Georgia Voice SEO Case Study
Georgia Voice is the media outlet of record for the LGBTQ community in Georgia, including Atlanta. Not only do they produce a weekly print publication, but they also have a significant web presence with thousands of posts.
In 2013, the web was evolving as more people used their mobile devices to browse and read more. Georgia Voice began redesigning its website to be more accessible and responsive. As part of the redesign, it transitioned to WordPress for its content management system.
The new website launched in early 2014.
After the relaunch, staffers noticed a significant drop in website traffic, especially from search engines. Additionally, they discovered their articles were no longer appearing in Google News.
We performed a site audit and learned many “pages not found” (404 errors). Google Webmaster Tools showed a significant drop in the number of pages indexed by the search engine. With no method to redirect old URLs to the new ones, we could pinpoint the source of the 404 errors quickly.
As a vital news site of record for the LGBTQ community in Georgia and beyond, the Georgia Voice has many high-quality inbound links to various articles, so it was essential to redirect that traffic to its new location.
There were over 10,000 pages on the old website. If we had created a redirect of each page, not only would this have taken hours to match, but having a redirect for every single URL would have affected website performance.
We analyzed the old URL structure and searched for patterns to easily match them to the new URL structure. We then coded redirects using regular expressions to link these two URLs—relinking tens of thousands of pages in the process. We coded each redirect with a “301” response, which tells search engines that the content has moved to a new location. So instead of having thousands of lines of code, we efficiently redirected tens of thousands of pages using only ten lines of code.
To put the Georgia Voice back in Google News, we added a WordPress plugin that generated a feed optimized explicitly for Google News and configured their profile.
Why Papaya Search
After implementation, the Georgia Voice received a significant increase in traffic from search engines. In April 2014, shortly after its relaunch, Google traffic was down by almost 73% compared to the previous year. By November 2014, site traffic from Google was back up to the same numbers as the last year.
Additionally, our programming efforts reduced the 404 errors from their peak of over 40,000 to about 800.
The total number of pages in Google’s index increased to 27,208.
SEO is essential to any website redesign project, especially when a new site architecture and URLs change. A robust SEO plan should be in place from the beginning to ensure that search traffic is redirected to their recent locations to prevent significant traffic loss.
Papaya Search helped improve our SEO and our site’s functionality dramatically, therefore increasing our readership and making our readers’ online experience a smooth one. We never had to worry about our website knowing the Papaya team was there for us.
Patrick Saunders, Former Editor at the Georgia Voice