At Level343, we know that the key to truly marketing a website online is more than just optimization. We’ve spoken about it time and again, and will continue to “ring the bell,” but I’ll say it again. It’s not just where you put your efforts; how and how well you link them together make just as much of a difference the the welfare of your site.
Do you blog? Then blog well, and in the right places.
Do you have a social media campaign? Connect that social media campaign with your blogging efforts.
Do you offer a newspaper, or white papers, or other downloadable, gateable, usable assets? Then use them.
In other words, connect the dots!
Today’s blog post is more of a case study, as a way to prove that what we’re showing you here is more than just a few tidbits to whet your appetite. Whether you call it holistic or organic SEO, it does work, and it can work for you.
How One Medical Training School Increased Enrollment 42% Despite Google’s Algorithm Changes.
In June 2017, a medical training school came to us with the need to increase its standing in search. Along with ranking, they wanted to see additional traffic and higher conversions. After an in depth audit, in which we looked over every aspect of their website, current standings, brand reach, social reach and so on, we presented them with an organic SEO and marketing campaign that we believed had the potential of providing exactly what they were looking for.
Our Approach: Multi-faceted content campaign + social and local outreach
The school wanted better ranking throughout their state, as well as their local area. To do this, we developed a multi-faceted approach that included a content marketing campaign, as well as social and local outreach.
After researching their key terms to find out which ones were more searched for in their local area, we targeted long tail key terms in blog posts and social posts. We also provided citations in their local area to obtain quality back links that were locally relevant. We optimized pages on the site for specific terms, and used posts to target the key pages through internal linking. In addition, pillar pages were created, for in depth content on specific topics.
Don’t leave out social!
Social played a heavy part in the scheme of things, to pull together all aspects of the campaigns in a concentrated social effort. Social posts went out to Facebook and Twitter, places where they had an audience, and grew. We added Google My Business, and beefed the information up that was available on there for their target location. In short, we made sure that – anywhere our client could be, they were.
The Challenge: Google Algorithm Updates
As usual, Google’s algorithm updates have caused the SERPs to be volatile. Up one minute, down the next it seems. -And, while our client’s traffic and ranking reflect that volitaty, each time they’ve recovered to be better than before. In fact, a big hit for them was the Medic update, from which they recovered nicely. For us, that’s a firm reminder of what we know to be true: good SEO is SEO that stands the test of time. You can’t cheat with it, it’s not fast for the most part, but once you’ve set into the swing of things and ranking higher, it’s hard to stay down.
The Results: Triple the Return
Let’s look at the results.
Overall terms ranking in the top 100:
Now, these aren’t target terms, just all the terms they show up for in the SERPs (according to SEMRush). While many of them might not be useful, it’s an indicator for us that their ranking power is rising.
Overall and organic traffic:
Organic traffic, however, doesn’t show that loss in ranking, which continues a steady uphill climb. It’s important to note that we’ve noticed through the years, that slow growth, while hard to watch patiently, tends to have better staying power than fast growth. It tends to be better established, and not so vulnerable to the winds of change.
As you can see in the graph below, organic traffic is the winner for traffic, taking up almost half of all incoming traffic. The other 51% is split between direct, referral, social and newsletter traffic.
In 2017, the medical school brought in 5039 students. In 2018, they had 6207 – an 18% increase in enrollments YoY. Already this year, they have 3576. If they continue at the exact same rate no increase, they can expect to have approximately 8500 students – 26% increase YoY.
The Moral of the Story
A 41% increase in enrollments over a two-year period isn’t bad. In actuality, it should be stated that we ended up slowing down the efforts due to budgetary concerns – which means that these were less than optimal results. Not to mention getting hit with the Medic update pretty severely and still managing to see the increase.
So what’s the moral of the story?
SEO and content marketing work. Social media marketing works. BUT you have to connect the dots. You have to have a comprehensive plan that pulls it all together. Otherwise, you’re just throwing noodles to see what sticks. And when you do that, all you get is a dirty kitchen floor.