Results Driven: Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – Case Studies,Testimonials & Best Practices
Search Engine Optimization Case Studies
Since 2009, I have worked with a variety of B2B and B2C businesses doing both on-page (keywords, meta data) and off-page (link building) SEO. I also use Google Analytics to improve site traffic, conversions/sales, and to find new opportunities. I also help to create online copy that balances the needs of sales (i.e., good copy writing principles) and the needs of SEO.
1. Client: SEO Case Study for Financial Services
When new start ups enter the market, they have to start ranking & getting traffic in the most cost efficient manner possible. Optimizing a site for organic search & using Google Analytics to improve the site is an extremely cost effective way to market yourself or your business in a super tight economy.
Through a combination of on-page SEO, blog content and link building in the form of guest blogging and commenting on relevant external blogs and sites, this client is ranked in the top ten positions for 2 of it’s most important, highly competitive keywords. It is also ranked within the first 3 pages for 6 of it’s most important keywords (Ranking source data: Google Webmaster Tools).
My posts helped generate over 2290 page views in a 3-month period. Several industry blogs aggregated several posts. This drove traffic to the blog and produced 9 highly relevant links (with page rank 5 and higher) to the blog.
We hired Chrisas an SEO consultant to work with our in house marketing team. Using Google Analytics, he and our team implemented a “best practices” standard plan of action that included online content creation and link building and we’ve been very pleased with the results.” ~ Head Marketing Manager.
2. Client: SEO Case Study for Medical Service Provider
Since taking charge of SEO & content creation on the site in early 2011, non-paid search traffic to the site has increased by about 20% over the year before and total conversion values went up 35% compared to a year before. Currently total organic traffic would cost over $1300.00/month in ads (source: SEMRush.com).
An examination of the site’s Google Analytics found a surprising amount of traffic coming from an under served customer segment, i.e., this traffic was bouncing off the site. We created special content to better serve this customer segment.
Once the pages were released, the site saw an almost immediate 50% increase in traffic from this customer segment. Further, the number of leads almost doubled.
Finally, we partnered with The Website Architects to focus on website copy and site architecture to increase overall lead conversion. Within 3 months, overall leads to the site increased by 150%.
This underscores the principle that it’s almost always more profitable to increase conversions from the traffic you’re already getting rather than just putting time and effort into trying to increase rankings for keywords that have a lot of competition.
The site is currently ranking in the top 10 positions for 9 important keywords. (Ranking source data: Google Webmaster Tools).
Dealing with Panda (Google’s new ranking algorithm):
Google’s new ranking algorithm, Panda, had a second rollout on April 11, 2011. Starting just after April 11, over the course of a month, the site lost 28% of its traffic compared to the month before because of duplicate and shallow content. After removing this content, traffic immediately improved by 8%. I continued to replace shallow content with original content for the next 6 months. For the time period of 10/16/2011 to 11/13/2011 compared to 04/10/2011 to 05/15/2011 (one month after the second panda rollout), traffic was up 36%, more than offsetting the 28% initial drop.
Chris helped increase my Google ranking for one of my top keywords from a ranking position of 25 to a position within the top 5 after six months. Since then he’s been a great SEO consultant helping me design landing pages for increase conversions and in understanding & using my Google Analytics data to improve my site. ~ Site Owner.
3. Client: SEO Case Study for Non-Profit Service Provider
Non-profits are a challenge because technically they’re “asking for something” from their website visitors, e.g., time, goods, money, rather than offering a product or service. The mistake is to stress the features of a non-profit’s activities (e.g., 24/7 pet rescue). Instead, the trick is to stressthe benefits of the services of the non-profit (e.g., adopting a rescued pet is less expensive than going to a breeder or pet store). Here’s what I’ve been doing for one current client:
Non-profits are eligible for generous Google Adwords Grants. For this client, I applied for & received a grant worth over $100,000.00. Currently I’m managing a Google Adwords account that spends up to $330 per day to drive extra traffic to their site and to improve their organic SEO.
One or more pages of the site were (and are) ranking in the top 10 positions for 30 relevant “feature” keywords (e.g, “pet rescue”). However, these types of keywords are less likely to lead to conversions. Better keywords and queries are those used by people willing to take action (e.g., “adopt a pet”). Proper keyword research and an Adwords account can be invaluable for finding these latter types of keywords. Work continues to put these latter types of keywords on the site.
After one year of consistent new content creation, organic traffic for the recent quarter is up almost 20% compared to a year ago. Including paid search, traffic is up almost 66%.
The site had a blog, but it was not actively maintained. Since taking over the blog and consistently creating content, blog traffic is up by 70%. Further, the blog was on it’s own domain, but I made it part of their main site domain (by installing the blog in a subdirectory) so that the SEO value of their blog would be added to the value of their main website domain. This increased the ranking power of all their content. Also, news sites like the huffingtonpost.com & the washingtontimes.com have linked to high quality blog posts passing their pagerank to the blog.
