Back in 2021, our partnership with IvyWise began small-scale with a focus on content marketing. We first tackled the issues related to content cannibalizations and too much similar, duplicate content on their site by merging (consolidating) overlapping pages into single, stronger ones. Soon our efforts started paying off – we saw a rise in their blog content’s clicks, impressions, and search rankings.
Our early successes with content optimizations soon led us to adopt a broader strategy. Our comprehensive SEO audits revealed a critical issue: the website was struggling with crawling efficiency and unoptimized site structure. This issue was preventing the website from growing their conversions and traffic. It marked the start of a scaled and more holistic approach to enhancing IvyWise’s organic conversions and traffic.
Two key factors influenced our strategy: IvyWise’s status as a YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) website and the seasonal nature of the college admissions industry.
YMYL Content & E-E-A-T
Since IvyWise’s counseling services are geared towards helping parents invest in the academic futures of their children, the website deals with topics that directly impact people’s financial and overall well-being.
This type of content is known as YMYL (Your Money or Your Life). YMYL sites should carefully craft their content to be high-quality, trustworthy, and authoritative (following the E-E-A-T signals guidelines).
Our SEO & Content Approach
Our strategy involved 4 main components:
- Content optimizations & new content
- Semantic SEO & topical map
- Blog Audit & Restructuring (pillars, redirects, internal linking)
- Technical SEO (page speed, breadcrumbs, structured data schema markup)
Following our SEO audits of IvyWise’s website, we confirmed that the main problem of IvyWise’s website was inefficient crawling. Additionally, their site structure was not set up effectively for SEO and user experience.
The screenshot, taken from Screaming Frog, visualizes the previous crawling issue of IvyWise.
The site had too many crawl depth levels of links, making it tough for Google’s bots to find (crawl) and index important pages. Crawl depth is the shortest path a Google bot can take to find a website. Ideally, a website’s pages should be accessible within three clicks. In Google’s eyes, crawl depth determines the importance of pages: the easier a page is to find, the more important it appears.
Therefore, we helped IvyWise choose which pages to display first and which to bury deeper.
To fix the site architecture, we first had to identify the main topics IvyWise was an expert on, which were college admissions and counseling. To establish IvyWise as an authoritative voice on college counseling, we used semantic SEO to develop a topical map, identifying the main topical themes that IvyWise should cover on their website.
Our topical map helped us connect the main entity and topics of the brand and laid the foundations of our blog audit strategy. In the blog audit, we successfully resolved the crawl depth issue by restructuring IvyWise’s blog.
Blog Audit & Restructuring
In our blog audit, we strategically refined IvyWise’s blog into three core categories for better focus and relevance – We applied the pillar-cluster model to organize all blog content, including articles buried deep in the site. We created at least one pillar page per blog category.
To help IvyWise build trust with their users, we enriched the site with various unique content. This included podcast episodes, segments from YouTube videos, insights or quotes from industry experts they’re working with, and more. We strategically placed these elements within blog articles and service pages to highlight IvyWise’s authority in their field. We also improved the navigation and internal linking to key pages, like FAQs, detailed profiles of IvyWise’s team members, and testimonials from past students and parents, making these valuable resources more accessible to users.
Additionally, to attract a broader audience, we identified a new topical niche that had yet to be fully explored. This opened up a new avenue for reaching potential clients and providing them with valuable, targeted information.
We also removed blog articles that weren’t attracting traffic and applied a 301 redirect to more relevant pages. We optimized the remaining content, and consolidated duplicate content on similar topics into single, comprehensive pages, with a plan to update them annually.
We focused on optimizing IvyWise’s main service pages for the right keywords and content. At the same time, some service pages were competing (cannibalizing) with each other. To solve this, we transformed these pages into persona pages, giving each a distinct role and separating them from the other main service pages.
A significant turning point was the implementation of our blog audit recommendations, which led to a noticeable uptick in traffic and conversions on IvyWise’s key service pages, such as college counseling, and their blog articles.
After the successful implementation of the blog audit, we focused on the technical aspects of SEO, such as page speed, breadcrumbs, and structured data schema markup – which helped us further improve the crawl efficiency and indexing.
We created a breadcrumbs path so Google could understand how to crawl IvyWise’s website effectively through hierarchical links (breadcrumbs).
We also added a schema markup structured data. Structured data is a format through which you provide information about a page by “talking directly in Google’s language.” The main benefit of microdata is that it allows search engines to index microdata tags and potentially use that data to enhance their search results listings, which can encourage higher click-through rates from search. We helped IvyWise’s team implement structured data on their website, which helped Google understand how to “read” the pages on their website.
All of these strategies helped us further bolster IvyWise’s crawl efficiency, online visibility, and user experience.
The results of our holistic SEO-Content strategy approach were remarkable.
Over the past year, our optimizations of service pages and expansion of keyword rankings, along with resolving the crawling issue and restructuring website architecture, have paid off. Our efforts have successfully achieved IvyWise’s goals of increasing their organic traffic and conversions.
Between September 1st, 2022, and September 30th, 2023 (compared to the same period the previous year), we witnessed:
- a 10x (1,067%) increase in IvyWise’s non-branded traffic
- a 7x (785%) increase in IvyWise’s total organic traffic
- And a 106% increase in high-intent conversions on average (in the period of October 1st, 2022 – July 1st, 2023, compared to October 1st, 2021 – July 1st, 2022).
This upward trend continues today, evidencing the enduring impact of our strategies.
As of June 2023, we’ve seen a substantial rise in all traffic-related metrics – new users, conversions, URL clicks, and impressions.
Results from April 1st – June 30th 2023 [Q2’ 2023]
Interestingly, despite the decreasing attention spans of society, we’ve recorded an average session duration of 11 minutes on the blog during some months, particularly in the school admissions category.
Throughout the period of September 1st, 2022 – September 30th, 2023 (compared to the same period the previous year), our primary service page, which contains all the other service pages, Admissions Counseling, saw an 86% increase in new organic users, offering a great opportunity for retargeting through PPC remarketing campaigns to facilitate faster conversions.
There is also a major increase in clicks, sessions, and goal completions for all service pages.
As compared to the previous year, we’ve achieved:
- A 44% increase in goal completions for Admissions Counselling and its related service pages:
- A notable increase in organic traffic for Admissions Counselling and its related service pages:
In summary, our partnership with IvyWise has been a resounding success. The holistic strategy we implemented has led to remarkable results that continue to evolve and grow. Our efforts have not only improved their organic traffic and conversions but also positioned IvyWise as an authority in their field, paving the way for sustainable growth and ongoing success.
If you’re also looking for a comprehensive approach to targeted SEO and content strategies, see how our SEO services and experts can help you.
As our business scaled and more competitors entered the space, we really needed more strategic support to help us not only regain competitive advantage with our SEO strategy but also continue to grow.
I wished we would have worked with Hop Online sooner. We were lacking a strategic partner focused on the success of the business and helping us achieve our own goals.
Since partnering with Hop Online for our SEO and Google Ads strategy, we’ve seen a really impressive turnaround in our organic traffic and conversions.Anna Berry, Executive Director of Marketing at IvyWise