| This 62 message thread spans 3 pages: 62 (  2 3 ) > > || |
|What Wikipedia Teaches|
There's no magic; you can do what they do.
| 8:07 pm on Feb 10, 2009 (gmt 0)|
Content-driven AdSensers sometimes bemoan Wikipedia. They seem to imagine that it ranks well for so many terms because it just has so many pages, and so many contributors, and is so well known. The wiki-mystique blinds people to the fact you can rank higher for terms by just doing some of the same things Wikipedia does.
- Have definition pages.
If your site is about widget repair, and some of that involves widget lock washers, why don't you have a page devoted to explaining what "widget lock washers" are, where to buy them, and so on?
Why does that matter?
It gives Googlebot pages whose primary topic is easy to grasp. It produces SERP listings that do a good job of communicating to searchers exactly what they'll get if they click on your link. That, in turn, means folks who click are highly likely to find what they need, so Google will give that page more ranking love.
It also gives you a nice landing page that can "sell" lots more content to the visitor. Once you know they arrived looking for something so specific, you should be able to tick off all the other pages that are relevant and link to them from there.
- Be coherent When people see wikipedia in the SERPs, they know what they're going to get if they click on it -- some encyclopedia-like explanation of plausible quality. Your website isn't as well known as Wikipedia, so you have to work hard to make sure your SERP entry gives a good clue as to what they're going to get. You don't want a SERP that claims to be all about "mastering pool shots" that actually links to a page describing drinking games for your swimming pool -- when Google sees all the folks who click on that are coming back to look elsewhere, your ranking goes in the crapper. This is where a well-thought-out domain name and carefully chosen URL text pays off. If my SERP's URL looks like www.widgetrepair.com/using-widget-lock-washers, and my SERP synopsis repeats the "how to use widget lock washers" message, and the linked-to page really is about that, then I'm clear about what I'm delivering and Google will reward that (assuming anybody is actually interested in that topic).
If you see people are arriving at your "widget lock washers" page with a search term like "widget painting", figure out why that is. Too many not-on-target SE arrivals probably implies you need to split some content off and give it its own page (with lots of internal links to it, of course). Remember: people finding what they were looking for explains much of Wikipedia's ranking success.
In case you missed it, I'll reiterate an important sub-point here. Your URL is the one thing on the Google SERP that you have 100% control over. Stop focusing on keyword stuffing your URLs and focus instead on using a URL that accurately conveys to the searcher what they'll get if they click on that link.
- Use intra-site links everywhere Lots of people waste enormous time and energy trying to get someone to link to them -- and don't lift a finger to link to themselves. Relevant intra-site links are gold! You don't have to beg anybody for them, you get to control the anchor text, and you don't have to add links back to anybody else to get them. Some people think it's a magic power that Wikipedia has to quickly pop to the top of any long-tail search. It's not. It's the fact that any new page invariably is linked to (with the key term in the anchor text) from one (usually more) other Wikipedia pages.
- Cover up your nav bars Do you feel like you already do use inline, intra-site links a lot? Baloney. Put your hand over the nav bars on your site. Now try to navigate. Can you get to all the pages on your site? How long before you hit a page that's a total dead end. The wiki structure essentially forces Wikipedia content to do things (like extensive intra-links with relevant anchor text) that are great for SEO. Ever get annoyed with how sometimes it seems like every other damn word on Wikipedia is a hotlink to another page? That shows how little you use intra-site, inline links in your own pages.
- Cover up your nav bar -- really! Somebody is saying "but my navigation is really logical and comprehensive, and I don't like the look of inline links." Ever hear of ad-blindness? Well people get just as blind to the navbar. I can put a big, red "CONTACT INFO" link in the navbar on every page -- and every day I will get an email saying "what's your address/phone# over there?" People cannot see your nav bar. Use inline links in the text with relevant anchor text. Santa knows if you're sleeping, but Google knows if a visitor didn't find what he wanted on your site -- and complaining that the visitor should have found the information won't alter Google's ranking one bit.
- Write, dammit, write! Sometimes the most obvious Wikipedia lesson is the most overlooked. I see people sometimes with a product to sell moaning over how they just can't get the SEO tricks right to bring in the free Google traffic. Then I go check out their site and they may literally have less than 10 pages of content. Which part of "Google likes content" did they not understand when they went to SEO school? Often people have extensive product manuals that they haven't even bothered to put online (or almost as bad, they put the whole manual up as a single PDF file), and yet they'll spend hours trying to tweak keyword density, or beg for links. Wikipedia shoves the message of "make some content someone wants to read" in your face, yet some people still don't get it.
- Edit as needed You can't be on WebmasterWorld long before you see people talking about being afraid of changing something on their website for fear it will drop their rankings. Sure, that's why Wikipedia never lets anyone change their pages... Change pages as needed, but most especially(!) to add in links to new relevant pages you've added, so those new pages will get immediate link love. If the last time you added a new page of content, you didn't have to go add inline links to it from at least a couple of other pages, then you haven't learned the Wikipedia Way.
