E-Commerce Case Study: 5.900% organic traffic growth within nine months for company in the health space
Would you like to receive more than 700 visitors to your e-commerce website every day?
We have helped one of our German clients achieve just that.
Within just nine months of working with us, they now receive steady organic traffic from related topical keywords and commercial keywords (e.g. people searching for “buy vitamin test”, etc.).
We understand how to utilize SEO best practices to help our customers get the relevant traffic they need to grow their business, completely on autopilot.
Given the growth we were able to achieve within such a short time frame, the owner was quite delighted, as you can probably imagine.
- We started working on the project in November 2020.
- The client’s goal was to attract more people to their shop pages and also cover relevant informational queries that are relevant to what they sell.
- Their website had been around for one year; however, there were basically zero websites linking to it – which makes an SEO project significantly more challenging.
- No SEO work had been done on the website prior to hiring us. They received only minimal brand traffic.
- The website targeted five different languages and regions.
- The client had a programmer that we could collaborate with and utilize to implement the changes. Our in-house content producer created the blog pages.
Before this company approached us to build out their SEO, they were getting clients and conversions primarily via Facebook Ads and Google AdWords. The problem with this is, once you turn these faucets off, there’s no more traffic.
When we started working with them In November 2020, their website received a total of 282 visitors, 80% of them being brand-related searches.
At that time, only five keywords ranked in the Google Top-3 positions, as you can see here:
Want to know what we did to achieve these results? Then read on!
What We Did / Our SEO Strategy
For any SEO project, it is very important to get the analysis right. This is why our SEO process is structured as follows:
- Context Discussion
- Keyword Research & Competitor Analysis
- Technical SEO
- Content Brief Creation & Creation
- Link Building
These processes are all vital parts to achieve optimal SEO results. Skip one, and chances are, the project will fail.
Here is what we did in detail for all processes:
1. Context Discussion
Before we start working on a project, we want to make sure that we know every detail from the client that might be important to make the project successful. Therefore, we developed a structured interview that enables us to truly understand our client’s needs and what they want to achieve.
It is a guided interview, so we are also able to step in and tell our clients when we think that other goals or KPIs might make more sense for them or might make them more profit in the end.
After the context interview is finished, we send the client a draft and ask them to approve it. This way, we can make sure that we are both aligned, and we have laid the best foundation possible to work together positively and achieve the intended results.
2. Keyword Research & Competitor Analysis
The client wanted to rank for his two main keywords (his main products) and he gave us a list of competitors that we could re-engineer to find more fitting ones.
We also conducted manual keyword research and compiled an extensive list with around 50 keywords. In the end, we compiled a long list of topically relevant keywords.
The health niche can be rather competitive to rank in. Paired with a weak domain (very little backlinks), we knew we must become very topically relevant in Google’s eyes. On top of that, we would focus on the easy keywords first. We, therefore, focused on keywords that were:
- Topically relevant
- Had a decent monthly search volume for Germany (above 150 searches per month)
- Had a low keyword difficulty (keywords that rather weak websites rank for)
This could look as follows (random example keywords):
If we were to rank the keywords from the image above, we would first focus on the ones with the lowest keyword difficulty that we researched with the Ahrefs SEO software. In this case, we would create a blog post that targets the keyword “lactose intolerance egg.”
By focusing on the low KD keywords (0 is the easiest on a scale from 0 to 100), we had the best chance of creating a new article that would be indexed by Google and rank well right out of the gate.
Besides the keywords that their competitors are targeting, we also look at other factors that are helping them rank well, for example:
- How many (high-quality backlinks) did the site receive? And where did they come from?
- How is their website structured?
- Do they build innerlinks a certain way?
We then went ahead and included all of these perceived “winning factors” from their various competitors into our client’s campaign.
3. Technical SEO
A website can have great content, but if it takes, for example, too much time to load on a mobile device, the website is considered a bad experience for the user – and Google rewards good user experiences. The search engine is more than happy to give your website less organic traffic when your pages do not live up to its standards.
