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Real estate search engine optimizes PPC budget through 122% organic traffic growth in 10 months

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About 99.co:

99.co reinvents the way people discover great homes for sale and rent. It’s a design-centric search engine that merges geolocation and market data in Singapore and Indonesia. Their comprehensive library of listings includes different property types: HDBs, condos, houses, and commercial properties.

Business Challenge: overcome strong competition on the market and achieve rapid organic traffic growth

99.co is known today as the fastest growing property portal in Singapore but back in 2019, the company was overshadowed by its more successful competitors. The initial Semrush Keyword Gap analysis showed a keyword gap of 10,000 keywords between the portal and its main competitor but the difference in traffic was even more dramatic. 
 
99.co set out to eliminate this gap and become one of the leaders in the real estate industry.
 

Solution: Data-based keyword strategy and on-page SEO

Keyword Research

99.co adopted an experimental strategy: covering the organic gap between the portal and its main competitor with paid ads while working to bring the untapped keywords to the top through organic search and eventually, decreasing the PPC budget
 
“At 99.co, we use Semrush for both our Singapore and Indonesia (ID) markets, where it’s especially important for Keyword Research use by our ID Content Team,” says Henrik Chan, Growth Marketing Executive at 99.co. “Using the Keyword Magic Tool, we get a good overview of the search volume of broad match keywords for our specific search terms. This gives the content team a better idea to kick off new content pieces as well as review the existing articles and optimize them with the most searched phrases.” 
 
The 99.co team divides their keywords into three groups:

  • The top 10; 
  • Positions 11-20; 
  • Positions outside of the top 20. 

 
Next, they prioritize search volume within these three groups and start working with the last group (outside of the top 20), followed by the middle one (positions 11-20).
 
These lists are categorized by different types of properties, locations, and CPCs in the Keyword Magic Tool.  

Position Tracking

After the new keywords are placed on the website, the 99.co team starts tracking them, paying the most attention to their newly launched condo development sections
 
“As a property website, new launches are an important segment of the market that is extremely competitive. Position tracking is vital for understanding which landing pages need the necessary boost and improvements,” explains Henrik.

They do so by adding the newly launched keywords, for example, “Marina One Residences” or “Clavon Condo” to the Position Tracking tool, and monitoring their positions as well as their competitors. Before any changes to the content or design of the page, they will export the existing position results and check back in 2-4 weeks to see if the changes have affected the positioning. 


 

Working on the site architecture

“One of the issues we noticed was that our traffic numbers were alternating quite weirdly on a day to day basis and were curious to know why. We did a report in Semrush Site Audit and found that there were multiple links being ranked by Google for the same top search terms,” shares Henrik. 

For example, some of the Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) URLs would have the station name - Orchard - but would have a duplicate URL that would be Orchard-MRT. (eg: https://www.99.co/singapore/sale/mrts/orchard used to have a /mrts/orchard-mrt page that was identical in content and would cannibalize the traffic of the main URL as Google would rank both pages intermittently, switching between each of them).
 
The team fixed this by consolidating the key URLs in different folders, removing query parameters, and redirecting them to the URL they felt would be most ideal to rank. 
 

Further fine-tuning of the principal pages

The 99.co team uses the On Page SEO Checker to further improve the SEO basics, making sure that the title tags, H1s, and meta descriptions are fully optimized. In addition, the tool also provides useful suggestions for their on-page SEO, for example, by pointing out when some of the title tags are overly keyword-heavy when compared to the competitors.

Results

After implementing the above keyword and on-page SEO strategy for 9 months, 99.co achieved the following:

A 122% traffic growth between November 2019 and September 2020;
99.co started ranking #1 on SERP for highly contested organic search terms, such as competitive New Launch Condo Names like “Leedon Green” and general search terms like “Singapore property”.
The 99.co team achieved 5x cost optimization through substituting PPC with organic growth during the Covid-19 period.
The site architecture changes helped not only the company’s Google rankings but also helped internally: 99.co team can now easily identify the correct URLs to use when sharing links or for paid campaigns.
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