Managing Properties: A Brief Look at How We Handle Multi-Site SEO

At nclud, we make beautiful websites that help clients achieve actual business goals. Sometimes, though, even the best UI and brilliant designs need additional help in order to grow their user base. Our deep knowledge of search engine optimization (SEO) allows us to take the beautiful, functional website and ensure it is found by those who are looking for it. The nclud model of thinking works not only for ad campaigns, apps, and websites, but also larger, complex digital strategy campaigns that require holistic problem solving.

Scenario: 30 apartment property websites. Some in subfolders on the same URL, some with a unique URL. Each in a unique physical location, their own unique challenges and all want help to increase organic traffic and drive more conversions from search engines.

Other creative agencies might have balked at the problem, but here at nclud we embrace thus such challenges as we pride ourselves on being digital problem solvers and not just creators of websites. We knew our model of problem solving would translate to search engine optimization and allow us to deliver real results. Here is a brief breakdown of how we did it:

Audit

As always, we started with research. We wanted to understand where each property stood, both on page and off, and how much work it would take to get them in line with current best practices. We accessed each property’s Google analytics, signed each up for Moz, Google’s Search Console, and backlink checkers, then began meticulously analyzing the data. We dissected where each property lagged behind in key organic metrics like keyword rank and total linking domains and began to document trends and formulate a plan. Each of the 30 properties had a full breakdown of:

  • Raw numbers – like organic traffic, total backlinks and linking domains
  • Shortcomings – like lack of meta or duplicate meta
  • Strengths like – strong bounce rate and excellent keyword copy

We also included customized recommendations based on our findings.  The final deliverable was more than 120 pages and would serve as the playbook for the next 2 years of work.

Priority List

With many, varied tasks to do, project prioritization was our next step. After speaking with the client, we separated the 30 properties into 5 tiers and decided to focus on securing on-page SEO first and moving off-page SEO and content creation to “Phase 2.” Additionally, we had to manage the wants and needs of 30 different property marketing teams, as well as the central team of stakeholders. This required balancing the overall goals of the team while still demonstrating value and appeasing the local marketing teams that might have been lower on the priority tier to the central marketing teams.

Action

Meta
We knew that getting every site up to a basic level of SEO standards would be no small task.  More than 10% of the sites had no metadata at all and 70% had duplicate or erroneous meta. We performed keyword research for every key page on all 30 sites before drafting and implementing keywords, page titles and descriptions for all.

On Page Content
We knew that we could not stop at metadata, in order to really rank, we were going to have to update copy on the page. We worked with the client team to update copy on key landing pages to better signal to search engines and users what these sites were about. We focused on moving keywords higher up the page, reworking headlines and sub headers to include keywords and keyword phrases, but also made sure to rework copy to make it easier to read where possible.

Once static copy was set, we wanted to create new content that would be continually indexed by search engines. We worked with the client to develop friendly keyword content like localized blog posts for top tier properties and created a potential topic list based on keyword research  for future blog posts that internal teams could work off of without our help. These lists allowed the individual marketing teams to use their personal knowledge of the property, while also  providing  guidance on language to maximize search results.

Links
Armed with new content and strategy, we then focused on securing  backlinks. The client did an excellent job of securing links from high-priority directories, but many of those links were no-follow. As a result,  we explored middle-tier directories and other outlets.  We went beyond the normal directory channels and honed in on hyper local directories, apartment focused and neighborhood blogs for links. Growing our link network in unconventional ways allowed us to avoid the “wall” that can sometimes come when link building in niche industries.

Wrap up

To ensure that we were constantly changing and updating our sites for search engines to index, we never formally ended any of these steps. At least one page on a site was updated daily. We continued editing the the metadata even as we moved through the final steps of link-building with localized content. And you know what? It worked. Overall, we grew organic traffic by 65% year over year and saw in increase of 17% in inquiry conversions. Additionally, our work lead to:

  • 96% of properties averaging at least 1 keyword with a #1 result
  • 92% of properties saw an increase in keyword average results in the last year
  • More than half of the properties have a first page result for non-branded keyword – a 333% increase from the start of the project

Is your website lacking organic traffic? Would you like to rank better in search? The experts at nclud can work with you and your team to get results.

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