Project Description

There are two types of SEO Audits available from Cardinal SEO. An initial audit is designed to give businesses an idea of where they stand in the SEO landscape. This type of audit paints businesses the picture of where they are positioned, but does not provide a roadmap of improving. A full-scale SEO Audit, like the one performed for forrentbyowner.com comes with an implementation strategy for achieving better rankings and overall search engine visibility.

In October 2019, For Rent By Owner approached Cardinal SEO with a problem. Traffic had fallen dramatically from a peak of 115,000 visitors in March 2018 to 21,000 visitors in September 2019.

The goal was simple. Increase traffic and visibility through a detailed SEO Audit and have the team at For Rent By Owner apply the right SEO tactics to help rebound from a sharp decline in search positioning and traffic.

The key to success with any SEO Audit is implementation. Audits only work when the team involved makes the necessary changes to affect the site and rankings. Cardinal SEO can provide all the necessary information to improve rankings, but if a business does not act on the recommendations there will be no improvement. Luckily, For Rent By Owner understood the need for their involvement and the results speak to value of their efforts too.

  • Problem: Site traffic and revenue had been steadily decreasing for more than a year.

  • Desired Outcome: Increase traffic through better search positioning thereby affecting revenues.

  • Solution: Cardinal SEO Full-Scale Site Audit

  • Outcome: 1,867% increase in traffic to site with unknown but corresponding increases in revenue

What was included in the SEO Audit?

SITE SPEED REPORT

Not all full-scale audits will include the same information. The For Rent By Owner SEO Audit started with an in-depth analysis of site-speed. A performance report indicated there was room for improvement in page speed. Cardinal SEO targets load times for a website to be below 3.5 seconds. This targeted load time is not always possible and the grades you see below are based upon potential. It is entirely possible for a website to load in less than 3.5 seconds, but still have a failing grade.

Some recommendations from this report include:

For Rent By Owner Site Speed
  • Serve scaled images from a consistent URL
  • Serve scaled images
  • Leverage browser caching
  • Use a CDN
  • Avoid redirects
  • Minify JavaScript

The CMS in which the website is built impacts a businesses ability to make many of the changes recommended from this site speed report. Also, some changes may require more time and effort than it’s worth to shave a fraction of a second from load times.

SEO FACTOR REPORT

After providing a site speed report with the recommendations of which problems to address first, Cardinal SEO provided details on the SEO factors that were lacking or missing from the site. This included, but was not limited to:

  • Top 500 H1 Tags and recommended updates/changes
  • Top 500 Meta Descriptions and recommended updates/changes
  • Top 500 Page Title and recommended updates/changes
  • Duplicate content issues
  • Cannibalization of Keywords identification
  • Mixed Content
  • Orphaned Pages
  • Backlink Audit

Along with the identifying report, Cardinal SEO also tracks and monitors the sites for 6 months to ensure the implementation is having the desired affects.

As can be seen from the case study below, the implementation of Cardinal SEO audit recommendations has resulted in tremendous improvements in rankings and resulted in a valuable increase in traffic. The data displayed below comes from SEMrush, Google Analytics, and Google Search Console.

SEARCH CONSOLE REPORT

The SEO Audit was provided on October 01, 2019. However, implementation did not occur until later that month, after consultative conversations and creating a “game plan” of priority the team at For Rent By Owner began making site-wide changes. By the end of October, clicks to the website from organic positioning had fallen to 25 clicks per day on October 25, 2019. Two months later, on December 30, 2019 daily clicks reached 1,529 an increase of 2,630%.

For Rent By Owner GSC Performance

During the same time period Impressions increased from a low of 3,406 on October 31, 2019 to 34,286 by December 29, 2019 – a 906% increase in visibility.

For Rent By Owner ImpressionsFor Rent By Owner Keyword Trends

The average position of forrentbyowner.com decreased from 43.8 to 24.1 overall. What makes this figure even more impressive is that during that time, the number of keywords the site ranked for went from 4,250 keywords in October to 11,230 keywords in December. That’s an improvement of 44.9% in average position with a corresponding increase of 164% in total keywords.

As was expected when visibility, position, and clicks increased – so did traffic. The month of October showed an estimated 4400 visitors to the site. By January 01, 2020 traffic had increased 1,867% to 86,574 visitors. Nearly 75% of those visitors were new users acquired organically.

TRAFFIC TRENDS

traffic-trends

To put the value of that traffic into perspective, it would cost roughly $37,900 in PPC budget to generate that much traffic through paid placements.

INDEPENDENTLY TRACKED KEYWORDS

Some keywords have more value and traffic than others. As a result, Cardinal SEO identifies these keywords to track separately during the monitoring phase.

  • Houses for rent by owner went from position 20 to position 1 (60,500 monthly searches)
  • For rent by owner went from position 11 to position 1 (40,500 monthly searches)
  • Private owner house rentals went from position 8 to position 2 (9,900 monthly searches)
  • For rent by owner near me went from position 11 to position 1 (4,400 monthly searches)
for-rent-by-owner-keywordfor-rent-near-me-keyword
houses-for-rent-keywordprivate-houses-keyword

ORGANIC TRAFFIC INCREASE

The goal of SEO is to increase traffic and exposure of a website through better search positioning. A successful SEO campaign will show an increase in organic search traffic. Not only did For Rent By Owner see an increase in organic traffic numbers, but the percentage of traffic that came through organic search also increase from 57.7% to 80.1%.

organic-traffic-increase
organic-traffic-increase-graph
new-vs-returning-visitors

When compared to the previous three months, Organic Search traffic was up 106% and new users increased 51.28%. In the above data, the pages per session and session duration have been negatively impacted. However, upon closer inspection, the data shows that pages per session and duration are still in a very healthy and positive range. Most users are spending over 1:40 on the site and moving through 3.41 pages of the site. Furthermore, overall goal completions are up 2.78% which means increased revenues.

CONCLUSION

An SEO audit can only be successful when a client is willing to put in the time and effort to make the adjustments necessary to improve rankings. In this case, the team at For Rent By Owner followed the recommendations of Cardinal SEO and the results speak for themselves. Shortly after this SEO audit, For Rent By Owner adopted a content strategy which has continued to improved visibility and rankings. The site was affected by the January 2020 algorithm update but rebounded quickly after a few days and with no drastic measures taken.