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Technical SEO Case Study: 4X Organic Traffic Increased

City Smiles a General & Cosmetic Dentistry in St. Louis and Clayton, MO. They specialize in cosmetic dentistry, teeth grinding, dental veneers, teeth whitening, gum recontouring, dental bonding, sedation dentistry, NuCalm, and many many more. City Smiles have been providing dental services for 14 long years.  

For such long periods, they have been generating most of their clients from the viewers on their website. They used to have great traffic on their website but, unexpectedly, a few months before all their rankings and traffic were dropping down. As they are not pro in SEO they didn’t understand the issues. Therefore, City Smiles contact us to audit their site and find out the issues. 

An In-Depth Audit on City Smiles

So, as per our client’s demand, we conducted a manual in-depth audit. Once the audit was done, we noted down all our findings. Then we reconfirmed all the audit findings using the Ahrefs audit tool. So, these were the final issues of City Smiles-

  • Poor loading speed
  • Lack of Mobile-friendliness
  • A missing XML sitemap
  • Invalid robots.txt file
  • Incorrect Rel=Canonical
  • Images weren’t optimized accurately
  • Contained broken internal and external links.

More than 50% of visitors abandon a page that takes more than 3 seconds to load. This implies the faster a website, the better experience it will offer to its visitors. Unfortunately, the City Smiles server response was very poor due to slow application logic, slow routing, and slow database queries.  

Since this site was designed much earlier it wasn’t properly optimized for mobile users. As a result, mobile visitors didn’t find this site much user-friendly. Due to having minimal mobile responsiveness, slow speed, unfriendly navigation, CTA issues this site failed to satisfy the mobile users. Therefore, its UX hampered and the bounce rate increased.  

Sitemap helps Google search bots to understand all your existing site pages so that they can crawl your site. As the XML sitemap of City Smiles was missing Google bots didn’t navigate all the pages of this site and failed to index them. Therefore, some of their pages were missing from the search result.  

An invalid or incorrect robots.txt file is a big red flag for a website as it can ruin the organic site traffic. Unfortunately, this was the exact case of City Smiles. Some core pages of this site were mistakenly blocked from indexing. And as per Google, if any pages aren’t indexed, they actually don’t exist. 

As a result, Google crawlers didn’t find some of the pages of City smiles to index. Another issue was, some blog content of City Smiles seemed like duplicate content due to incorrect use of Rel=Canonical. As a result, Google recognized them as duplicate content and took manual action against these pages. 

Maximum images of this site weren’t optimized with the correct size, format, and alt text. Which impacts the page performance of City Smiles. And the last finding was their broken internal and external links. These broken links negatively affected this website’s user experience and led the site to increase its bounce rate. 

Well, all these were the primary missing SEO factors of City Smiles which were related to Technical SEO. Due to these missing SEO factors, this website had faced a huge drop down in rankings and traffic. 

Our SEO Strategies

As usual, once conducting the audit we showed the findings to our clients and shared the detailed reasons for how their site got affected. After that, they gave us the responsibility to plan SEO strategies and implement the best SEO practices to solve these issues.  

So, we took the challenge and implemented all the following strategies to help this site bring back its ranking and traffic. 

Improved Server Response Time

As per Google’s page speed insights, the server response time should be under 200ms. To achieve this-

  • We optimized the server’s application logic so that it can prepare the pages to load faster.
  • Optimized the server queries databases. 

Optimized for Mobile Users

Local clients are more likely to use mobile phones to search for any services. In the case of City Smiles, their website wasn’t mobile-friendly and as a result, they missed the opportunity to reach the mobile visitors. So, here what we did to make this site mobile responsive-

  • Optimized text legibility like size and contrast on all devices.
  • Highlighted the CTA with full width and made the clickable elements large enough for finger touch.
  • Compressed the images, minified the core files like CSS and JavaScripts.
  • Avoid unnecessary redirects.
  • Created an easily noticeable and clickable menu including the primary page’s link. 
  • Used a fixed position instead of fullscreen popups. 

Generating and Submitting the XML Sitemap

Usually, CMSs don’t generate the sitemap automatically for websites. It requires installing plugins to generate the sitemaps. 

  • In this case, we used the Google XML Sitemaps plugin to generate the sitemap. 
  • Then, submitted the new sitemap to the Google Search console.  

Fixed the Invalid Robots.txt File

After that, we moved to fix the robots.txt errors. It’s essential to unblock the mistakenly blocked pages from the robots.txt file to help Google to crawl and index the pages. 

  • At first, we collected the URLs list from the Google search console.
  • After that, updated the robots.txt file to allow the blocked pages so that Google can access them. 

Corrected the Rel=Canonical Tags

For websites especially related to medical, using Rel=Canonical tags is a must to avoid duplicate content issues. Their blog posts seemed very similar and Google recognized them as duplicate content. So, to fix this issue-

  • We used Yoast SEO to list out all the URLs of this site and determined all the similar pages. 
  • Then, added the canonical tags entering the original content’s URLs to specify the pages.  

Optimized All the Images

Using images without optimizing makes it hard for Google to identify the relevance between the image and content. This was the scenario of City Smiles, their images weren’t optimized according to Google’s guidelines. Here, what we did to optimize the images of City Smiles.  

  • Compress the image sizes and formats. 
  • Added alt tags and provided a detailed description of the images.   

Fixed the Broken Internal and External Links

Broken links land the users on a “404 page not found” page when users click on a link to see something relatable. This unfortunate thing leads the viewers to leave the page and creates a bad impression as well. So, here’s  what we did to fix this up-

  • First, we collected all the broken links using MOZ’s Meet Link Explorer tool. 
  • Once identifying the dead internal links we redirected them to the pages with relevant content. 
  • For external broken links, we have reached out to the sites and replaced the links with valid ones.
  • After that, remove the rest of the unnecessary links.

Final Outcome

We started working on this project in January and it takes almost 1 month to implement our strategies. After implementing all the above SEO best practices, we constantly keep our eyes to monitor the growth. So, here is the 5 months outcome of this site.  

The following chart shows the previous data of City Smiles.  

Month Traffic Impression CTRConversion Rate
November  3867162.%1.85%
December 2603901.5%.73%
Total6461,1060.75%1.29%

And, here are the outcomes of our implemented SEO strategies. These are the last 5 months’ data of City Smiles.

Month Traffic Impression CTRConversion Rate
February35910452.91%3.8%
March46816383.5%4%
April40713433.3%3.15%
May 57521283.7%4.93%
June69325993.75%5.75%
Total2,5028,7533.43%4.35%

So, from the above chart, it is clear that within 5 months this site has been gradually increasing its organic traffic, impression, CTR, and conversion rate. Till now, the result is a 265% increase in organic traffic and a 337% increase in conversion rate. This implies a total of 109 leads have been generated within 5 months. 

In addition, with the growing rate of impressions, which is 666% we have been able to increase the CTR by 457%. This progress is very impressive and the growth is gradually increasing day by day. 

After seeing the impressive result, this client has hired us for 3 months more. Still, we are working with them and continue to implement our SEO tactics. So, definitely, we are going to see more growth and revenue from City Smiles. 

Masum Billah Bhuiyan

June 30, 2021

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