Follow this live SEO case study we are currently working on day by day and pickup some tips...
Here's a new local SEO case study we are currently working on day by day you can follow and hopefully take some tips for your own sites and businesses.
This one's not going to be easy but is a great example of why we started this SEO portion of the website. To try and help local businesses understand and succeed with their online efforts without the $500 per month price tag!
We were contacted by Richard Reed of Back to Active Farnham Osteopath initially by phone as he had been on our SEO pages and wanted to come in for a chat.
Once we got to talking in person his case was exactly the reason we started this part of the site to write openly and honestly about SEO.
He had initially been quoted $500 per month for SEO services from the company that built the website. This was too much (and I agree) it was too much for a small local business to pay for SEO.
He had then found another SEO agency who had agreed to start working on the site for $200 per month but after months had made no improvements to ranking and never even handed over a report of any completed works.
His website backtoactiveosteopathy.co.uk was super slow averaging around 26 seconds to open the homepage (that's more than enough time for most users to get board of waiting and move on!)
Richard having read our previous case study had used GTmetrix to test his site speed knew it was slow and had installed some WordPress plugins to help but was told by his now old SEO he would have to change to a better more expensive website hosts. (He was paying $100 per year for hosting).
The backlinks that presumably his old SEO had built were all from horrible quality and totally non relevant websites.
The backlinks Richard had created from business listing sites like Yell.com were all pointing to the http version of his website not the primary https version.
The website had a few broken internal links, most internal links were wrong pointing to odd pages, the copy write was out of date, the site had a footer had an external link pointing to the developers website and the list really goes on.
Ultimately here we want to create a place with open genuine advice and case studies so whether you're starting a new project or looking into your current website you don't waste time and money on bad developers and lousy SEO's.
It's not easy to rank #1 in Google even for local keywords but we will try our best and be totally open with the work we do.
In Richards case his website is WordPress based as many websites are so this feels like a perfect case study for many local businesses to follow.
As well as spending money on his website and SEO Richard sadly had fallen into the trap of wasting further money on Google and Facebook advertising that's wasn't generating results. We'll also explore how to make the most of your advertising spend within Google AdWords and Facebook Advertising creating a warm audience that you can re advertise to once they have shown interest in your product or service.
Bit of a long intro I know, let's get some work done...
July 5th 2017...
It's not often we take on SEO clients. It's really not our bread and butter work but as you can see from the above I couldn't help but want to get involved and hopefully give the website a boost up the rankings.
Full disclosure we agreed on a $150 per month retainer to be reviewed after 3 months. This was agreed on the 5th July and we would get straight to work.
I don't know why but WordPress sites always seem to be harder to rank so I knew this would be difficult.
Also every single bit of work we did for on and off page SEO we would document in an excel database so successful or not we could hand this over to the client at the end of the day.
On the 5th July we took a speed test as a benchmark you can use gtmetrix.com for this and the result was as follows initial score D (66%) load time = 23.8 seconds.
- Sports massage Farnham - 19
- Osteopath Farnham - 14
- Sports massage Godalming - NR (No Rank)
- Osteopath Godalming - NR
- Farnham Osteopath - 12
Initially I had thought that "Farnham Osteopath" or "Farnham Sports Massage" would be the better format of keywords basically town name first.
But using the Google keyword tool turns out I was totally wrong. Keyword first followed by town name was actually much better and we were to focus on Farnham & Godalming.
Our keywords would end up being "sports massage Farnham" "osteopath Farnham" "sports massage Godalming" and "osteopath Godalming".
Also worth noting from the keyword research that osteopath ranked much better than osteopathy.
July 7th 2017...
Removed the facebook page widget from the homepage, updated the website copy text to 2017, removed the external footer link and replaced with text only "sports massage clinics in Farnham & Godalming".
Updated the footer links so they actually pointed to the correct pages. This is a little hard to explain but basically for some reason the about link for example didn't point to backtoactiveosteopathy.co.uk/about but rather pointed to backtoactiveosteopathy.ourdemowebsiteco.uk/about random!
This was the case for all the footer links so we updated them all to point to their correct pages within the site.
Removed excess installed WordPress plugins, removed excess WordPress page speed plugins, updated website title and tagline.
Created gmail.com account for SEO works.
July 10th 2017...
Updated homepage title & meta data (using Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress to do this), changed homepage slider titles and removed non-working buttons.
Noticed that opening times, schedule appointment and read all news links were also wrong so updated these.
