Godiva Search Engine Optimization Ensures Success: 2011 IMA Award Winner

Posted on by Brian Quinton

IMA award logoCATEGORY: Best Ecommerce Site Launch or Revamp
AGENCY: iProspect
CLIENT: Godiva

Heading into the lucrative holiday shopping season, Godiva debuted a new website. Search engine optimization (SEO) was the key to a successful launch, minimal downtime and a user-friendly experience.

“The original site was about five- to seven-years-old, and a lot had happened technologically since then,” says Herndon Hasty, associate director of SEO at iProspect. “So we worked alongside the site designer [Fry Inc.] to help SEO be part of the driver for how the site was going to operate, how people would maneuver through it, and what structures were going to be in place.”

The top reason people come to the site is to buy gifts, a key search word that was added to many of the search terms. For example, “gifts” was added to “chocolate truffles,” one of Godiva’s best-sellers, which allowed the site to “capture customers looking for truffles for themselves, as well as those looking to buy truffles as gifts,” Hasty says.

In addition, the individual product pages were updated to include more keywords within product descriptions so that search engines could more easily produce those web pages as search results. “Gift,” “holiday gift” and other phrases were included so that when shoppers looked for very specific types of products, Godiva’s products would rank higher for a wider range of keywords. Along with that, iProspect worked “gift” or “gift box” into some of the key buttons and categories.

Post launch, revenue growth from branded search terms improved more than 28 points, while revenue growth from non-branded search terms (such as chocolate) increased by 26 points.

The latter growth category is particularly impressive because it means that people who searched using general terms, such as chocolate, not only found Godiva but also purchased, thus becoming new customers for the chocolatier, Hasty says.

Another important component was to ensure a smooth transition and minimal search downtime during the change, particularly since the new site was being designed and launched during the fourth quarter—Godiva’s busiest time of the year.

“Because search engines have to go out and rediscover the new site, there will be a couple of weeks of downtime at least,” Hasty says. “If the new website wasn’t SEO friendly and didn’t transition well from the old site, it could have had devastating consequences.”

Following the site redesign, the annual growth rate of traffic more than doubled, and revenue grew 22% year over year for the November-December holiday period.

“There was no lag time at all in terms of rankings and traffic. In fact, we actually saw a lift very quickly, which set them up well for the holiday season,” Hasty says.

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