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The Company

Cruiseline.com is a Cruise reviews website that helps you find the right cruise line, destination, or ship, by providing you with unbiased opinions from fellow cruisers to help you make your decision. Cruiseline.com also provides a social platform for cruisers to ask and answer questions and get to know each other before upcoming cruises.

The Challenge

Correct Technical Issues on Over 100k Pages

We have 2 primary challenges – first, we are a new site, making ourselves known to cruise travelers as a new way to research their cruise and second, our site has over 100K pages and at this size, technical issues were preventing us from ranking on search for our target keywords.

Our Approach

Utilizing our industry-leading systematic approach, our keen team of SEO analysts combed through all technical aspects of Cruiseline.com seeking any areas where adjustments would potentially improve the functionality of their site and ultimately improve ranking for their site’s target keywords. Some of the issues we discovered included:

  • Robots.txt was blocking CSS and JavaScript files
  • Robots.txt was not blocking login, sign-up, and internal search results pages
  • The sitemap was incomplete, contained redirects, and no canonical links
  • Duplicate content issues
  • No canonical tags on pages
  • Pages used multiple URL parameters without proper canonicalization
  • Paginated pages were missing pagination tags
  • Significant number of internal 404 (not found) errors
  • No image alt tags on site images
  • Insufficient amount of body copy on category pages

Additionally, we conducted a competitor benchmarking and link analysis, provided them with a comprehensive keyword strategy guide, and compiled content ideas. We then outlined a list of prioritized issues for them to address in order of their impact on site performance and effort to implement.

The Solution

The solution for Cruiseline.com was to implement our technical recommendations in prioritized order. Our recommendations included the following:

  • Create updated sitemaps with canonical links and create an image sitemap
  • Remove source of internal links to non-existent URLs
  • Rectify faceted navigation that was causing duplicate content by implementing “nofollow” tags
  • Devise unique, compelling page titles and descriptions that contain useful keywords
  • Implement canonical links on all pages that canonicalize to the simplest version of the URLs
  • Preferably, standardize URLs and configure URL parameters crawl activity
  • Utilize absolute links in navigation
  • Implement pagination tags “rel = next” and “rel = prev” to paginated pages
  • Create compelling introductory text on category pages
  • Investigate and use new keyword ideas to drive more non-branded traffic
  • Adjust robots.txt to allow CSS and JavaScript to be crawled by search bots
  • Add “noindex,nofollow” meta tags to login, signup, and search result pages,  then edit robots.txt to block those pages after Google drops the pages from the index.
  • Ensure all images contain keyword-descriptive “alt” tags

In addition to our technical recommendations, we also assisted them with implementing a magazine. Given the newness and nature of Cruiseline.com, the magazine would provide useful information for cruise travelers and populate the site with valuable user-generated content.

During the implementation process, we were readily on hand to answer any questions and we worked with them to ensure every recommendation was implemented sufficiently.

The Results

The combination of rectifying the site’s technical issues and implementing their Bon Voyage magazine quickly drew traffic and attention. We are very proud to say that after working with Cruiseline.com they have seen significant growth in traffic through SEO. As Faraz Qureshi, General Manager for Cruiseline.com, states:

Hamlet’s 4-week audit produced a list of about 25 action items. He sorted them by potential impact and effort and we could focus on the quick wins. Once we implemented the majority of his recommendations, we saw a 50% increase in our organic traffic. In a few months, we doubled our traffic (from the initial audit). I think Hamlet identified some critical technical issues that were hindering Google’s search engine to crawl our site appropriately.

We are also happy to report that Cruiseline.com remains extremely pleased with their decision to secure our services and assist them with their SEO efforts. As they attest:

I would recommend Hamlet to any site looking to improve their SEO results – specifically large, complex sites that are looking to reach a niche audience. I also appreciate Hamlet’s continued generosity of his time when we have questions.