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Site Quality Assessment Case Study: The story of our lead gen client that experienced 300+% organic traffic growth
Project submitted: December 18, 2019
Website niche: Lead generation
Within the space of under 10 short years, this lead gen and comparison business has played a major role in their industry nation-wide. Their team of experts are dedicated to collecting user info and sending it to a series of suitable partners. In doing so, they help to turn one of the most stressful times of your life into something much less of a hassle. Their pillars of success include building a reputable network, saving customers time and money, and providing expert advice throughout the entire process, and being straightforward, quick, and efficient. Worthwhile to note: when they approached us they operated with a few distinct sectors although they were open with us saying that they had authority in only one of those three (this’ll be important later).
Although they specialize in lead gen and their city pages were among their most important (like most using this business model), they don’t lose sight of having valuable content, and they clearly have an interest in helping people — in our opinion, these are strong traits that we at MHC applaud.
Our website quality assessments can be broken up into a series of important items. When combined, they give us a much more holistic view of the website and its landscape, and a better understanding of the issues which can then help us produce a more informed series of recommendations to the client.
The thin content section proved to be rather important as it’s where we uncovered what we felt was the most pressing issue on the site overall — doorway pages. These city pages (which made up ~25% of the site’s total indexed content) were essentially the same page modified to fit a targeted segment, for the purpose of funneling users to the same end goal. As you may know, Google frowns upon them and has publicly mentioned various times the implications that can follow. These repercussions may include a manual action (via John Mueller’s Help Hangout in December 2017) or content dilution (via a John Mueller Help Hangout in Sept 2017) — with a manual action ruled out, the latter was the more likely situation here.
Our recommendation regarding the doorway pages was to apply a set criteria using a series of key metrics, and choose a method somewhere between significantly reducing the number of doorway pages to Google’s acceptable upper limit (and maintaining the content status quo), or improve each and every page to have plenty of standalone value. We felt somewhere in the middle ground would be the most impactful for the client which resulted in around 20% of those original pages remaining. Those that remained received a significant overhaul in terms of the unique, original, and useful content. The effect of these changes by the client proved to be beneficial (more on that below!).
Secondly, our backlink analysis dug up a series of unnatural links which mainly consisted of patterns such as keyword anchors, paid or incentivized links, and guest posts, along with other, less severe patterns. We noted our concern for this site receiving a suppression of some kind and recommended a thorough link audit be complete. A few months later, we were rehired and completed the audit around mid-summer 2020 (the impact of the new disavow file not yet seen).
Another area that piqued our interest was the notion of providing ‘expert-level content’ without the appropriate credentials to support this. We feel that the Quality Raters Guidelines and Google’s SEO starter guide are quite adamant that Your Money or Your Life (YMYL) content be created and edited by persons with strong credentials in that topic. As a result, we advised that authorship be improved on-site through means of leveraging in-house personnel as well as introducing a series of off-site experts.
With the series of recommendations received by the client, we were very impressed with the willingness to embrace them and how quick they were to implement. They took immediate action on the doorway pages, asked follow up questions from the report, began working harder to trim and improve thin content, they’ve continually focused on enhanced quality and standards across their content.
In their first few months they’ve seen many of the keywords that they’ve struggled with for some time achieving higher rankings (with many of these returning to page 1 and several others — including many of their most important few! — landing in the coveted top spot). We talked about the client having various distinct sectors earlier. We can tell you that they have gained good traction across all fronts with each accounting for more than 100% growth.
The client has also seen a big increase with the May 2020 Core Update (up nearly 100% over the first two weeks and as high as 326% in late Summer 2020). Their city-level pages have seen some phenomenal gains with their most important one achieving over 125% organic growth.
In recent months, they’ve engaged with a PR agency to help earn plenty of good, natural links, they’re expanding their content offering, and they’ve re-hired MHC to conduct a full link audit to remove any unnatural links in their backlink profile. We’re eager to see the future success of this client and can’t wait to see what the future brings them.
- Late September 2020: Client sees approx. 32% drop coincidental with the September 2019 Core Update
- Early November 2019: Client contacts MHC for help
- Mid to late December 2019: MHC submits completed Site Quality Assessment to client
- Mid January 2020: Client begins implementing MHC recommendations
- Mid January 2020: Client sees approx. 94% increase coincidental with the January 2020 Core Update
- Mid March 2020: COVID-19 pandemic cause mass lockdowns across the world (thus impacting the online trends of many industries)
- Early May: Client sees approx. 300% increase coincidental with the May 2020 Core Update
- Summer 2020: MHC begins work on link audit and submits a disavow with client approval in September.
We’re happy to play an important role in the client’s success but we commend them for their hard work and commitment to change — without it, who knows where we’d be. Since we began working together, we’ve seen over 300% organic growth and there’s no signs of this slowing down anytime soon!
Working with Marie and the rest of the team has been one of the best decisions we have made as a company all year.
After suffering from a core update in 2019 Marie and the team went to work on a detailed website review containing a range of practical solutions for us.
Thanks for all your help and continued support.