Sex, Speed And The SEO Migration of Romantic Depot to WordPress

Romantic Depot operates six, soon to be seven adult stores offering sex toys and lingerie, in the New York City area.  Their flagship stores are in Manhattan and the Bronx.  They’ve been around for sometime and over the years their website aged along with other businesses seeking to help drive local foot traffic.

With the move to mobile devices in full demonstration the old RomanticDepot.com site was not responsive.  This lead the owner of the chain to build a new site that was mobile friendly and it lead to Ultimate SEO‘s involvement overseeing the process of migrating to this new site without hurting the site’s strong local SEO presence.

Romantic Depot does have an impressive keyword positioning presence in the New York City area. Even nationally they are on page 2 of results for “sex shop“.  The goal was to ensure a smooth transition to the mobile site while maintaining the SEO that had been built over the years.

301 Redirects

The new site was largely a 1 to 1 ratio.  The html static page manhattan.html went now to /manhattan/ on the WordPress site.  We placed in any one off redirects, a redirect that took any url that ended in .html and would return it without the html and a redirect for the index.html homepage to come back with the WordPress homepage at /

Backlink

Backlinks are the life blood of a sit’s ranking and it was important to ensure that those would be maintained with relevant content as well.  Using SEMRush.com we collected all of the backlinks and their existing targets and ensured those had rules as well.  While the site’s backlinks were in the tens of thousands it quick came down to a few hundred target urls that needed to be accounted for to maintain SEO.

Site Speed

Most of the work involved in preparing for the migration was speed performance in nature.  The new site when tested on GTMetrix.com was loading in 12.6 seconds with over 400 http requests. We targeted a 3 second load and through Cloudflare.com we were able to utilize a CDN that brought the site closer to users as well as offered other benefits.  Cloudflare alone brough the site load time to about 7 seconds.

We further limited content that could be on other pages for those other pages such as Google maps to the location homepages. Instituting lazy load ended up being the primary aspect of speeding up the site.  Image optimization was also completed and a move to PHP7.3 from 5.6.  Merging CSS and JS files also worked to reduce the requests.

SIte Speed FOr SEO MIgration

SIte Speed FOr SEO MIgration

With our work to provide a faster site complete the migration was completed and load times on the site are under 3 seconds for mobile users.

Multi Domain Strategy Consolidation

During the migration I also mentioned the value of building one brand.  RomanticDepotSuperStore.com was the site used as the online store for the chain.

The problem that arises from multiple domain strategies is the segmentation of resources and confusion it can cause to Google Analytics.  An easy eample of this is the bounce rate and pageviews metrics are actually hurt on the primary domain.

Consider this… a person searches romantic depot on Google.  The first result is their site, likely the person is going to want to know what items might be at the store.  Once the page loads they find the link to the store, maybe even before the page loads.  Clicking that link they are now taken to a new domain.

That visitors actions would have counted as a bounced visitor.  See when someone goes to your site and immediately leaves for another site that signals to Google that what was on that original site wasn’t what the searcher wanted.  To prevent future searchers from going to a site that people leave directly after going to it they might increase the position of other sites to try and correct for this in the future.  That ultimately means the top spot position for the keyword is being hampered by the site’s structure.

Further Google sees that a person wasn’t even interested enough in the site to look at a second page, they just left.  In realty the second site is part of the same overall topic or brand its just that Google doesn’t necessarily understand that.  An artificially inflated bounce rate and lower page views are all that the first site is getting and the second site is losing out as well as most of the marketing is surrounding the first site’s address…backlinks, social mentions and such.

Lower Bounce Rate

The illustration above shows our page views of the main root domain.  Guess when on the graph the romanticdepotsuperstore.com site was rolled into the main domains … late July.  The thing is, the traffic isn’t any greater its just not split up anymore.  The homepage link to the store is now going to a subfolder of the same domain, its helping by acting as another page view rather than hurting the site as a bounce.

The keywords and authority of this additional site were better utilized under the main domain RomanticDepot.com and this site was migrated to a subfolder /store as a separate WordPress site.

Thats important the site was migrated as a separate site under the original.  This was done for multiple reason and it creates its own set of unique challenges but we’ll discuss that later in a future post.

