Q and A: How do I get a landing page to out rank my homepage?

Question

Kalena,

I am a former student and I have a good question: Suppose I have a landing page for ‘pick a keyword’? Obviously I want the customer to land on this page but this page does not have any pagerank yet. The homepage however does have pagerank and the search results in showing the homepage. How do I get the landing page to out rank the homepage for the specific term?

Respectfully, Cliff

Hi Cliff,

This question really comes back to the fundamentals of SEO, so provides a good opportunity to review some of the basics.

Often a websites Home Page will outrank it’s other, more targeted pages, even though they have more content relevant to the search query, but why is this the case? The answer is usually quite simple, and it mostly comes down to backlinks.  More often than not a websites home page has significantly more links to it from external sites, than other pages on the site.  Search engines treat backlinks as “votes of confidence” and use anchor text associated with those links as a strong signal about what the site is about.

So, to answer you question – How do I get a landing page to out rank my homepage? – get back to the basics :

  1. Ensure that the contents of the landing page is highly relevant to and includes plenty of mentions of your targeted keywords
  2. Optimise Page Title, description, H tags for your keyword
  3. Establish links to the landing page (not your sites home page), from related third party sites with you keyword phrases as anchor text.

Hope that helps…

Andy Henderson
WebConsulting SEO Consulting (Brisbane, Australia)

Q and A: Why use paid advertising and not consider organic listings?

Question

Dear Kalena…

What are some of the reasons a person will continue to spend thousands of dollars a day on paid advertising and not consider Organic listings. How would you begin to approach persons like this aside from the obvious question…Why?

Willie

Hi Willie,

As you are probably aware, there has been debate for years over the Pros and Cons of  Pay Per Click (PPC) versus Search Engine Optimization (SEO) – with many people holding strong opinions for and against both.  There is way to much info on this topic to cover properly in this little old Q and A, but I’ll try an summarise the highlights and give my perspective on the issue.

Some PPC benefits

  • Fast results – can usually start seeing results within hours (or even minutes) of activating a campaign
  • Only Pay when a user clicks
  • Relatively easy to target the Keywords you want
  • Don’t necessarily have to change your site
  • Good Tracking capabilities (so can monitor, measure, adjust and improve)
  • You get to define where users go (you specify the landing page)
  • Can target Specific regions/localities for your ad to appear
  • Achieve Page 1 visibility quickly and easily (but not necessarily cheaply)

PPC can be a very effective way to promote a website (particularly a new site). However once you stop spending, your ads stop showing, and the visitors stop coming – there is no long term benefit for the expense.  PPC is relatively quick and easy to setup – but it is just as quick and easy for your competitors – if they have deeper pockets, they could ultimately win, no matter what you do.

As long as you know what a click is worth to you, and are certain that the returns are greater than the cost, PPC can be very effective.  You don’t care if it costs you $2,000 (or more) a day as long as it generates $5,000.

PPC is one of the few ways a brand new site can get found in the search results and start to generate traffic (and revenue) while the longer term SEO strategies kick in. The data generated from a PPC Campaign (such as which keywords are converting) can also be an extremely useful source of information for an SEO campaign.

About SEO

Here are some of the benefits of Search Engine Optimization:

  • Visitors from Organic Search are Free
  • The rankings a website achieves through SEO can continue for a long time after the work has been completed
  • On-page changes (which are probably necessary for SEO) can help improve conversions as well as traffic
  • Typically more searchers click the natural search engine results (88%) versus the pay per click ads (12%), so you are likely to get much more traffic from Organic results.
  • Users typically feel Organic Search Results have a higher “trust” level

Of course SEO is not free – it requires effort and investment, often over a long period.  In some competitive niches it can be very difficult (or even impossible) to achieve page 1 rankings, but in most niches it is possible to relatively easily achieve reasonable rankings and traffic. As far as I am concerned, it’s the user that should be at the heart of any SEO strategies. Pretty much whatever you do to improve the user experience is likely to improve your rankings and conversion rates (and ultimately increase sales/enquiries)

I’m actually a fan of both PPC and SEO (and I’m not just fence sitting), there are Pros and Cons to each and depending on your specific needs, one or the other (or even both) could be right for you.

