Large Enterprise SEO Case Study
SEO was not a primary acquisition channel for this large enterprise. Like many big brands, their business was built on their brand, reputation and trust. In fact, not a single employee among their 50,000+ employees had “SEO” in their title. They did, however, have a marketing team that was concerned and recognized a multi-year downward trend in organic traffic and new customers from search engines. They knew something was wrong with their SEO performance and sought expert assistance. Clark Taylor was the agency's senior consultant assigned to this important client.
Industry: Health, Wellness, Education
Business Size: Over $16B Annual Revenue
An audit of the primary domain identified a number of technical SEO issues but the primary cause of the traffic decline was determined to be caused by a perception by Google of poor content quality. The site had been negatively impacted by Panda algorithm updates prior to 2016 and broad core algorithm updates after 2016. To summarize the problem, the true quality and absolute trustworthiness of this world-renowned organization wasn’t apparent to Google in the business’ primary website.
The following were some of the biggest issues that triggered the decline:
Thin-slicing of content and topics
Excessive ad placement
Dilution of link equity
Site architecture did not align with business priorities
Challenges that were overcome:
Departments with competing goals
CMS that didn’t lend itself easily to SEO business requirements
Desire to test even small changes that were no-brainers
No internal SEO team
Lack of buy-in and knowledge about SEO at the executive level
Create a prototype and migration plan to combine thin content. The prototype was tested on a small number of topics to evaluate user-experience, ad revenue impact and conversions. The team recognized that SEO performance likely would not improve until the prototype was rolled out to a significant percentage of the entire site.
Many technical SEO issues and solutions that were identified during the audit phase were solved and implemented as prototypes were developed and tested. Due to platform limitations, some significant technical issues remained. Additionally, HREFLANG and internationalization for a Spanish version of the site was properly implemented. The previous improper and incomplete implementation was not believed to be a factor in the traffic declines.
During this process Clark and members of the agency team made multiple in-person visits to educate and train executives, developers, and content teams. This led to more collaboration and expansion of SEO work in other departments and domains.
The new prototypes quickly proved to provide a better user experience resulting in more engagement and conversion rates that were consistent with the control group. There was, as expected, some loss in ad revenue due to the consolidation of many pages.
Once the new prototype was released to 100% of the affected content, year-over-year organic traffic declines turned into year-over-year gains. Over a period of two and a half years organic traffic grew from 1M daily visitors from Google organic to more than 4M daily visitors.