John Deere: Integrated SEO & PPC Management
While the details are sometimes sensitive, the picture painted in the following client success stories is one of quantifiable results.
KoMarketing helps John Deere quadruple search traffic and leads through integrated PPC and SEO.
When KoMarketing started working with John Deere in 2003 (they continue to be a client), the company’s website, machinefinder.com, had virtually no search engine optimization, and the website technology dated back to 1995.
Highly dynamic, the website provided users – industrial companies and individuals such as farmers or contractors – with a powerful way to search through John Deere’s dealers’ used equipment inventories by location, zip code, equipment type, and in multiple languages.
However, the website had multiple issues that prevented it from being properly indexed in the search engines, which greatly hindered its performance. After an initial analysis, KoMarketing identified the following issues:
Poor optimization – The HTML code wasn’t optimized, the site lacked content that appealed to users and search engines, and the company lacked a keyword strategy for determining which keywords had the most value to target for improved rankings. The site also needed foreign language content optimization.
Non-indexing of pages – The site had major problems that hindered search engine indexing:
- Equipment listings were only available for viewing using the site’s search functionality.
- Dynamic URLs with multiple query variables were being used versus static URLs
- Foreign-language URLs and individual John Deere dealer pages couldn’t be adequately crawled and indexed
Lack of backlinks – The site had the potential to gain many more backlinks (links pointing to a website) than were currently present.
Low ROI – Pay Per Click activities were being managed in-house but the internal team didn’t have the time to extend and optimize the campaigns. In addition, the campaigns weren’t set up to track any user actions, limiting the ability to effectively target spending by keyword.
This SEO program focused on global markets with an emphasis in marketing measurement and demand generation.
The SEO process began with extensive keyword research to identify the most valuable combination of words people used to find the used equipment listed on the site.
There were over 40 equipment categories and many sub-categories contained within each of the larger buckets. We worked with the John Deere Agricultural Remarketing team to identify potential keywords based on their deep industry experience, used keyword research tools, and surveyed the competitive landscape. We initially identified 90 primary high-level keywords, and additional secondary keywords.
Improving search engine indexing
The website needed a small update in order to accommodate the process of applying page titles, meta description tags, and keyword tags. We worked with the website development team to create a quick administrative add-on to allow the Deere team to assign these variables to individual pages.
Because the individual equipment listings (over 60,000 individual equipment pieces at the time, changing daily) were “locked” behind the equipment search interface, we had the challenge of making the individual URLs accessible to search engines.
One step that we took was to create a Google Site Map and automate the process of refreshing the equipment listings. This first required that we re-write the URLs for the individual equipment listings in order to make them friendlier to search engine robots. Another step that we took was to use the same file to submit equipment listings to Google Base.
Because of the legacy technology platform of the site (dating back to 1995), we were very limited in our ability to completely re-write the URLs of the website without having the entire site re-developed. We made the changes that we could, and the end result was a URL structure that was a bit more search engine friendly, but not 100% where we wanted it to be. (Technology limitations of an existing site are always one of the challenges we face; we work with our clients’ web development teams to find the most appropriate solution.)
In order to give search engines access to the content in the 12 non-English languages that the site supports, we created a URL structure to present the localized content to search engines appropriately. In order to make a stronger connection to the content, we added on-site navigation to get to these localized pages.
Foreign language SEO
Within John Deere, local page content was managed by each territory separately – and country managers needed education and training with regard to SEO, keyword research, tag pages, and localize page content. We started by conducting our own foreign-language keyword research. We then presented the data to the individual country managers, and then provided individual training for how to take over the process and take control of localizing the content with search engines in mind.
Content creation and link building
The MachineFinder website had almost no pages beyond the basic search interfaces and user registration pages. We created 50 new pages of content to target the basic equipment categories and address some of the additional content needs.
We then worked with Deere and the web development team to create a new format for the web pages that would represent each individual Deere dealer on the Machinefinder.com website. The new page layout and content components were more appealing to search engines, providing more valuable content to crawl and index. URLs were also re-written to gain maximum indexing exposure.
The longevity of the site and the Deere brand name provided a nice initial base of links pointing to the site. However, a concentrated effort to generate additional links had not yet been undertaken. We took a highly-customized approach to the link building campaign, making sure to target high-quality links from websites that were thematically-related to the Machinefinder.com site, approaching each opportunity with the appropriate outreach.
Pay Per Click management
KoMarketing took over the management of the PPC campaigns in Google, Yahoo!, and MSN. We established over 30 new campaigns within each search engine, added keyword depth, removed under-performing/overly-generic keywords, and wrote new ad copy versions to test simultaneously. As important, we established actions that needed to be tracked on the website and added the appropriate website analytics and tracking tools.
- The initial optimization quadrupled the search engine traffic to the site.
- The index of pages in search engine databases went from a few hundred pages to 50,000 to 60,000 indexed pages at any given time.
- The PPC campaigns dramatically improved, producing increased results, including measurable performance on an individual keyword level.
- Most importantly, the John Deere dealers who list their equipment on the Website have experienced a pronounced increase in direct inquiries for specific pieces of used equipment!
Our significant success in providing the needed SEO and PPC results, and our ability to do so within the limiting corporate guidelines for the website, continues to satisfy this client above and beyond all expectations. The client continues to entrust its search engine optimization and pay per click management to KoMarketing today.
As part of an on-going monthly program, KoMarketing continues to provide content evaluation, recommendations for new content and new content types, identify new link opportunities, and manage the overall SEO program for the site. We have worked with the client every month for over four years to continually improve website optimization, facilitating the steady growth of website traffic and visibility.
“KoMarketing takes PPC management to a completely different level of focus on performance and commitment to client business goals.”