- Make an Authority Page that Attracts Links OK, it is true that wikipedia also benefits from external links. You can compete on that front, too. People will often just link to them because it lets them avoid a lengthy explanation of a term. So supply those pedia-like pages that would be useful for someone who just wants to link to a term definition.
In fact, if Wikipedia is overlapping into your Long Tail content, then why not jump on their back to higher rankings? Look at their page devoted to "widget wuffling". Make your own page devoted to defining that content. But make yours better/different. Supply something they don't. OK, now you've got a ready-made link campaign that will work a whole lot better than begging for cross-links. Use search tools to find all the pages hot-linking to Wikipedia's "widget wuffling" page. Track down those author email addresses and make your pitch. "I noticed your 'widget wuffling' link to Wikipedia and just wanted to point out that it says wuffling was first used in 1857. However, it was actually first used in 1856, as I've documented on my page at [...]".
If you're staying awake, you've just realized that tracking down links to Wikipedia pages can be a real useful research tool for AdSensers in the content business.
Wikipedia dominates rankings for a lot of different reasons, but a lot of those reasons are things you can do as well or better than Wikipedia. And you're not handicapped by a lack of consistent style, a prohibition against commercial or controversial slants, or a horde of random visitors who keep patching your content when you're not looking! Don't hate Wikipedia -- learn from the free lessons they provide.
| 8:22 pm on Feb 10, 2009 (gmt 0)|
These are great ideas for taking a new look at organizing content.
One caution: be very careful about over-doing internal linking. There's a profusion of woes over in the penalty discussions at Google Search attributed to sites that link to every page from every page, i.e., red widgets, blue widgets, green widgets in a navbar on every page. In particulair, be careful about site-wide linking in footers, headers, etc. Organize content around the silo concept.
Its no fun to receive a 900 penalty.
| 8:44 pm on Feb 10, 2009 (gmt 0)|
I dunno; I had a 900 penalty for about eight days, but I still don't think it was because of internal linking; I made some on page changes that bounced me right back. And not to put it too delicately, I typically internal-link like a mofo.
That said - this was an excellent post, ronburk
| 8:53 pm on Feb 10, 2009 (gmt 0)|
Excellent post ronburk and timely too! :)
|Make an Authority Page that Attracts Links |
Oh ain't that the truth? Anything that attracts the Five Ws and One H. They are an absolute gold mine and if you do them just right, they are evergreen and may end up being your most visited pages. I know some of mine are.
Again, great post and a topic I'm sure we'll see on the home page soon. :)
Heh! That define: rocks, doesn't it? These look familiar?
<link rel="glossary" href="http://www.example.com/glossary" title="Glossary of Terms" />
| 9:02 pm on Feb 10, 2009 (gmt 0)|
That is a great post. Excellent stuff, but you forgot to link to a few other WWW posts!
| 1:35 pm on Feb 11, 2009 (gmt 0)|
Excellent; I happened on this when - unusually - had a look at adsense forum.
Info applicable to content sites no matter whether concerned re Adsense.
I've lately made more effort re internal linking structure - figuring I have plenty of content, but can improve routes to various pages. (Yes, also adding more content; edit articles when I see need to do so.) WIll do more after reading post here.
I'd somehow missed re define: - looking into this.
| 3:00 pm on Feb 11, 2009 (gmt 0)|
| 3:32 pm on Feb 11, 2009 (gmt 0)|
Nice post and food for thought! I like the "cover your navbar" a lot. Good little acid test.
| 3:45 pm on Feb 11, 2009 (gmt 0)|
|One caution: be very careful about over-doing internal linking. There's a profusion of woes over in the penalty discussions at Google Search attributed to sites that link to every page from every page, i.e., red widgets, blue widgets, green widgets in a navbar on every page. |
True, but that just illustrates the difference between organic and artificial, SEO-driven, brute-force crosslinking.
There's a big (and obvious) difference between a Wikipedia article that links to related pages within the text and an e-commerce or thin-affiliate page that links to a hundred other pages through running footers and navigation bars. Using hypertext links to cite related content is the most fundamental principle of the Web, and it's unlikely that Google would ever penalize the legitimate, organic citing of related content--at least on sites that otherwise pass the "sniff test."
| 4:06 pm on Feb 11, 2009 (gmt 0)|
if you can't beat them become them; bm'd
| 4:20 pm on Feb 11, 2009 (gmt 0)|
Thanks for sharing this.
The Wiki project is great, but I have to say that I am just waiting for it to somehow be commercialized, like just about every other major internet project that has started itself with the good interests.
