When we lost the answer box for one of our top-ranking articles, Marie Abautret and her team handling SEO for our French version of the Vista website took charge of the situation and built an improved process. Join her as she chronicles the journey that brought positive results and a subsequent rise in local traffic.
At Vista, we consider ourselves the marketing and design partner for small businesses, which means we’re ultra-focused on providing amazing customer value on and off-site. As a part of this customer-centric philosophy, we consistently leverage data to understand our customers better and enhance their experience when interacting with our brand’s website.
Our website’s Ideas & Advice (I&A) is a blog section, particularly developed to share valuable industry insights and tips with our audience regularly. And as a global organization, we know that the information we share gets consumed by users across the globe. This is why we put special focus on making the information available in different languages.
Many of our articles are also recognized as authoritative by Google, finding spots on the search engine’s answer boxes and leading to more traffic. These answer boxes are featured snippets on the search results page that directly provide answers to user queries.
Recently, however, one of our popular articles in the French version of I&A lost the answer box. Upon thorough observations, we learned that our existing SEO practices didn’t focus on content localization. In addition, there wasn’t a straightforward process available for best practices, especially when handling content for different regions.
Failures before the success
While we succeeded at bringing back the article in the answer box, there were a few failures along the way. We made several attempts to improve the rankings. As an initial step, we optimized the article for top search queries. This process involved adding relevant and highly competitive keywords and improving the content where needed. We followed this practice for several months, but the improvement was negligible despite our efforts.
Although, that didn’t stop us from experimenting with other tactics. Another critical strategy we applied was developing consumer-centric articles on subjects where we lacked authority. As a part of this initiative, we created several pieces in the French language on local trending topics that weren’t directly related to what we do here at Vista. But we realized that our focus was shifting, and these content pieces weren’t ideally serving the core purpose of “Ideas & Advice.”
The goal to rank our popular article in the answer box was still out of reach. However, in these failures, we eventually found the answers.
The strategies that worked
Although the SEO practices we implemented for better search engine rankings didn’t help us get that answer box spot back, it broadened our understanding of handling our local content. We also emphasized targeting long-tail keywords and building product-centric articles.
Here’s a brief overview of how these strategies helped us achieve our goal.
While focusing on making the information available in different languages, one of the critical elements we found unfitting in our existing process was how we handled content localization.
The usual process we followed till now was producing content in English and then getting it translated to other languages. Unfortunately, this strategy left a gap and prevented our local pages from ranking on the search engine. Moreover, since we translated content directly, we couldn’t target some of the critical local keywords.
As an essential first step, we shifted our focus to building localized content with local keywords instead of using direct translations. The content we received from our global team was reworked to ensure the meaningfulness of the content piece in the local language, along with adding local keywords.
Another significant change was to emphasize long-tail keywords more than generic ones. While we knew that targeting generic keywords would generate more traffic, these were also competitive, leaving less chance for our website to rank.
Instead, we targeted long-tail organic search queries and optimized our content accordingly. Although there wasn’t a significant surge in traffic, we successfully brought enough relevant traffic for the matched search query.
Here’s a snapshot that shows how we were able to get more relevant traffic by changing the angle of the article and focusing on a long-tail keyword
“trouver un nom d entreprise original” (find an original business name) instead of “trouver un nom d’entreprise” (find a business name).
Focusing on product-centric articles
In addition to content localization and long-tail keyword strategies, we created several product-centric articles to match organic search queries. These articles were strategically developed to complement existing inspirational content on our website.
With the quality of our articles and our solid authority in the product space, we were able to see a significant boost in rankings and traffic.
Targeting answer boxes
Another crucial part of our SEO drive was to gain a better understanding of the answer boxes. We performed several tests to determine the queries that ranked, the content sources, and how we can optimize the content to meet user expectations.
This process helped us refresh our existing content and incorporate a similar strategy for the new product-centric articles. Overall, this strategy helped improve the rankings of our old and new articles, and many of them found their spot back in the answer boxes.
Where we’re heading to
Losing the visibility of our article on Google’s answer box was the starting point to building a well-defined process and following SEO best practices. With the positive results we could see through these SEO strategies for the French market, our goal now is to apply these principles and best practices for other key markets, especially Germany and the UK. Further down the line, if these initiatives become successful, we are willing to implement them as a part of a global process.
Want to be a part of our journey to become one of the most iconic data driven companies in the world? Check out open positions at Vista Data and Analytics.