How Masterclass Generates 10 Million Monthly Visitors Through SEO

10 million monthly website visitors is impressive.

But perhaps what's most impressive is how went from 1 million monthly visitors to 10 million in just three years.

In this Growth Through Content case study, you'll learn:

  • How to RAPIDLY create content that ranks (the Masterclass way)
  • The two scarily simple link building tactics that you can steal and apply to your site
  • And the content angle that generates over 500,000 monthly visitors alone.

Let's dive in.


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What is Masterclass?

Masterclass is a membership site filled with video courses taught by experts in almost all areas of education.

Business, cooking, photography, writing, acting and many more.

It was founded by David Rogier and Aaron Rasmussen in 2014 while David was still a student, and at this time is estimated to be worth around $2.75 billion.

What Are Their Web Metrics?

According to Ahrefs, Masterclass generates 10 million monthly visitors and that traffic is worth $3.7 million in equivalent PPC spend.

Their DR is 84 and their UR is 85, and they have 640,000 backlinks from 46,000 domains.

They rank for an amazing 4.7 million keywords.

Let's look at how they do it.

How to RAPIDLY Create Content That Ranks (the Masterclass Way)

One aspect of content creation that seems to be ignored is that not all content is equal.

Some content is good enough to promote.

Some content you won't promote, because it's hardly awe inspiring.

This simple framework that I use,  could help you to scale your content creation at speed.

First ask yourself, are we planning to promote this content?

If yes, then make it great.

But if not, make it lean.

Lean content is exactly what it says on the tin, lean on text, lean on images.

It's content that gets to the point.

And Masterclass excels at this type of content.

While there are some calls to action on the page, the actual blog article is just 680 words.

And yet, the post generates 38,000 visitors a month and ranks for 1400 keywords.

Yes, that's a 680-word article generating $15,000 in equivalent PPC spend.

Or take this article:

A post that has about 1000 words of article text.

Or this article on persuasive writing:

Just 861 words of article text.

And while some of their content is longer, it's not exactly going to change the life of the readers.

It's all short, actionable and punchy content that serves a purpose.

The content is aligned with their business objectives of helping people to learn.

But most of their content does have a structure.

Content Formats: The Secret to Content Scale

Content formats are the foundation of most scaled content.

It's a simple way to quickly build out an article and Masterclass uses the same basic formula for all of their posts:

  • Headline
  • Intro Paragraph
  • Call to action
  • Jump Links to Sections
  • What is section
  • How to Do section
  • Tips section
  • Call to action

In almost all of the articles I reviewed, they tend to follow a similar system. Even if they aren't exactly based on that framework, most follow a similar path.

Some might have two 'what is' sections where they do a comparison style post.

Some might only have one 'what is' section.

But 90% of their posts follow that basic structure, no matter how they are laid out visually.

The other aspect is that they use lists...a lot.

This gives me the feeling that this structure is designed to grab featured snippets, but it also means they can publish content at speed because these posts have zero waffle.

But what does this tell you about content?

Well, content velocity is important and 'great content' really is in the eye of the beholder.

The Masterclass content might not win awards, but I don't think it needs to. This content is scalable, easy to absorb and of course, it's designed to rank, load quickly and really serve as ads for their courses.

So, that's how they handle content.

But what about links?

The Two Scarily Simple Link Building Tactics That You Can Steal and Apply to Your Site

I'm not going to break down the entire link building of Masterclass, but I will talk about two aspects which you can apply to your own link building.

1 Gifts

If you have experienced Masterclass’ marketing, you'll know that they focus on gifting a Masterclass membership to others.

So you either buy one and then you can give a free membership away, or you just give one as a present.

But it's the fact that they have focused on the idea that they are a gift that has helped them to land links on sites that list gifts.

I actually gave my Dad a membership for Christmas once.

Think of the link opportunities your business could focus on by placing your business in another category.

Could you be a gift? An experience? A destination? A tool?

Masterclass is an online education platform that became a gift, just because they added it to their marketing.

Could you change the category of your business and then find more link opportunities?

2 How To Links

The other simple and yet powerful method of generating backlinks is How To content.

How To style content actually serves as instructions for freelance writers, and very often they'll link to the content.

Masterclass grabbed a link here where their content was referenced by a writer.

How To articles are referenced by writers because it allows them to create new content quickly, by adding in/rewriting content from other sites.

And yes, it's a writer's hack to produce content at speed and scale.

The Content Angle That Generates Over 500,000 Monthly Visitors Alone

As we stated earlier, in almost all articles the site creates, they have a 'what is’ section.

Well, it pays off for them, because they generate 530,000 monthly visitors based on that phrase.

But when we look at their content, we can see the genius of their structure again.

They are creating highly functional content that in almost all cases has a 'what is' section.

The article might be a 'what is' style post or a guide post, or even a How To post.

But they almost always feature that 'what is' section in every post.

Should you do the same?


As I always say, you need to test on your own content before scaling.

However, what is clear is that 'what is' content can be a truly great and easy angle for you to try and exploit.

According to Ahrefs, there are over 41 million 'what is' keywords which means there'll be even more out there.

To exploit this, just head over to Ahrefs or another tool and look at the matching terms for 'what is', and then add a keyword about your industry.

For example, by adding SEO we get 4908 keywords that generate 56,000 searches.

So, how can you leverage the information in this article?

The Key Takeaway

Content scale over content depth.

Yes, we all know that this isn't the right approach for every business, but in essence it might be for many.

And if you do choose the content scale model, having post formats that are quite simple and SEO friendly will help writers to break down a topic at speed and convey the key points.

And it's highly possible that that's all that your readers want.

To rapidly increase their surface level knowledge of a subject.

For Masterclass, this makes sense because they have courses that are there for those looking to go beyond surface level.

Making their content strategy effective.

Final Thoughts

Masterclass has found two link opportunities that have helped them generate over 9 million monthly visitors.

That's just through SEO.

Their gift angle has let them grab links from gift pages and 'How To' content has led them to get links from writers who need to create new content quickly.

And yet, it's the content formats that seem so scalable and easy to put together, that I think you might see a lot of sites use this approach in the future.

Anyway, make sure you subscribe to get content like this to your inbox, every week.

Andrew Holland


Click the button below and sign up to the Growth Through Content Newsletter.

Each Thursday I'll send you a new content marketing or SEO case study directly to your inbox.

posted January 28, 2022

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