I have found that one of the most frustrating things as an Internet marketer is to work on a website knowing that there are limitations to what can actually be implemented due to resource constraints. It would be great if all action items could be completed, but for many businesses, it’s very necessary to prioritize and even ignore some of the more complex or costly recommendations.
To be specific, I find that one of the most significant and effective (but also difficult) SEO recommendations is to rearrange a site’s hierarchy and primary navigation based on keyword research findings. Doing this creates an amazing structure for both usability (most of the time) and of course, increased search engine rankings. However, accomplishing this task can be too costly and resource intensive for many companies, and I have observed that opening up the can of worms that is “website structure” has the special ability to breed fights and bickering within an organization.
For this reason, I want to address ways in which you can utilize your current site hierarchy with new keyword research findings in order to improve rankings without redesigning the whole website.
Typical Site Hierarchy Issues
I often find that websites that have not been optimized are built in such a way that complex products or industry solutions are over-simplified. In other words, top level, primary navigation and secondary navigation is not granular enough, forcing Internet markers to fit a lot of keyword research into a small site. Unfortunately, doing this leads to sub-par optimization as well as keywords not being utilized effectively.
For example, consider a hypothetical sun care company. They most likely will have a section on their website for sun lotion, and if they are like most companies, they probably only have a single page dedicated to this. The rest of their pages will deal with other sun protection products like ointments for sun burns, sun glasses and so on.
Now, when working to optimize this site, I will do some keyword research and find the following:
Notice all of the different keywords people use to find what our hypothetical store has to sell, and remember that we only have one page. In this situation, many will simply go with “sunscreen” since it gets the most searchers and optimize the single page towards this keyword. However, recognize that we will be missing out on at lest 8100 searchers (according to the Google keyword tool). Although this is a simple example, this issues happens regularly on larger scales (think of sites dealing with Internet security or B2B services) and site owners often choose the most promising keyword and ignore the others.
However, it doesn’t have to be this way! Without changing the primary navigation or messing with the website hierarchy too much, we can still target all 2nd tier keywords, even if there are many more than my sunscreen example.
Finding a Home for New Content
Now, what we don’t want it a long drop-down menu with many pages, each targeting different keyword variations. We have to find solutions that maintain the user experience but still allow for easy crawler access to these new pages. Doing this is not as difficult as it seems!
Perhaps the most popular option is to create a blog (self-hosted) and write posts with relevant content targeting these search query variations. Although there are some other options which will provider better organic rankings and conversions, this option is has the side effect of increasing brand interaction (subscribers) and establishing the company as an industry leader. Moreover, if your client outsourced website creation, they might not have the ability to immediately launch new pages on their website. Creating and setting up a blog is actually easier for clients in some cases.
Deep Site Pages Separate From Primary Navigation
This is my favorite solution because it provides the best opportunity for increased search engine visibility and is the most effective at boosting conversions. With this option, we can actually create separate pages for keyword variations that are well optimized, but still keep our navigation clean. How does this work? Through site-wide cross linking of course!
Consider our hypothetical sunscreen company, all we would have to do is create our separate pages for “sunblock” and “sunscreen lotion,” and place links from our primary “sunscreen” page to these pages using targeted anchor text. If you would like, you can place these links in a sidebar which is unique to the “sunscreen” page, or you could simply link to these pages from within the body copy of the “sunscreen” page. Either way, search engine crawlers will still get easy access to these new pages and it won’t ruin your primary navigation.
Although this is an inferior solution to the ideas mentioned above, sometimes this is all that site owners will have time for. Creating a glossary page, or a glossary section, is still better than not having these keyword variations represented on the website at all. With this solution, you will at least draw some long tail traffic, but don’t expect first page rankings for the keywords in the glossary.
So next time, instead of simply throwing away great keywords, make sure you find a use for them to help boost site optimization!