Ten years ago, maybe even five years ago, traffic was the only metric SEO professionals were responsible for. The industry was new, we were still figuring out what we doing, and candidly our stakeholders didn’t know any better.
The industry is nothing like that now.
We’re better equipped at understanding algorithms, users are savvier with search engines, and stakeholders demand more and better data.
Now, SEOs are just as responsible for the user’s experience when they land on the page as they are on how to get them there in the first place. And that changes everything, especially when it comes to your SERP landing page.
We never used to — OK I won’t lump us all in together: I never used to — think too much about this. We were ranking, our listing was attractive, and we were getting clicks, so my job was done. But the bounce rate is astronomical, the conversion rate sucks, and people are exiting faster than turning off Sharknado.
This happens a lot in e-commerce sites — search engines are ranking a singular product over a page with full listings — but I see it all the time in B2B sites where blog posts are outranking service pages for transactional keywords.
Take a look at this query. REI is ranking first for a 40K+ search-volume keyword that’s more transactional than informational , but they’re ranking for an article.
If I were REI, I’d rather drive users to a product page because user intent for “hiking boots” is to browse products and potentially buy, not necessarily to read an article about hiking boots.
Another example: Amazon is ranking first for “ski masks” but their landing page is for a singular product instead of a product listing page.
Why is this a problem? Because you’re assuming that this one product is going to serve every single customer that wants a ski mask, which is pretty broad keyword. Basically, this is the only ski mask that anyone could ever want. I’d rather bring users to a place where they can find the right ski mask for them, instead of having to back out or perform another internal search to see all products.
In both of those examples, yes, the traffic is there, but ultimately you need people to convert on those keywords. So, what do you do when Google is indexing a page that isn’t the one you wanted?
Fill the Void
When search engines crawl your site, they look for the best possible match for a given query, regardless of keyword intent. If a sub-optimal page is ranking, it might be because there’s simply no other page that exists on your site for that keyword. So, create a better page for that keyword.
Of course, depending on the size of your company and your CMS access, that’s sometimes easier said than done. To make a case for creating a new page, look at things like:
- Average search volume and estimated traffic increase
- Revenue value of that new traffic
- Cost (time and resources) to create the new page
If another page already exists on your site, figure out what your non-optimal page is ranking over the more logical landing page by running a side-by-side comparison of the pages in Open Site Explorer.
OK, now what? Tactics for getting that preferred page to rank will vary based on what you find in the comparison , but you can use a mix of these tactics:
- Update your internal links to your preferred page
- Build external links to your preferred page
- If it’s an e-commerce page, which are notoriously hard to build links to, use a two-tiered approach by linking to your e-commerce page from your internal pages with the highest backlinks
- Add stronger or more content to your preferred page
- Bonus: Get that content as high on your page as possible
- Update title tags and headers for the exact match of the keyword you’re trying to rank for
Remember: Ranking well is only half the battle. If you’re not paying attention to user behavior for your SERPs and your landing pages, you’re not doing it right.
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