SEO Case Study: 14 Million organic visits in 2 years

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SEO Case Study: How we brought 14 million organic visits in 2 years - starting from virtually scratch

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Next Level SEO Growth

[/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section][et_pb_section fb_built="1" custom_padding_last_edited="on|desktop" admin_label="section" _builder_version="3.22.3" custom_padding="13px|0px|0|0px|false|false" custom_padding_tablet="13px|0px|0px|0px" custom_padding_phone="0px|||"][et_pb_row custom_padding="0px||0||false|false" custom_margin="|||" custom_padding_last_edited="on|desktop" _builder_version="3.22.3" max_width="753px" use_custom_width="on" custom_width_px="753px"][et_pb_column type="4_4" _builder_version="3.0.47"][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.74" custom_margin="||50px|" custom_margin_phone="0px||25px|" custom_margin_last_edited="on|phone" custom_padding_phone="0px|||" custom_padding_last_edited="on|desktop"]

In this case study, you will learn how we took a website and grew it to the top 32k of all websites in the world and the top 20k websites in the US according alexa.com – in only 2 years and starting virtually from scratch.

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_image src="https://realfocusmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/alexa-traffic.jpg" align_tablet="center" align_last_edited="on|desktop" _builder_version="3.23" border_width_all="0px" border_color_all="#aaaaaa" border_style_all="solid" custom_css_main_element=" box-shadow: 0 4px 8px 0 rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.2), 0 6px 20px 0 rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.19);" use_border_color="on" border_color="#aaaaaa" border_width="0px" animation="off"][/et_pb_image][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.74"]Alexa Rank as of October 12th 2017 [/et_pb_text][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.74" custom_margin="50px|||" custom_margin_phone="0px|||" custom_margin_last_edited="on|phone"]

If you want to see how I log into Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools, there’s a video at the end of the case study where I where you can see “live” the changes month after month – and other things like live visitors on the site.

Some people ask me what type of industry this was for (B2B, B2C, SaaS, etc), and while the question is relevant is not important. The reason is because what you're about to read can be applied to any industry, any type of website and vertical.

The fundamentals are the same and we've successfuly applied them for all the mentioned industries and verticals.

This is how it all started

In June 2014, we were approached by a business owner wanting to take his business to the next level.

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.74"]This was a smaller startup that had been in “inception mode” for three years and was itching to find an online marketing company that could help them grow. As you may imagine, they didn’t come to us and say: “Hi, I want a website that gets at least one million visits per month and breaks into the top 42K websites in the world.” It went more like this: “Hi, I’m a startup that wants to grow. My competition is well established. Are you guys up for the challenge of making this happen?”

This caught our attention.

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 Why was it a challenge?

On one side, their competitors were well established businesses – 10 to 20 years of online presence.

On the other side, because of the nature of their business, we were unable to create a blog, long form content, backlinks, or do content promotion – one of the methods most businesses need to grow (other than CRO, remarketing, and all that good stuff).

What did we do?

We said: “this seems pretty interesting, let’s have a look.”

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.74" custom_margin="50px|||"]The RoadMap

We engaged in creating a roadmap to lay out what would be the best options for the client.

This process usually takes between one and three weeks depending on the scope of the project.

It includes a discovery session, assesing priorities, planing and delivering the roadmap.

At the end of this process the client had a clear plan of action to use. They decided to move forward with the execution.

Then the roadmapping took place:

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.74" custom_margin="50px|||"] 1- Studying the Competition and Discovering If This Was a Viable Project. [/et_pb_text][et_pb_image src="https://realfocusmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/ecommerce-competition-analisis-from-moz.jpg" align_tablet="center" align_last_edited="on|desktop" _builder_version="3.23" custom_margin="50px||50px|" animation_style="slide" animation_direction="left" animation_duration="500ms" animation_intensity_slide="10%" custom_css_main_element=" box-shadow: 0 4px 8px 0 rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.2), 0 6px 20px 0 rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.19);"][/et_pb_image][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.74"]Even though we were up for the intriguing challenge, we needed to do some homework to see if this was even possible… Studying the competition is our first step in every single project we take when doing roadmaping. This not only helps us gather key information about what’s working for them, but we can also save weeks of research and analysis before we come up with a game plan.  There’s three levels of competition: Low, medium, and high. After our initial research, we found they were in a medium competition market that was solely focused on organic search. This was in alignment with the businesses we usually work with – medium and high competition – unless there’s a business that is in an untapped low competition market.  After what we discovered about the competition, it was time for THE question: [/et_pb_text][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.74" custom_margin="50px|||"]2- What Would It Take to Make This Work?[/et_pb_text][et_pb_image src="https://realfocusmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/competitor-shop.jpg" align_tablet="center" align_last_edited="on|desktop" _builder_version="3.23" custom_margin="50px||0px|" animation_style="slide" animation_direction="left" animation_duration="500ms" animation_intensity_slide="10%" custom_css_main_element=" box-shadow: 0 4px 8px 0 rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.2), 0 6px 20px 0 rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.19);"][/et_pb_image][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.74"]- Competitor traffic graph [/et_pb_text][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.74"]If you know your competition is a $30 million-dollar company and they are investing 3% in digital marketing, that means they have a $900K budget per year. That’s what it would take to replicate exactly what they are doing. But if you only have a $120K budget rather than a $900K budget per year, the question is: Would that give us enough leverage to compete? As an example, we’ve had clients competing with companies like Home Depot, which according to a study made by frac.tl they had a 2015 online marketing budget of: Obviously, I don’t expect you to have a business that is looking to compete with them in every single category and every single product – unless you are Lowe’s, Costco, etc. However, if they are one of your competitors, we will need to come up with creative and innovative marketing approaches to get a part of their market share. They have a very mature online presence. In our current case study, after learning the competition’s average budget and the client’s budget, we all decided we were a good fit. We accepted this exciting challenge. Our promise was to put our best skills together and execute the best strategy possible to turn a real challenge into something that could grow over time. [/et_pb_text][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.74" custom_margin="50px|||"]

3- Digging Deeper into the Competition

Now that we were all on board and feeling the excitement that a new project brings, we went into deep research mode.

