When search engine rankings for a particular keyword plateau or recede, there are two things most people do (1) freak out or (2) build more links from other websites. However, oftentimes, there is an easier, less complicated solution by leveraging new landing pages and augmenting them with “theme relevant” or related internal pages.
Search engines rank pages (not websites) and so the search for THE most powerful, relevant and properly structured page is sniffed out and tested through a battery of algorithms. It is this algorithm that is your greatest ally and here is how to use it to your advantage.
Link Flow Eclipse
Making sure pages have not been eclipsed by duplicate content or off page ranking factor is critical for making sure the right page ranks for the right keywords. Link flow is a measurement which in a nutshell calculates the collective percentage of link equity a page has from both internal and external pages.
This can happen from template level inconsistencies where data is being pulled from the same sources, if there are too many stop words on a page, if a page lacks enough unique content or if there are ubiquitous ranking signals present on multiple pages.
In order to maximize link flow you need to understand how it moves from page to page. Every time you link from one page to another you are both (1) vouching for that page and (2) supporting it by passing on a fraction of trust, ranking factor and relevance. Pages that link to less relevant pages (determined by semantic weights or vectors) i.e. groups of related phrases that support context, offer less continuity through thematic support.
Pages that are theme relevant (have related titles, meta data, header tags, internal links or inbound links with similar or related semantic anchors) have a higher threshold of relevance and trust for the seed and stemmed keyword variations attached to seed phrases.
Using Tiered Sub folders and Supporting Pages
When building out site architecture, you can use a tiered or layered effect to provide consistent ranking factor up the chain to each landing page. In other words, break competitive keywords into site segments and either create relevant subfolders which have sub pages that either link up to the main index page of the sub page (known as a silo landing page) and then from the silo landing page link to your primary landing page with the anchor text that needs a boost. Here is a post all about tiered site architecture and how to apply it.
If you have exhausted this option and are still not seeing movement for a specific keyword after building sufficient internal and external inbound links for a keyword, then consider electing a new landing page to act as the “champion page” and house the primary beacon of relevance for the keyword.
The premise of on page optimization is simple; harvest link-flow from strong pages to rank other pages. But without knowing which pages are housing the most link flow, or from improperly structuring the wrong page to rank for the wrong keywords, search engines can get confused about what THEY consider the most relevant and what YOU consider the most relevant; which is why it is important to bridge the gap using a common language.
One quick way is to use site:yourdomain.com keyword (replace yourdomain with “you guessed it” your website and keyword with “the keyword you are investigating”) in a Google search bar. This search operator will tell you two things (1) how many relevant pages you have in your website based on the keyword and (2) the rank order of the pages listed from Google’s perspective – which pages are most relevant for that keyword.
You can then audit each pages inbound and / or outbound links to ensure that pages with the most relevance are linking to other pages in need of that relevance, i.e. ranking and vice versa.
Going back to the initial dilemma, if you are wasting link equity on a page that has too many ranking signals to create a conclusive improvement, consider creating a new, laser-like, theme relevant page.
Metrics for Theme Relevance
- Use an exact match title – selling affordable red widgets? Then that is the title (and that alone).
- Use and “exact-match-url” – in other words spell it out in the URL.
- Use an H1 and H2 tag with the primary and secondary keyword for the page.
- Make sure you have at least 5 relevant internal links to the page (with the anchor text you are trying to rank for) and at least 5 deep links (links from other websites) for the keyword you are trying to rank for – the stronger each are, the more effective they are.
- Link from the old “champion page” the page with the highest ranking for the keyword and give the page enough time to take on the new persona and attributes of the link flow from the legacy or old landing page.
Often, creating new landing pages instead of continually pursuing existing pages to rank is a far more efficient solution. By leveraging internal links and pages that were once considered relevant can offset the frustration of trying to force a page that lacks “the right stuff” to rank for a keyword outside its range or a page incapable of appealing to a new algorithm or new search engine ranking metric.