Submitted links to local Reddit groups /Farnham /Godalming promoting 1/2 price clinics throughout August (2X Reddit backlinks).
Submitted links to Google+ personal and business pages (2X Google backlinks).
Ran the broken link checker tool brokenlinkcheck.com and fixed any internal broken links. These are links that are totally broken and as Google scans the website see's these as errors so you always want to make sure you have few or no broken links. Goes without saying the fewer errors Google finds the better.
July 11th 2017...
Having removed all the junk "speed up my website" type plugins from WordPress I wanted to spend some time seeing how much I could do to get the website working quicker.
I knew that the current hosting wouldn't allow keep-alive on the server so getting to an A from Google page speed probably wouldn't be possible until we could move the website to better hosting.
Working through the site with GTmetrix I was able to get the website registering a B (81%) with a load time of 6.6 seconds. This was a massive improvement from the initial score of D 23.8 seconds.
The first and easiest thing anyone can do is upload your optimised images. Under optimised images in GTmetrix it actually lists out all the images that can be optimised and gives you links to download optimized versions. Once you have downloaded your optimised images you can simply upload the images back to the server via FTP and overwrite the old images with the new optimised versions.
Next thing I did was to create a new .htaccess file that could do much of the speed improvements without the need for additional plugins to be installed.
The htaccess file you can see here would enable GZIP and also set expired caching for .jpg, .gif, .jpeg, .png CSS ETC basically from GTmetrix the .htaccess enables GZIP and sets expired caching.
We did need a couple of WordPress plugins to finish off. I was able to find these light weight plugins that's managed to get us a speed score of A on all criteria accept enable keep-alive.
Here's our site speed result after all this (about 2 hours work) which I was pretty happy with knowing once we could move the website to better hosting we would easily score an A.
Some other bits we did on the 11th July. Added a new working fav icon, submitted link to StumbleUpon, created bark.com profile with backlink, added backlink to osteopathcentral.co.uk which I picked up from a competitor.
July 12th 2017...
Backlinks created on blackhatworld.com, en.gravator.com and /Aldershot on Reddit.
Noticed that links from Yell.com were pointing to http version of the website not https so told site owner to update Yell.com links and any others he could think of.
July 13th / 14th 2017...
Spending time speaking with domain registrar, website host and new website developer to potentially move the website to new VPS hosting.
Everybody needs a break! More updates coming soon...
Ugh it's been almost a month since I've been able to update this case study! We've been seriously busy with mostly our normal IT support work but also with this SEO project we took on at the beginning of July.
So before I left we had just started talking with the current domain registrar and website host about moving the domain over to our VPS (Virtual Private Server) as the new hosts.
We wanted to do this because the current hosting couldn't enable "keep-alive" on their server and therefore we couldn't get the site speed as quick as we would like.
There were also other problems with the server hosting in that it was just generally unreliable and having an unreliable website isn't good for your SEO.
July 19th - 24th 2017...
On the 19th July we gave the go ahead for the website to be moved over to our VPS. Sometimes however things don't go to plan!
I won't bore you will all the details but ultimately all you need to know is that after the move I noticed that several things on the site were no longer working and none of these things were easy to fix.
We tried hard really hard to fix all the issues. During this difficult time we were just about able to keep the website alive such that if you were a visitor you might not have noticed anything different.
In the end though we couldn't fix all the bugs and after a couple week had to make the call to start the move again from scratch.
Thankfully the second time around the move was all good and further more the website speed had improved as hoped.
Remember when we started this project the website was scoring a D with Google pagespeed and was taking on average 23.8 second to load. We had made various improvements but on the old hosting the best we could do was to score a B with Google 6.6 seconds load time and that's still way too slow!
Soon as the site was moved along with the other improvements backtoactiveosteopathy.co.uk started scoring an A with a load time of 4.1 seconds.
We still have a little more work to do on the speed but we are really happy with this massive improvement so far.
I won't mention any names but this website was originally built by a very large well known company and just goes to show what a lousy job some people will do without a thought for their customer.
July 24th 2017...
Of relatively little importance but still on the 24th July we created a SoundCloud profile with backlink to the website.
July 26th 2017...
Now finally the website was moved, looking good, working well and scoring well with Google we had to check a few things out:
- Go back over all backlinks we had created
- Get client to go over all his own backlinks
- Check the .htaccess file on the new hosting
- Re-check internal links and correct any broken links
- Check google / bing business listings and links
- Update wordpress plugins
- Update wordpress security
- Check and fix contact forms
Final thing to mention about the website move was that we dropped https in favour of http. I know https is better for SEO right?
