Updating IP and Domain Strategy to Increase Traffic

by Brian Toomey, JB Analytics CEO

The Request

Help grow organic traffic for a well established, industry leader.

Key Takeaway

Search is winner-take-most, so consolidate your brand and domain, and get technical factors right even if it’s a little bit of a dev lift.

When thoughtbot.com approached us they had a lot of fantastic, high value content split across several subdomains and their root domain:

  • upcase.thoughtbot.com: A subdomain holding high value intermediate – master level education content for developers.
  • robots.thoughtbot.com: A subdomain hosting high value blog/article content
  • thoughtbot.com root domain: Which hosted the main service and about pages

Overview

The problem? The current IP strategy leveraging subdomains meant the content wasn’t maximizing search exposure. Having multiple subdomains was like digging multiple wells — as opposed to one well as deep as possible. 

Brian and his team bring expert level consulting combined with a collaborative and good-humored approach to their work. Not only did they dig in with our team to solve some complex challenges and deliver results, they proved themselves to be trusted partners and colleagues. If you’re looking for an analytics and data partner, I would recommend checking out JB Analytics..

What we accomplished

For /upcase content:

  • Unique Visitors (+127%), ~2,200 unique monthly visitors to ~5,000
  • Organic Traffic (+75% YOY)
Organic Traffic uplift results

For blog content

  • +50% traffic YOY
Year over year graph covering 6 years

For overall site

  • Overall site traffic to all pages improved on average despite simultaneously decreasing overall publications cadence

How we did it

Our work in this case was driven by understanding the whole picture of SEO, content and implementation. Two top level principles in particular informed the core of our approach:

  1. SEO can be technical in addition to content or buzz driven
    • While relevant and keyword rich content is important, a wide range of specific, technical factors heavily influence how a site is indexed, understood, and ranked. Ensuring your technical SEO is aligned with best practice and your overall strategic goals is critical and often overlooked.
  2. Consolidate Domain Authority
    • Domain Authority takes time and care to develop, so once you have it, it’s important to leverage it properly. While there may be structural/organizational reasons to use things like subdomains, there is a tradeoff function between independence from the root domain and domain authority. This tradeoff should be considered carefully in light of top level business goals and expectations.

Per the above, some serious backend updates were needed to move content from subdomains to subdirectories. In practice, this took some pretty gnarly technical work at the CDN level to run multiple apps from the same IP address and root domain. 

Second, the more technical side of content needed to be aligned with SEO best practices. The first step was necessary for content to take advantage of the strong domain authority of thoughtbot.com. The second step ensured content would perform well once on the root domain.

Need help thinking about some gnarly technical factors? We’re as technical as SEO and optimization firms come with multiple data science PhD’s and business analytics experience on over 200 sites on our team, we speak the language of developers, engineers, CFO’s and technical managers. Reach out today to chat about how we can help. 

 

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