March 1st, 2022 by Gage Pacifera
Over the past several months, Harmonic Northwest has helped a few different clients optimize their websites for better performance in search engines. These projects mostly entailed updating technical aspects of a site to produce code tailored to what search engines want to see. The more technically optimized the site is, the higher it will appear in the search result list, which translates to more visibility and more traffic to the site.
Harmonic Northwest built the New York City Bar Association’s Legal Referral Service custom WordPress website and has maintained and improved it over the course of several years. It has generally aged well, but we noticed that the site could be doing better with search result placement. We also wanted to make sure that the site was meeting today’s accessibility standards. So we embarked on identifying technical weaknesses and implementing a number of changes to the site codebase to improve search rankings.
We used Google Lighthouse as our primary tool for assessing how our site setup was faring on the SEO front. Google Lighthouse is a free, easy-to-use application that analyzes websites and creates reports that give scores and tips for improvements in four main categories: Performance, Accessibility, Best Practices and SEO. While the SEO category might have the biggest impact on search results, all of these categories figure into the site’s SEO and improvements in any of these categories will likely translate to better search rankings.
We decided to focus on four pages that represented a cross section of the important content on the site. For these pages, we ran Lighthouse reports on both mobile and desktop, producing 32 scores (4 categories × 8 reports) that we could use as a baseline for gauging our progress.
We combed through the reports and diligently fixed the issues that we were able to address (which was most of them). Some of the issues we could resolve with the help of plugins like WP Autoptimize and WP Super Cache, others required getting into the codebase and making changes to the custom WordPress theme.
Before and After
The initial snapshot wasn’t too bad—we had a lot of scores in the seventies and eighties (out of a hundred) and even a few in the low-to-mid nineties. But we could see that we had some big problems with our performance, particularly on mobile.
Fast forward to the end of the project and we see a very different set of numbers: now most values are in the ninety to one hundred range and the problematic mobile performance has been upped to a respectable average that sits in the high seventies. And we are now poised to see substantial improvements to our search rankings.
WordPress has long been a strong suit here at Harmonic Northwest and the past few SEO projects have given us the opportunity to really hone our SEO skills and make us quite good at optimizing WordPress sites to ensure that sites are ranking as well as they can.
If you have a WordPress site and would like to be doing better in terms of SEO, get in touch and we’d be happy to talk!