CompanyNotary – WordPress SEO

Binamic provided bespoke web design and development services to CompanyNotary’s owner, Dawn Stallwood, when we were tasked with building her main company’s website, DaneTree. Very satisfied with our work, Dawn turned to us for help with increasing organic traffic to her other website, which had already been built by another developer.

Built as an off-shored project, the WordPress website was supposed to be based on a bespoke design and built as a “search engine friendly” site. Unfortunately, with the client’s busy schedule and – obviously – lack of web development and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) expertise, the overseas company took many (negative) liberties with the project.

When Binamic agreed to review and improve the website to give it a chance of performing in Google and other search engines, the client’s only request was for us to keep the “look” of the site as close as possible to the original. This is actually a very common request in on-site SEO projects, so we had no problem in deciding how to approach the project.

  • First of all, we conducted a thorough research into all manner of keywords related to the website’s core services.

As these included numerous complex legal and paralegal terms, it was both interesting and challenging to pinpoint the best phrases in terms of not only their traffic potential or competition (=difficulty), but mainly relevancy and monetisation (=income generation potential). After discussing our findings with the client we felt prepared to get the site optimised for the chosen phrases.

  • Next step was an in-depth analysis of the site’s overall and page structure, as well as content of each of the site’s key areas.

Again though, once we gained full access to the site and its server, we realised that the off-shored developer made some serious short-cuts that could negatively impact the website’s performance in search engines.

First of all rather than creating a bespoke design for the site (which gives full control over not only styling, but also crucial structural elements), the developer styled the site through a third-party bought theme (a pre-built design “skin” which can be applied to some CMS websites to quickly give them a particular “look”).

This in itself is not an issue only as long as the theme is SEO-friendly. Unfortunately, as often is the case, the site’s structural elements such as the header tags (H1, H2, H3 etc.) were used for styling (!). Moreover, they were used in an incorrect order and for entire paragraphs of text. This rendered pages’ taxonomies (=document outlines, i.e. the basic structures “telling” Google what each page is about, so that it can be brought forward for relevant searches) useless.

  • Once we identified the above and other crucial structural issues (see more details below), we decided to build a copy of the site on our testing platform.

We realized there was simply too much to change and we did not want the live website to “misbehave” while we were working on it. This also let the client periodically check and sign off all changes (at least the ones visible to the human eye) before we put the new version of the site live.

A general overview of work done “behind the scenes”:

  1. Every page had two “boxes” on the right: “Contact details” and “Download contact details”. These were not set up as one standalone section and then embedded into pages (correct way of coding). Instead, they were put in by the previous developer as part of each page’s content. This meant that if our client wanted to change contact details, she would have to go through every single page separately. We fixed that and coded these sections as they should have been done.
  2. We created functionality for additional text to be added to pages. Before this, pages on the site were styled to have a fixed height. This may be OK for design, but is very impractical (e.g. should the site owner want to change/add copy to a page, it would not be possible). More importantly, this hindered on-page optimization, as any additional, useful and unique copy was simply “cut away” half way through a sentence after a certain amount of lines of text was added to a page (!). Hence, we have build a JavaScript “read more” functionality that kept the pages’ styling intact, but allowed us to add more SEO optimised copy to each crucial page.
  3. We removed unnecessary header tags (H1, H2, H3, etc.) on various pages, as they had been used for styling rather than to form a document structure for each page (e.g.“Areas of expertise” in footer, H4 on entire testimonial section in the bottom right of homepage).
  4. We created new CSS styling mark-up to keep the design of some captions (“headers”) and texts etc. looking the same, while being able to establish new, correct taxonomies on pages. Please see below example of “before” and “after”, based on the homepage’s document outline.

WordPress SEO - old document outline for www.companynotary.com

WordPress SEO - new document outline for www.companynotary.com

Other issues fixed / usability and SEO improvements done:

  1. Fixed 404 page (=”page not found”) and other issues with broken styling visible on Internet Explorer 7 browsers.
  2. Throughout the site we made the logo clickable, taking users back to homepage, with the title on the link being “notary public” (optimization to reinforce homepage’s main keyword).
  3. Last but not least, we changed the navigation to maximize internal linking optimization as well as reflect the new content of key pages.

As notes all of the above was “behind the scenes” work, done by us to try to keep the look of the site as close to the original as possible but at the same time fixing and optimizing it. But apart from that the second lot of work we have done related to the more easily noticeable optimization of all key pages in terms of:

  • Headers
  • Meta titles
  • Meta descriptions
  • Taxonomy (header structure of “document outline – as per attached examples)
  • Unique content (now pages have much more text which is unique, relevant and correctly structured)
  • URLs
  • Internal linking.

In addition, we created two optimised “localised” standalone landing pages for keywords our client wants to target:

Finally, we have also:

  1. Put the new version of the site live after rigorous testing an all major browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox, opera, Google Chrome, etc.) once signed off
  2. Created a full set of redirects (from old pages to the new ones) to ensure no SEO authority is “lost” in the re-launch
  3. Added the site to our Google Webmaster Tools (GWT) account, verifying the site and establishing an efficient communication with Google re the website
  4. Created an XML sitemap and submitted it to GWT  to encourage faster re-crawling of the site by Google (for it to index the new, improved versions of key pages).

We have to admit that this was almost a re-development project to make the site and its pages search-engine friendly. That is why we cannot stress enough how important it is to have your website created not only by a good designer, but built correctly (!) by a seasoned developer with practical SEO knowledge and experience. Alternatively we can work with your preferred developer providing SEO consultancy services.

We are sure the now re-launched site will have an incomparably better chance of performing for our client’s “dream keywords” once it is re-indexed by Google.

If you also have a new website and are not sure why it is not doing well in Google, contact us or call 020 8133 544 today for professional, white-hat SEO optimisation help.

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