Dramatic SEO Improvement With Minor Page Changes

Authentic Nelson Mandela Ballot from 1994 South Africa election
May 24, 2016

Search Engine Optimization can sometimes be very frustrating. If you are trying to improve your ranking in a very competitive segment, moving a page up even a spot or two in the rankings can take a lot of work. But we had a recent situation where some minor page changes moved a page to the top of the rankings in only a couple of days. While these results can’t be expected on every page, it shows the importance of optimizing a page.

Let’s first start with the page and the product it advertises. Most of the content available on my Foster’s Photos site are photographs I’ve taken. Another offering are authentic ballots from the 1994 South African election where Nelson Mandela became President. As a sidenote, just by adding a link on the last sentence will help the page rank better. Below you can see a sample of the section of the ballot where Mandela is listed.

Authentic Nelson Mandela Ballot from 1994 South Africa election

While the page promoting the ballots had been on the site for a few months, it didn’t rank well at all. When I did a search at Google for “Nelson Mandela ballots”, I got 33 pages of results and it was nowhere to be found on any of those 33 pages (that’s 330 total results). Very frustrating as this isn’t a highly competitive search term.

All of the basic SEO practices were in place and they obviously weren’t working as hoped. In looking at the meta description on the page, I noticed that it contained all the right words just not in the order of the search term. So I rewrote the description so the term “Nelson Mandela ballots” would appear in that order. In fact, I put the word “Authentic” in front of the phrase in hopes that both terms would rank well.

For those of you using WordPress, we love the Add Meta Tags plug-in as it makes it very easy to add meta information for each page of a site.

While my initial search on Google involving me visiting the site and searching for a term, those results are modified based on each individuals online profile. So I rely on the very powerful Rapid SEO Tool to get more accurate results as it performs searches without the personal profile bias.

Two days after making the change described earlier to the description, I did a search using Rapid SEO Tool on the term “Nelson Mandela ballots” with comparisons against two other sites. Below are the results with my page being the leftmost listing.

Search results for Nelson Mandela Ballots

So my page went from not appearing in the first 33 pages to the third spot on the first page (and the top spot on Bing) thanks to re-arranging words in the meta description. Wow, even I was blown away by how quickly it moved up the rankings. I also used Rapid SEO Tool to show me the results for the term “authentic Nelson Mandela ballots” and the results are shown below.

Search results for Authentic Nelson Mandela Ballots

On this term, my page is in the top spot on all three search engines! While it isn’t as easy to move to the top on all terms, this example definitely shows that following the best SEO practices can pay off quickly.

Would you like my help in designing a site that pays off for you? Or do you need my help in improving your SEO performance? That’s exactly what we offer at Web Design Solutions Unleashed! Just let me know how I can help you. And if you want a really cool historical document, you can get an authentic Nelson Mandela ballot!

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Foster D. Coburn III

Foster D. Coburn III is author of 13 best-selling books on CorelDRAW and has been a contributor to numerous technology and graphics-related magazines. Foster has taken many projects, including this Web site, from the early design stage through to a finished piece. He has been a featured speaker at many graphics conferences. His first Web site was built in 1995 and he has been working exclusively in WordPress since 2013.

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