Ecommerce SEO Case Study: How we brought 13x more organic traffic and double revenue. [in 11 months]
From 500K€ MRR to 1.2M€ in 11 months
This client is an online pharmacy store and sells 30K+ products in SE Europe.
Today we will talk about Ecommerce SEO.
While many Ecommerce stores spend even more money in paid ads eery year, there are many ecommerce brands that are figuring out that SEO can do the job and they’re crushing it.
The client that we will talk about today, is one of these brands.
They’ve changed many agencies before, but they didn’t get the results they wanted.
They managed only to get 2580 daily visitors.
After working together for 11 months, we got to 22K daily visitors, doubled their online sales and keep growing.
Check out these results:
- YoY organic search traffic increase: 720% 📈
- From 500K MRR to 1.2M€ in 11 months
- YoY organic search revenue increase: +55%
- Ad Spent Decrease: 52%
- Rank above Skroutz (one of the biggest marketplaces in southeast Europe) for food and weight loss supplements terms.
- Rank in 1st position for very competitive terms, such as “online pharmacy”
- Rank in 1st & 2nd position for brand terms, above the brand’s website (in some cases), for branded terms like “apivita” , “avene”, “solgar”, “frezyderm”, “centrum”
A Closer Look At The Case Study Site
The client is an eCommerce store and they are selling more than 30K different products online and they have more than 2K brands.
The main focus were to-
Sounds simple, right?
It's not that hard..
Except one detail..
The Biggest Challenge
The online pharmacies niche, selling beauty products, food, and weight supplements etc. is one of the most competitive SEO niches.
Most search results are dominated by huge brands like Skroutz, Amazon etc.,
while at the same time you have to compete in SERPs for the same brands that you sell.
Or well-established online businesses, such as Pharmacy295
These metrics seem terrifying, right?
Just by looking at top search results for target keywords, you got scared.
For example for the keyword “vitamin d supplement”, you will get:
In order to get in the top 3 search results, you will need to:
- Create around 100 pieces of content
- Build 300-350 backlinks
And this process will take at least 1.5 to 2 years.
Those types of search results are common across this niche.
So, we started by analyzing the first 10 results for the most important keywords we wanted to rank for.
And then it hit us..
All of these websites had great overall domain authority, but they didn’t pay attention to specific product categories or product pages.
They were on the top 10 results and ranking only out of domain authority, instead of individual page metrics.
So this is it, we had a solid chance to compete with these websites – our competitors.
Creating A Roadmap
First of all, we had to create a strategy – a roadmap for the client, that will cover the best tactics that need to be implemented in this specific case.
The process of creating the roadmap and next steps usually takes 1 to 2 weeks, depending on the project, the overall scope and the difficulty of the case.
It includes a discovery call, competition research, defining priorities, setting clear KPIs, planning and delivering the roadmap and the next steps, in terms of implementation.
At the end of this process the client has a clear action plan for the next 12 months.
Our method of creating an SEO strategy is a combination of 4 pillars.
⚡️ Technical Pillar: conducting an audit. All the technical fixes that combine technical SEO and dev tasks, for improving the website and website’s performance.
⚡️ Content Pillar: performing keyword research, defining the best keywords mix based on buyer’s journey, creating a content strategy, implementing on-page optimizations and on-serps optimizations.
⚡️ Conversion Pillar: All the actions that need to be done, in order to improve the overall User’s Experience and metrics, such as bounce rate, click through rate and dwell time.
⚡️ Authority Pillar: All the actions that need to be done to increase the website’s presence on the web. Including all the link building activities that need to be done.
And taking over the “Quick Wins”.
We will explain all of the pillars in detail, in the following chapters.
The proper combination of these pillars, that including very specific action items, were responsible for 13x traffic in 11 months.
First things first: Study the competition
Studying the competition is our first step in every project we take when creating the strategy. This not only helps us gather key information about what’s working for the niche, but we can also save weeks of research and analysis.
Some of the tool we used for competition analysis:
We analyzed the top 15 competitors and looked at what they were doing from an SEO and CRO perspective.
Some of the elements we analyzed were:
Site Architecture of the website: categorization, sections, breadcrumbs, internal linking strategy.
On-page & On-site Optimizations: page titles, meta descriptions, page speed, page size, headings, schema.
Monetization and shopping experience – mobile experience, pricing strategy, calls to action, discounts, offers, checkout flow,refund policies.
Audience – age, sex, marital status, education, income, hobbies.
Backlink Profile: how they get their backlinks, uncover their backlink strategy, most authoritative backlinks, where the most backlinks came from.
After we wrote down what they were doing right and what could be improved, we outlined a specific plan that was created with the intention of helping our client “be the best.”
It was time to put all the pieces together and start implementing them.
At this point technical seo has been previously handled, so we didn’t bother with the technical details.
So, we move forward with our plan.
The first phase of the project had a duration of 4 months and then we saw the first results.
A small note here: the team from the client side was amazingly cooperative and they implemented everything we recommended really fast.
The very first step of every project is conducting keyword research.
