DeltaNet came to us with an ambition of going international. To achieve this would require a significant site overhaul, comprising three independent migrations; throughout this, they also wanted to protect and then improve their existing search profile, so this was the ideal project of our highly experienced technical SEO team.
DeltaNet’s website when they approached us used a ccTLD, a country-specific top-level domain (.co.uk). This was great as it was appropriate to their UK targeting but in order to compete internationally, we advised they would need a gTLD (a generic top-level domain such as .com or .net) which is not country-specific but can be geo-targeted for country-specific content.
Implementation of gTLD & Site Structure
The first step in our strategy was therefore to assign the appropriate gTLD and plan the language targeting appropriate to international SEO to ensure every country was correctly serviced, laying the foundations for future search success.
The next step was to plan the user journeys around the site, accounting for every type of user and creating a clear pathway for them, enabling our client to encourage users to their preferred outcome. With user experience such an important consideration in modern SEO, this approach is another way in which we were preparing the site for future search success.
This meant specifically reviewing the flow and hierarchy between category pages and course pages, which had previously been quite confusing for the user and which made it more challenging for search engines to crawl. For crawlers and humans alike to make better sense of the site structure, a hierarchy needed to be introduced for better internal linking and topicality. With hundreds of courses offered, this was no simple task but an essential one if the site was to grow moving forward.
Moving from HTTP to HTTPS
Another essential component to search success (and all-round user satisfaction today) is security. With their existing site on HTTP, we advised DeltaNet to move to HTTPS. This in itself was yet another major change, but again an important one which, with the support of our SEO experts, was implemented seamlessly throughout.
All of the above equated to three major site changes. The first table below shows the hierarchy of the old URL structure from homepage down to course page. The second table shows the improved migrating URLs. Notice all 3 points, the now secure (HTTPS), international domain (.com) and structured subdomains.
Mitigating SEO Risks
As with any major site overhaul, there were risks associated with search visibility in particular, while Google and other search engines monitored the fluctuations on the site and responded accordingly. To mitigate those risks, and alongside the major changes already happening, our team continually optimised important elements beyond those changes in line with SEO best practice, including:
- Optimising the XML sitemap, adding all indexable URLs and removing non-indexable URLs
- Consolidating domains and limit redirect chains
- Repeatedly consolidating crawl errors
- Auditing canonical tags
- Setting up duplicate data views to monitor the new domain with STAT – our keyword tracking software – and using alerts for major drops
As part of the overall strategy many of the technical SEO issues flagged in the SEO Audit, a standard practise for every new SEO client, were actioned such as:
- Correct schema markup implemented
- Canonical tags introduced
- Pagination issues fixed
- Duplicate content, metadata and keyword cannibalisation issues
Creation of a Content Plan
A full content plan was also implemented, using keyword targeting between topic and course pages of very similar content. Before this, keyword cannibalisation amongst course pages and with topic pages had been a major problem for DeltaNet that meant that pages were competing between themselves as well as competitors for ranking position in the SERPs; with the new keyword plan, their pages served unique purposes and could therefore rank individually in higher positions and for better-targeted terms.
With the site overhaul completed, we have continued to work with DeltaNet on a full SEO and PPC strategy which includes, but is not limited to:
- User journey optimisation through funnel-driven keyword research, allowing us to target users earlier in the conversion funnel
- Content optimisation to ensure each page served the user intent, not just the superficial keyword
- Creation of a Knowledge Base to position our client as an expert in their field
- An ongoing link acquisition and digital PR campaign to improve the website’s authority in the UK and their target countries
- A PPC strategy focused on attracting prospects at the time they’re ready to buy, as well as awareness building earlier in the funnel