Bitcade have become one of our best success stories of 2020. With very little search presence and a website in need of a revamp, in 12 months Superb Digital have delivered a 296% increase in leads and a 370% upturn in revenue for the Bristol-based retro arcade machine manufacturer, through a combination of PPC, SEO and a slick website redesign.
Founded by qualified electrical engineer, Jack England, in 2017, Bitcade is the UK’s largest producer of custom-built arcade machines.
The company’s remit has always been a simple one – to build the best custom arcade machines in the business. Beginning with just one product (a two-player arcade game cabinet), the company quickly grew to begin building more and more machines, from larger four-player cabinets to coffee table arcade machines, pinball tables, DIY kits and handheld emulators.
Their current line of machines come beautifully decorated in a colourful and bombastic range of retro designs and feature high definition screens and built-in emulators with a staggering 1300 game pre-loaded, including classics like Street Fighter 2, Pac Man, Space Invaders and Puzzle Bobble.
Based in our very own Bristol, Bitcade do everything in their 5,000 square feet factory with a growing team and a consistently high demand for their products. Despite their expansion, the company has remained small enough to offer these beautifully crafted hand-built machines to their enthusiastic market with exceptional customer service.
Jack approached us in late 2019 after he noticed that many of his competitors were far easier to find online than Bitcade. Whilst the company had seen consistent and manageable growth for the last 2 years, it was becoming apparent that the company’s weak search presence was holding them back and an untapped source of new business.
The company had previously been doing some digital marketing and was running its own Facebook advertising campaign inhouse. Knowing how much work was involved in redesigning the website and building an SEO campaign from the ground up, one of the biggest challenges for us from the outset would be earning the trust of Jack in order to secure the ongoing investment needed to help Bitcade reach its true potential.
After speaking to our Managing Director, Paul Morris, it became clear that Jack knew the potential was there for real growth and was keen to start working with a professional agency in order to deliver it through both organic SEO and PPC.
We were therefore delighted when Jack came back to us to sign Bitcade up for our pay per click service, as of October 2019. Keen to establish that we could deliver on our promises, before going full steam ahead, Jack opted to hold fire on our organic SEO proposal but it wasn’t long before we were delivering such impressive ROI on the PPC that we had the green light to start working on an organic SEO campaign as well.
Implementation of the Strategy
Within a week or so we were up and running with Google Ads (both text and shopping ads) and by the end of the first month sales from the website had leapt 181%. Over the next couple of months, we honed the campaign further, driving down the cost per acquisition (CPA) and gradually increasing revenue by further 30% on top of the initial jump.
With our proof of concept proven, Bitcade wanted to up the ante and started taking on organic search, through our process of regular on-site optimisation, regular arcade blogging and link building.
As with all SEO campaigns, the first port of call for Bitcade was a comprehensive site audit. This would highlight any technical SEO or website development work that would be needed to get the website up to speed.
It became apparent from this and our initial observations that the website build would pose a bit of a challenge. For example, Bitcade had no blog, which is a major tool in building onsite authority and relevance.
After the audit, we conducted a detailed keyword research exercise which identified the low hanging fruit that we could immediately begin targeting in terms of search terms. On top of this, it also gave us an idea of some of the real lucrative money terms with a lot of search volume (like “arcade machines”) that Bitcade would do extremely well ranking for nationally.
Combining competitor research with keyword research, allowed us to get a solid understanding of how much work was needed in terms of onsite content and link building in order to start getting Bitcade onto page one across a number of target keywords.
As with all Shopify sites, we installed the custom fields plugin so we could begin adding richer and more descriptive content into Bitcade’s service pages, including a detailed buyers guide to arcade machines that now sits on all their main product collection pages.
As well as things like the arcade machine buyers guide, we also began optimising existing pages for content and started putting together a content plan for the blog. This would form a content hub that we could later link build to and Jack could promote to his followers on social media.
