In January 2014, The Southern Company had a problem which was endangering the future of the business.

They had nearly vanished from key Google search results pages. Because of this, business was starting to dry up and things were not looking good for the rest of the year, including their busiest season.

They had realized that the web services company which had been employed to boost the company’s search engine results page visibility had actually created a growing problem. A problem which was increasingly looking like it could have dramatic long-term consequences.

Although things had looked better after initially engaging with this outfit, they had secretly engaged in some shady link building practices. Over time, The Southern Company lost trust with Google and previously good search engine rankings suddenly began to disappear.

As this realization hit home, The Southern Company found that a solution was not forthcoming from the web services company and communication broke down.

The Southern Company Took Decisive Action To Revive Their Fortunes

The Southern Company has been serving the entire north-east with high-end furniture repair and refinishing services for 30 years.

As an outdoor furniture restoration specialist, with a significant amount of long-term trust built both with clients and Google, it was essential that the company revived its rankings before the start of the busy spring and summer period.

The results of one year of SEO work and the new website were impossible to ignore.

Low sales through this key time would endanger the company and its employees’ futures. As with many similar specialized service providers, The Southern Company has relied more and more on highly targeted traffic from Google to sustain and grow its business.

So we had a situation where a great company, who relied mainly on referrals via search engines for their business to survive, had found themselves put into an incredibly challenging position by a company they had trusted.

Thankfully, unlike many businesses they took rapid positive action, rather than burying their heads in the sand. The Southern Company consulted an SEO expert who recommended a website redesign and referred them to the team here at Media Proper.

Media Proper Got To Work Straight Away

Realizing the urgency of the situation, we immediately arranged to get things moving fast, to give The Southern Company a greater chance of survival.

The company’s vice president, John McCrudden, had this to say about how we got the process started quickly and professionally:

“They really took care of the entire deployment. They came down to our office to speak with us and perform an audit of our site. During that first meeting, we really spent time defining the requirements, discussing the short- and long-term objectives, and determining how we were going to track and measure our progress. They were then responsible for the front-end visual design, which required wireframing, theming, template design, and UI/UX [user interface/user experience]. They also handled the technical build. They took care of all the custom coding. It was a complete site rebuild.”

Once we established exactly what the current position was and had agreed a clear development strategy that John and his team helped to develop and fully understood, we got to work fast.

Approached in January, the new website, built on a solid foundation of the world’s most popular content management system, WordPress, was ready to launch in April.

A shiny new website is great, but would our careful communication, planning and detailed development plans save The Southern Company?

The New Website Created A Base For Dramatic Improvement

Our work had an almost immediate positive effect. There was dramatic improvement around website performance and visitor behavior.

Average page load speed decreased by nearly 25%. Faster loading webpages, especially in this modern environment of browsing via mobile devices on the move, is crucial to keeping people on your site.

Bounce rate also shot straight down as well, decreasing by 23%. Bounce rate is a term to describe what happens when a person visits a webpage but then exits the site without viewing further content. So this was a great immediate benefit, as it meant that 23% more visitors were exploring what the company had to offer. Lowering the bounce rate, through presenting a more engaging page structure and content also increased visit duration by 46%.

There Was Even Better News For The Southern Company

Search engine optimization (SEO) work does not always produce immediate results. But if the work is done to a high standard, using knowledge, skill and integrity, then things can start to happen quickly.

We launched the new site in April and by July we had started to consistently exceed the previous years comparative numbers.

July was the month that the southern company realized they could breathe more easily. The month provided striking results. Organic search traffic was up by more than 45% on the previous year and for the entire month.

Paid Advertising Performance Also Improved

In May we took over account management for The Southern Co’s Google Adwords campaign.

The efficient and comprehensive work we did in this area delivered a 39% increase in traffic through paid advertising, with no increase in the company’s advertising budget. We simply worked hard to deliver more traffic using their existing budget.

By July we had also positively affected the following key metrics:

  • Click through rate was up by 13%
  • Total clicks were up by 35%
  • Impressions were up by 18%

What Formula Allowed Us To Transform Their Fortunes?

Well, the simple answer is quality.

Informed design standards, intelligent development using a practical, real-world approach, mixed with a refusal to cut corners gave everyone involved confidence in the quality of what was being done.

This confidence allowed us all to communicate openly, trust to be established rapidly and a working partnership to develop fully.

We did things right first time, refusing to cheat or cut corners in order to produce short-term results at the sacrifice of long-term stability. Hard work, without shortcuts and strictly following industry best practices, turned the company’s fortunes around.

We also took The Southern Company in a new marketing direction. We developed a series of short promotional videos which were used in all of the project work.

The new video content was at the heart of our development strategy and it contributed to success in all areas of the project. Video helps to increase user engagement, affecting all on-site metrics positively. Google also loves video content, giving you more chances to rank.

In just three months, Media Proper took The Southern Company from a crisis that threatened the livelihoods of everyone at the firm, to being in a position where they were confident in the future of their business.

But the final word on this project must go to John McCrudden. After all, it’s the customers opinion that matters most:

“Our numbers are up big time. The feedback we’ve received from our customers has been nothing but positive. We’ve received numerous compliments on its usability and chic new design. Overall, we’ve been very pleased with how things have turned out.”

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