Posted by randfish
Many owners of established, older pages are facing a similar issue: they've been ranking decently for a keyword for some time, but they want to move into the coveted number one spot. However, older pages don't drive a ton of new press, new social signals, or awareness. If you want to boost your rankings for the same keyword you've been targeting for awhile, how can you move up to move the needle on your business?
Adjusting your existing, quality content can be used to help bump your site up in the SERPs. In today's Whiteboard Friday, Rand lays out the tactics you can use to boost your older page to the next level!
Here is a screenshot of the whiteboard used in today's video:
"Howdy Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week I want to get a little down in the gritty details. Sometimes you've got a situation like this. Someone's performed a search for air conditioners. You're ranking number four. From an SEO perspective your real need is not, "Let me expand things and look at bunch of different channels." It's, "If I could move this ranking up, I could really move the needle on our business because this is a highly performing, a highly converting term, and I really want to move it just on this particular piece."
Hyper-tactical, but it's good to know all the ways that you can move the needle on this. So if you want to go from number four to number three to number two and you've got essentially an older page, not a new page – so you're not getting lots of new press, attention, or awareness, driving all these social signals, etc. – and you're not targeting a new keyword, you have this kind of stale, older page and you want to get it ranking, there's a bunch of tactics that you can pursue, and I want to talk about each of them in a bit of detail.
So number one, point more external links to the URL. This is probably the most classic thing that folks in the SEO field have done over the last decade, 12 years. It does work, and it still does work, although it's less powerful than it used to be because search engines, Google in particular, are looking at such a broader set of figures and data sources for their ranking signals.
However, a few things about this. This is going to be pretty darn hard to do with commercial content. It's much easier if you got educational or non-promotional stuff, because reaching out and getting links from other types of folks, from other websites is much easier when it's authentic and not directly promotional or not directly revenue generating, that kind of thing. Now this is much easier for folks who are in like a non-profit space or in an educational or content space because they can reach out and say, "Hey, I have this great resource. I think your people might like it. Do you want to shoot over a link to it? Can I contribute something to your site and point to it?" Yes.
It's much harder to do that when you have a page that's ranking for air conditioners and you're just trying to beat out three other e-commerce retailers for air conditioners. This is the way it goes.
I do have some specific recommendations. I'm not going to dive into every one of these, but these are the tactics that, in my experience, work the best. So that's guest content, basically when you're writing on other people's sites. Of course, just like everything, it's got to be authentic, got to be high quality. You can't just be spamming other people's sites or submitting to really low quality ones.
Promotions do tend to work pretty well. If you're doing a promotion on your air conditioners, other people may pick that up. You can get press and attention, social attention. Partnerships can work well. Testimonials and reviews. So other people who are writing reviews about maybe an air conditioner line that you've just launched, or someone's writing a review about a new air conditioner that's come out, and you happen to be the retailer featuring that, you can be included in those types of places.
List inclusion, if you know about a list that already exists where people are covering places to get air conditioners online, you can get included in those. Again, be really careful. You don't want to go to those spammy, generic directories. You want to be going to high-quality lists. CNET Reviews is very different from Articles-about-electronics-online.info. Apologies if that's your site. If not, we should register it. I'm kidding.
Press and blogs, of course. Social media pushes you can do, especially if you've got something to announce around air conditioners. Summer's coming up, right? A Facebook page, a push on Pinterest, a push on Twitter, or on Google+.
Link reclamation, meaning you go back and find places that used to link to you that don't anymore, places that used to link to your competition but those links are now broken. You can go talk to those kinds of folks.
Those are the kinds of link building techniques that have worked best, in my experience. Please be so super careful not to build the wrong links. If you haven't watched it already, Matt Cutts has been tweeting and talking in video – Matt Cuts being the head of the Web Spam Team at Google – talking about how they're going to be taking even more aggressive action than what they took with Penguin in a Penguin 2.0 algorithm that's coming out in the next few weeks. So just please be super cautious about where you're getting these external link sources from.
Especially since links are a little less powerful than they used to be and because a lot of the linking sources are more dangerous than they once were, there are some other ways I want to mention. Those include increasing your click-through rate. Now, I'm not trying to say here that correlation equals causation, or that it even implies that, but what we do know is more people clicking through on your listing means fewer people clicking through to your competitors and a higher chance that some of those people are going to take actions that we know does increase ranking, so things like linking to you and sharing you and those kinds of things. Your page is clearly providing a more compelling experience. That tends to be exactly what Google's algorithm is trying to accomplish, and so increasing your click-through rate can help with this.
One of the ways that this can be done, and this is not to say that Google is sort of biased to people who do it, but if you supplement with PPC, with paid search ads, it tend to be the case, and lots of people have tried different tests around this and gotten different performance, but, on average, it tends to be the case that one plus one equals a little more than two. I put 2.25 for that. Your mileage may vary. But basically, if I take a look over here and I've got my air conditioner page and I also have an ad on the sidebar or on the top up here, it tends to be the case that the click-through rate here, plus the click-through rate here, is a little more than if I just had a paid ad or if I just had the organic listing. So two listings on the page slightly better than one and one. So that's certainly an angle you can try again.
