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How a Sporting Goods Manufacturer Grew Traffic by 545% in 6 Months
SEO case study of Escalade Sports.


11K to 70.9K Monthly Visits


Ecommerce & Retail


Sporting Goods

Reporting Date

February 2024

Escalade Sports is a sporting goods manufacturer and distributor. It was founded in 1927 and is headquartered in Evansville, Indiana.

Escalade Sports is considered an industry leader across several categories, including basketball, archery, pickleball, and more.

Recently, their website has garnered attention due to an unprecedented traffic spike of 70.9K organic visits.

Escalade Sports historical organic traffic.

In this eCommerce SEO case study, we’ll explore what strategies they used to unlock this new level of growth. Plus, you’ll get tips and tools for replicating their wins on your website.

The Catalyst: How Escalade Sports Grew From 11K to 70.9K Monthly Visits

1. A Case of Core Updates: Higher Rankings Following Algorithm Updates

When we started our analysis of, it was challenging to pinpoint significant changes on the website.

The Wayback Machine revealed that the UX design was relatively unchanged for all of 2023 besides regular banner updates, the hosting platform still appears to be Shopify, and the total page count increased by about 100, but after looking at these new additions, most were product pages, which is to be expected from an eCommerce with product turnover.

In summary: the site and its content were pretty much the same.

But its rankings weren’t.

If you look at the chart below, you can see how February’s rankings were significantly higher than 6 months prior.

Escalade Sports keyword rankings over one year.

And that’s not just in quantity but also in ranking position.

Here’s a side-by-side comparison:

August 2023 vs February 2024 keyword ranking positions.

Typically, this type of growth wouldn’t be unheard of if Escalade Sports had invested in its content strategy. After all, the more content you publish, the higher your chances of ranking.

But as we mentioned earlier, that wasn’t the case. The page count was only slightly higher.

So, with all things considered, it’s likely that this recent influx of higher rankings is due to activity from Google algorithm updates.

Algorithm updates were particularly volatile in 2023, and August through November had plenty of them.

List of 2023 Google algorithm updates.

Luckily for Escalade Sports, they appear to have come out the other side—and with a boost in rankings.

Why this matters:

All websites are susceptible to a change in rankings following an algorithm update. That’s why keeping an eye on your SEO performance and keyword rankings is critical. By understanding how your site performs in organic search, you’ll be able to identify any fluctuations from algorithm updates.

How to monitor performance after algorithm updates in WordPress:

The easiest way to monitor the impact of Google algorithm updates is by using an SEO plugin. The linked tutorial shows exactly how to stay on top of your rankings, but here’s a brief overview of the process:

  1. Install All in One SEO (AIOSEO).
  2. Open Search Statistics.
  3. Navigate to the SEO Statistics tab.
  4. Compare changes in performance around algorithm updates.

Tools for monitoring SEO performance:

Search Statistics makes it easy to stay informed about your site’s organic performance.

You’ll get a timeline view that shows key metrics, like impressions and clicks. You’ll also see Google algorithm markers that allow you to pinpoint when an update could have affected your site.

Search statistics dashboard. with timeline view of impressions and clicks.

Each marker also has a read more option to learn about the update, allowing you to pivot if necessary.

Search statistics shows a Google update in September 2023.

While algorithm updates are out of any website’s control, Escalade Sports does follow some SEO best practices that have recently contributed to its explosive growth.

Let’s look at those strategies next.

Between August and February, Escalade Sports increased its sitelinks by almost tenfold.

In February, they had 405 rankings with sitelinks and 68.9% of them were in the top 3 positions of search results.

Growth in rankings with sitelinks for Escalade Sports.

Sitelinks are blue, clickable hyperlinks that appear under your search result on the SERP. They take users to other pages on your website other than the “main” URL of the search result.

For example, if users click the “Avenger Air Hockey Table” sitelink in the screenshot below, they’ll go to the Avenger product page.

Whereas, if they click the larger “Air Hockey Tables” link above the images, they’ll go to the full collection page of all air hockey tables.

Sitelink snippet on Google shows air hockey table links.

Overall, sitelinks are one type of rich snippet, which are enhanced search listings.

