Case studies

Case study - Znak

Znak.com.pl is an online bookstore owned by the publishing house Znak. It’s one of the biggest online bookshops in Poland which offers both Polish and world literature.

It offers a wide range of books, and the offer is still growing. At the beginning of September 2019, the website had 435000 subpages indexed in Google.

See how we increased the number of phrases that generated views in Google by more than 2 million.

Target

Organic traffic growth

Analysis

We started the cooperation with Znak on 1.03.2019. It all began with a meeting in our office, during which we discussed the strategy and the action plan for the improvement of the online bookstore.

The website is managed with a dedicated CMS.

The bookstore has a large offer of publications – at the very beginning, the number of indexed subpages amounted to 114 000. In December, however, it was already 435 000 subpages.

From the start, the site’s had a high domain & website authority and a well-developed link profile. The site was also built in a way to increase conversion (with proper banners, well-displayed bestsellers, and an active community of readers). At the same time, there were many technical issues which affected the growth of traffic, caused content duplication and lowered the visibility for both general and more detailed keywords.

A few facts for starters:

  • A big online store
  • High domain parameters
  • Very competitive industry
  • A dedicated CMS
  • A lot of challenges related to technical SEO

Approach

An online bookstore is a very complex site since it offers a lot of different books and publications that need separate pages. Usually, they are searched by genres and titles, which influenced our strategy for the optimization of the whole site.

The process was (and still is) driven by the broad-based approach. Apart from general phrases, we also worked with more specific ones – related to categories, or even book titles. We also focused on “new arrivals” and bestsellers.

We constantly follow industry trends and tailor our strategy to them whenever needed. For example: if certain authors start to gain popularity, it means that their books will be a priority when it comes to site optimization at a given moment.

On site process

As usual, we started the cooperation with a website audit. On nearly 40 pages, we covered a detailed analysis of technical aspects, keywords, competitors, backlinks and site usability. The audit indicated the most important aspects that needed our focus first.

We constantly work with the web developer to implement the changes on the site.

The dedicated CMS, which the site Znak.com.pl is managed with, also works for two other websites. Therefore, the improvements that we made were automatically applied to those web pages too, increasing their visibility in the long run. Such a side effect should not be a problem for our client, though 😉

Problem no. 1: Improper category names

Plenty of categories on the website had improper names, which didn’t include any keywords. We mapped them properly – we designed a new menu, in which the category names were keyword phrases at the same time.

Exemplary changes:
Romance -> Romance books
With humour -> Humour books
Closer to nature -> Books about nature
Travel -> Travel books

Problem no. 2: Wrong URL structure

The structure of URL addresses was a major issue for the bookstore. The words were separated with commas, and the names of the book authors were lacking. We changed the structure completely and ask the developer for implementing 301 redirections from old URL addresses to the new ones.

Exemplary changes:

Old address: https://www.znak.com.pl/kartoteka,ksiazka,48590,Jak-wytlumaczyc-Marsjaninowi-co-to-znaczy-pies-czy
New address: https://www.znak.com.pl/ksiazka/jak-wytlumaczyc-marsjaninowi-co-to-znaczy-pies-czy-leszek-korzeniowski-48590

Old address: https://www.znak.com.pl/kartoteka,ksiazka,121352,Nie-daj-sie-rakowi-Wsparcie-zywieniowe-w-chorobie
New address: https://www.znak.com.pl/ksiazka/nie-daj-sie-rakowi-wsparcie-zywieniowe-w-chorobie-brzegowy-maria-maciejewska-cebulak-magdalena-121352

Problem no. 3: Low visibility for general keyword phrases

The website had very low visibility for general keywords added to categories, for example:
History books
Religion books

The reason was the lack of content on category pages and H1 headers, which are actually important for SEO. We worked on implementing the H1 headers together with the web developer, and we’re still adding new content to category pages.

The exemplary header we added to “Religion books” (pl: książki religijne) category:

h1 header

The exemplary content we added to “History books” (pl: książki historyczne) category:

Case study SEO - Znak - treść na kategoriach

Problem no. 4: Sitemap

There were two major issues with the sitemap. First of all, we had to edit it since we changed the URL addresses – and we did it immediately.

