Episode Overview: Completing a site migration warrants a victory lap for everyone who contributed to the project, but an important step lies ahead – site performance data acquisition. Join host Ben as he continues his Site Migration Week discussion with Searchmetrics’ CMO Doug Bell about the early results from Searchmetrics’ site migration and what early data revealed.
- During the process of site migration the Searchmetrics team ensured the new architecture worked great, ensured all 18,000 site links migrated and tested their highest performing pages before going live.
- As your new website goes live it’s vital to ensure your traffic remains stable year-over-year and perform approach stats for the next month after the site is live.
- Keep in mind extreme circumstances like the COVID-19 pandemic affect site performance and conversion rates if you’ve finished a site migration and are acquiring data during the pandemic.
GUESTS & RESOURCES
- Doug Bell: Website // LinkedIn
- The Voices of Search Podcast: Email // LinkedIn // Twitter
- Benjamin Shapiro: Website // LinkedIn // Twitter
Ben: Welcome to Site Migration Week on the Voices of Search podcast. I’m your host, Benjamin Shapiro and this week we’re going to publish an episode every day covering a case study that walks you through the steps of an enterprise grade site migration. Joining us for Site Migration Week is Doug Bell, who’s the chief marketing officer at Searchmetrics, which is an SEO and content marketing platform that helps enterprise scale businesses monitor their online presence and make data driven decisions. So far this week, we’ve talked about the rationale behind Searchmetrics wanting to do a site migration, getting ready for conducting that site migration, actually doing the development. And today, we’re going to talk about some of the early results that we’ve seen from Searchmetrics’ site migration.
Ben: Okay. Here’s the fourth installment of Site Migration Week with Doug Bell, CMO of Searchmetrics. Doug, welcome back to Site Migration Week on the Voices of Search podcast.
Doug: Thank you Ben, good to be back.
Ben: I’m excited that we’re able to go open kimono and talk about Searchmetrics’ migration. We’ve got to the point now where we’ve talked about everything but how things have gone all the way from ideation through development. So you get to the day when you’re going to publish the new website. Talk to me about what that feels like and what are the steps that you go through before you hit the ignition?
Doug: We started from the bottom of the funnel and worked our way up. And so we had nailed a lot of the things we talked about in prior episodes. We had our site speeds looking very, very good. The architecture was great. We felt very confident about the process we were using for search console. We felt that all of those things would go well. We even felt very good about the 18,000 links we needed to migrate and all the mapping that happened there.
Doug: So we started with the lead reg forms for a B2B company like ours, the website serves two purposes. Let’s make it super simple, right? Purpose number one is it informs our prospects and customers about all the things we can do to help them. In other words, lots of good research and information to help them do their jobs better. And the other thing is, it’s got utility for us. It’s got to be a site that allows prospects and customers to show interest in it, and in return produced leads for us. We were not tackling the portion of the website, the knowledge center, or the glossary or the blog that really helps the top of the funnel. We were tackling the bottom. We were tackling our highest performing pages, homepage, product pages and services pages. So that’s where the testing began, could it work?
Doug: And actually funny enough Ben, we talked a couple of days ago about the stress around, I talked about driving a Ferrari, maybe hitting the wrong pedal or two, but one of the things we discovered as a part of the testing process was that our Marketo forms were not speaking properly to the site and that’s not something typically in the past we’d run into. So that was our final anxiety piece. Once we kept past that and saw that the entire site performed from a lead registration standpoint, the rest of it was really just about timing and monitoring.
Ben: So your big concern is making sure that the site is going to function appropriately. That’s where you’re worried, not necessarily whether the conversions would increase or decrease. And I’m going to go back to episode one and saying that the old site was a sick puppy and you can’t go down from there.
Doug: Yeah. You know it’s your good friend and my good friend Jordan Koene, can I tell you how many times he told me that we need to do new websites? There was a point, I think he actually said this to me three or four times a day, so yeah. I’d say overall, don’t get too caught up in the voices out there, people have a really good reason to do this because it is a huge exercise. It’s a big resource hog and there’s a lot of risk associated with it, so you can ignore the sick puppy voices like Ben’s have a good reason. Your brand’s not well-represented or the site’s underperforming. Sorry Ben, I had to talk around you.