Andy Henderson
WebConsulting (SEO Brisbane)

Q and A: Are site wide footer links OK for SEO?

Question

Hey Kalena,

What are your thoughts on having links to other pages of my web site at the bottom of each of my web pages? Will this help or hurt our rankings? Is this a more outdated practice?

Thanks! -Lisa

Hi Lisa,

Including Links within a site wide footer is a fairly common practice that has been around for a long time – and in fact has seen a bit of a resurgence in the designs of a lot of Web 2.0 sites.

Providing you are sensible in the use of these types of links they should help, rather than hurt your rankings.  In many cases the footer provides a logical place to provide links to the main sections of your site – and also allows you to include search engine friendly text based (and keyword rich) anchor text.

Footer links can make it easier for users to navigate your site – without having to scroll back to the top of the page.  However,  I recommend that you use footer links in moderation – I suggest a maximum of a dozen or so.  If there are too many (particularly if they are heavily keyword optimised) they can start to look spammy (to search engines as well as users) and may start to have a negative impact on rankings and conversions.

Google has also suggested that you should try and limit the number of links per page  to a maximum of about 100.  If you have a large number of links in your page footers this could become an issue.

As a general rule, if it’s good for your users it will be good for search rankings.  If you are thinking of doing anything to your site primarily for the benefit of the search engines rather than your users, then you should think long and hard before going ahead with it.

Andy Henderson
Ireckon Web Marketing

Q and A: Why aren’t our franchisee websites being found in search results?

Question

Hi Kalena,

I have just encountered something I am not sure about and I really need some advice on this. The site I am working on has the following issue;

It is a business with 100 franchises. The franchisees are complaining they do not come up in any searches. I have checked it and they don’t. Not even when you type in their exact URL into the search engine.

The URL structure for the business’s franchises work like this;
www.clientsite.com/studio/location (actual URL provided)

A related problem may be that there are 3 separate XML sitemaps:
1) www.clientsite.com/sitemap/sitemap.xml
2) www.clientsite.com/sitemap/location(Alpha)sitemap.xml
3) www.clientsite.com/sitemap/location(postcodes)sitemap.xml

The first is their MAIN sitemap. The other two are sitemaps for all the locations of their franchises (100 in total) These locations and their URLS are not included in the MAIN sitemap. Is having multiple sitemaps detrimental to the SEO.?

Yen

Hi Yen,

You may be surprised, but this is a VERY common issue for franchise websites that are based on a template structure, and you’ll realise that the reason the franchisee pages are not being found in search results is actually pretty simple… But first, I’ll address your sitemap query.

Multiple Sitemaps

Using multiple sitemaps is not the problem here.  If you do a search for  site:clientsite.com in Google you will see that the pages in question are actually indexed – which means that the search engines have found and crawled them.

I think though that it is probably unnecessary for your site (with just a couple of thousand pages) to have multiple sitemaps.  Multiple sitemaps are recommended (and in fact required) for very large sites, but there is a specific protocol involving a sitemaps index file (that you do not seem to be using).  You can find out more about it, with clear instructions and examples on how to correctly use sitemaps at sitemaps.org.

So the issue with your site is not indexing – it is ranking.  You don’t specify what search queries you would hope/expect the pages to be found for, but for all the examples I tried, the franchisees pages did come up for a query of their business name itself – which is more evidence that the pages are indexed OK.  From what I could see, all your franchisees seem to have a single page  of content – based on a standard template, with just the business name and contact details changed.  So in effect each franchisees page is one of 100 essentially “identical” pages on the site.

Website Templates

This is a clear issue of duplicate content which is very common for franchise sites based upon standard templates (which provide templated content rather than just the structure or design).  In this instance, each franchisee has just a single page within the same root domain (1 of 100 almost identical pages), with relatively little keyword rich content, so I am not surprised (and neither should you be) that it does not rank at all for general keyword phrases.  In fact if each franchisee had their own individual domains, with multiple pages of optimised keyword rich content – if they were based on the same template, they still would not rank any better.

