Powerful SEO Content: Understanding Breadth of Coverage

Nearly every SEO has been on this end of a conversation: “The keyword we really want to rank number one for is [enter impossible keyword here”.

I often tell people they need two things to achieve these impossibly unrealistic rankings:

  1. Proper breadth of coverage (BOC).
  2. A time machine set to 1996.

Since the time machine requires a hefty retainer most clients are unwilling to pay, I often set my sights on obtaining BOC that will enable realistic rankings now, with the possibility of long-term growth in the future.

What is BOC?

The term “breadth of coverage” originally stems from Google patents filed in 2003. In the patent, the search giant claims that BOC is one of the factors used to heuristically solve for the most qualified news article. However, the notion of BOC extends far beyond the news algorithm and consistently impacts site rankings in the organic algorithm.

BOC is the total number of qualified web pages in a domain that are thematically/semantically relevant. More credible pages means more authority. More authority means there’s a greater opportunity to rank for competitive “head” terms.

Here are four ways of demonstrating BOC to search engines:

1. Create a Logical Keyword Hierarchy

This is especially important if your website attacks multiple themes. Typically, the most general and competitive head terms used within a site should be reserved for the home page. This should make sense, as the home page is likely to have the most inbound links, making it the strongest page. Because inbound links pass rank, think of a hierarchy as a way to trickle down PageRank in a focused, keyword relevant manner.

Keyword Hierarchy

2. Internal Linking

This is crucial in connecting the dots for Google. If your website has 50 pages of content about the Super Bowl but is unlinked, how does this benefit the user? Simply having the content under the hood of your website isn’t enough; however, interconnecting that content creates a web of authority that can be easily understood by both users and search engines.

Be sure to assign each subpage a maximum of one or two keyphrases. Every time this phrase is used sitewide, send a link to that corresponding page using varied and keyword rich anchor text. Remember, the most valuable links are within the body of the text and above the fold. Footer links (especially sitewide) are frequently de-weighted.

If each page serves as a keyword representative, make sure it’s reflected in the title tag, H1 tags, anchor text, alt text, and content (and yes, the meta keyword tag is dead).

3. Avoid the Need to Create a New Domain for Every Product/Service

I once worked with a Fortune 500 client that had a penchant for creating brand new domains instead of building within their massively powerful infrastructure. The reason was simple: the content publishers took their awesome domain authority for granted and figured it would magically extend to a new domain. There are perfectly rational motives for starting a new domain; it just means starting the arduous authority building process from scratch.

Working within the infrastructure of your most powerful domain can greatly expedite the ranking process while eliminating the time and resources it might normally take to rank. This is also a more preferable long-term strategy as brand favoritism is a continued trend in algorithmic tweaks. Your website doesn’t have to be exclusively dedicated to patio furniture to rank number one on Google, but it needs domain authority and breadth of coverage.

4. Create Powerful Content

This entire exercise is relatively moot if you stuff pages with low quality content. Authority documents tend to fare much better in search engines because they provide a full picture of a subject matter. Detailed, well-linked content is one reason Wikipedia thrives in search engines. Whenever you create content for a targeted keyword, focus on dwarfing your competitor in quality, depth, and scope.

Wikipedia sets a high bar in demonstrating breadth of coverage

The most robust content contains powerful text, images, and video — all working in unison. When writing, be sure that content:

  • Has keyword rich headlines.
  • Is at least 250 words.
  • Is logically chunked out with headers and bullet points (wink wink).
  • Has links to other relevant content.

Make sure each piece of content has enough beef to be authoritative and link worthy. Writing content takes time, effort, and willingness to fail, but it can generate relevant traffic for years.

Related reading

SEO writing guide From keyword to content brief
Three fundamental factors in the production of link-building content
How to conduct a branded search audit
How to write SEO-friendly alt text for your images