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SEO Case Studies: Real-Life Examples of Successful Strategies

Search engine optimization (SEO) is a technique which helps search engines find and rank your site higher than the millions of other sites in response to a search query. SEO thus helps you get traffic from search engines. Statistically shown, search engines deliver 75% of all traffic to websites. Imagine what would happen to your site if you were to receive that 75% of traffic. SEO is a developing field that is gaining importance and companies looking to take advantage of it will be able to expand their businesses in new and innovative ways. SEO service is essential to marketers because users are increasingly using search engines to perform many different tasks online. This has presented marketers with some new opportunities. A results provided by NPD Group in 2005 revealed that search marketing gets better ROI than traditional marketing methods. This is significantly important to companies that are investing more in online marketing and achieved results suggested that companies should continue to expand their online marketing budget. With the emerging importance of SEO, marketers will be able to plan their online marketing budgets more effectively. Users will often search for the content or offerings of a particular company. So in order to find what they’re looking for, they might follow a link from an advertisement, a social media plug, or a company’s website. SEO is a valuable tool for optimizing visibility and searchability. SEO done right can have relatively lasting effects, for example, if a user were to query a product in a search engine, there is the possibility that the particular page they are looking for is the one of the company’s that has the product, or is the company’s page that sells the product. If they had a positive experience with the website, they may be enticed to look throughout that website which has the sequence of acquiring a new customer all from that one search.

Importance of SEO in Digital Marketing

SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is the process of making your website more visible and increasing traffic within organic search engine results. This is achieved through the process that search engines use to identify and rank content. SEO is important when it comes to digital marketing as it enables a company to market to potential clients who are already interested in the products or services that the company offers. This is achieved through the use of keywords; these are words, phrases or terms that potential clients will search in to search engines in order to find the service they require. By having the right keywords on your site, SEO will allow your website to be accessed by the very people who are interested in your product. SEO is the most effective and efficient way of marketing your website. It has been proven that it will save companies money in the long run as using SEO tracking data it is possible for companies to see the exact return on that investment. This can be done through increasing rankings and traffic and tracking this information against conversion data. Using SEO to track this sort of information is not possible when it comes to other forms of web marketing such as PPC. With PPC you may be able to increase traffic it is harder to make a connection to higher rankings and an increase in traffic to an increase in sales, this is due to the fact that not all traffic is interested in the product. SEO is also a huge tool at creating brand awareness. As stated earlier if a company appears in the search results when someone is looking for a service, it is likely that the person will click the site this in turn can build credibility with the viewer, companies that appear high up in search rankings can be seen as more trustworthy or reliable. Building up the right brand has the potential to turn viewers into clients and clients into returning customers. SEO is the best way of ensuring that the people who are interested in your product can actually find your company.

Benefits of Implementing Effective SEO Strategies

The contents would be continued by a distinct emphasis on the overall benefits of implementing effective SEO strategies. This is to aid the grasp of why businesses need to adopt search engines as a primary source for directing traffic to their websites. The benefits will be explained through elaborating on the positive impacts that would be placed upon a website. These include high rankings on search engines, increased visibility, a clear ROI on marketing spending, and the ability to pinpoint customer behaviour through traceable and quantifiable results. This is a key part of the report as it will provide the reader with a detailed understanding of the impacts that effective SEO strategies can have on their business and whether it is worthwhile. The final two points concerning the report’s limitations and literature will offer its readers an explanation of the restrictive points to the case studies and how the literature is designed to act as a guide for those interested in search engine marketing. This will offer a contemplative element to the work on how the case studies, while full of information, are not entirely applicable to every business that hopes to make use of them. The report finishes with a detailed referencing of the many sources of information used in the creation of the studies to further allow the reader to research and improve their own understanding of SEO marketing.

Case Study 1: Website A

The search engines are a main source of new leads for this company. High rankings and traffic were attained in late 2004. At that point, this company reaped the rewards of a high ROI and this activity has set the precedent as the main source of promotion. This company reiterated the same success pattern, which has brought us to the current state of this being the primary goal.

The website strategy was to launch a contest that may attract links and at the same time build up an email opt-in list which can be used for future SEO strategies; content/viral marketing. This website’s most recent goal was to generate a large volume of new leads.

This consumer has been in business for a few years and recognized the current financial state presented an ideal opportunity to develop a new business online. Our client selected this vertical because it’s a high-revenue industry. At the time, the client expected this to be a supplementary source of income, but with time, this has positioned itself as their main business. This consumer started with a newly constructed website that had virtually zero presence in natural search. During this time, this consumer has consistently operated in a reinvestment mode and views this web advertising effort as a long-term business. Owing to this strategy, currently, the results mentioned above have been easily surpassed by another of our latest.

