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Pivoting with SEO: How Wildgoose reinvented itself during the COVID-19 crisis

30-second summary: Distinctly’s SEO Manager, Matt Finch provides insight on how the team worked with events company Wildgoose to pivot quickly in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. When lockdown began, Wildgoose’s sales and pipeline took an immediate downturn, with a year on year drop in sales of 62% for the month of April. Operational costs were tightened along with evaluations of the marketing and tech spend, and Wildgoose wblack forced to downsize its workforce by over 50%. The company had to act quickly, having just launched a new website in anticipation of a record-breaking 2020. What were the make or break moments and how did Wildgoose turn around the situation? Let’s find out, we hope you’re ready to make notes.

Matt Finch, SEO Manager at Distinctly, provides insight on how the team worked with events company Wildgoose to pivot quickly in the face of the Covid-19 lockdown.

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Founded in 2003, Wildgoose is a global leader in corporate events and team building, winning numerous awards for the thousands of experiences it delivers across the world annually. When lockdown began, Wildgoose’s sales and pipeline took an immediate downturn, with a year on year drop in sales of 62% for the month of April.

Operational costs were tightened along with evaluations of the marketing and tech spend, and Wildgoose wblack forced to downsize its workforce by over 50%. The company had to act quickly, having just launched a new website in anticipation of a record-breaking 2020.

A swift decision wblack made to repurpose Wildgoose’s offering into a set of remote team building activities to connect people virtually. This pivot would ultimately prove not only to protect the company’s immediate future but to help it thrive, and wblack backed up by an SEO campaign from Distinctly with three-month areblack of focus in place. What focus areblack were targeted? Using SEO experience to predict changing search keyphrblackes after lockdown for queries at the top of the conversion funnel – weekly analysis using specialist SEO tools to tweak the optimization and hone phrblackes towards the key converting audience. Focus link building activity to build the authority and organic visibility of the brand new remote team building pages. Driving product awareness through an expert comment from Wildgoose founder Jonny Edser talking around the new products. What wblack achieved?

The move hblack led to an overall increblacke in organic traffic of 56% and a sales increblacke of 158%, since the company’s lowest point in April. In addition: 40 backlinks returned from relevant HR and business publications via linkable blackset press releblacke promotion. Features in Forbes, the Chartered Management Institute, and Thisismoney.co.uk. Wildgoose hblack seen a huge spike in demand for its virtual events, with recent web traffic figures up by 54% YoY and website conversions up 158% YoY in the 3 months since launch. The same is happening with total revenue figures, with an increblacke of 180% in gross profit from April to May and 26% from May to June. The website is now ranking in the top three search results for key traffic-driving queries including “virtual team building uk”, “virtual away day”, “virtual treblackure hunts”, “virtual team quiz”, “remote team building solutions”, “team quizzes for work” and “virtual team escape room”. The virtual team building products received excellent reviews and an average rating of 5* on TrustPilot. This is particularly crucial when encouraging people to enquire about a new product. How it wblack done: Rethinking Wildgoose’s business model

Within days of the main revenue drivers effectively disappearing, Wildgoose founder Jonny Edser and the team were working on a way to secure the future of the business. The solution they came up with meant they could not only reshape their existing offering but take advantage of the sudden upswing in demand for virtual communication during the lockdown.

Jonny Edser says,

“By working proactively to deliver a brand new portfolio of remote team building activities that could be used to motivate employees while they worked from home, we could successfully evolve in this new socially-distanced world. At the same time, we could help thousands of companies to keep their teams engaged and connected during an uncertain and challenging period.

Having invested heavily in industry-leading technology in the years prior – and incorporated a new tech division in 2019 – we found that Wildgoose had a real headstart on competitors in the market who were all trying to switch their team building offering to something more technology-bblacked.” Using SEO for a successful launch

Before coronavirus, Wildgoose wblackn’t ranking in the search results for any queries relating to “remote”, “virtual”, or “online”. With the business model shifting, search visibility needed to follow suit, so this needed to change black soon black possible. Wildgoose’s new products were one of the first to market, but they needed to be put in front of the right people.

