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Streaming service optimizes billions of pages after a negative Google Core update and grows traffic by 100% in the target market

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"From monitoring the SEO visibility of a website with millions of pages to finding and benchmarking keywords for a landing page, we use Semrush on a daily basis. It has helped us define our SEO roadmap, execute on it, and prove the importance and ROI of SEO to our stakeholders."
Mohand Kabeche, Head of Organic Acquisition, Deezer

As a music streaming service, what seems to be an opportunity has become a threat for Deezer, which experienced a strong decrease in visibility in November 2021 after a Google algorithm update. The reason for that? Deezer offers a catalog of hundreds of millions of pages (from songs to artists to playlist pages…), which is available in 36 different languages.

Offering such a catalog brings many challenges, especially around crawling, loading times, and content quality.

By early 2023, Deezer reached outstanding SEO visibility and traffic growth in its main countries, including:

  • 2x organic traffic in Germany, making it one of the top-growing websites in terms of % of visibility gained in the region (from about 7k keywords on Google’s #1 page in December 2021 to 58k in April 2023).
  • Impressive figures in France, Mexico, Brazil and in the US, amplified by a new algorithm update in May 2022 
  • Increased visibility in generic music streaming keywords like artists, album names, playlists, and music genres 
  • 336% keyword growth on Google’s #1 page in the US (69,852 keywords in April 2023 vs. 20,798 keywords in April 2022)
Deezer’s organic rankings growth in Germany shown in Semrush Organic Research tool

This is how they achieved these results:

More localized content, keyword optimization, better recommendations and loading times

Understanding keyword patterns to define at-scale opportunities

The first priority was to build a keyword list that would help Deezer to prioritize and monitor its efforts in an efficient way. The challenge is that, as a music streaming platform, the potential is almost infinite.

They have decided to focus their keyword list around 3 main thematics, in their key countries:

  1. Artist keywords: building a list that would regroup both generic (local and international artists) and keyword combinations with traffic potential around artists (example: "{Artist Name} + songs")*
  2. Generic music streaming keywords
  3. Mid-tail keywords: music genre and combination of keywords (example: "rap playlist")

*This one is tough, and it requires many explorations. Leveraging insights from Semrush’s Keyword Magic Tool, the team can get a quick idea of the main associated keywords, helping them understand what combination they should aim for.

Regarding albums and songs, the main challenge was seasonality. For this part, the Semrush Organic Research tool was the best way to judge the impact of their actions. All the team had to:

  1. Enter their site or the site of a competitor into the Organic Research tool
  2. Choose a region you’re interested in
  3. Click on the Positions tab
  4. Enter a song or album name to see how the site ranked for it historically and get a list of pages that ranked for this keyword:

Using keyword gap and organic research

With local and international competitors offering the same catalog size, analyzing the keyword gap was a quick way to understand what was missing to reach better performances. Semrush's Keyword Gap tool data was also helpful in convincing internal stakeholders of all the traffic potential that Deezer was missing at that time.

Where they started - April 2022:

=> The gap they had filled a year later - April 2023:

Building an efficient keyword list

Once all of the keyword patterns were defined, the challenge was to use the different combinations to get an overview of performances per thematic.

Leveraging internal data and the Semrush Position Tracking tool, the Deezer team built a solid list of thousands of keywords per key country, allowing them to monitor the visibility of:

  • their pages on local artists and key genres
  • a selection of top international artists
  • a list of high-potential generic keywords (leveraging PPC data to focus on converting keywords)

These keywords were split into 20 different tags with Semrush’s tagging feature and monitored daily. This helped Deezer quickly measure and pilot efforts on different projects.

Improving page templates through unique content and recommendations

Metadata optimizations have shown to have a quick and direct at-scale impact on Deezer’s SEO performances, but are not enough, especially when it comes to content quality and uniqueness.

Deezer has therefore decided to be more aggressive in the way they display content, implementing the following actions:

1. Improving and developing unique content

Leveraging metadata, Deezer has improved its pages’ templates to provide more unique content at scale, so that its pages would offer different information than their competitors.

In their focus countries, Deezer has decided to develop and push more localized biographical content on many of their artist pages.


2. Pushing recommendations to the next level

Leveraging the great power of their internal recommendation algorithms, they have implemented on each of their page types contextualized recommendation modules to optimize crawl, but also to bring additional unique content.

With the help of its Data Science team, Deezer provided a recommendation of 15 similar albums to the current album page.

Prioritizing loading times

Adding content and new modules to pages always brought loading time issues. Thanks to the success of its first loading time action on landing pages, Deezer has prioritized this topic on its catalog pages to reach best-in-class performances on a high volume of pages.

Impact of solving one Core Web Vital metric at scale shown in Google Search Console

Key Takeaways

  • Content is king: always think about offering content that is different and with more added value than your competitors’. If your content is useful and unique, Google will always value it.
  • Leverage your own data to easily create at-scale, useful content, especially if you are operating with a large volume of pages.
  • In the webmobile crawl era, don’t underestimate the impact of optimizing loading times and its effects, not only on SEO but also on user experience.
  • Every good SEO strategy starts with an in-depth keyword study. Take the time needed to build it, taking into account your business and website constraints. Use competitive benchmarking tools to facilitate the search — your priorities will naturally emerge from a well-structured study.
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