This is how I helped a budget constrained small business owner boost search traffic by over 300% by focusing on solving critical on page SEO problems.
This client that hired me last year. My responsibility was to find out how to improve the search visibility of the client’s website, and work with his in-house team to rectify problems.
The client is in the private alternative education industry, in business for over 10 years. He has an in-house developer/web designer, and he handles content himself.
He did not have enough budget for prolonged SEO campaign, so we opted for short 3 month SEO consultation period.
Key problems identified
Broken links. There was quite a significant amount of broken links on the site. Some were pointing to pages that have moved, some of them were generated poorly by the CMS, and the rest were just input errors by the webmaster.
Site-wide broken links were the reason for the large number. Though the broken links represented only 1.6% of all links, some of those links were crucial to the site.
This meant PR link juice was wasted, and the large number of broken links can cause bad user experience.
404 error pages. Due to the broken internal links, a number of 404 error pages turned up.
These pages are what users see when they click on a broken internal link. They aren’t useful, and will harm user experience. In fact, the home page rotating slider had links to 404 pages… which was bad.
Terrible On Page SEO. The site had a myriad of On page SEO problems. Title tags, headings, meta tags were not keyword optimized.
Worse, the CMS caused huge duplicate content issues. That’s why there was so many pages with duplicate page titles. Many pages could be reached via 2-3 different URLs.
Many URLs were a direct copy of page titles, which meant URLs were quite unsightly, and even contained funny characters due to mandarin page titles.
The www and non-www versions of the site could be reached separately. Another potential duplicate content problem. Links were also pointing to both versions of the site, so there was definitely a loss in link PR authority.
Site structure and layout.
Overall, the site structure was messy, and the home page design was cluttered without a logical flow. There were too many links to unimportant pages of the site. The animated sliders on the homepage could not be controlled, and pointed to relatively unimportant pages. (Also some links on the slider were broken)
Minor website redesign
Due to budget constraints, the client could not undergo a total site revamp. Instead, we focused on changing the home page layout, and took away distractions from the home page.
Following my suggestion, the site was structured into themes. Each main course types became the main themes, and each main themes were supported by the various sub courses and lessons. This created a neat website silo structure.
To improve the navigation and internal linking of the site, I recommended breadcrumb links.
Other recommendations I made was to improve the main menu. We removed unimportant links, and added dropdowns to inner pages.
Broken links and 404 errors
I gave the developer the entire list of broken links: where the links originated, and what broken pages they were linking to. We manually hunted down all the broken links, and either corrected the hyperlinks or 301 redirected old pages to the new ones.
We did a site-wide 301 redirect to redirect all non-www versions of the site to the www version. This solved much of all the duplicate content issue. Anything not meant to be redirected were “canonicalized” to the correct pages.
Other On Page SEO factors
This took a lot of man hours. We had to manually rewrite page titles, headings, meta descriptions, permalinks, and different copy all over the site. This could not be done without extensive keyword research. I provided them with a naming protocol so they only have to follow the guidelines the next time they upload something.
Off Page SEO
Although less focus was placed on link building this time around, efforts to build links were fruitful.
1. By researching competitor’s links, we were able to find outreach targets to send requests to sites that linked to competitors but not the client.
2. The client had a number of unlinked mentions on the internet, through press stories about the business, or interviews that the client gave. We reached out and requested links for articles that did not link back.
3. Identified other websites, web properties, and profiles that the client owned, and built links from there.
Once all the improvements were completed, we saw pretty good results the following month .
The client did not have Google Analytics installed initially, so we compared raw traffic data from the client’s web server. We compared the current data against the traffic from the same month last year.
One month after my consultation ended, the number of monthly unique Visits (compared to the same period a year ago) increased by 23%. The number of Pageviews increased by an astonishing 114%.
Now with Google Analytics installed, we can compare the latest monthly traffic figures compared to the monthly traffic before I was hired to help them a year ago.
324.58% increase in Sessions from search traffic, almost 300% rise in the number of Users, and 324.90% increase in Pageviews.
That’s mighty impressive, considering everything was done under low budget conditions, and without investing too much in off-page SEO marketing. Thus is the importance of having good On-Page SEO, and a good website structure.
*Most of the targeted keywords are now in the first page, and many are in top 5 of Google SG results page (I can’t show you for confidentiality’s sake). To be honest, the actual keywords rankings aren’t important at all.*
Never underestimate what good On Page SEO can do for your site. This particular client’s website had already built up some authority and good links over the years, but was bogged down by poor design, inefficient navigation, and just plain bad on-page optimization.
So before you seek out an SEO consultant to do link building, make sure your site is well optimized to reap the full rewards of a good SEO campaign.