"We were doing paid inclusion and pay-per-click," Giffin said. "We had a pretty strong ROI model to drive traffic to the sites. We had great success with paid search, but it was one of those things-bid prices would go through the roof, and it was tough to manage and expense it. There were [search terms] that were a nickel when we started that are now $5."
But the company didn't want to drop its paid campaign as prices started rising because its sites were far less successful when it came to organic search results. The way the 6,000-employee organization was set up, IT and marketing were separate entities.
"We had tech issues that wouldn't let us make the sites organic-friendly. Certain technologies stood in the way of Google's spider. A little of everything, in fact-Java, pull-down menus," Giffin said. Changing the sites wasn't easy, either, he added, because Web site overhauls competed with other IT projects, which always took precedence.
Allegis Group hired search engine marketing company iProspect to help improve its organic ranking. Initially, Watertown, Mass.-based iProspect focused on copywriting and site architecture. "They made sure the site could be spidered by Google. We went over how to build our site and then worked on page elements like titles and keywords," Giffin said. The company also shifted responsibility for its sites, moving site maintenance into its interactive media group, he said.
The process, which took about nine months to complete, paid off. Leads on the two b-to-b sites, Aerotek.com and Mentor4.com, spiked from 30 leads a month to 30 leads a day. Even better, Allegis now spends 40% less on paid search engine marketing but is seeing more traffic overall. Conversion is up, too. Since the optimization, job-seeker site Thingamajob.com saw its conversion go from 3% to 27%.
"Our rankings are through the roof," Giffin said. "Thinagamajob ranks for 1,000-plus search terms. Mentor4 gets rankings on 500-plus terms. Aerotek is just relaunching, so we're just starting to see things come together but we're already seeing high results. And those results are in solid positions. We consider ranking as something that appears in the first three pages of an organic search."
Because the sites are much easier to navigate, Allegis Group has seen paid search conversion climb, too.
"We haven't seen anything start to plateau," Giffin said. "There's more we want to do, but we don't want to mess with success yet."