SEO Case Studies
Inner Page Value = HUGE!
With 2010 in the history books I have been spending some time making plans for my clients for 2011 and that involved crunching a lot of last years data. Year over year data has a ton of value and as I sift through Google Analytics I am re-discovering the enormous value inner page optimization has to offer.
As you can see the numbers above speak for themselves and from experience I know that relevant inner page traffic converts very well!
The Power of the Long-Tail
February 3, 2010 – Professional SEO’s have always known this and they have kept it quiet because it can give you a massive advantage over competition, but it has been widely publicized for a while now; while it is important to rank well for competitive keywords you can get a lot of conversions (and make a lot of money) off long-tail keyword searches. I should be straight up and admit there is a direct relationship between ranking for the long-tail and also having at least a decent ranking for your main keywords but the importance of the long-tail can be a business maker or breaker.
The traffic quality from long-tail can be 2, 3 or even many more times likely to convert because the relevance is usually very high. An example of this is, it might be great to rank for auto parts, but if you sell used auto parts in a specific city and the real money maker for you is used alternators and rebuilt engines then ranking for auto parts might give you a big pool of low to mid quality visitors but when you start getting search traffic for terms like, buy a rebuilt engine, buy a used engine Springfield, rebuilt engines Springfield and term like that you will really start to make serious money from your website.
The reason is simple (but a bit long-winded), from 1,000 visitors coming to your site for auto parts, half might only want new parts, not used ones and from the 500 remaining visitors 100 might must be browsing or doing research for a future purchase, of the 400 remaining visitors only 100 might be close-by geographically or consider dealing with a shop outside their state. Of those 100, 50 might be price shopping or doing comparison shopping to price a local vendor they already deal with. Of the remaining 50, maybe 25 are looking for low price things, like a washer pump or a side-view mirror. From what is left you might sell something a little more substantial or they might not like your site and could bounce (or not convert) for 20 different reasons. But the 10 visitors you have a month come from long-tail variations of buying a rebuilt engine (especially if they come via geographical search terms), you might convert 3 of them to customers for a big sale and good profit.
Here are the numbers from one of my clients, which offers a perfect mathematical illustration of how important the long-tail search is!
-Google sent 10,491 Visits via 2,405 keywords
-Top 20 keywords accounted for 4,956 visits
-Brand searches are number one at 2,555 visits
The 4,956 visits from the top 20 keywords represents 47% of the traffic and the next 53% of traffic is represented by 2,385 keywords – so the long-tail accounts for 53% of the total traffic or 5,535 visits
If we take the brand name out of this equation then:
7,936 visits from 2,404 keywords with the top 20 equaling 2,464 of those visits representing 31% of the total visits, the other 2,385 keywords represents 69% of the search traffic from Google.
So realistically speaking the head (main search terms) accounted for 31% of total Google search traffic and the tail (long-tail terms) accounted for 69% of the total Google search traffic. And my educated guess is that the long-tail (69% of searches) converted at a rate of two to three times higher than the main keyword terms.
The conclusion is that long-tail search can have a major effect on the bottom line of any company that derives clients, leads or sales from their website. So don’t be surprised if your SEO company recommends you chase some of these valuable longer term phrases.
Re-branding Success II
December 17, 2009 – Fast forward two weeks and it looks like the quantity of traffic issue is improving and the effect on the bounce rate is minimal. If this trend continues and the bounce rate stays below 25% this will be a major success.
December 1, 2009 – One of my recent projects I had the pleasure of being involved with was a site re-branding. I had made changes to the content, title tags and also built some relevant backlinks. I am very pleased with the results so far, even though the traffic quantity is not that high (2 months later) the quality is fantastic (see Google Analytics screenshot below).
The bounce rate is amazing and that tells me that I am getting traffic for high quality, relevant keywords. There is still a lot to achieve in terms of quantity of traffic and that will require another 3-4 months but if I can keep the bounce rate below 25% I will be happy.