Some of the tools we used for this project were:

We took the top 5 competitors we had previously analyzed on the surface and looked at what they were doing from an SEO and CRO perspective.

Some of the elements we analyzed were:

The look and feel of the website – design, mobile version vs. desktop version, copy, language, user experience, colors, buttons, trust-building elements, popups, engagement, blog, social sharing…

Structure of the website – categorization, silos, sections, breadcrumbs, internal linking, page size (word count), H tags and descriptions, website speed…

Monetization and shopping experience – mobile experience, price tags, calls to action, coupons, discounts, offers, checkout flow, shipping & handling, refund policies…

Audience – age, sex, marital status, education, income, hobbies.

Marketing – SEO, CRO, paid advertising, remarketing… (we already knew this was a purely organic search project).

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.”

 

4- These are some specifics:

Increase the word count per page. The competition didn’t have much content on their “product pages.” Their low description word count could be improved to give more value to search engines and visitors.

Improve the internal linking structure. We built a framework to add link silo structures pointing only to pages within the same categories. A silo structure is basically links inside the website that point to specific areas of the website creating a framework.

Optimize Titles and H tags properly. Their competitors didn’t have all H tags on point. Some didn’t have H2 tags and some didn’t have them properly optimized.

Add a breadcrumb navigation to each page. Competitors had some but not all of them.

Optimize images. Competitors weren’t really taking advantage of this. Optimizing images can send additional traffic from the image section on Search Engines.

It doesn’t sound too complicated, right?

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First Phase

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It was time to put all the pieces together and execute.

The system that we designed would pull information from a database to automatically create pages that would include all the improvements previously mentioned. If you would like to learn more about the nitty gritty, keep reading. Otherwise, click here to continue without the specifics. * The right titles that were optimized and written with the correct keywords. They also utilized psychological triggers to “help” people searching online to click on the client’s website instead of the competition – compelling titles with the right keywords on them. * The right H tags with optimized keywords, synonyms, LSI terms (Latent Semantic Indexing), and variants that would cover a wide number of keywords within the group of keywords we wanted to rank for. * The right amount of content with optimized keywords, synonyms, and LSI terms. The pages would have at least 20% more content than the competitors with a higher word count across the board. * Optimized images that would contain keyword rich file names, metadata, and relevant alt tags that would add even more keywords relevant to what they represented. * The right internal linking structure so page links would point to the other generated pages within the same category. These links had exact match anchor text, synonyms, and LSI variations. Basically, links that contain words related to what we wanted to rank for. * Add Breadcrumbs: They add an extra layer of internal linking, help with indexation (we had a lot of pages to build), and create a better user experience. We also did some other things like adding multiple sitemaps.xml (50K pages per sitemap max) for pages and images, setting up everything in webmaster tools, fletching and crawling the website, etc. [/et_pb_text][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.74" custom_margin="50px|||"]

First Results

About 6 months after the first phase was implemented, the site started to take off. [/et_pb_text][et_pb_image src="https://realfocusmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/ecommerce-store-receiving-465k-organic-visitors.jpg" align="center" align_tablet="center" align_last_edited="on|desktop" _builder_version="3.23" max_width="550px" custom_margin="50px||50px|" animation_style="slide" animation_direction="left" animation_duration="500ms" animation_intensity_slide="10%" custom_css_main_element=" box-shadow: 0 4px 8px 0 rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.2), 0 6px 20px 0 rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.19);"][/et_pb_image][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.74"]We were really pleased, excited, and proud of how we had turned an initial challenge, with no guarantees of becoming successful, into a project that was getting good traction: 465,190 visits per month. But something happened. On February 2016, after 7 months of growth, the traffic became stuck and plateaued. [/et_pb_text][et_pb_image src="https://realfocusmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/ecommerce-traffic-plateau.jpg" align="center" align_tablet="center" align_last_edited="on|desktop" _builder_version="3.23" max_width="600px" custom_margin="50px||50px|" animation_style="slide" animation_direction="left" animation_duration="500ms" animation_intensity_slide="10%" custom_css_main_element=" box-shadow: 0 4px 8px 0 rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.2), 0 6px 20px 0 rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.19);"][/et_pb_image][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.74"]

Second Phase

Even though the traffic had plateaued, we knew we had created something very valuable: a proven framework that brought us excellent results. After hitting a plateau, it was the perfect time to push our framework to the next level: creating a new big segment of pages and categories. If we were right, this would be another growth stage. If we were wrong, this had the potential to turn into a big spoof. So, what happened? We deployed the second phase and we got yet another home run. We were back in growth mode. With up to 808,043 visits per month, we felt invincible. [/et_pb_text][et_pb_image src="https://realfocusmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/ecommerce-business-growing-online.jpg" align="center" align_tablet="center" align_last_edited="on|desktop" _builder_version="3.23" max_width="650px" custom_margin="50px||50px|" animation_style="slide" animation_direction="left" animation_duration="500ms" animation_intensity_slide="10%" custom_css_main_element=" box-shadow: 0 4px 8px 0 rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.2), 0 6px 20px 0 rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.19);"][/et_pb_image][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.74"] Growth continued; however, like the previous cycle, the traffic growth plateaued again in October 2016.[/et_pb_text][et_pb_image src="https://realfocusmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/stagnant-online-store-traffic.jpg" align="center" align_tablet="center" align_last_edited="on|desktop" _builder_version="3.23" max_width="650px" custom_margin="50px||50px|" animation_style="slide" animation_direction="left" animation_duration="500ms" animation_intensity_slide="10%" custom_css_main_element=" box-shadow: 0 4px 8px 0 rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.2), 0 6px 20px 0 rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.19);"][/et_pb_image][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.74"]As you may imagine, we were in such a rush looking at how the traffic had been increasing before the plateau that we just had to keep pushing it. We thought we had a proven and invincible framework. We were crushing the competition. So, the third phase was born. [/et_pb_text][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.74" custom_margin="50px|||"]

Third Phase - Epic Fail?

