Growth at Netflix

The Big Opportunity that Netflix is Missing

Graham Hunter
Startup Growth
Published in
4 min readApr 15, 2014


Netflix is an excellent case study in Growth. They have seen widespread US. adoption and are now turning towards original content and Latin American expansion to continue to grow. However, for all of the paid ads that they run, there is one channel that is vastly underutilized. If done well this channel has the ability to continue to gain and retain users domestically as well as in every new international market that they enter.

The channel is Organic Search.

The Problem

Netflix has one of the top 10 sites on all of the internet. They are in the top 3 sites for time spent on site. They have a moz Domain authority of 92 (very high). So, why then do they rank so poorly in organic search?

An Example

Netflix has 4 shows that it currently seems to be promoting in the Netflix homepage sliders.

  1. The Croods
  2. Bates Motel
  3. Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain
  4. The Borgias

So, how does Netflix fare when you search Google for these show names?

Here are the rankings:

  1. The Croods: 17 (page 2)
  2. Bates Motel: 90 (page 8)
  3. Kevin Hart: Let Me Explain: 16 (page 2)
  4. The Borgias: past page 20

Netflix does not rank on the first page for ANY of these shows and this is the case for most of the shows that are streamed on Netflix.

In addition to this, Netflix has an amazing categorization system which could bring in additional organic search volume, with categories including “Quirky Workplace Comedies” and “Dramas with A Strong Female Lead”. This is SEO gold! especially when these types of categories can be generated automatically in bulk.

Why Is This Happening?

The answer: Quality Content… or lack thereof.

Most of the content on Netflix is behind a paywall, meaning that all of those show pages are hidden away from the Googlebot.

This is the type of page that is ranking for most Netflix shows. These pages seem to be remnants a time when these shows were only on dvd on Netflix.

Additionally, these pages are unoptimized. They have:

  • Thin content
  • No internal linking
  • No external linking
  • No schema for movie titles, images, actors genres etc
  • Hosted on a separate lower authority subdomain dvd.

But what about Paid Search?

Why not just buy paid search ads instead?

Netflix relies heavily on adwords on many of the show names and this could certainly drive new subscribers. However, most of the time, top position ads were not even being shown and right rail ads were consistently being pushed out by Google knowledge boxes. This only leaves the very bottom of the SERP and you can guess what happens to click through rates down there.

Search Results for “The Croods”

The Solution: IMDB for Netflix

IMDB is an organic search giant. The reason that they are able to do so well is that have tons of content that is contextually relevant for each movie, show, actor and topic. The type of content that Netflix has available is not so different. Netflix needs to put all of this valuable content outside of the paywall in order to provide value and dominate the search results.

This is the type of content that you could see

  • Movie and Show previews
  • Customer reviews
  • Customer ratings
  • Actor pages
  • Netflix Category pages
  • Customer generated lists

This information is useful to customers as well as potential customers and could increase retention by reassuring people that the shows that they love are on Netflix.

But, what about conversion?

The landing pages for Netflix will surely stay the same to preserve conversion rates on advertising. It’s true that conversion on the homepage may decrease slightly, but internal ads and modal pop-ups can keep conversion rates fairly high and conversion and retention rates could increase due to increased visitor frequency and the value that people get from the content…this is just an informed guess though.

Is there really room to create MORE original content?

I would say yes. These are the sites that are currently outranking Netflix

  • and many others

These site are all the same and similar to IMDB! Original content about shows is working and Netflix needs to get on board. At least all of the Netflix original series have their own landing pages.



Graham Hunter
Startup Growth

Startup and music lover. Startup Program @Segment . @Techstars & @WhartonEntrep Alum, @500Startups mentor. Formerly Dir of Marketing @Patreon .