Five Month Review
November 26, 2009 – It has been almost 5 months since I started working on my newest clients site. So I thought it would be a good time to look at the last 30 days of analytics vs. the month before I started. Both my client and I are very pleased with the results and there is no doubt that these new visitors are driving tons of quality traffic that is converting.
Power of the Long-Tail
November 16, 2009 – Another of the best kept secrets SEO’s have been utilizing for clients for quite a while now is the long-tail keyword phrase. There are many advantages that come with ranking for the long-tail; including: less competition, high quality of visitors, quicker ranking and search engine result saturation. Here is a perfect example of a recent clients rankings after just the first month.
Please note, ‘new’ terms did not show in the first 125 results on the previous rank check.
Now the flip-side of the long-tail is that you won’t see a large quantity of traffic from any single phrase and you still need to go after the bigger traffic keywords but for a site just starting SEO the extra business and search engine exposure is invaluable.
Traffic from an Unexpected Place
October 9, 2009 – Once in a while you find a surge of traffic coming from a strange place and none is more suiting then in the statistics of one of my test blogs, AllWeirdNews.com – If you follow my case studies this site is one that does quite well in the search engines and traffic in general with around 30,000 visits a month. This month I noticed a brand new keyword phrase has topped all others…..(drum roll please)….’Rate my Poo’ – Yuk! I did a post in the middle of September about a strange iPhone application that seems to have become a hot topic and I am ranking number three for that lovely term. But who am I to complain, traffic is traffic and the truth is that the application is quite amusing.
Tinkering with Title Tags
July 6, 2009 -Things are getting a bit odd….one day I am at position 5 for ‘odd news’ and the next I am back, now I am gone again. On the positive side I have tiny site links for the number one spot for ‘crazy stories’ and ‘strange news stories’ and still have the big lovable site links for ‘crazy news stories’. I see some major search rank flux in other sites too so I am guessing it is just another Gooogle dance that will settle down in a few days.
June 21, 2009 – Exciting news! It seems the little title tag tweak has really had a positive effect. I am back on page one and in the number 5 position. I can almost taste the number 1-2 position and am going to figure out my next move shortly. I have been thinking about doing a little guest blogging and trying to earn a few more inbound links that way.
June 16, 2009 – A bit of bad news but it is expected, I have moved down to the third page for the term ‘odd news’ – so far I am not noticing a large effect on overall traffic but I am still hoping it bounces back soon.
Now for a bit of good news, I wrote a fake news post that did very well and received over 1,700 views in the first 30 hours – there was also some excitement because the person who’s work I portrayed in the image of the post contacted me asking for credit, which I have gladly given.
June 2, 2009 – I am hoping to garner a little insight into whether ‘keyword dilution’ in title tags is a myth or a reality by using my most successful test site, www.AllWeirdNews.com as a bit of a guinea pig. If you look down below I have previously done some testing on this site by altering its title tags and the results have been quite impressive. This time it is a very minor change, I am removing the ‘all’ from the first word of the title because it doesn’t help with search and I don’t think it helps with click-throughs either. I am not expecting huge ranking moves from this but even if I can move up one rank on some of my more competitive keywords it could have a dramatic effect on my traffic.
Google First Page VS. Google Top Results
May 24, 2009 – I was sifting through my stats for one of my test sites, AllWeirdNews.com and noticed that I was receiving a large majority (13.2%) of my search traffic from the key phrase “odd news” – the interesting thing about this is that I don’t rank very high on the first page for this term (usually in the 7-9 spot) but because it is such a high search volume term I still get a nice amount of traffic from it. The two terms that rank in the number 2 spot, “crazy news stories” and “crazy news” bring me in 11.6% and 10.3% respectively. This brings up an interesting question, it is obvious that I get more traffic from the lower ranked key phrase because of the much higher search volume but I am also postulating that I get a high number of visitors because my site title is quite compelling (“All Crazy Weird News – Odd Strange News Stories”). Since there is no way to really testing this out I will just assume it is a combination of both.
