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 nature.org. 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.
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.
- Increase natural search traffic to this page
- Increase rankings
- Increase click through rate
- Increase on-page engagement
We used the following SEO best practices to decide what to update and how to structure the refreshed page.
Most of the species research was completed via an unrelated Coda fellowship, which was reviewed and approved by landscape and species experts. As a non-expert updating the page, this was essential to accurately represent the species and TNC's work. To replicate, speaking with experts and other stakeholders can accomplish the same goal.
Next, we used SEO research best practices to learn what questions people had about the species. This involved Googling questions related to desert tortoises and using keyword research tools (SEMrush and Answer the Public) to verify. This combination approach resulted in a list of questions that were most popular about the species. We prioritized which to incorporate into the new page based on popularity, search volume, previous interest, and available new information.
Write New Content
Once the list of questions and sub-topics was finalized, we rewrote the page to incorporate new information. This included updating page properties, writing a new subtitle, adding a box at the top for quick facts, adding two new content sections, and updating three existing content sections. We also reorganized the information to place the most sought out information closer to the top.
Last, we organized all of the content on the page into a user and mobile friendly layout. This included adding new images, new CTAs, a new video, new internal links, call-out boxes, sub-headers, visual breaks, and related articles. All of the images and videos were updated to include descriptive and relevant captions and alt text, and visuals were appropriately spaces to encourage readers to scroll to the bottom.
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)
Results in Google Search Console
Increase in clicks
Increase in impressions (visibility)
Increase in click through rate
Increase in average ranking position
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