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Learning from TheWirecutter and TheSweetHome

By Snap Agency April 19, 2018

Learning from others is always better than learning from your mistakes. That’s why business schools exist and why case studies are so popular. At Snap, we’re constantly learning. We hustle harder every day to make sure that we’re offering our clients only the best of the best when it comes to digital marketing services.

One of the most popular digital marketing services that we offer is Search Engine Optimization (SEO). While all of our digital services are vital to an organization’s success, this is usually the service that people know they need without any prompting. Sometimes it takes audits and performance reviews to illustrate the need for Social Media or Web Development Services, but not SEO. Even beginners know the value of having an optimized search presence; even if they don’t fully understand what that means.

In the past, if you were to ask us for a couple of examples of websites that were killing it in the SEO department, we would have said The Wirecutter and The Sweethome. But as of October of 2017, these two separate entities united under the new, simplified “Wirecutter” name. While both are now review platforms owned by The New York Times, The Wirecutter use to focus on electronic gadgets while The Sweethome focused primarily on appliances. Now, simply branded as “Wirecutter,” the platform reviews everything from electronics to medical supplies. The Wirecutter site serves as a perfect example of just how powerful SEO and content creation can be.

What is Wirecutter?

Wirecutter is an affiliate review site. What that means is that they test hundreds of different products each month and write ‘best’ style articles targeting keywords like:

  • Best Vacuums
  • 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.

Wirecutter is earning millions of dollars each year in affiliate revenue, and it appears to be growing month to month. The site is a great example of how a one-person company can use SEO and content creation to expand into an international powerhouse that employs hundreds of people across the globe. Afterall, The Wirecutter was originally started by one man, Brian Lam, who then went on to sell the majority stake in his websites to The New York Times for over 30 million dollars.

Creating Mind-Blowing Content

More than anything, what this website does 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, and that the site has continued to preserve his original level of dedication even after his departure. Here at Snap, we love this approach, and have used it time and time again! From pet care to home services, we’ve been helping our clients to find success through mind-blowing content for years.

When you look at the types of reviews that the Wirecutter competitors are creating, it’s easy to see why Wirecutter continues beating them. Wirecutter pays 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.

Another contributing factor to Wirecutter’s success in terms of content is their lively comments section. Once a source is recognized as an authority on specific product or services, their comment section begins to be counted toward their page’s overall word count. Due to their domain authority, the average word count for any one page on Wirecutter is 24,578 words.

This just goes to show that producing high-quality content that sparks conversation is incredibly valuable. Due to the fact that Google takes into account the length of content when its ranking pages, it’s no wonder that Wirecutter continues to rank so high for their intended keywords–3.3 million and counting.

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, 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. With this combination, Wirecutter is able to boast over 626K backlinks from 15.3K referring domains.

Cult Following Meets Site Structure

Wirecutter has developed a cult following. But their content doesn’t sustain their followers alone. By focusing on cross-platform promotion and engagement, Wirecutter has a way of reaching their fans wherever they are that not many other companies can boast.

Just take a look at Wirecutter’s social media platforms. Each one is well branded and maintained with the same high standards as their website. And in the digital age, maintaining a presence on every digital platform is vital. This is something that we’re always pointing out to our clients at Snap, it’s also why we offer such robust and all encompassing social media services.

But outside of content and social media, the Wirecutter site itself plays a large role in keeping visitors coming back. While the site may not be as flashy as some others, its navigation is incredibly organized and easy to follow, and the overall site functions incredibly well. With fast load times and user-friendly designs, the Wirecutter site was clearly made to be pleasing to look at and easy to use. This is a strategy we’ve implemented over and over again for our clients. Whether it’s large-scale builds, or smaller local businesses, we love helping our clients convey their brand, services, and products through visually appealing, easy to navigate websites.

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.

But outside of monetary investments, companies need to be willing to invest their time when it comes to SEO and content creation. With the rise of content farms and sites that allow you to purchase blogs for as little as five dollars, companies are being tempted to save a buck by purchasing low-quality work. By if Wirecutter teaches us nothing else, it illustrates the value of high-quality assets. Be it branding, SEO, content, or web design; we hope to help more companies realize that time invested in developing these disciplines is an investment in their longevity.


If we can learn anything from Wirecutter, it’s that you get out what you put in. 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 across all digital platforms. Devote time and resources to developing your website; focus on user experience and interface and don’t settle for “ok.”  Your brand deserves better than just “ok,” it deserves amazing.