In the third phase, we did something slightly different. We decided to translate the website into two additional languages in order to grow it three-fold. This was going to be the epitome of the project. We were expecting to create something impressive. However, not everything went as expected. Check the image below to see why: [/et_pb_text][et_pb_image align_tablet="center" align_last_edited="on|desktop" _builder_version="3.23" animation_style="slide" animation_direction="left" animation_duration="500ms" animation_intensity_slide="10%"][/et_pb_image][et_pb_image src="https://realfocusmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/failing-ecommerce-seo-image.jpg" align="center" align_tablet="center" align_last_edited="on|desktop" _builder_version="3.23" max_width="650px" custom_margin="20px||50px|" animation_style="slide" animation_direction="left" animation_duration="500ms" animation_intensity_slide="10%" custom_css_main_element=" box-shadow: 0 4px 8px 0 rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.2), 0 6px 20px 0 rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.19);"][/et_pb_image][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.74"]No bueno. In 3 months, we went from 968K visits per month to 639K visits per month – losing around ⅓ of the traffic. This looked like we were having an epic crash! We analyzed every single bit of information we could possibly gather to try and figure out what was causing this monumental traffic loss (and of course revenue loss), but we couldn’t find anything major that was causing this problem. Did we merely experience a brief golden era and that was it? We came to the conclusion that Google was a little bit confused because of the two extra languages launch – pretty much at the same time. In fact, the traffic loss started closely to the traffic gain for the other two languages. There was nothing wrong with our approach so we had to trust the process and the system that we had put in place. In the worst-case scenario, we would lose all traffic and have to develop another framework. At least we knew we had a framework that was successful up to this point. So, we all just tried to relax and trust what we’d done. And then the magic happened… BOOM! [/et_pb_text][et_pb_image src="https://realfocusmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/online-store-receiving-one-million-visits-per-month.jpg" align="center" align_tablet="center" align_last_edited="on|desktop" _builder_version="3.23" custom_margin="50px||50px|" animation_style="slide" animation_direction="left" animation_duration="500ms" animation_intensity_slide="10%" custom_css_main_element=" box-shadow: 0 4px 8px 0 rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.2), 0 6px 20px 0 rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.19);"][/et_pb_image][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.74"]We were once again experiencing rapid growth. To the point that we achieved a major milestone crossing the 1 million visits per month for the English version only (you can watch the video to see how other languages are doing). It doesn’t seem this growth is going to stop anytime soon. This has been one of our most epic and challenging case studies to date. Nothing was “average” and there were a lot of ups and downs, but we worked with our client through the good times and through the bad. We found a way to make things work and formed potential solutions in the event of these undesirable worst case scenarios. All in all, a rewarding experience that will continue to grow in the years to come. Here’s the video where I log into Google Analytics and Search Console for you to see it “live.” [/et_pb_text][et_pb_video src="https://vimeo.com/223713053" play_icon_color="#7cda24" _builder_version="3.0.51"][/et_pb_video][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.0.74"][/et_pb_text][/et_pb_column][/et_pb_row][/et_pb_section]

Ecommerce Linkbuilding Case Study: 225% increase in Sales in 3 Months

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Ecommerce Link Building Case Study: 225% increase in Sales in 3 Months

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Imagine you have a seasonal e-commerce store, and every year around June you see the same trend:

Sales decrease in the warm months (or very hot depending on where you live — Death Valley anyone?).

At the same time, you know your traffic and rankings can increase overall — as well as your revenue because you’re not the dominant website/business in your industry.

What to do? Start with SEO in the low season or high season?

In my biased opinion, do it any time you want to increase revenue 🙂

MORE TARGETED TRAFFIC = MORE $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

This is no fiction and a real case study of a real business owner. They, as you may already know, decided to move forward:

Here’s a video where you can see the results comparing month to month for 2018, and month to month 2018 vs 2017:

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While some of my previous case studies have been focusing on results with no backlinks and just technical and on-site SEO — even CRO — in this case study, you’ve already seen what happens when you get link building done the right way — even if you focus on just one aspect of it.

Why focus on one specific method is based on multiple factors like current link profile, competition, link velocity and if it actually makes sense…

But that may be something to discuss in another article.

So, What Did We Do Exactly?

We strictly focused on guest posts. That “easy”

We had already done a technical analysis and applied most of the things this website needed to get fixed.

We had a good foundation already. We already had a content strategy as well and were writing 4 articles per month; however, we never published an article for this stage of the SEO plan.

Here’s the process we were following:

Keyword analysis.

We plugged the website into Ahrefs and found out 2 main pages and keywords clusters to target.

We went for:

Create an anchor test strategy.

By analyzing the competition and analyzing the current anchor text of the website, we decided what was the best combination of anchor texts to start the campaign.

In this case, we went for:

** General are random things like “click here”, “more info”, “visit this website”, etc.

** Branded are the business names with some variations.

** Exact are variations of the exact keywords they want to rank.

Now that we had what we wanted to go after, we created an email under the client’s domain to start the campaign.

Finding link opportunities.

We concentrated 100% on guest posts from relevant websites that had actual traffic.

Here are some of the metrics of a couple of websites we have received links from — metrics from Ahrefs:

Create pitch ideas.

