Chess.com

The story of domination in the chess world: from less than 1 million clicks per month to over 1,000,000 clicks in a single day!

In January 2023, Chess.com reached 1 million+ clicks/ а day from Google Search for the first time:

Search Console screenshot showing 1 million+ clicks in a single day, January 2023
This marks a record-breaking traffic number since the SEO Alive team started working on the site in 2016.

Another significant milestone was the 20 million+ clicks per month achieved in December 2022:

SEOcrawl image showing the 20m+ clicks/month traffic for December 2023
Another important moment was reached in December 2022.

However, January 2023 brought yet another major breakthrough with over 30m clicks in a single month:

Chess.com SEOcrawl traffic stats for January, 2023 showing 30m+ clicks for the month
What a way to begin 2023!

and over 125,000,000 impressions:

SEOcrawl screenshot with all the metrics of Chess.com improving with green arrows
It’s amazing to see all these green arrows and improvements.

This achievement was only possible with the great support and collaboration of the content and design teams, the amazing developers from the engineering team, the social team, and everyone else involved.

Naturally, the management team was instrumental in allowing us to combine our two biggest passions for CHESS & SEO.

Our love and enthusiasm for chess and SEO have helped us over the years to reach this point. When our collaboration with Chess.com began in December 2016, the popular online chess community’s website was struggling to generate significant organic traffic, with less than 1 million visits per month. The primary objective was to enhance Chess.com’s organic visibility and substantially increase its website traffic.

As the numbers show, Chess.com is now reaching new heights, providing a solid technical foundation on one side and carefully planning new content and useful chess products with chess fans in mind.

However, we don’t want to stop here, as we are obsessed with growth and would love to continue telling the world how amazing the game of chess is and why Chess.com is the #1 website in the world to play and learn chess and have fun.

Actions performed

Openings directory (https://www.chess.com/openings/)

The new /openings design of Chess.com
The new /openings design.

This section provides 5000+ pages related to the initial stage of a chess game known as the opening. These URLs present detailed information about the different opening lines and variations.

Problem/ situation: previously, the /openings section did not provide much value for users. The content was brief, and the design was not optimal and user-friendly.

the old design of Chess.com/openings
The previous design of /openings.

Actions performed: a full-page redesign was implemented at the end of 2021, incorporating new visual elements like videos and lessons to help users enhance their chess skills. Additionally, we included famous games played within this opening.

Furthermore, longer, more in-depth content was written to comprehensively cover the topic and provide valuable information for visitors seeking to learn more about the opening.

We also added relevant internal links to pages about famous chess /players who have successfully employed this opening, along with internal links from other sections, including /news, /articles, /terms, and more, whenever an /opening page was mentioned.

In addition, we continued researching new opening lines with organic traffic potential and collaborated with the content team to create more extensive content versions.

Results Achieved:

1,27 million clicks, +116k clicks YoY increase  2022 vs. 2021

SEOcrawl's graph on the YoY comparison of chess.com/openings with over 116k YoY increase
SEOcrawl’s graph on the YoY comparison of chess.com/openings.

Terms (https://www.chess.com/terms)

A glossary containing over 200+ chess terms, covering a range of chess topics, including:

  • basic rules
  • chess variants names
  • famous chess personalities from movies
  • different strategies & tactics

and much more.

Chess.com's Chess Terms main page
Spreading chess knowledge with our Chess Terms collection.

Problem/ situation: one of our core SEO and ongoing projects for the past few years. 

Actions performed: We continuously analyze new chess trends to create relevant terms with organic potential. Additionally, we review other types of content (e.g., /articles) covering the same topic as /terms and consolidate them to avoid cannibalization.

The content team has been trained to include relevant internal links whenever a chess term is mentioned in content, whether on other /terms pages, /articles, /news, /openings, /players, and more.

We’ve also implemented smaller yet equally important changes, such as improving the heading structure, adding related terms at the end, and placing the main /terms page link sitewide, among others.

Results Achieved:

2.2 million clicks for 2022 (+939k clicks YoY increase)

SEOcrawl's graph on the YoY comparison of chess.com/terms with 939k clicks increase
SEOcrawl’s graph on the YoY comparison of chess.com/terms.

Players section (https://www.chess.com/players/)

80k+ profiles of celebrity chess players and other players around the world, complete with biographies and intriguing facts.

Chess.com's Top Players section
Chess.com’s Top Players section.

Problem/situation: /players’ title changes were not automated (FIDE Master to International Master, International Master to Grandmaster, etc.), and we had numerous disabled profiles that were not published.

Actions performed: we automated the title changes for players and enabled thousands of new /players’ profiles (80k+).

Along with that, we continued to analyze the growing chess players’ keywords and crafter detailed bios for popular and emerging chess celebrities with the content team. The dedicated pages include:

  • detailed biographies
  • links to social and chess.com member profiles
  • official FIDE profile
  • major chess achievements
  • featuring the best game

and more.

We also undertook several smaller yet important tasks, such as removing duplicated URLs and fixing broken links.

Results Achieved:

+113k clicks and +4.67m impressions (MoM January 2022 vs. January 2023).

