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Trophy Central recovers central keywords and increases traffic by 227% with SEMrush

Success story

“We love that SEMrush includes all of the features we need in one place, enabling us to effectively manage all of our SEO needs with one comprehensive tool. From keyword research to position tracking to on-page optimization, everything is right at our fingertips.”

Neil Rader, Founder & President, Trophy Central, Inc.

About Trophy Central:

Founded in 1999, Trophy Central is an Internet retailer and wholesaler specializing in trophies, awards, and display cases to schools, sports teams, and businesses. Trophy Central also features an extensive line of personalized gifts for all occasions.

Business challenge: recover central keywords and improve overall traffic

After the 2011 Google Panda update, Trophy Central spent several years recovering search positions for keywords such as custom trophies, award ribbons, and the like. Although not clear at the time, the issue had been Trophy Central’s template structure, one that featured many similar products with little content for each. After all, how different is a football participation trophy from one for baseball or soccer? Of course, this seemingly duplicate content was not really what Google had been targeting, but it needed to be fixed nonetheless.
After addressing the duplication & content issues for several years, even though rankings improved significantly, many results were still on pages unlikely to be viewed by customers. In 2019 Trophy Central set a new goal: to move key sections (ex. “awards”) and item pages to page one of the organic results so they would be viewed by customers, and ultimately, improve overall traffic and sales.

Solution: Site Audit, On-Page SEO Checker and Position Tracking Tools by SEMrush

As anyone who understands SEO knows, solving a problem like this requires a multi-faceted approach. Rankings typically aren’t impacted by one factor, but rather by a number of key elements that influence a keywords placement on a search engine’s result’s pages. 
Yes, one significant omission or blunder can make a page “disappear” and rank poorly, but it takes a number of factors and everything to be just right to move into the top pages.
Here is where SEMrush came into play. Parsing the problem into several pieces, the Trophy Central team needed to understand:
If any overall site issues were impacting Trophy Central’s general performance;
The issues existing on specific pages;
If the team was targeting the right keywords for their trophy and award customers;
Importantly, the company needed to be able to track results over time.

General Performance

As part of their comprehensive process to make substantive improvements across the site, Trophy Central turned to the SEMrush Site Audit tool. They focused on finding more broad-based issues, where a bit of tuning could make a big change across the site.
For example, the tool highlighted an issue with a missing Alt Tag. Since Trophy Central is template driven, a simple change to include the Alt Tag for one property positively impacted thousands of pages. The tool also helped the team identify other foundational issues, including missing tags and site depth issues.
After a month or so of work, the Trophy Central team improved their site performance to over 80%, up over 10 points in a short while.
Section and Product Pages
“This is where the team spent the most amount of time,' says Neil Rader, Founder and President of Trophy Central. “Moving a keyword, say ‘trophy cases’, from page 10 in the results to page 8 or 9 is relatively easy, but trying to move from page 3 or 4 to page 1 requires more work and attention to every detail. Eying a page is sometimes helpful, but having a systematic and scientific approach is far more effective and efficient.”
To accomplish the task, Neil and his team used a few SEMrush components. First, they used Position Tracking. Since Trophy Central ranks for many keywords on a given page, they used the “Pages” tab of the tool to review the search volume by page. The team proceeded by selecting the top 10 pages to improve each month.
With the list of pages at hand, they turned to the On-Page SEO Checker tool.
“Here, as a first step, we simply followed the advice given,” explains Neil. “Sometimes the recommendations had us changing Title & Meta Tags, whereas for other pages the focus was on keyword density and content.”

Tracking

“One of the features we love about SEMrush is its multi-dimensional view of keywords. Many tools simply show the ranking numbers over time. These are of course helpful, but there is so much more to track. How much volume does the keyword get each month? What’s our overall visibility? We see it all in the Position Tracking tool.”
 
“It’s really easy to improve the rankings for one keyword only to find that you negatively impacted another (or worse yet, more than one!). As mentioned above, here is where the ‘Pages’ tab proved extremely useful,” says Neil.

Results: 

  • Traffic increased by 227% between January 2019 and July 2020, with 34% of the target keywords on the first page of Google.
“There is nothing more satisfying than seeing an improvement in your rankings, which drives an increase in traffic, ultimately leading to more sales. We had worked hard on several important keywords over the last couple of years. To finally break through to page one for dozens of keywords could only be described as a thrill,” concludes Neil.
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