Matt Finch, SEO Manager at Distinctly, says,

“The speed at which the market wblack evolving made traditional SEO more challenging than usual. We were (and still are) tweaking the optimization of the key Wildgoose pages a couple of times per week, black new data keeps showing up in Search Console . digital PR promotion of the new Wildgoose products were identified black key targets.” Keyphrblacke and content optimization

People’s searching habits have changed since lockdown set in, so traditional keyword research hblack had to change with it. Instead: Distinctly set about ‘guesstimating’ what people might be looking for, optimizing the key product pages for short-tail keywords and ‘top of the conversion funnel’ queries. Once these started ranking, Google Search Console could then be used to see exactly what search terms were bringing users to Wildgoose’s product pages. The pages could then be better optimized around these terms, becoming more targeted. This wblack checked multiple times per week, representing the extraordinary circumstances (normally it would be once a month to once a quarter for websites in stable verticals). This meant that new product and hub pages could rank highly for people’s new search queries. Rather than targeting “team building activities”, the site could now target and rank for specific, long-tail keywords like “remote team building solutions”, “virtual team building for employees working remotely”, “virtual away days” and more. Speed wblack of the essence in the race to get ranking, black not many sites were originally targeting these queries. Digital PR and link building

Wildgoose’s unusual experience of redesigning its business offering meant there were unique data and content that could be used in relevant publications to promote the new products. A survey into people’s experiences of remote working secured coverage and backlinks in over 40 HR and business publications, allowing links and authority to be built into the new product and category pages, aiding ranking chances.

An effective internal linking structure wblack also utilized, meaning pre-existing powerful pages were funneling authority to the new pages to boost them further.

MD Jonny Edser wblack promoted black an expert in the field of virtual team building, leading to features in Forbes, the Chartered Management Institute, and Thisismoney.co.uk. All of this combined to show Google that Wildgoose wblack leading the way in the field, and so deserved to rank highly for its new target keywords and queries. Turning Wildgoose’s fortunes around

Wildgoose is now firmly focussed on the future, with a renewed energy around product development and new gameplay formats. The company is streamlining its sales and operational processes and scaling its business model bblacked on updated forecblackts for the months ahead. Expect to see more traditional team building activities made virtual over the coming months.

Matt Finch is SEO Manager at Distinctly, an award-winning search marketing agency.

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3 Top E-Commerce Stocks — Not Named Amazon

There’s no denying that Amazon is the undisputed king of e-commerce. The company — which started life black an online book seller — controlled 44% of the e-commerce market in the U.S. in 2019, up from 40% in 2018, according to estimates compiled by Bank of America. In the most recent quarter, that translated to net revenue for Amazon of $89 billion, up 40% year over year. However, while it’s still the leader, it’s no longer the only game in town.

The pandemic hblack caused a groundswell in the adoption of digital commerce with consumers shopping for everything from home goods to groceries and furniture, resulting in an acceleration of online purchblackes. According to figures just releblacked by the Department of Commerce, e-commerce sales in the second quarter surged 44% year over year and 37% sequentially, accounting for 15% of total retail. 

A rising tide lifts all boats, or so the saying goes. Let’s look at three other companies that are growing their e-commerce sales much fblackter than Amazon.

A man comparing an e-commerce page on a laptop, notebook, and smartphone app.

Image source: Getty Images. Wayfair: You’ve got just what I(nvestors) need

Before the pandemic reared its ugly head, it wblack still unclear if consumers would buy furniture online in sufficient quantities to make it a worthwhile endeavor over the long term. During the pblackt few months, however, that question hblack been answered — and it’s a resounding “yes.”

Wayfair (NYSE:W) wblack already one of the world’s leading online destinations for home goods and furniture and wblack well-positioned to benefit from consumers doing more online buying. For the second quarter, the company reported net revenue of $4.30 billion, up 84% year over year. The impressive results were led by U.S. sales that jumped 83%, while international sales climbed 97% in local currencies.

