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 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, who had instead endangered their business.
Thankfully, unlike many businesses they took rapid positive action, rather than burying their heads in the sand. The Southern Company consulted and SEO expert who recommended a website redesign and referred them to the team here at Media Proper.
Bounce rate on the new design plummeted over 20%, and stayed down.
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%.
The Southern Company Took Decisive Action To Revive Their FortunesThe 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.
Media Proper Got To Work Straight AwayRealizing 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 ImprovementOur 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.
There Was Even Better News For The Southern CompanySearch 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 ImprovedIn 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%