Successful inbound marketers have known for years that people go to the web for only two reasons: To be entertained or to solve a problem - quickly. Because of this, I tend to take a "keep it simple stupid" approach to website design and always use simple segmentation calls-to-action and UVP's (Unique Value Propositions) to funnel website visitors to my desired action while keeping the website relatively small. I don't want my visitors to get lost in a bunch of meaningless pages that don't need to be there. This approach is great for conversion considerations, but what about SEO?
SEO Considerations: Off-page Factors
Since backlinks (Off-page factors) are so important for good organic rankings it makes sense to build a website with lots of pages and high quality content to attract natural backlinks. People only link to what they perceive is quality content. This sounds like a really good argument for building a very big website and works well for some. However, after years of working on various types of inbound marketing projects the number one biggest challenge for companies on the web is developing true quality content. Let's be honest with ourselves, more than 99.99% of the internet is not quality content.
SEO Considerations: On-page Factors
The biggest argument heard for having a large website as it relates to keywords (On-page factors) is the opportunity to build keyword-rich landing pages to target specific searches and demographics. This makes sense to most and can work for some, but consider what those pages do to the overall website's keyword saturation. When Google spiders a web page it makes a list of 200 or so words and ranks them in order of perceived importance. After that, Google combines each page's keyword list and comes up with an overall keyword list that is ranked in order of perceived importance. (see below)
Large websites tend to be oversaturated with meaningless keywords. Those keyword-rich landing pages you thought would do well in search may actually be dragging down your website's ability to rank well for its primary and secondary keyword phrases.
Lean & Mean Websites
Having a large website is not required to do well organically in search engines. On the contrary, after witnessing over 50 press releases and over 40 one page websites with unique URLs vault to the first page of Google it's clear size doesn't matter. Many web development companies will insist that you need a large website and will use a myriad of excuses why. The real reason they want to sell you a large website is so they can charge you more for it. Unless you have a PR/content development staff or a dedicated budget for outsourcing to develop consistent high quality content, having a large website will most likely oversaturate your overall website with meaningless keywords and produce very little backlinks.
The above content originally appeared as a guest post on Slingshot SEO in April 2010.
The NEW SEO Consideration
With the recent Google Farmer/Panda update not only do meaningless pages on a website oversaturate the overall keyword theme, but they are deliberately identified and used as justification to pull down the whole website in the SERPs for all keywords. This is Google's way of rewarding "quality" content rather than shallow content.
How to go after large numbers of keywords
In order to rank for large numbers of keywords it is very important to have a blog attached to a website in order to target copious amounts of keyword longtails without oversaturating the main website. Google can recognize the difference between a blog, website, press release, ecommerce and others. The result is a unique alogorithm for each type of web content. This repost describes the algorithm for website content only. The above blog strategy only works when there is an ongoing commitment to content marketing. The same goal can be achieved on ecommerce websites when items are added frequently with lots of associated content.
Occasionally, I like to go back in time and look at older posts that still have significance, have a new significance or a twist can be added to them. The above is an example of that. For more help with search engine optimization download our SEO cheat sheet or ask your questions below.
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