24 min read
|
Updated: September 20, 2022

Mistakes That Cost Money: An Ecommerce SEO Case Study

Search engine optimization is the process of improving the quality and quantity of your website traffic from search engines. 90% of online experiences begin with a search engine, which undoubtedly makes SEO a worthwhile investment for eCommerce sites.

In this blog, we’ll examine how Comrade Digital Marketing increased SEO traffic for a mid-sized eCommerce firm in a matter of months by using expert SEO tactics. We looked at target keywords, link building, page load speed, meta tags and more to generate unparalleled organic traffic and skyrocket their ranking in Google search results.

About the Ecommerce Brand

Savory Spice Old Website

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

Yet, despite its esteemed reputation, our client struggled to maintain a powerful online presence and was losing its share of the online market to smaller brands. Because digitization and technology have altered market dynamics and consumer behaviour, legacy brands have had to shift from traditional to digital marketing to remain relevant and attract new customers.

Savory Spice New Website

This is where hiring a digital marketing agency like Comrade really helps. Not only do we ensure a smooth transition to digital marketing, but we also have the expertise and track record that guarantees your eCommerce SEO strategy will be a success.

Our Analysis Discovered Several Problems

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

  • An outdated on-page SEO for eCommerce strategy without current best practices.
  • The website had completely neglected backlinks, which account for 20-25% of SEO success in this industry.
  • The client was reluctant to spend money on SEO as they had never experienced positive results.
  • The website was big and had a slow page load speed.

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

Our Ecommerce SEO strategy

Comrade marketing plan

We discussed our client’s long-term goals and implemented a 12-month marketing plan with a KPI table. After analyzing their competition and conducting keyword research for their brand, products and customers, we 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

The Ecommerce Tools We Used

Comrade used a combination of Martech (marketing technology) with cutting AI capabilities to elevate our marketing capabilities. As expert digital marketers, we love how tools like Google Analytics and Google Keyword Planner, among others, provide granular data to help shape our eCommerce SEO strategies.

Of course, AI is only useful when you know how to leverage the information it provides, and that’s where our expertise comes in. All our SEO case study examples, including this one, are built on a strong foundation of data and expertise. That’s how we guarantee results!

Accelerate revenue growth with expert SEO solutions
Accelerate revenue growth with expert SEO solutions

Talk to SEO experts

Accelerate revenue growth with expert SEO solutions

On-Site SEO Tactics

Website UI/UX Improvements

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

Here’s the thing: An unattractive eCommerce website that loads slowly and has poor navigation will appear lower down in search engine results, even if the content is great. Lower rankings mean lower traffic, which produces a vicious downward spiral.

For over five years, Google’s algorithm has incorporated behavioral metrics and considered user experience as a factor in determining ranking. Therefore, it made no sense to us to tackle SEO without addressing user experience issues.

Speed Optimization

Site loading speed is crucial for keeping visitors on a website, and ensuring the best possible search page rankings. eCommerce websites that take longer than three seconds to load discourage users. Most will leave and go straight to competitors.

There are many reasons why our client’s website took too long to load. We addressed them all.

Image Issues

Image Optimization

We frequently come across websites with images that have nondescript file names and huge file sizes. Sometimes photos display in far smaller dimensions or are actually too big. Unoptimized images were one of the major factors slowing down our client’s site.

This is also an issue for SEO because a slow website means a poor user experience. The speed test we ran revealed many of the images were too large.

We solved the problem by:

  • Compressing high-resolution images; and
  • Ensuring web servers didn’t automatically resize images. That means a thumbnail 100×100 image remains a 100×100 and doesn’t shrink to a 600×600 image.
  • Converting all images to the more efficient .jpg format.

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. We immediately addressed this to improve organic traffic.

Our four-step plan was as follows:

  • Conduct a mobile usability audit to identify areas of weak performance.
  • Improve and fix issues by adding new features and graphics and optimizing menus.
  • Implement improvements on a test server first to troubleshoot performance issues.
  • Publish changes to the live website.
  • Measure mobility usability improvements.

Our audit identified a long list of issues but in summary, we:

  • 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. SERPerator is a fantastic tool for 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 is viewable 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 them for their intended purpose on smaller devices.

                                      Before                                                            After

Wider Content Issue

Site Structure and URL Tweaks

A poor website structure can have several issues such as:

  • Broken links or redirects that lead to the wrong page or don’t work at all;
  • Pixelated images that are too big or small;
  • Heavy web pages with large files and slow loading speeds; and
  • URL slugs (the text that comes after a domain name in a link) that aren’t SEO-friendly.