Google Images Drives Traffic
April 15, 2009 – I have a couple of sites that garner the majority of their traffic from front page search results of an image. Optimizing Alt image text has been a tool of good SEO’s for quite a while and I am going to try and figure out all the reasons for these images ranking so well for moderately competitive keywords. In both my examples below the home page of the website ranks fairly well (with Blog4Logos.com it ranks 9th and for DeeFashion.com it ranks 11th) but the images themselves rank 1st and 2nd respectively for their keywords. This weekend I will spend some time scouring through my stats programs and see if I can find some other examples of images ranking well and driving traffic. My hypothesis is that if I can find some images that rank well for long-tail key phrases I can build some links directly to the posts containing those images and move the images up the ranks.
Google News Promotion
April 6, 2009 – Promoting my websites through Google News is my most recent case study project. I just started so I can’t confirm any of the potential results but I am hoping I can perfect this method of promotion to provide backlinks, trust and traffic. Below is a screen-shot of my press release showing on the first page of Google News for the targeted keyword. It was sitting in position one when it was picked up and seems to have gone down to position three, 8 days later. I also had one placed yesterday for a very nice keyword and will keep releasing these at the rate of one per day for the next few weeks so I can observe the results.
The Power of Social Media
May 6, 2008 – I have had a few posts with images up for approximately 20 hours now and there are some notable short-term results. This post on www.allweirdnews.com has generated the most interest. So far I have had 2,163 visitors enter on that page . Considering this blog had a healthy 4,000 visits in total last month, this windfall of instant traffic is very impressive. I decided to make a new post with another image but this is of one that has been around for a while, see the post here. This one has only been up for 45 minutes and has already generated 486 visits, amazing, this one might do better than the first. It seems I have another winner with this post, so far 375 visits in just 25 minutes.
Here are some of the other results, for this post here in the past 45 hours I have received 581 visits, that is not great but it is to a blog that had only 400 visits total in the past 4 months. Another one that did not do very well is this post here, bringing in only 74 visits in the past 45 hours. So far my conclusion is: this type of promotion is quite powerful but very unpredictable. I will update these stats to see how thing progress and will not do any link building on these sites for the next 4 weeks to see if the social media promotion brings in backlinks.
May 2008 – I have decided to do some testing on driving traffic and building backlinks using social media sites. I am a member in good standing on some of the most popular sites, StumbleUpon, Digg, Milk and Cookies, Reddit and Del.icio.us – I am going to leverage my social media accounts and see if I can drive traffic and build backlinks virally. I am going to test two methods, one is using older popular content (I will be using images so I can also test out and optimize for Google images) and one is using more unique content from a photoshop editing site (with permission of the authors). I know the results won’t exactly be scientific in nature but they should give me a good idea on the effectiveness of using social media in SEO and SEM. I should mention a couple of things, social media traffic is generally know for not clicking any ads (so I won’t expect any) also their bookmarking ratio is much lower, so instead of 1 in 4 it might be closer to 15%-20%.
Search Engine Rank Comparison
April 4, 2009 – I have decided to make a tiny change to see what the effect will be on my short-term (I am positive it will go down) and long-term (assuming it will go up) traffic by tweaking the home page title of the site. I took out the word ‘stuff’ from the title and rearranged the words so it would make more sense. the current title is ‘All Crazy Weird News – Odd, strange news stories’ – My hypothesis is that if I remove the word ‘stuff’ which does not get me any traffic it would possibly help me move up for the rest of the keywords. So far I have noticed a large (50%) drop in traffic over the past couple of days but I have seen this before when page titles are changed. My hope is that I bounce back stronger and I should have a better idea in a couple of weeks.
On a side-note I no longer see site links for the site for that term but I am also ranking number one for ‘strange news stories’. I will have to try some alternative data centers to see if I have site links anywhere.
January 26, 2009 – This is really the only site I have had time to put any work into because I currently have a full-time job working as an SEO analyst. But some really good news for this site!! I am now ranking number one for the term “crazy news stories” and not only that but site links are showing up for me.
Oct. 21. 2008 Good news – after a bit of a slow August, Sept. and Oct. are doing great and I am averaging more than 450 visits a day. I am also happy to say I moved into second spot (on most Google data centers) for the term “crazy news” and I am also pleased to see tons of search traffic for a wide variety of long-tail key phrase – see image below and be sure to notice that ‘other’ accounts for over 25% of the total searches.
