Search Engine Optimization Case Study: Encyclopædia Britannica


Encyclopædia Britannica is one of the world's oldest, best known and most respected brands. First published in 1768, the ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA is widely regarded to be the most scholarly and citable encyclopedia in print and online.

One of the secrets to Britannica's success has been a constant dedication to revision and reprinting. Most recently, Britannica's online performance has been recognized through the 2005 Codie award for "Best Online Consumer Information Service" and continues to be a finalist in this category.


  • Web competition increasing from new online players and imitators.
  • Web traffic stagnating within a growing online market.

Client Goals

  • Grow online search referral traffic (organic web traffic) to improve website monetization.
  • Exploit external resources to aid in auditing current SEO methods and in providing analytics-based SEO strategies.

Search Engine Optimization Approach

Two years ago Encyclopædia Britannica's consumer marketing department approached Metamend to provide solid analytic information towards improving website search referral traffic. Metamend commenced the project with a search engine optimization Site AUDIT.

Auditing the oldest and most important encyclopedia in the world was a daunting task. Britannica's website covers over 228,000 subjects, many of which have multiple sub-entries, hundreds of thousands of links, and tens of thousands of lines of code. In short, it was a great deal of online data to audit and track.

Encyclopædia Britannica Home Page

The auditing process required a robust set of analytics tools. Measuring everything from unique page views to how the site ranked in the major search engines provided a comprehensive overview of current web traffic patterns which informed the SEO consultation process. The resulting audit reports contained a wide array of statistics, insights and, most importantly, actionable items.

The Site AUDIT helped Britannica identify both quick fixes to improve search referral traffic and long term search engine optimization (SEO) strategies. During the Site AUDIT presentation, a brief list of high priority and long term items contributed to an overall action plan . Metamend continues to assist with Britannica's SEO implementations as well as monitoring these changes to ensure their effectiveness.


  • Within 12 months, Britannica's search referral traffic had more than doubled.
  • Significant improvement in Britannica's adult demographic traffic (non-student traffic).
  • Continued growth in search referral traffic at over 2x original volume.