Please please prove me wrong....I think that there are some serious ethical questions that get raised when a portal develops itself along one line (we want to build a resource) and so engages volunteers who "believe" in this knowledge share, and then the company changes tact completely (we're gonna just bolt on an Adwords or affiliate stuff and give nothing back to those people that slaved to create that content off which we're now making money).
Another reason why I think that Wiki sites go high is because it is one of the VERY VERY few portals (or whatever you want to label it) that serves a search query with relevant content. Therefore they popup near the top.
Search engines need Wiki badly, until they come up with some other way to rank stuff!
| 4:30 pm on Feb 11, 2009 (gmt 0)|
Brilliant post. However, how do you get around to proper thematic structuring of your site without a top navbar?
| 4:40 pm on Feb 11, 2009 (gmt 0)|
|However, how do you get around to proper thematic structuring of your site without a top navbar? |
OmniBox - You rely on search. Google have shown us with the release of Chrome where things are headed. I've already started shifting focus more towards the OmniBox concepts.
| 5:07 pm on Feb 11, 2009 (gmt 0)|
| 5:18 pm on Feb 11, 2009 (gmt 0)|
The other thing I'd like to point out that goes with this line of thought is that Wikipedia is a comparitivly small organization as far as actual employees. They do not have a full time staff of 50 or more folks doing SEO, nor do they seem to be doing much to maximize the SEO of the website beyond the basic stuff ronburk has already pointed out - yet they have a huge amount of traffic, ranking high for many competitive terms and and thousands of less competitive ones.
The point is that great content is incredibly important, and spending forever tweaking a site for SEO that has no content is a waste of time.
| 5:30 pm on Feb 11, 2009 (gmt 0)|
ronburk, great post. Some awesome points in there that I've never seen anyone make explicitly before.
| 5:39 pm on Feb 11, 2009 (gmt 0)|
|OmniBox - You rely on search. Google have shown us with the release of Chrome where things are headed. I've already started shifting focus more towards the OmniBox concepts. |
I'd be careful about relying too much on search, especially with a mainstream target audience.
AS for ronburk's post, it should be required reading for any AdSense publisher. Ditto for Reno_Chris's observation that "great content is incredibly important, and spending forever tweaking a site for SEO that has no content is a waste of time."
| 6:34 pm on Feb 11, 2009 (gmt 0)|
If people only take away one thing here it should be that in-content intersite linking is the bomb.
| 6:47 pm on Feb 11, 2009 (gmt 0)|
|If people only take away one thing here it should be that in-content intersite linking is the bomb. |
I'm a big fan of linking to relevant content wherever it is, and linking organically doesn't appear to have hurt my search rankings. That stands to reason: Google Search relies on links to find content and to calculate PageRank, so why wouldn't Google want to encourage (or at least not discourage) organic links?
| 9:29 pm on Feb 11, 2009 (gmt 0)|
Great post by ronburk, but I am not sure how you handle the internal linking within the body of the page without appearing a bit artificial in terms of hyperlinking nearly every other word as Wikipedia does (particularly with the advent of the type of contextual advertising which appears as double-underlines in the body of the content).
There are also some who are distracted by links within the body of text (I am not one of those) and prefer to have links at the end of a given article, for example, for a centralized reference that does not pretend to be part of the narrative content.
| 1:16 am on Feb 12, 2009 (gmt 0)|
Whilst I have internal links where relevant within content pages - and not going overboard as, like honestman, figure they may seem distracting - I also have several menus.
Retain a navig menu throughou (and only a few days ago, did away with top navigation); and have section menus, chiefly with links to main articles in these sections. These menus appear on pages in these sections; I also have several of them on home page, as I've found direct links from home page can g=be big help.
These menus help interlink the site, without going overboard with links on any one page. Also help with variety as people move around sites.
| 3:13 am on Feb 12, 2009 (gmt 0)|
Hope you guys here will replace Wiki in GG SERP ranking after reading ronburk's post! It's really nice and instructive!
| 4:17 am on Feb 12, 2009 (gmt 0)|
Very helpful post/thread - Thank You
| 10:56 am on Feb 12, 2009 (gmt 0)|
awfully great post ronburk.
I have always followed the path to create fewer but more in-depth articles instead of a 1000 2-paragraph ones.
I've seen it pay off in the last few months.
| 1:27 pm on Feb 12, 2009 (gmt 0)|
Does it hurt to double link? For example if I have a link in the references, can I also link to the same page within the text?
| 3:28 pm on Feb 12, 2009 (gmt 0)|
I have never noticed it hurt on any of my sites.
| 7:15 pm on Feb 12, 2009 (gmt 0)|
the "definition" concept is REALLY interesting.
What should I do ?
Add single sentance definition about main concept of my website on frontpage ? Or dedicate a page of my site just for the definition with more text ?
I'd like to put it on my frontpage, but it is a bit bizzare to have a definition there ?!