July 28, 2008 – I finally did it, I tweaked the title so the term ‘crazy’ is there now and I also took out the .com after ‘news’. It will be interesting to see how this effects my rankings.
June 1, 2008 – Last month was a real break-out for this site (www.AllWeirdNews.com), visits per day sky-rocketed to an average of 329 per day. One really positive development is that traffic through my RSS feed has increased to almost 2k for the month. I am also starting to notice traffic coming in through the categories which is a great sign and I will try and build some relevant links for those over the Summer. My work on the term ‘crazy news’ is paying off with 36.5% of my search traffic coming from that term and an additional 3.6% coming from the term ‘crazy news stories’. So far this case study has shown fantastic results and it would be really amazing to have two similar sites dominate the search results for different high traffic terms. One note is that my main keyword ‘crazy news’ is a lesser percentage of the total searches but the number of visitors is way up, that simply means I am getting a good mix of keyword traffic which is very important for the long-term stability of a website
May 11, 2008 – It is time to make an important SEO decision, well, it is kind of obvious but I like to contemplate every SEO move I make when a site is already performing so well in the SERP’s. As you can see below I am ranking 3rd on Google for my major keyword “Crazy News” – Less importantly I am ranking 23rd on Yahoo for that phrase (Yahoo has and will in the foreseeable future offer 1/10th of the traffic of Google).
Google SERP for ”Crazy News”
Yahoo SERP for “Crazy News”
One change that is screaming to be done - is that all the sites above and around me have the word ‘Crazy’ in their domain name and/or title, and I don’t. I am not one to mess with success on a whim but I do see that coveted number 1 position within reach. My plan is to wait for the first of next month and then change the title tag to include the word ‘Crazy’ to see if it is enough to move me up to 1st position. Sometimes the SERP’s get shaken up quite a bit when you change title tags so I will wait till the beginning of next month so I can closely monitor the results on a clean traffic slate. In the meantime I will also spend a little time building some extra links to help with my push to 1st.
April 2008 – This past month saw another nice bump in traffic with the average visits going to 140 a day. I currently rank number 3 on the first page of results on Google for the phrase “Crazy News”, number one is the site CrazyNews.com and just below me is CrazyNews.net – I will embark on some more link building this month and see if I can grab that number 2 or 1 spot so I can compare the traffic results. My main keyword phrase ‘crazy news’ is at a healthy 49.9% and I am pleased to see that ‘other phrases’ accounts for 29.5% of total search engine traffic. What that means is that there is probably some ‘keyword gold’ in there and I should be able to leverage those in the future. A close look at ‘other phrases’ can reveal patterns of keywords that can make a huge difference in overall traffic. There are a lot of SEO’s that will tell you that the holy grail is first position for one of your industries top 3 keywords and they are right, but achieving that can be just like the search for the holy grail, long, frustrating and more often than not leading to failure. A website can be very successful by looking for quality search engine traffic in more unlikely (and less competitive) places.
March 2008 – Average daily visitors is over 100 now and my keyword phrase ‘crazy news’ accounted for 42% of my search engine traffic. Because of my expanded targeting of keywords the phrases “weird news stories” and “strange news stories” have moved into second and third place with 7.9% and 5.9% respectively. I am making a note of a couple more categories drawing some traffic, weird criminals and crazy people, those could be important on my 6 month SEO review.
Feb 2008 – Analyzing the statistics for February I saw a solid doubling of visits to an average of 60 per day and I also started to see some search hits entering on internal category pages like, ‘odd animals’ and off-beat stuff. I made a note of that so I could do some further research on those keywords and perhaps leverage those internal categories to bring in more traffic. A good SEO will always pay attention to an entire websites and not just the home page, that is one of the biggest mistakes that can be made. Search percentages for my two main keyword phrases held steady. My percent of search engine traffic was a tad below 25% and my keywords ‘crazy news’ (22.9) and ‘crazy news stories’ (4.2%). I decided to target a few other keyword phrases in this genre to try and improve overall traffic. I still wanted to concentrate on my new main keyword ‘crazy’ because I wanted to be able to compare my results to my other site www.VeryWeirdNews.com but I also want to use common sense and make this project a success.
