Full disclosure: We are NOT SEO “Experts”. We are designers and developers with a strong understand of the basics and some of the more advanced topics regarding Search Engine Optimization and how the Google overlords work.

Now, into the study.

We took on the job of improving the SEO rankings of Assessment+, a leadership development and consulting firm located outside of Atlanta, but operating on a massive corporate scale. They also do survey development, customer engagement, and that type of stuff.

The majority of websites are fairly easy to improve SEO rankings on. After all, most represent local businesses and small mom and pop shops that don’t compete with organizations valued at $2.5 Billion. That being said, this was a difficult task for sure!

So, to cover our basics, here’s what we did initially:

  • Did a site audit with SEMRush to isolate and fix any technical issues. This includes SSL, minification, broken links and images, etc.
  • Got the site’s loading time to under the recommended 2 seconds (Right now it’s sitting at about 1.5-1.7, way better than its prior 10+ seconds.
  • Made sure we were connected with all the webmaster tools – Google Search Console, Bing Webmaster, etc.
  • Analyzed and disavowed any toxic backlinks, after first trying to get them removed the correct way. (Unfortunately, it’s not always possible, at this particular site had a lot of Toxic backlinks stealing images and the like.)
  • Covered the local SEO side by ensuring we were accurate on all of the popular local listing websites, including Google My Business and Bing Places.
  • Finally, did a quick optimization of the meta titles and descriptions on the site. We’ll update these at a later date, but a lot of pages were simply missing this information so we wanted to get it in as quickly as possible.

Alright, so we’re one month in and we’ve definitely improved, but are not in a position to call this a success quite yet. Our competitors are still wiping the floor with us, and we’re nowhere near the first, or even second, page of Google.

Okay, so time to take a step back, analyze our situation, and determine where we go next. Doing this, we find we have an incredibly low domain rating, according to ahrefs. In fact, it’s a rating of 1. Out of 100. So our primary concern next was getting this number up, as we felt if our domain was considered more trustworthy, we’d be more likely to appear higher in our organic search results.

We won’t go into the specifics of how increasing domain authority works, but SEOPressor has a great article on it, in case you’re interested in the details.

That being said, this was a very long, very tedious, and often stressful task to accomplish. Again, we’re trying to rank against websites with millions of backlinks, and a ridiculous amount of money to spend on exactly what we’re attempting to do right now.

Currently, our focus is on increasing the number of quality backlinks to the site.

We’ll keep this article updated with more information as we continue this process for Assessment+.