How Youtech Grew UrbanMatter to an Online Sensation

Mike Norris: What going on guys?! Happy Wednesday, I’m Mike Norris. I’ve got Kali Cramer with us from UrbanMatter today, and were going to talk to you about how we built a website. We went from zero to 2.4 million visitors per year in five years. 

Kali Cramer: Oh yeah! 

Mike: Yeah, and the website is UrbanMatter. It’s a media company in Chicago, but I’ll let Kali tell you a little bit more about UrbanMatter and her role in UrbanMatter. 

Kali: Hey guys what’s up! So yeah, UrbanMatter… we are Chicago’s premier media company that kind of tells you everything that there is to do downtown. So, we specialize in bars and restaurants, events, festivals, theatre, music- pretty much anything you can think of.

The best events to do- we got the inside scoop. So, we have a website, and we worked pretty closely with Youtech on building it. You know, 5 years ago we were kind of just a small media company, and now we are bringing in about 2.4 million users a year. 

So, it’s definitely grown a lot in the past five years and we’re just going to tell you a little bit about how we did that! 

Mike: Yeah, it’s funny to see the trajectory- so this is my favorite project! I’m sorry for all of our clients who are watching this- it’s just super fun to work with a media company and be able to write articles and share in the traction we get because 2.4 million annual users is incredible! 

I mean, it’s phenomenal and to see it come from literally zero and to work on it day one where you know, we bought the UR- it was originally called chicagogenie.com, when we purchased that domain. We built the social media accounts, I personally built them and we had zero followers. You know, I invited my mom, my grandma- and then you know you go on and we write articles and we see our friends and family sharing them without any idea that we had a part in that, you know, years down the road! So, that’s been exceptional. 

But, let’s talk about the journey a little bit Kali, so how did we get to this place?

UrbanMatter’s Traffic Growth Through Content

Kali: Yeah! So- content, content, content! That’s kind of been our driving force and we are constantly producing more and better content. We’ve noticed that ‘Best Of’ lists are kind of the driving force People love to know the Top 10 of anything, you know– pizza, tacos, sushi- we’ve got it all! 

So, we are constantly going after keywords that people have not actually used before. You know, before we were trying to create a general guide to establish our authority in Chicago, but now we’re kind of trying to break away from that and get a more unique voice and find the things that people haven’t talked about.

We also will reach out to people that are throwing events, or restaurants that are opening in Chicago- and if we write an article about them, we’ll send it to them and say, ‘hey can you just try to backlink this on your website,” getting that link building going is really important when it comes to optimizing SEO. So, that’s kind of how we’ve tried to you know- started from the bottom, now we’re here! And yeah, it’s been a crazy journey but now we’re doing alright! 

Link Building and Content Authority

Mike: Yeah! And, you bring up a good point It’s primarily driven by organic search right now, SEO, but that wasn’t always the case. When we first started working on this it was all social media-driven for the most part. We didn’t really have any links going back to our site. We had no authority in Google’s eyes and it’s really an excellent case study in that sense. If you create content every day and yo create good quality content and you share it on social- people will start to organically link back to you. 

And- if you write about people and places and give them good reviews and let them know that you did it- they’ll link back to you in that instance too. So, we saw when we started this five years ago, that was 2014, we at the time- Facebook was a much different place and that’s where we drove the majority of our traffic. So, we wrote articles when the Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup, we wrote articles about when the  Cubs won the World Series, and we wrote a note about where the parade would be.

We didn’t actually know where the parade would be, but because we were the first article out there and we posted it right as the game seven clincher happened- everything blew up for us for social media!

Everyone’s sharing our article, and then we went back and updated it later to include the actual information once we had it. So, those kinds of things helped us so much. It was funny, in year one you know, we’d get- let’s say 8,000 views on a post- and we’d be like, ‘we got 8,000 views that’s so cool!’ and now we probably get that per day. It’s really been an excellent journey in that sense.

Kali: Yeah! We’ve kind of established authority on several different topics you know- like we have this running pizza article that everybody hates because it’s a constant battle over which one really is the top pizza place in Chicago! But that’s you know, writing content that’s going to generate that engagement is super important. 

You know, find the topics that people are really passionate about and they will engage with your article. You know, get those comments and share them and say, “Hey, I disagree with this,” and say, “this is the best list ever,” and for the record- it is the best list ever! So, go check it out. We’ve got some good places on there!  

I mean, yeah, we’ll do that for Winter Wonder Fest- we’ve got a great guide on that. It’s a holiday event at Navy Pier and you know, just kind of you know- making sure that you fill articles with the write information. Not just fluffing it up, but actually writing good content that goes a long way. 

Consistency with Content

Mike: Yeah, I think that’s a good point. So the main things that we should tell people here and how we built this up- it’s a lot of content, we probably write at least three articles per day over the course of the last five years. So, know that. Links coming back to those articles, obviously, so backlinks. Social media was a huge part for so long. Facebook probably drove about 90% of our traffic for those first 3-4 years, now it’s probably 70-80% Google. You think that’s right?

Kali: Oh, yeah! We’ve definitely grown our organic search massively. That also came with the restructuring of our new website, but yeah, organic traffic has gone up about 70% since the new site launched. It’s been great. You know, we’re now seeing this shift where Facebook is not getting us as much traffic but we’re making up for it in organic and then some.

Mike: Yeah!

Kali: You know, it took a while to get there but that’s SEO.

Mike: Yeah, there’s definitely been a lot of manpower that’s gone into it. Those advertising dollars on Facebook, in the beginning, helped out too- but also just having articles go semi-viral really helped us grow. Then, over time just continuing to pump out quality content, get those backlinks, we’ve been good!

And then, the new site structure obviously. The site speed, the user interface is much better, things that were on there that were a little bit bulky or intrusive we’ve kind of cleaned up and gotten rid of. 

Keep Your Content Up to Date

Kali: You got to keep things updated, you know- something’s are going to be outdated within a month so as long as you’re kind of constantly thinking about new things to do to engage your audience and simplify too, I think our website previously had been complicated, so we restructured it and made it a lot easier for people to navigate. 

Mike: Yeah, I think you told me this offline but, and correct me if I’m wrong, but I think we’ve grown our organic by about 70% year-over-year?

Kali: Yeah, yeah! Since the site launched it’s been about 70% growth every single month. Yeah, it’s insane. It keeps going up, so it’s great! 

Mike: Hope we can do it again next year! 

Kali: Yeah, absolutely right! Double that! 

Mike: Last word on anything before we get out of here?!

Kali: Yeah, so we’re on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter @UrbanMatterChicago. So feel free to follow us! And please, check out the website at urbanmatter.com/chicago – we’ve got, you know, everything you’re looking for something to do this week or ever just finding good drink specials during the week. Whatever it is, we’ve got you covered.

Mike: And check out that pizza article, too! 

Kali: Oh yeah, it’s so good. Warning though: the pictures are amazing!

Mike: All right, thank you everybody, Happy Wednesday! 

 

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