Saturday, 23 May 2009

SEO Case Study

The Brief:

The brief was very clear. Get London Print Shop to the top of Google UK for the keyword phrase 'print shop'. It's a fairly straightforward brief, with plenty of competition for the keyword phrase. All things considered, I thought it was achievable.

The real challenge was getting the company above Google's huge (and annoying) 'Local Business Map'. That meant getting the site into the top 3, which included the site and Wikipedia's 'Print Shop' page. Getting above a domain consisting of nothing but the keyword phrase is always tricky. And as for Wikipedia, I sometimes find myself wondering whether Google would still give them a top spot even if they ran nothing but blank pages!

To add to the challenge, the site has few pages and even fewer with useful text. Adding new pages also turned out to be more difficult than it should be. So all things considered, perhaps it's not as straightforward as it first seemed.

On the plus side, the site is well established and was already on page one in Google (in position 6). Its domain also contains both keywords in the URL.

Work the Content:

Once you know the keyword phrase you're indexing for, the next step in to work the content. In this case, I made the following minor changes...
  • Added the keyword phrase to the start of the title text
  • Inserted 2 new paragraphs at the top of the page in case Google included this in its listing (I didn't want the otherwise mundane 'Established in 1984' sentence appearing in the search listings)
  • Changed the description to list the company's main products in case Google included it in its listing (which it ended up doing)
  • I added a number of internal contextual links back to the home page to help Google index it for the keyword phrase 'print shop'
I created an XML Google sitemap, and registered it with my Google Webmaster Account. I also added analytics code to each page.

The changes I made to the content immediately shifted the site up one position in Google UK. I now needed to get more sites linking to the new homepage, and set about securing external contextual links.

I started with directories and classified sites. For the most part, these weren't contextual links. My main aim here was to have Google follow the links through to the new site, and reindex it.

In this case, the most productive provider of external inbound contextual links was article repositories. I was able create several articles about different aspects of printing (e.g. business card ideas, how to choose a good printer), and insert a contextual link at some point.

This shifted the site up to fourth, where it seemed to sit for a long time. Another round of articles on yet more sites did the trick, and as I write this it's in the #2 spot. I've managed to get it above Wikipedia, which is extremely gratifying.