Consolidated Backlinks

The consolidation of the sites further helps with SEO because after we migrated we put into place redirects from the store’s domain to its new home within the subfolder.  That means all the backlinks now combine to help one site.  Lets consider the following illustration…

Domain A: DA 30 Backlinks: 10,000 Referring Domains: 1,000

Domain B: DA 30 Backlinks: 9,000 Referring Domains: 900

Competitor: DA 35 Backlinks: 13,000 Referring Domains: 1,300

Lets assume everything else is the same…we’d expect then that Competitor will rank higher on Google Search.  But if we combine Domain A ad Domain B.

Domain AB: DA 40 Backlinks: 19,000 Referring Domains: 1,900

Everything else still the same….Domain AB will now rank higher than the Competitor.

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SEO Vs PPC: Backlink Project Increases Traffic 1200%

This is the power of backlinks at their best. A recent client complained that they have never ranked on page one of Google for their brand name product. After a thorough review of the site and it’s off page factors I listed out the issues the site faced and what would correct the site’s performance.

Diagnosing SEO Problem

Its important to perform an SEO Audit of a site to determine what needs to change.

  1. Backlinks: Hardly any domains linked to the site using the brand name as the anchor text. This was the greatest issue the site faced in ranking.
  2. On-Page SEO: Rather than using <h1><h2> header tags the site utilized CSS styled <div> tags. These visually looked the same to a visitor but that failed to provide the direction that the header tags would to a search engine bot.
  3. Technical SEO: The site load time was 20 seconds. A single auto starting video on the homepage accounted for 18.5 seconds of this load time. After removing it in a test page the site loaded in 1.5 seconds.  A site needs to load in a 3 second load time, 5 seconds is acceptable but also the limit.
  4. PPC Vs. SEO Landing Page: The site was laid out as a single page web site with nearly 10,000 words…all possible related content was on the single landing page which was likely well suited for PPC but not SEO. Google couldn’t easily return a specific page that had a lot of content on a specific keyword.

Ultimate SEO made suggestions that were ignored largely on the second, third and fourth points, often people stay fixed to their status quo. Ultimate SEO had control over the most important SEO factor which was the site’s backlinks at least and I went to work.

Backlinks And Referring Domains

increasing backlinks

increasing backlinks

After placing backlinks 15/15 new domains I had linked to the site we’re registered and added to the site’s formula. Traffic responded better than I expected…

organic seo traffic

organic seo traffic

Increasing Organic SEO Traffic

The site’s organic traffic had been previously in the single digits, now at 1,600 a month later I could claim a 1235% increase in organic traffic. The site had never received this much organic traffic. It had been largely fueled by an increase in keywords of over 600%. This is an example of how a domain’s authority and trust can be raised through backlinks to improve keyword adoption across the domain.

SEO Vs. PPC Traffic

The client had other similar site’s that I hadn’t focused on that saw updates to the onpage tags and discussion on the technical SEO challenges. These sites saw no real change in organic traffic during the same period.

The client had used PPC campaigns to promote the sites with their desired keywords and the costs associated with this neared a hundred thousand a month. The new organic SEO traffic is valued by SEMrush.com at nearly $7,000 a month. The beauty of this SEO position swing is that it’s going to be there for months to come under the right care and conditions. Where PPC is a one time boom to traffic.

User behavior is also generally more forgiving than paid traffic. Those who find your site via searching generally provide lower bounce percentages which in turn further improve your search position. So believe me when I say, backlinks make or break your ability to rank any content.  PPC is a great solution for short term needs and gains but the ROI is with SEO.

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Easiest Tools To Speed Up WordPress Site Load Times For SEO

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Auto Posting Across Social Media Platforms – IFTTT – Buffer.com

I hate missing out just as much as anyone else.  Its why Ultimate SEO has accounts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Pinterest, Flickr, Youtube, Blogger, Instagram, SnapChat and more.  But the only thing worse than not being on a platform is to not appear active on that platform. If someone’s first impression of you or your company is your activity on a forgotten profile it is more damaging than not having been there to begin with.

