Site visitors like content-rich sites. So do search engines.
It is surprising how often we run across companies that expect their existing sites to be found in the organic search results for a wide range of search terms their sites fail to adequately address. Sure, these companies may have products or services related to those search terms, but they haven’t created organic landing pages for those search terms. They don’t have content-rich sites. To be found for a specific search term, there needs to be an optimized landing page on the website that revolves around that search term. A landing page is the website page to which you want people to click through when they click on a search result for a specific search term.
Effective search engine optimization requires each significant page in a website have its own song, i.e., each page is optimized to specific search terms. You may be able to get two or three closely related search terms to point to the same landing page, but, typically, if the search terms aren’t very closely related, they should have different landing pages. Even when terms appear to be related, for instance “healthcare consulting” and “healthcare consultant”, given the amount of individual competition in the search engines for these terms, each term will likely need its own landing page.
Suddenly, the task of creating a content-rich optimized website seems daunting; you may need to double or triple the amount of content on your site simply to have appropriate organic landing pages for your desired keywords.
Although creating web content is cheaper than print communications, creating a large amount of new, original, persuasive web content is still time-consuming and expensive. Here are some search engine optimization strategies to quickly and efficiently leverage what you may already have to build high-ranking landing pages.
- There’s no point creating additional content if the search engines can’t index your existing content. The first step in search engine optimization is to make sure the search engines are actually indexing your site’s content. A simple way to do this is to type “site:www.[yoursite]” in Google. The results you see are the pages Google has in its index. Ideally, you want to see all of your site’s important pages in Google’s main index. You may see some results listed as being in the Supplemental Index. While results from the Supplemental Index are still returned in Google’s search results, results in the main index are far more likely to be returned in the search results. If you have few pages indexed, or if only few of your important pages are being indexed, your site may be built improperly. You should engage a seasoned, ethical search engine optimization firm to conduct a site audit to determine what factors are prohibiting indexing and what changes need to be made. Assuming your site is getting indexed properly, proceed to the next steps.
- Make a list of the search terms for which you want to be found, and determine your ranking in the search results for each search term. For each search term, note your ranking in the search results as to whether you appear (a) in the top 30 (b) in the top 100, or (c) not in the top 100. Also note to which page the search result links. Is it an appropriate page? The one you want people to see? Is it the best page on your site for the search term?
- Obviously being on the first page of the search results is the holy grail. But pages ranking in the top 30 results are probably fine for now; you can optimize them further later. Pages in the top 100 are obviously indexed but unlikely to get clicked on; searchers rarely go past the first 30 results before refining their search terms. You’ll need to optimize these pages to get them in the top 30, but at least you have an active landing page as a starting point for optimization. For those search terms for which you did not appear in the top 100 results, you probably don’t have a good organic landing page. You will need to create landing pages for these search terms and determine how to integrate them into the navigation of your site.
- The first place to look for new landing page content is existing material that may or may not be on your website. Using your list of search terms for which you have no rankings in the top 100, review what existing marketing communications you could optimize and integrate into your site for each of those search terms. Are there any communications that could be reworked and optimized to serve as landing pages for your list of search terms? Here are some ideas regarding where to look for landing page content. For each of these, you may need to optimize the content to have it effectively serve as a landing page for the search term to which it relates. If you don’t know how to optimize content, engage a reputable SEO firm to help.
- Look for pdfs on your website, and get the content out of pdf form. While many of the search engines can read and index pdfs, most search engines are lazy. Content is far more likely to be indexed and to rank well if it is in html format. Even if you have high-ranking pdfs, you may want to consider changing them to html format. Searchers are also lazy; they would rather view html content than download a pdf. Accordingly, they are less likely to click on a pdf result. Also, wouldn’t you rather have them click through to your site where they can easily click to other areas rather than have them simply get a static pdf that likely doesn’t allow them to click through to your site?
- Review your news release and news items—both the ones on your web and ones you didn’t post. Can any of these be reworked and optimized to act as a landing page for a specific search term on your list? Items in the news section of websites can act as great landing pages.
- Review any technical papers you might have to see if they can serve as landing pages for your desired search terms. Optimize the ones already on your site and consider adding and reworking ones that currently exist only in hard copy.
- If you publish a newsletter, review past issues for content that could serve as landing pages for specific search terms. There’s no need to optimize every story, just the ones that could possibly serve as landing pages. If you currently post your newsletter on your site, make sure it is in html format, not pdf. Also, don’t lump an entire issue of a newsletter into one page. Each newsletter story should be posted as a separate page; landing pages need to have focused content. If a landing page has five newsletter stories, the content is not very focused.
- Review any existing case studies, white papers, or other articles you may have to determine if any of them can be optimized and posted on our website to serve as a landing page for a specific search term.
- Lastly, look to brochures and other collateral. You may have these in hardcopy or in pdf form on your web. Can you leverage and rework any of that content to serve as landing pages for your desired search terms? Printed and pdf brochures are often long, multi-topic pieces. Consider posting content from sections of these pieces as individual landing pages optimized for specific search terms. Convert and modify these smaller sections of content to be stand-alone html pages on your site.
- When you have identified existing marketing communications that you can leverage to act as landing pages, you’ll need to both optimize the content and determine how you can logically integrate these landing pages into your site in a logical, intuitive, user-friendly way. Make sure that in doing so, you use html links with keyword-rich anchor text pointing to this new content.
Creating optimized landing pages for all of your desired search terms can be a daunting task. It’s rewards, however, are well worth the effort. When undertaking this initiative, be sure to leverage what you may already have. If you have the content, but don’t know how to properly optimize and integrate it into you site for effective search engine optimization, engage a reputable search engine optimization firm to help you.