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Increase Revenue with Speed Optimization [Local SEO Case Study]



5 Surprising SEO Test Results — Whiteboard Friday

The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.

Last year, I pitched a series of technical SEO topics for local SEO on twitter and got lots of positive feedback.

One of these elements of technical SEO that can feel extremely daunting and unfamiliar to local SEOs is speed optimization.

There are some key scenarios when local SEOs should seriously consider speed optimization, even for a small local client. After all, these clients are still impacted by the issues that come along with having a slower website — such as higher bounce rates, lower conversions, and worst of all, a poor user experience.

There are also plenty of instances where speed optimization is a practical next step in your SEO strategy. If your client has great content, great links, but low engagement or rankings, speed issues may be the culprit.

This case study is about a client just like that. The only service my team at RicketyRoo provided during the length of the case study was speed optimization, and we saw some impressive results. In this post, I’ll share our experience, and hopefully this inspires you to take on some speed issues you’ve been nervous to address.

The client

The client is a multi-location residential cleaning franchise with over 40 locations across the United States. The website consists of approximately 580 pages, with a landing page for each location.


Our client’s goal is pretty simple: take a bigger piece of the pie from the larger nationwide home cleaning franchises. Our technical audit showed that the site was very slow, so site speed is where we started.

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Our methodology

1. Set up staging environment with WPEngine

Whether you’re using tools and plugins or choose to manually update the website for speed, you should create a staging (or test) environment. Making manual changes to the code that a website is built with (even through a plugin) can break a website. A staging environment is a cloned version of the production site that can be tinkered with without the risk of breaking anything on the live site. Once you have a staging site set up, you can essentially update and change any elements you would like and test without fear of your client losing traffic or leads.

Our speed philosophy is to test and verify. Verifying that the staging site is still functional after making a change and then getting an updated score through the speed tool of your choice is the only way to be confident about the changes you are making.

2. Run through a tool like WebPageTest

During this stage, you’re diagnosing issues such as script files returning 404 errors, unused CSS files causing longer load times, and render-block resources. Find these issues and update them. is a great resource for finding solutions:

1. Review Core Web Vitals scores to determine where issues lie.

2. Find out what’s taking the longest amount of time from the waterfall

    3. Review render-blocking resources and update (deferring them is likely the best call here)

      3. Check to see if anything is broken

      This is why we’re using a staging environment — just in case any of these changes we’ve made breaks something. Check out the live staging site and compare the visual and functionality to the production version of the site. If everything is working as expected, then you’re doing great.

      4. Review large images via WebPageTest

      The Largest Contentful Paint issues are often caused by images that are too large. There are many guides on how to optimize images out there. If you’re using WordPress, you can also use a plugin like Imagify:

      1. Download any large images, resize, and reduce space

      2. Reupload images at smaller sizes

      3. Check image resolution on staging site

      5. Rinse and repeat for other page templates

      Everything we’ve done so far we’ll repeat for every template type used on the site. Most sites will have separate templates for location pages, services, categories, blogs, products, contact pages, etc. Each of these page types should be reviewed with a tool like WebPageTest.

      6. Install WP Rocket

      If your site is on WordPress, you can use WP Rocket to further optimize your site for speed. WP Rocket can sometimes have issues with other plugins or themes used on WordPress sites, so it’s important to test on the staging site first.


      7. Review plugins

      While we’re on the topic of plugins, you should also review your current plugins and deactivate and remove any that are not in use.

      8. Check to see if anything is broken

      We’ve made a decent amount of changes at this point. We should review the live version of the staging site again and compare it to the production site.

      9. Run through Webpagetest again

      Let’s see how we’ve done! If you’re happy with your results then your work is nearly done.

      10. Push changes live

      Any changes you made should now be pushed to the production site.

      11. Annotate changes in GA

      Remember to annotate these changes so that you can check back and draw a conclusion from your results for yourself.


      Our speed optimization started in July 2020. Soon after, we saw improvement in rankings for non-branded keywords that already ranked in the top 20 positions. The client saw a 32% increase in new users, a 47% increase in phone calls, and a 63% increase in free quote requests in a year-over-year comparison of 2021 to 2020. 2021 saw a 55%+ increase in revenue over 2019 and over 60% in comparison to 2020.

      This correlates with an increase in both site traffic and qualified leads. Our client measures qualified leads as scheduled appointments, which grew by 49% PoP.

      We also reviewed the CRux data for our client in comparison to closely-ranked competitors. The winner for each UX/speed element is highlighted in yellow. As you can see, our client’s scores are generally higher than competitors that do not rank as well:


      Technical SEO can be done, even if you don’t consider yourself a tech expert. Having a backup makes it easy to test out changes with confidence. Never dismiss the importance of a SEO tactic because you’re unfamiliar. Our client saw ranking and improvements as well as a 55% increase in revenue due to Core Web Vital optimization alone. Now that you have a staging website, you’re free to tackle other technical issues you may have discovered but felt uncomfortable with approaching.