IFTTT And Buffer

Thats where IFTTT has stepped in and been able to save time while helping to get a message out consistently.  From WordPress IFTTT automatically shares and posts each update to a slew of other sites and until recently its been the most effective means for auto updating social media.  Now that Google+ has ended and with the loss of Gmail applets on IFTTT it may be a good time to look again at social media auto posting techniques.  Recently it appears LinkedIn may have discontinued its connection to IFTTT as well, which is a shame and hurts both LinkedIn and IFTTT.

buffer.com

buffer.com

In researching IFTTT applets Buffer.com came to light.  Its mostly a paid version of what IFTTT did for free but it also includes a free options which allows integration with 3 social media platforms.  In the use case of Ultimate SEO that meant connecting to LinkedIn.  The other two positions going to Facebook and Twitter as those are the powerhouse social media platforms.

Automated Cross Posting In Social Media

My ultimate goal is to fully automate this process and I haven’t yet seen that in Buffer.com but further testing may reveal that an action from IFTTT completes this chain.  Its not enough to be able to post an individual article from one site to all, we need something that checks all sites and then auto publishes what isnt published on others to those sites.

You might think of this daisy chain of social media as if it were a PBN.  It’s a network of separate sites but all you.

I’ll keep you updated on this case study.  At present though IFTTT still appears to be the best auto posting option for social media.  It can start from a sites RSS feed or an integrated service like WordPress then post to a central site such as Blogger which has a lot of versatility due to the number of connections available.

Connectors Applets Or Recipes

Some connections utilized for Ultimate SEO include:

(The WordPress to X recipes are available but I’d recommend making these connections through Blogger where possible for consistency)

Blogger applets

Blogger applets

  • WordPress to Blogger
  • WordPress to Photostream
  • WordPress to Tumblr
  • WordPress to Facebook
  • WordPress to Twitter
  • Blogger to Buffer – this recipe enables the auto posting into LinkedIn
  • Blogger to Flickr
  • Blogger to Pinterest
  • Blogger to Bitly
  • Blogger to Diigo
  • Blogger to Instapaper
  • Blogger to Reddit
  • Blogger to Pocket
  • Blogger to Trello
  • Blogger to Dropbox
  • Blogger to OneNote

It may appear that I love Blogger but its important to have a centralized distribution point.  Consider how easy it would be to accidentally create an auto updating loop if you didn’t have a defined start.  I accidentally created one of these months ago and it was annoying first discovering it and second reviewing where in the chain I was picking up the update I was trying to put down.  So blogger serves in that regard as a check point on redundancy.  I also prefer a secondary site from WordPress.  If after publishing something on WordPress you realized the permalink is too long or something just didn’t look right, you at least have another spot to stop that mistake from going out to everything else.

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Speed: Page Load – Technical SEO Out Ranks Most In Mobile

A Case Study of SEO Metrics And Rank

Here is a recently added FAQ to the Ultimate SEO FAQ section.

Let me show you how important it is….desktop vs mobile search results

desktop vs mobile search results

Why is realtor.com not higher than zumper.com in the mobile search on the right?  Consider these metrics

Realtor.com = Domain Score: 55 Trust Score 58 Alexa Rank 763 Registered 1996 Ads 3,900 Backlinks 57,000,000 Traffic Rank 108

Zumper.com = Domain Score: 37 Trust Score 44 Alexa Rank 17,000 Registered 2004 Ads 0 Backlinks 1,700,000 Traffic Rank 2830

In every metric realtor.com wins, so why is it below Zumper.com on the mobile search?

Site Speed Test on GTMetrix

Realtor.com Fails Speed

site speed

site speed

Zumper.com Passes Speed

page load

page load

So in this example we clearly see a more popular site beaten by a less established site and the single only factor the smaller site did better was speed.  And we cant discount this as … well its only important in mobile.  In case you missed it…

60% of searches are mobile

60% of searches are mobile

Now when we consider the facts above lets also dispel people’s over fascination for keywords and text optimization and position of frequency of words, the content length …. on-site SEO, the SEO of the 1990s as I call it… both sites present the same content to the desktop and mobile versions they just differ wildly in the speed.  What are some of the reasons?  Realtor.com decided to present 16 rows of 3 images of homes to visitors while Zumper shows 4 rows of 1 image …. and then additional rows load as you scroll down.  Lazy Load and 1 image vs 3.  Thats how they keep their requests to about a third of the realtor.com page.

What Are Requests?