One of the biggest problems we had to overcome was that the website includes more than 100K pages and it wasn’t possible to provide such detailed keyword analysis at the moment or try to rank for all the products of the website.
The website has 3 tiers of categories.
Let’s give an example of that:
- Tier 1 = Main Category: Food Supplements
- Tier 2 = Subcategory: Vitamins
- Tier 3 = Sub-subcategory: Vitamin D
So, we took the strategic decision to focus our efforts in the 3 tiers of categories and specifically for top-selling categories, which are Food Supplements, Weight Loss, Woman’s Products and Pharmacy.
Also, while we performed the competition analysis, we noticed that almost all of our competitors didn’t try to rank for branded keywords, such as “power health vitamins”, but only for commercial keywords, such as: “vitamin d price”.
That could be an opportunity for us, and as it turned out it was.
We asked from the client to give us the following information:
- Top selling products and brands, directly from their CRM.
- The brands they want to rank for.
- And a list of seed keywords that are important to them, as well.
Then it was time to create the clusters of keywords and decide the keyword matrix.
We get the initial list of keywords and split keywords into clusters and we expand the list.
We ended up with a large list of 5K keywords.
The next step is to filter these keywords and keep only the best.
So we mapped out keywords with clusters, removed any duplicated keywords, and kept only the keywords that were matching on our initial keyword matrix.
The keyword matrix, consists of:
IMPORTANT note: we paid really close attention to search intent, that’s why we studied all the keywords in an effort to avoid keywords that can satisfy different search intents.
The final spreadsheet includes a variety of data, such as Monthly Search Volume, Keyword Difficulty, Search Intent etc that came from Google Keyword Planner, Ahrefs and manual research.
On-Page Optimizations Manually
Next on we focused on a detailed analysis and optimization of each individual category page.
We made a page-by-page on-page optimization and content analysis based on the keyword list.
We analyzed individually each page, comparing the top 10 existing search results.
We looked at:
- how many backlinks each competitor has
- how many of them are common
- how many keywords they have in these pages
- how they write page titles and meta descriptions, h1 headings
- content-length and
- use of schema.
Then we write all the page titles and meta descriptions, combining the research analysis results we had, and provide recommendations for each page.
We did this, manually, for 1200 pages.
The results were amazing and came right after 3.5 months.
The traffic grow from 2580 daily visitors to 7834 daily visitors.
Some of the most important results, we got:
We ranked 1st position for the keyword “food supplements”.
Monthly Search Volume: 3300
Starting Position: 14
We managed to rank above the 3-pack and Skroutz.
We ranked 1st position for the keyword “weight loss”
Monthly Search Volume: 3200
Starting Position: 7
We also managed to get from 2nd or 3rd position for key brand names with really high search volume.
We managed to rank the relevant brand-page with offers.
In some cases we ranked above the brand’s website.
Most of these terms had a starting position between 12-20th, but they are too competitive.
- la roche posay (monthly searches: 9700 | position: 3)
- durex (monthly searches: 5600 | position: 3 )
- avene (monthly searches: 5500 | position: 3)
- lierac (monthly searches: 5100 | position: 2)
- scholl (monthly searches: 4800 | position: 2)
And that was only the beginning!
After having the first amazing results, we move forward with the second phase of the action plan, which includes 2 main parts: Content Strategy & Website Auditing.
But first we worked on the Content Strategy.
Content creation is one of the most crucial parts of an SEO plan. Especially in the eCommerce niche , using content to help product categories/pages is working extremely well.
As soon as we have the keyword research,it’s time to get our hands dirty with.. content.
The soonest you start creating content the better.
The client has already a well-structured blog, and they write and post around 5 to 6 articles per month. Most of this content was promoted content from brands and some extra articles.
So, this is how we approach content strategy:
- Content strategy is based on the Topics & Clusters model, inspired by the Hubspot team.
- We’re doing research on personas and their interests. We came up with 5 master topics and split the master topics in sub-topics. Each sub-topic (or hub) is actually a cluster of keywords.
- We selected the main target keywords.
- We reviewed what our competitors do, in terms of content.
- We created the content strategy specifications document
- Which was sent to the writing team.
We made sure that every piece of content is properly optimized and it’s at least 1000 words.
Also, we doubled the amount of content produced every month and we started producing 10-12 articles per month.
As mentioned above, till this moment Technical SEO has been taken care of, but a lot of time has been passed and we’ve noticed some major warnings in GSC.
So we decided to conduct a detailed technical audit.
Given the fact that it’s a website with more than 500K pages, wrapping it up wasn’t an easy case.
But it turned out to be one of the most interesting ones.
Some of the major issues we found:
Example of the auditing checklist:
After all these years of mistakes, and 60+ pages of useless auditing reports we used to send to clients, we came up with 3 big rules for auditing, that they’re saving our lifes.
1. Always start from log analysis 💻
Logs have the greatest stories to tell for a website, as they will show you how Googlebot (aka Google) perceives your site.
No, you don’t have to be a developer.
All you need is the Screaming Frog Log File Analyzer. (or any other log file analysis tool).
2. Prioritization 🧠
You can’t solve everything at once and you will never solve everything on a website.