The second problem was the limited capability of the sitemap – it could only “store” up to 50 000 URLs. Znak’s bookstore is much bigger than that, which is why this limit affected the indexation of the website. We advised the developer to create separate sitemaps for photos and other subpages. At the moment, there are 8 sitemaps in Google Search Console:

Sitemaps - znak

Problem no. 5: Internal linking

Internal linking has a large influence when it comes to showing the Googlebot which pages are the most important within a given website. In this case, the links from the main page to specific subpages didn’t include their titles. We advised adding the book titles on the main page and category pages, thanks to which both the visitors and Google know exactly what the links are referring to.

Before:

Linkowanie wewnętrzne - case study SEO

After:

Zmiany w linkowaniu wewnętrznym - case study SEO

We also encountered another issue: the link was added not only to the title but the image as well. We recommended the change from one (red frame) to two separate links (green frame).

Case study SEO - linkowanie wewnętrzne

Problem no. 6: The limitations of the CMS

A dedicated CMS can be challenging since it’s often created without all SEO elements in mind. In this case, the biggest challenge was the lack of capability to insert titles and meta descriptions.

At the moment, after the change of category names, the titles of all category subpages is set up properly. We’ve also recommended necessary changes in the CMS in order to be able to add meta descriptions as well.

When it comes to product pages, though, the issue was the lack of book author in the site’s title. We asked for the name of the author to be added globally, to each title of the site.

Problem no. 7: The speed of the website

The SEO audit lists a number of factors that influence both the site’s visibility in the search engine, as well as its user-friendliness. In the audit, we included information about the website speed which wasn’t good enough – we advised reducing its weight to speed up the loading process.

Before:

Case study SEO - Znak - prędkość strony na starcie

After:

Case Study Znak - prędkość strony po 5 miesiącach

Off-site

The website znak.com.pl had a strong link profile from the very beginning. In our efforts, we decided to focus on increasing the number of backlinks by sponsored articles, and even more links coming from strong domains.

Before:

Proces off-site Znak - przed rozpoczęciem współpracy

After:

Off-site dla Znak - wyniki

Results

The book industry is a very seasonal one. The biggest traffic and interest can be seen before Christmas and at the beginning of the new year, usually due to available deals and discounts. That’s why it’s important to compare the results of any SEO efforts year over year, rather than month to month. That’s precisely what we did 😉

The seasonality of the industry can be seen on the graph taken from Senuto tool:

SEO Case study - seasonality

During the first 2 months, we noted a decrease in organic traffic and revenue stemming from it.

The comparison of March 2018 with March 2019:

Znak - traffic comparison

After those 2 months, when the first effects of SEO started to be visible, we saw an increase. In August 2019, the organic traffic increased by 23% (comparing to the year before):

Znak Case study SEO - traffic

Over the months July-August (low season) we reached a nearly 25% increase in organic traffic:

SEO Case study - traffic growth

After implementing most of the technical changes in April, we noted a significant increase in the site’s visibility. In 5 months, the number of phrases generating views grew by 2 million!

Znak search console - visibility growth

The increase in visibility seen by Semstorm:

Znak visibility after seo process

Thanks to the improved internal linking and sitemaps, the number of indexed subpages also grew:

Znak indexed pages

The changes in the ranks of the chosen phrases during the cooperation:

  • History books to the 7th place – starting position: 20
  • Religion books to the 4th place – starting position: 10
  • Online bookstore to the 14th place – starting position: 25
  • Books for teens to the 8th place – starting position: 19

High competitiveness within the industry still forces us to watch the competitors closely and react to their SEO & marketing efforts. We seem to be doing a pretty good job with it, though – here’s a graph that shows the visibility of the bookstore in comparison with one of its biggest competitors:

The comparison of keyword phrases in the top 10:

SEO Case study - competition comparison

The comparison of keyword phrases in the top 3:

SEO Case study - competition

The plans for the near future

SEO is an ongoing process, which is why we constantly work on increasing the visibility of the website. We still have more changes in mind, especially in the area of technical SEO, which includes:

  • Implementing breadcrumbs
  • Improving structural tags
  • Implementing changes in terms of site usability (UX)
  • Improving the module with book reviews

We can’t wait for the high season to come – and after it does, we’ll surely update the case study and report on other successes as well 😉

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