The Making of SEO.com – A New Hope

The Making of SEOcom A New Hope

Star Wars: A New HopeDo you ever feel like you need Jedi powers to get your website to rank? If Google is the empire, I’m going to peg Larry Page as Emperor Palpatine and Sergey Brin as Darth Vader, based on Page pulling ever so slightly ahead of Brin in Forbes March billionaire listing. They’re already trying to turn us into mini-Vaders with the impending Google Glass project. We’re the spunky Rebel Alliance, a hodge podge community of business owners, web developers and SEO specialists. We’re constantly testing, spying and prodding. Occasionally we’ll find an open exhaust port that lets us produce fantastic results. We love it when our metaphorical Han Solo’s tell us, “Great shot, kid, that was one in a million!”

Geekery aside, we’re all trying to get ahead in an increasingly digital world, to which search engines are the #1 portal. We embarked on a redesign late in 2012 for a number of reasons.

Conversion

Though our last site reboot from April 2012 looked great and performed well, it wasn’t built with an eye towards multi-variant testing. There was repeated code in a number of themes and templates that made it difficult to isolate and change specific site-wide items. We moved to the Genesis framework by StudioPress, and with Yoda Brian Gardner as our guide, the Force is strong with us.

Site Speed

The last iteration was very resource heavy, serving up lots of images per page plus self-hosted fonts and other bulky resources. We needed to make sure that our site would load in less than 12 parsecs, Millenium Falcon style. Through a mix of backend code optimizations, asynchronous resource loading, server tweaks and CDNs, we’ve already more than doubled our loading speed, with more on the way.

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Integration

We launched SEOinsight, a brand new toolset we use internally to track rankings, to the general public. We use Pardot to manage our leads and SalesForce to help follow through, then transition clients to our very appropriately named in-house task management system, Deathstar, as we start fulfillment. Making sure that we take care of everyone through that whole process requires tight integration, and we’re now able to offer faster consultations and quicker turnaround times.

For all of you out there wondering if the top SEO companies in the world drink their own Kool-Aid, I want to give you a guided tour into the inner workings of the SEO.com website with this new column. There’ll even been some of my favorite code snippets thrown in for good measure.

Here are a few of the things that I’ll cover.

  • Why we chose WordPress and Genesis respectively as the engine and frame of our site
  • What plugins made the cut from 50+ down to 25
  • SEO specific configuration of WordPress SEO by Yoast and other backend tweaks
  • Our transition from dedicated hosting to the WPEngine managed platform + CloudFlare
  • How I was forced to swear off mentioning cats in all internal communications and meetings and the ensuing disasters

Stay tuned for a new post each week, each with its own unique geek-fueled theme. Until then, Hoppy Easter!

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2 Comments

  1. Derek says

    My real name is actually Derek so from one Derek to another, i’m curious to read about this cat thing. Also, I’ve been playing around with my YOAST seo settings for over a year and not to sure what’s the correct settings so looking forward to that topic in the future.

    I’ve been with Genesis for 2 years and it’s a good choice. Have a good afternoon.

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