Our long time clients and friends had a huge holiday

The Spice House was even busier than usual this past November and December, and it was partly our fault...

In 2003, we built their old web site.  While it served its purposes then, by 2006 we realized that there were huge opportunities to simplify the web site's navigation, reorganize the structure of key pages, and improve its ranking in Google (and other search engines).  Around the same time, the Spice House asked us to add tightly-integrated gift card functionality.

Adding gift cards to a 3-year old web site with a custom check-out process is major technological surgery.  We saw an opportunity to kill two birds with one stone and overhauled the web site. Working with Steve Krull, our search engine guru, we built pages that would be clear to users and search engines. We increased "content density" by maintaining existing content but spreading it across fewer total pages.  Across the site, we added descriptive page titles, names and headings and added relevant content wherever appropriate.

While there was meaningful sales growth from the 2005 to 2006, growth exploded from 2006 to 2007.  How did this happen?

Part of the increase was attributable to paid Google advertising.  However, the largest increase was from free traffic ("organic traffic") coming from search engines, and the results have been astounding.  Comparing the six-week holiday rush in 2007 against the same period in 2006, the Spice House web site saw the following:

  • 79% increase in organic traffic from Google
  • 121% increase in organic traffic from Yahoo
  • 191% increase in organic traffic from MSN
  • 96% increase in organic traffic across all search engines

We expected improvements from obvious keywords; traffic from the keyword "spices" increased 500%. More surprisingly, several esoteric terms started to perform well and drive immense value.  For example:

The site was performing so well that we ran a small intra-office over-under pool about how many orders would be placed on the Spice House web site on the top day of the 2007 holiday.  While Josh, the only person taking the under, ultimately won, we were all astounded at how high the point was set.  Who knows what the 2008 season will bring?

How hundreds of nails and a whole lot of string represent the way we work