Why this matters:

Sitelinks are a great way to introduce users to other related areas of your website. It boosts content discovery and can help users reach pages they may want to visit faster.

Sitelinks also boost your visibility in search results. By taking up more space on the SERP, you can improve your clickthrough rate (CTR) and drive more organic traffic to your site.

You can’t force Google to display this type of search result. Google generates sitelinks on a per-search basis and “when we think they’ll be useful to the user.”

But fear not, there are best practices for getting them, and even Google shares some tips:

  • Write page titles and headings that are informative, relevant, and concise.
  • Use a logical site structure that’s simple for users to navigate.
  • Link to important pages from other related content. You’ll also want to use concise and natural anchor text that describes where you’re linking to.
  • Avoid duplicate content.

In addition to Google’s recommendations, we also noticed that Escalade Sports uses breadcrumbs on its website.

Breadcrumbs show users where they are within the site hierarchy. They also help search engines understand your site structure, making them a strong element to include when trying to get sitelinks.

Product page shows breadcrumb trail on Escalade Sports' website.

Tools for breadcrumbs:

You can use a breadcrumb plugin to add breadcrumbs to your WordPress site.

AIOSEO enables breadcrumbs by default and automatically adds breadcrumb schema markup. You’ll also get full control of how they’re displayed.

(Should you ever wish to disable breadcrumbs, it’s as simple as switching the toggle off.)

Breadcrumbs in AIOSEO settings in WordPress.

Next, we’re going to explore schema markup in greater detail and see how Escalade Sports uses it to win other types of rich snippets, too.

3. Schema Markup for Click-Worthy Rich Snippets

Schema markup is specialized code within a web page’s HTML. It communicates important details about your page to search engines, making it easier for them to understand your content.

There are several different types of schema markup, and each can help you win a specific kind of rich result.

For example, we’ve already seen how breadcrumb schema helped Escalade Sports win sitelinks.

This schema type can also potentially generate a breadcrumb rich snippet, as shown below. (Unlike sitelinks, breadcrumbs are not clickable.)

Rich result with breadcrumbs shows site hierarchy.

There’s also product schema, which can help you win attractive product review snippets.

Product schema allows you to share product details like the price, availability, and shipping information. You can also add elements like customer ratings and reviews.

This information can help search engines generate a product review snippet, which looks like this:

Product review snippet shows 4.3 star rating for a badminton set.

Considering how Escalade Sports is an eCommerce, we weren’t surprised to see product schema on their site. Every product page we checked (and we checked a lot) had product schema markup in the backend.

These optimizations were fruitful and sparked growth in rankings with review snippets, as shown below.

Escalade Sports ranked for 6K keywords with review snippets in February.

Growth in review snippets for Escalade Sports.

Escalade Sports also used ImageObject schema to increase its rich results with images, which reached 9.3K rankings in February.

Escalade Sports' rankings with images.

Why this matters:

According to 2024 SEO statistics, rich results get 58% of all clicks.

This is significantly higher than non-rich results, which have a 41% CTR.

Because of this, optimizing for rich snippets should be a core component of every website’s growth strategy.

How to use rich snippet schema:

This tutorial demonstrates three methods for adding schema markup to WordPress without a plugin.

Each method uses JSON-LD and will require you to obtain and copy code snippets into the backend of your website.

Tools for rich snippet schema:

A schema generator plugin is the easiest way to add schema markup without touching code. Simply pick the schema type you want from the Schema Catalog, and AIOSEO will format the structured data properly for search engines.

Here are the available schema types in AIOSEO:

List of available schema types in the AIOSEO schema generator.

Finally, let’s see how backlinks contributed to Escalade Sports’ recent growth.

Backlinks are links from other websites to yours. They vouch for your credibility and point users to your content. (They also direct search engines to your site when they’re a follow link.)

Starting in August, Escalade Sports began to acquire thousands of backlinks.

In February, they reached 33.7K backlinks.

Backlinks growth for Escalade Sports over the last year.

Why this matters:

Backlinks are among the top 3 ranking factors in 2024. And in general, the more backlinks a page has, the more organic traffic it gets from Google.

Backlinks act like votes of confidence for your site. The more you have, the better.

This article shows you how to get backlinks, but it’s important to note that backlinks are just one component of an effective linking strategy.

