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.
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.
After performing a thorough analysis of our client’s website, we discovered a number of issues contributing to their poor SEO performance. These included:
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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:
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.
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.
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:
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
There were various technical eCommerce issues that we resolved, including:
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 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.
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:
After implementing these new strategies, we noticed dramatic results…and we noticed them quickly.
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We saw dramatic results in just a matter of months, with organic search traffic growing without any need for advertising.
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!
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.
Below, you’ll see how overall organic traffic grew between July and December 2019.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
In the graph below, you’ll see just how big the increase in total impression and clicks from July 2019 to January 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.
In the table below, you can see the clicks and impressions for specific keywords during and after the new SEO campaign.
Keywords that previously got zero impressions were now getting thousands.
Based on data from Google Webmasters Tools, the number of impressions also appears to have nearly doubled.
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:
71,836 backlinks in December:
The SS AWR graph below represents July 3, 2019, through December 25, 2019.
The number of keywords ranking on the first page increased by 166, from 117 to 283.
“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
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.
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