savings to fund the content creation.

In the world of digital marketing, you get what you pay for, and Brian was willing to make the investment in his own business, which is why his content is some of the best in the world.


If we can learn anything from Brian Lam and his websites it’s that you need to put in massive amounts of effort. Don’t settle for creating good or decent content, strive to create the best in the world, then promote it as much as is physically possible.

Brian worked for many years, investing vast sums of his own money before the NYT bought his websites.

If you want to find out more about how we use content marketing and content creation to improve our client’s rankings, then get in touch with us today.

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