This January, The Southern Company had a problem. They had vanished from Google search results and business was drying up.
It looked terrible as they approached their busy season. Their web services provider, the outfit who initially created the problem by engaging in shady linkbuilding, was unable to to fix it. Communication was bad, and a solution was not forthcoming.
The Southern Company (not the large utility company) is an outdoor furniture restoration business. For nearly 30 years, the company has been serving the entire northeast with high-end furniture repair and refinishing, along with free pickup and delivery. As with many specialized service providers, The Southern Company has relied almost entirely on traffic from Google to sustain its business for well over a decade. And now, the vendor they trusted to nurture that traffic had caused it to dry up.
They needed to find someone new. Someone who knew how to fix things. Fast.
Thats When They Came to Media Proper
Searching for a solution, The Southern Company consulted an SEO expert, who recommended a website redesign and referred them to Media Proper. They came to us in January, and we launched their brand new WordPress website (pictured below) in April. This is what Vice-President John McCrudden had to say about the development process:
“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.”
But while all that is great, did the new website solve their problem?
Yes. Yes it did.
The new website and optimization work Media Proper completed even solved a number of problems The Southern Company might not have expected. To illustrate this, let’s examine analytics data from May to August and compare it year over year.
The most immediate effect was a dramatic improvement in website performance and visitor behavior. Average page load speed decreased nearly 25%. Site-wide bounce rate decreased by 23%. Pages viewed per session increased nearly 30% and visit duration by 46%. Search Engine Optimization is not immediate, but many other effects of a better website are.
But You Haven’t Told Us About Search…
Everyone knows SEO does not produce immediate results. But work done well can certainly be quick, and it was in this case. Launching in late April, the new website was even with year-over-year search traffic by June, and in July started exceeding last years numbers. Take a look at organic search traffic from February to late July:
Focusing on exactly what happened in July reveals striking results. Organic search traffic was up over 45% year over year for the entire month:
What Happened to CPC Traffic?
In May, Media Proper also took over AdWords account management for The Southern Company. In the above analytics, the improvements we effected by July are evident. What drove that 39% increase in traffic were large improvements in quality score and click through rate. The Southern Company had not authorized any increase in daily budget; we simply delivered more traffic on the same old budget. In the first three months of our management, we have increased click through rate by 13%. Total clicks are up 35%, and impressions 18%.
Whats the Secret?
The simple answer is quality. Informed design, sophisticated development, and a refusal to cut corners with search engine optimization. We do things right the first time, and refuse to cheat to save time. The decision The Southern Company’s previous vendor made to sacrifice quality and ethics for a quick search ranking win caused this crisis. Hard work without shortcuts and strict adherence to best practices resolved it.
But in this case, there is more to it. One of the most underrated tools available to online businesses today is video. For The Southern Company, we produced a half dozen video shorts which we used for marketing and search engine optimization.
These videos are integral to our strategy, and contribute across the board. They increase conversion rate, stimulate visitor engagement, and can be a huge boon to search engine optimization when used correctly. To date, they have gathered view counts in the thousands.
At the end of the day, it is the customer’s opinion that counts. McCrudden had this to say three months after deployment: “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.”