Well I don't really think so, https is obviously needed if your running a shop with secure checkout or collecting user information but in this case and any case like this https isn't going to improve your SEO and it costs extra money so if you have a purely business related website don't sweat it!
On the 26th July we also shared with the client the website ranking update and honestly with all the drama of the website move I was slightly surprised to have made such great progress.
- Sports massage Farnham - 17
- Osteopath Farnham - 10
- Sports massage Godalming - 15
- Osteopath Godalming - 13
- Farnham Osteopath - 8
August 8th 2017...
After a little break we created new backlinks on localadsuk.com, mylocalservices.co.uk, about.me and themeforest.net.
By the way the backlinks from themeforest.net were placed on my profile as you must have spent money with themeforest.net to allow you to do this. So if you've never shopped at themeforest.net don't bother trying to create a backlink.
We also found that the client had a profile on the website fingatherapy.org with some incorrect information so we asked him to login and update his account.
One other thing we have been pushing the client to do is to really push for 5 star Google reviews. So far no change here but we are really trying to build up his reputation with Google so the more positive Google reviews he can get the better.
August 9th 2017...
From now for the next week or so we are going to seek out really popular high ranking blogs in the health and fitness world which allow content or comments with backlinks we can pass onto the client.
August 17th 2017...
Quick ranking update as on Thursday 17th August and a very positive:
- Sports massage Farnham - 15
- Osteopath Farnham - 7
- Sports massage Godalming - 17
- Osteopath Godalming - 10
- Farnham Osteopath - 7
Added link to the gorazy.com/blog and also added a link to the answer I did on Quora.
Comments (backlinks) submitted on 2X local small business blogs both now been approved.
Back once again...
Back again properly after almost a month we have been super busy with what feels like just about everything but we have of course also been working hard pushing for backtoactiveoseopathy.co.uk to be number 1! So let's get into it and see what we have been doing...
21st August - 26th August
Really happy firstly to announce the arrival of Karstine to our SEO team, she officially started full time on the 21st August full time to help with everything from on-page SEO to blog outreach and backlinks.
Karstine spent her first week working on back to active getting familiar with the website and back end. She re did all the meta data (titles & descriptions) she also was working directly with the client on getting him to write better content for the pages of the website plus started on some commenting and blog outreach.
Additional backlinks were built on beautyandtheminibeasts.com & myspinehurts.info.
I kind of went back to work on website speed just to see if there was anything else I could do to but despite a few hours and lots of trying I didn't have any success speeding up the website any further. I do however have a couple of ideas on how to further speed up the website with developers who are working on some things that will be good for this site and others.
August 29th 2017...
We had updated content from the client for his "About" page which we updated and re built the page for him. Once the page was updated it was scoring a C on Google pagespeed so we ran the page through GTmetrix, optimised images, replaced Google maps with images and got the page back up to an A and just 3 seconds average loading time.
September 1st - 4th
We had been working with the Microsoft Bing ads team to get the client $100 free starter coupon with Bing ads. Its took some time and about 10 emails but we got there in the end plus the Bing ads team setup the ads campaigns for us so they were all setup correctly. (Setting up Bing or Google ads can be a minefield) so it's great to get these accounts setup by the people who know best.
Just to be sure with various updates we have done we ran the broken link checker again just to make sure there were no broken hyperlinks on the pages and sure enough this was 100% clean.
I ran our number 1 competitors website through megaindex.com which is a free service to lookup info on other websites. This flagged up that he had two backlinks from local.standard.co.uk and findit.bostonstandard.co.uk.
Turns out these are basically both the same websites but anyway we went ahead and created verified profiles to gain the same backlinks, so that's 2 more backlinks banked.
Anything small point on page speed - on the services pages of the website there was a facebook page widget. Same situation as with the Google maps, basically if you have code / widgets provided by other sites (facebook & Google) in this case then when the page loads your website has to go find and pull this info from them.
When your site has to reach out and pull this info from Google or facebook it makes the site load slower and also the pagespeed score will suck.
So what I did and what I like to do when possible is to create images instead. So for the Google maps rather than have the Google maps code to show the location I just go to the maps location in my browser screenshot it and then use paint to cut out the maps location I want in the size that I want.
I did the same thing for the facebook page widget. The image that the widget produced I just screenshot then cut it in word and added back the website as a picture.
So in a nutshell rather than pulling the code from another server we can just upload images and host everything ourselves for the fastest possible loading time.