Again, I urge you to test this, not to just take it on blind faith. Included in that test methodology should be testing modifications to the title and the description. So if your air conditioner page here has got a description and a title and a URL – the URL matters too, and you can do things like 301 redirect the old one to a new one – this can move the needle. I have found a lot of the time that what I'd call keyword-stuffed, kind of SEO 1.0, back in the late '90s, early 2000s type of things where it says, "Air conditioners, your air conditioners, get the best air conditioners here," followed by a brand name that's kind of off, after what people can see in the title in the search results, doesn't perform nearly as well as a brand people recognize, a compelling title that has a little bit of authenticity, a little bit of your brand and your culture and your unique value proposition embedded right in the title and the description.
The same story with the URL. Lots of hyphens separating something, a longer URL, a dynamic URL versus one that has readable keywords in it and readable text in there. Again, you're going for authenticity. You're going for, "Boy, what would I click on? What do I tend to click on? What do people like?" Think of this just like you'd think of a paid search ad. You want to optimize all the areas of this and try and test it and get better performance out of that click-through rate.
Another thing you can obviously do is add rich snippets. These are things like we could add a video to the page and add the video XML sitemap so that we get the video markup next to that result. We could add rel=author and get our profile picture next to it, assuming we connected with Google+. For some types of rich snippet results, recipes in particular, news items, you can add images and get those in there. For other types of results, air conditioners, any ecommerce result, you can have star reviews and number of reviews. All of those things can help move the needle on click-through rate.
Number three, improve and revitalize the page's content itself. Again, this isn't always a direct needle mover. It can be indirect. But Google is pretty sophisticated with analyzing content. Better content, I don't mean better content in terms of it has more keywords stuffed into it, or better content in terms of it just happens to be longer or more in-depth. I mean more compelling, more uniquely valuable, more interesting, more worthy of being shared, more special. That kind of stuff tends to perform better in Google.
They've got a wide variety of text-based content analysis algorithms that tell them all sorts of stuff about a page, not just keywords and TFIDF and stuff like that. So things like rich media, video, images, graphics, the layout design, the user experience, the visual aesthetics, how the page looks, these actually can move the needle, not just on how it performs in the search results, but how it performs in terms of conversion rate. Conversion rate actually tends to be tied pretty nicely to how it performs in search results, because again, Google is looking at all those pieces of the algorithm, trying to piece together what provides the best experience for our users. Text content too. I'm not just talking about keywords. I'm talking about that unique value. If you haven't seen the Whiteboard Friday on unique value versus unique content, you should check that out.
I know I didn't have enough room, so I switched sides. Number four, internal links and redirects. So there are a few things that can happen here. Sometimes you have an orphaned page. It's only linked to from one section. You've got to drill way deep down into a subcategory or sub-subcategory to find this page on your site. E-commerce sites are particularly messy with this kind of stuff a lot of the time. Make sure that the page is getting link love, internal link love, relevant link love. I'm not talking about stuffing an anchor text-rich link in the footer of every page or the category section or something like that. I'm talking about when you have pages that are relevant to air conditioning, you have a page on summer appliances, you have a page on electronics, you have a page on what should homeowners be thinking about to upgrade their homes, great. Make sure that you're linking to your air conditioner page. Those are relevant pages where people would want to see that. If you're confused, do an "air conditioners"site:yourdomain. See all the pages where you mentioned it, and yet have somehow failed to link over to your air conditioner's page that you actually got.
Consolidation. This is a really powerful one. So this is essentially saying, "I'm going to take all the pages that are targeting that same term or phrase and 301 them all together." We've done this a number of times on Moz, because we'll have a bunch of old blog posts or old content pages that are all talking about exactly the same thing. Then we go, "Man, why do we have seven of these? And, by the way, six of them are more than three years old." Let's just take those and 301 them back to the most relevant, most high-quality content. If we have some content that was on those other pages that we want to put on the existing one, let's do that. Let's consolidate so people don't get lost in terms off which is the most relevant page about air conditioners on your site. Google shouldn't be confused about that either, and that can actually really move the needle. I've seen that a number of times pop us from page two to page one, or pop us from the bottom of page one to the top five results, that kind of stuff.
Number five, newer signal, but something that I'm pretty sure in this year's ranking factors is going to prove to be very interesting, and that is branding, co-occurrence, and mentions. What I mean by this is if your brand name, that's usually your domain name and usually your company name as well, is often connected with the words "air conditioners" – by connected I mean connected when the press talks about you, when third party sites talk about you, when people blog about you, when social media users talk about you – if those words tend to appear frequently together, your brand plus thing you want to rank for, you tend to do quite well. We've seen some early signals that mentions, that co-occurrence of terms, phrases plus brand can really move the needle. So don't ignore that either.
All right. Hope these five techniques are things that you can try out. Share your experiences with the rest of the Whiteboard Friday readers in the comments, and I'll look forward to seeing you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care."
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