How I got my first 1000 users

About a year ago, I launched Siteguru, my SEO tool. Right now, the tool has over a thousand users.

This is how I did it.

Some background info: SiteGuru is a free SEO tool. Initially, you could check just one page and would have to sign up to analyze your entire site. Signing up is free, and I offer paid plans for analyzing more pages.

Starting off: Adwords

Right after I launched the first MVP of my product, I ran a few Adwords ads just to see if it caught on. I knew the product was far from perfect, but I thought it was useful. Adwords was a great way to figure out if other people agreed.

I wrote about this in my post How I tested my website with 100 real visitors spending just $100. It worked, and after a week SiteGuru had it's first 10 users.

Because I didn't have any paid subscribers, I knew Adwords wouldn't be a sustainable solution. But it did help me figure out if the product was worth more effort.

Linkbuilding for an SEO tool: good luck with that

I got positive feedback from people who tried Siteguru, so it was time to do some outreach. I started emailing bloggers in the SEO space, inviting them to try Siteguru and write about it. At the same time, I hired a linkbuilder to reach out to relevant sites that could feature my tool.

The result? Zero. Nothing. I didn't get a single response, and neither did the guy I hired. I knew it's a competitive space, but this was disappointing.

Through some more Adwords campaigns, SiteGuru was at 60 users.

The first big break: ProductHunt

In August, I posted SiteGuru on ProductHunt, and it was mildly successful. I got about 100 upvotes, lots of visitors, and about 100 signups.

SiteGuru was now at 180 users.

The first dollars, and lots of users

In November '17, SiteGuru got featured on StackCommerce. They let me offer a paid deal at a ridiculous discount (90%), featured the deal on sites like The Next Web, and brought in lots of visitors. Lots of these visitors signed up, either using the StackCommerce deal, or just for a free account.

The StackCommerce deal ran for about 3 months. SiteGuru now had 750 users.

I ran similar deals with parties like DealFuel and GreeDeals. They weren't bad either.

Organic growth, or how SEO caught on

After about 8 months, I finally started to see more organic traffic coming to the site. This contributes to the user growth and required little effort. It just took so long before it took off. I guess that's because the SEO tool market is so competitive.

A year in, SiteGuru is now at 950 users.

Changing the sign up process

For the first 12 months, you could run a free pagecheck on the homepage, that didn't require you to sign up. I hoped that this would convince people to sign up and get the real deal: a full analysis of your website.

Many visitors ran a pagecheck (conversion rate ±30%), and seemed to be happy with it (based on their click behavior, time on page, etc.). However, only 5% would sign up.

I decided to try something else: the free pagecheck is gone, and you need to sign up to get a pagecheck. The full sitecheck is where the real value is, so I wanted people to see that.

Results are very positive: conversion increased from around 5% to 20%. It helped break the barrier of 1000 users (woohoo!), and it continues to grow.

SiteGuru user growth in the first year

What would I have done differently?

A lot of things, but the biggest learning: I should have changed to requiring people to sign up before showing anything much sooner. It helps me demonstrate the value of the tool and gives me a much better conversion.

That's it! If you have any suggestions about how I can futher increase user growth, or have any questions, let me know!