Ben: Or you just listen to your CEO and trusted advisors when they say you should throw the website. But hey, whatever. Hey Doug, tell me about how it actually went already. All right, you launched the new site. Give me some good news? Tell me about the metrics or is it just a pretty logo and things are tanking?
Doug: It’s going really well. Ben, I would say I’m very happy we were able to push it live before the coronavirus hit. I think that the flip side of that, it’s unfortunately a lot of the stats that we were looking for in terms of conversions are happening because that’s mostly a function of the whole market freezing up if you will. But all of our other stats are very, very healthy so we’re not seeing and so just to back up a wee bit, without digging into all these numbers that we’ll easily dig into really for the first two to three weeks, what you’re looking for is do no harm.
Doug: So you want to see that your traffic to the site, however you measure that, whether that’s visits or unique users. You want to make sure that that’s stable, that’s first. And you want that stability to be not prior month. You want it to be year-over-year. And then also you’re making sure that you are starting to do approach stats for the next month if you will. So from that standpoint Ben, we actually saw an increase in SEO visibility. We were actually a little bit shocked by, and we’re actually seeing more users at the site. The challenge we have unfortunately is those users are not converting the way it definitely would need to. We’re seeing tons and tons of cart abandonment, much more stuff than we’ve ever seen about a 40% increase there. And again, so there’s a little bit of the, “Gee, I’m glad we got it out before the coronavirus really started impacting commerce.”
Doug: I’m really interested to see what happens posts-coronavirus to see what type of CRO performance we really should see from the site. We are seeing much higher engagement with the content on the site. So those are all things that I think are early indicators of future success but for the moment, all of the things we looked out from a “Is the site performing better?” standpoint, including site speed, SEO visibility, and the number of unique users visiting the site and how much they’re engaging the content. They have all improved. And that’s 12 days into the launch itself. So thumbs up there.
Ben: Okay, so let me understand what I’m hearing here. The first thing that you’re focusing on is do no harm, right? Are the pages being crawled? Are you getting essentially the same amount of visibility and it sounds like your visibility actually increased, but the conversion rate has decreased slightly.
Doug: Yeah, that’s right. Ben, it has. What’s interesting is that our cart abandonment rate has been through the roof, so don’t ever assume that you can take a step like that and back it into and say you have good numbers. We have bad numbers right now, but we’re seeing that across all of our properties, including social media and before this divests into a COVID-19 coronavirus conversation, which by the way, great episodes this Monday with Jordan, great information. If you haven’t listened to the episode, please do. I’m referring to the “Managing at a Time of Crisis” episode that was published yesterday. What I would say overall is what we’re seeing is the decline in conversions, but we feel like because of the cart abandonment that that’s likely related to people just being less certain.
Ben: I think that’s an important lesson and Doug, I appreciate you being so candid. You go through this entire site migration process and the truth is you are, even if you’re not changing your underlying architecture, on some level you are reshuffling the deck. You’re giving Google a lot of data to come through and analyze and interpret and evaluate and rank. And sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t and when you are seeing changes in cart abandonment, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it is related to the site migration. Sometimes there are macro factors that are also going to be impacting your business. COVID-19 the coronavirus obviously taking the wind out of the sales in the B2B SaaS games, I think people are probably being more conservative with their budget. When you think about some of the metrics outside of conversion rate that you know you can benchmark, talk to me about what you’re seeing from page indexing, from site speed, what are some of the other things?
Doug: So we went from 7 to 4.1 and within the next week and a half, we’ll get a 1.2 from a load standpoint. That’s the first thing. Our engagement stats on each of the new pages that were updated have actually improved fairly significantly. So we’ve got better linger time. We have actually more people going to the forms, in other words, going to the form pages than we have in the past. So these are all very encouraging signs, Ben. Overall, the site is performing extremely well. It is rendering extremely well, and in some ways right now what we’re getting is just lots of really great feedback about its design. Now we’re a German company. I sit in San Mateo, California. You’re a peninsula guy as well. We certainly have a big US operation, but at the end of the day, we’re a German company and the German team members are very precise.