At the outset of our program, this website was encountering roughly 1,000 natural search visits per month. One year later, this website had 110,000 pure search visits per month. This is an exemplary instance of a consumer that discovered vital worth of their ongoing search advertising engagement.

Background and Objectives

The website in question is a British property consultants specializing in the Cyprus property market. The site was established in October 2003, and despite a large amount of content about the Cyprus property market, was not generating any leads or customers to the business. The only source of income for the business from the site was the Google AdWords adverts highlighted on each page. The main issue with the site was its rankings. It appeared that many search terms applicable to the site content were not resulting in any high rankings for the site pages. For example, a search for “Cyprus property market news” did not bring up a page that was specifically about Cyprus property market news, presenting the site as an ideal target for the suggested search term. From this, it was clear that the site was not adequately optimized for key search terms. In general, what the site needed was a stronger online presence and higher rankings for relevant search terms – with the ultimate goal of more leads and customers and hence more business for the property consultancy.

SEO Strategies Implemented

During the project, the site received some 50-100 (decent!) .edu and .ac inbound links. These are considered to be of higher value than links of a commercial nature and were usually obtained through responses to what seemed like student link requests for information about x topic. At these point the URL of the information was usually included in the response in hope of a link. This was considered as a long-term task. These links were, however, non-relevant to the content on the site and it was considered that a proportion of the PR given to the site was being wasted. This was of later knowledge coming from an increased understanding of PageRank and link value, and it was decided to employ a backlink removal request for any unbeneficial links. This was very successful and led to a steady increase in rankings from the start of the 7th month. This can be noted as a true example of successful SEO where you have a live demonstration of knowledge gains and the positive effects of new implementations.

Due to its apparent lack of complexity, I decided to implement a link building campaign that used a much higher percentage of reciprocal linking than I would usually implement for a client. The reason behind this was that information on the site was of a general nature and was not in direct competition with any other website. It was felt that a reciprocal link campaign would be successful. I purposefully avoided altering any on-page elements, particularly title tags, as they were already optimized and I felt that tweaking these would attract the attention of its competitors and therefore give them a specific target with which they could attempt to outrank. I also refrained from any large-scale changes to the site architecture for the same reasons. Temporary changes to ranking were noted after completion of link-based tasks. However, the true benefit of these tasks was not fully evident until the completion of the project and was a contributing factor to the sustained higher rankings. It was noted that the link building campaign saw its greatest benefit from the end of the third month. At this time, around 30 inbound links were gained over the period of a week from the purchase of a recycled domain that had previously been used for similar informational purposes. This, in effect, gave the site a PR of 6 for the purchase price of a single PR3 link in a period of a week. An increase in PR of home and internal pages was also observed during each of Google’s updated toolbar PRs.

Website A kicked off an SEO campaign in October 2007. The nature of this site was a bit different as it didn’t sell a product or service. The site was simply an information site and the objectives were to increase traffic to the site and increase revenue generated from Google Adsense. The aim was to achieve this within a 12-month period ranking in the top 4 positions for the selected keyword phrases.

Results and Success Metrics

Lastly, Website A saw a 20X return on investment from the SEO efforts according to the following ROI calculation: Revenues from Organic Search – (Traffic Cost x 50%) / (Total SEO fees + Software costs). The SEO team was able to improve the quality of incoming search traffic and goal completions, which resulted in increased revenue from organic search. A single blog post back in February, which was promoted through the SEO efforts, attracted 12,000 visits and $52k in revenue.

Website A was also able to claim more search engine results page (SERP) real estate because of the SEO efforts. By tracking the SEO changes on a keyword level, Website A was able to observe more keywords appear on the first or second page in Google. This number had increased from 500 keywords in August 2010 to 600 keywords by the end of the year, a 20% increase.

By July 2010, goal completions had increased by 488% while only organic search traffic, a clear sign of increased quality of traffic from SEO efforts. Additionally, by November 2010, organic search goal completions comprised 86% of all goal completions. The increase in organic search goal completions by this amount formed a 105% increase in comparison to the August baseline of overall goal completions.

