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Updated: June 25, 2021

These Few Small SEO Mistakes Will Cost Your eCommerce Store Revenue

These Few Small SEO Mistakes Will Cost Your eCommerce Store Revenue

In this case study, we’ll examine how Comrade Digital Marketing increased SEO traffic for a mid-sized eCommerce firm in a matter of months.

We’ll use the example of a popular herb and spice brand, our client, and show you how this eCommerce marketing agency overcame a series of SEO and digital marketing mistakes.

Table of Content

About the Brand

Our is a purveyor of high-quality herbs and spices. Since 2004, the brand has expanded across 15 states, its spices have been used in more than 1,500 restaurants around the country, and it now boasts more than 30 physical retail locations.

Despite a great reputation, our client struggles to maintain a powerful online presence and was losing out to smaller brands.

Savory Spice Old Website

Savory Spice New Website

Our Analysis Discovered Several Problems

After performing a thorough analysis of our client’s website, we discovered a number of issues contributing to their poor SEO performance. These included:

  • An on-site SEO strategy that was outdated and missed vital modern best practices. It might have worked several years ago, but not anymore.
  • The website somewhat neglected backlinks, which account for 20-25% of SEO performance in this industry.
  • The client was reluctant to spend more money on SEO as they had never experienced great success with it.
  • This was a big website, so it took some time to load properly.
  • There were dozens of other small details we addressed during the refreshing of this website, which will be discussed in this piece.

Want to see how we turned around this website in a matter of months? Read on and you’ll discover some incredible SEO tips and tricks.

Our Plan

Comrade Web Agency Marketing Strategy Plan

After first engaging with the client, we examined their long-term prospects and approved a 12-month marketing plan with a KPI table. We then analyzed their competition, the best keywords for their brand, products, and customers, and chose to focus on the following:

  • Improving UX and mobile usability
  • Site speed optimization
  • A keyword-specific on-site SEO campaign
  • Attracting quality backlinks from trusted sources
  • SEO content optimization and production

On-Site SEO

Website UI/UX improvements

While Comrade was hired to manage SEO, we decided to do everything we could to also improve the user interface (UI) and user experience (UX). These are not just important for ensuring prospective clients have a good time using the website, but they’re also important for improving SEO.

A website that looks unattractive, that loads slowly, and has poor navigation will appear lower down in the search results even if the content is great. Lower rankings mean lower traffic, forming a vicious downwards spiral.

For over five years, Google’s algorithm has incorporated behavioral metrics and considered user experience as a factor in determining ranking.

Speed Optimization

Site loading speed is crucial for keeping visitors on a website, and for ensuring the best possible search page rankings. When a site takes longer than three seconds to load, there’s a high chance that users will go back to their search results and find a competitor’s page – and even if they don’t, it’s unlikely they’ll stick around for long on your site.

There are many reasons why a page may take too long to load, and we addressed them all.

Image Issues

One of the main problems slowing down our client’s website was the use of unoptimized images. This is also a problem for SEO.

When we ran a speed test, the results showed that many of the images were much too large, slowing down the page.

We solved the problem by:

  • Compressing high-resolution images
  • Making sure that all image dimensions were not resized by the server. That means a thumbnail 100×100 image is truly 100×100, and not a shrunken 600×600 image.
  • Converting all images to the more efficient .jpg format.

Image Optimization

Video Lazy Load

Embedding YouTube videos onto a web page can slow down the loading speed, particularly when multiple videos are present on the same page. This was the case on our client’s website, so Comrade used “Lazy Loading” to speed it up.

Lazy loading allows users to play the video instead of directly loading it within the page, requiring fewer resources when loading the page and ensuring the page is ready and fully useable sooner. After implementing the change, HTTP requests on the initial page load decreased, dramatically improving the page’s loading performance.

Mobile Usability & AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages)

With much of the organic search traffic coming from smartphones, Google’s algorithm considers the user experience (UX) and whether a site is mobile-friendly in its ranking algorithms. Websites designed only to work on desktop PCs will not be prioritized in search as they do not cater to as wide an audience as most other websites.

Before our eCommerce digital marketing team at Comrade engaged with the client, their website had poor mobile usability. This was improved to increase traffic.

Our four-step plan was as follows:

  • Identifying the worst parts of the mobile experience through a mobile usability audit and fixing them through new features, menus, and graphics.
  • Implementing new improvements on a test server first, to ensure they work properly.
  • Publishing the changes on the live website when perfected.
  • Measuring mobile usability improvements.

Our mobile usability audit spotted a number of issues. It was a long list, so we’ve listed some of the worst examples that we fixed.

  • Fixed errors in the Search Console.
  • Integrated adaptive YouTube videos with lazy loading.
  • Removed unused and unnecessary categories and products (unnecessary data hogs!).
  • Optimized schema.org
  • Optimized snippets to ensure Google could provide easy answers to searchers using the information on our client’s site. This is a fantastic tool to help with this.
  • “Content wider than screen” error fixed.
  • “Clickable elements too close together” error fixed.
  • “Text too small to read” error fixed.
  • All other similar errors that resulted in the mobile page appearing strange on smaller screens were fixed, and all features were optimized to ensure they could be used on tablets and smartphones.