SEOcrawl's graph on the YoY comparison of chess.com/players, +113k clicks increase
SEOcrawl’s graph on the YoY comparison of chess.com/players.

Ratings page (https://www.chess.com/ratings)

A page with chess ratings for the top players in the world.

Classical, Rapid & Blitz ratings of the best chess players in the world
Classical, Rapid & Blitz ratings of the best chess players in the world.

Problem/situation: rating variations were not visible on the page leading to suboptimal user experience. Several essential elements, including filtering options, were absent.

Actions performed: we included rating changes to provide valuable information to visitors. Additionally, we automated the process to display ratings and align them with the latest official charts.

Together with the team, we introduced various options and filters, such as a feature to filter by country, gender, and age groups:

  • men
  • women
  • under 20 /players

Furthermore, we optimized corresponding metadata, headings, and URLs (ex. https://www.chess.com/ratings/standard/u20, https://www.chess.com/ratings/standard/women).

Results Achieved:

300k+ clicks for the last 12 months, +116k increase YoY.

SEOcrawl's graph on the YoY comparison of chess.com/ratings with +116k clicks increase
SEOcrawl’s graph on the YoY comparison of chess.com/ratings.

Classroom page (https://www.chess.com/classroom)

Problem/situation: the landing page was initially accessible only to logged-in users.

Actions performed: we have made it available to logged-out users (from search results) while ensuring all the crucial SEO elements, including:

  • titles
  • headings
  • links

and other features, are in place to deliver an excellent user experience.

The /classroom page shown as how it looks for logged-out users from search results
The /classroom page is now accessible to logged-out users.

Results Achieved:

Steady growth in organic traffic.

an SEOcrawl screenshot showing the organic traffic to https://www.chess.com/classroom increasing nicely over time
The organic traffic to https://www.chess.com/classroom increasing nicely over time.

Events section (https://www.chess.com/events)

The /events section is a crucial part of the website, making it possible for millions of people worldwide to watch their favorite players compete in real-time during some of the world’s best tournaments.

the recently redesigned chess.com/events page
The recently redesigned chess.com/events page.

Problem/situation: various changes & product optimizations occasionally led to issues with important SEO elements:

  • missing metadata
  • duplicate URLs targeting the same event
  • old inactive URLs included in the sitemaps

and more.

Actions performed: we identified and reported bugs, optimized page metadata, ensured the use of content-rich descriptions for events, providing people with the information they search for, including:

  • event venues
  • participants
  • prize funds
  • locations

We also proposed ideas to enhance performance and added new sections with proper SEO optimization.

Additionally, we created a dedicated events sitemap to ensure proper identification and indexing of events, and addressed issues like duplicate URLs targeting the same event.

Results Achieved:

1.6m clicks for 2022 which stands for over 1m clicks YoY increase.

SEOcrawl's graph on the YoY comparison of chess.com/events with over 1 million clicks increase
SEOcrawl’s graph on the YoY comparison of chess.com/events.

i18n SEO

Problem/situation: international markets have been an integral part of Chess.com’s growth over the years. We have always paid special attention to expanding not only in English-speaking countries but also worldwide. The fact that we have 56 languages enabled on the site speaks for itself. 

just a few of the available languages for one of our key articles on how to play chess
Just a few of the available languages for one of our key articles.

We are fortunate to have a dedicated team of translators available around the clock.

Actions performed: we conduct ongoing research on trending chess topics in various languages and closely collaborate with the international team to suggest translations for chess terms, articles, news, and players’ profiles, providing them with all the necessary info and instructions.

Furthermore, for every new landing page, we ensure international support and translation for the languages we offer.

Results Achieved:

Here is one example to illustrate this, using our /es page, that improved with +484k organic clicks YoY (Jan 2023 vs. Jan 2022)

Chess.com/es YoY growth in SEOcrawl
Chess.com/es YoY growth.

Similar results were also achieved for the other top languages. 

Sum Up

These were just a few of the main sections and tasks performed over the last couple of years. We’ve also addressed many more tickets, fixes, changes, and improvements that contributed, in one way or another, to the overall growth of the website.

Here is also a comparison of the number of keywords ranked in positions #1-3 & #4-10 in 2015 and now in 2023:

Ahrefs organic keywords graph showing less than 10k queries ranking in position #1-10 in 2015
As we can see here there were less than 10k organic keywords ranked in positions #1-10 in 2015.
Ahrefs organic keywords graph showing over 60k keywords ranking in positions #1-10 in 2023
In 2023, we have over 60k organic keywords ranked in positions #1-10.

As we like to say in Chess.com, Let’s go Chess, Let’s grow Chess.com!

Erik Allebest
CEO, Chess.com

David and his team at SEO Alive have played a pivotal role in Chess.com’s SEO efforts. In these years that we have been working with them, we have experienced massive organic traffic growth going from 6M organic visits per month in 2019 to more than 30M/month in 2023. Honestly, I just listen to what David and his team tell me, I have our team execute it and then our rankings and our traffic grow. It’s that easy!

Thank you for your time!

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