Busy marketers, click here to enjoy this post in its abridged version.
You want to improve your massive publication’s exposure in search engines, but there’s just one problem - you don’t know where to start. Here are some quick yet effective tips that sites as big as NASA.gov can use to get pages prioritized and optimized.
Tip 1: Start with the top performers. First, identify the top performing pages on your site. What’s considered top performing will vary from one site to the next, but they typically include pages that are:
- Generating the most organic traffic
- Generating the most revenue (both product revenue and/or ad revenue)
- Generating in the most affiliate signups
You can use resources such as Google Analytics, AdSense, affiliate data or call tracking metrics to identify your highest performing pages. If you’ve never done any on-page SEO to these pages, chances are doing so will improve their performance. Find these pages, benchmark their performance, apply our suggested on-page tactics below and measure the results.
Tip 2: Find the G.E.M’s. Sites with thousands of pages of content like NASA.gov can contain hundreds of “G.E.M.” pages. G.E.M. stands for “Give Engines More”. It’s a term coined by the SearchRPM team to indicate a page that has indirect SEO value. This can be a page that was created a while back that someone found either organically or through social media and then linked to or shared.
These natural links and social shares boost the page’s SEO value. This is a common occurrence for highly authoritative sites like NASA.gov and other reputable publications.
Using your tool of choice (Majestic, Moz or other), run an analysis on your site to discover pages that have the highest PageRank (which is still a good relative trust metric), trust scores, social shares or links pointing to the page (image seen below). Once you discover these pages, apply our recommended on-page SEO items below as a starting point and measure the results.
Note: Every link is measured differently and has its own PageRank or score for importance. Getting 3322 different domains (one more than NASA Science) to link to your site doesn’t mean you will out rank them. This exercise is to prioritize the importance of pages you should start optimizing based on what pages people are linking to the most. Depending on your content, you can also run this same analysis based on pages people share the most, pages generating the most revenue etc.
Tip 3: Share the love. Nearly every SEO audit tool gives each page of your site a quality score similar to Google’s PageRank. This score takes into account many on-page and off-page factors such as links to the page. The important thing to remember about PageRank or other quality scores is that they can be shared with other pages both within your site and with other sites.
For now we’re mainly concerned with pages within your own site. Using your tool of choice, organize your pages by PageRank or other trust metric. Next, interlink top ranked pages with relevant, lower ranked pages. This improves the overall user experience in terms of discovering the content and can help pass along PageRank and trust to the deeper pages on your site.
For example, let’s assume NASA Science (http://science.nasa.gov/) wants to improve the performance of the Ocean’s Current page. To do so they can link to it from the science.nasa.gov/earth-science/ page, which is in the content silo for that page. Or better yet they could link to it from science.nasa.gov, which is the primary subdomain for those pages. In turn, a portion of the trust metrics or PageRank flows to the Ocean’s Current page driving more traffic to that page and improving the page’s organic performance as well.
What should be included as part of your on-page optimization? We’ll be writing a follow up post to discuss it in more detail, but here are some on-page SEO tactics that we recommend:
- Keyword research - Discover the terms that people tend to use during their search discovery process when looking for your content, product or service.
- Apply keywords naturally throughout your content – Use keywords throughout the content of your page including your page’s title, description, H1 tag, H2 tag, inside the body copy, in video file names and titles (if you have video) and in any relevant images in the image alt-text and titles when possible.
- Apply relevant schema – Structured data, which can be found on https://schema.org/, helps search engines and other data aggregation entities better understand and categorize sections of your content. If your site has any content that can be used with schema HTML, we highly recommend using it.
- Social and share buttons – Make your page easy to share. Whether the page contains images, videos or other content, it should be easy for someone to share the entire URL of the page or the page’s contents.
- Link to other relevant pages – We are referring more towards “interlinking” or linking to pages within your site from one page to another where it makes sense. Linking out to other sites is fine, just as long as you are abiding by Google’s linking policies.
Important: Measure the performance of your on-page optimization
Using our methodology of Design, Measure, Evolve, we’ve discovered insights and tips that help you measure performance as you apply these tactics. Before applying these strategies, it’s best to first do the following:
- 1. Create a benchmark report of the pages you will begin optimizing. This includes recording metrics such as each page’s current rankings, keywords showing in the search results as well as page impressions and clicks in Google (done with Google Analytics & Webmaster Tools).
- 2. Apply the on-page SEO elements mentioned in this post and any best practices gained from your own experience.
- 3. Resubmit your sitemap.xml to Google or let Google discover your changes organically and report your findings.
- 4. Tweet @searchrpm with you findings to share the results.
Abridged for busy marketers:
Prioritizing the on-page optimization of websites with massive amounts of content is all about first knowing which pages are your top performers. These offer “low hanging fruit” and should be optimized first. Next, identify the pages that people are linking to and/or sharing and make those the next pages on your optimization list. Once those are identified you can begin interlinking them to lower ranked pages and add keywords naturally on the page in order to spread the SEO benefit across your site.
By Michael Ramirez