How To Increase Traffic Without Links Or New Content
Posted on 26th April, 2016 by Joe Balestrino | Comments 0
While many designers may see site structure as a design element it plays an important role in SEO. As sites grow larger, it becomes increasingly difficult for users and search engines to access pages that are buried deep inside a website.
One of the most common issues I see is when new sections or pages are created on a site. Usually these sections are created as individual pages, when in fact this should be thought of as a micro site. We saw this particular issue with a client of ours.
Check out the graph below.
As you can see in January when the new pages were created there was about 6,000 page views. As time went on views started to decline as positioning dropped. You can see April was the start of what was to be a huge increase in traffic.
What caused the steady increase in traffic? Additional pages? Spike in incoming links? Would you believe it if I told you I just added a sub-navigation? The graph above is a sub-section of pages that were created as a supplement to the existing site.
This section lived on a very authoritative site. However, these pages failed to rank well despite the fact they were on such a strong domain.
Search engines need to be able to crawl pages within the site. If you build pages and there is nothing connecting them to each other they become orphaned pages. So by simply adding a sub navigation that ties these pages together in the same section it boosted search traffic.
So, what was the spike in December? I added a link in the main navigation to this section. Now, I’ve given this section “priority” by linking it in the main navigation. Search engines view pages found in the main navigation as valuable. If you’ve place a page that is easily accessible from every page of your website, it must be important.
You can also help boost crawlability by using breadcrumbs. Mark these up with schema and get a little love in search engine result pages. Google will show the breadcrumb trail in results. This helps Google understand your content and its relation to other pieces of content.
One rule to remember – A user should never need to hit the back button to go to the previous page. If that is the case, you may run into issues.
Just because a page is indexed in Google it doesn’t mean it will rank well. Google can find a link to an orphaned page from an external link or a random link on your site. That is no indication of the ability that page or section has to rank.
I’ve also seen the opposite happen when links are moved from the main navigation to the footer. Google knows links in the footer have little importance. If they were important, why would they be all the way at the bottom of the page?
When new pages are created make sure that Google can find them when crawling your site.
If the only way Google finds new pages is through a xml sitemap they won’t rank as well. Reason? If Google is the only one that can see the link and a user can’t navigate to them there is little value in them.
Franchise Location Pages
Franchisee business owners that have location pages on the corporate website can fall prey to these bad practices. The corporate site may have just a standalone page for each location that is only found via a XML sitemap. There should be a “locations” page that lists all the states that then link to the cities – that then list out the locations in the city – that link to location pages.
The location page link should be in the main navigation. This is not only for SEO purposes but for the best possible user experience. In many cases the only way a customer can find a location is by using the sites’ internal search. (Which Google can’t crawl.)
If the site search function were to break there would be no way for site visitors to be able to find a franchisee's location.
Key takeaways are:
Fix orphaned pages by creating:
- Use sub navigation
- Use breadcrumbs
- Do create an XML and HTML sitemaps
If you follow the tips above, you should be able to improve the performance of orphaned pages.
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