Page Speed Optimization Boosts Organic Rankings Case Study

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TL;DR After fixing and optimizing everything except for page speed, I kept monitoring the site for about three months. However, there are no organic ranking and traffic improvements within the said period.

After improving individual page speed and overall site speed, the website got huge gains. My goal in this case study is to prove that page speed optimization should be a top priority on the list of technical SEO.

This case study is based from one of my client’s website – a multi-location dental website providing a wide range of dental services in 12 major cities across a state in the US.

The site got walloped by the August 1, 2018 Core Update or better known as the β€œMedic” Core Update.

organic traffic without page speed optimization-min

With every client I work with,Β  I start the project with an in-depth site audit. After the assessment, I hand it to my clients and explain how their website’s overall health is doing and what needs to get fixed.

The website analysis report has detailed sections showing where the website is failing and the suggestions needed to get them fixed. So, this website has issues in the following areas:

  • Content β€” the website has over 600 articles of which 400+ of them has the same or almost the same topic. So I recommended to reevaluate all posts and merge the ones that talk about the same topic. There are also posts and pages that have very little to no content. So, my recommendation is to remove them.
  • User Experience β€” with a bounce rate of 90%, clearly the website has terrible UX accompanied by its slow site speeds. That’s why I recommended to redesign it with conversion in mind. The blog posts are also causing the site’s high overall bounce rate, so I suggested to get it revamped as well.
  • E-A-T (Expertise, Authority and Trustworthiness) β€” although the website has good authority, it lacks expertise and trustworthiness. The authorship is missing and thus trustworthiness is low. So, I suggested that they create the needed elements to make the A and T good.
  • Backlinks β€” the site has around 14,000 plus links and about 50% of them are low quality, toxic and spammy. So, I filed a disavow.
  • Google My Business β€” the business’ GMB listings were not properly optimized and were outdated. This website has about 13 GMB listings that need to get optimized and upated.
  • Other Business Citations β€” the business’ was also listed on major listings such as Yelp, Yahoo Local, Bing, etc that need updated.
  • Page Speed β€” the website has a low overall speed on both desktop and mobile. Its individual pages are also slow. I showed this one page by page (all important pages) with competitor comparison to my client, and they were shocked about their website’s performance.

After pinpointing the issues, my client started doing the recommended actions. They started fixing the content, then user experience, E-A-T, backlinks, Google My Business, and lastly, the other business citations.

You must be thinking, “Wait John, you missed something.”

I know. That’s the sad part. They did not optimize for page speed! Not until the second half of February of 2019.

The reason for this though is that their web development team is too busy with other marketing materials that are way too important for the company at that time.

Fast forward, when the development team finally fixed the page speed issue, a significant recovery in both organic keyword rankings and traffic can be seen.

huge organic traffic gains - page speed optimized-min

How did I know that slow page speed is what’s keeping the site behind its competitors?

Simple!

  1. First, I’ve gathered all the important, money-making pages and compared it against their respective competitor pages. The website’s pages have terrible scores of 60 and below (based on Google PageSpeed Insights) while their competitors are at 85 and up.
  2. Next, it’s the only issue left unfixed as we have already rectified every single one.
  3. Lastly, I’ve closely monitored the website’s performance every time Google rolls out an update. And when the March 12, 2019 Core Update came out, the site went up dramatically.

Conclusion

I did not see such results until the slow page speed issue was fixed. For me, it became a priority more than E-A-T, backlinks, and business citations.

I hope this case study had emphasized the fact that page speed optimization is crucial in technical SEO more than ever.

I am still compiling results of page speed optimization as I work with other websites. If you had the same experience as mine, please don’t hesitate to send me a message so we can work together in compiling results of page speed optimization.

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