E-Commerce Migration Case Study
The beauty products online-only retailer lost 80% of its traffic immediately following a site migration. Although a short-term loss of organic visibility is common with website migrations, this site didn't recover as expected. The business was suffering from a catastrophic loss in revenue as SEO was responsible for more than 70% of all sales. Clark Taylor was the agency's senior consultant assigned to diagnose and solve the problem.
Industry: Beauty and Personal Care, e-Tail
Business Size: $500M Annual Revenue
An audit of the site identified a large number of technical SEO issues but the primary root of the traffic decline was determined to be caused by a massive explosion in URL bloat due to a near endless number of crawlable and indexable facets and filters. The new website architecture allowed a site with less than 20k SKUs to grow to 200Mp pages causing the following issues:
Infinite loops and spider traps
Excessive similar and duplicate content
Not enough crawl budget
Challenges that were overcome:
Desire by in-house SEO team to test small changes when large changes were necessary
No canonical strategy prior to migration
Dev team had limited ability to implement recommendations
Pre-migration baselines were inaccurate due to Google Analytics double-reporting (error found during audit)
Create a canonical strategy using a combination of canonical and meta noindex tags, robots.txt blocking and on-click actions to significantly reduce the site's crawl space.
Against our advice, the in-house SEO team insisted on nofollowing internal links instead of implementing the canonicalization strategy as recommended. This likely delayed the eventual recovery by an additional 45-60 days.
While waiting on the test of the nofollow strategy, additional improvements were made to product detail pages and other areas of the site not thought to primary causes of the decline.
This recovery took over 8 months. Part of this is due to the client's reluctance to act on the recommendations provided and because of the lack of trust Google had in the site.
The client regained about 70% of lost traffic. As visualized above, nearly 1000 keywords moved from page 2 or deeper on Google to page 1. 175 of those keyword were in positions 1-3.