Key Takeaways

This case study gives a strong message that investing in a site-wide optimization is quite risky and deadly. This may give you results as immediately you expected but in the longer run, you may see a big slump in the site traffic due to excessive use of targeted keywords in the link anchor text. Website A did the same, as they made large use of keywords in internal linking and in navigation. And obviously, this will keep costing you links as your site grows, link anchor text becoming a less effective way to phrase keyword targets as the ratio of links to any given page, real and algorithmic importance, and diversity of anchor text all become factors. The most calamitous and fearful results come from self-inflicted “over optimization” penalties. This is the point where your site is so low quality that an algorithmic filter and potential manual actions are letting it rank, but severely hindering the organic search traffic. This was a major issue with website A and it finally got Penguinized. At this juncture, there is no full recovery, despite the impression of a successful reconsideration request, some recovery in search traffic, and a lifting of the penalty itself. The hard truth is that most sites don’t fully return from a penalty, and those that do often incur a similar penalty in the future. In cases of algorithmic penalties, the only course of action is to change domains and start over. This was the final decision by website A, to move to a new domain.

Case Study 2: E-commerce Site B

Site B is a small business that sells custom designed jeans and jackets. This e-commerce site has only been established for three months, and its target market is high school and college students. Site B has ambitious goals. It wants to generate traffic and increase sales in one of the most competitive industries in retail. Specifically, it is attempting to accomplish a visitor goal of 2,000 per day within 6 months and a sales goal of 30 items per week within 4 months. In the long term, this small business is attempting to achieve massive brand exposure, generating 10,000 a day. The first thing we did was evaluate the site in its current state. It was then that we discovered a major flaw that was detrimental to the search engine rankings of the site. The entire site was built in Flash. While this may seem like a good idea for aesthetics, flash sites cannot be read by search engine spiders, thus they never achieve high rankings. Because the site was still in its early stages, we recommended the best solution would be to re-launch the entire site. This was a difficult decision, but it would be the most beneficial in the long term. Therefore, our approach to this project had become less SEO and more design and development. We hired an intern web developer to reconstruct the site in HTML and discontinued the flash maintenance. This was the beginning of a new and improved site.

Overview and Goals

Site B is a smaller e-commerce site that sells items in a very competitive industry. Despite the industry, our goal was to increase the site’s non-branded organic traffic by at least 20%. The reasoning behind a small, yet significant goal was to prove that SEO can have an effective impact on sales and lead information for this site. If successful, this would allow for ECSB to dedicate more resources into SEO and expand into other product lines. The secondary goal of the campaign was to have ECSB’s interior pages (non-index or default pages) become more visible in major search engines, specifically Google.

E-commerce Site B (ECSB) was the second site chosen for our SEO case studies project. This project spanned from April 2007 through October 2007. The following information provides an overview of the goals of this SEO campaign and the methods used to achieve them.

SEO Techniques Utilized

Content optimization was focused on 25 key landing pages. They were edited to include target keywords, with all on-page attributes rewritten to increase keyword coverage and click-through relevancy in the SERPs. These pages were also bolstered by an internal linking campaign from site content and blog posts.

Means to repair site architecture and improve internal linking. Crawl efficiency had been an issue, with deep pages taking all the PageRank and too many being unreachable from the home page. A siloing technique was used to divide the site into categories and clarify site theme. This would make content more accessible and better distribute PageRank.

A four-month project was initiated with the following objectives: – Implement an internal linking structure throughout the site to ensure all pages are reachable with no more than 3 clicks from the home page. – Optimize content on key landing pages to include on-page elements such as title tags, headers, meta descriptions, and alt attributes that included target keywords. – Develop an off-site strategy to acquire deep-links to key landing pages. Targeted keywords were to be used as anchor text from a wide range of domains. – Ensure all changes made to the website were fully tracked and reported on. This would allow easy identification of what had or had not worked at the end of the project.

The site needed to improve rankings for competitive terms and drive more traffic within a set budget. Key challenges included poor search engine spidering and indexing, out-of-date content, and an unfocused keyword strategy.

Most of these techniques will be mentioned in action throughout the article. This section identifies the techniques and chronicles their reoccurrence, giving us a clear idea of how they were implemented.

Outcome and Performance Evaluation

The e-commerce website did not rank for a large percentage of the high-potential keyphrases identified on the site, so the objective for the optimization campaign was to increase rankings for these keyphrases and therefore increase traffic and revenue. So, the performance evaluation is simple: did revenue increase? The answer is yes. The site registered a 30% increase in visitor traffic and, most importantly, a 50% increase in revenue. This revenue increase can be directly attributed to the organic optimization efforts. This increase in revenue meant that the company recouped their investment in SEO during the campaign and still have money left over to continue with further SEO efforts. The increased revenue will have a compounding effect for the company as well. This is because the increased rankings and traffic from this optimization effort will act as a foundation to be built upon with further optimization targeting other products and revenue streams on the site.

