Work Examples & Audits

Using Google Analytics to Steal Candy from a Baby

A Ford dealer expressed concern that foot traffic on their lot was decreasing after an impressive summer. They were surprised by this sudden change in “ups” from what had otherwise been a solid, positive trend.


Digging into Google Analytics, Sessions had increased nicely until the beginning of September, where they drop by 33% and do not recover. Excluding an unnatural spike in direct traffic on September 14, a month-over-month comparison before and after September 1st showed the majority of this loss came from the Display channel, while metrics within the Organic channel did not significantly change. Direct traffic also took a hit, perhaps as a result of decreased brand awareness from display campaigns, as was explained to the client. The client informed us this drop aligned with when they “quit their previous agency.”

Today, not a week later, the dealership handed us they keys to their $14,000 monthly budget.

Automotive can be an odd bunch, over concerned with their radio advertisement while ignoring trends in consumer preference and digital marketing. Most likely, this dealership simply had grown nonchalant towards where their digital marketing budget was being allocated when severing relations with their previous agency. Thankfully, analytics provided the hard data for an informed decision by the dealership to get back in the game.

When Scale Goes Wrong

A description for this result is not available because of this site’s robots.txt.

A site audit illustrated that URLs generated dynamically when a user refined their product search were noindex, and that the canon was set to the parent page. However, these URLs were included within the 1,270 indexed pages a site specific search modifier identified within Google. Pourquoi?

An audit of the robots.txt file quickly revealed the problem: Googlebot was prevented from crawling this section by a Disallow entry. Googlebot couldn’t see that these pages shouldn’t be indexed. Most likely, the canonical element and noindex logic was implemented in between the client’s first site with the company, and a recent redesign (it was a proprietary CMS). Robots.txt was most likely then copy/pasted from the old site to the new, without consideration of SEO – an example of scale gone wrong.

Friends Don’t Let Friends Write .htaccess Files

The contents of a recently audited .htaccess file, from a client’s site on WordPress:

# Prevent Directory Browsing

Options All -Indexes

RewriteCond %{HTTP_HOST} !^www\.
RewriteRule (.*){REQUEST_URI} [R=302,L]

RewriteCond %{HTTP_USER_AGENT} libwww-perl.*
RewriteRule .* ? [F,L]

# compress text, html, javascript, css, xml:
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/plain
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/html
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE text/css
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/xhtml+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/rss+xml
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/javascript
AddOutputFilterByType DEFLATE application/x-javascript

< IfModule mod_expires.c>
ExpiresActive on

ExpiresByType image/jpg “access plus 1 month”
ExpiresByType image/jpeg “access plus 1 month”
ExpiresByType image/gif “access plus 1 month”
ExpiresByType image/png “access plus 1 month”
< /IfModule>

# BEGIN WordPress
< IfModule mod_rewrite.c>
RewriteEngine On
RewriteBase /
RewriteRule ^index\.php$ – [L]
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-f
RewriteCond %{REQUEST_FILENAME} !-d
RewriteRule . /index.php [L]
< /IfModule>

# END WordPress

General sloppiness aside, one RewriteRule certainly takes the cake:
RewriteRule (.*){REQUEST_URI} [R=302,L]


This client has been definitely ill advised to host with a local company, the client and the business owner of which happen to be friends. But friends shouldn’t let friends anywhere near their .htaccess file, as this example illustrates.

Friends Don’t Let Friends Give Them Website Advice

For the most part, at least.

This same client, acting on the recommendation of their hosting company, maintains a secondary domain and installation for their business. While much easier for clients to remember, no consideration was taken into the backlink profile of the primary domain, where the overwhelming majority of relevant citations point. A 301 redirect could salvage this situation, but the client remains steadfast in their commitment to maintain two installations – two installations which directly compete with one another for organic positioning.

Not speed test results nor data on organic sessions have changed the client’s mind (without Google My Business, the original domain receives 170% more organic sessions per month). Silly that they put so much trust into the advice of a friend selling them something, vs. an impartial agency.

Prosthodontics Is Niche

A prosthodontist in Maine is interested in moving away from teeth cleanings and whitenings, and focusing exclusively on the money procedures of dentures and dental implants. Furthermore, the DMD is especially interested in targeting patients in the Boston and northern Massachusetts geographies. These patients, as explained by the doctor, can save thousands travelling outside of Boston for procedures, for the same, if not better, results.

The practice’s website is aesthetically pleasing. The doctor created it on Squarespace, and his attention to detail in prosthodonistry shines through in the site design. But, it also includes a major road block toward his goals: there are no pages dedicated to dentures nor dental implants.

Moving forward, the doctor will be creating content specifically for these procedures, to live on a unique page. Content will include before and after images, explanation of the procedure in the doctor’s own words, videos, pricing information, and information on expectations and recovery periods, to name a few. These evergreen content pieces are above and beyond the local competition’s, and will likely rank highly for these desired keywords.

We will also be targeting patients north of Boston on Google Search Network. Instead of landing pages for these ads, we will be folding the information directly into the organic content (the benefits of travelling to Maine vs. Boston for the procedure), and directing Users there.

As a new domain, a thorough link building campaign is in order. This will be assisted nicely by the doctor’s historic and ongoing submission of articles to industry publications.

Mishaps in XML Sitemapping

An automotive dealership approached our company interested in digital marketing services, and requested an audit of their SEM operations and SEO.

Unsurprisingly, they weren’t able to locate credentials for Search Console (read: “We don’t know what Search Console is, and we don’t care”), so this data was unavailable during our audit. However, taking a quick peep at their XML Sitemap in the wild revealed a startling error in development: the omission of their state abbreviation at the end of the URLs. Without this affix, not only were the URLs incorrect, but they pointed to someone else’s live installation.


The potential client did not sign with our agency, but this little mishap, we noticed, was corrected tout de suite after submission of our audits.

Ultimately, it really was a shame we did not have access to Search Console. It would have been interesting to see data on indexing and crawl statistics before and after the fix.