The “Content wider than screen” bug can be seen in the screenshot below. You can see how text boxes appeared wider than they should, extending off the screen and making it difficult to use these boxes for their intended purpose on smaller devices.

                                      Before                                                            After

Wider Content Issue

Site Structure and URL Tweaks

A badly optimized site structure means some links are broken and either direct the user to the wrong site or page, or don’t work properly at all. It also means images don’t appear properly, either being pixelated and small or simply too large.

It might also mean pages are too heavy with large files and slow loading speeds, or that the URL slugs (the text that comes after the domain name in a link) are not search engine friendly. All of these things have a negative impact on UX, meaning prospective clients won’t want to use the site.

You can see an example of how the website was not properly optimized in terms of internal links and text in the screenshot below.

Not Optimized Website Structure

Structured Data Improvements and Schema Markups Allowed for Rich Search Snippets

A “featured snippet” is a small extract of text from a website that appears under a search listing, providing information that may answer a searcher’s query. It either answers a question so that a searcher doesn’t even need to enter the website, but in the case of eCommerce, typically gives businesses a chance to pitch why their website is the best one to visit out of the entire search engine results page (SERP).

The more informative a website’s snippet is, the more effective it is at bringing customers in.

Rich snippets are the same as featured snippets, except they incorporate more links and features.

Our client had not updated their website in many years, meaning that rich snippets were not available when people searched for their products on Google. We revamped the site’s pages, improved their schema markup, and got snippets working.

Structured Data Improvements

Content and Keywords

Before improving the site’s content, we came up with an initial list of 300 keywords, with current positions from eight through to 20. Our aim was to improve positions to seven and up and use keywords with fair competition and which were used by the people most likely to be interested in what our client had to offer.

Savory Spice Keywords

After further studying some of our client’s biggest competitors, we had a few more ideas to add to our keyword list.

Armed with the right keywords, we could then move on to examining the existing blog posts and content, and imagining new ways our client could keep people engaged on their website. We began producing exciting and informative blog content for the website that used the best keywords we identified.

Over time, this approach would ensure that Google ranked our client higher thanks to its website offering engaging content that people actively searched for.

Technical eCommerce Issues

There were various technical eCommerce issues that we resolved, including:

  • Huge Javascripts that bogged down the page. We used JS Compress and Minify to compress those scripts.
  • Lack of cache for static resources, which we added.
  • Long metadata, which we trimmed using the “trim” function.
  • Unnecessary Javascript, which we removed.
  • Cumbersome CSS codes, which we integrated.

We also integrated the “preconnect” feature in the header, added “htmlentities” function to alt tags, integrated “concat” and “minify” and more. These technical improvements were all reasonably small but combined, had a huge effect on the site’s ability to rank higher in Google search and provide a better experience for users.

Off-Site SEO

Off-site SEO refers to actions taken outside of the website designed to improve its search engine rankings. We identified room for improvement with backlinking on our client’s website, which we sought to rectify.

Building Backlinks

Backlinks are links to a website from other popular sites and online resources. They help build a website’s domain authority score.

Before beginning the new SEO digital marketing strategy, Comrade discovered some 60k backlinks to our client’s website, but there was plenty of room for improvement here.

By doing the following, we increased backlinks and our client’s website’s domain authority score:

  • We placed backlinks to our client’s website on other authoritative websites.
  • We also placed backlinks promoting various product pages on the website, and to pages that contained keywords that were ranked between seven and 20 on Google search.
  • We partnered with related, niche websites to publish guest posts.
  • We distributed SEO-specific press released relating to products and other news.
  • We established new websites for product pages and recipes. These were not pages, but third-party websites that linked to each other.

After implementing these new strategies, we noticed dramatic results…and we noticed them quickly.

Are you ready to scale your business with better SEO practice? Read on and see how Comrade Digital Marketing ranked among the Top Chicago eCommerce Development Agencies can transform your online outreach and dramatically increase sales.

Results

We saw dramatic results in just a matter of months, with organic search traffic growing without any need for advertising.

Organic SEO results

1. Jul-Oct 2019 vs Jul-Oct 2018

Within the first three to four months, we saw amazing results in terms of SEO. Take a look at how our client’s website traffic changed between July and October. You’ll notice a slight decline in traffic in August, but from then, it just kept on growing.

Notice also how we compare the same month to the year previous, helping us account for seasonal factors. Traffic grew every month between July and October compared to those same months the year before, with tens of thousands of additional hits. October 2019 even saw an increase in traffic of 156% over October 2018. That’s huge!

