TEN and Motor Trend

Rebounding from a post-Panda decline in organic traffic

The Challenge

TEN, The Enthusiast Network, is the world’s premiere transmedia network of enthusiast brands including Motor Trend, Automobile, Surfer, and many others. TEN engaged iProspect to identify the cause of declining organic search traffic for their flagship Motor Trend brand. iProspect determined that there were two primary factors. First, Motor Trend’s cornerstone Buyer’s Guide content had been negatively impacted by Google’s Panda update. Second, TEN was seeing specific issues with load times for mobile pages, which was primarily caused by third-party advertisement server load - an element of the site that is critical to their business model.

The Results

  • 135%

    YoY increase in SEO visits

  • 5x

    YoY increase in SEO traffic to Buyer’s Guide

  • 124%

    increase in organic mobile traffic

In addition, the Motor Trend brand overtook key competitor Autoblog for in-market share of voice.

While this integrated pilot project required a substantial investment of time and resources, its success has resulted in TEN moving forward to secure additional editorial resources in support similar initiatives across their full portfolio of automotive sites. The TEN/iProspect team is also collaborating on scaling the “simple” AMP solution across additional TEN brand sites along with other mobile experience enhancements around branding, engagement features, and ad units.

The Strategy

The solution to TEN’s Motor Trend traffic challenge was a multi-disciplinary approach that included an ambitious content initiative, a comprehensive AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) implementation, and a host of more than a hundred technical and editorial/UX optimization sub-projects over the course of the larger effort.

The work began with a six-month overhaul of Motor Trend’s Buyer’s Guide content. This intensive redesign required the Motor Trend team to create unique content for hundreds of core site pages. To support and guide TEN’s subject matter expertise and editorial resources, iProspect provided the content framework including optimal word count, keyword trends, and development priority for makes and models based on search opportunities.

Complementing this enormous content effort, the team implemented AMP for all editorial content and also invested in redesigning the Buyer’s Guide templates into a mobile-first format. This time-intensive effort required the addition of specialized developer resources and AMP training for existing TEN team members. iProspect worked closely with the expanded team to clear several implementation hurdles including an early failed ad-test validation, developing an effective pre-check process for third-party content assets, and improving performance by identifying opportunities to increase engagement.

TEN: The Enthusiast Network has multiple SEO challenges. We need to effectively optimize our site’s performance in today’s mobile-first world, keep the search engine’s quality scores up for traffic reasons, and deliver the experience our customers want - all while maintaining our monetization and engagement levels. When a Google algorithm update caused declines in our organic traffic, iProspect audited our site, provided specific recommendations, and put a swat team on the case. Within three months we began to see SEO recovery.  Eleven months later, our SEO traffic is up more than 130% year over year.  iProspect's SME portfolio approach helped us to uncover every opportunity, size the effort and impact, and achieve all our intertwined and complex goals.
Scott Bailey President, Automotive

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