Reversing a Negative Trend in Organic Search Traffic
What Wine Wanted.
Wine’s objective was simple, they needed to reverse a negative trend in organic search traffic. For two years, 2018 and 2019, growth in organic search traffic was declining. They wanted an SEO strategy that would help them gain more visibility online and ultimately generate more sales.
The online beverages industry is incredibly competitive with sales by 2025 projected to be ten times more compared to 2016. The market growth rate and volume of consumption makes it more competitive than ever.
Our biggest challenge was not just operating in a saturated market, but competing with large global organisations that were investing heavily on their own SEO campaigns.
What We Did
The Wine website is a large ecommerce website and it had been populated with content that had been published over several years. It had also gone through several iterations of content and design changes over time.
We began the campaign with in-depth analysis to understand whether the site’s content growth through various redesigns, involving changes to the URL structure and information architecture, had created technical issues that were throttling the performance in search engines.
We revealed lots of opportunities for improvement, creating a technical roadmap which was implemented over a period of months.
The technical updates enhanced Google’s ability to crawl the website without encountering issues, whilst also improving the user journey for visitors.
Next up was the website content, starting with category pages and then products pages. Each category or product page was optimised for the main page keyword, this gave a clear instruction to Google what the page was focused on.
To compliment the product categories and pages, we published regular, engaging content to the Wine blog. The content was highly relevant to the Wine audience, solving queries their visitors were looking for. At the same time, we updated aged content, purging some articles that were out of date.
To help build authority for Wine, we created a content series which gave ideas on how to compliment popular dishes with wine. This generated links back to the Wine website from other publications.
At Hedgehog we believe that understanding search intent is imperative for truly successful digital marketing.
Knowing the highest reward keywords to target is no longer enough, you need to go deeper and understand why users are searching for those keywords and what they’re hoping to get from the search results.
Therefore, when working on the Wine search strategy, we put a spotlight on the search intent of their target audiences.
Google, the most popular search engine across the world, has been systematically updating its algorithm to better understand the intentions behind user searches and prioritising content which it determines best satisfies these intentions.
Once we gained a thorough understanding of the intentions behind the searches of Wine’s target audiences we were able to target content to the search terms that were relevant to their audience at various stages of the consumer journey
This meant that we could speak to target customers at specific times in their customer journey, building brand awareness and authority and cementing Wine as the go-to destination for beverages.
We put content at the heart of our work with Wine. From optimising existing content to perform better in the search engines, to producing targeted, high-quality posts for the brand’s blog.
With the optimisation of existing content, we employed a strategy of audit, maintain, merge or purge.
This approach led us to look at the performance of all existing content on the site to see how it was holding up in the search engines and how audiences were engaging with it.
If a piece of content was performing well then we would maintain it, checking it was optimised for relevant keywords and search intents.
For content that wasn’t performing so well and wasn’t getting the level of views that we’d like, we took a ‘merge or purge’ approach. This involved either absorbing that piece of content into another, better performing, post which focussed on a similar topic. Or, purging that content and deleting the post altogether
When this approach was required, we deployed redirects so that anyone looking for the merged or purged post would be directed to the updated blog posts, maximising our retention of traffic from these posts.
For new content, we focussed on creating a solid foundation of useful information for people interested in wine.
Our insight into the search intentions of Wine’s target audience helped to guide our content strategy. By understanding the motivations behind their search queries, we were able to identify the keywords with informational intents being used by potential Wine customers.
From that insight and our deep understanding of search intent, we were able to write posts that answered the questions potential customers were asking, to produce content which solved problems we knew their target audiences were facing.
This thorough understanding of the intentions behind searches and the application of that understanding is essential for creating a content marketing strategy that works to drive sales.
A featured snippet is an enlarged listing on the Google results page, usually at the top before the rest of the normal listings. They can show a variety of content including a snippet of a webpage’s content, business listings, a map of a relevant area or video content.
Websites selected for featured snippet positions are chosen for their ability to answer a user’s query in an accurate, informative and concise paragraph, list or table.
When they get chosen for a featured snippet position, websites get a more prominent position on the results page, attracting more eyes to their content. For Wine, a featured snippet position, ahead of their competition, could mean more sales from searchers
Therefore, another important aspect of our work for Wine was to optimise their content to secure a featured snippet position. We developed a technique for optimising content which helped to secure featured snippet positions for a number of the client’s blog posts.
This work helped to increase Wine’s presence in the search engines and their overall website visibility, one of their core goals when the client initially came to us.
Search performance is the foundation of any SEO effort; getting digital content performing optimally so that the search engines will reward it with higher positions in the rankings.
For Wine, their initial request when they came to us was for better performance in the search engines. All the work we did from that point forward was working to improve the site’s search performance.
We ensured that the pages of the website were optimised and performing well for Google’s bots to crawl them and read the content contained within them.
Links from authoritative websites which point back at your own site, known as backlinks, act as virtual votes of confidence, telling Google that your content is so useful and relevant that it’s worth linking to.
For a business trying to increase it’s website’s visibility in the search engines, these backlinks are essential. Google uses the number of backlinks a site has as one of the determining factors when ranking a site’s positioning in the results page.
Therefore, to increase their visibility in the search engines and boost their authority in the eyes of Google, another focus within our work for Wine, was to generate more backlinks for their site.
We set about researching which sites would offer high-value, relevant backlinks, that is, links from sites relevant to Wine but not in competition with the brand.
Link building requires a ‘linkable asset’, something that our target high authority websites will link back to. A linkable asset is usually a piece of content which is high quality and highly relevant to our target websites.
In the case of Wine, this came in the form of complimentary wine and meal ideas, presented in posts on the brand’s blog.
Not only was this highly useful and engaging for the Wine audience, but it was also a great display of Wine’s authority and knowledge of wine.