I’d suggest you think of requests as if they are shots from a gun at your head.  You need to avoid them!  Less shots is a lot better…

Requests are literally requests of the server before the page can load.  If I make a page with one image on it that is one request.  Lets say I decide to replace that image with a slider with 5 slides, now I have 5 requests … the same page area but that cool feature increases the trips required of a computer to quadruple!  Lets say now I add social media icons to the page … Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and an email icon …. small and just up in the right corner.  That social media addition just added 5 more requests.  Think about all the things on your page, they don’t all come together in one big Amazon package with a smile…. they are shipped to the computer individually.  Now I have one page with 1 request and another with 10 and the initial difference isn’t much…that slider only displays one image at a time.

Latency And Requests

Servers don’t respond instantly…they take a little while to think and retrieve the requested resource and then it has to travel the distance from the server to your computer…may be at the speed of light, but light still takes time.  This time is called latency.  50 milliseconds is a good latency.

If both servers in the FAQ had a 50 ms latency.  We can assume that the

Realtor.com server will take 50 ms x 301 requests = 15050 ms or 15 seconds

Zumper.com server will take 50 ms x 134 requests = 6700 ms or 6 seconds  

I hope this explains why you want to limit requests, and prioritize speed as much as you focus on keywords.

Ways To Decrease Requests

Do you need separate images?  On ultimateseo.org I wanted to show my COMPTia certifications.  I have 4 icons … I combined them to make one image.   Thats 1/4 the requests but no change in user experience other than a quicker site.

technical certifications

technical certifications

Lazy Load

Lazy Load also helps speed up the initial page load time.  If “below the fold” you have a lot of images on a page … the page needs those images still to finish the load unless you institute lazy load which essentially tells the computer to load an image only when it is coming into view.  This makes sense likely if you have 300 images on the page and plenty of them are scrolled far down….but all in all I’m on the fence on Lazy Load.  I ran speed tests on the homepage of this site with Lazy Load on …. 3 tests results 2.3 seconds, 1.9 seconds and 1.9 seconds.  I turned off lazy load, and reran the test and got 2.3 seconds, 1.9 seconds and 1.7 seconds.  So technically the site loaded faster with Lazy Load off….keep in mind it take a bit of thinking for the server to implement it. This helps speed up a site drastically if there are a ton of images spread vertically…but not much in a normal page.  What are the full implications on SEO when a site is crawled?

Its suggested by “Ask Yoast” that Lazy Load is fine for SEO and the images are rendered as Google scrolls down the page and indexes the content.

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Multi-Domain Strategy In SEO … Risky But Lets Have Some Risk

So I feel like its everyone’s dream to be a media conglomerate, why buy one newspaper when you can buy 100s?  Well, SEO and the internet are one big community…so in the analogy … why build multiple newspapers in the same city?  No one would do that and it’s about the same with the internet or at least it should be…but everyone wants to have multiple top ranking domains.

Real Life Examples Of Multiple Domains

There is only two ways this could work out…

  • Your brand is merging with another equally powerful and recognized brand and dissolving either brand will leave a huge gap that competitors will fill fast than you can with your one brand.  Example … Zillow bought Trulia for 3.5 billion they represent the number one and number two home listings sites.  They have continued to operate two sites in the same niche because anything other than what they have now is less than optimal.  SO … you can do the same when your billion dollar company buys out your #2 competition for 4 billion or so dollars.  Until then…this first scenario doesn’t work for you.

zillow has a multiple domain strategy

zillow has a multiple domain strategy

Trulia Is In A Multiple Domain Strategy

  • Your brand is buying a vertical business…(word for it escapes just now but its not the point so moving on) Let’s say you make eyeglasses, you make almost all of the eyeglasses.  So you buy the stores that sell them and then you buy the vision insurance company too.  Thats what I mean…Your original business was production and you dealt with retail outlets, you couldn’t make hardly any more glasses so you expanded vertically in the supply chain.  Its the story of that famous eye glass company you know that owns all the others… Luxottica.  Never heard of them well…they did a “Multi-Domain” strategy and you have heard of these companies… EyeMed, Target Optical, Pearle Vision, Lens-crafters, Sunglass Hut, Glasses.com … theres more but you get the point.  A consumer believe they have choice in the market but thats because you let them.  Combined all these companies are 1/4 of all eyewear value in all the little pieces of that industry.  They command it.  Your new domain JimmysBestTshirtsThatRFunny.info is not them you need one domain…so buying 8 other T-shirt domains wont help you other than maybe you got a better name than that monster.  Now the key part of this strategy though is vertical integration…your retail store isn’t competing with your vision insurance company and its not competing with the factory … they’re all buyers of each other till a consumer gets it.

