Where We Started
In 2018, the NASA JPL team brought Wheelhouse in to develop an SEO strategy for several NASA websites, including NASA Solar System, NASA Exoplanets and NASA Science. JPL had two goals for us in this engagement: 1) future-proofing their large body of content for search and 2) training web producers and writers in the current state of search. This initial strategy development led to an ongoing Content Optimization Program in 2019, with a focus on increasing search impressions and traffic by winning featured snippets.
Wheelhouse started off with a clear goal: targeting the wealth of striking-distance featured snippets with tactical optimizations. To do this without severely disrupting the stylistic (and scientific) integrity of existing content, we wrote new content in “quick answer” boxes that were added to existing articles and pages. This streamlined our approval process with NASA and gave us more flexibility to optimize against the SERP in subtle ways (without demolishing and rebuilding an entire article!).
What Our Work Made Possible
As a result of our tactical optimizations and our writing for SEO training, JPL’s NASA sites have seen an explosion of featured snippets. The Solar System site’s owned snippets jumped 138% — roughly 600 snippets before/after our optimization period. This was a large contributor to the site’s overall 38% increase in organic traffic during this time period. At the tactical optimization level we saw big wins as well: one page on the Oort Cloud, where we deployed an optimized quick answer box, saw a 97% increase in organic traffic — the majority of which was driven through the acquisition of new snippets. Another article detailing which astronauts have landed and walked on the moon saw a 352% increase in organic clicks after our optimizations. This work has increased the visibility of JPL’s NASA content and given the JPL team a strong foundation for future success in search.