Here are the most common issues:
- Slow loading time
- Website is not optimized for mobile phones
- There are spam links that point to your site
- Cannibalization (two pages compete for a keyword and ultimately both lose)
- Thin content pages that do not add value to the user
- Over-optimized pages and blog posts (i.e., mentioning the target keyword too often and making the text unreadable)
- Innerlinking Issues / broken links
- Wrong multi-language optimization (if you offer content in different languages)
Since this website was fairly new and didn’t have much content (aside from a handful of landing pages), there was no need to no-index large numbers of pages, as is often the case with more mature websites.
Their website speed was not ideal, so we gave the programmers some instructions to optimize this. We also ensured that pages that don’t need to appear in Google did not get indexed anymore. For example, pages like:
- Terms of Service
- Contact Page
- About Us
The website was created in WordPress, but it did not have a blog yet. The creation and proper setup of a blog is important since we primarily focus on the blog to drive traffic to the website.
We also emphasized improving the E-A-T of the website. This stands for Expertise, Authority and Trust and is mainly addressed through adding a real author with real credentials in the niche.
Another major factor that Google looks at as they rank blog posts is proper design and UX so that the user does not get overwhelmed by what they see and bounce away (Google can measure this nowadays, and it results in a lower ranking).
This is what we did:
- Communicated the best blog practices to the developers and monitored the implementation process.
- Installed a plugin that automatically compresses the size of images when they are uploaded (this is important for the loading speed of a website and helps you rank better).
- Installed a Cache-Plugin, which pre-loads the website. This results in faster loading times, a better user experience, and better rankings.
- Fixed broken links. Some links (for example, from news articles) were pointing to pages on the website that had been removed. That means that the links were not “counting” for Google anymore. Fixing this resulted in more link power that the site received.
- Submitted an XML Sitemap in Google Search Console (this is the process where you send Google a map of your website so it can more easily crawl the pages).
- Checked Search Console for indexation problems (to see if there are quality issues).
- Created the ideal topical silo. This means that similar articles are put in the same directory, which is innerlinked by breadcrumbs. This will result in better rankings for all keywords, not only the most valuable keywords (in this case, “earn money”). In this case, it was: domain.com/earn-money/ (main keyword page) and domain.com/earn-money/with-youtube/ (long-tail keyword page).
Thin Content/Crawling Issues
This client’s website had around 30 “real” website pages visible to the users (shop pages). However, it offered Google more than 600 pages to crawl (mostly thin and redundant content) due to a bug in their Content Management System.
Think of it like this: you have a shop, and there are 20 high-quality products and 580 items of terrible quality in the store window. People walking by would have a hard time spotting the good products among all of the low quality items.
It’s the same story with Google. The search engine is not happy to allocate resources to crawl a website like this in detail, let alone ranking them well for certain keywords.
We helped the client identify the bad pages and then we collaborated with their programmer to either hide these pages from Google or remove them completely.
Moreover, we optimized the Meta Information on all pages so that Google could better understand what each page was about and so that we’d have a chance to rank for the respective keyword.
Cleaning up this automatically-created thin content was the cornerstone for all of our later ranking success. Without it, the website would have had a hard time taking off ranking- and traffic-wise.
This process can be tedious and it can take a while because the programmers often need to perform several iterations until everything is perfectly optimized for SEO. We made sure that we communicated as much as possible with the programmers to prevent numerous iterations and to keep the CEO out of the more technical side of things.
4. Content Creation
The biggest aspect of any SEO campaign is usually the content creation. For this client, content creation was especially important because there was basically no content on the website.
Ideally, you should rank for one keyword per page. As you can see below, this website tries to rank for “best cat food” and includes it in the URL and the Title. You might also end up ranking for terms like “good cat food” naturally, but it would make no sense to keyword-stuff, for example, create an SEO Title that looks like this: “Best Cat Food – Best Cat Trees – Best Cat Holidays.”
The client was motivated to move medium-fast on content and provided an adequate budget for writing and links. We agreed to research, create, publish, and optimize seven articles per month.
These blog posts and the keywords targeted were all centered around the topic of food intolerance. Since there are many food intolerances out there – people even search for “beer intolerance” – it was a great opportunity to build a strong cluster of articles that could make the client look like an authority to Google.
For example, we created an article around “beer intolerance” and built strategically planned innerlinks to the article about “wheat intolerance.” Doing this helps pass so-called link juice between the articles (when ranking power is transferred from one article (a0 to the other (b) when a backlink points to article a). Moreover, this technique makes the articles appear faster (index faster) in Google.
