Case Studies | Analytics

Mitigating Risk in Site Transition for DePaul University

The Challenge

The scope of a long-term Be Found Online (BFO) client, DePaul University, focuses on providing SEO strategy for the transition of numerous DePaul University sites to a new Microso SharePoint platform. As with any site transition, there are inevitable SEO risks, the greatest being temporary loss of organic traffic and search rankings. BFO’s guidance helps to mitigate the risks inherent in the site transition.

The primary objective of the DePaul University site transitions was to create pre-launch strategies and recommendations that achieved the following goals:

  • Minimize immediate post-launch organic traffic loss
  • Improve long-term organic traffic patterns
  • Minimize immediate post-launch organic ranking loss
  • Improve long-term organic ranking gains
  • Maximize the amount of link credibility the new site keeps
  • Improve content & keyword targeting

The Solution

Leading up to the site re-launch, BFO created a multi-faceted plan to ensure long-term SEO success for the DePaul University sites and meet the above goals. As a foundation, a new keyword strategy was created to provide insight on how highly relevant URLs, Meta Data, and content should be created for the new site. Then, the keyword research was utilized to write new, keyword-relevant URLs, along with SEO-friendly Title and Meta Descriptions. These elements help improve organic search signals, as well as search result click-thru-rates. Finally, since a new URL structure was created for each re-launched site, a URL redirect plan was put in place. This will help pass traffic and link equity from old URLs to the new site, as well as providing strong search signals to search engines.

The Results

To date, BFO has provided SEO guidance on a number of six (6) DePaul University websites. While all schools have seen similar post-launch results, the following schools are being highlighted: College of Communication; Kellstadt Graduate School of Business; and Driehaus College of Business. All results show pre- and post-launch organic traffic levels, as well as year-over-year organic traffic levels. For all schools, there was minimal post-launch impact on organic traffic, with long-term increases in YoY traffic.

College of Communication – Site Re-Launch Date: 5/2013

In months following the 5/2013 site re-launch, organic traffic did decrease from May-July 2013. However, this summertime decrease in traffic is a DePaul-wide pattern, as it is summer vacation for students. From 4/2013 (the month prior to site re-launch) to 9/2014, College of Communication organic traffic increased by 41%.

When reviewing 2013 organic traffic data as compared to 2014 data, the College of Communication saw a similar overall pattern: a slight dip in June – August, with a subsequent upswing. With the re-launch in 2013, the long-term organic traffic impacts were positive, with a 55% YoY increase in 2014.

Kellstadt Graduate School of Business – Site Re-Launch Date: 8/2013

In weeks prior to the 8/2013 site re-launch, organic traffic was not available, as Google Analytics had not been implemented. From 8/2013 (the month of the site re-launch) to 9/2014, Kellstadt Graduate School of Business organic traffic increased by 25%.

When reviewing 2013 organic traffic data as compared to 2014 data, the Kellstadt Graduate School of Business long-term organic traffic impacts were positive, with a 23% YoY increase in 2014.

Driehaus College of Business – Site Re-Launch Date: 8/2013

In months following the 8/2013 site re-launch, organic traffic did decrease from May-July 2013. However, this summertime decrease in traffic is a DePaul-wide pattern, as it is summer vacation for students. From 8/2013 (the month of the site re-launch) to 9/2014, Driehaus College of Business organic traffic increased by 30%.

When reviewing 2013 organic traffic data as compared to 2014 data, the Driehaus College of Business long-term organic traffic impacts were positive, with a 31% YoY increase in 2014.

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