You should also optimize for the following:

  • Internal links (from one page on your site to another page on your site)
  • Outbound links (from your site to another external site)

This link-building guide has all the steps you need to optimize for all three types of links.

Link Assistant helps you find internal linking opportunities without having to manually scour your site for them. With linking suggestions that populate directly in the WordPress editor, it’s as simple as clicking Add Link.

Internal linking suggestions from Link Assistant.

Standout SEO Wins

Before we wrap up, we noticed an additional SEO technique at Escalade Sports that we’d like to highlight.

1. They use a robots.txt file to prevent crawling of pages with sensitive information.

Robots.txt is a text file that tells search engines which pages they can and cannot crawl. Escalade Sports uses this file to prevent crawling of pages with sensitive data (for example, customer accounts and checkout).

To prevent bots from accessing these areas of your site, you can set a disallow directive in your robots.txt file.

Tool: While it sounds technical, generating and editing a robots.txt file is easy with AIOSEO. The Robots.txt Editor allows you to add rules, like a disallow directive, in just a few clicks.

Robots.txt editor settings in AIOSEO.


Now that we’ve uncovered what strategies sparked Escalade Sports’ organic growth, let’s see how you can use these strategies to grow your website’s traffic.

We’ll also share some areas that could be improved.

Top 3 Strategies to Emulate

  1. Monitor SEO performance to assess the impact of algorithm updates. Understanding how your content performs in organic search will allow you to spot the effects of algorithm updates. You should monitor key metrics like keyword rankings and impressions to identify fluctuations and adjust your strategies accordingly.
  2. Optimize your content for rich snippets. High-quality content is the backbone to winning rich snippets, but you should also follow SEO best practices. This includes the implementation of schema markup, optimized subheadings, and a logical site structure. These elements work together to communicate with search engines and boost your website’s visibility in search results.
  3. Invest in a link-building strategy to grow your online presence. Develop a linking strategy that caters to internal links, outbound links, and backlinks. Each link type plays an important role in your site’s authority in the eyes of search engines. Backlinks are particularly important as they vouch for your site’s credibility and establish your site as a trusted source.

Bottom 3 Strategies to Reconsider

  1. Several pages don’t have H1s. Each webpage should contain a clear and relevant H1 heading to provide structure and context to the content. H1s help users and search engines understand the main topic of the page. They also reassure users that they’re in the right place, which can lead to an improved bounce rate. TruSEO Analysis is a WordPress tool that checks your H1s and lets you know if it’s missing your keyword.
  2. Some meta descriptions exceed character limits. When metadata exceeds the space on the SERP, it gets truncated. This can diminish their effectiveness, risking reduced clicks and organic traffic. To avoid this issue, you can use a SERP preview tool to check metadata before publishing.
  3. Neglecting to use image title tags. Title tags are an important component of image SEO. They aid in accessibility and provide users and search engines with additional context for an image. This can ultimately help your images rank in traditional search results and Google Images. You can use the AIOSEO Image SEO feature to automate the creation of image title tags in WordPress.

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Here are some of our favorites:

  • Search Statistics: Keep an eye on your website’s organic performance with comprehensive and easy-to-understand reports. Search statistics include content decay tracking, so you know when a page starts to slip, allowing you to fix it.
  • Breadcrumbs: Create a breadcrumb trail that shows users where they are on your site in relation to the homepage. You can customize the look and show them exactly where you want on your site.
  • Rich Snippets Schema: AIOSEO offers various schema markup options to help you claim rich results on the SERP. It’s as simple as choosing the schema you want; then, we’ll format the structured data for Google.
  • Link Assistant: Get link suggestions, edit anchor text, and add internal links to your content in just 1 click. Link Assistant helps you effortlessly build a better linking strategy.
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  • Image SEO: Turn on automatic image alt text and title attributes with a single click. You’ll save time from manual entries while helping users and search engines understand your images.
author avatar
Gabriela Jhean SEO Specialist
Gabriela is a creative and results-driven SEO specialist dedicated to helping small businesses stand out online. She contributes in-depth SEO case studies at AIOSEO Trends to reveal the winning strategies of top-ranking websites. In her downtime, Gabriela enjoys treasure hunting for antique jewelry.