We own and operate our own websites, and we leverage these high traffic properties to test our theories and hypotheses with Google. Once we’ve found the right changes, we leverage those learnings to benefit our Clients.
Our HookandBullet.com is a property we designed and developed from the ground up. It’s a top five website in the Fishing category, and it’s growing steadily. Our traffic is 100% organic, which means we do not buy traffic from Google AdWords (or ads thru other networks), and we earn clicks by performing well in search results. Until recently, we had approximately 700,000 pages of content, of which an impressive 640,000 pages appeared in the Google index (aka Google search results). However, each page on the website was packed full of content and data, making:
- Pages load speed slower than the sub-2 second target for our websites
- Pages that were long and often overwhelming for the users
- Pages that broadly targeted terms since it covered so much
- For fewer ad impressions and ad revenue since each page was limited to just 3 Google AdSense units
Starting Point (old page design)
Our re-design updated every page of the website, focusing on making it wider, more visually engaging, and faster and cleaner for the user. One of our old pages is shown below.
Some notes about the old design:
- The body of the page was narrow, limited to 730px to show content
- The page was 3600px in height on average
- The page had 29 different data elements on every page
- The page was responsive (scaled to display well on mobile devices) but the mobile experience was not ideal
- AdSense RPM was approximately $2.34
Our Goals with a Re-Design
- Improve usability for Users
- Improve Mobile experience
- Improve page speed
- Improve AdSense monetization (Code Name: Make more money)
Changes we Made
- We updated to the latest Bootstrap version
- We re-worked our information architecture
- We divided our one detail page for each body of water into multiple pages for each body of water
- We widened the website
- We adjusted placement of ads
- We reviewed every single line of code, and archived code not currently serving a purpose (in lieu of commenting it out)
- We eliminated thousands of pages which provided minimal value to our users
Initial Results (1 day after launch)
AdSense RPMs (revenue per thousand impressions) jumped from its average of $2.34, to a very respectable $7.88. That’s a 337% increase immediately. Click thru rate on ads exploded up from 0.45% to 0.83% representing a 84% increase. Result: Major improvement.
Indexed pages were hovering around 640,000 before the re-design. Indexed pages (as shown by Google Webmaster Tools aka Google Search Console) showed 420,00 page indexed or 1,600,000 pages in our sitemap. That’s an initial decrease of 34%. Result: Moderate set back.
Site Speed (Page Load Time)
Site speed dropped from its average of 1.7seconds to 1.335 seconds. That’s a decrease of approximately 20%. Note: these pages cache data, and require a pageview to trigger the generation of the cache so we expect page speed to improve significantly further. Result: Moderate improvement.
Pages Crawled by Google
On average, Google crawled 72,000 pages on HookandBullet nightly. Following the re-design that number jumped to 89,727 representing a 25% increase. Result: Minor improvement.
The initial results look good. We’ll be keeping an eye on all of the key metrics,and share those in subsequent updates.