By Chris Lee
Search engine optimisation (SEO) and social media agency theMediaFlow was approached by iAnnounce, a provider of online family announcements, to help it grow its presence on Google and made an immediate impact. NMK quizzed theMediaFlow’s founder on how it was achieved.
iAnnounce provides community announcements – traditionally births, deaths and marriages – online. As well as providing such data on its own site, its offering can be white-labelled so that regional and weekly newspapers in the UK can use iAnnounce’s technology to provide regionalised announcements to online readers in their communities.
Starting the SEO analysis
theMediaFlow conducted an initial audit and evaluation of the site’s organic search performance. It was found that the site was technically well optimised and that a large number of very high quality links were pointed to it, therefore it concluded that neither a technical SEO review nor link-building plan would facilitate the greatest opportunity for growth.
“What did emerge from the initial review was the finding that there were a number of extremely interesting data stories to be derived from the large volume of visits and keywords from organic search,” explained Nichola Stott, founder of theMediaFlow. “As an example it could be seen that for the hundreds of thousands of organic search visits each month; almost all of them came from a unique keyword. This is extremely unusual as most often a site will attract multiple visits from the same keyword.”
theMediaFlow proposed an extensive forensic data analysis project, designed to identify patterns in keyword phrases; subject matter, regional variation, seasonality, phrase length and syntax in order to provide optimisation recommendations based on data patterns.
Data from more than three million visits from two million-plus keywords over a number of months of search activity was exported from Google Analytics to Excel for detailed analysis. Data was sliced and diced into a number of different pivot charts including by subject group (birth-related, death-related or marriage-related), daily rate of visits, geo-location, query term make-up and phrase syntax. This produced a number of significant findings, according to Stott.
· Death-related searches overwhelmingly eclipsed all other types of event
· Despite the content type traditionally being titled “Births, Deaths and Marriages”, this did not translate to the web
· Web searchers were far more inclined to use “obituary”, “wedding” or “baby”
· The most common query length was three terms
· The vast majority of queries followed the format [firstname]+[surname]+[event]
· The single most common query was [firstname]+[surname]+[obituary]
A number of on-page optimisation recommendations were made, informed by the findings of the data analysis. Most significant was the instruction to change the obituary page <title> tag to automatically take the person’s first name, surname and suffix with “obituary” so that the format of the title exactly replicated the most common user-query syntax.
Learnings were extrapolated to other event form pages, Stott explained.
Early stage results were almost immediate and extremely positive, with an overall increase of 18 per cent on organic search traffic, with Google traffic increasing at an even greater rate of 20 per cent by the end of the third month post implementation.
Looking at year-on-year growth comparing May 2012 with May 2011, visits from organic search increased 81 per cent, with Google organic search visits increasing even more at 87 per cent, according to Stott.
“It is worth noting that existing levels of Google organic search traffic were already considerable, therefore a 20 per cent increase post-recommendations and 87 per cent year-on-year is a very significant number in absolute terms,” she added.
In addition, these results were compared to other traffic sources to the site in the same time period, which remained largely flat, therefore the success of the organic search project as reflected in the data is even more credible, Stott concluded.