- As travel tanked during the pandemic, Thrifty Traveler needed to adapt and strategize
- A small team of 6 members meant little time for SEO
- A comprehensive SEO audit that uncovered major problems
- A massive restructuring of over 7,000 URLs
- Ongoing content strategy
- 1300% increase in organic traffic volume
- 700% increase in top-ten ranking keywords
- Ranking for top-tier, high demand keywords in their niche
- Company nearly doubled in size
In the throes of the pandemic, Thrifty Traveler was unsure where their business would be in a year - or if it would be around at all. Executive Editor Kyle Potter remembers how stressful this time was.
"As a travel company, it goes without saying that the first year of the pandemic was absolutely brutal for our business," Kyle says.
They were a small team of only 6 employees, trying to make the world of travel more accessible to those on a shoestring budget.
But as travel took a nosedive, so did their future prospects.
Continuing to invest in PPC made little sense when no one was traveling. Instead, they decided to turn their attention to SEO. Hopefully they could ride out the pandemic and be in a stronger position than before once travel picked up again.
"All of our 6 employees were working around the clock on their daily tasks, none of which involve SEO," he explains. "Having a constant presence keeping an eye on the world of SEO - and our website - wasn't something we had the time or resources to do ourselves "
But having a company sweep in and simply solve all of their problems wasn't in their long-term best interest, either.
As a large website with a massive, ever-growing content catalogue, Thrifty Traveler needed a partner they could also learn from. Being able to conduct smaller-scale SEO fixes on the fly was vital for efficiency.
"We didn't just want to hand over the reigns to our website and say 'fix all of our problems," he says. "What we wanted was a partner we could work with; not just to help us make changes, but also to teach us."
Then, there was the risk of the investment to consider.
Thrifty Traveler had never contracted another company before at this scale. Let alone at a time when they weren't sure what travel - or their company - would look like months, or even weeks, down the road.
"It was a dark time in travel. We, as a company, were hesitant about spending any money."
In the end, they made a bet; by putting the time, energy, and resources into SEO, it would pay off when people were ready to travel again.
"And that bet has paid off many, many times over."
It only made sense that Thrifty Traveler would turn to Google Search to find an agency that lived and breathed SEO.
They stayed away from the PPC ads and focused on the companies who were able to get top organic rankings for their own websites. If they could do it for themselves, that had to be a good sign.
As a front-page contender, Propellic stood out.
"Kudos to them." he says, "because as a relatively small company, they had managed to work their way into the top results of what we were searching for."
Their first engagement with Propellic was an SEO audit. From there, they learned what wasn't working on their site and what needed to be done to get it into a high-performing place.
Kyle and the entire Thrifty Traveler team were drawn to Propellic's thorough and transparent approach. He sat on many calls with Propellic's founder, Brennen Bliss, to go over valuable changes they should pursue - whether they ended up working together on an ongoing contract or not.
"Brennen very quickly got his arms around the problem and right away identified some potential changes - things we would never have dreamed of doing ourselves let alone thought it was something we needed to do."
The biggest idea that Brennen proposed was a massive restructuring of Thrifty Traveler's website, which at the time was home to over 7.000 URLs.
Due to a monstrous amount of redirects, Google wasn't indexing and ranking their existing content properly. Their impressive catalogue was going to waste since people couldn't find them in search.
But a site restructuring of this size came with risks.
"That was terrifying." Kyle laughs. "But Brennen was very upfront with us. He told us that the payoff could be huge, but there is also a chance that it could go poorly."
Armed with realistic expectations, they decided to pull the trigger and begin working with Propellic on this and other recommendations that surfaced from their initial audit.
Over the next two years, Kyle and the rest of the Thrifty Traveler team would see changes to the website (and company) that they never imagined.
"We're ranking for some top, high-demand keywords that we never could have dreamed of prior to working with Propellic.”
Since working with Propellic, the amount of organic traffic to their website has increased by 14x (that's a 1300% increase). On top of that, their top-ten ranking keywords increased from 5,000 to over 40,000.
""I hesitate to say these things because they can come across as too good to be true," he says. "But it really has been a game changer for our company.”
The growth in their web traffic also helped to fuel the growth in their company. Between the first and second year of working with Propellic, Thrifty Traveler hired 5 new employees - nearly doubling their size.
Of course, Propellic can't take all of the credit.
"Travel demand coming back is driving some of those results," he says. "But our work with Propellic before that happened helped ensure we were in a place where we could take advantage of that and build much stronger than we ever were prior to the pandemic.”
Kyle's team is also able to learn valuable SEO know-how through Propellic's one-to-one meetings and transparent reports.
Working directly with the SEOs on their account makes it possible to ask questions and gain skills that come into play daily.
"Learning these things on the fly and being able to implement them on a smaller scale for the things we're doing day in and day out has been absolutely invaluable," he says. "Beyond some of the really, really big changes we made early on with Propellic's help, that has been the biggest thing.
The role that Propellic played in Thrifty Traveler's growth was not only critical, but shocking, Kyle concludes.
"I don't think we ever fathomed that this is where we'd be at right now after working with Propellic.”
And now that people are putting travel back on their itinerary, Thrifty Traveler is there to help them do it smarter, better, and cheaper than ever before.