Growing Organic Traffic by 332.01%: eCommerce Hair Products Case Study

Learn how we grew this online hair products store’s organic traffic by 332.01% and increased monthly revenue from $17k to $24k.

Disclaimer: As a white label SEO agency, we keep the names of the websites we work on confidential to respect our partners.

Objective:

Most of the client’s traffic was coming from AdWords and social media marketing channels with very few visits coming from organic search. The primary goal therefore, was to increase organic traffic to the levels of the client’s other marketing efforts.

More specifically, our goals were to improve the website’s domain authority to match that of industry competitors and to increase traffic gained from Google organic search in order to place less reliance on more expensive paid advertising.

Website History:

An eCommerce Shopify website selling a range of high end, professional hair styling and hair care products. Although the brand targets over ten markets around the world, their core focus for this campaign was on the United States.

The main issues holding the site back:

  1. Tackling a negative SEO attack on the site’s backlink profile and disavowing harmful backlinks
  2. Optimising existing content so that it addressed the user’s search intent for the keywords that we were targeting
  3. Targeting long tail keywords by creating long form pillar content for the blog
  4. Fixing keyword cannibalisation issues
  5. Migrating the blog from a subdomain to subfolder

The Strategy

Tackling A Negative SEO Attack

External links from other websites i.e. backlinks, are considered one of the most powerful ranking factors in SEO.

This also means that it’s one of the most exploited facets of search engine optimisation. Because competitors can purposefully build hundreds of poor quality (spammy) backlinks to your website with the hope that it’ll result in Google handing your website a manual penalty

This is known as a negative SEO attack.

Google’s ranking systems are relatively good at identifying link spam, but they’re not perfect. So it’s important to make sure that you’re regularly analysing your site’s link profile to make sure it’s in good health – think of it like pruning a tree.

One way to identify a negative SEO attack on your backlinks profile is to look at your site’s link velocity i.e. how often your website is getting linked to.

This can be done via Ahrefs’ Site Explorer tool – to begin with, enter your domain into the tool.

Ahrefs site explorer

Navigate to the Referring Domains graph.

If you see a sudden spike in referring domains (like the one below), it’s likely that your site may have experienced a negative SEO attack.

referring domains graph

Once you’ve identified a negative SEO attack, the next step is to audit your backlink profile to identify the spammy backlinks.

The most common types of link spam are comment spam and forum links, which is where competitors post hundreds of comments with keyword-rich anchor texts on forums and poor quality websites with a link to your website – this was the case with our client.

After you’ve thoroughly audited your backlink profile and identified the harmful domains, the next step is to add them to your Disavow file and upload this file to your Google Search Console. This file tells Google that you do not want these backlinks and referring domains to count towards your SEO.

Optimising Content to Address User Intent

Having primarily focused on paid ads and social media marketing, the client’s existing content was lacking optimisation for SEO. To be precise, the collection and product pages in particular did not contain content that addressed the user’s search intent for the main keyword we wanted to target.

Search intent is all about making sure that your content is relevant to what the target user is looking to achieve with their search query.

There are four main types of search intent:

  1. Informational – the user is looking to learn new information about a topic
  2. Navigational – the user is looking for a specific website or page
  3. Commercial Investigation – the user is researching a product or service before buying
  4. Transactional – the user is looking to buy or perform some sort of conversion

The best way to identify the search intent of a keyword is to look at what Google is currently rewarding in the top 10 positions of the search results. For example, for the keyword “mens sweatshirts”, Google displays eCommerce collection or product pages, because the intent here is to buy.

We performed competitor analysis and identified that our client’s collection and product pages lacked the same level of depth and information as the top ranking competitors.

For example, the product descriptions lacked compelling details about the features and benefits of the products that were being offered. Whereas the collection pages were missing any supplementary information about the products whatsoever. 

We therefore added a summary of the products featured in the collection at the top of each collection page (above the fold) as well as how to use the products at the bottom of the page (below the fold).

Long-Tail Keyword Targeting with Long-Form Content

Google’s ranking systems want to present information to users from credible, trustworthy sources. This is because you’re more likely to follow advice about filling out your tax returns from an accountant as opposed to a finance student with little experience. 