Increased Competition But Not Sales

Thats really about it.  You’re likely going to have room to grow in the sector you are in for sometime and you wont have the funds to buy up a fourth of the world’s T-shirt makers so focus on your one domain.  Why?  Well…changing the names to protect the guilty.  I had a client who insisted on multiple domains we’ll say they were a tour company that ran guided tours of Liberty Island in NYC.  Its a weird niche just cause you don’t have to have a guided tour to see the Island but because of the demand and popularity several companies sprout up and sale tickets to a national park property.  Its easy money with online sales being where its at … but if you have 5 competitors sites you figure well lets add two more so now there are 7 sites and your competition adds 2 sites thats 15 now plus your 3 …. so we now have 18 sites all competing for the same audience and the same experience.  Did you know that it’s really hard to rank up to the top 3 spots with one site?  So now to benefit from what you’ve done you need to rank up 3 times that and fight off 15 instead of 5 other sites.  We didn’t even have a second page until now in search results and someone has to be on it.

Multiple Domain Canabalism SEO

Multiple Domain Canabalism SEO

When Multiple Domains Don’t Work

So thing about your multiple domains, assign keywords to one … then move to the next domain … don’t assign the same keywords and the same role to that site, you’re just competing with yourself.  Also you’re diluting your search traffic maybe combined you have 30% of the traffic but Google doesn’t see that, it sees 15% here and 10% at this second domain and only 5% at the last site.  Say a competitor has a site thats at 16% his one site will out rank your three because you’ve split up all your efforts and resources.  Thats the problem with the Multi Domain Strategy.

When Might You Use Multiple Domains?

I like to think I don’t do that.  I have UltimateSEO.org and its SEO.  I have CLoud502.com and it is cloud computing and I have data502.com and its Data Analysis.  Related?  Of course but very different.  A person googling “AWS servers” isn’t going to click on a site about SEO.  You find niches for the domains and target the audience and keywords for those domains.

So in the end, before you grow to more than one domain ask yourself if this new domain will have a different audience than the first.  If not and if you can argue the same keywords fit both sites, you need one site.

So don’t eat yourself up with Multiple Domains.  I’ll be posting in the next day about my addition of UltimateSEO.net .. how I intend NOT to canabalize this site.

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Multi-Domain Strategy In SEO … Risky But Lets Have Some Risk

How To Rank Your Site On Google…Forget the Keywords

Ultimate SEO

Well don’t totally forget the keywords but I think if you spend more than 5 minutes on keywords you’re going to be pretty surprised by some purported data I stumbled across.  As you likely know Google uses about 200 factors in determining your sites ranking.  I personally have place a lot of emphasis on speed and backlinks and while I have thought it was important I must admit I didn’t give the social media factor as much attention as I should.

The first big thing to not is that 10.3% of ranking is CTR so if you have ever seen your content just jump up on the rankings and then slowly (or quickly) taper off as time goes its likely that people are clicking on you less and less as you slide below the pages.  Its the single biggest impact.  I feel Google gives you the benefit of doubt at first ranking you higher than average and then they allow people to determine if your site is worth it.  That’s important to consider and similar to conversion rates.

When we take human behavior out we have largely backlinks and social media deciding your ranking ability.  These make sense, if no one is talking about you but they are about your competition and more people click on your competitors site who also has the most backlinks you’re wasting your time trying to get your keywords exactly right in the headers, description and title….they combined contribute a value of 5  where backlinks are over 120.

If you’d like to access the Data Studio report directly you can visit https://datastudio.google.com/open/1lNt4SYd4jrfXWMo9HPKvrj1FWFO0oxG4

If this graphic surprises you it might be a good plan to check out our SEO Store or Upwork Profile.

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52 Tools And Counting: Mostly Free SEO Tools – I Actually Use

Work In Progress

Thanks for checking in with Ultimate SEO, this site is a side project as my client’s sites are the main one.  This means I may often have edits and unfinished elements to circle back too.  I encourage you to feel free to let me how this site could be better using the contact form.

52 Tools And Counting: Mostly Free SEO Tools – I Actually Use