After we had gathered a set number of websites that were relevant and had traffic, it was time to create ideas for these guest posts to pitch.

We needed to create ideas that were fun and interesting for these audiences so there’s a part of creativity and research involved.

Send pitches to website owners.

After we had the ideas (or titles) created, we needed to craft emails that would be opened and read to pitch these ideas.

Not read emails means not even having a conversation about it.

We had some proven pitches that we have improved and tested over time so we went with them.

Negotiate fees if they ask for it.

Some of these websites will ask for money to place the guest post on them.

Negotiation is part of the process as there’s a lot of website owners that have a “dollar policy” to get articles published. There are some that will publish for free for good content, but more times than not they ask for a fee.

Write the content.

When an article is accepted and given the green light, we go to work and hire a US native English writer that can bring quality and speed (or someone in the business team that can write them).

For better results, these guest posts need to be sent back within 7 days max.

Some will need to be written under the website owners’ guidelines, and other ones are more of a “free ride” type of thing.

Send finished content with links to websites.

Now that the content is written, we add the links and images if needed and send it to the website owners.

More times than not, this usually needs a follow-up as some will disappear and never respond.

Others will take several weeks to respond, and other ones will even take months.

The idea is to create enough pieces of content that can be pitched to hit the targets knowing that some of the articles will never get published and may or may not be used unless other websites like the same topic, taking into consideration the initial owners won’t get back.

Manage the Whole Thing, and Set up the System to Run Smoothly.

Between spreadsheets, Trello boards, and communication needed for all the parts to work together seamlessly, there’s a good system that needs to be set up, and that’s what we do.

This is putting all the pieces together to make things run smoothly.

You may be thinking: how did this guy come up with the 180% increase in sales?

Let me break it down for you.

* June 2018 organic sales: $1,921

* August 2018 organic sales: $4,335.15

($4,335.15 * 100) / $1,921 = 225.67%

The previous year was:

* June 2017 organic sales: $5,733.75

* August 2017 organic sales: $2,488.96

Sales decreased by 230.37%

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SEO for Colleges & Universities

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SEO for Colleges & Universities — How We Increased Organic Traffic by 43% in Less than One Month — No backlinks

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Organic Search Increase by 43% (and direct by 78.5% but I won’t talk about that :))

Is it possible to get massive results with SEO for a college in one month? (This applies to any other industry, but this case study is for a university in Mexico, hence the title).

You’ve heard this before:

  • SEO takes time.
  • It takes 4–6 months to see some results.
  • We cannot guarantee results.

As a general rule, I agree with most of these statements; however, accomplishing massive results in a short period of time like the one you’re about to see for this college in Mexico, is possible under the right circumstances.

Here are the one-day results we got:

Note:

  • Week column: when we started tracking positions.
  • Day column: positions from previous day.
  • Rank: current rankings “today”.

Explanation: their most important keyword went from position 43 to position 2 in one day which increased its position by 41 “steps” (green circle).

SEO Guide for Colleges and Universities

A bit of a background.

About a month and a half ago, I was contacted by some of the owners of a well known university in Mexico.

Two years prior, they hired the wrong person to do their SEO, and because of that, their enrollments had dropped by more than half (as well as their traffic) — one of these “horror” stories you’ve probably heard before.

Over these two years, they changed their CMS (Content Managment System — think Wrodpress, Joomla, Wix, etc) multiple times without taking into consideration any website remapping (aka maintaining the same architecture) or any structural improvements.

They were adding “keywords” to the content that made the copy sound weird to try to rank for these keywords (like in the old days).

And, a bunch of other things that didn’t go well and would take too long to explain…

So, yeah, the pain was real.

I quickly advised them to hire someone to put together a good site on WordPress as a starting point…

… and boy oh boy.

The site was made in two languages, starting in English with a template that had just a video above the header… and pretty much an empty home page.

No thinking about conversions, no thinking about a “student journey” when visitors arrive to the website, no thinking about engaging with potential students to give them what they’re looking for right off the bat — you know UX 101…

Did I mentioned this is in Mexico? — hola amigo instead of hello friend?

Long story short, we had to take over the dev and design and build a brand new site focusing on a strong onsite SEO and UX.

As this was a complete rehowl of the website, we wanted to begin with a great starting point, and leave a bit of room for tweaking to see how Google would react to the first version of the new website… so, before I go over what we did, here’s what we didn’t do much with:

  • Internal linking: We left a lot of room for improvement. We only did very light on internal linking (I’ll tell you why later).
  • Schema Markup: They have two locations in different cities, and we didn’t implement it right of the bat.

We also left room for improvement in areas like:

  • CRO: Conversion Rate Optimization (Even though we really thought about this and the student journey, this is a part that can always improve).
  • Remarketing Funnels with Facebook, IG and Youtube

This is the SEO Implementation We Did for This College:

Note: reminder… this applies to any other business out there.

The first step of the process was to clearly understand what we called the “soon-to-be student journey”:

Things like:

  • Why do they want to have a career like the ones the college offers?
  • What are they thinking about when they’re searching for these careers?
  • What would make sense to present to students when they arrive to the home page?
  • What does it mean to have a good experience when arriving to a page?
  • How do we influence potential students to take action without being pushy?
  • How can we gain (or regain) trust and credibility (despite the College being one of the best colleges in their field)?
  • How do we take all these things and create a layout that supports it?

Take into consideration the previous websites didn’t have any focus on these elements, so, in theory, applying all these concepts should give us a good conversion rate.

Adding Optimized SEO Titles with Strong Positioning

For each of the pages, we focused on adding main keywords and also positioning them in an authoritative and trustworthy way — as they are the top college in their field.

Example for a home page title could be:

  • #1 Dental School in Texas since 1995 — University of [NAME].

