A little over a year ago I had the pleasure of working with one of the larger publishers in our partner network to help increase their organic traffic. I’ve met with a handful of different mid-to-small sized publishers throughout my years at SheKnows Media, all looking for assistance with their SEO.
More often than not, the publisher has at least one person who is semi-familiar with Google SEO best practices but wants to run through some concerns or just ask some questions, make sure they aren’t missing anything. I typically start every partner engagement by running an SEO audit on their site.
Using tools like Screaming Frog, SEM Rush and Google Analytics, I run through a checklist of various SEO elements to see where they can improve and where they have the opportunity to grow. Part of the audit is technical, part covers different on-page SEO best practices, and the last part introduces some evergreen content strategies that have worked for us at SheKnows and StyleCaster.
From there, I work with the partner’s team to prioritize the importance of the audit call-outs and make recommendations for their content plans moving forward.
A few examples of what the SEO audit looks at:
- XML sitemaps
- Mobile search best practices like AMP, responsive design & page speed
- Title tags and meta descriptions
- Backlink profile
- Image optimization
One advantage I’ve had when working with these publishers is the ability to see results from a single implemented change. On our main properties, typically there are multiple teams working on different things at the same time. When a change that may impact organic search is pushed to production, usually several other unrelated changes were also pushed live.
This makes it almost impossible to get a clear picture of the impact from the SEO recommendation. But with this particular partner, we worked through each issue and were able to measure results before moving on to the next one.
A Case Study on Increasing Organic Traffic
Here is how the publisher was able to increase their organic traffic 37% year-over-year, resulting in millions of incremental pageviews and many additional dollars in ad revenue.
- Refreshing content – Did I mention that this site specializes in shoppable content? The majority of their content covers different beauty & style related topics, with product links included. The partner had mentioned that over the years, there was a slow and steady decrease in traffic to their evergreen pieces and they didn’t understand why.I took a deeper look into this set of content and realized that there were a ton of broken or ‘no longer available’ product links. I recommended that they take some of the pieces that were doing well several years back, update the content with current and available products, replace any outdated content references and update the date. Sure enough, the pages began to recover some traffic.There are some rules to Google’s freshness factors but forget about them and think of the user. How irritated would you be if that really cute pair of shoes a website was touting hadn’t been available since 2013? If you’re dealing with product pieces or content that regularly gets outdated, don’t be afraid to update your content.
- Structured data – Structured data is code that websites can use to give Google another layer of information. There are several structured data options that publishers can take advantage of. We use Schema.org to provide Google with information on our company, our navigation elements, and our different types of content. The partner used both breadcrumb and organization schema, and saw a payoff.
- Accelerated Mobile Pages – The partner reported (and I verified) that almost immediately after implementing Google’s accelerated mobile pages (AMP), their organic traffic from mobile skyrocketed. Particularly for shopping related search queries, Google ONLY places AMP pages in their mobile carousal SERP placements. Google has been able to prove that almost 70% of purchase-intent search queries are happening on mobile devices so it makes sense that they would want to display the faster loading page version on mobile when it comes to these queries.
- Site redesign – In the audit process, unless it has some tie-in to user experience, I usually avoid inserting my opinion on site aesthetics. Although this particular site had a great team behind it with edited content and custom images, the site initially was entirely black with enlarged, spammy looking anchor text throughout.The navigation was also confusing, which was something I called out in the audit. They simplified the navigation, swapped out the black background color to white and changed to a more low-key font and font-size. It made a HUGE difference to the perceived quality of the site; the updated site feels fresh and clean. While background color and font may not be Google ranking signals, I feel like the users appreciated the changes.
Working with this partner for roughly a year and seeing this type of organic traffic payoff for them has been amazing! If you’re taking steps to focus on the SEO of your site, having an audit done is an excellent place to start.
If you have any SEO questions or have a topic you’d like me to cover, feel free to send my way at Lindsay.Valdez@sheknows.com.
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