YMCA Hamilton Burlington Brantford Case Study

YMCA HBB Case Study

How Reach Digital Drove YOY Growth in Organic Traffic & Improved Mobile Results

The Challenge

The YMCA of Hamilton, Burlington and Brantford approached Reach Digital in December of 2016 looking for a strategic approach to improving their online impact across digital channels and drive new membership leads from both desktop & mobile devices.

The YMCA offers a diverse portfolio of services, programs, memberships, and information to their customer base. With health & fitness, child care, summer camps, education, employment services, youth engagement, and global & community initiatives, each programs boasts a unique audience and unique online marketing goals.

As mobile traffic had increased significantly for the YMCA at this time, Reach analyzed device-specific aspects of the customer journey, including mobile-friendliness of program pages, ease of navigation, and ability for users to convert on desired actions.

SEO Audit & Customer Journey Analysis

The initial project involved a thorough website audit, with a specific focus on key stages of the customer journey:


  • Awareness: How is customer research leading prospective users to services and programs offered by YMCA?


  • Engagement: What information is available to customers interested in learning more about the YMCA’s product and service offerings on the website?


  • Evaluation: How is the website supporting a prospective customer’s ability to achieve a desired goal? Are choices clearly identified for customers to support their decision criteria?


  • Purchase/Conversion: Is the website providing a clear opportunity for the user to complete their desired goal? For example, can users book an appointment, call for support, sign up for a membership, and/or are these experiences frictionless to enable seamless conversion?


  • Retention/Loyalty/Advocacy: Is the website providing adequate service for active users/members? Is support available for active members online? What supplementary resources are available to customers, and how does that user experience look across programs and user situation (language, device, etc.)?


To best understand how the online experience played into the user journey for each core service offering, Reach Digital conducted a deep dive on the YMCA HBB’s:


  • Website traffic and demographic trends, by program/service & device


  • Channel insights across organic search, PPC, email, referral, direct, and social traffic


  • On-page engagement metrics, by program/service & device


  • Goals of each program/service and how they were being represented online


This approach ensured that both overall brand and specific program/verticals were reviewed to provide the clearest insights for online growth opportunities.

The customer journey and website audits identified:


  • Declining organic traffic rates


      • Lack of content available on website for search engines / users to crawl / read, respectively
      • Website structure not optimized for search (inconsistent keyword application across on-page elements)


  • Challenges with user experience


    • User navigation contained friction, circular navigation
    • Desktop & mobile sites slow to load
    • Unclear conversion actions for customers

Keyword Research, On-Page & Technical SEO Refresh and Goal Creation

Following these findings, Reach Digital:


  • Performed keyword research for all verticals in order to understand the proper search terms to target for the highest impact on organic traffic


  • Defined a content strategy to build information into the website, supporting user research and engagement


  • Removed barriers to conversion, including streamlining site navigation and removing redundant pages


  • Defined conversion opportunities of each program individually, programming micro & macro goals to track across the customer lifecycle


  • Implemented mobile-first improvements to increase site speed, simplify user experience, and optimize page content for the growing segment of mobile users


Creating clarity around the customer journey and corresponding keyword research provided a strong platform for a sitewide SEO refresh for all pages under each program/service vertical, focused on:


  • Title tags


  • META descriptions


  • Image ALT text


  • Copywriting


  • Internal linking


  • Content creation


  • Technical SEO (i.e., broken links)


As this process concluded, goal recommendations were implemented with tracking established for all verticals.

Unique views were created for each program/service in Google Analytics, ensuring that each had the proper measurement in place to define online performance and measure performance across key stages of the customer path to purchase.


End Result: Increase in Organic Traffic & SERP Position

YMCA HBB case study results showing 8% increase in overall organic search traffic YOY

YMCA HBB case study results showing 24% increase in mobile organic search traffic YOY

YMCA HBB case study results showing 10% increase in averages search position MOM

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