Prioritization is the key to not get lost.
When we prioritize issues found, we take into consideration 2 things:
🎈SEO impact: How much of an impact will this recommendation likely have on the overall website performance?
🤖 Dev effort: How much effort this recommendation take?
Don’t try to answer that yourself on behalf of the developer, ask them directly.
3. Conduct one audit at a time and move to implementation 🛹
One at a time gets the job done.
This is essential for large websites.
Split recommendations by site templates eg. homepage, content hubs, product pages etc.
Move on to the implementation of high priority issues.
Internal Linking & Site Structure
Once we’re done with the site auditing and we’ve created a killer content strategy, it was about time to study the site architecture and improve the internal linking.
The goal of this task was to help Google better navigate the website and understand the connections between the pages.
We used screaming frog to analyze the site architecture and get to know more about the seo value distribution within the website.
We increased the number of internal links in the most important pages [from ranking point of view], as they should have the greatest share of internal links.
We analyzed the click depth of the website, using as a starting point not only the Homepage but other important pages ,as well.
That allows us to create more relevant internal links between product pages and between product categories.
We connect internally all the relevant articles between them and all the relevant articles with relevant product categories and subcategories.
Last but not least, we studied the URL structure.
You need to know Google will often use URL structure for prioritizing crawling behaviour.
So, consistent URL patterns that we actually had, really helped on the analysis and help Google, as well.
Issue #1 Duplication
Duplicate Content is an issue in almost every website. The largest the website the more the issues. Most of the time duplicate content issues indicate indexation issues, as well.
Our major duplication issue was that there were subcategories that were included in 2 or more main categories with different URLs.
For example, vitamin C supplements will be under the big category “pharmacy”, but they will be in the big category “food supplements”. While there will be in the big category food supplements, but there will be both in the subcategories “immune system” and “vitamins”.
You see the problem, right?
Issue #2 Page Speed
Another problem we had to face was that the site had the minimum page speed optimization.
The site was loading slowly in our tests.
So, we cooperated with the dev team to make optimizations. One of the most important optimizations was removing extra and heavy loaded banners from category pages and the homepage.
Issue #3 Low CTR
Low Click-through-rate from search results was another problem we had to overcome for a big amount of pages.
While we were auditing GSC (Google Search Console), we’ve noticed that even though there was a big amount of impressions the clicks were too low in comparison to impressions.
Most of the time low CTR indicates only one thing: metadata are not catchy enough.
So, we took the most important pages and made on-page optimizations. The good news was that these pages weren’t the same pages that we’d already made optimizations some months ago.
Third Phase - Epic Fail?
We had steady growth and every month we managed to get even more organic visitors.
We’ve reached the milestone of getting around 10K-12K daily visitors on the website.
But at some point, not everything was great.
It was when the E-A-T update was released and it hit us hard.
Google E-A-T update
While we’ve had a steady 10K daily visitors, after the update was released we went down to 5.5K daily visitors.
A big drop, as you can see..
It was a disaster!
I hear you asking what is E-A-T.
It means Expertise-Authority-Trust. This update was mostly about content and backlinks quality.
Establishing e-commerce E-A-T and earning natural backlinks, is not as easy as it might seem.
Long story short it was a content quality issue on product pages that was immediately solved and also a keyword cannibalization issue, that we will explain right after , how it was solved.
Dealing with Keyword Cannibalization
The website was suffering from severe keyword cannibalization, and if you think of the number of pages and all that it was making sense, somehow.
Don’t get it wrong. Most websites suffer from it and they don’t even know it.
The issue is simple: multiple pages target the same keyword and as a result, they compete themselves in search results.
To solve this problem and also fix low-performing pages, all you have to do is a Content Audit.
So, this is what we did.
We had 3 goals:
- Optimize underperforming content to meet search intent and current best practises.
- Update outdated content .
- Remove irrelevant content and thin content
In a high-level, this is the process, we followed:
- Get all the URLs we want to analyze on a spreadsheet.
- Gather all the data we need from 3rd-party sources.
- Audit and analyze all the URLs, based on a specific criteria.
- Identify underperforming and thin content.
- Identify overall patterns in the content.
- Analyze the top performing content.
- Decide what to do with the existing content. Kill it, redirect it , edit it, or update it.
- Build a content calendar to organize the next steps.
After all of these changes we had to wait at least 3 weeks to see positive results.
The results rewarded us.
Not only we got back in the 12K daily users, but we keep growing.
We remained 100% consistent with content creation and of course we keep doing optimizations on key pages, whenever it was needed.
The Results Speak For Themselves
The site had 11 months of amazing growth.
Traffic has grown from 2,580 visitors per day to 22,023 visitors per day.
Let me put that in different words…
We got from 60K monthly visitors to 660K monthly visitors in 11 months.
By the end of 11 months 587 keywords were in the top 3 positions and another 500 keywords were in the top 10 search results.
But these numbers were not only obvious in traffic metrics.
Online sales have doubled,as well.
Not bad, right?!
Especially, for such a competitive niche.
If you want to know more or have any questions, click here to schedule a call with Search Magic team.
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