In The Phases of SEO Part 1 we covered:
1) The Value of creating topical relevance through keeping your website and content on topic.
2) The Value of content development and the role it plays in building authority for your website.
3) The Value of strong internal links and linking to your own content through cross referencing relevant keywords to allow a visitor to dig deeper into your site.
Now, it is time to look at other fundamental metrics that search engine algorithms use to base their assessment of your site when considering it for a high ranking relevant position. This is the second part of the series called The Phases of SEO Part 2.
The Metric of Age, Time and Chronology:
It is no secret that search engines, much like people place a great deal of relevance on (1) trust (2) reputation and (3) authority. These metrics are often used to determine the relevance score for each document in their index (the aggregate score of criteria used prior to rendering search engine positions for the top 1000 results).
Just like a friend, once trust and trust rank is established, your site has the added advantage of increased spidering time such as minutes instead of days or weeks to get in the index, the strength of the links equity is compounded and they have the ability to give credibility to new segments of your site.
The idea behind adding content is two-fold, (1) to have all of the indicators present for human visitors to take the appropriate action as well as (2) having each page fit like a finely honed piece of machinery in tandem with the overall objective of the site for search engines.
Some pages serve as a hub that leads to other useful pages, other landing pages serve as destinations. The common thread often overlooked is, how older content and fresh content or links can work together to achieve a high ranking.
Leverage Your Website Authority
Say you have an older page all about topic A and you are not happy with the rankings that page has. Well then you can do one of three things, (1) build more links and try to make that page rank higher (2) use 301 redirects from older pages to give the page more authority from page with page rank or (3) create new content to cross link in tandem with the original content (since just like two heads are better than one, two pages are better than one to split the risk and attract the relevance needed).
In this instance, by linking to the new content from a page already ranking for those terms using the most relevant anchor text, you instantly provide an endorsement for the fresh content.
By strategically combining the fresh page factor most pages receive when they first get indexed (a 2-3 week shelf life before they wane) you are placing the Plan B in place to supplement the page so it can shore up and makes it through the dip (of the waning period).
If properly executed, this tactic frequently results in stable search engine positions from the onset as pages catapult to the top of the rankings and stay there (if the competition is not too fierce for the keyword).
In addition, this is a great way to create multiple double listings for a series of related keywords (which is a great method for increasing conversion by 200% per query, as well as scrolling another competitor off the page).
The idea is not to create content from anywhere, the objective is to create a topical pool of information that serves to provide value to visitors as well as send the right signals to search engines, which is why keyword research is vital for your website.
Choose the Right Keywords
For those unfamiliar with the term, keywords are the words of phrases that your target audience utilizes when searching for websites containing those phrases in search engines.
In order to attract the right type of traffic to your site, it is imperative to choose the best keywords to attract the right traffic.
Not all keywords are created equal, which is why you should avoid narrow, vanity plate generic phrases (which can also have the most competing pages due to being too broad).
Your main objective is to find the real reason why someone would want to visit your site, create a series of problem / solution based keywords, align them with your content and then promote those pages through off page reinforcement to anchor them as the most relevant result for those queries.
Search engines have a phenomenon that occurs when the on page and off page factors unify called word stemming. Word stemming is also a byproduct of age and chronology. The longer your pages remain intact (the links, tags and titles remain the same), the more authority and trust each page garners over time.
Signs of Trust
When you notice notable jumps in positioning from pages that were in the 20’s in search engines that now appear in the top 10 or in the top 5 positions as time progresses (without further optimization efforts), this is a sign of website authority.
Additional indicators are your pages switching out results for specific keywords or seeing double listings (one listing indented below another from your site) to show that you have been promoted in the algorithm).
One prerequisite is (a) fresh inbound links to reinvigorate the page and (b) the addition of related topical content. So, essentially, instead of traffic riding in on 20 keywords in 3 months if managed properly those 20 keywords spread out to 50, 70 or 100 keywords as a result of keyword stemming.
There are ways to nurture this phenomenon and expedite the process, but that is another post in its entirety. The key factor for concern is to create content purposely knowing that in 90 days it can be re-harvested for the authority it contains to elevate other related content in your website.
Gauging the amount of time it will take to acquire a competitive position is contingent on the assets your website contains, how frequently you update your content, how much content you have on the subject as well as how many off page factors are augmenting your link reputation.
All of these elements must work together to conquer a competitive keyword, which is why it’s always better to gain momentum with terms with lower competition to scale (however as long as they contain the root phrases, then you are chipping away at those keywords as well).
Refine Your Keywords
For example if I wanted to rank for a competitive phrase like “homes for sale” which has 94 million competing pages, you should consider a phrase that contains the root, but also has additional modifiers that are more specific to attract the right type of traffic, such as “homes for sale in Chicago” or “homes for sale in name of suburb”.
1) When optimizing a series of root phrases, use plural forms as well as singular. Studies have indicated that people tend to search for plurals more so than singular tense.
2) Look for the low hanging fruit that converts. Target pages well within your range first, then develop multiple top 10 rankings so that the keywords will stem.
3) Use a combination of keywords and modifiers within your content, so when it is time to build links, your target pages contain relevant content.
How to find the most relevant page for internal or external linking
In closing, I just wanted to leave you with a simple search command that can shed light on how the search algorithm sees your content.
By knowing which page to link to, based on how Google or other search engines see your site vs. just second guessing, you will have a clear method to query search engines when considering which pages to link together for creating optimal internal links or which pages to build back links to from other sites.
The search command to enter in the Google search box is site:yourwebsite.com keyword
Just replace your website after the site: command (no space between the colon and website address and allow one space between the website and the keyword or keywords). This tells you that for the site after the colon, which page has the highest occurrence of the keyword in chronological order. In addition, it also tells you which other pages are candidates for bringing them into the spotlight for the keyword in question (based on keyword and topical relevance).
Now with this information (based on the algorithm) you can (1) see how many pages you have on the topic for that keyword in your site vs. your competition (2) determine which pages to link together to make your own sites topical relevance stronger or (3) which pages are the best candidates for building links to gain a stronger foothold in search engines for the given terms.
Granted these tips are intended to serve as an general overview and tend to focus more on tactics rather than technique. However contained within them are true strategic gems for search engine optimization and the Phases of SEO that continue to provide value time and time again when implemented as fundamental components of a comprehensive SEO strategy.