• Failory
  • Posts
  • The Day Wise Created 250K Variants of a Calculator

The Day Wise Created 250K Variants of a Calculator

How Wise used Programmatic SEO to obtain over 40.7M users/mo

Hey — It’s Nico.

This is another edition of Behind Tactics 🧠, where I delve into different strategies startups use to win over their markets.

Today, I’ll discuss how Wise, the international money transfer platform, attracts a massive 40.7M organic visitors to its website every month.

Particularly, how they’re doing it with two of my favorite growth strategies: "Programmatic SEO" and "Side Project Marketing." 

While I've previously discussed these strategies and how Failory utilizes them to secure over 200K monthly visitors, today, I want to delve into Wise's implementation and explore how other startups could follow their example.

Presented by FundraisingOS

Get Failory’s Fundraising OS for $97 $297

90% of startups fail because they run out of cash.

Fundraising is hard and a challenge all founders face.

This is why I’ve built Fundraising OS, which has everything you need to raise funding for your startup. This includes:

  • 5 lists of 3,500+ investors.

  • 7 tools for tracking and talking with investors.

  • 18 templates for different emails to investors.

  • 3 learning resources.

And as a thank you for being a Failory subscriber, I’m giving you a 67% discount.

The Strategy

The Calculator

Some years ago, the Wise marketing team realized that many people looking to send money internationally were also searching Google for the exchange rate between two currencies.

This gave them an idea: they created an exchange rate calculator and added a list at the bottom comparing the prices for sending money abroad with different providers. 

Because Wise charges lower fees than most of its competitors, it usually appears at the top of the list, prompting users to use its services.

This is an example of Side Project Marketing, which involves creating useful tools like calculators, quizzes, aggregators, or converters to promote your company to potential customers.

This side project should address what your potential customers are seeking, but it shouldn't be a core feature of your product or aim to generate revenue independently.

This calculator, for example, ranks very well on keywords like “exchange rate calculator,” which gets over 50K searches per month. Anyone seeking this tool could potentially become a Wise client.

Thus, it's worth investing in crafting a side project to rank high for this keyword and draw in new customers.

An Even Better Idea

This calculator alone could have performed adequately and likely attracted thousands of new clients to Wise each month.

However, the marketing team had an even better idea.

They noticed that many individuals seeking exchange rate calculators weren't necessarily using that exact keyword in Google. Instead, they searched for the exchange rate between two particular currencies, such as "USD to EUR rate."

So, they decided to create thousands of pages for all possible currency combinations. On each of these pages, users would discover the calculator pre-loaded with their desired currencies.

This is why, if you search for the keyword “USD to EUR rate,” one of the top results is a page on Wise’s website titled “US dollars to Euros Exchange Rate.” This page has the same calculator but stands as its own distinct page, complete with its unique heading and keywords.

This is clever because it is much easier for this specific page to rank for the “USD to EUR rate” keyword than for the default exchange calculator page.

Some quick math will tell us that there are thousands of possible combinations between all currencies. Wise has made a specific page for each of these combinations, and they all rank among the top results. 

While each of these niche keywords, like “GBP to EUR” has a small number of searches, when combined, they bring a massive pool of visitors to Wise’s website. 

But how did Wise manage to create thousands of pages? Did they have interns toiling away full-time to build a new website for each possible combination?

Not quite. They harnessed the power of automation

And here lies the key to what this strategy, known as Programmatic SEO, is all about. 

It involves utilizing programming and automation to generate thousands of unique pages targeting less competitive, long-tail keywords with relatively few searches. However, when aggregated, these keywords attract a significant influx of new visitors.

It is an extremely powerful strategy that requires little time or resources to pull off. Wise probably created these thousand pages in a couple of hours.

Programmatic SEO to the Max

Not content with having all these pages, the Wise marketing team decided to push the strategy even further.

They realized that some people were searching for the specific quantities they wanted to exchange, such as “100 USD to EUR”. So, they created pages for significant amounts of currencies in all languages.

And when I say "significant amounts," I mean they created pages for nearly every typical number. They didn't just stop at a page for "100 USD to EUR," but also crafted pages for exchanges like "196 Dollars to Euros" or "287 Dollars to Euros."

The result of this combination of the Side Project Marketing strategy and an extreme version of Programmatic SEO is that Wise was able to create 258,065 pages, which brings them 40.7M organic users per month.

Converting Visitors into Customers

All of this effort makes no sense if you cannot convert visitors into customers. 