Analytics & Conversion Tracking
The site’s analytics lacked the ability to measure which areas of the site (those promoting specific services/benefits areas) were producing the most results (e.g., traffic, calls to action). I have corrected this and it should help us better identify those parts of the site that lead to the most engagement.
Social Media Integration – Facebook/WordPress/Main Site
Social media can be a powerful call to action generation channel, especially the new Facebook (release date: end of March 2012). I “integrated” their blog into their main website and I integrated a rich HTML Facebook widget into their blog. This increase their fan base by 30% over 6 months. Further, I created “iFrame Facebook Applications” to integrate aspects of their site into their Facebook business page to increase calls to actions for their growing fan base. (Here’s an example, which I didn’t create, of a Facebook iFrame designed to get newsletter signups).
BENEFITS OF “BEST PRACTICES” SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION (SEO)
SEO best practices is probably best summed up in the Hupspot.com concept of “inbound marketing,” i.e., best practices combine the processes of SEO, social media, content management, analytics (e.g., Google Analytics), to improve website performance, and conversion optimization (e.g.,Google Website Optimizer) to increase sales/leads/profits.
1. Benefits Of (Excellent) ONGOING Content Creation:
There are two “best practices” here:
The content needs to be good.
The more good content you create the more pages the search engines will index.
If the content is good, then the main benefit of ongoing content creation more completed calls to action (e.g., downloads, contacts, sales, leads):
2. Benefits Of High Ranking:
Probably no other goal defines SEO like rankings. High rankings automatically mean Massive traffic — or so you might think.
High rankings is the holy grail of all SEO efforts, but like the holy grail, too many online business owners see SEO as a misty, dark, & enchanted glade where, at its center, they will seek out the goddess of rankings who, they believe, if they pass all her tests, will grant them their heart’s deepest desire. But they fail because they never really understand what she is.
Ranking is only the first, and not even the most important, step in fulfilling your heart’s desire. True, you need reasonable rankings, but to do any good people have to click through to your page (many won’t. Why?). Then they have to stay on your site (many will leave. Why?). Finally, they have to do what you want them to do, i.e., buy, contact, download, whatever. How do you get them to do that?
Let’s assume that you have no significant click through and conversion issues.
What then are the benefits of ranking?
Leads begin to grow once 15+ keywords are within the top 100 ranking positions of Google. That’s within the top 10 pages. In short, being number one is great, but you don’t need to be number one to succeed*.
Companies ranking in Google’s top 100 positions for 26 to 51 keywords generated twice as many leads as companies ranking for 6 to 13 keywords*.
Companies with 51+ keywords in Google’s top 100 positions generated three times more leads than those with 6 to 13 keywords*.
Some qualifying comments:
First realize that absolute, fixed, and objective rankings, like the holy grail, are a myth because rankings are influenced by both local and personalized search factors — for more on this, see: The Complete Guide To How to Check Your Ranking in Google (Or Ranking is Dead).
Second, you need to do proper keyword research, and realize this is an iterative process, i.e., you’ll need to use analytics and other tools to both measure the effects of your keywords and to help you continually find better keywords. Keep in mind that you’re not looking for keywords — you’re looking for customers.
3. Benefits Of Business Blogging:
Customers with blogs got 68% more leads than customers without blogs. Growing posts starts to impact lead growth once 20+ post become available*:
Best practices for business blogging is a special niche in online marketing. Hubspot.com offers terrific in-depth FREE online guidance to business. See: “Hubspot.com Business Blog Marketing Hub.”
Don’t make this mistake when setting up a business blog.
4. Benefits Of Inbound Links (or Backlinks):
If rankings are central to all SEO efforts then getting backlinks is probably even more central, and it is the hardest SEO task by 10s, if not 100s, of orders of magnitude. Link building is a marathon.
The main benefit of having links TO your site is that your site’s ranking power increases with the quality and quantity of those links. You can check any site’s ranking power (typically called “domain authority”) with SEOMoz’s Open Site Explorer tool.
Here’s some of the effective (and best) practices I use: 25 Effective Ways to Get Links (some of them are even easy!).
5. Critical Benefits Of Analytics, i.e., The Benefits of Listening to Your Traffic Data:
Avin, the Digital Marketing Evangelist for Google and the author of two best selling books: Web Analytics 2.0 & Web Analytics: An Hour A Day, just scratches the surface here, but he gives a great overview of how Google Analytics can improve your website in terms of traffic, sales, and/or leads.
If you have Google tracking traffic on your site, then everything that you need to improve your website today is sitting right there, right now, for the taking. What are you waiting for? And if you don’t have Google tracking traffic on your site — again, what are you waiting for? Install Google Analytics today.
One of the most important things to know about your site is the “bounce rate” for your most important pages. A high bounce rate means people are coming to your site, but then — they immediately leave. Why? And what can you do about it? Avi gives a good overview of this critically important metric.