Smile.com.au is a member-based seller of dental plans, allowing Australians to enjoy significant savings when visiting any of their network of 1,500+ approved dentists.

Their aim is to make high-quality dental care affordable and accessible to every person in Australia.

They sit in a unique niche that makes for a tricky SEO situation: they don’t compete with dentists or insurance companies, but in organic search they very much do.

When Smile came to us with a problem, we realised we had our work cut out for us. But as we were to find out, sometimes the best approach is to focus obsessively on the fundamentals before anything else.

 

Where we started

 

Smile came to us to reverse the effects of a site migration gone wrong: they’d suffered a massive drop in SERP visibility, and the organic traffic they’d lost was impacting their revenue.

Our objective was to turn those problems around by:

•       Restoring organic keyword visibility

•       Regaining lost organic traffic

•       Increasing organic revenue

We were asked to create an SEO strategy that would deliver these outcomes within the following 6-12 months.

 

The issues we uncovered

 

First things first, we needed to get to the bottom of what went wrong during the site migration.

We conducted an intensive technical audit across the smile.com.au site, keeping an eye out for any evidence that might confirm our suspicions that the traffic drop was the result of either a manual Google penalty or an algorithm update.

Here’s what we found through our audits:

•       Multiple subdomains were displaying the same content and being indexed

•       302 redirects were being used instead of 301 redirects

•       There were many orphaned pages due to a poor internal linking structure

•       Key pages had no content

When we cross-referenced our findings with the dates of known algorithm updates, we concluded that drops for the pages without content were most likely a result of a Google Panda update.

Suddenly it all seemed much less bamboozling.

 

How we addressed the issues

 

To fix up all the technical issues, we made some key recommendations including:

•       Consolidate/redirect all subdomains into one domain

•       Change 302 redirects to 301 redirects, and investigate to see if all previous URLs had been migrated across properly

•       Modify internal linking to resolve the orphan page issue and indexing issues across the site

•       Keyword research and content structures for all key pages to ensure they had sufficient content to address key user intents.

Once these recommendations were enacted, the problem areas of the site swiftly improved. But this was only the first step of the process – using the data collected from our diagnostic research, we also devised a tailored SEO strategy to build on these foundations.

With our initial objective in mind, we formulated an ongoing plan that would deliver on Smile’s goals:  boosting organic visibility, growing organic traffic, and bringing organic revenue back on target.

 

So, what next?

 

Having solved the site’s technical issues, we were able to switch our focus to identifying content gaps and crafting quality, genuinely useful information for the Smile audience.

To maximise the effectiveness of this activity, we conducted further research and data gathering to ensure best-in-category organic visibility.

Our research included:

 

Competitor content gap analysis and topic predation

 

The purpose of a content gap analysis is to help us glean insights from competitors – namely to establish what content is performing well and generating significant organic traffic for them.

Once we had identified how Smile’s competitors were driving their organic traffic, we analysed their high-traffic pages and categories at both the keyword and topic level.

This data could then fuel our topic predation campaign, wherein we created targeted content with the focused goal of dethroning specific competitor pages from SERPs.

 

Topic modelling and content production

 

With our content topics identified, we conducted further analysis – this time, on user intent – to ensure we’d deliver content that served the actual need that users were seeking to address.

Our thought process was similar to the below:

•       What are all the potential user intents for this topic?

•       What does the user want to know about this topic?

•       What does the search query say about the user’s needs?

•       What other questions might they have?

•       Is there any related information that they would find useful?

All of these questions were answered and validated against our existing keyword research to ensure the content would be crafted in a way that maximised organic search opportunities.

 

Internal linking

 

We mapped out relevant areas of the site to link our content to and from, to aid in both UX and SEO.

Our internal linking strategy was designed to signal authority and funnel users in semantically relevant clusters, rather than to chase individual “vanity” keywords.

 

Link outreach

 

Before, during and after content was created, we reviewed similar content/topics that competitors had covered.

By reviewing the backlinks that competitors’ high-performing content had attracted, we built prospecting lists of potential sites from which to seek linking opportunities.

We collated a contacts list and methodically reached out to them once the content was complete. By stimulating the creation of contextual brand mentions and links, we were able to build page authority while driving referral traffic and expanding brand awareness for Smile.

 

The results we achieved

 

After working with Smile for 18 months, we’ve seen the following results:

•       501.95% increase in organic traffic (an increase of 60,000 visits per month)

•       114.02% increase in organic revenue

•       103.33% increase in organic transactions.

By quickly identifying technical issues and taking a rigorously thorough approach to fixing the fundamentals, we were able to undo the damage of the site migration and develop an ongoing strategy that has led to strong, sustained improvements over time.

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Alex Chapman

Alex Chapman is the Head of SEO at iProspect Brisbane. Alex leads strategy and product development to drive organic performance across key client accounts, and oversees the training and upskilling of the Brisbane SEO team.