Given how common this knowledge is, it’s surprising that so many Web sites haven’t put 1 + 1 together: Your pages earn a PageRank based on content and links, and then they lend that PageRank power to your other pages based on how you link to them.
In effect, your internal link structure may be causing your most powerful, highest-ranked pages to spread their PageRank weight across your entire site, instead of to the specific campaigns or initiatives you mean to support with those individual pages.
The takeaway: Instead of thinking of your SEO efforts as a collection of channels (FaceBook, Twitter, YouTube, and the obligatory blog) meant to drive content — think of SEO as a structured set of Content Tiers, each of which are built and interlinked to support your marketing and SEO objectives.
Enter: the SEO Matrix.
If you have a good amount of content and a navigation structure that allows most of your pages to link directly to each other, you may have a difficult time moving into one of those coveted top 3 search positions. By structuring your internal links so that they flow PageRank through to the pages you want to rank highest, you’ll get the most out of the high-ranking pages you DO have, and they’ll do the most for they can for the (fewer) pages you want to rank higher.
I just happen to have a convenient example to dissect:
The reason I’ve been absent from the blog is that I’ve been working on a startup in the recommendation technology space, Selloscope. I worked through the SEO Matrix for the site as we built out our pages and link structure. It’s a small site with relatively simple marketing objectives, so my hope is that others find this example useful:
Like many sites, Selloscope has a set of static product information pages. Typically this set of pages will contain information such as product information, pricing, features and benefits, etc. This set of pages will make up our “static content tier.” Each of these pages interlink to each other (thus, the “tier” part) and to the Home page. This tier’s job: Directly support the Home page with PageRank for product information that’s important but relatively static:
Next, we have a “landing page tier” that’s designed to support one single page in the “static content tier” with its PageRank. The static page is: “Will Selloscope Work For Me”, and each page in the landing page tier adds segment-specific content and keyword sets, each being geared to a potential client segment (retail sites, marketers, developers, content sites.) This strategy works because it concentrates any PageRank from those landing pages specifically at a higher-level content piece in the static content tier, which then funnels into the Home page. This also leaves open the possibility of developing entirely new campaign tiers to support the remaining static pages:
Now we add in our “blog tier.” While having a blog is pretty much tablestakes these days, what content you choose to funnel PageRank to via your blog is entirely up to you. While your blog posts will likely support all different areas of your site, I chose to have the blog’s home page primarily support the Selloscope Home page and a page in the static content tier describing what the product is… which is what the bulk of my blog posts will (eventually) be about:
Now, Facebook. I chose to have Selloscope’s Facebook PageRank funnel to the Home Page and to the blog… with the blog then directly supporting the Home page, any PageRank from Selloscope’s Facebook page should flow through nicely to Home. Of course, I could choose to have a Facebook presence that supported a specific user segment, or a specific product feature… which is what I meant above by saying “instead of thinking of your SEO efforts as a collection of channels, think of SEO as a structured set of Content Tiers, each of which are built and interlinked to support your marketing and SEO objectives.”
Finally, the complete SEO Matrix. Importantly, while all (or almost all) pages contain a call-to-action to register, I’ve told the GoogleBot *NOT* to crawl the registration page itself… because I don’t want PageRank flowing through it. Instead, I want that PageRank flowing back through to pages with content.
That’s it! If you’re creating your own startup, I highly recommend spending the time to think through this process. Thinking of SEO as a structured set of Content Tiers not only makes it easy to see how new marketing campaigns support your site both functionally and strategically — and to see what your next logical marketing moves are — it can have a big impact on your PageRank as well.
P.S. If you really want to see this in action, check out the boys over at FareCompare. That’s some serious SEO Matrix going on.