What did the content creation process look like?
- The client wanted to outsource the content creation to us, so we used our trusted in-house writer.
- We took the previously-researched keyword and put it into an SEO tool called SurferSEO. This software looks at the top-ranking pages for a certain keyword and gives you hints on what the winning strategies are. A big factor is the word count of a page/article. If you are too far out from what Google is ranking, often you don’t stand a chance to end up in the top search results even if you wrote the best article in the world.
- We created the briefings in Surfer SEO (see example above) for every keyword. The writer can type directly in the browser and see how many words are still missing until the optimal range text length has been reached. For the above article, the optimal word count range was between 1304 and 1499 words. We gave the writers some topic ideas taken from dozens of competitor blog posts so that we’d be able to rank for as many keywords as possible.
- We briefed our writer and our project manager to ensure that everything will be produced, checked, and uploaded within the given deadlines. We directly dealt with the CEO of the company, and he is a busy person. He appreciated that we could take over the process management and achieve results so he could be involved as little as possible.
- Our primary job was to rank the shop for German keywords. We also did the 80/20 on-page optimization for the international pages (Brazil, US, Poland, etc.). By doing this, the website started ranking for some of the international commercial keywords.
As shown at the beginning of this case study, the website ranked for a total of 12 keywords in November 2020, when we started working on it. Only five keywords were to be found in the top 1-3 positions.
Around nine months later, at the end of July 2021, the website ranks for more than 1,555 keywords, and 130 keywords can be found in positions 1 to 3 in Google. In the rank tracker, it looks like this:
You need to scroll quite a long time to see the keywords that rank #1 in Google in Germany:
As you can see, the traffic and overall visibility have gone up dramatically since the project began. Compared to other projects, and considering the weak backlink profile of the website, this result is quite impressive.
SEO is like going to the gym. After one week, you probably don’t see much difference, but after three months, you can start to see significant changes. That was the case here.
It is great if a keyword moves, for example, from position 100 to position 11 in Google. But you will only see the full potential of it once it moves to the top 5 on the first page. That’s when the real party starts. On top of that, there is a huge difference in traffic between ranking #5 and ranking #1 for a keyword. In SEO, we live in a winner-takes-all world.
5. Link Building
Since we dealt with a fairly new website that had only been registered recently, we created a whole new social footprint for it. That means we registered the site in as many business profiles and social platforms as possible. We also built custom social signals from platforms like Twitter, Quora, and Facebook.
We did all of this with one goal in mind: to make the website appear as authoritative as possible to gain Google’s trust. This is the goal for every new campaign.
Our primary approach was to be conservative and build a fair number of brand links for our customer. One of the main ways we did this is to include at least some of the brand name in the anchor text rather than using exact match anchors such as “buy food intolerance test online.”
Link building is an art because you really have to make it look 100% natural for Google. They don’t like it when they sense that somebody is manipulating something or acts either too aggressively or too fast.
It is, for example, more natural that the homepage receives more backlinks than the blog. It is also more natural that blog posts receive more backlinks than a product page (if you operate an e-commerce store).
To an extent, this comes down to looking at what your competitors do (and get away with). Then, we emulate the best practices that we identify.
For this project, we mainly used guest posts as a link source for our client. At the same time, however, we had to make sure that we provided a diverse link profile that looks as natural as possible. This also includes “nofollow” links – links that do not pass on ranking power but are still important to appear natural.
On top of buying links from trusted, high-quality vendors, we also did manual outreach to interesting websites in their niche, because the best backlink a site can get is one that:
- Is from a page that is topically relevant (e.g. a cat blog that receives a backlink from another cat blog).
- Has many relevant backlinks themselves.
- Ranks highly in Google for the keyword(s) we want to rank for itself (this means that Google trusts the site a lot).
After nine months, the website traffic had increased by 5.900% compared to where we started in November 2020.
In November 2020, the client received a total of 282 visitors through Google. In July 2021, SEO brought a total of 17,034 visitors. That’s a 5940% increase!
Needless to say, the client is happy and we are happy to help them grow their business and be much more independent from the kind of paid traffic that drops to 0 the moment you stop paying for it.
One final important note: the client not only ranks for informational keywords, but also ranks very well for a large number of his shop pages.