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How a Film Lab Grew Site Traffic by 747% in 6 Months

https://reformedfilmlab.com/
SEO case study of Reformed Film Lab.

Stats

4.5K to 38.5K Monthly Visits

Industry

eCommerce

Niche

Photography

Reporting Date

February 2024

Reformed Film Lab is a mail-in film developing lab in Ormond Beach, Florida. In addition to its developing services, Reformed Film Lab also sells photography equipment, like cameras and film.

Despite launching in 2020, this analog-focused eCommerce recently experienced unprecedented traffic growth. Organic visits skyrocketed from 4.5K to 38.5K in just 6 months—and we’re here to tell you exactly how they did it.

Reformed Film Lab two year organic traffic with spike in February 2024.

Join us as we explore Reformed Film Lab’s journey to organic success and learn how they’re winning over film photography aficionados throughout the U.S.

The Catalyst: How Reformed Film Lab Grew From 4.5K to 38.5K Monthly Visits

1. Building Trust With Product Review Snippets

Trust is the foundation of every successful eCommerce. Without it, businesses struggle to win customers and establish credibility in their niche.

Reformed Film Lab understands the importance of trust and uses customer reviews to stand out from the competition.

On product pages, users can rate their purchase out of five stars and leave a review.

Here’s an example of a Fujifilm product with 51 total reviews and one of the customer’s comments.

Fujifilm 400 reviews on a Reformed Film Lab's product page.

Customer reviews are common practice for eCommerce businesses, but they have a caveat: Users must be on your website to see them.

Or do they?

Reformed Film Lab uses schema markup to display these ratings and reviews in search results.

Schema markup is specialized code that lives within the backend of your website. It communicates important details about your page with search engines.

Search engines can then use this information to generate a rich snippet on the search engine results page (SERP).

Rich snippets are enhanced search listings that display more information than standard search results. Take a look at the image below for an example.

Review snippet on the SERP for the query Fujifilm 400 shows 5 star rating.

Reformed Film Lab uses product review schema markup to win this type of enhanced listing.

Product schema allows you to share product details like price, availability, and customer ratings.

Why this matters:

Showcasing the quality of your products and/or services in search results is one of the best ways to generate more traffic for your website.

SEO statistics reveal that rich snippets get 58% of all clicks. That’s significantly higher than non-rich results, which have a 41% clickthrough rate (CTR).

In addition to making your page more visually appealing and trustworthy, schema markup can ultimately help search engines better understand your content, potentially boosting your rankings.

Reformed Film Lab saw the fruits of its schema markup efforts by quadrupling its review snippets in February over March.

RFL review snippets growth.

How to get product review snippets:

For WordPress users, this schema markup tutorial shows you how to implement it without a plugin. It requires basic coding knowledge and uses JSON-LD.

As for getting the code itself, you can use Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper or the JSON-LD Playground. You’ll want to be sure to select Product for each tool.

Tools for product review schema:

Using a product reviews plugin is the easiest way to generate schema markup and get rich snippets for your WordPress site.

All in One SEO (AIOESO) can help you implement product schema in just a few clicks. Simply navigate to the Schema Generator in the WordPress editor and then select Product from the catalog.

Product schema in the AIOSEO schema generator.

You can then enter your product details in a few user-friendly fields and add reviews.

Add reviews in the AIOSEO Schema Generator.

AIOSEO will format and implement the structured data on your site. It’s that easy.

Next, let’s see how Reformed Film Lab leverages its blog to connect with analog lovers and potential customers.

2. Helpful Content Answers User Queries

Reformed Film Lab has a blog where they share the latest videos from their popular YouTube channel.

From film to reviews to team introductions, each article embeds the YouTube video with a brief description.

And while we’ll highlight their use of social media, like YouTube and Instagram, in a later section, it’s the older blogs that have been ranking higher in February.

These articles follow a more traditional blog format (meaning mostly text) and cover photography-related tips, tutorials, and more.

Reformed Film Lab blog shows two black and white images.

In these articles, Reformed Film Lab discusses the topic in detail. They’re technical enough to demonstrate the author’s expertise and experience but also easy for amateur photographers to understand.

By optimizing its content and structure for clarity, Reformed Film Lab not only helps users in their photography endeavors but also wins people also ask results for their site.

