How to Increase SEO Traffic: The Impact of Semrush's Site Health Score
If you're running a corporate blog, you know how valuable search traffic is to your business. It can drive new leads and partnerships, as well as bolster your branding.
In addition to all of the digital strategy work we do as a part of any engagement with a client, did you know that we also perform Semrush audits to review and fix baseline technical issues that crop up? We recently did this for a corporate client of ours, and the results are pretty impressive. (More on that below.)
In general, we are obsessed with using SEO best practices to achieve our clients' goals — this is core to our business, and we put a lot of time into ensuring that our platform is the best in business when it comes to both technical SEO and Core Web Vitals (CWVs).
This is why we invest thousands upon thousands of development and product hours into our platform each quarter to guarantee that we're on top of things (and ahead of the ever-changing industry) regarding what Google believes is valuable to users.
When Google introduced CWVs, we welcomed that with excitement since we nurture a culture that defaults to making data-driven decisions. Having access to metrics we can use to measure user experience, and then see how that translates into increased loyalty and engagement, was a brilliant decision by Google.
When we evaluate Google's updates, we don’t just blindly adhere to what Google says. We always think about why they are adding or removing something, and we look at it from a user's perspective first. For instance, as one of Google’s primary metrics that makes up CWVs, cumulative layout shift (CLS) makes complete sense. As a user, we hate when a page jumps to load another ad or something similar. Having a metric that tracks that page interaction makes our troubleshooting lives easier and the user experience much better. We went even further and developed native tools that integrate Google's Chrome User Experience Report (CrUX) API that allows us and our clients to monitor CWVs in real time. Check it out!
How Does Semrush Fit in Here?
We love using Semrush (and similar SEO tools) because it beautifully summarizes all of the technical SEO issues in an easy-to-understand, data-driven, and exportable/shareable way. We've used it for years across many different clients. And while we solve many technical and editorial issues for our clients out of the box by simply having them on our platform — such as ensuring that sitemaps are working correctly, improving site crawls with robots.txt, solving server errors, fixing unstructured data, and so much more — we also use Semrush to work with clients on fixing many ground-level technical items that can impact their site in other ways. Here are a few examples:
- Redirects From Imported Content: Migrating clients from WordPress or Drupal or any other CMS is our bread and butter. Many of our clients switch from one CMS to another until they finally meet us. And during that interim, they change URLs or domains in a way that often results in a mess that we're able to efficiently clean up to improve their overall user experience.
- Broken Links: There are so many reasons why these occur. It can be for the same reason as above, but 301 redirects are oftentimes not set, or new issues such as wrong links in post templates or removed authors can occur.
- Duplicate Meta Descriptions or Titles: This can happen when a client has the same section as a tag, or when the same meta description across different stories they wrote are too similar.
Semrush Results on Our Client's Site
For one recent client, their corporate blog was in serious need of review and help. Nothing to be ashamed about since priorities around your site can often fall to the wayside when it's not your main revenue driver. But that's not to say that a website isn't important outside of the media industry — it absolutely is. After all, your site is your 24-7 salesperson, and a constant driver of reach and conversion.
The first crawl with Semrush was not what we expected with a Site Health Score of 59%. This is way lower than what our clients score on average. But in less than two months, through coordination between our client and our strategy, marketing, and development teams, we quickly got them to a score of 83%, which is a fantastic result that we’re very proud of. We also know of a few tweaks to make next to get them to over 90%.
After doing all of the work to improve their Semrush Site Health Score, it was time to face the most important question — will this actually translate into meaningful results? The best way to answer this is to describe the steps we took and the overall timeline of the work.
Semrush Process and Timeline
We started with an initial Semrush crawl of the site on July 6, 2023. Every few days we would recrawl the site, and during the time in between, we would tackle all of the warnings, errors, and notices that popped up. The types of fixes we worked on included things such as:
- Removing the links to (internal or external) 404s, or replacing them with a new URL.
- Removing duplicate title tags or meta descriptions (they had written about similar topics over the years and, as a result, had a number of duplicates). We consolidated the pages and/or updated meta tags as needed.
- Removing references to unsecure HTTP. They've been around for over 10 years, and some of their links to URLs were not using HTTPS. We either updated those URLs or removed them outright.
- Removing unnecessary redirects. This one ranks as the lowest severity issue in Semrush. Still, we find it meaningful to update redirects. Improving internal linking enhances the user experience since each redirect delays the destination page's load speed otherwise.
From start to finish, total issues fell dramatically from 30K to 6K, errors dropped from 463 to 8, warnings decreased from 15K to 3K, and notices went from 15K to 2K. They also had less pages that needed to be crawled since we removed 404s and redirects that they no longer required.
Effects on Google Traffic
All of this work translated into a nice and sustainable lift in search impressions during the same time frame (a 25% increase in impressions). Check out the rise they experienced, essentially doubling reach from where they started with us:
They did not, however, see the same lift in clicks. But the increase in impressions presented an obvious next step for their marketing team to pursue. They started to rank better for search phrases that are key to their business. Now that we’ve optimized the site, their content gets more impressions and is better indexed. We went through their content to optimize for CTR, as well as improve post titles and meta descriptions for the search phrases they started to rank for.
One other thing we noticed is that the Google Crawl Stats report has changed and Google is definitely recognizing our combined efforts.
We still have a few things that we want to improve that Semrush is flagging. We plan to get our client to at least a 90% score by the end of Q3 this year.
Will we help them make changes for every single thing Semrush flags? No, but we will review all of what's reported. For example, one of the warnings Semrush flagged is that their page titles are way too long. When we checked, they went over Semrush’s recommended threshold of 70 characters because they often add their site name to each post title, increasing the number of characters used. We believe it's important for their branding to keep that naming convention, and it looks like there is no unified opinion — that is backed by data — that says we should remove it to meet Semrush's 70-character recommendation.
We will continue using Semrush as a valuable tool to help us identify things that they can work on.
Can we help get any corporate blog fantastic results? Absolutely! Is it worth it? Yes! If you're running a corporate blog and would like our help (or simply want to know more), reach out to our team!
For media companies, stay tuned and sign up for our newsletter. We're preparing a new case study that explains how improving your Semrush Site Health Score impacts SEO traffic for media companies!