Month 2019 2018
July 109.7k 83.2k
August 103.2k 78.3k
September 142.5k 78k
October 184.9k 72.3k

2. Dec 2019 vs. Dec 2018

Moving to December, which was our final month working on the 12-month SEO strategy, we saw how organic traffic increased even more. The final month saw a 162% increase over December the year previous, hitting 219.7k unique visitors. That’s 135.8k more visitors, an 110k more than when we started work back in July.

3. Overall Traffic in Jul-December 2019 vs. Jul-December 2018 – 107% increase

Below, you’ll see how overall organic traffic grew between July and December 2019.

Month 2019 2018
Total 964.4k 465.7k
July 109.7k 83.2k
August 103.2k 78.3k
September 142.5k 78k
October 184.9k 72.3k
November 204.5k 70k
December 219.7k 83.9k

What you can see in the numbers above is that during our work with our client there was a fairly minor decline in August and July, but an overall upward trend that ultimately saw a total of 964.4k organic users.

Even during the brief dip in the summertime, we brought in 24.9k more visitors than the year before.

We also reversed a mostly downward trend between August and November the year before. In 2018, our client’s site had 465.6k visitors, meaning our new SEO strategy generated a massive 107% increase in organic traffic.

What Happened Next?

After completing the project, our SEO strategy continued to work.

We finished the project in December 2019, but their numbers just kept on growing for the following six months.

Month 2020
January 206.9k
February 213.5k
March 227.9k
April 264.9k

More Statistics

High-Volume Keyword “Spices” Moves Up to Top Five Organic Keywords

High Volume Keyword Spice

During the early stages of our SEO strategy, we recommended that our client create a new page that introduced the “spices” keyword. After the page was created, we performed web optimization and introduced other SEO tricks, and the keyword moved up to the top five organic keywords on this website.

AMP Pages Results in Mobile Traffic Improvements

By introducing accelerated mobile pages for all products, recipes, and blog posts, we increased the number of people accessing these pages on the website from the second half of September right through October 2019.

The data proved that mobile users want to access informative and interesting content on their phones as much as desktop computer users.

AMP Page Results

Site Speed Timing

The measures we took to improve loading times on the website worked well. Between June and October 2019, the loading time dropped by 20%, resulting in a large spike in traffic.

Site Speed Timing

Mobile Usability

By improving the mobile UX across the whole website, we roughly doubled the number of mobile impressions in the space of a year.

Take a look at the data from October 2018 and October 2019.

Mobile Usability Savory Spice

Clicks and Impressions

Oct 2019-Jan 2020 vs. Jul 2019-Oct 2019

In the graph below, you’ll see just how big the increase in total impression and clicks from July 2019 to January 2020.

Click and Impressions

Jan 2020-Jul 2020 vs. Jul 2019-Jan 2020

From January 2020 to July 2020, the number of clicks and impressions increased steadily, meaning the SEO campaign was powerful, effective, and set a positive trend for many months afterwards.

It means that, with maintenance, the new website structure will allow our client to continue their good fortunes well into the future.

Clicks and Impressions Savory Spice

In the table below, you can see the clicks and impressions for specific keywords during and after the new SEO campaign.

Clicks and Impressions Keywords

Targeted Impressions

Keywords that previously got zero impressions were now getting thousands.

Targeted Impressions

Based on data from Google Webmasters Tools, the number of impressions also appears to have nearly doubled.

Targeted Impressions Savory Spice

All Time Backlinks and Authority Score

Below you can see how the overall number of backlinks increased significantly during the six months of our work with the client.

59,642 backlinks in July:

July Backlinks

71,836 backlinks in December:

December Backlinks

Visibility Score and Keyword Rankings

July-December 2019

The SS AWR graph below represents July 3, 2019, through December 25, 2019.

Visibility Score and Keyword Ranking

July-October 2019

The number of keywords ranking on the first page increased by 166, from 117 to 283.

Keyword Ranking and Visibility Savory Spice

October-December 2019

October-December 2019

“We worked with Comrade Digital Marketing Agency for digital marketing / SEO and the team was stellar in terms of quick responses and being able to pivot fast for helping us with whatever we needed. Always willing to get creative and jump in where they could help!”

Alexandra / CMO / Savory Spice

Conclusion

The company’s organic traffic more than doubled since beginning the new strategy with Comrade, and allowed the company to outperform competitors in search.

Not only did our refinements improve SEO during the one-year strategy, but traffic kept rising even after it was over.

With improved UX, dozens of other website tweaks and improvements, and a massive increase in loading speed, our client developed an online presence that matched the professionalism and energy of its many physical stores.

Are you ready to transform your online business? Comrade will help you do it.

Does your website generate enough traffic?

A complimentary, no-obligation digital marketing performance audit

  • Website UI/UX, content and conversion review
  • SEO: 20-point performance check
  • Digital marketing strategy

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I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

If you would like to discuss your project, reach out to our specialists.

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About the Author
Stan Bogdashin
Stan co-founded Comrade Digital Marketing and serves as its marketing strategist and IT expert recruiter.
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