Ironically, Bonnie Dimmick – owner of Sleep, Love and Happiness, a sleep consultant that helps parents with infants get more sleep – was having trouble sleeping at night. Why? Because out of the blue, her beautiful website’s rankings had dropped in search results.
The decrease was so bad that her business was suffering. She couldn’t figure out why. A common friend and client, Alycia from Creative PlanHer, referred Berry Interesting Productions (BIPi) to Bonnie for help. Here’s what happened next…
Defining the Search Engine Problem – Content? Speed? Mobile-friendliness?
Before this, Bonnie was killing it in SEO. She’d always been one of those hands-on business owners who religiously checked her web traffic and search rankings and worked hard to optimize her site for search. As a result, her website was #1 in her top three keyword/target search phrases… until just recently.
Suddenly, a competitor’s website was beating Bonnie’s in search. The SL&H website had slipped to the #3 position for her top search phrase. The site was at #5 or below for other important search phrases. Worse yet, Bonnie’s lead inquiries had tanked. This was not good.
We got right to work in diagnosing why this was happening. First, we performed an audit of Bonnie’s website and her competitor’s site. Bonnie’s Google Analytics Core Web Vitals (CWV) report told us that there was a 50% decrease in site speed performance across all metrics.
The competitor’s site was very similar to Bonnie’s in build and visuals but was loading much faster. We discovered they used a content delivery network (CDN) and a caching plugin to load content faster, which was beating SL&H’s page speed.
After our initial review and speaking with Bonnie in more detail, we came up with a battle plan.
Our Recommendations For Improving Site Speed and Performance
BIPi recommended that Bonnie migrate her website to a web host better suited for revenue-generating business sites. We also suggested taking behind-the-scenes steps to improve site speed and performance, focusing primarily on the site’s code and images.
As with many search-related tasks, we warned Bonnie that these steps might not be a slam dunk. We couldn’t 100% guarantee they would improve the site’s core web vitals and search engine results pages (SERPs) rank to beat out her competitor. However, we felt we had enough information and experience to make a significant difference in performance, and if we found that the page speed was still unsatisfactory, we still had a few other tricks up our sleeve to recommend.
A peek at the man behind the curtain… our other tricks were setting up a content delivery network and fully rebuilding the site on a new theme framework. But only if we needed to – we didn’t want to rack up billable hours unnecessarily.
Five Project Objectives for Remediating a Drop in SEO
Our recommendation included these five steps:
- Move the website to a better hosting environment. We recommended SiteDistrict, the host we use for all BIPi website support clients. This alone resulted in speed improvements.
- Migrate the business email accounts and file drive to Google Workspace (moving hosting providers necessitated moving Bonnie’s email services), and change the domain registration to Google Domains. This didn’t directly affect the site speed but it has resulted in a higher level of email service and much higher quality domain tools.
- Implement GA4 under the existing Google Analytics account to keep the site’s integration as up-to-date as possible
- Review and tweak the site’s existing code and assets for SEO, including manually optimizing images, optimizing CSS files, ensuring the Yoast SEO plugin is being utilized to the fullest, and reviewing all plugins for usability. This resulted in significant improvements but didn’t quite get us back to where we wanted.
- Configure a caching plugin to improve site speed. This pushed us past our initial goal and put Bonnie to be in a much stronger position compared to her competition.
Project Strategies for Remediating a Drop in SERP Position
When Bonnie gave us the go-ahead, we hit the ground running. As we moved the site to SiteDistrict, we also cleaned up some outdated code on the site, fixed a few minor mobile optimization issues, and did an image-optimization “sweep” to right-size a few large images dragging her site speed down.
We also implemented WP Rocket. We discovered that her competitor was using this WordPress caching plugin, and we were so delighted at the speed improvements it gave us that now we love it as well. It is a very effective tool in boosting loading time and optimizing core web vitals.
Throughout the process, our team relied on Google’s PageSpeed Insights (PSI) reports to guide us in our optimization work. The reports showed us when we were successful and when we needed to tweak some more, especially when comparing mobile to desktop performance.
The migration of the business email accounts and drive to Google Workspace and the change of domain registration to Google Domains was complicated but necessary for the company’s stability and growth. It took some time, but our team handled everything from start to finish without hiccups and just one weekend where email service was spotty or delayed.
Project Results – a Big Boost in Site Speed, Plus Improvement in SERP Position
After implementing our five objectives, Bonnie happily reported that the website performed much better. Specifically, the site has worked its way back up the search list and is now sitting at the #2 position for her top three key phrases. She is currently working with an SEO content expert we recommended to optimize her site’s content in pursuit of that coveted #1 spot.
The PSI reports show exactly how much our efforts increased her site speed. For your reference, here are some important definitions to know as you review these reports.
- Speed Index (SI) is a page load performance metric that shows how quickly the contents of a page become visible. A good SI should be under 4.3 seconds.
- First Contentful Paint (FCP) measures when the user can see some part of your page change, usually a header bar or background image. A good FCP is between 0 and 1.8 seconds.
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) tracks how long it takes to load the largest content element on a page. Under 2.5 seconds is considered good.
Here’s how Bonnie’s site was performing before we worked on her site, after we completed the first round of work, and then after we finished our work:
Click on any thumbnail above to view the progression of Google PSI reports as we worked our magic. As you can see, the site’s overall performance went from a 79 to a 96 (yay, we got an A!). Our work made a huge improvement across all metrics.
Project Takeaways – a Client Who Can Sleep Soundly Knowing Her Site’s SEO is Solid
Ultimately, the solution to Bonnie’s problem took about 10 hours of work. Because she was so on top of her site performance, she didn’t have to face a large and costly project to fix the problem. Her site just needed a little speed boost. We were able to do most of it for her, and then we handed her off to a trusted partner better equipped to take the win past the finish line.
Now, you may be saying to yourself, “There is no way I can keep up with our SEO like Bonnie did!” We get it. Bonnie is an exception to what we see from most small business owners. But that’s why Berry Interesting Productions exists. We live for this stuff. Let us handle the monitoring, optimizing, updating, and fixing of your website’s SEO and any other tech issues that might come up.
We understand the multiple business priorities you juggle every day, and our goal is to make website maintenance a task you don’t even think about. We offer website support plans for businesses of all sizes. Each plan prioritizes your website’s stability, quality, and user experience 24/7/365.
We put a priority on maintenance. Like a garden, your website needs regular attention year-round. It may be more active at certain times, but there is always a baseline of maintenance required to keep your website up to snuff, no matter where you are in your growth cycle. We’ll be there to spot and fix the issues before they become a problem.
Sleep, Love and Happiness uses the Elementor theme. If you’re curious about how Berry Interesting Productions can help your team optimize your website, we’re always happy to help! Drop us a line or book a consultation directly with our fearless leader, D’nelle. You can also sign up to get emails from Berry Interesting, and we’ll keep you in the loop.