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Compass Fostering is a leading UK independent foster care agency. Their goal is to recruit and train the highest quality foster carers who can provide safe and nurturing homes to children and young people in care.
For years Compass Fostering was generating leads through paid channels. Because they didn’t rank for them, they had to include broad, informational, top of the funnel keywords like “what is foster care” in their paid campaigns. The conversion rate was very low for these terms, meaning the campaign costs were often high without generating real enquiries.
Knowing that their current organic enquiries converted better than paid search, Compass Fostering decided to focus on growing their monthly organic traffic. Becoming a foster parent requires a lot of motivation, so people researching the topic with deliberation, being at a lower stage of the funnel, are more likely to be looking for a specific fostering agency and go through the entire process of becoming a foster parent.
The team at Compass started working on their SEO in May 2019. To jump-start the process, a consultancy agency specializing in marketing and SEO was brought in. At the same time, Compass Fostering started looking for the toolset to best aid their comprehensive SEO strategy.
“We’ve spent quite a lot of time researching which tools people recommend. SEMrush was regularly coming out on top in terms of the best overall package. What I personally liked about SEMrush was that it gives you the ability to look at both the whole picture from a top-down level, as well as the granular details”, says Nathan Greenhalgh, Digital Marketing Manager at Compass Community. Next, the work began.
To make sure Compass Fostering was initially optimized from a technical perspective, they first set up a project in SEMrush and ran a Site Audit.
The result that came in was quite satisfactory: the Domain Health score was in the 70's and the site needed some tidying up. The audit uncovered the following issues:
The team was able to resolve the major issues in a week.
“It was really useful to have that exportable list of errors so that we could work through them systematically and tick them off,” says Nathan.
Next, the Compass team started gathering their semantic core. They used the Keyword Gap tool to determine the keywords their top competitors ranked for that Compass didn’t.
Once exported and analysed, it led Nathan and his team to create a massive spreadsheet, splitting the keywords into different consideration (or funnel) stages, as well as by keyword difficulty.
Once the keyword gaps were identified, the team picked the keywords that had the most search volume from SEMrush’s Keyword Magic Tool to find all the different variations of them.
“There are endless ways people can express essentially the same term in search. With the help of the Keyword Magic Tool we could pick four or five semantically related keywords for each piece that we thought we could rank for and work them into the article in a natural way,” says Nathan.
After that, Nathan and the team put together a content roadmap - a spreadsheet of content piece ideas with keyword-optimized H1s, URLs and meta descriptions.
“So far we’ve worked through two roadmaps of 25 pieces of content each. It was a mixture of articles, blogs, and infographics, all targeting keyword groups of three or four. They include a mixture of fostering specific terms, as well as more general parenting topics. Mixed with company news, we’ve put out well over 50 pieces of content,” shares Nathan.
To support their content marketing strategy and empower the backlink profile, Compass made several collaborative pieces with bloggers that were identified through competitive analysis. Nathan and the team used the SEMrush Backlink Audit Tool to find backlink opportunities that their competitors were using or domains that could offer value.
Once the first draft of a content piece was ready, the team ran it through the SEMrush SEO Writing Assistant. The Google Docs extension gave live recommendations on optimizing the keyword phrases and polishing the article from an SEO perspective.
Every time a roadmap is agreed, the Compass Fostering team enters the target keywords in the Position Tracking tool to demonstrate the progress. They also use the tool to keep an eye on the competitors’ performance.
“I spend probably too much time checking back on our rankings, it becomes addictive! It's nice to be able to see the week-on-week impact of the work you are doing,” says Nathan.
The Organic Research Tool has been particularly useful for SEO reporting and showing the long-term SEO impact at Compass Fostering.
“We were looking for a way to demonstrate to the board the improvements we were making, and that our SEO work was having an impact. It’s great to be able to really visualize your keyword positions improve over time and the organic search volume that comes in. SEMrush tools are super useful for that,” explains Nathan.
- Compass Fostering’s organic inquiries grew by 112% in a year.
- The company saw a 132% increase in organic traffic and a 22% increase in keywords they rank for.
- Compass Fostering’s paid campaigns became more targeted and effective now that the company ranks for broad informational keywords organically.
The agency plans to decrease the paid advertising budget in the long term.