Jan. 2008 – I have decided to launch a new blog with a similar topic to www.VeryWeirdNews.com, this one is called www.AllWeirdNews.com – My idea was to launch a similar site but to target a different set of keywords and see if I could duplicate my success. I used a similar posting pattern of basically one or two new posts per month and also built backlinks in a similar way using free and paid directory submissions, blog comments, blogroll links, content links and a very limited number of paid ads. I also submitted a few stories to various social bookmarking sites. By the end of the first month I was getting a small amount of traffic (averaging around 30 visits a day) and was getting search hits for my new keywords ‘crazy news’ (23.7) and ‘crazy news stories’ (9.4%).
Search Engine Rank for Competitive Keywords
May 3, 2008 – Wow quick action by Google and quick results. I just checked the search position for my top two phrases and I am back and looking good! For the phrase ‘weird news’ I am at the top of page 3 (another data center showed me 17th and on page 2) and for ‘strange news’ I am in 8th spot on page one. I will keep a close eye on these and probably do a bit of link building this month to ensure I continue to hold solid positions.
May 2, 2008 – January, February and March saw average monthly visitors of around 16,000 – I have not been spending anytime on this site recently and was letting it run on autopilot. While checking stats at the end of last month I noticed a 50% dip in search engine traffic, mostly from Google and became concerned. It seems my home page was dropped from the index. I started investigating and found that someone had uploaded a large block of hidden text into my header file. I contacted Google with a reconsideration request and so far things are looking positive. They were quite understanding and replied quickly to my concern. They quoted me another block of hidden text in one of their replies and I have been manually searching through every single file on my server to find it. I suspect it was part of the original spam I found but I did not notice that particular block because the whole thing was so huge. In retrospect I should have pasted it into a word document so I could examine it further, but I was so upset at that time that I just deleted it. This is my first reconsideration request so I will document it closely as I am sure many others will be interested in the details and outcome.
Dec. 1, 2007 – November turned out to be a monster month with over 18,000 unique visitors. A combination of traffic from Stumbleupon and Reddit were the catalysts. My promotion of the anchor text ‘odd’ and ‘odd news’ started to show a little upswing last month but I should see more positive results this coming month. I have moved up to search rank spot 12 on Google for the term ‘odd news’. And I moved into 7th spot for the term ‘weird news’ and am holding the number 2 spot for ‘strange news’. I am very pleased with these results and will continue building links for all three keyword phrases.
Nov. 3, 2007 – My SEO work on www.VeryWeirdNews.com has been very successful. In Sept. I had a healthy unique visitor count of 2,234 with 4,090 total visits. But after a few weeks of hard-work which included directory submissions, link exchanges, a few purchased ads and some on page SEO I was rewarded with the following stats for Oct. – 6,016 unique visitors and 8,927 total visits. Search engine traffic accounted for 31.8% of my total visitors and the term ‘weird news’ accounted for 1,106 of those search engine hits. To further illustrate the success I have had with my SEO work on this blog I am now on page one in rank 8 of Google for the search term “weird news” and that is out of 1,340,000 results (in quotations). For the second best term “strange news” I am in position 5 of the first page out of 1,480,00 results (in quotations). The next competitive term I will try and rank for is “odd news”, I am currently in spot 23 overall and my goal will be the first page for this term by the end of January. My site is averaging around 350 visits a day and if I continue to hold my spots and move up with a couple of new terms I should be able to level off around 500-600 a day by early next year. For reference in Oct. the searched word “odd” accounted for around 2% of total searches and the terms “odd news” .5% and “odd news stories” another .5%.