These coveted search results appear in Google’s People Also Ask (PAA) box.

Here’s an example:

Google search results for night film photography shows 8 steps in the people also ask results.

Look at all that space Reformed Film Lab takes up in search results!

As for how they got these types of results, in the above example, the text was pulled directly from a blog’s subheadings. This approach aligns with our earlier mention of optimizing the content structure for clarity, which has played a crucial role in achieving PAA results.

Clear, concise body copy is also a great way to earn these rich snippets. Reformed Film Lab writes succinct product descriptions and landing page copy that is frequently used in PAA results, too.

Here, we see that growth first-hand. Reformed Film Lab increased its PAA results by 271% between August 2023 and February 2024.

People also ask rankings for RFL.

Why this matters:

PAA results are a great way to boost your website’s visibility and brand awareness.

Users also consider these results more trustworthy, considering how prominent they are on the SERP.

How to optimize for Google’s People Also Ask box:

High-quality content is at the heart of winning PAA results.

With that said, there are some techniques to boost your content and its chances of winning these valuable rich snippets.

Here are some of the best ways to optimize for Google’s PAA box:

  1. Perform keyword research.
  2. Create user-centric content that fulfills search intent.
  3. Implement FAQ schema when answering questions.
  4. Look at competitors already ranking in PAA.
  5. Use an SEO tool to streamline your optimizations.

Tools for PAA results:

AIOSEO has two main tools to help you win PAA results: (1) Schema Generator and (2) TruSEO. You already learned how to add schema markup in the previous how-to (just pick FAQ this time), so let’s focus on TruSEO.

TruSEO analyzes your content to help you maximize its reach. It uses a series of checks to generate action-oriented checklists.

For example, the Focus Keyphrase Checklist below looks for your primary keyword in critical areas. If you’re writing user-centric subheadings, like Reformed Film Lab, this tool will let you know when you forgot your keyword.

Focus Keyphrase Checklist shows how we forgot our keyword in subheadings.

Now, let’s look at how a recent acquisition of follows links grew Reformed Film Lab’s backlink profile.

In September 2023, Reformed Film Lab doubled its backlinks over the month prior. This increase kicked off growth over the next 6 months.

Backlinks growth for RFL.

Backlinks are hyperlinks from external websites to yours. They act like votes of confidence, vouching for your credibility and the value of your content.

In Reformed Film Lab’s case, most of its backlinks come from deals websites featuring the latest sales and promo codes. The vast majority are follow links.

Follow or dofollow links tell search engines to follow and crawl the linked page. These backlinks pass “SEO juice” and carry more value than nofollow links.

In general, you want to have more dofollow links than nofollow links.

But too much of a good thing can raise flags for search engines.

Reformed Film Lab has a 93% share of follow links in its backlink profile, which is getting flagged in Semrush for being too high.

Link attributes show follow links are too high at RFL.

Why this matters:

It’s important to keep your backlinking strategies as natural as possible.

Google’s link spam policy states, “Any links that are intended to manipulate rankings in Google Search results may be considered link spam. This includes any behavior that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site.”

And while we’re not suggesting that Reformed Film Lab engaged in such practices, it’s something to keep in mind when working on your own backlinking strategy.

By maintaining a natural backlink profile, you can avoid potential penalties or negative impacts on your SEO.

Backlinks are one piece of a well-rounded linking strategy.

This article shows you how to get backlinks, but you’ll also want to 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 each.

You can use Link Assistant to find internal linking opportunities quickly. With linking suggestions that populate in the WordPress editor, it’s as easy as clicking Add Link.

Link Assistant gives link suggestions in WordPress.

Now that we’ve seen three strategies within Reformed Film Lab’s control, let’s look at one component that’s out of their hands: Google algorithm updates.

4. Google’s HCU Unlocks Higher Rankings

If you followed the SEO landscape in 2023, you’ll know that September’s Helpful Content Update (HCU) created quite a stir.

This update aimed to improve search results with quality content and reduce the presence of unhelpful content on the SERP.

For some sites, this was the end of their visibility.

And for others, it was the boost they needed to propel their organic presence to new heights.

Reformed Film Lab was part of the latter. They benefited from the HCU and saw an increase in rankings. There were also subsequent algorithm updates in the fall that reinforced this positive trajectory.