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B2B customer journeys that begin at review sites are significantly shorter



B2B customer journeys that begin at review sites are significantly shorter

The B2B customer journey can be a long one, especially when the purchase of expensive software subscriptions is under consideration.

“The average B2B customer journey takes 192 days from anonymous first touch to won,” according to Dreamdata in their 2022 B2B Go-to-Market Benchmarks — a statistic described by co-founder and CMO Steffen Hedebrandt as “alarming.”

But the report also indicates that this journey can be significantly sped up — by as much as 63% — if accounts begin their research at software review sites, gathering information and opinions from their peers. Journeys that originate at a review site often lead to deals of higher value too.

Fragmented data on the customer journey. Dreamdata is a B2B go-to-market platform. In any B2B company, explained Hedebrandt, there are typically 10 or even 20 data silos that contain fragments of the customer journey. Website visits, white paper downloads, social media interactions, webinar or meeting attendance, demos, and of course intent data from review site visits — this data doesn’t typically sit in one place within an organization.

“We built an account-based data model because we believe that there’s such a thing as an account journey and not an individual journey,” said Hedebrandt. “So if there are two, three or five people representing an account, which is typically what you see in B2B, all of these touches get mapped into the same timeline.”

Among those many touches is the intent data sourced from software review site G2. Dreamdata has an integration with G2 and a G2 dashboard allowing visualization of G2-generated intent data. This includes filtering prospects who are early in their journey, who have not yet discovered the customer’s product, or who have discovered it but are still searching. This creates a basis for attributing pipelines, conversions and revenue to the activity.

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“Strategically, our ideal customer profile is a B2B software-as-a-service company,” said Hedenbrandt. “B2B SaaS companies are particularly ripe for understanding this digital customer journey; their main investment is in digital marketing, they have a salesforce that use software tools to do this inside sales model; and they also deliver their product digitally as well.” What’s more, it takes twice as long to close SaaS deal as it does to close deals with B2B commercial and professional services companies.


Read next: A look at the tech review space

The Benchmarks findings. The conclusions of the 2022 Benchmarks report is based on aggregated, anonymized data from more than 400 Dreamdata user accounts. Focusing on first-touch attribution (from their multi-touch model), Dreamdata found that customer journeys where a review site is the first touch are 63% shorter than the average. In contrast, where the first touch channel is social, the journey is much longer than average (217%); it’s the same when paid media is the first touch (155%).

As the Benchmarks report suggests, this may well mean that social is targeting prospects that are just not in-market. It makes sense that activity on a review site is a better predictor of intent.

Hedenbrandt underlines the importance of treating the specific figures with caution. “It’s not complete science what we’ve done,” he admits, “but it’s real data from 400 accounts, so it’s not going to be completely off. You can only spend your time once, and at least from what we can see here it’s better to spend your time collecting reviews than writing another Facebook update.”

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While Dreamdata highlights use of G2, Hedenbrandt readily concedes that competitor software review sites might reasonably be expected to show similar effects. “Definitely I would expect it to be similar.”

Why we care. It’s not news that B2B buyers researching software purchases use review sites and that those sites gather and trade in the intent data generated. Software vendors encourage users to post reviews. There has been a general assumption that a large number of hopefully positive reviews is a good thing to have.

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What Dreamdata’s findings indicate is that the effect of review sites on the buyer journey — especially as the first-touch channel — can be quantified and a value placed on it. “None of us questioned the value of reviews, but during this process you can actually map it into a customer journey where you can see the journey started from G2, then flowed into sales meetings, website visits, ads, etc. Then we can also join the deal value to the intent that started from G2.”

Likely, this is also another example of B2B learning from B2C. People looking at high consideration B2C purchases are now accustomed to seeking advice both from friends and from online reviews. The same goes for SaaS purchases, Hedenbrandt suggests: “More people are turning to sites like G2 to understand whether this is a trustworthy vendor or not. The more expensive it is, the more validation you want to see.”

About The Author


Kim Davis is the Editorial Director of MarTech. Born in London, but a New Yorker for over two decades, Kim started covering enterprise software ten years ago. His experience encompasses SaaS for the enterprise, digital- ad data-driven urban planning, and applications of SaaS, digital technology, and data in the marketing space.

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He first wrote about marketing technology as editor of Haymarket’s The Hub, a dedicated marketing tech website, which subsequently became a channel on the established direct marketing brand DMN. Kim joined DMN proper in 2016, as a senior editor, becoming Executive Editor, then Editor-in-Chief a position he held until January 2020.

Prior to working in tech journalism, Kim was Associate Editor at a New York Times hyper-local news site, The Local: East Village, and has previously worked as an editor of an academic publication, and as a music journalist. He has written hundreds of New York restaurant reviews for a personal blog, and has been an occasional guest contributor to Eater.

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