You obviously have to demonstrate statements that are that strong. So, if you’ve been named the number one by an association, well known magazines or college ratings, then you can use it to your advantage.

If you’re not the number one, use an angle that makes you different than the rest.

In our example we can break the title down like this:

  • Positioning and authority: #1 and since 1995
  • Keyword: Dental School in Texas
  • Branding: University of [NAME]

Strong Meta-descriptions to Support the Title

Once you’ve grabbed the attention of the potential student, you need to entice them to go to your website.

That means adding your keywords on the description so they get bolded, adding engaging questions, mind-reading copy (aka answering what they’re looking for), and opening loops to get them to click on your result and call to actions.

An example could be:

“Looking for a profession in the dental industry? As the #1 dental school in Texas, we not only have top-of-the-line education, but you’ll also learn how to get your dream job or start your own practice. Find out more on our site.”

“Little bit of positioning and everything else about THEM”.

Optimized Website Structure

When it comes to website structure, it’s all about using simple logic:

In this case, they have two main sections to drive students that are searching for a career in their field: bachelors and masters.

The home page has two main sections that allow visitors to go to these two sections, and the structure looks like this:

  • websiteurl.com/bachelors
  • websiteurl.com/masters

It makes sense…

Then, different fields of bachelors go like this:

  • websiteurl.com/bachelors/bachelor1
  • websiteurl.com/bachelors/bachelor2

And so on…

And for the masters, the same thing:

  • websiteurl.com/masters/master1
  • websiteurl.com/masters/master2

And so on…

It’s just common sense and well-organized.

They also have two locations. Following the same logic, we have:

  • websiteurl.com/locations
  • websiteurl.com/locations/location1
  • websiteurl.com/locations/location2

The entire website is structured in this way to make sense of it from a website crawling and organization standpoint, as well as a user standpoint.

Also, each of these pages will link to its parent page with an anchor text that will vary depending on where the rankings hold and what keywords we want to push to the top.

Optimized Content

Taking into consideration what the future student’s journey looks like, we optimized the content in two ways:

  1. Optimized content based on the visitor’s user experience which included content layout, concepts, images, videos, testimonials, copy, multiple options for contacting, and visitor flow.
  2. Optimized content for search engines which include adding keywords on key places like meta-tags, images, videos, and content.

The first part is obviously focused on the person visiting.

The idea is to make the experience so good that it feels easy, pleasant, and allows them to find what they want quickly so they can make the next step (contacting, calling, etc).

The second part is what got us these short-term, fast, big jumps.

The third component, something that I didn’t mention yet, is tying both parts together. That is what makes everything stick… which allows us to achieve these results so far:

Note: the dates I’m using on Google Analytics are June 1st to June 29th, but we deployed the site on the evening of June 6th.

Contact form submissions:

Zopin Chat conversations: they have a live chat where visitors can engage with a person.

WhatsApp clicks: this is how many visitors clicked to start a conversation, although I cannot show you how many real conversations happened as the tracking can’t go that deep — as soon as they leave the site, the tracking stops.

Note: each of these leads are worth about $24,000, and they usually enroll 40% to 50%.

If we take into consideration the contact form submissions only, that’s about $1,257,600 in the first month — deadline is September — two months to go as I’m writing this.

They’re eager to ramp it up even more…

Optimized Locations

This university in Mexico is well known in the entire country, but why not optimize them for the two specific cities they have their campuses on?

We created two location pages that have all the elements we’ve discussed before, adding geolocation signals like the name of the city, addresses, and a bit of each city.

We added testimonials of students on each city and a video of past and “famous” previous students praising the university with a form at the end.

They had very well done videos with emotional testimonials, great presentations, and things that made placing them on the website on key locations very easy and great to connect with visitors.

Conclusions

In the right circumstances, businesses can have massive results (like the example I gave in this guide), results that can bring businesses back to life after a period of darkness…

And, even though this is featuring “college SEO”, I could have named it “business SEO” or simply “stunning SEO results”…

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How To Increase Ecommerce Sales by 63% in 7 Days

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Increasing Ecommerce Sales by 63% in 7 Days Flat

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Here’s one way we used to increase conversions for an e-commerce store (this works for any website, really) that brought the fire to the owner. This, when done right, will add more revenue for your company and will get you all pumped.

Do you get pumped up when you see your store selling like hot cakes?

I know I do….

The best thing?

This is in the “instant-gratification” timeline of things.

Doing this brings results QUICKLY. And it's for e-com stores that are selling already (aka have traffic and purchases).

First of all, here’s an image from Google Analytics from a store we implemented this into - just one product to “test the waters” with the client...

We gave it 7 days, but ultimately compared it with 14 and 30 day time frame, as well.

So, here’s how it works…

Have you ever bought a house or a car?

If so, what are the steps you went through before buying them?

In June 2016, I bought a house and, soon after that, a car… the most important part of both purchasing processes had something to do with the experience and visuals.

For the house, it was to was to visit the neighbor, check the front yard and backyard, then get into the house, check the rooms… you get it.

And, for the car, it was the test drive.

Both of these things have something in common that can be applied to e-commerce sites.

While you can’t teleport someone inside of the screen they’re in front of or have a 3D and sensory experience (VR will get there at some point), you can make people come closer to that experience.

Do you know what is the second largest search engine?

YouTube…

And what is YouTube all about?

Videos….

That’s it.

The secret is out 😉

It may not be a big secret? Well, check how many e-commerce stores have video…not too many, right? Some are getting there, but adding video is going to be (is already) big.

If the second biggest search engine is video, people are consuming video like crazy…

… but other than watching music videos, people eating, makeup videos, or any of the trending videos online, why is video a good move for your e-commerce store or your website in general?

Because, if done right, it’ll increase conversions. But, why, though?

