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Case Study

Internal Linking & Meta Description SEO Test

iCanvas, based in Morton Grove, IL , is a small company that loves art. They supply a variety of canvases, which can be selected from a wide variety of art or based on custom uploaded imagery. They work with hundreds of leading artists to curate a deep selection for all styles of art, and thus have a wide variety of stock and options across their site.

As an eCommerce site, the iCanvas infrastructure team wanted to ensure that deploying the DistilledODN platform was not going to interfere with performance of the site, even during sudden peaks in traffic.

The teams ran a range of performance tests, and the iCanvas team also configured dynamic HTML caching rules on Fastly (DistilledODN's CDN partner), meaning that often performance of the site was improved with the platforms in place.

Paul Kharitonov
I was really impressed with Distilled’s focus on security, reliability and performance of the ODN platform. Mandatory MFA, tight integration with one of the leading CDNs and sub-20ms processing overhead increased my confidence in routing all of our online store traffic through the ODN. Paul Kharitonov
Director of IT, iCanvas

With the platform deployed and the infrastructure tested, both teams were eager to begin testing.

The iCanvas and Distilled teams wanted to take a look at optimising the Artist pages, which list all the products featuring art by a specific artist. There are about 3,200 artist pages and they one of the primary organic landing areas of the site, and there were various ideas for what could be done.

With so many ideas, we decided to test two separate changes at once; this meant it would be harder to attribute any change in performance to either change specifically, but that we would be able to iterate over more ideas for the page.

The first change we wanted to test was to make a change to the format of the meta description on artist pages; they were being cut-off in the SERPs sometimes, and we also thought they could benefit from more variation, beyond just the artist's name, between different pages.

We reduced the length of the description and also used the ODN platform to detect the first 3 product names from the page and pull those into the description. For example, the Banksy description changed:

Before (Control): Meta Description
Shop our selection of canvas prints by Banksy, each hand-stretched over museum-quality bars and printed with brilliant, fade-resistant inks. Free shipping and returns
After (Variant): Meta Description
Banksy Prints on Canvas, including There Is Always Hope Balloon Girl, Life Is Beautiful and others. Free shipping and returns.

The three product names were pulled dynamically from each page, so one rule in DistilledODN was able to make this change across all artists pages.

Adam Reinertsen
Through our technical site audits, ODN has afforded us the flexibility to test recommendations that we might be hesitant to fully implement. It saves us development resources that only need to be committed once the test proves ROI. Adam Reinertsen
Marketing Manager, iCanvas

The second change that we made was to remove self-referential links. Artist pages were one type of category page, and each category page would list multiple piece of art and each of these would include a link to the artist for that piece. That meant that artists category pages had 20 links back to themselves, so we removed the links on these elements.


We deployed the test and after a couple of days the DistilledODN dashboard started displaying its automated analysis. After 12 days the dashboard determined we had reached statistical significance and that the change was positive and should be rolled out to the other artist pages.

iCanvas Results

The test took a couple of weeks to reach significance and demonstrated a smooth and continuous improvement in performance.

The uplift from this test was a modest uplift, but by using a testing based methodology we were able to identify it, confirm it was a positive effect and then roll it out immediately to the other pages. Then after those pages had been crawled we were ready to run another test, and by using a test and iterate process iCanvas were be positioned to make steady and consistent gains.

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