SEO Case Study: Site Architecture and Internal Linking

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We started an SEO campaign with a customer concerned about traffic after a CMS and site update. Complex site using node.js powered by a content management system.  Our client was in real estate dealing with exclusive high-end luxury listings in a competitive market. Branded search was healthy and growing, driving traffic over the past few years and the earning the recognition of the website as a valid sales tool.

Why Site Structure Matters in SEO

Our customer wanted to rank on page 1 for a specific type of luxury properties in their city. Our keyword research told us there was an equal amount of opportunity (ie. monthly search volume) when users searched for luxury properties within a specific area in the city.

Our client wanted to see page 1 rankings for their city. We knew that it was a tall order but felt the brand was strong enough to compete and worked on a strategy to make the client request happen. We completed a full SEO audit and improvement plan to address the areas of the website that could use improvement. The goal was to drive more search traffic and increase rankings for an approved list of keyphrases.

The website had a great page for real estate listings in the target city. And on that page, there was a filter to select a specific neighborhood in the city. One issue we identified was that there was no URL for this kind view, and could not be reached unless there was an interaction on the page to filter that way. Otherwise, the experience was solid and the site featured a great design and had good site speed.

So for queries like:

  • luxury homes in neighborhood A
  • luxury real estate in neighborhood B
  • luxury real estate in neighborhood C

We had very little chance of beating competition ranking for the above queries, as we had no page that was relevant to the intent of the query. If you look at the search results those queries you’ll find results that are tailored right to that neighborhood. We had to much content on our best destination that had listings for all the neighborhoods.

To make matters worse, we did have content on site about the different neighborhoods in the city, however, it was actually being used as blog category and tags that were creating lots of low-value pages littered with valuable keywords.

In summary, our big concerns were:

  • Blog categories created confusion for primary keywords the client was targeting. Categories were thin, duplicative in many cases too.
  • City property view page had filter capabilities but was dynamic without any URL updates or changes. No URL parameters either.

Our site architecture was limiting our opportunity and needed to be fixed. We believe this improvement would help us win over city level rankings and increase quality traffic. We implemented new pages on the site for each neighborhood and cleared the quality concerns with blog tags and categories.

To learn more about all things site architecture check out this article from Credo – it’s seriously one of the best resources for site owners and provides actionable insights.

Internal Linking

Another issue identified in our audit was the off-balance count of internal links. With a renewed focus on keywords, we looked at the site structure to match our neighborhood/city strategy outlined above. In our case, the FAQ and Privacy Policy pages were the top linked to pages other than the homepage on the site. This was simply because of the high volume of low-quality pages that all had the two footer links, FAQ and Privacy Policy.

  • Created breadcrumbs (json + html) to help search learn about our city/neighborhood property view structure
  • Improved relevant pages and started featuring top properties from that neighborhood there, with a link to the new neighborhood pages.
  • Revised footer navigation to help users find top pages on the website and prioritize internal links.

Tip: Trying to figure out if your internal linking is healthy? Check Google Search console. In the Internal Links report, you’ll find the detail on top linked pages.

Other Items Improved During Our Campaign

  • Metadata was re-written and templates created for dynamic property listing pages
  • Added structured data (property listings and open house events)
  • Sitemap updated to accurately reflect the full site and properties
  • Cloudflare added for page caching and CDN

Results

We immediately started seeing a bump in visibility for a whole new range of keywords related to our target city and neighborhoods.

Search Visibility from SEMRush
Search Visibility from SEMRush

While our strategy mainly entailed technical cleanup and the creation of more specific pages for neighborhood property listings – our top 2 pages (homepage and city view property listings page) saw big jumps in keywords that they were ranking for.

Keywords Ranked - Provided by SEMRush
Keywords Ranked – Provided by SEMRush

These new keywords helped us build authority within our city and bring traffic related to our neighborhood property pages.

Organic Traffic via Google Analytics
Organic Traffic via Google Analytics

Results

The changes as a result of our SEO campaign had a dramatic impact on the performance of the website. We hit record highs for traffic and turned the new website into a valuable asset rather than a sinking ship.

  • 33% increase in organic search traffic YOY
  • 19% increase in conversions

This traffic had a quick and dramatic impact on inbound sales activity and put a renewed trust into digital marketing.