The reason is simple. It’s a closer experience to being “there”: touch it, smell it…

… it gives bits of information to our senses- more than just a picture: you can see a person wearing it (if it’s clothing), a person using it (if it’s a tool), you can feel the “personality” of a brand, see how “you” will look like (that’s for another writing: why we think we’ll look like the models we see wearing stuff or driving nice cars).

In addition to that, you can add voice over with a well crafted message explaining the benefits, why most people use/wear/buy it…

And, if you want to go the extra step, you’ll actually have a real person talking to the camera like a lot of the products that we see in YouTube by “Influencers”, Youtubers, brands, unboxings…. Have you heard of QVC?..

Side note: If your “thing” is to send products to influencers so they can make a video and share it with their audience but your product is too big to send it, invite them to your showroom/store/place to have them review it on-site :).

Here’s the “template” (not even optimal but it works) we got in place.

Are there any extra benefits about using video?

Yep.

If you know something about YouTube optimization and you get your videos optimized, guess what?… more traffic to your website!

And, it doesn’t stop there…

You can adapt your videos for Instagram, Facebook ads, remarketing, and a bunch of other things!

Hey, Jesus, what if I have thousands of products? How do I prioritize?

Here’s what I’d recommend doing:

Start with your best selling product (or a product that sells quite a bit).

Create a video, add it to the product, and gather information about how your audience responds.

It’s very important that you have already mapped out your audience: age, gender, what they like, what they don’t, their personality, etc., in order to know what’s “hot” for them…

So, no, it’s not the same to sell to females that like Harley Davidson than to a teenager that likes bubble gum...

You can even create a couple of these videos and do an A/B test to discover what style fits them the best. 

After you have found which video increases conversions the most, double down on the rest with that style and message.

Why do it with your best selling product?

Usually, it’s the one that receives more traffic and purchases. This means you can gather information quickly.

Now, in order to do this, I also recommend stopping any other changes you may be planning to execute for that product. This could be website copy, changes in your traffic generation efforts, or anything that could vary your customers behavior (as much as you can).

This is not as easy done as said because if you're running a lot of FB and Instagram Ads, you may be tweaking things constantly... but freezing the changes for a bit will make your data more accurate and reliable.

You will also need to take into consideration other things like seasonality, but you can always cross-check with previous years instead of the last week, 15, or 30 days if you have a seasonal product.

I’ve seen this in all kinds of verticals. Check this one out as an example:

Are you ready to get your videos up and running?

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114% Increase in Ecommerce Sales in 30 Days

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Increasing E-commerce Sales by 114% in 30 days

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Background:

An E-commerce website had a new redesign and the started to lose traffic as a consequence.

This traffic loss was dramatically affecting their sales month after month.[/et_pb_text][et_pb_image src="https://www.realfocusmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/client-traffic-loss.jpg" align_tablet="center" align_phone="" align_last_edited="on|desktop" _builder_version="3.23" animation_style="slide" animation_direction="left" animation_duration="500ms" animation_intensity_slide="10%"][/et_pb_image][/et_pb_column][et_pb_column type="1_2" _builder_version="3.25" custom_padding="|||" custom_padding__hover="|||"][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.27.4" background_size="initial" background_position="top_left" background_repeat="repeat"]

Analysis:

After doing an on-site technical analysis we discovered:

 

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All these changes resulted in the following

(images from Google Data Studio)

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Ecommerce SEO Case Study: 14 Million organic visits in 2 years

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SEO Case Study: How we brought 14 million organic visits in 2 years - starting from virtually scratch

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In this case study, you will learn how we took a website similar to an ecommerce store and grew it to the top 32k of all websites in the world (29,380 in the last update) and the top 20k websites in the US according alexa.com – in only 2 years and starting virtually from scratch.

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_image src="https://www.realfocusmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/Result-1.png" align_tablet="center" align_phone="" align_last_edited="on|desktop" _builder_version="4.3.4" hover_enabled="0" custom_css_main_element=" box-shadow: 0 4px 8px 0 rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.2), 0 6px 20px 0 rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.19);" border_width_all="0px" border_color_all="#aaaaaa" border_style_all="solid" use_border_color="on" border_color="#aaaaaa" border_width="0px" animation="off"][/et_pb_image][et_pb_text _builder_version="4.3.4" hover_enabled="0"]Alexa Rank as of March 9th 2020
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If you want to see how I log into Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools, there’s a video at the end of the case study where I where you can see “live” the changes month after month – and other things like live visitors on the site.

This is how it all started

In June 2014, we were approached by a business owner wanting to take his business to the next level.

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.27.4"]This was a smaller startup that had been in “inception mode” for three years and was itching to find an online marketing company that could help them grow.

As you may imagine, they didn’t come to us and say:

“Hi, I want a website that gets at least one million visits per month and breaks into the top 42K websites in the world.”

It went more like this:

“Hi, I’m a startup that wants to grow. My competition is well established. Are you guys up for the challenge of making this happen?”

This caught our attention.

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Why was it a challenge?

On one side, their competitors were well established businesses – 10 to 20 years of online presence.

On the other side, because of the nature of their business, we were unable to create a blog, long form content, backlinks, or do content promotion – the foundation most ecommerce stores can use to grow (other than CRO, remarketing, and all that good stuff).

What did we do?

We said: “this seems pretty interesting, let’s have a look.”
[/et_pb_text][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.27.4" custom_margin="50px|||"] 1- Studying the Competition and Discovering If This Was a Viable Project. [/et_pb_text][et_pb_image src="https://www.realfocusmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/ecommerce-competition-analisis-from-moz.jpg" align_tablet="center" align_phone="" align_last_edited="on|desktop" _builder_version="3.23" custom_margin="50px||50px|" animation_style="slide" animation_direction="left" animation_duration="500ms" animation_intensity_slide="10%" custom_css_main_element=" box-shadow: 0 4px 8px 0 rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.2), 0 6px 20px 0 rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.19);"][/et_pb_image][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.27.4"]

There is one simple way to discover if the goals you have for your business are attainable:

If your competition is where you want to be, then it's clearly attainable.