What a ramble that was!
One last thing the client had been able to get a new 5 star review on Google which is great and very very good for local SEO. We are pushing him to try and get more!
This brings us up to date for now and here is the ranking update as of 04/09/2017...
- Sports massage Farnham - 9
- Osteopath Farnham - 7
- Sports massage Godalming - 18
- Osteopath Godalming - 19
- Farnham Osteopath - 6
September 29th 2017...
No BS! I want to keep these case studies as real as possible, SEO can be tough and this has been a tough couple of weeks. I am going to keep this update as short as possible just because I have had a mega week at work and writing this is just about the last thing on my to-do list for Friday before I work all weekend! So here goes...
SEO is tough, if it was easy we would all be ranked #1. I have to keep reminding myself that we have made good progress so far and things take time.
I ended the last update on the 4th September have made some on-site changes. On the 9th September I spent a boring Saturday night building some more backlinks. Looking back at my notes I can't even remember which sites so I would guess it was only a couple and probably gained the links from looking at some competitions sites on megaindex.com.
Things slowed a little from here. The customer had never really finished the sites on-page content so we had articles we wanted to use for guest posting but we wanted to wait to have the site finished before we used them.
14/9 - Did a ranking check and we'd dropped a couple places (had a slight panic) asked again for the sites content from the customer and build backlinks on the following sites:
15/9 - Rankings seemed to return to normal back where we were. I did some social bookmarking to promote the businesses September 1/2 price offer on reddit and stumble; we were still waiting on content from the customer.
22/9 - Finally we had all the content from the customer and we were able to finish the sites pages. At this point we are happy we have at least 500 words on all the main pages so we can submit our guest articles we already had ready to go.
26/9 - We hit the top 3 for the keyword "Farnham Osteopath" NICE! We were still also waiting on 2 more of our guest posts to go live.
29/9 - shit just hit the fan! I said this was going to be a no BS case study with all the ups and downs right. While checking the rankings (which are down) I discover that the whole website has been duplicated by a company in India called disa-india.com FML!!
I was due to send an update to the customer anyway so I did do and assured him we were now working tirelessly to get this duplicate issue sorted.
We have a lot of work to get on with I'll be back with better news next time!
September 30th 2017...
Trying to get any sleep what so ever knowing that the website had been cloned and they were stealing our rankings wasn't easy!
From very early this morning I have done the following to rectify the issue of these f****** scammers tealing our rankings!
Used Google's report copied content submission to report the scammer's website to Google. See Google DMCA page if you ever need this.
Used the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress to add the rel=canonical tag to all the websites pages. This should tell search engines which is the original genuine page:
Looked up the who is info for the domain registrar for disa-india.com (it was GoDaddy) sent emails to both email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org reporting the problem.
Got the IP address of the scammer's website disa-india.com (126.96.36.199) and blocked that IP from accessing backtoactiveosteopathy.co.uk in the htaccess file.
Hopefully by Tuesday everything will be back to normal and our rankings will have improved. No matter what we keep going and still pushing for the #1 spot!
Even with the drama of the last couple days and the fact we couldn't yet hold top 3 position for very long (yet) we are seeing great results from our work. In the last quarter 1.4 thousand impressions / views on search and in Google maps is a great step forward for this new local business.
October 6th 2017...
Just a very quick update to say that by midday Monday October 2nd the cloned website had been removed. Needless to say we were very happy and relieved, rankings are improving once again! More soon!
October 28th 2017...
Sometimes you don't need to hit the #1 position to double the size of your business. We received this email from Richard a couple of days ago and it seemed like the perfect way to end this case study.
- Farnham Osteopath - Start position 11th | Current rank 2nd
- Osteopath Farnham - Start position 14th |Current rank 4th
- Sports massage Farnham - Start position 19th | Current rank 13th
- Osteopath Godalming - Start position NR (No Rank) | Current rank 10th
- Sports massage Godalming - Start position NR (No Rank) | Current rank 19th
Although I'm going to draw a line under this case study to work on other things to share with you soon we are still working with Richard and once we do hit #1 I'll be sure to post a quick update.
I took this job on as my first official SEO customer and I am so happy with the results I know that Back to Active Osteopathy is now a thriving business and Richard can be successful for many years to come.
Currently we are working with 3 new SEO customers all online shopping websites in totally random niches so we'll be sure to create an online shop case study soon.
I really hope you enjoyed this case study and were able to pick up some good tricks and tips that helped you rank higher.
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