Part 2 of SEO Strategy for the Rest of Us
A series explaining SEO strategy so business leaders can be more effective in search
Looking to rank higher in Google search results? Your site structure can contribute to a successful long-tail keyword strategy. There are many site structure considerations, including links from the homepage, navigation, breadcrumbs, cross-links, footer, and more. We’ll walk through a homepage-down approach to demonstrate how Link Equity should align with your keyword strategy to keep things simple, but in reality, Link Equity flows through a site in every direction.
What is Link Equity?
Link Equity (aka Page Authority, Link Juice or PageRank) is an important search engine ranking factor in Google’s algorithm and one of the key differences between Google and other search engines. Google looks at links within a site, and from other sites, when determining the value of a webpage or website. It assigns value based on the linking page’s authority, relevance, quality, number of links, level within the site structure, and more.
Any easy, but over-simplified, way to explain Link Equity is to imagine each link to a webpage is an endorsement. Some endorsements are more valuable than others. For a pastry supply company, an endorsement from Celebrity Chef Gordon Ramsay is worth more than an endorsement from an unknown chef. The more authoritative the endorsements are for a webpage, the more Link Equity it has.
Internal Link Equity, for interior webpages within your site, works in much the same way. Your webpages with more links will have more Link Equity than pages with fewer links. Since internal Link Equity is the easiest to control, we’ll take a look at how it flows within a site and why it is important.
It All Starts with Your Homepage
Your homepage usually has more Link Equity than other webpages on your site. Why is that? Well, homepages get linked to from other websites more frequently than interior webpages and typically every page within your site links back to the homepage. In essence, it has more “endorsements,” and therefore, it has the most Link Equity to pass on to other pages. When you have important products, services, or keywords that you’re trying to rank for, you’ll want to feature them on your homepage. It helps your audience find important information quickly and also passes higher Link Equity to these webpages, which have the potential to rank for targeted keywords.
What Does This Have To Do with Long-tail Strategy?
Not every website can rank for the most competitive products, services, or keywords – even when you’re doing everything else right for SEO. But every site has the potential to rank for chunky middle or long-tail keywords. Want to read more about long-tail keywords? Read Part 1 in this series.
What does this mean for your site structure? You’ll still find it valuable to direct your audience from your homepage to top products, services, or category pages but to be competitive in non-branded organic search traffic, you’ll likely need to get more Link Equity to product subcategories, product detail pages, or specific blog posts with quality content.
Bubbling Up Content to Improve Long-Tail Performance
One of the easiest ways to improve long-tail SEO performance is to find opportunities to get more Link Equity to important pages and content, which are organized deeper in your site structure.
Looking back at an example from Part 1 in this series, a wholesale bakery ingredients company might not be able to rank competitively for head terms, such as “bakery products” or “pastry cream.” But by linking directly from the homepage to a deeper product subcategory, product detail page, or specific blog post, they may become competitive for some chunky-middle terms and almost certainly can be competitive for long-tail terms, such as “clean label butter cream” or “non-gmo lemon pastry cream,” which have a much higher purchase intent than head terms.
Why Not Just Link to All Your Deeper Content from the Homepage?
You could try to link all your content from the homepage, but excessive links flatten your site structure – essentially giving the same amount of Link Equity to every page. Plus, it wouldn’t be a good user experience to have hundreds of unorganized links so having some depth to your site structure is optimal.
As you’ll see in the image above, a balanced site structure makes for an organized way for a prospect to find products – narrowing down their criteria with each click. From the homepage, the prospect selects the Pastry Cream product category, then chooses the Buttercream product subcategory, and finally lands on the non-GMO lemon buttercream product detail page. It works well for a prospect early on in their search who wants to browse a range of products.
But, let’s think about the prospect who is ready to buy non-GMO lemon buttercream, it’ll take them four clicks to get there… that’s not ideal for a prospect with high buyer intent. A better approach is an unbalanced site structure where the prospect would see your most important products on your homepage and click directly to the product detail page. In this example, the prospect would see non-GMO lemon buttercream in Featured Products on your homepage and click directly to the page they’re looking for – making it faster to get to the right content and substantially increasing the Link Equity for the non-GMO lemon buttercream page, which will improve your SEO performance for this long-tail keyword.
As you can see, it is beneficial to have an unbalanced structure to improve Link Equity so your most important products better compete. A common way to do this on an ecommerce site is by displaying Featured Products or Most Frequently Purchased Products. Of course, we cannot do this for hundreds of products so you should choose which products to feature strategically.
There are lots of opportunities to feature key products or services on your website… not just on the homepage. You could feature a key product in your navigation menu, spotlight New Products on a product category page, display Related Products on a product detail page or highlight in your blog.
Site Structure Rule of Thumb
In summary, your most important products, services, and content should be no more than one or two clicks away from your homepage. How does your site structure size up?
Reach out today to learn more about our SEO audit to build your effective SEO strategy.
You may have missed
Part 1: Embrace the Long Tail in Your Keyword Strategy
Part 3: The Importance of EAT and How to Earn More