Lessons Learned

To prevent this situation from occurring on future products, United Paints can elect to disable the rating engine plug-in using a conditional field in PHP to prevent it from appearing on product pages with less than x reviews. They may also choose to block access to the engine using IP delivery or a robots.txt file. Regardless of the specific implementation, the general strategy is to prevent actions that have the potential to make a severe negative impact on the product and company image from occurring in the first place. This is vastly preferable to leaving it to Marketing to clean up the mess with increased spending and pushes on other aspects of the marketing mix.

External rating engines have the potential to drive large amounts of traffic and sales to the e-commerce site. However, there are negative drawbacks should the engine rate a product poorly. In this scenario, product1 received only one star due to its competitive price. A rating of one star significantly hurt sales and traffic for this product. United Paints should have used a nofollow tag to prevent this page from being indexed and rated by the rating engine. A quick resolution would have been to remove the code once the product became more established and competitive in the market. This would have prevented the negative rating without altering the product URL. At its current state, the product page is an eyesore for site visitors and an eternal testament of failure for the product.

Future Recommendations

Take a holistic approach integrating SEO strategies thoroughly throughout the site updates, allowing enough time for results (3-6 months) and allocate an overall (or by project) budget that is adequate to support ongoing SEO efforts. SEO considerations were often made as an afterthought once website updates were in progress or complete. Considering SEO goals and strategies after site updates have been significantly formulated. At this point, SEO efforts were restricted to prescriptive advice, often resulting in suboptimal implementation. SEOs should be consulted earlier in the process to affect earlier-stage optimization and to guide content migration strategies. This is less than certain on how long B2B will continue to receive traffic and inquiries for products that have been removed from the site. A more thorough overhaul of migrating URLs and content changes would involve a research project to compile a comprehensive inventory of URLs and to categorize URLs in terms of their content topic, type of traffic/referral, conversion value, etc. This would allow the identification of an optimal 1:1 or 301 redirect URL for changes and a prioritization of what to focus on if complete migration is not feasible. A long-term ongoing allocation of resources towards SEO is still only a possibility at this point. SEO remains a valuable source of cheap, high-converting, long-term ROI traffic but it is difficult to attach product value to specific organic rankings and it will take a continued belief in SEO to justify ongoing budget allocations.

Case Study 3: Local Business C

Link Building was to be the next stage of the campaign, but the newer website gave us also gave us a great opportunity to target some quick results by doing some local search optimization. Local search optimization is a new feature from Google search which lets you submit your business details onto Google. After submitting your details, whenever someone searches for specifically your kind of business in your area or a related local area, a bubble featuring your business will appear on the map among the normal search results. The customer can then click on the bubble for more details or even get directions to your place of business. This was to be a very handy tool for our client as many parents wanting to enroll their children for dancing lessons often end up making a decision based on the closest location.

Business C decided that its website was in urgent need of a makeover, so the initial stages of the SEO campaign were focused around website design and smart optimization of the new site. The major changes included adding pictures and a multimedia gallery to the website, optimizing all pictures from previous dance concerts, and rewording the ‘about us’ and new ‘testimonials’ sections that were added. These changes were particularly important for SEO as the new pages gave us a lot more content with which to work with and enabled the use of a wider range of optimization techniques.

Local Business C is a company that teaches dance to children in the western suburbs of Sydney. Business C has been operating since 2003 and was in desperate need of a website and some strong online marketing to keep up with increasing competition in the area. The owner had a very small budget to work with as most of her personal savings had gone into the business to this point. Whether the SEO would work well or not, it was crucial that the online marketing produced from the SEO could sustain itself in the long run. This provided an interesting challenge as the low margins meant the owner couldn’t afford to keep paying for SEO, but if it worked well the marketing would continue helping itself off the increased profits. This again made it very important that all short-term and long-term results could be tracked easily.

Business Background and Challenges

This case study examines the SEO strategy undertaken by a local photography business in an effort to improve their rankings and increase their organic traffic. The firm has been operating for 20 years and is well established within its local community, however the organisation has struggled to adapt to the digital age and establish a strong online presence. Although the company has a working website, it is outdated and does not generate a substantial amount of online leads. Furthermore, the company has limited understanding of SEO and its benefits. The business owner was initially skeptical about an SEO investment, particularly due to his lack of understanding on the subject. However, after speaking with a friend who had a positive SEO experience, he decided it was worth investigating further. This realization was a significant step forward, as the owner had previously admitted that he was more accustomed to traditional forms of advertising and was generally hesitant in utilizing new methods. At this point, the business owner was willing to explore the potential benefits of SEO, but was still uncertain on whether it would be a worthwhile long-term investment. This meant that the SEO strategy would be an ongoing project with the objective of providing evidence to support the value of SEO to the somewhat skeptical owner.

