Case Study

How Workshop Digital Recovered Lost Search Rankings After a CMS Migration

The Challenge

A mobile app monetization platform suffered a 32% decline in organic search rankings and traffic after a hurried CMS migration.

The Outcome

Our SEO team partnered with the client’s development team to identify the root causes and recover the lost traffic.

The Story

Our client offers an in-app monetization platform for mobile app developers and publishers. They rely heavily on discovery through organic search channels to drive their new partner acquisition efforts.

In May 2020, the client migrated to a new content management system (CMS), Adobe Experience Manager (AEM). Their previous digital marketing agency did not consider possible SEO ramifications and the hurried migration resulted in a 32% decline in organic sessions according to Google Analytics. Digging deeper, organic clicks from branded queries in Google Search Console dropped 25% and had an immediate, disproportionately negative impact on their ability to acquire new customers.

Five months later, the client partnered with Workshop Digital to develop and implement technical SEO strategies to regain organic traffic and visibility lost due to the CMS migration.

The Approach

Our team worked with the client’s internal development team to audit the website and prioritize technical SEO tactics. Our team uses Google Analytics, Google Search Console, STAT, Ahrefs, and SEMrush to measure the business impacts of the decline in organic visibility, audit the website, and track progress towards KPI targets set in partnership with the client’s digital marketing teams.

From day one, it was clear that SEO was not a consideration in the CMS migration project. The solutions presented below are just a sample of the missteps and missed opportunities that our team discovered. Rather than point fingers at other partners, we rolled up our sleeves and got to work.

Due to an incorrectly implemented 302 redirect during the migration, Bing was pulling in the wrong homepage URL in their search results. This negatively impacted click-through rate from their SERPs and did not create a positive user experience. We updated the 302 redirect to a 301 redirect to permanently drive traffic to the correct version of the homepage.

The content delivery network (CDN) host’s robots.txt file disallowed search engines from crawling cached resources. Our team updated the robots.txt file to allow crawling of necessary resources, making sure search engines had access to all website content so that it could appear in search results.

Mobile-optimized resources were also blocked by disallow statements in the CDN’s robots.txt. Thus, search engines were not able to recognize the mobile-friendly versions of the website and limited the site’s visibility in mobile SERPs. Removing the robots.txt disallows immediately improved search engines’ ability to crawl, index, and rank the mobile content.

The robots.txt file also declared an incorrect sitemap.xml link at a non-www address. We replaced the XML sitemap reference with a corrected www version. A sitemap audit revealed that 26 resource pages were not intended to be crawled or indexed. We removed the URLs from the sitemap to avoid unintentionally exposing them.

Localized, translated landing pages were noticeably missing from the sitemap. Our team added 66 missing pages to the XML sitemap to facilitate discovery of the language-specific content.

The Results

Over the course of our nine-month engagement, the client regained 100% of traffic lost during the migration to AEM. In fact, August 2021 was their best month for organic traffic since October 2020 when sessions spiked due to a branding campaign that promoted the client's 10-year anniversary. In addition to increases in traffic from organic search results, traffic quality and conversion rates improved:

  • Primary conversion metric: App signups tripled their goal since we took over in September 2020.
  • Secondary conversion metric: Contact Us form submissions doubled their goal since we took over in September 2020.

Many industries that client serves experienced a digital boom during the 2020 COVID era. Our analysis of pre-COVID data and market demand indicate that improvements over 2020 data are tied to optimizations on the account. Following the successful website migration recovery, the client continues to look to our team for additional technical SEO support.

During a site-wide navigation redesign project led by the client’s internal brand marketing team, our SEO team provided recommendations for on-page optimization and improving the information architecture. Some pages needed to be canonicalized, pruned, or redirected, and we assisted with content expansion on impactful pages that were “winning” with higher conversion rates. We fixed daisy chain redirects and cleaned up orphan pages. Prior to launch, our team completed quality assurance testing for all updates in tandem with in-house QA teams.

Our ongoing partnership with the client further demonstrates the value of technical SEO. When search engines recognize a successful CMS migration, users find what they need and businesses succeed.