Founded in 2007 by CEO Adham Sbeih and Sales Manager John Ingoglia, Socotra Capital is a hard money lender and real estate investment firm located in Sacramento, California.
“Emily, John, Katya and the gang are pros. They move fast. If you want it done right, their work is spot on. They listen and execute. I would recommend them to any company looking for a professional website. A pleasure to work with and priced right!” – John Ingoglia, Socotra Capital
Creating a new website as the heart of a unified marketing campaign.
Years ago, the lending and investment firm Socotra Capital hired us to create a website focused solely on the real estate investment side of their operations. They felt it best to keep discussion of their lending operations confined to a separate site for the sake of clarity and focus.
Recently the firm rehired us to manage their marketing efforts. We immediately started seeing success, with a significant uptick in the number of leads they were receiving for both loans and property investment. But our SEO and Internet marketing expert Josh Rubin suggested that our efforts were being somewhat hampered by how the firm’s web content was scattered across three sites:
- Socotracapital.com, which handled Socotra’s lending operations.
- Socotrafinancial.com, the site we originally created, which handled Socotra’s real estate investment operations.
- Socotracapitalnevada.com, which was the face of the distinct legal entity through which they conducted business in Nevada.
It used to be very common for companies to have multiple websites, especially when keyword-specific domain names had a greater impact on SEO. But nowadays this approach tends to undermine online visibility, as you end up with several websites with mediocre rankings, rather than a single strongly performing website. In addition, marketing efforts–and the subsequent benefits thereof–are divided and weakened.
Socotracapital.com had always performed pretty well, but the other two sites had lagged behind. Uniting the content of the three sites into a single Voltron-style super-website would likely produce improved performance in all areas. After a few months of gentle persuasion, Socotra Capital signed on to a new project in which the content of all three websites would be combined and redirected to a single, central website, socotracapital.com.
Developing a website that replaces several old ones requires careful use of redirects to preserve search rankings and backlinks.
Several times a year we are contacted by frustrated business owners who say, “I recently had a web developer redo my website, and I lost 90% of my search traffic! What’s going on?” While there are a variety of errors that can produce this result, by far the most common offender is failing to use 301 redirects.
Here’s what that means. Let’s say the successful but increasingly outdated-looking website for a burger joint, bobsburgers.com, gets a much-needed refresh. But the agency creating the new website doesn’t mimic the URL structure used on the old website. For instance, on the old site the menu was located at bobsburgers.com/our-menu, but on the new site the menu page is at bobsburgers.com/menu.
This creates two problems. First of all, every outside link going directly to the menu page will suddenly be broken. All of the backlink equity supporting that page is suddenly toast. Secondly, Google has always known that the menu page was at /our-menu. But now it can’t find the menu there. It will see that there’s a new menu page at /menu, but it won’t draw a direct relation between the two and fix the issue on its own. Instead, it sees /menu as a brand new page with zero backlinks, and ranks it accordingly (i.e. very poorly).
The sum consequence of these two issues is that the Google search rankings for all of the site’s pages drop like rocks, as do the number of visitors, the number of leads, and ultimately the number of sales.
This is why, when combining Socotra’s three websites, we were very careful to redirect each individual page from the old sites to their counterparts on the new website, ensuring that existing backlinks and search rankings were preserved. After implementing the redirects, we submitted requests for change of address on Google Search Console for socotrafinancial.com and socotracapitalnevada.com, which indicate to Google that the content found on those sites would now be found at socotracapital.com. In addition, we submitted new sitemaps to Google, and then monitored 404 alerts through Search Console, creating additional redirects as necessary.
All of this was a time-consuming process, but absolutely necessary to safeguard Socotra’s existing link equity.
Reworking the Socotra website to showcase the fruits of our marketing efforts.
As noted above, we had been providing marketing support to Socotra Capital for several months prior to kicking off the new website. During that interval, we had successfully helped both Adham Sbeih and John Ingoglia contribute quotes to articles in a number of print and web publications, including the Wall Street Journal, U.S. News and World Report, Yahoo! Business, and Investopedia.
The new website needed to show off these valuable trust signals, while also humanizing the people behind the scenes at Socotra by making their faces and identities known. While the above the fold content on the homepage is largely identical to the old site, just below we added press logos with links to a selection of their press appearances. In addition, we incorporated fresh new photos of the company’s founders—as well as many other members of the Socotra team—on the homepage and company profile pages.
Regulatory compliance is a sticky issue often overlooked by web developers.
The Socotra Capital project had a few extra hoops to jump through, compared to other web builds. One of those hoops was ensuring that the website complied with the various regulations covering Socotra Capital and other financial institutions like it.
One step we took to ensure regulatory compliance was to rebuild the investors section of the website. We created a form that new visitors would be redirected to when attempting to visit any one of a number of investor pages. Once visitors fill out the form and self-certify they are accredited investors, they can then proceed. To make this as painless and convenient as possible, rather than registering the visitor as a user—complete with all the hassle of creating a username and password—the form simply creates a cookie for the visitor. Thus, in the future they can visit the investor pages without having to fill out the form again.
All in all, the team at Socotra Capital was extremely happy with the new website. Sales Manager John Ingoglia congratulated us with a testimonial stating, “Emily, John, Katya and the gang are pros. They move fast. If you want it done right, their work is spot on. They listen and execute. I would recommend them to any company looking for a professional website. A pleasure to work with and priced right!” In a later email, CEO Adham Sbeih said, “I am thrilled with the results thus far and look forward to many more projects with you guys.”
It has been extremely rewarding to work with Adham, John, and the rest of the Socotra team. They are already seeing positive results from our efforts, and we have reason to believe that this is just the beginning. We look forward to helping Socotra Capital achieve new heights of success in their future marketing efforts.