SEO Dreams are Made of This

The term "SEO dreaming" was suggested in a session at a recent search marketing conference that spoke about how sites should be organized and how pages should be set up. Judging by the amount of blank stares in the room, it's important to go over some basics, especially because most major companies continue to make mistakes that hurt themselves.

One major single factor that affects rankings from a page point of view: targeting. This isn't a specific tag that you can add to a page, but more importantly several areas.

For example, let's say a page is written toward a particular product, like a yoga floor mat. Typically, a site organizes this by category, and lists it under yoga supplies or floor exercise equipment.

Here's the problem. Most content folks automatically assume that, because this appears in the floor exercise equipment category, they should include another popular product, like an exercise ball. This is a mistake because that page is targeted toward a specific yoga floor mat, not an exercise ball.

Sure, the category contains various similar products of all sizes and purposes, but a search engine can only pattern match, based on what it sees on the page. So if you have a page title that says something like, "My Exercise Shop -- Yoga Exercise Mat and Exercise Balls," you're providing too much information to the search engine and diluting the score across several key phrases, including your store name.

The page was about "Yoga Exercise Mat," so depending on how far down in the site's taxonomy this product lives (which in most cases is way too far -- more than four clicks), the search engine will only pass so much credit. If you further dilute the score by breaking it apart with multiple phrases, the page likely won't rank. Unless you have a large, established, well-known brand, it isn't a good idea to include it within the page title.

All content is scored from the upper left hand corner to the bottom right hand corner of the page, per area. This doesn't exclude tags, such as a page title or header tags. The search engine reads the tag or area from left to right, with the most important part at the front of the sentence or tag. The greater the quantity of information, the higher the level of dilution in terms of targeting.

If you create a page targeting "Yoga Exercise Mat," don't add additional terms to the headers or title that may include "Yoga Floor Mat." This will dilute the page and won't help with the overall scoring.

You may be thinking, "Well this worked for such and such page," but is that page close to the home page of the site? Is it well linked from the outside world? You can see a fairly precise count from the Google Webmaster Tools console.

Also, I recently discovered that Google is measuring the overall CTR and bounce rate of a ranking. This level of tracking isn't a constant. However, it's nearly impossible to tell when it's on or off.

Thus, it's so important that the listing is compelling and the page is what the user is looking for. Otherwise, it will drop off and it can be very difficult to push back into the results.

From what I can tell, these calculations are URL-specific, so all scoring and/or filters are placed based on a pattern. If you're trying to reset this score, you may want to consider a dramatic change to the URL structure for a new evaluation.

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About the author

Aaron Shear is a partner in Boost Search Marketing, an enterprise-level global consulting firm. Offering expert advice to many of the most trafficked sites around the world. Aaron has been optimizing websites since the late 90's, and has provided hundreds of businesses with countless top SEO and SEM returns.

Previously Aaron was the Global Director of SEO with Shopping.com, an eBay Company. At Shopping.com Aaron spearheaded the global optimization efforts of Shopping.com, Dealtime and Epinions. Prior to that, Aaron was the CTO at SEO Inc., where he spearheaded optimization efforts with clients such as IGN Entertainment, VEGAS.com, Sierra Trading Post, Sony Motion Pictures, Archer Daniels Midland, and Alliance Business Centers Network.

Before becoming an SEO Aaron worked at Inktomi, as a Technical Account Manager, where he learned SEO from the creators of the search engines first-hand. Aaron's primary responsibility was managing client relationships such as MSN, IWon, Hotbot and HP to name a few.