Do you want to grow your company from $10 million to $20 million?

If you're the leader in your industry, all your competitors are doing $6 million and there's no one in your industry making more than $8 million but you, we don't have a validation.

Does that mean that we couldn't grow it to $20 million?

NO.

But we don't have the validation of a competitor doing what you want to do, therefore we cannot reverse engineer what they've done.

In this cases we look at other verticals... but that'll be another article.

Studying the competition is our first step in every single project we take when doing roadmaping. This not only helps us gather key information about what’s working for them, but we can also save weeks of research and analysis before we come up with a game plan. 

There’s three levels of competition: Low, medium, and high. After our initial research, we found they were in a medium competition market that was solely focused on organic search.

This was in alignment with the businesses we usually work with – medium and high competition – unless there’s a business that is in an untapped low competition market. 

After what we discovered about the competition, it was time for THE question:

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.27.4" custom_margin="50px|||"]The RoadMap

We engaged in creating a roadmap to lay out what would be the best options for the client.

This process usually takes between one and three weeks depending on the scope of the project.

It includes a discovery session, assesing priorities, planing and delivering the roadmap.

At the end of this process the client had a clear plan of action to use. They decided to move forward with the execution.

Then the roadmapping took place:

[/et_pb_text][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.27.4" custom_margin="50px|||"]2- What Would It Take to Make This Work?[/et_pb_text][et_pb_image src="https://www.realfocusmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/competitor-shop.jpg" align_tablet="center" align_phone="" align_last_edited="on|desktop" _builder_version="3.23" custom_margin="50px||0px|" animation_style="slide" animation_direction="left" animation_duration="500ms" animation_intensity_slide="10%" custom_css_main_element=" box-shadow: 0 4px 8px 0 rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.2), 0 6px 20px 0 rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.19);"][/et_pb_image][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.27.4"]- Competitor traffic graph
[/et_pb_text][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.27.4"]If you know your competition is a $30 million-dollar company and they are investing 3% in digital marketing, that means they have a $900K budget per year. That’s what it would take to replicate exactly what they are doing.

But if you only have a $120K budget rather than a $900K budget per year, the question is:

Would that give us enough leverage to compete?

As an example, we’ve had clients competing with companies like Home Depot, which according to a study made by frac.tl they had a 2015 online marketing budget of:

Obviously, I don’t expect you to have a business that is looking to compete with them in every single category and every single product – unless you are Lowe’s, Costco, etc. However, if they are one of your competitors, we will need to come up with creative and innovative marketing approaches to get a part of their market share. They have a very mature online presence.

In our current case study, after learning the competition’s average budget and the client’s budget, we all decided we were a good fit.

We accepted this exciting challenge.

Our promise was to put our best skills together and execute the best strategy possible to turn a real challenge into something that could grow over time.
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3- Digging Deeper into the Competition

Now that we were all on board and feeling the excitement that a new project brings, we went into deep research mode.

Some of the tools we used for this project were:

We took the top 5 competitors we had previously analyzed on the surface and looked at what they were doing from an SEO and CRO perspective.

Some of the elements we analyzed were:

The look and feel of the website – design, mobile version vs. desktop version, copy, language, user experience, colors, buttons, trust-building elements, popups, engagement, blog, social sharing…

Structure of the website – categorization, silos, sections, breadcrumbs, internal linking, page size (word count), H tags and descriptions, website speed…

Monetization and shopping experience – mobile experience, price tags, calls to action, coupons, discounts, offers, checkout flow, shipping & handling, refund policies…

Audience – age, sex, marital status, education, income, hobbies.

Marketing – SEO, CRO, paid advertising, remarketing… (we already knew this was a purely organic search project).

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.”

 

4- These are some specifics:

Increase the word count per page. The competition didn’t have much content on their “product pages.” Their low description word count could be improved to give more value to search engines and visitors.

Improve the internal linking structure. We built a framework to add link silo structures pointing only to pages within the same categories. A silo structure is basically links inside the website that point to specific areas of the website creating a framework.

Optimize Titles and H tags properly. Their competitors didn’t have all H tags on point. Some didn’t have H2 tags and some didn’t have them properly optimized.

Add a breadcrumb navigation to each page. Competitors had some but not all of them.

Optimize images. Competitors weren’t really taking advantage of this. Optimizing images can send additional traffic from the image section on Search Engines.

It doesn’t sound too complicated, right?

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First Phase

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It was time to put all the pieces together and execute.

The system that we designed would pull information from a database to automatically create pages that would include all the improvements previously mentioned.

If you would like to learn more about the nitty gritty, keep reading. Otherwise, click here to continue without the specifics.

* The right titles that were optimized and written with the correct keywords. They also utilized psychological triggers to “help” people searching online to click on the client’s website instead of the competition – compelling titles with the right keywords on them.

* The right H tags with optimized keywords, synonyms, LSI terms (Latent Semantic Indexing), and variants that would cover a wide number of keywords within the group of keywords we wanted to rank for.

* The right amount of content with optimized keywords, synonyms, and LSI terms. The pages would have at least 20% more content than the competitors with a higher word count across the board.

* Optimized images that would contain keyword rich file names, metadata, and relevant alt tags that would add even more keywords relevant to what they represented.

* The right internal linking structure so page links would point to the other generated pages within the same category. These links had exact match anchor text, synonyms, and LSI variations. Basically, links that contain words related to what we wanted to rank for.

* Add Breadcrumbs: They add an extra layer of internal linking, help with indexation (we had a lot of pages to build), and create a better user experience.