This concept is called E-E-A-T (formerly E-A-T), which stands for Experience-Expertise-Authoritativeness-Trustworthiness.

When it comes to building a website’s E-E-A-T, the idea is to showcase your brand and website as the go-to source of information within your niche – i.e. users should see you as the authority voice.

In order to achieve this, we created additional long form, pillar content to further expand the site’s keyword visibility for long-tail keywords whilst also establishing the client’s site as an authority within the hair and beauty industry.

You can find out more about long-tail keyword targeting here.

Fixing Keyword Cannibalisation

If you have many pages that contain similar or duplicate content, they may struggle to rank to their potential due to keyword cannibalisation. 

This is when more than one page on your website competes for the same keyword.

This is an issue as it means that important pages on your website will be held back from ranking by other irrelevant URLs. 

One way to spot potential keyword cannibalisation is by using the Organic keywords report in Ahrefs.

Enter your domain into Site Explorer, click on Organic keywords and filter the results by Position so that you’re only looking at the search terms where you’re ranking outside of the first page.

filter organic keywords results by position

Go through each of the keywords by clicking on the graph icon on the right hand side. This will show you the ranking history of the keyword.

keyword ranking history

You’re looking for a graph like the one above – each line represents a unique URL that Google has ranked for the selected keyword.

You can see how Google has continually switched between different pages on this site for the keyword “aluminum tins” and that importantly, none of the pages have been able to break into the first page of the search results as a result of this.

There are a number of ways to fix cannibalisation and each method should be applied on a case-by-case basis. For example, in some cases adding an internal link from the less relevant page (i.e. Page A) to the most relevant page (i.e. Page B) may serve as a strong enough signal to Google that the main page (Page B) is the one you want to target. In other cases, you may need to merge the content, create an entirely new page or implement 301 redirects.

You can find out more about how to fix keyword cannibalisation here.

Migrating the Blog

A common SEO dilemma when it comes to a site’s blog, is whether it should be part of a subdomain or a subfolder.

Subdomains are treated by Google as its own entity i.e. blog.yourdomain.com whereas subdirectories are treated as part of your main domain’s structure i.e. yourdomain.com/blog/.

Google claims that both subdomains and subfolders (aka subdirectories) are equal i.e. they both have an equal chance of ranking for the keywords that you want to target.

However, an important distinction to highlight about subdomains is the fact that they’re treated as their own entity

This means that if you have blog.yourdomain.com, then any keywords or backlinks from the subdomain are treated separately from the root domain by Google. In other words, your primary domain doesn’t actually benefit from the performance of the subdomain.

Whereas if your blog is on a subdirectory (yourdomain.com/blog/), then the keywords it ranks for and the backlinks it gets will impact your domain’s SEO growth.

Our client’s blog was on a subdomain, so we gradually migrated the blog posts to a subdirectory on the client’s main domain. We started with the blog posts that were bringing in the most traffic.

One way to do this is to use Ahrefs’ Site Explorer tool, enter your subdomain, i.e. “blog.adobe.com”, and navigate to the “Top Pages” report. This will show you the pages that are getting the most organic traffic.

Ahrefs top pages by traffic

Once you’ve got a list of the blog posts you want to prioritise, you’ll want to create a new directory by changing the URL structure from blog.yourdomain.com to yourdomain.com/blog/.

Remember to implement a 301 redirect from the old URL to the new URL. This is a crucial step so that any PageRank (authority) is passed onto the unique URL.

Carrying out the migration in batches is advised as this way, you’re giving enough time for Google to pick up the new URLs whilst ensuring that you have a steady stream of content being “discovered” for your primary domain.

The Results

Based on the strategies highlighted above, the organic traffic increased by 332.01 since the start of the campaign.

  • The number of users increased from 3,197 to 15,522
  • The number of sessions increased from 4,036 to 17,436

organic traffic increase

The number of transactions increased by 53.57% and revenue increased by 44.09%.

revenue increase

The client’s visibility in the top 10 positions of Google grew from 265 at the start of the campaign, to 1,227 keywords in January 2023. This represents an increase of 363%.

keywords visibility increase in top 10 positions

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