Case Study: Improving Search Engine Visibility for Fitness Experience
IntroductionFitness Experience is an e-commerce and brick-and-mortar hybrid business that carries the largest selection of premier fitness equipment in Western Canada, running the gamut from squat racks to elliptical trainers to home gyms. As such, its services also include providing fitness knowledge and expertise, as well as the boxing, delivering and on-site set-up of fitness equipment. The company had two websites. The main website, FitnessExperience.ca, was a B2C e-commerce store dedicated to selling fitness equipment to retail customers, ranging from fitness enthusiasts to those simply looking to get back on the treadmill. Its second website, a subdomain of the main one, was a commercial site targeting retail businesses such as gyms and fitness centres. In the latter half of November 2018, the company partnered with Method and Metric with the goal of increasing e-commerce revenue by improving search engine visibility and click-through rate (CTR). The project would be limited to its B2C website, and thus, would exclude the commercial site.
Keyword Research & Competitive Analysis
We started off by collecting relevant fitness equipment keywords. Research proved more challenging than usual due to the company’s unusually large product offering. However, through search volume analysis, we were able to narrow our list of keywords to those that were most commonly searched for by users on search engines, specifically, users from Canada. The next step was to use our refined list to create what is referred to as long-tailed keywords. As the name implies, long-tailed keywords are three or more word phrases that are used to target specific niche demographics. We achieved this by combining the keywords with language that showed a high probability of intent from the user to make a purchase. For example, a user that searches ‘treadmills’ in Google is much less likely to be ready to make a purchase compared to one that searches ‘buy treadmills Winnipeg’ or ‘cheap treadmills online Canada’. Moreover, it is much more difficult to rank for single word keywords as it is likely to be targeted by many more domains. The finalized list of keywords was then uploaded into our keyword tracker in order to measure performance. We also created separate fields for different markets, locations and devices in order to obtain more granular insights. The end result was a total of 1360 tracked keywords. From there, we were able to track global and regional search volumes and search engine visibility for each keyword, as well as how FitnessExperience.ca was ranking for each one. We were also able to determine other domains that were ranking for the same keywords and identify main competitors. In this case, the top three competitors were FitnessDepot.ca, FitnessTown.ca and treadmillfactory.ca. We then used this information to perform competitive analyses on each domain in order to identify opportunities for Fitness Experience and its website.
Aesthetically, Fitness Experience’s website had been designed well. It was simple, with consistent colour schemes, high-resolution product images, and was relatively easy to navigate. Even its call-to-actions (CTAs) had non-generic text and had high prevalence throughout the website. However, our website audit painted a slightly different picture of what was happening behind the scenes. It was evident that its web pages had not been optimized very well. For starters, many of its internal and external links had to be fixed as they were non-secured (HTTP) links. These were links to the company’s social sites, instructional videos, suppliers’ websites, etc. Such links negatively impact the visibility of the domain on search engines by decreasing trust scores. As such, we crawled all the pages to find the HTTP links and changed them to HTTPS links. Keywords had not been implemented across most of its web pages, including important page meta tags and headers such as title tags, meta descriptions, h1 and h2 tags, etc. In fact, many of these had been empty, while those that were filled had not been optimized well. Many were not the optimal length, duplicates, or simply failed to accurately convey information. This was also the case for its images, which had missing or poorly written alt texts. This resulted in poor Google and Bing rankings for the search terms we had prepared.
With our preliminary research and analysis done, we proceeded to make changes to the website itself. It was a long list of changes, but highlights include the following:
- Updated all HTTP links to HTTPS links to improve domain authority and search engine visibility.
Meta Tag and Header Optimization
- Implemented keywords in title tags and meta descriptions to improve search engine visibility and click-through rate
- Updated tag and header lengths to optimize for user readability on search engines
- Resized images to improve page load time and user experience. – Implemented accurate image alt tags to increase search engine visibility
- Update web page content to include keywords from our research to improve rankings for targeted search terms
Broken Link Update and URL redirection
- Update and Redirect all broken and old URLs to the appropriate destinations to improve domain authority and avoid users visiting wrong pages.
- Determined and created goals on Google Analytics in order to easily track and compare future conversion rate performance across different dimensions and metrics.
Results: Improved Online Visibility
In just under two months, we have been able to achieve the following Google search engine visibility improvements for FitnessExperience.ca:
- Improved rankings on Google for targeted keywords by 298 positions.
- Increased appearance in the top 20 Google search results for targeted keywords by 42%.
We also looked at the numbers period between Dec 17, 2018 – Jan 17, 2019, and compared it to the same time period in the previous year. Here are the results:
- Increased the number of users that visited the site by 32.08%
- Increased the number of new users to that visited the site by 35.89%
- Increased the number of users in Canada that visited the site by 19.03%
- Increased the number of sessions on the site by 30.40%
- Increased the number pageviews on the site by 125.18%
- Increased the pages/session (the number of pages are viewed per session) on the site by 72.69%
- Decreased the bounce rate (when a user leaves the site without interacting with it) on the site by 97.49%
- Increased the number of mobile users that visited the site by 42.94%
- Increased the number of new mobile users that visited the site by 44.13%
- Increased the number of mobile sessions on the site by 42.07%
- Decreased the mobile bounce rate on the site by 98.81%
- Increased pages/session on the site by 107.42%
Organic Search Traffic (Traffic from search engines that is earned, not paid)
- Increased the number of users that visited the site via organic search by 34.39%
- Increases the number of users that visited the site via Google by 29.88%
- Increase the number of new users that visited the site via organic search by 36.08%
- Increased the number of sessions on the site where the user arrived via organic search by 32.58%
- Increased the number of pageviews on the site where the user arrived via organic search by 129.78%
- Increased the number of pages viewed per session on the site where the user arrived via organic search by 73.32%
- Increased the number of product pages viewed on the site by 15.05%
- Increased the number of product pages viewed on the site by users that arrived via organic search by 18.00%
- Increased the number of checkout page views on the site by 33.99%
- Increased the number of checkout page views from users that arrived on the site via organic search by 39.23%
- Increased the number of orders made on the site by 29.48%
- Increased the number of orders made from users that arrived on the site via organic search by 36.04%
The changes to Fitness Experience’s website have proved to be quantifiably successful thus far. However, it is important to note that we are still in the relatively early stages of the project. There is still a lot of work to be done, including but not limited to schema structured data markups, off-page optimization, and backlink outreaching. Needless to say, further improvement is expected by the completion of the project.