Trebling traffic in 9 months –

OK! logo is a celebrity news and gossip site that is the digital arm of OK! Magazine, a household name as a weekly British publication since 1993. Their news and articles are primarily focused on the British stars of reality TV, soaps and pop music.

The digital growth we’ve created on OK! in 2014 has been exceptional. Year on Year, we’ve more than trebled all our KPIs. gro has been an essential part of this success. They’ve injected ideas and clear recommendations and their know-how and collaborative spirit have helped us unite and improve as a team.”

Matteo Berlucchi – CEO Digital, Northern & Shell

Since we were engaged in November 2013, our recommendations to OK! have directly contributed to:

  • an 86% uplift in SEO traffic within 2 months
  • a 695% uplift in Facebook referrals within 3 months
  • a 20% uplift in page views per visits
  • a further 45% uplift in SEO within a month of the release of our recommended growth innovation

Stage One – Growth Injection

OK! re-launched their website in October 2013, and we were engaged a month after launch to boost organic search traffic and to find other potential growth strategies.

OK! website old vs. new in July 2013 and September 2014

We diagnosed technical SEO issues, for example using Deepcrawl to hunt out error pages and duplicate pages created by the redesign process. We delivered our recommendations In November 2013 and they had an immediate impact on organic traffic.

SEO Traffic

OK! already had a vibrant Twitter account with a large following but Facebook is by far the largest referrer of traffic to online publishers overall. We made our Facebook related recommendations in December 2013. Making subtle changes to how and when they used Facebook to promote stories, the OK! Team was able to grow Facebook referrals seven-fold in a two month period.

OK! Facebook Referral growth

Stage Two – Growth Innovation

Engagement is critical for publishers. Getting a visitor to your site is the first half of the battle – keeping them there is what will deliver real growth.

Our proposed innovation was was to create a database modelled around entities – celebrities, pop groups, reality shows etc and with a relationship model built directly into the database.

Kanye West

This relationship model allows someone like Kanye West to be mapped to Kim Kardashian (his spouse) and all his other pier celebrities. Through creating these relationships in the database, OK! would be able to create a much richer navigation experience and also to increase organic search by mirroring Google’s move from keywords to entities.

“gro have helped us shift the way we think about content to make entities a very important part of our workflow. This is already reaping rewards for our organic search traffic and user experience and is an important part of our plans for the future.”

Geoff Marsh – Online Editor of Express Newspapers

Stage Three – Growth Architecture

We designed the new database schema and delivered detailed instructions for the OK! development team including wireframes and instructions on how to use mark-ups to optimise organic search potential.

We also guided the OK! leadership on the operational plan to deliver the project involving the internal OK! team, their incumbent technical agency Amido and a UX agency we recommended.

Stage Four – Execution and Oversight

Throughout the project, we provided hands-on SEO expertise. We also engineered a smooth design process that involved all key stakeholders whilst sticking to a clear timescale. Finally, we worked with the editorial team to help them make entities a clear part of their workflow

“It was rewarding to manage this complex project because it was so clearly blueprinted from the start. The collaboration between our team, the guys at gro, Amido and Tobias and Tobias was cohesive and enjoyable. It was great to see the effects that the project had on our traffic and also that we managed to dramatically exceed the initial data forecasts.”

Leo Barnes – Senior Product Manager at N&S Digital


The design changes were rolled out in April 2014 and led to further improvements in both pages per visit and bounce rate.

Phase one graph

The SEO related changes were launched in June 2014 and the effect in organic search can be seen in the graph below.

Phase two growth

If you think your business could benefit from a similar project, please email or tweet us.

For more insight, read our guide on proven growth strategies for the semantic web.