My SEO Journey: Michal Mazurek from – Building in public is a nice and easy content strategy

Author: Michal Mazurek
Date Published:
Reading Time: 9 minutes. (1,423 words)

My SEO Journey is a series where entrepreneurs and Indie makers share their honest SEO Journey filled with failure and success, and most importantly proven results. Episode #66 features Michal Mazurek from Syften.

Michal Mazurek from share his SEO journey

Hi, I’m Michal! In my career, I worked as a programmer, system administrator, and security researcher.

I basically did everything I could with computers. But when I turned 30, then on my tenth job, I finally saw that being a salaryman was not for me. Having enough savings to allow me a comfortable runway, I quit and decided to start my own business – without having the slightest idea how.

I seem to have made every mistake in the SaaS founder’s book.

I made a product for restaurants and learned that restaurants are definitely not famous for spending money, especially on software. I made another product for a niche too small. A different product that required too much work to maintain. I undercharged. I spent days coding and nearly no time promoting.

Well, at least I’m glad to say that I made every mistake just once.

I’m even more glad to say that this series of mistakes led to me finally creating a product that took off.

What’s your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?

One of the products that I made had a very tiny user base.

Moreover, they didn’t really hang out in one particular forum, so they were hard to find. They did however all use the same software. I figured that if I could catch them mentioning specific settings or file names of that software, I could identify them, and then reach out to them.

I wrote a small tool to scrape some forums and search through new posts for mentions of those keywords. I shared this new tool on Indie Hackers, and to my great joy – realised that other people want to use it too!

That’s how Syften was born.

Since launch, what has worked to attract more organic traffic? Domain Rating (Source: Ahrefs)

At the very beginning, I validated the product and got a few initial users by posting on Indie Hackers and doing cold outreach. I got a bit of traffic from the Slack catalog, but that seemed to have dried out after a while.

Using my own tool to grow it also worked well for me, one comment, in particular, ended up bumping my ARR by $640

One day, on one of the marketing Facebook groups I’ve been a member of, I saw a proposal to exchange backlinks. I thought “why not”.

I reached out to around 100 people and exchanged maybe 15 links.

I was generally trying to avoid A <-> B exchanges, but sometimes it wasn’t possible, so I got a few of those as well. This was a tiring and boring task, but I put in the work and got it done.

Then I forgot about it.

A few months later I noticed that the rate of signups was steadily increasing.

I analyzed where the new signups were coming from, and to my delight realised it was from Google.

There’s more…

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Can you tell me more about your Content Strategy?

I’m lucky enough that my customers are in the same niche that I am, which is SaaS founders.

I figured I’d get their attention if I’d describe my own SaaS founder problems, with actionable solutions.

The first problem being, of course, “how to write“.

Something that I always dreaded, and convinced myself I sucked at. But nothing motivates more than a pressing need.

I studied a few books for writers and created an article with my learnings.
Seeing it reach the top 1 spot on Indie Hackers and Lobsters energized me to keep going.

Results from posting on IndieHackers
Results from posting on Lobster

But as nice as that was, it led to no new paying customers.

I assumed my readers behaved in the same way as I would – read the article, not even noticing which website they found it on, and then moved on with their day. I experimented with a few more guides and tutorials, but they were too specific to gain similar traction.

It wasn’t wasted time though, as later on, I reused those tutorials for my onboarding sequence. And I really did need to do something about my onboarding sequence, my user activation rate was only 42%. After a few experiments and a lot of user interviews, I managed to boost it to 74%.

And of course, wrote an article about it.

The article showed my new onboarding process and explained every step of my refinement process. To my surprise, it also led to the most signups, much more than any other article I’ve written so far. In explaining my onboarding process improvements, I also showed my product, how it works, and what my users were doing with it.

This was, in effect, a short demo of my tool.

If your audience is SaaS founders, then building in public is a nice and easy content strategy.

Have you learned anything particularly helpful in your SEO Journey?

SEO takes time, so it isn’t particularly gratifying.

I also encountered a lot of shady characters along the way, which made the process even less pleasant.

A great percentage of people looking to exchange links had crappy-looking websites with a Domain Authority of 0, which I skipped. Some had better-looking websites with a better authority, but their articles had so many outbound links that I didn’t think it was worth it. Some operated “news” sites, that clearly offered no value to humans and were made for (and probably by) bots.

If it’s so obvious to me, then surely the army of PhDs at Google could figure it out as well. Others still asked that I include links so out of context that I don’t think they even read my article, they just looked for a keyword.

I think it pays to be picky with the people you exchange with, and what agency you hire. Some time ago I wrote an article on Indie Hackers about breaking my caffeine addiction.

Every few months I get a notification about a new comment – which are all spam.

Spam Comments on IndieHacker

What SEO tools do you use for your business?

I tried several SEO tools, but I don’t believe them to be necessary, or maybe I just don’t know how to use them properly. Just focus on building links!

At first, I hustled and did it myself. After learning how hard link building is, but also after seeing that it really does work, I asked an agency to help with the process.

Unfortunately, it’s just the beginning of our work together.

This was an agency recommended to me by my friends, who claimed not only good backlinks but actually some traffic. I started out with the lowest plan, which allowed me 3 backlinks per month and 5 quora answers.

It’s still too early to say how satisfied I am with the results, we’ll see after a few months!

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“This is such a simple idea but very well executed. I’ve been powering through this giant list of backlinks for a few hours and already have loads pointing to my site. Link Chest is an essential tool for early stage link building.”

What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?

I want to say that Ahrefs Blogging For Business free online course. I learned a lot.

But really, as fun as it was to learn, I don’t think that I use that knowledge.

I just focus on building links!

What’s the next step in your SEO Journey?

As my income grows I plan to also increase my spending on my SEO agency.

about the author
Michal Mazurek

Founder at Syften

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Michal Mazurek, a graduate of Wroclaw University's Computer Science department, is an expert programmer and systems administrator. Programming since 12 and running servers since 14 he can rarely be seen without his 1989 IBM Model M keyboard. Treating programming as art, Michal doesn't rest until his code is perfect.

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