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SEO

how to tell if SEO works: a tale of two sites

How an education sector site grew its organic search traffic by 370% in two years with Zelst, whilst its sister site went from 50% growth to 33% decline in 12 months after switching agency.

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increase in organic traffic in 2 years

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increase in search visibility in 2 years

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increase in revenue in 2 years

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increase in orders over 2 years

A question we are often asked is how will I know if this SEO will work? After all, Google’s meant to be good and finding stuff, so why don’t we just leave it to find our pages.

This case study demonstrates two things. Firstly, the difference made by running a good SEO campaign in contrast to a bad one or none at all. And secondly, what can happen when you switch to a new digital marketing agency.

It can often be tempting to switch your SEO agency, especially if you’ve been with your existing agency for a while and the shiny new agency has a compelling pitch and lots of fancy new ideas. It’s very easy to pick holes in another agency’s work and a lot of companies do take advantage of the fact that they have 6 to 12 months, where they can blame poor performance on the previous agency. The tricky bit comes when they start having to demonstrate that they can deliver better results.

background

One of Zelst’s longest standing clients is a company in the education sector, for whom we have been working for over 10 years. The company had two main websites, one which catered for the UK market, the other which targeted the US.

In the spring of 2017, the company appointed a new marketing manager for the UK business, who decided to switch to an agency that they had used in their previous position, which they did in April 2017. The US site retained Zelst’s services.

Organic traffic had been growing steadily by around 30-40% per month at both sites, although the UK site had seen an 83% increase in March, the month before the new agency took over. Over the first few months of the new agency’s tenure Organic Traffic continued to grow, as might be expected, as results tend to lag activity by a number of months, however it was noticeable that by the autumn, the rate of growth was declining fast.

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You guys have been knocking out of the park!

Our entire business is built on digital marketing and we rely on Zelst to deliver for us. Zelst is a great group of folks to work with. They’re experts at what they do – and they handle a variety of digital marketing activities.

US Education Sector
Marketing Manager

sticking with the right strategy

Meanwhile, organic traffic to the US site continued to grow steadily by between 20 and 50% per month.

By December, organic traffic to the UK site had started to decline and by March traffic was down by over 30%,which together with a general lack of confidence in the higher profile agency, prompted the company to ultimately terminate the new SEO Agency’s contract and re-engage Zelst.

In contrast, organic traffic to the US site continued to grow and grow, hitting 60% in March, 75% in July, 132% in August, 232% in October and a staggering 275% in January 2019, with business at record levels.

After the initial remedial action, although organic traffic for the UK site continued to decline, the rate of decline was slowed then reversed and by September, we started to see increases, with growth of 52% in December and 77% in January 2019.

the result

Over two years the US site has increased organic search traffic by 370%, increased search visibility by 165%, increased revenue by 157%, increased orders by 450% and enjoyed a record year.

Whilst the UK site is now back growing and organic traffic is running at around 60% higher than two years ago, this return to growth has only occurred in the last few months and the switch of agency has set the campaign and the business back by about 12 months.

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increase in organic traffic in 2 years

%

increase in search visibility in 2 years

%

increase in revenue in 2 years

%

increase in orders over 2 years

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