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by Michael Rolfe on 1st November 2011
Many Webmasters and SEOs think they know all they need to know about on-page SEO, but when was the last time they reviewed their site structure? Is on-page SEO more important than ever now in light of updates such as Panda? Solid on-page structure is a pre-requisite for a strong SEO campaign. Check that your website structure is performing optimally for you.Site structure, content and optimisation all intertwine for effective on page SEO and this post will involve these topics while concentrating on the outcome of establishing a profitable, SEO driven website.
Search Engines are text based crawlers so your site will be based around keywords. Listing your main products, services, features, benefits, solutions and related terms is a good place to start building your keyword list.
A hierarchical structure will make logical sense for users and search engines to navigate. This structure also helps to group related topics together. For example, we can see HiFis and TVs grouped under the Products category below. There could be another level below HiFis, perhaps listing the individual HiFis they stock.
Lets say one of the individual HiFi pages is about a Sony Hifi. On this page we would want to target the term ‘Sony Hifi’ as well as a lot of related keywords such as ‘Buy Sony HiFi’, ‘Sony Hifi Shop’ and/or ‘Sony HiFi deals’. This is because the long-tail of search has substantially more traffic in it than just targeting the primary keyterm of ‘Sony Hifi’.
Despite this, many SEOs still only optimise for one term alone, losing out on many long tail searches. Use one of the many keyword tools available to help you build a list of related keyterms.
If you have a website that is already ranking for some related terms, build your keyword list around those. This is because you are already getting traffic for these keyterms so you are likely to get traffic for related terms.
This is the most accurate estimation of how easy it will be for your site to compete for this keyterm as it is based on historical performance of your website for this term, rather than more opaque measures of competitor strength such as the raw number of competitor backlinks, etc.
Let’s presume you now have a list of ten terms containing the phrase ‘Sony HiFi’ that you wish to incorporate in to your ‘Sony HiFi’ page. How do you optimise for all those terms? Just try to include the primary term (in this case ‘Sony HiFi’) in the Title and Header tags, and the other terms wherever possible and relevant, for example body text, Alt tags, etc.
Apart from the navigational bars you may have along the top and/or side of your web pages, you should also interlink the pages with in-body keyword anchor-text. Our ‘Sony HiFi’ page therefore might mention that Panasonic do a range of white HiFis and they should click the link for more information on Panasonic HiFis (where ‘Panasonic HiFis’ is a link to the Panasonic HiFi page).
These internal links should also flow between the product pages and their parent category pages, again using relevant in-body anchor text links. This internal linking structure should also pass up from category page to the Home page. The Home page could contain a heading and a paragraph of text for each category page, with an in-body anchor text link back down to the category page in question.
This internal linking structure channels the search engines from the Home page, down through the category level pages and through to the Product pages. From here the search engines follow those anchor text links to other product pages and back up the category and Home pages. Picture the links as looping, circular systems within the hierarchical page structure.
Having tightly grouped keywords that all revolve around a keyword theme will help a Product page to rank for long tail combinations of words as well as help the primary keyterm of those long tail phrases to rank also. In this manner, the Product and Home pages support and are supported by the pages around them.
To improve further, monitor which keywords lead to conversions and create pages based around those terms. You can also dig into any existing Analytics data you may have to find terms that don’t convert as well and avoid using them in your copy and link building – try different terms instead.
Finally, if you can run trial PPC campaigns for these terms you can quickly discover if the terms on your page are converting or not. If they are you can begin link building to rank organically for these terms. If not, you have saved yourself a long spell of off-page optimisation that could’ve brought you little benefit. Here is one link building service I would recommend.
I hope this brief overview helps to paint another perspective of understanding in this ever evolving landscape of SEO. If you have any questions, comments or feedback, please feel free to join the conversation below as always!