I always find it interesting when a major website rebrands. Especially a website as large as Odesk. For those of you who don’t know, Odesk is one of the largest websites for outsourcing and has recently became Upwork. In this post, I cover a couple things I noticed from a SEO perceptive. Keep in mind, I am writing this post while I am analyzing the site and I am only spending about 30 minutes total on this…
First, Odesk had a traffic value of 100,000 searches a month in SEM Rush before making the switch in April. SEM Rush is now giving the Upwork site a traffic value of $134,000 (but this appears to be dropping).
This chart shows the Odesk.com drop.
In April, the Odesk website ranked for some major non-branded terms as you can see below. But outside of that, the search traffic just for Odesk, their brand name, was 90,000 searches a month.
We can see they had intentionally tried to rank for these non-branded terms and these URLs are now being redirected to the new site correctly.
The new Upwork website now ranks #1 for Odesk and they have been able to successfully maintain many of their non-branded rankings as well. Here we see they actually had a large bump in keywords initially when making the switch, but have since lost some ground.
In June, they lost 7,400 keywords and only gained 3,100, which is a pretty major loss (take all the SEM Rush data with a grain of salt, it is never perfect).
While they did a pretty good job with the redirects on the main domain and support domain, they did skip redirecting the try.odesk subdomain. Example: http://try.odesk.com/scale-your-startup-australia/
This one is still live and ranking for a few keywords. I am sure they will clean it up after reading this post 🙂
Location Based Optimization and General Site Flow
They did a good job transferring over their general location optimization and category optimization.
- Freelancers by Category
- Freelancers by Skill
- Freelancers in USA
- Freelancers in UK
- Freelancers in Canada
- Freelancers in Australia
However, I was surprised to see how thin the content was on these top level pages. I would recommend a new template here that has more valuable content (take a look at Zillow or Trulia). In addition, there were no hreflang tags in the code, meaning they are not being 100% clear with Google about the relationship between the pages.
Crawl of the Site
I took a moment to do a quick crawl of the website. It is clear they are having issues with server errors, as a couple thousand were returned immediately. I was also surprised to see what I thought was a ton of duplicate content, however, when taking a closer look I realized that they pretty much no-indexed everything on their profiles directory. After taking a closer look, this was actually a good idea. As we can see, they are thin pages. If they had a better template here and more data, it would be a different story.
One thing I found interesting is that they have their mobile site on a directory.
This is generally not a common practice, however, it is OK to do. What was interesting to see is that they actually made a pretty big error. They did a rel canonical on all the pages to the home page of the website. When it comes to mobile, you are supposed to only rel canonical your site to the corresponding URL and not many URLs to one URL.
Here is the quote from Google, “When using rel=”alternate” and rel=”canonical” markup, maintain a 1-to-1 ratio between the mobile page and the corresponding desktop page. In particular, avoid annotating many desktop pages referring to a single mobile page (or vice versa).”
They also do not have device specific redirects in place. This is an issue, because if someone lands on the mobile site from a desktop (which could easily happen due to the configuration) they will see this. Which is really meant for mobile…
What to do Now?
Google appears to still have a large amount of the Odesk website in the index.
This is a little surprising because most of the redirects are working properly, but these things just take time. Also, you can see that Upwork is starting to show in the drop-down next to the company title.
It is a little hard to judge these things from the outside. I know this first hand after working with a lot of big websites, but if I were them, this is what I would do first.
- Fix the server errors
- Fix the mobile configuration
- Redirect the try subdomain
- Add in the correct hreflang tags
- Fix their top level location templates
- Note: I am not focused on new opportunities in this list
Overall, looks like they have done a decent job in the first phase of the transition. But there is more work to be done. I mean, you can still go to the try URLs http://try.odesk.com/scale-your-startup-australia/ and they have a lot of URLs ranking that shouldn’t be: https://www.upwork.com/tests/988
These large projects are the best. Good luck to the @upwork team.