To protect the privacy of our client and their business, any identifying information has been removed from this case study.
In April 2013, we started working with a local business here in Chicago who had virtually no online presence aside from having a very basic website in place. We started a mid-sized SEO campaign targeting about a dozen local terms for the client, many of which are fairly competitive terms, and to date we’ve ranked over 80% of these terms on page 1 and many of them in the number 1 position.
Through this case study, we’re going to discuss what we did, how we did it, and some best practices we put in place to ensure our client would see the results they were looking for.
As we mentioned, at the start of this campaign we were working with a newer business with virtually no web presence. They came to us requesting that we increase their rankings for a few core terms in the Chicagoland area and based on the competitive nature of their industry we recommended a “moderate” SEO campaign over the course of several months to increase rankings for the desired keywords.
Having a game plan for each and every client is key to the success of an SEO campaign. We start out every campaign by analyzing a website inside and out, including traffic, visitor patterns, off-site aspects, on-site coding, and nearly everything imaginable to identify areas for improvement prior to even starting the campaign.
At the onset of the campaign, we jump into things from two different directions: First we correct any issues we identified to ensure we’re starting with a clean slate while also engaging in extensive keyword research to identify what terms are most searched for in an industry and how we should best position our client.
From here there’s really only three on-going aspects to an SEO campaign:
- On-Site Optimization: Optimizing dozens of on-site elements and internal linking on the site to make the site easier for search enginges (and visitors) to understand and navigate.
- Off-Site Optimization: Building links, distributing content, and developing citations to help spread the word about the website so search enginges (and visitors) will be able to find the site easier and in a variety of places.
- Content Creation: Every successful SEO campaign has to have a content creation calendar in place to direct new content production and ensure everyone involved in the production of content is working together as efficiently as possible.
In the case of this client, we engaged in a variety of techniques that ultimately lead to the dramatic ranking improvements we saw, which we’ll include more details about in the next section.
How We Did It
If there’s one thing that bothers me when I read SEO articles, it’s that everyone has a ton of great ideas floating around, but no one knows how to implement those ideas properly on an on-going basis and scale those ideas. I don’t want to toot our horn and say we have all the answers, but we definitely follow through on all our recommendations and discoveries during the initial analysis which is what helps us get consistent results for our clients.
In this case, there were several elements that ultimately lead to the success of this client’s SEO campaign, including:
- Internal Cleanup: When we started the campaign, the client’s site was a mess and their developer clearly didn’t know anything about SEO. We went in and optimized all their WordPress templates to ensure the coding was clean, concise, and optimized well for search engines. This included everything from title tags to headers to the way images are rendered and much more.
- Internal Linking: Beyond the internal cleanup, the site had virtually no internal linking in place. Linking from one page to another within the site is an extremely powerful and somewhat easy way to get links to your pages, and while they may not be as powerful as external links from good sources, if you have a large site and can place hundreds of thousands of internal links it can have a dramatic impact on your organic rankings.
- Page Creation: It was important for this client to rank in a few specific cities, so part of this process was writing great content specific to those cities to help visitors from those locations better understand the business. This information included directions from those cities to our client’s location, business hours, how our client is better than a competitor that might be closer to their location, and much more. It’s important to note that when using this strategy, you don’t want to create “doorway pages” which are pages created just for search engines, but rather you want to create a rich resource that will enhance your site for both visitors as well as search engines.
- Content Distribution: Our client was already doing a good job of creating content on a daily basis, so we helped them clean it up a bit and then aided in distributing that content. In fact, not only did we rank our client on page one, but for many keywords we also have their content on 3rd party websites ranking on page one. For one keyword, our client takes up the first 5 positions for the term! We achieved this through syndicating and rewriting their existing content and then distributing it to strong 3rd party websites along with interconnecting these sites through a link building campaign.
- Link Building: No SEO campaign would be complete without link building. In this case, we were able to build a large amount of relevant links through the content distribution mentioned above, through the use of press releases, and through 3rd party relevant blogs related to our client’s industry. Since this is a local client, we also were able to get them listings in a variety of local business directories and resources.
We along with our client are extremely pleased with the outcome of the campaign so far. And now that we’ve achieved rankings for our initial keyword set of about a dozen terms, we’re branching off into variations of those terms, additional cities, and additional terms to help drive even more traffic to our client’s site.
Below is a snapshot from our in-house client management tool first showing the improvement in traffic over the last 4 months, then the improvement in rankings, and keyword by keyword ranking improvements over the life of the campaign. Again, to protect our client’s privacy, some of this data has been blurred out or removed.
All in all, while each and every SEO campaign is a little different, they all follow a similar process of starting with a great strategy that falls within the guidelines and recommendations of search engines, then working closely with our clients to follow through and implement our recommendations.