From 50 to 5K new users per month: How I optimized a blog
I was hired to do SEO for Dog Training Nation, a blog that covers a range of topics, including training, health, and safety. At the time, the blog was seeing very little traffic—fewer than 100 new users per month with the exception of December 2014 where it saw 215 new users.
Dog Training Nation also lacked a strong identity. Its colors were similar to many educational institutions and the typeface didn’t match the tone of the blog.
My job was to improve the website’s visibility in search engines and increase organic traffic.
To drive more visitors to the website, I implemented on-page SEO techniques, worked with the head of social media to promote content, and established the company’s brand colors and fonts.
There were blog posts written every week. While publishing was consistent, the content wasn’t optimized and didn’t lend itself to being discovered in search engines. I copyedited the content and implemented an on-page SEO strategy, which included:
- Doing keyword research
- Optimizing page titles and URLs
- Reformatting and restructuring content
- Writing conversion-optimized meta data
- Optimizing images
Since there were only three blog posts being written per week, I optimized and published a blog post every other day during the workweek. I did this as a way to keep fresh content on the blog on a regular basis, which is an SEO factor.
During the content optimization process, I worked with the social media department to publish blog posts on the company’s Facebook and Twitter accounts. Memes and GIFs took up the majority of the content shared on those channels. Knowing the correlation between high social media engagement and SEO rankings, we decided to create a social media posting schedule for consistent promotion.
Developing this schedule required us to look into the most popular posting times of our competitors as well as the times our previous posts saw the most impressions. From there, we decided on the exact times a blog post would be shared as well as the frequency of posting.
On the days I reviewed and published a new blog post, I’d send that one to the social media team to share. On the days where there wasn’t a new article, I’d recycle an old blog post. If there were any recent events or trends that day, I’d select a blog post that would be relevant to help increase engagement.
The company needed a stronger identity—an identity of its own. The blog is an informational website in the dog training niche. The main goal of the website is to teach pet owners how to train their dogs using positive reinforcement. With that, a color that elicits trust and reliability was required.
Yellow and blue were the original brand colors, which laid the foundation. However, the color combination was widely used in the higher education industry. Blue was a good choice because 1) it’s one of the original brand colors and 2) it’s a common color within the dog training industry. I decided to drop the yellow and stick with a different shade of blue instead.
My objective was to match the voice of the blog to the typeface. The blog posts were easy to read—many times entertaining—but some posts also covered serious topics.
Serif fonts are commonly used in the publishing industry, so I chose Yeseva One for the titles and headers. The curves of the serif font make it feminine and bouncy while the serifs at the ends of each letter give it a pointed, authoritative feel.
For the body, I chose Lato because it’s an approachable, easy-to-read typeface that also loads quickly.
Organic traffic boomed
Since I began working on the site in January 2015, organic traffic has continued to grow every month. In January 2015, there were 250 new users. The next month, there were 907 new users. The following month, there were 2,592 new users.
Fast forward to April 2017. The on-page SEO techniques have proven to benefit the dog training blog in the long-term, as it saw 9K new users.
Displayed in featured snippets
There are a few blog posts that have been displayed in Google’s featured snippets (aka Google’s Answer Box) for long-tail keywords.
Traffic from social media peaked
As for social traffic, there were huge peaks, especially from Facebook. The month we developed a social media posting schedule, 2,808 new users from Facebook clicked through the website. Today, Facebook traffic averages 540 new users per month.
Skills: SEO, Content Optimization, Copyediting, Strategy Development, Content Marketing, Rebranding, Data Analysis