If you had to chose, what would you do ?
| 7:41 pm on Feb 12, 2009 (gmt 0)|
|how do you get around to proper thematic structuring of your site without a top navbar? |
You don't have to remove your navbar. You don't have to abandon a nice, hierarchical structure. I'm just saying, tape a piece of paper over your hierarchical, on-the-edges navigation system for a day or two -- see your site the way fast-moving, nav-blind, informavores who come to your site see it. I'm not saying "take away links"; I'm saying "add relevant links".
|but I am not sure how you handle the internal linking within the body of the page without appearing a bit artificial in terms of hyperlinking nearly every other word as Wikipedia does |
If you try to think this way, I believe it will change your writing style, which can help you add these kinds of links without being artificial at all.
Suppose you just added a new page/topic called "widget restoration". OK, the obvious, lowest-level way to apply the advice here is just to scan all existing pages for the word "restoration" and jam in a link to the new page. But you can put more intelligence into the effort than just a global find/replace. What other pages are conceptually relevant to this topic? For example, maybe you have a page on "widget prices", and it doesn't contain the word "restoration" anywhere -- why should it? But wait... would it be interesting/useful to visitors to see what the price of a complete "widget restoration" might be? Maybe that means adding some text to the new restoration page about what that might cost, and then adding a by-the-way link to the "price" page pointing to the "cost of widget restoration". And then, maybe that gets you thinking that people are often interested in the cost of lots of things that aren't line-item inventory objects. Maybe you start thinking about "the cost of not maintaining your widget", and "the cost per day of operating a widget", and... And then you're off and running into potentially useful new content, just because you stopped to think about your existing content in a new way.
What was the crux of the mental device that spun off new content in this example? Pretty simple. Whenever you add a new page, skim through the rest of your content to look for ways, even creative ways, those other topics relate to your new page.. This is an exercise in seeing connections you didn't see before.
The hierarchical linking structure is a great and useful tool; don't give it up. But the intra-site linking structure is an independent tool, one that can both help your rankings, and help you think about your content in new ways that will lead you to creating more useful content. Wikipedia effectively only has the intra-site linking toolset, but you are free to use both of these toolsets to your advantage.
If you spend a couple of hours drawing a "mind map" of all the concepts your content covers, you will probably end up with a lot of arrows connecting topics -- more connections than can be expressed with simple hierarchy. But if those connections exist when you think about your content, why aren't they available to your visitors? There's no reason they can't be -- just start using that hyperlink the way it was originally intended (in addition to your hierarchical scheme).
|There are also some who are distracted by links within the body of text (I am not one of those) and prefer to have links at the end of a given article, for example, for a centralized reference that does not pretend to be part of the narrative content. |
Either way is better than not having the links at all. To me, inline text links are for situations where some readers really might need to read what's behind that link before they can understand what follows. To me, the choice is much like choosing between parenthetical text or a footnote when I'm writing a book. Style, consistency, and the details of the situation at hand should dictate the choice -- but I wouldn't normally limit myself to just one or the other.
But consider your demographic. Is the vast majority of your traffic from repeat or highly sticky visitors who spend a lot of time going through your content? In that case, making most links footnotes at the bottom of the page might just be best most of the time. Is your traffic mainly people who come in from Google, dip into one page and then immediately flit off? In that case, I would think real hard about the attention span of those folks and lean towards making every link I could inline, in the hopes that I will be able to grab their attention and get them to slow down enough to read more than one page, if I've got the content that's relevant to them.
|Does it hurt to double link? For example if I have a link in the references, can I also link to the same page within the text? |
Hard to prove what Google thinks, but I think not. If you have one sentence of text on your page, if there are more links than there is text, then I would worry. If you have a couple of screenfuls of useful text, and one of the in-text links happens to point to the same place as one of the navbar links, then I wouldn't worry one whit. Consider how many websites have two links to the home page on every single page.
| 8:29 pm on Feb 12, 2009 (gmt 0)|
|Does it hurt to double link? For example if I have a link in the references, can I also link to the same page within the text? |
According to some awfully smart people over in the search forum, its a matter of degree and method. Don't double link from a page with minimal content. NEVER double link with different anchor text, it just confuses G. Don't double link like mad, linking to lots of pages from both the navbar and the body content. Don't double link on lots of pages.
Can a double link hurt ranking? Yes, if abused. Will it always cause problems? No.
Use it sparingly, and keep in mind how link juice flows.
This isn't over-doing the SEO factors at the expense of your viewers. Its just common sense to not fall into a ranking trap.
| 8:52 pm on Feb 12, 2009 (gmt 0)|
I've learned to
rel="nofollow" all but one reference and it is usually one of the inline versions, the one surrounded by the most relevant content. ;)
| This 62 message thread spans 3 pages: 62 (  2 3 ) > > |