Wise achieves this in multiple ways:

  • Firstly, the calculator itself has a “Send Money” button, which drives the visitor to a signup page:

  • Additionally, they strategically place this banner directly below the calculator: 

  • Moreover, they added a section trying to convince users that using Wise is a better alternative than using their banks:

  • Finally, they offer users the option to set alerts for specific exchange rates. This allows them to collect their email address and then send promotional emails to convert them into customers:

All of this allows Wise to convert a significant portion of the calculator's visitors into customers.

Should I?

Why This Works

  • The Side Project Marketing works because the calculator directly addresses the user’s search intent. When users search for “100 USD to EUR” they want to get the answer quickly and easily. The calculator satisfies this need, and the fact that it comes preloaded with the desired currencies and amounts makes it even better.

  • The keyword “exchange rate calculator” has a high search volume and is quite competitive. On the other hand, long-tail keywords such as "150 USD to EUR" are less competitive yet yield lower search volumes individually. However, targeting these long-tail keywords is an excellent strategy as they are easier to rank for and, collectively, amass a substantially higher search volume.

  • The pages are created following a template, so the marginal cost of creating a new one is almost zero. This means that even if a page only brings ten users to your website, you can make it because it has no cost. When doing content marketing, each article you write has a cost, which means there are plenty of keywords that are not worth targeting.

How to Apply It

  1. Find the Side Project: Think about a tool that people in your industry might find helpful. In the case of Wise, this was the exchange rate calculator. Another example is Hatchful, a free logo maker made by Shopify. The idea here is that a founder looking for a logo might also be interested in an e-commerce platform.

  2. Find all possible keywords: Think of all the potential keywords for which you could re-purpose your tool. Wise re-purposed the calculator to every possible currency combination and many specific conversion amounts. You can try adapting your tool to other languages if that makes sense.

  3. Create a Template: Design the structure of each page. While all pages will share common elements (such as the calculator in Wise's case), they will also feature unique components (like the title or selected currencies). The crucial aspect is ensuring each page is distinctive and tailored to the specific user search intent. Let's see how Wise adapts each page:

    • Each page is written in the corresponding language.

    • Each page has a title that includes the currencies and the conversion amount.

    • The calculator has the currencies and the amount already selected.

    • There’s a chart showing the exchange rate history for the two currencies.

    • A table compares the exchange rates of the selected currencies and the specific amount for different international money exchange services.

    • There’s a 3-step guide on how to convert one currency to the other.

In addition to these steps, there are several other things to keep in mind:

  • Make sure to have a hub where you link to all the programmatically-created pages so that Google finds out about them and crawls them.

  • Enrich these pages using AI. This will allow you to add unique content to each page and avoid having all pages look identical.

  • Implement multiple strategies to convert visitors into customers. For instance, Wise employs various calls-to-action (CTAs). Additionally, they have a way to collect visitors’ email addresses through the conversion rate alerts newsletter, in case they can’t turn them into customers right away.

Yes, But

  • It can be hard to start: While it's simple to whip up new pages once you've got your template sorted, finding the ideal side project and figuring out the design and conversion tactics for these pages isn't a walk in the park. It calls for a mix of design, engineering, and marketing know-how.

  • Hard to maintain: Recurring updates are required to make sure you keep ranking high in the SERPs. Since you need to update hundreds or thousands of pages, you must find a way to do it automatically.

  • It could be a bit dangerous: If you create thousands of pages for spamming purposes, Google will not like it. There are a series of bad practices you should definitely avoid when doing Programmatic SEO. That being said, as long as you satisfy a user search intent through your pages, you should be fine.

Keep Learning

Others Playing It

Payroll startup Gusto has created two tools for people to calculate their hourly or salary paycheck and payroll.

Because paychecks vary between US states as each one has different taxes, they created 105 of these calculators, targeting every US state.

These pages are different in that the calculator takes into account the taxes of each specific state. See the California Hourly Payroll Calculator.

The hourly and salary calculators collectively get 17K users per month. The state-focused calculators collectively get 88K users per month. This is the power of pSEO.

Go Deeper

Refer Failory, Get Rewards

Share Failory

Chances are you have some more friends who would enjoy Failory as much as you do. Share Failory with these friends and cash in on premium resources and swag.

You currently have 0 referrals, only 1 away from receiving my Pitch Deck Airtable.

Or copy and paste this link to others: https://newsletter.failory.com/subscribe?ref=PLACEHOLDER

Help Me Improve Failory

How Was Today's Newsletter?

If this issue was a startup, how would you rate it?

Login or Subscribe to participate in polls.

That’s all for this edition.