All of these things have a negative impact on UX, meaning prospective clients won’t want to use a site.

You can see in our case study (the screenshot below) that SEO best practices weren’t adhered to in terms of internal links and text.

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 answers a question so that a searcher doesn’t even need to enter the website. However, in the case of eCommerce, it typically gives businesses a chance to showcase why their website is the best one to visit on the 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, by implementing applicable structured data and got their rich snippets to appear in Google rankings.

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. We aimed to improve positions to seven and up. This entailed using a mixture of short and long tail keywords which matched their target audience’s search intent.

Savory Spice Keywords

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

Armed with the relevant keywords, we then moved on to examining existing blog posts and content and brainstormed new ways our client could keep potential customers engaged on their website. We began producing high-quality content for their blog using the best keywords we identified.

This approach ensured Google ranked our client higher because their eCommerce website offered engaging content their customers were already looking for.

Technical Ecommerce Issues

Then there were various technical SEO for 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 and more. In terms of troubleshooting problematic SEO cases, these technical improvements were all reasonably small but combined, had a gigantic effect on the site’s ability to rank higher in Google search and provide a better experience for users.

Off-Page SEO

Off-Site SEO refers to action taken outside the website to increase domain authority and rank higher in SERPs. We identified an opportunity to improve back linking on our client’s website, which we immediately took advantage of.

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 implementing our client’s search engine optimization strategy, Comrade discovered some 60k backlinks to our client’s website! Yet, there was still room for improvement.

We increased our client’s website’s domain authority score by doing the following:

  • Getting other authoritative websites to place backlinks to our client’s site.
  • Placing backlinks to various product pages on their website, and to pages that contained target keywords ranked between seven and 20 on Google search.
  • Partnering with related, niche websites to publish guest posts.
  • Distributing SEO-specific press releases relating to products and other news.
  • Establishing 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 whereby our client’s organic search traffic grew organically without the need for paid advertising.

Organic SEO results

1. Jul-Oct 2019 vs Jul-Oct 2018

Within the first three to four months, we saw spectacular results in terms of search engine optimization. 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.

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

Notice also how we compare the same month to the previous year, 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!

2. Dec 2019 vs. Dec 2018

Moving to December, which was our final month working on this 12-month SEO strategy, we saw how organic traffic increased even further. The final month saw a 162% increase over December the year previous, hitting 219.7k unique visitors. That’s 135.8k more visitors, and 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

It’s clear 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 summer, 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 ecommerce SEO strategy, we recommended our client create a new page that introduced the “spices” keyword. After the page was created, we performed web optimization and introduced other SEO tactics, and the keyword moved up to the top five organic keywords on this website.

AMP Pages Results in Mobile Traffic Improvements

AMP Page Results

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

Site Speed Timing

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.

Mobile Usability

By improving the mobile UX across the whole website, we roughly doubled the number of mobile impressions within 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 impressions and clicks was from July 2019 to January 2020.

Click and Impressions

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

Clicks and Impressions Savory Spice

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

With minor 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.

Clicks and Impressions Keywords

Targeted Impressions

Targeted Impressions

Target keywords that previously had zero impressions were now getting thousands.

Based on data from Google Analytics, 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

Does your website generate enough traffic?
Does your website generate enough traffic?

Request a complimentary, no-obligation digital marketing performance audit

request audit

Conclusion

The company’s organic traffic more than doubled since launching it’s new eCommerce strategy, which allowed them to outperform competitors in search.

Not only did our refinements improve SEO during the one-year strategy, but traffic kept rising even after our mission was complete. That’s because eCommerce SEO works 24/7!

We love sharing our eCommerce SEO case studies because they prove SEO is a worthwhile investment. More importantly, we developed an online presence for our client that matched the professionalism and energy of their many physical stores.

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

I hope you enjoy reading this blog post.

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

discuss your project
About the Author
Stan Bogdashin
Stan co-founded Comrade Digital Marketing and serves as its marketing strategist and IT expert recruiter.
Share this article
NEXT ARTICLE IN
Hiring an Agency

Ready to start your project?

Get in touch with us to discuss your specific objectives and the best, tailored-made strategy to reach and surpass them.
Contact US
Thank You For Your Interest!
One of our specialist will be in contact with you shortly.
Before you go, we would love to get additional information to help us better understand how we can serve you best. Please fill out this four question survey.