Reformed Film Lab keyword rankings over one year.

Why this matters:

It’s essential to recognize that algorithm updates can be unpredictable and subject websites to fluctuations in search visibility.

As we analyze Reformed Film Lab at the beginning of March, their organic traffic appears to trend down. This could be due to the March 2024 core update, which is currently being rolled out.

Ultimately, monitoring your domain’s performance is critical to understand the effects of algorithm updates.

Let’s look at how to do so.

How to monitor SEO performance:

After an algorithm update, you can use different metrics to assess your site’s performance.

This article shares the 10 must-have key performance indicators (KPIs) to follow, and this tutorial shows you how to measure SEO performance in Google Analytics.

WordPress users, we recommend reading how to monitor the impact of a Google algorithm update in WordPress. This comprehensive tutorial uses the SEO plugin that we’ll be recommending next.

Tools for monitoring SEO performance:

AIOSEO’s Search Statistics tool makes tracking your site’s SEO performance easy.

Your dashboard shows a timeline view with impressions, clicks, and other helpful KPIs. You’ll also get Google algorithm markers that allow you to pinpoint when an update could have affected your site.

Search Statistics dashboard shows impressions, clicks, CTR, and position.

Each marker comes with a read more option to learn about the update.

Search Statistics shows a Google update in September 2023.

Standout SEO Wins

Before we wrap up, let’s revisit Reformed Film Lab’s use of social media to establish an online presence with personality.

1. They leverage social media to connect with their audience.

As we mentioned earlier, Reformed Film Lab embeds its YouTube videos into its blog posts. However, it’s their overall use of social media that really shines.

Reformed Film Lab has an active YouTube channel that hosts over 75 videos and boasts 1.37K subscribers.

Their Instagram account is even more impressive, with 14K followers.

On Instagram, they share behind-the-scenes videos of the lab, their latest film acquisitions, and a series of “pack your order” videos. They get comments on all their posts, suggesting strong user engagement.

Overall, Reformed Film Lab has a playful approach to social media that expertly puts a face to the brand. This strategy cultivates a vibrant online community that solidifies Reformed Film Lab’s position as a unique leader in its industry. It also goes to show how engaging with your audience beyond traditional SEO methods can lead to a more well-rounded online presence.

Tool: You can seamlessly share your latest content using AIOSEO’s social media integration. Add up to 11 social media accounts and share away!

AIOSEO has 11 social media integrations.

Takeaways

In our analysis of reformedfilmlab.com, we’ve discovered how building trust and a strong online presence was key to standing out from the competition.

Now, let’s see how you can replicate these SEO wins on your site and which strategies to reconsider.

Top 3 Strategies to Emulate

  1. Optimize your eCommerce site for product review snippets. Use product schema to enhance the trustworthiness of your products and/or services. Schema markup helps search engines understand your page and can increase the likelihood of winning rich results. This can lead to higher clickthrough rates and improved visibility for your products.
  2. Focus on high-quality content that fulfills search intent. One of the most crucial strategies for SEO success is to create high-quality content that aligns with users’ search intent. By understanding the needs and queries of your target audience, you can tailor your content to deliver value and drive traffic to your site.
  3. Grow your backlink profile naturally with follow links. When it comes to building a strong backlink profile, prioritize quality over quantity. Focus on acquiring follow links from reputable websites relevant to your industry or niche. Dofollow links hold more SEO value than nofollow links, as they pass link equity and help improve your website’s authority.

Bottom 3 Strategies to Reconsider

  1. Duplicating meta descriptions. Avoid using the same meta description on multiple pages, as this can create duplicate content issues. Every indexable page should have a unique meta description that’s relevant to its content and includes keywords. You can use an AI-powered meta title and description generator to speed up the process of writing metadata.
  2. Exceeding metadata character limits. Limit your metadata character count to improve your website’s SEO. Exceeding metadata character limits can lead to truncated results or incomplete information. This creates a less-than-ideal user experience, which can negatively impact your page’s CTR. We recommend running your page titles and meta descriptions through a SERP snippet tool to see how they’ll look in search results before publishing.
  3. Neglecting image title tags. Title tags provide useful information to search engine crawlers and users. They appear when users click or hover over an image, providing additional context. They’re easy to implement when you use an image SEO tool that allows you to automate your image titles.

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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.