I get asked about this type of issue a lot.  Excited and enthusiastic new franchisees (and multi level marketers) have setup their website using a template provided by “the business” and pretty soon begin to wonder why the eagerly anticipated enquiries and sales aren’t flooding in from their websites.

Quality, Keyword Rich, Unique Content

One of the very first things that most SEOs learn is that to get good rankings you need quality, keyword rich and UNIQUE content.  Using a templated approach is clearly NOT a strategy you should follow to get unique content.  For a graphic example try this search query : “incalculable numbers of real people“  – which is snippet of text taken from a website template for a well known international “We are Not Multi Level Marketing” organisation (probably not the one you are thinking of).

The above, fairly specific, and you might expect, “unique” query returns over 40,000 results. Is it any wonder that most of these sites will never be found through organic search?

That’s not to say that there is no value in these templated systems – many have been setup to very cleverly guide people through to the signup process – but if you “own” one of these sites you will need to use other methods to get traffic to it (PPC, Advertising, etc) and not rely on organic search traffic.

So Yen,  back to your question… If your franchisees want to be found for generic keyword searches, I suggest that they register their own domains, and create their own unique, keyword rich content rather than depending on the corporate “template”.

Andy Henderson
WebConsulting

Q and A : When will my site show up in Google ?

Question

Hi Kalena

I just created a site for world of warcraft hunter talent builds. It is a blog site, and I checked in cPanel, and googlebot has visited. But I am not indexed.  I tried ‘site:www.domainnameprovided.com’ in the google search box, but it can’t find me.

Is there an average time gap between googlebot crawling and your site showing up in results?  Or should it be basically instant (as long as your site is not rejected).  I checked my site and it seems that none of the keyword densities are above about 4%.  So please can you check out my site and tell me if I’m spamming somehow?
(Website URL Provided)

Thanks
Danny

Hi  Danny

This is quite a common “concern” for owners of brand new sites.  Many have an expectation that their site will automatically show up in the search engines as soon as their site is launched.  As you’ve discovered this is certainly not the case.

Google and other search engines are pretty good at finding new sites (eventually) but there are a number of things that you can do to help speed up this process.  The best way to be found is to get links to your site from other third party sites – the higher the profile, and the more relevant these sites to yours the better.  It is also possible to “submit” your website url to Google via http://www.google.com/addurl/ – but you are much better off getting third party links.  Creating a sitemap.xml file and submitting it via Webmaster Tools can also help.

Use a site: Query to See What is Indexed

Typically, you could expect your site to be crawled and at least partially indexed within a few weeks. Using the site: command as a search query – e.g. site:yourdomainname.com is a quick and easy way to determine what pages on your site are currently indexed by a search engine (this works under Google, Yahoo and Bing).

Under Google, it is likely that you will be found for a query on your business name, or some other unique string from your site – you may even (initially) achieve some reasonable rankings for more general keywords – but typically (unless your website covers a very niche area), these generic rankings are short lived, and you will more than likely not be found for most keyword phrases for 6 to 8 months (this is known as the sandbox effect)

Site Check

It’s now been a couple of weeks, and I’ve had a look at how your site is indexed in Google. You currently have a dozen or so pages indexed.  However, your site appears to be redirecting to another URL which is a subdomain of another site – and that other site contains a variety of other subdomains – some of which include adult content. This is likely to impact your rankings and you would be much better off setting up your site under it’s own hosting environment.

WOW sites are of course hugely popular, and this is a pretty competitive area.  There are many free WOW based blog “themes” available, and it looks to me like you have selected one of the free themes for your site.  This is OK – but is another factor that makes it difficult for you to differentiate your site from the others – and as far as the search engines are concerned could very well make it harder for you to “stand out from the crowd” and achieve better rankings than your competitors.

Keyword Density

Finally, don’t get too hung up on keyword densities. Whilst keywords are certainly important (and you should know which keyword phrases are the most important ones for you to optimise for) – you should be focusing on providing interesting, relevant, useful, and unique content for your users, rather than writing for the search engines.  If it is good for your users, it will be good for search.

Andy Henderson
Ireckon Web Marketing