Grammarly built a 100-million-dollar company with a Chrome extension.
If you go to their website, you can’t find the product.
They’re not expecting you to buy right then.
Instead, they want you to adopt.
And they’re using a freemium Chrome extension model to make this a reality.
As a result, they have 7 million daily users.
When the co-founders built out Grammarly, they had no intention to start freemium.
They sold to universities because as the co-founder, Alex Schevchenko explains, “We still had many friends at the universities. Unlike Ukrainian [educational institutions], western educational institutions are open to new technologies.”
It was a starting point.
The original, bare-bones Grammarly product was simply a WYSIWYG editor that you could copy and paste text into.
2010: As Grammarly grew its user base, it focused on students and education on its landing page. At the time, Grammarly had over 150,000 registered students.
Year after year, Grammarly doubled key metrics like users and revenue.
This year, it raised money for the first time—a $110 million investment led by General Catalyst.
It hit the consumer market – then exploded.
By hitting the consumer market, it took advantage of what their competitors lack. Microsoft Word and Google Docs have spellcheckers, but Grammarly is far superior. Moreover, Google Docs and Word are constrained to their platform.
The Grammarly Chrome extension worked everywhere – email and any social media status.
It’s directly in line with their mission statement, “Grammarly’s website states: “Our mission is to help everyone succeed through better communication.”
If you want help everyone, then you have to play ball on their court.
That means helping them write better wherever they are online.
All of this sounds nice, but it doesn’t work unless you have a high-level marketing strategy to back it up.
Grammarly knew that.
They also knew that the most long-term profitable strategy is SEO.
They invested early.
And it paid off.
How Grammarly Dominated with SEO
Close to 28% of Grammarly’s traffic comes from organic traffic and referrals.
With close to 40 million visits/month in total – you’re talking about a lot of traffic.
The top referrals are not coming from publications, but other grammar tools.
These fix-it grammar tools are directly related to Grammarly’s product. This is the top referring tool below. When you click on Deep Check, it takes you to Grammarly’s website.
Grammarly pays a commission to Grammarcheck for every user that comes through their website and subscribes, making the deal interesting for all parties:
- Users receive a 20% discount
- Grammarcheck gets a commission
- Grammarly gets more traffic and more sales
Wordcounter.net uses the exact same strategy, as seen below
SmallSEOTools and Spellchecker.net use a slightly different strategy, showing a pop up when trying to leave the page instead of a banner.
Citethisforme.com uses yet another strategy, called “placements”.
As an online writing tool looking very similar to Microsoft Word, some of the buttons in the tool bar are actually hidden links.
Altogether, these referrals bring in over 3 million website visitors every month, so these strategies seem to be working well for Grammarly.
How much effort does it take to create an organic traffic strategy that sends millions of people to your website every week?
The website ranks for 250k keywords on the US market (32k in Australia), with over 19k of those ranking in position 1-3. That’s how much effort.
To back up the number, their blog has over 2,000 blog posts.
All of these posts are targeting specific subjects, from workplace writing tips to words for describing Thanksgiving Dinner.
Grammarly knows people have issues with these misspellings, so they have created specific articles for them on their blog.
Here are some of the headlines for the articles related to our high-Search Volume keywords.
Okay, so you have your answer. You didn’t really care if you received this answer from Grammarly or anyone else. But Grammarly does, and here’s why:
When you land on its website for the first time through a non-branded organic search result, Grammarly gains 2 things:
- You are now aware of the existence of Grammarly
- You now have a cookie placed on you, which allows Grammarly to retarget you with advertising
The Grammarly website has a constantly growing Referring domains count, with a huge total of 6.43k referring domains and 80k backlinks. But the company has another advantage over other online businesses.
Grammarly has the ability to draw a large number of .edu links, which are very coveted in the online marketing world, as they have proven to increase website authority more than traditional .com websites.
The achieved this due to the nature of the business, Grammarly has the opportunity to appear on school websites, who recommend their students to use Grammarly to improve their writing.
The schools have most likely not done this by accident, as Grammarly has contacted institutions across the US and the world to promote their useful tool to students. Some of those schools appear on the website.
The 14 .gov backlinks are also providing powerful juice to their rankings. These links are very hard to get as not many government websites will link to outside sources. However, grammar checking is important for them, too.
But what’s also important in the authority of a website is the distribution of anchor text for these backlinks.
Let’s break it down.
How Grammarly Crushed Their Website Funnel
How Grammarly Ceated a
As I mentioned in the intro of this article, Grammarly is ranking for an insane amount of 250k keywords on the US market. As you can see above, they’re even ranking for 32k keywords on the Australian market.
In the US, Grammarly ranks #1 for keywords such as “nevermind” (90,500 Search Volume), “cancelled” (also 90,500 Search Volume), “oxford comma” (74,000 Search Volume) “ax” (60,500 Search Volume or “what is a metaphor” (40,500 Search Volume).
Houston is the Founder & CEO of BAMF Media, where he’s led the company from 0-30+ full-time employees and $0 to $3.5M in annual revenue in its first year. At BAMF, we drive ROI for recently funded startups, SMBs, and Fortune 500 companies alike using cutting-edge marketing and growth hacking tactics. Houston has led growth teams and marketing campaigns for companies, including Pioneer, Volcom, Love Your Melon, Compass, Coldwell Banker, Mindvalley, Automobili Pininfarina, Unicorn Snot, Foursixty, TEDx, and many more. He’s a growth hacker with years of startup experience on all sides of the table: strategy, engineering, sales, marketing, fundraising, and scaling operations.