Today, I would like to share a powerful SEO technique (using server side includes SSI and alt attributes) to recapture a website from sagging rankings, orphaned pages, theme diffusion and supplemental results.
This technique is particularly useful if you have a content-rich website (600 pages or more) replete with multiple pages to use for sculpting a collective goal. The two SEO tactics suggested later in the document are (1) virtual theming and (2) emphasis on the alt attribute of images to employ as optimized anchor text to add relevant internal links.
A few clients of ours have massive websites (with several hundred thousand pages) and while SEO for smaller websites can be a snap, working on robust sites with such girth often involve several teams which all need to “buy in” to the SEO process as a whole to embrace the required tactics and changes needed to revive dormant pages.
There is typically a development team, content team, usability team and various other departments all with a stake in the collective process with sites of this size. If you want to actually “get things done” vs. having meetings about your meetings to accomplish optimization in a reasonable time line, then managing expectations as well as project deliverables should be predicated on a lean task-flow model to get past unwarranted resistance or bureaucratic delays.
Not only does this require tact, but the simpler the solution the better; and there is no simpler solution that leveraging link equity from within your own website (since you can control which pages pass what anchor text and value to other relevant pages).
There is no better source for links than your own website, before you go out and try to compete with off page ranking factor (building links to your web property) you need to tend to the site architecture and internal links first.
So, what can you do to restructure the hierarchy of relevance and fine-tune which pages you want to rise to the top and reach the spotlight of search engines? The answer, use the alt attribute of deliberately placed images.
Using Images as Potential Links
Now let’s cover the specifics about the two particular modifications (1) server side includes (SSI) and (2) alt attributes from images as anchor text to build subtle internal links.
Server side includes are sub segments that can be summoned or placed into any template. Granted that the entire website is not built on the same template, this will provide flexibility for optimization purposes as your site evolves.
For example, having a footer1, footer2 or footer3 (all with a different array of internally themed links) will allow you to mirror the type of content in the body area to ensure that the links leaving that page (to augment other site segments) are all based on continuity and are not all the same.
There are two reasons why this is important (1) shingle analysis and / or duplicate content and (2) creating a null set in various repetitive block segments (essentially search engines ignoring your includes and / or links because they occur with high frequency in the website). A block represents a partitioned segment of the website (header, footer, sidebar / column, etc. under this assumption.
For example, if you have 10,000 pages all using the same “me too” template, i.e, using the same navigation and the same links in the sidebar or footer, that is only going to skew your website with internal duplicate content.
The downside is, (a) after so many instances, search engines will simply stop indexing the same content and (b) you will need to exceed a higher threshold of words per page to differentiate the market focus of the page to “convince” search engine algorithms that your page should rank for a specific keyword or key phrase vs. the data dump / alphabet soup it appears as with so many similar elements.
Providing a contextual link from a relevant page to another relevant page is one of the most effective methods for improving SERP (search engine result page) position. Regardless of whether that link comes from an internal source (within the website) or from an external source (from another website) does not matter; what matters is the strength of the page providing the link.
So, What is the Solution?
Create server side includes that you can use at will within the template, instead of using more of “the same old new same” in your web design, vary your server side includes to pull things like (1) more targeted topical sub-navigation such as only linking to similar products or pages or category pages (just look at www.amazon.com )instead of using a template across an entire website (2) use targeted ad blocks to link to your other preferred landing pages with targeted anchor text or (3) swapping out the footers to link to other related areas, sitemaps or other critical regions.
The beauty of this SEO tactic is the text and content on the page remains virtually unchanged and the only elements that are altered are adding a few images or link blocks for the sake of improving languishing link-flow in less traveled site segments.
The degree and extent in which you engage this strategy is entirely up to you, but you could essentially use this in tandem with a simple Google search operator site:mysite.com keyword (replace with your own website and the keyword you want to improve the ranking) and add the new image or block segment / server side include to those pages to funnel link-flow to your preferred landing page a.k.a champion page for that keyword.
- SEO Web Design Harnessing the Power of the Alt Attribute
- SEO and Internal Linking
- Duplicate Content and SEO