Sept. 16, 2007 – I have been keeping an eye on one of my more successful blogs lately and am ranking well for a decent traffic term but after some research I decided there is another better term I would like to rank for and I have began building links using some alternate anchor text, which is quite easy since the new term is part of the domain name. The blog is my Weird News Blog, www.VeryWeirdNews.com and the term is ‘Weird News’. I also noticed some traffic for a few lesser keyword phrases so I will be mixing up the anchor text with those extra words to try and nudge them up the SERP’s.
Unique Use of New Google Product
Aug. 29, 2007 – So far this month I have had 355 searches completed and a grand total of over 2,100 since inception. I am basically letting this site grow organically from now on but I will still do a little promotion once-in-a-while. I am very pleased with these results and will start doing some SEO after the next Google update to see if I can score some good positions for related search terms.
May 16, 2007 – It has been three months since I began my project of incorporating Google Co-op Search and Googlepages. I have just cruised past the 900 search mark today and the Google page site now has a page rank of 4. I have decided to add some more content to the site and also step up the promotion. I am now only including search results for my own sites and those of my promotional partners. I don’t really have a way of tracking how many conversions I get from searches performed through my search box but I am guesstimating the rate should be fairly high because of the specialized nature of the search. The search engine popularity tools are now showing over 4,000 backlinks in the major search engines and my search box now shows on approximately 18 websites. I have decided to only show my websites and those of my promotional partners in the search results. Originally I was showing Google results with my sites weighted more heavily and I was using the ‘omit site from results’ option to further skew the results in my favour but I found it was too time consuming to keep my directory results on the first page. So far this case study has been a great success and I even noticed that 10% of my adsense income from last month was derived from my search box results. I am going to continue promoting this search engine and am now actively seeking partners to display my search box in exchange for listings in the results pages. I have also added three new pages to the search site,
February 16, 2007 – I began doing some research into a new and interesting product Google is offering called Co-op Search. I was trying to think of how I might be able to leverage this powerful (and free) tool to help increase the income on my other sites (mainly my directories). I decided to create three different types of co-op search engines and use Google Pages (another free Google service) to aid in promoting them. I already had success with my very first Google Pages project, Best and Worst of the Web. This site has obtained a page rank of 4 and receives some regular traffic and has earned me a few bucks through Google Adsense and other text link promotions. Thus far I have only really been able to concentrate on one of the co-op search engines, you can see it here.
Viral Video Success
I began the promotion on July 28, 2006 and as you can see by the traffic report below the results were instantaneous.
As of writing this page on Aug. 1, 2006 I have brought in over 45,000 new visitors and Awstats is reporting more than 7,600 of those visitors have book-marked my site in their favorites. Viral promotion can be unpredictable so I won’t expect the same results each time. The results from this promotion would be considered above average.
Aug. 4, 2006 – So far the site has received an additional 11,600 visits to bring the grand total for the eight days to 56,600 with an additional 1,700 book-marks added.
Aug. 10, 2006 – So far the site has received an additional 6,700 visits to bring the grand total for the twelve days to 63,300 with an additional 900 book-marks added.
Aug. 28, 2006 – It has now been one month since my initial traffic surge from getting to number one on digg.com. The post has received a place on the first page of ‘top videos of the year’ so I am hoping for more residual traffic. Although traffic has gone down quite a bit it is still averaging around 5x-10x higher per day than before my promotion.
August 1, 2006 – Recently I have been further developing my viral marketing techniques mostly through social bookmarking sites. It has taken a few months to develop a solid base reputation on my various accounts but it has started to really pay-off well. I recently decided to further promote one of my blogs www.2BlogGadgets.com. Good page rank has been achieved through aggressive backlink building and I have been able to sell over 85% of the available advertising to generate revenue. Traffic has been building slowly but steadily for the past few months but I really wanted to achieve a new (and substantial) influx of first-time visitors. It was the perfect opportunity to leverage my viral marketing techniques.
Update Sept. 28, 2006 – The site traffic has pretty much stabilized at 250-300 uniques a day and has achieved a ton of backlinks in MSN and Yahoo search because of other blogs and sites linking via the Digg.com post. Adsense revenue has been minimal because most of these visitors don’t click ads. All-in-all it has been a great run and I just sold this site.