If you want to know what can happen if you publish a lot of new content on an already powerful domain, look no further than TIME (that’s the TIME magazine, TIME) and their recently launched branded content areas.
Announced just last month on the 2nd of May, TIME Stamped is already taking over personal finance search results and reaching up to an estimated 450,000 visitors per month from search, according to data from Ahrefs.
Not bad for having “only” published around 200 pages of content:
I’m not going to dive into all of their top ranking keywords, but you can get an idea of the terms they’re going for by looking at the screenshot below:
To anyone who has been involved in SEO for any length of time, it should be no surprise that a powerful domain like theirs can rank new content quickly, but I don’t even think they would have expected this to pick up so many great rankings, this fast.
This isn’t the only new area of the site the’ve launched, as we’ll get into, but I first need to take a little detour. If for nothing else than aligning my own moral compass.
Before We Go Further, I Want to Discuss the Topic of ‘Outing’
One thing that seems to be all the rage lately, especially on SEO Twitter, is breaking down the strategies of websites which are taking over search results in specific niches.
More often than not these websites have no idea they’re being analysed in such a way, definitely didn’t give permission for it, and they’re almost always shared by people who wouldn’t want their own websites broken down in a similar vein.
That might be the perfect definition of irony.
Not to mention they’re often niche sites by individuals where success or failure in search could mean a huge deal to them and their families. Needless to say, I’m really not a fan of these kind of breakdowns.
Especially since you can do these kind of breakdowns after you’ve asked permission to do so, or on websites that have already talked about their SEO success in public so are happy to share the details. It’s not like people new to the world of SEO have zero examples to learn from without this “outing”.
It was very important to me that when I did my deep-dive into the 16 companies dominating Google, I was as respectful as I could be to all of the sites in question, and was able to give useful insights without having to reveal anything private.
If I’m going to be talking about SEO in a news-like manner, I realised I need to have my own rules about what I am open and not open to sharing. These rules will definitely evolve over time, but you have to start somewhere.
What I’m not open to doing is:
- Revealing websites that brands clearly want to be kept under the radar
- Revealing anything shady (blackhat, against Google’s guidelines, etc.) that specific sites are doing
- Doing in-depth teardowns of websites or brands that have given zero inclination they would be OK with that
- Reporting on a site that appears to be hurting massively from Google updates or similar
There are people and brands I respect that do these kind of things on a regular basis, but they’re not something I would do myself.
On that last point – not reporting on sites that appear to have been penalised by Google in some way – I think it’s important to remember that many of us are reliant on third-party tools that aren’t perfect. Put your own website into Ahrefs, Semrush, Sistrix or Mangools and you’ll see that’s the case.
If I’m reporting on a company that’s seemingly losing significant search traffic I have the potential to hurt their stock, make their employees worried or perhaps impact something else like a sale they might be working on. All of these things are bad. They’re even worse if the third-party data isn’t close to accurate.
When I’m far more inclined to share something SEO related about a specific is:
- When a brand is a public company
- When a brand / site has already been open about their SEO success elsewhere
- When I ask permission to share something and they agree
A good example of me asking permission to share a site is in our report on the sites ranking in 10,000 affiliate-focused search results. There were quite a few sites I wanted to cover but felt I should ask permission to do so first.
Three sites agreed for me to include them, which I did.
If a brand has talked about their SEO success in the past then I will assume they have no problem about others doing the same, and public companies are dissected in far more detail about other aspects of their business for them to be too concerned about research into how we’ll they’re performing in Google.
So why does TIME fit into my morals of a brand that’s fine to cover?
I shouldn’t forget to mention that I don’t think I’m some saint of SEO here. I’m just trying to find a framework I genuinely believe in that makes me comfortable talking about how websites are performing.
Things that make me comfortable writing about TIME include:
- They literally released a press statement about this area of their website launching
- They are an absolutely huge brand, known all over the world
- They publicly talk about how much website traffic they get (though, not specifically from SEO to my knowledge) and have done so in the past month
I’m also comfortable talking about them because I’m not doing any of the things I mentioned earlier.
I’m not reporting on anything negative. I’m not revealing anything shady that could hurt them. And I’m not going to do a tear-down of all the keywords they’re ranking for and all of the content they’re writing.
This topic definitely fits into the newsworthy category for me as well, as this huge brand have now made a big entry into search results where they’re going to directly compete against public companies like NerdWallet ($NRDS).
In Future Updates, I Won’t Give a Huge Speech Like This
I’m going to create a page here on Detailed simply titled ‘Outing’ that I can reference back to later.
Then, in the middle of articles, I’ll probably say something like:
I have no idea if anyone is reading this, but it was nice for me to write out so I can make sure I cover this properly in future.
Keep in mind that I’m not sharing these “news” updates anywhere. I’m not sending emails about them. I’m not sharing them on social media. For now, I’m just writing as a fun experiment.
Back to TIME, Because They Also Have Another New Subdirectory
It’s not just the /personal-finance/ slug that appeared on TIME last month, they also created a new /shopping/ subfolder as well. These were both mentioned in their own press release.
It’s not performing as well as their foray into personal finance advice, but they haven’t published half as much indexable content there either.
I only looked through a handful of their product reviews but it’s clear that for some item types they review, they have the products in question at hand.
On others, they give little to no indication they’ve actually used the products they’re recommending, and very likely haven’t. Though I can’t say that for certain, I would expect them to have a lot of original photos of the items in question if they did own them.
As I say, this Stamped brand is only a month old so it’s a little early to see how successful it’s going to be, but they’re off to an impressive start.
I’ll probably come back to this in 6-12 months and see how they’re getting on.