As with so many things in web development and SEO, things didn’t run smoothly when we came to uploading the first blog post. Due to the DIY nature of the build and resulting code, the formatting was all over the place when we came to publishing the first blog article. As a result, we dropped tools to investigate. With our in-house expertise in Shopify, we were able to quickly fix these issues and start publishing Bitcade’s first blog articles.
As with any SEO strategy implementation, content is the meat on the bones that drives the relevancy and onsite authority that causes a website’s rankings across the board to rise. After optimising service pages with relevant information and a common FAQ, the ongoing content production would take place on Bitcade’s blog.
When we started working with Bitcade their site didn’t have a blog, so the first step was to build one. In the meantime, we started to put together a content plan for the blog, based on our keyword research and a deep dive into the arcade and retro gaming industry.
Under the direction of our content director, we assigned one of our experienced copywriters with a passion for gaming to Bitcade’s content strategy. She has been instrumental in putting together the rich variety of content you now see on the blog, with the insight and knowledge of someone passionate about Bitcade’s industry (our content director is himself a keen gamer, so this has also been a bit of a passion project for him).
Outside of onsite signals, links are the single most powerful way of boosting site authority and rankings but it takes an experienced SEO agency to know how to build them effectively without over optimising and risking a Google penalty.
With a growing body of insightful and entertaining blog content on the site, we began our link building campaign around month 4, calling on our extensive network of lifestyle and gaming bloggers to place links in their existing content as well as writing guest blogs for publication on these sites.
Over time, these links to Bitcade’s key transactional pages, as well as blog posts, have seen the site’s overall authority grow and rankings spike.
New Website Development
One of the key hurdles to success for us from the outset was getting the website redesigned. The original build, whilst entirely functional, had a certain DIY appeal to it and ultimately this would be hurting conversions due to poor UX. However comprehensive and effective SEO strategy, a campaign is always going to be constrained by a poorly designed or clunky website. Whilst entirely functional, Bitcade’s original website lacked the visual flair that would really help sell their products to a keen audience.
Ultimately you have to convert traffic into enquiries and sales when you get it there so website build and design is an absolutely critical element of successful digital marketing. After discussions with Jack, the decision was made to ride this wave of SEO success and invest growing profits into redesigning the website, which was built on the Shopify platform.
Our aim was to make the website look more appealing, easier to find what you want, easier to find and add upgrades and simple and intuitive to checkout or contact Bitcade.
With a broad design brief from Jack, we had a lot of creative scope. The end result was a company website that looks more professional and modern, with a user experience that is significantly improved through a more intuitive interface and navigation menus.
The project turnaround was really quick. From putting the brief together to launch was around eight weeks.
A number of weeks from the launch of the new website and with revenue still increasing we’re preparing for the existing increase in demand on the run-up to Christmas.
Rankings and revenue increased consistently over the course of the first six months or so working on Bitcade’s SEO. Then came lockdown. Fortuitously for Bitcade, retro arcade games became one of those ideally positioned products that appealed to a demographic spending endless weeks of being isolated at home, often on furlough.
Sales surged throughout the summer of 2020 despite the pandemic and its economic fallout and it has put Bitcade in a powerful position going into 2020, something that wouldn’t have been possible without the last 12 months or so of digital marketing growth.
One of the things we have particularly enjoyed working with Bitcade is their appreciation of the importance of increasing their digital marketing budget as revenue climbs in order to sustain and build on growth. One example of this was when Bitcade was hovering at the top of page two for perhaps one their biggest money terms “arcade machines”. We knew that by increasing their link building spend we could get that extra push in order to push them onto page one for a search term with 8,000 searches per month. Suffice to say, Jack signed off on the extra budget and is now ranking 8th for this term, with a significant spike in traffic as a result.
It is by approaching the client / service provider relationship as more of a partnership that we are able to do our best work and Bitcade is testament to this and a huge 2020 success story for Superb Digital.