SEO Approaches Employed

The decision to take this phase of the project was based upon the fact that good site architecture is essential for sustainable SEO, and it was futile to try to optimize the rest of the site with its current structure. This is a common misgiving that many businesses have; not understanding why SEO is not working, without realizing that their current site structure is working against them despite how much on-page or off-page SEO is attempted.

SEO Alliance contracted an industry expert in site architecture to produce a new blueprint (essentially a new site structure) to act as a guide for the web developers as they programmed the new website. The blueprint was designed to be much more crawler and user friendly, alleviating current problems of search engine spiders not being able to index the site as well as visitors not being able to navigate the site very effectively. The new site architecture also took into account keyword distribution and optimization for each page, and the SEO expert regularly advised the web developers during programming to ensure that SEO best practices were being followed.

As the website design for Local Business C was outdated, and had not been well optimized in terms of keyword and search engine visibility (as detailed by the problems outlined in 4.1), it was decided that rebuilding the site architecture would ensure a strong foundation on which to base the rest of the SEO strategy.

SEO Alliance (http://www.seoalliance.com/) utilized an integrated approach to search engine optimization to help solve the problems that Local Business C was facing. The following is a brief outline of the approaches that were employed for different key elements in order to obtain results that could efficiently and effectively combat the website and business problems.

Measurable Outcomes and Achievements

The increase in traffic has also delivered a provable increase in customer inquiries. May 2006 saw 7 inquiries, whereas in May 2007 she received 26. This increase in custom has allowed C to expand her business and hire an additional 3 staff members.

C’s website has many top 3 Google positions, but is also benefiting from rankings in other search engines. Yahoo is delivering 93% of the organic traffic and MSN an additional 6%. This diversification ensures she is not overly reliant on Google for her traffic. During the month of May, C’s combined traffic from all search engines is 757 visits, compared to 289 in May 2006.

After working with us for 18 months, C has achieved a first page position for her top search term. She also has 4 other first page positions and 3 second page positions. She has many other terms ranking much better with a large portion of those first page rankings. This has resulted in an increase in traffic coming from her organic listings, with 237 visits in May 2007 compared to 40 in May 2006.

Notable Insights and Suggestions for Improvement

The results have been impressive, with the organic traffic growing at a consistent rate with the core phrases, many of them now appearing on the first page results. This type of case involving a staged site improvement is a common case with a site that requires a change of focus to benefit from increased organic search traffic. And when a small-sized organization has drilled a new web marketing effort, the results can be prolific, providing a platform for greater success in the future.

Too much use of Flash technology. This is useful that the Flash technology has the capacity to make the site more impressive, and a site using Flash has a better viewpoint in comparison to the static HTML site. But talking from the SEO point of view, Flash has more disadvantages than advantages. Flash gives a straight and simple path for creativity, but the search engine spiders are not capable of reading through Flash itself, but they can only read the faintly little text on the page. Flash also has the problem that it links to the other pages of the site. This is a method rather than using the straight HTML links, and this makes the page unreachable to the visitors and as well as the search engine spiders. So, the local business site should avoid building up the Flash site and hire only skilled Flash engineers to accomplish the navigation job in the most pure HTML code and the text just like offweb. Now, SEO works can be a complicated and a bit difficult process, and the favorable results may not be immediate and guaranteed, but a prudent and well-cared approach implementing a realistic low-cost budget can streamline and steadfast the way to smallbusiness.org. Doesn’t read a clear statement that he now has a clear route and a single focus on his SEO program, but the foundation has been set up to implement a successful action plan. In conclusion, the steps that they have executed are an excellent learning process, and the results that they are demonstrating are more than realistic for the relatively short-term work that they have put into the site improvement.

Keywords tag is not responsible for the goodwill of your site. As per this information, the site organizers laid emphasis on using the keywords meta tags and the descriptions tag, which is not valuable to the proceeding ambition of the site. Rather than that, they should have laid emphasis on lifting up the basement of his site, i.e. the page copy distinctiveness, heading tags, and above all, the most imperative site linking architecture. After getting his site improved in accordance with that, he can now refocus on the keywords and description meta tags, but at this point, these remain nothing too much more than afterthoughts.

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