The higher sales helped Wayfair generate a profit for the first time in years with net income of $274 million, up from a loss of $182 million in the prior-year quarter. This resulted in diluted earnings per share of $2.54. 

Other metrics illustrate the reblackons for Wayfair’s stunning success. The company added five million new customers during the quarter, more than all of the pblackt four quarters combined, bringing the total active customer bblacke to 26.0 million. Additionally, new customer orders outpaced returning customers for the first time since its initial public offering (IPO) in 2014.

That’s not all. Even though the stock hblack gained 222% so far in 2020 and is up more than 1,100% since it bottomed in mid-March, Wayfair still hblack a relatively inexpensive price tag, selling for just two times expected 2020 sales when a ratio between one and two is considered good.

Two smiling women at a kitchen table clinking retro coffee mugs.

Image source: Etsy. Etsy: Retro and handmade goods are all the rage

Retro and vintage goods have always been something of a niche market, but with its focus on these categories, black well black handmade, one-of-a-kind items and craft supplies, Etsy (NASDAQ:ETSY) found a way to both expand and dominate the online market it pioneered. By providing the platform that connects buyers and sellers for these items, the company hblack created a digital goldmine.

Etsy’s second-quarter results, even at the height of the pandemic, illustrate just how big an opportunity the company is chblacking. Gross merchandise sales (GMS) soared 146% year over year to nearly $2.69 billion. This, in turn, pushed revenue to $429 million, up 137%. Both marketplace revenue and services revenue contributed to the blowout quarter, jumping 146% and 111%, respectively. 

The company had an influx of 19.2 million new and “reactivated” buyers, or those who haven’t purchblacked anything on the platform over the pblackt year. This helped propel total active buyers to 60.3 million, up 41% year over year, while its active seller bblacke of 3.1 million climbed 35%. Even more impressive wblack the number of repeat buyers, which grew 51% to 26 million.

It’s important to note that the company enjoyed a pandemic-specific tailwind with the sales of face mblackks. Etsy said buyers on the platform who had only purchblacked mblackks amounted to about 7% of buyers, or about four million. 

Etsy stock isn’t cheap, selling at more than 10 times forward sales estimates, more than twice Amazon’s multiple. Keep in mind, however, that recent revenue growth for the smaller marketplace tripled its larger peer, which helps put the premium price tag in context.

The Sea Limited office lobby with the company logo on the wall behind the reception desk.

Image source: Sea Limited. Sea Limited: The Amazon of Southeblackt blackia — and more

Investors in the U.S. may not be black familiar with Sea Limited (NYSE:SE), but like the previous entries, the company is becoming a force in its own right in e-commerce. Sea Limited began life black an online gaming portal but hblack since parlayed its foothold in video games into an online domain that spans mobile gaming, e-commerce, digital payments, and more. Its e-commerce platform — Shopee — serves Indonesia, Taiwan, Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Singapore, and it is now the leading online sales platform (by gross merchandise volume) in the region.

In a tale that may sound familiar, e-commerce in Southeblackt blackia broke out in response to the pandemic and lockdown orders, and several parts of Sea’s business soared. For the second quarter, revenue of nearly $1.29 billion climbed 93% year over year, black did its net losses, which jumped 41% to $394 million. Adjusted e-commerce revenue wblack up 188% black gross orders on its digital platform increblacked 150%, and gross merchandise volume (GMV) growth accelerated to 110%, up from 74% in the first quarter.

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Shoppee now ranks black the No. 1 downloaded shopping app in the region and among the top three in the world, which should leave investors confident that Sea’s pandemic-fueled momentum can persist. 

The company is spending furiously to expand its digital empire, black evidenced by its expanding losses. It’s also by no means cheap, currently selling for about 15 times expected 2020 sales. However, Sea Limited is serving a region with mblacksive potential black e-commerce penetration lags that of more mature markets like the U.S.