On-page SEO

To Improve SEO, Focus on the Page

If you want to drive more natural search visits to a page, you need to improve the relevance and authority of that page. That’s SEO 101. But one of the hardest parts for marketers to understand when they’re in the thick of content creation is the phrase “of that page.”

Search engines are picky. It’s the way they’re designed, with algorithms that determine the presence or absence of certain variables within the datasets collected for each page. Certain domain-wide variables are also taken into account, like domain authority and the overall theme and context of the site. But many aspects of SEO come down to the relevance and authority signals that each page sends individually.

For example, if a customer searches Google for “pizza cutter,” Google will return a page of search results containing individual pages with the highest relevance and authority signals for “pizza cutter.” Painfully obvious, right?

Relevance and Authority

So why do we as marketers forget the connection between individual pages, relevance, and authority when it’s time to generate content? We made a really cool video to boost search engine optimization. We wrote these excellent articles on topics our customers asked for to boost SEO. We created an infographic from unique data that we mined from our databases for SEO. This new content is good. So why isn’t our SEO performance improving?

The reason any single piece of compelling content doesn’t improve SEO almost always comes down to a disconnect between the goal and the execution. What was the goal? Did you execute your plan in such a way that the goal could be reached?

The reason any single piece of compelling content doesn’t improve SEO almost always comes down to a disconnect between the goal and the execution.

What did you want to rank? If you haven’t defined the page and phrases you want to improve SEO performance for, the chances your SEO performance will improve are very slim. A single excellent video or a new section of articles can’t boost rankings and natural search visits for every page and every keyword. Based on your site’s existing SEO performance for individual natural-search landing pages, and the keyword research that tells you what real people are searching for, set your goal for performance improvements based on individual URLs and keywords. If conversion is part of your SEO goal, make sure that the page you’re optimizing has conversion elements on it.

Focus on the Page

Where did you launch the content? If your goal is to boost SEO performance of an existing product category or detail page, the SEO work needs to be done on that exact page. No matter how great it is, posting fresh new content somewhere else on the site is unlikely to help you improve performance on your product category page. If the content is truly helpful and well optimized, it may even compete and push your product page farther down in the rankings.

The exception to this rule is when the content is so fantastic and well promoted that it goes viral. If something that’s hosted on the same domain as your ecommerce site goes viral, the massive influx of natural links to that viral content will increase the domain authority for the entire site, which should boost natural search performance site-wide as well. However, given the infrequency with which good content goes viral, it’s best to base SEO performance goals on more reliable methods.

Avoid Cul-de-sacs

How did you design the content? It’s far easier to create a group of content and hang it off the end of your navigation in a section called “Resources” than it is to integrate the new content into the existing site. I like to think of this as a content cul-de-sac. There’s one way in – that “Resources” link in the navigation – and the content inside that section doesn’t crosslink widely with product-related sections of the site. In some cases you don’t even really want shoppers going there because they might get distracted from their purchase intent.

If this sounds familiar, there’s a very good chance that this is why your SEO performance didn’t improve. Think of each link into a page feeding that page and making it a little stronger. Content cul-de-sacs typically lack the number of internal links that product content does, which means they don’t have the flow of authority they need to perform in organic search.

Jumpstarting Content

How did you promote the content? When you’re creating content with the intent that it will drive natural search traffic, it seems antithetical to have to promote it. The reality is that any new piece of content is at a disadvantage in natural search, no matter how good it is. Until it has been linked to, mentioned, shared, and otherwise had its authority validated, that amazing piece of content isn’t likely to drive much natural search at all. It needs a jumpstart through your other marketing channels like email marketing and social media to get the ball rolling. If the content truly has customer value, this should be no problem because your customers will pass it on for you.

The only reason to create content is that it has value to the customer. Content should not be created “for SEO.” The role of SEO in content marketing is to ensure that the content that is being created for customer benefit is findable via natural search. I previously addressed SEO and content marketing, in fact, at “Using SEO to Drive Content Marketing.”

Jill Kocher Brown
Jill Kocher Brown
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