Posted by Martin Panayotov
This post was originally in YouMoz, and was promoted to the main blog because it provides great value and interest to our community. The author’s views are entirely his or her own and may not reflect the views of SEOmoz, Inc.
As I am into the online marketing field, I read a lot about SEO. This is my first post about SEO, so please don't be harsh in the comments. The Panda update is what made the SEO community roar about how many websites lost ranking and so on. There is so little information about the ones that benefited of the update and we are one of the winners.
I personally think that the Panda update made the SERPs quality a lot better and to some point buried the medium to low quality websites deep into the results. Even some of the high-authority websites went down.
I will share some insights of an user generated moving reviews website MyMovingReviews.com and how we got positively impacted by the Panda update. The website features many US and Canadian moving companies and provides the opportunity for people to rank them and write moving reviews. Additionally to that, there is a blog/article section with moving tips and info.
Industry specifics that influence the analytics data
Before we begin, you should know that the specifics of the industry add some additional noise to the analytics data. These are the main trends in the moving industry:
- Weekly trends: People search a lot more about moving services in the beginning of the week in the working days. Mondays are usually the most active days. We assume that people usually search for movers at work during work hours.
- Monthly trends: People search for movers more by the end of the month and less in the middle of the month and during holidays.
- Seasonality: People search 30% more for movers in the summer months than during the rest of the year. Nobody wants to move in the winter (especially in the Northern states).
The Fist Panda update
Since the first Panda update in 2011 we started seeing some increase in rankings. Because of the specifics of the users behavior in our industry, the analytics data is looking weird but you can see the pattern.
Further benefits from the Panda update
As we saw a huge opportunity in the Panda update, we tried to adjust the website to better suit the visitors, give them alternatives once they visit the website and make visitors consume more of the moving industry related content. The goals were to increase the time on site, reduce the bounce rate and increase the pages per visit.
What we did to increase rankings/visitors
1. Reducing the bounce rate
We stared by working on the high bounce rate pages. We edited some of the content and deleted some of the pages. One of the very high bounce rate pages were the blog section posts. Since we are always committed to build only high quality content, we knew that the problem with the high bounce rate on the blog was elsewhere. We knew that visitors were able to find the information they were searching for and after that they were leaving the blog. We added a suggestion fly-box. The box appears on the right side on the page once the visitors scrolls by the end of a post and suggests another random post from the blog. This had a huge impact on the blog bounce rate by lowering it with more than 30%. From the highest bounce rate section of the website, the blog become the lowest one overnight.
2. Creating a mobile website
We have about 11 percent mobile visits (we don't consider iPads to be mobile traffic). We decided to further lower the bounce rate by creating a full-featured mobile website. This of course brings the benefits of higher conversion rates. We've been postponing the mobile website for some time now and we finally decided to finish it and launch it by December. We kept the same URLs as the desktop version and only changed the templates.
3. More content
As part of the Panda update is the amount of content on page. We didn't want to have many pages with thin content so we increased the minimum text required for a moving review to be posted. After reading about how Zappos corrected the spelling mistakes of all their reviews, we additionally wanted to avoid spelling mistakes as much as possible. We included a spell checker on the moving review form. We are also planning to correct the mistakes on all old reviews in the future.
To recap, here are the changes we did:
- Editing some of the content with the highest bounce rate.
- Adding a spell checker on the write a review page and setting a higher minimum amount of text for the reviews.
- Giving suggestions to users once they finish reading a blog post to reduce the bounce rate.
- Started a mobile website to reduce the bounce rate and time on site for mobile visitors.
We had almost 50% increase in visits in the next one-two months. Please note that we introduced most of the changes in December, so we can't really measure how fast did these changes influenced the rankings because of the holidays. Not surprisingly, the largest part of the increase was from the blog as this is where we managed to reduce the bounce rate the most.
I can't say that all of the gained increase of visitors came because of the above changes, but given the changes and tactics we did at the time, these were the most significant ones. Targeting the visitor and thinking of how to enhance the customer experience results in more visitors. It is as simple as that. Working on the design and thinking of techniques to reduce the bounce rate will result in better rankings, especially if you are a high-traffic website.
What do you think about the bounce rate and its impact on rankings/visitors? Let us know your opinion in the comments below.
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