We also did some other things like adding multiple sitemaps.xml (50K pages per sitemap max) for pages and images, setting up everything in webmaster tools, fletching and crawling the website, etc.
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First Results

About 6 months after the first phase was implemented, the site started to take off.
[/et_pb_text][et_pb_image src="https://www.realfocusmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/ecommerce-store-receiving-465k-organic-visitors.jpg" align="center" align_tablet="center" align_phone="" align_last_edited="on|desktop" _builder_version="3.23" max_width="550px" custom_margin="50px||50px|" animation_style="slide" animation_direction="left" animation_duration="500ms" animation_intensity_slide="10%" custom_css_main_element=" box-shadow: 0 4px 8px 0 rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.2), 0 6px 20px 0 rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.19);"][/et_pb_image][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.27.4"]We were really pleased, excited, and proud of how we had turned an initial challenge, with no guarantees of becoming successful, into a project that was getting good traction: 465,190 visits per month.

But something happened.

On February 2016, after 7 months of growth, the traffic became stuck and plateaued.
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Second Phase

Even though the traffic had plateaued, we knew we had created something very valuable: a proven framework that brought us excellent results.

After hitting a plateau, it was the perfect time to push our framework to the next level: creating a new big segment of pages and categories.

If we were right, this would be another growth stage.

If we were wrong, this had the potential to turn into a big spoof.

So, what happened?

We deployed the second phase and we got yet another home run.
We were back in growth mode.

With up to 808,043 visits per month, we felt invincible.
[/et_pb_text][et_pb_image src="https://www.realfocusmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/ecommerce-business-growing-online.jpg" align="center" align_tablet="center" align_phone="" align_last_edited="on|desktop" _builder_version="3.23" max_width="650px" custom_margin="50px||50px|" animation_style="slide" animation_direction="left" animation_duration="500ms" animation_intensity_slide="10%" custom_css_main_element=" box-shadow: 0 4px 8px 0 rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.2), 0 6px 20px 0 rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.19);"][/et_pb_image][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.27.4"] Growth continued; however, like the previous cycle, the traffic growth plateaued again in October 2016.[/et_pb_text][et_pb_image src="https://www.realfocusmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/stagnant-online-store-traffic.jpg" align="center" align_tablet="center" align_phone="" align_last_edited="on|desktop" _builder_version="3.23" max_width="650px" custom_margin="50px||50px|" animation_style="slide" animation_direction="left" animation_duration="500ms" animation_intensity_slide="10%" custom_css_main_element=" box-shadow: 0 4px 8px 0 rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.2), 0 6px 20px 0 rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.19);"][/et_pb_image][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.27.4"]As you may imagine, we were in such a rush looking at how the traffic had been increasing before the plateau that we just had to keep pushing it. We thought we had a proven and invincible framework.

We were crushing the competition.

So, the third phase was born.
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Third Phase - Epic Fail?

In the third phase, we did something slightly different. We decided to translate the website into two additional languages in order to grow it three-fold.

This was going to be the epitome of the project. We were expecting to create something impressive.

However, not everything went as expected.

Check the image below to see why:
[/et_pb_text][et_pb_image align_tablet="center" align_phone="" align_last_edited="on|desktop" _builder_version="3.23" animation_style="slide" animation_direction="left" animation_duration="500ms" animation_intensity_slide="10%"][/et_pb_image][et_pb_image src="https://www.realfocusmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/failing-ecommerce-seo-image.jpg" align="center" align_tablet="center" align_phone="" align_last_edited="on|desktop" _builder_version="3.23" max_width="650px" custom_margin="20px||50px|" animation_style="slide" animation_direction="left" animation_duration="500ms" animation_intensity_slide="10%" custom_css_main_element=" box-shadow: 0 4px 8px 0 rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.2), 0 6px 20px 0 rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.19);"][/et_pb_image][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.27.4"]No bueno.

In 3 months, we went from 968K visits per month to 639K visits per month – losing around ⅓ of the traffic.

This looked like we were having an epic crash!

We analyzed every single bit of information we could possibly gather to try and figure out what was causing this monumental traffic loss (and of course revenue loss), but we couldn’t find anything major that was causing this problem.

Did we merely experience a brief golden era and that was it?

We came to the conclusion that Google was a little bit confused because of the two extra languages launch – pretty much at the same time. In fact, the traffic loss started closely to the traffic gain for the other two languages.

There was nothing wrong with our approach so we had to trust the process and the system that we had put in place.

In the worst-case scenario, we would lose all traffic and have to develop another framework. At least we knew we had a framework that was successful up to this point.

So, we all just tried to relax and trust what we’d done.

And then the magic happened…

BOOM!
[/et_pb_text][et_pb_image src="https://www.realfocusmarketing.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/online-store-receiving-one-million-visits-per-month.jpg" align="center" align_tablet="center" align_phone="" align_last_edited="on|desktop" _builder_version="3.23" custom_margin="50px||50px|" animation_style="slide" animation_direction="left" animation_duration="500ms" animation_intensity_slide="10%" custom_css_main_element=" box-shadow: 0 4px 8px 0 rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.2), 0 6px 20px 0 rgba(0, 0, 0, 0.19);"][/et_pb_image][et_pb_text _builder_version="3.27.4"]We were once again experiencing rapid growth.

To the point that we achieved a major milestone crossing the 1 million visits per month for the English version only (you can watch the video to see how other languages are doing). It doesn’t seem this growth is going to stop anytime soon.

This has been one of our most epic and challenging case studies to date. Nothing was “average” and there were a lot of ups and downs, but we worked with our client through the good times and through the bad.

We found a way to make things work and formed potential solutions in the event of these undesirable worst case scenarios.

All in all, a rewarding experience that will continue to grow in the years to come.

Here’s the video where I log into Google Analytics and Search Console for you to see it “live.”
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