An adult desert tortoise stands in the desert.
New content The legacy AWP page got a content refresh that resulted in an enormous increase in traffic. © Dana Wilson/BLM

Case Studies

Content refresh for the Desert Tortoise page

Clicks from Google increased 963% in six months after content and layout updates.

Screenshot of desert tortoise page before it was updated (May 2021).
Before Screenshot of the "legacy" desert tortoise page.

The problem

The Animals We Protect section has several "legacy" pages about popular species, including the desert tortoise. These were auto-migrated to AEM but were largely untouched in the years following. Despite the lack of new content, these pages maintained their organic search rankings and drove people from Google to But traffic was never very high and the pages didn't provide a great user experience (or meet the standards for AEM).

Updating this section was on the Global Digital to-do list for some time. We wanted to make these pages more relevant for TNC's work, connect them to higher priority pages, and grow our audience of younger visitors. Finally, in early 2021 the desert tortoise page was updated.

Screenshot of desert tortoise page after it was updated (May 2021).
After Screenshot of the page after several updates and additions.

What We Did

Most of the research to update this page was accomplished through an unrelated Coda fellowship. Applying additional SEO best practices and research filled in the blanks and allowed us to optimize the page.

Ultimately, we wanted this page to actually answer questions people had about this species (provide a good user experience). We had to first learn what those questions were, then prioritize which to answer, before we could start the writing process.


  1. Increase natural search traffic to this page
  2. Increase rankings
  3. Increase click through rate
  4. Increase on-page engagement


The desert tortoise page was republished on May 11, 2021. In the following six months:

  • Clicks increased 963% (from 328 to 3,486)
  • Impressions increased 680% (from 39,083 to 304,803)
  • Click through rate increased 38% (from 0.80 to 1.10)
  • Average ranking position increased 72% (from 17.7 to 10.3)
Screenshot of Google Search Console click and impression data over a 12 month period.
Clicks and Impressions Clicks (blue line) and impressions (purple line) started increasing significantly almost as soon as the page was updated in early May 2021.

Results in Google Search Console

  • Mouse cursor icon.


    Increase in clicks

  • Icon of magnifying glass over a page.


    Increase in impressions (visibility)

  • Globe icon.


    Increase in click through rate

  • Icon of computer and mobile phone.


    Increase in average ranking position

Screenshot of Google Search Console click data comparing 6 months to previous period.
Compare Clicks The broken line is clicks before the page was updated (December 2020 to May 2021). The solid line is clicks after the page was updated (May 2021 to October 2021).

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