Taking up where we left off yesterday in the Practical, Tactical SEO Guide Part I, next up in the SEO Guide Series is template selection. Choosing the right template for the right task is one of the most underrated SEO techniques, which can either rank or tank a site.
The templates you use are directly tied to the amount of link-flow that flows through the page (from proceeding internal and inbound links) as well as what degree of link equity proceeds to nurture and irrigate other linked pages in a site.
The templates you use (based on where the content in a website’s hierarchy) determines how that page communicates with both search engines and other critical pages in the website. If the template is optimal, then it only houses elements (server side includes or custom code snippets) which are relevant to the purpose of that page.
The reason controlling link flow is important is, if you have the same shingles “groups of words, code, etc.” such as a recurring side bar, footer, masthead and primary navigation within a website, then basically by just swapping out the internal text on the body area, changing a title or changing a description simply does not cut it for search engines and can incur a ranking suppression penalty.
A search engine is programmed to seek out duplicate content (either internal an inherent to a website) as well as duplicate shingles (groups of words, code, etc.) on other sites particularly now more than ever and minimize the impact on the ranking algorithm when less than desirable duplicate data is found.
According to a recent post on Google Algorithms updates on 1.28.2011 on Matt Cutt’s blog chief of the Web Spam team for Google pages lacking unique content may be flagged and removed or suppressed.
While this has been known for years in elite SEO circles (not to create a duplicate footprint) the problem often stems from lack of optimization or poor/lazy coding from developers either not knowing or simply relying on one template to run the entire website.
The typical reaction from search engines was previously “the supplemental index” meaning, sure, it’s crawled, but isolated in a secondary index which may or may not be included as a “relevant” search. In other words it’s analogous to SEO purgatory.
While you can get pages out of the supplemental index and back into the main index, it is better to avoid it in the first place, which leads back to template optimization and assigning a role in the hierarchy for each page (based on competitive thresholds ergo competing pages, aged competitors or authority sites who have trust and are occupying the search engine result pages for those keywords).
There are solutions for breaking-out from the mold or rather “designing SEO friendly templates” but this involves creating a range of parameters such as having granular control over the header/masthead, meta data, sidebar, footer and body areas extensively and independently in order to sculpt the most relevant type of page for the ranking objective.
Here are links to more relevant posts on template optimization and SEO for large websites that are archived in the SEO Design Solutions Blog.
- SEO Tips for Link Sculpting and Template Optimization
- SEO Tips for Website Templates
- Using Server Side Includes and Alt Attributes for SEO
- SEO Tips for Large Websites Part I
- SEO Tips for Feed Optimization and Dynamic Data
Next up, landing page selection…
Landing Page Selection
Landing page selection is something we have been adamant about for years. Essentially, there are two kinds of pages in a website (1) pages that are meant to rank as the flagship for a specific keyword and (2) pages that are designed to support the flagship pages a.k.a. preferred landing pages in a website.
The reason why selecting a preferred landing page is imperative for organic optimization is (1) it delivers users directly to the page they were seeking and (2) it serves as the perfect hub page or springboard to feed additional pages in the site architecture based on semantic relevance or more effectively theming and siloing your content to increase rankings (by passing along ranking factor to other theme relevant content in a site).
It is capable to rank an entire cluster of keywords for various search modifiers (leading, best, affordable, cheap) as well as Geographical modifiers such as a city, state or zip code all from adhering to principles of on page optimization.
This ties directly in to the previous topic of keyword research and site architecture but directly is impacted by the following topic content development and creation as well. Essentially, each primary keyword should have its own page, but can also serve as a catch all for 4-6 additional keyword variations.
This process is augmented through (a) how you link internally from page to page (b) what data exists on the page, in the meta data, the H1 (header tag which is the topic of the page – much like a headline in a newspaper) as well as (c) the range of anchor text from other websites.
This combination creates a synergy or rather symphony of ranking factors which imbue your landing pages with specific algorithmic attributes that ear mark that page as the definitive source of information for its intended keywords.
For more information about how to properly create preferred landing pages or elect them, refer to the body of documents in the archives in the SEO Design Solutions Blog.
- SEO Techniques to Improve Search Engine Optimization
- How to Theme and Silo Your WordPress Blog
- How to Create a Plan B for Ranking
Once you have deemed which keywords are important based on which pages yield (a) the highest potential for monetary conversion (b) the most search volume – which can act as a pre-sell page to funnel visitors to the appropriate offers or (c) represent the most suitable match for first time visitors – you will be able to sculpt them at will using a few simple techniques covered here:
While most would have you think the process is rocket science, think of it as holistic planning incorporating a more human analogy would be to view the landing pages as appendages, the internal links as the circulatory system and the site architecture as the skeleton and your content as the muscles which when unified produce the phenomenon of a synchronized body capable of movement.
Consider this conditioning and that conditioning allows your website mobility and movement.
In this case, that movement is up higher in the relevance chain of documents in the index in search engines as each page serves a purpose based on a tiered system or form, function, relevance and appeal.
Next Up in The Practical SEO Guide Part III
- Supporting Article Creation
- Coding and Content Management
- On Page Optimization (preferably built into CMS)