Doug: They find every detail. And I would say that overall, the feedback we’ve gotten across the German market and from our employees has been very, very strong. I’d also say, Ben, this is a long game because you’re launching a product and please, I would emphasize, think of your website as a product, almost as important as any other product you have in your portfolio. And so get it right. Get it out there. Don’t fuss if COVID-19 hits the day after you launch your website. It is a long game. Make sure it’s stable. Make sure the house is in order.
Ben: If you had only listened to me and Jordan years ago, you wouldn’t have had this problem. You would have had accurate data. Your cart abandonment wouldn’t be going down. Doug, would you just listen to us already?
Doug: Well, I got to tell you Ben, what was the key thing I said? I think it was Monday or Tuesday. I talked about get your resources right. Make sure you have the people necessary to get it done. I think Ben, you and I would say that as much as we wanted a new site a couple years ago, we really didn’t feel like we had the resources to get it done. And this is not something to approach from my, sorry pardon my language, from a half-assed standpoint. Make sure those resources are there and that’s something we’ve done really well.
Ben: So Doug, now that the website is out and live and you’re gaining your preliminary data, you’re dealing with a new world, how do you feel? How does the company feel? How have the people that you know have visited your websites reacted? What’s the qualitative feedback? Not necessarily the quantitative.
Doug: It’s been excellent and I’m listening for bad feedback. Actually, Ben, I have to say it’s praised as useful, but I’m really looking for that helpful feedback, that negative feedback and so far we’ve gotten some to be sure. We have folks that have an incredibly strong design eye and they’ve pointed to maybe a few pixels, too much space here and there. But overall, the qualitative feedback has been really good. So folks, if you have bad feedback for me, I’m here. 1-800, Doug wants bad feedback, just give me a dial.
Ben: I think that’s an important thing to think about is that when you do launch your new or your newly fixed website, you still need to be open to accepting data. This is just the beginning of the process where that initial set of data is Google’s first interpretation in terms of what your site visibility is going to be, right? You have to go through the conversion rate optimization evaluation phase, looking at how people are getting through the website and trying to schedule demos, byproducts, whatever the end goal of your website is. You also need to consider some of the macro concerns. In this case, the coronavirus crisis obviously having a negative impact on the Searchmetrics site and we’re going to talk about this a little bit more and talk about once you’ve migrated your site, how do you keep the momentum and the ball rolling?
Ben: So that wraps up this episode of the Voices of Search podcast. Thanks for listening to my conversation with Doug Bell, CMO of Searchmetrics. We’d love to continue the conversation with you. So if you’re interested in contacting Doug, you can find a link to his LinkedIn profile in our show notes. You can contact him on Twitter where his handle is marketadvocate, M-A-R-K-E-T-A-D-V-0-C-A-T-E or you can visit his company’s website, which is searchmetrics.com. Just one more link in our show notes that I’d like to tell you about. If you didn’t have a chance to take notes while you were listening to this podcast, head over to voicesofsearch.com where we have summaries of all of our episodes, contact information for our guests. You can send us your topics, suggestions, your SEO questions, or you can even apply to be a guest speaker on the Voices of Search podcast.
Ben: Of course, you can always reach out on social media. Our show’s handle is voicesofsearch or you can reach out to me personally. My handle is benjshap, B-E-N-J-S-H-A-P. And if you haven’t subscribed yet and you want a daily stream of marketing and technology knowledge in your podcast feed, in addition to the last episode of Site Migration Week with Doug Bell, CMO of Searchmetrics where we talk about how to keep the momentum going after your site migration, we’re going to publish an episode every day during the work week. So hit the subscribe button in your podcast app and check back in your feed tomorrow morning. All right. That’s it for today, but until next time, remember, the answers are always in the data.