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Continuing on with our “Let’s clean up yer site” run, let’s take a look at MORE of the onsite search optimization things…

Back in the good old days, before search engines had as many smarts as they do today – and SEO was NOT a daily marketing item, things were pretty simple. We were ticked to DEATH when one of our hardware suppliers put UP a website so we could download new drivers pronto! This was WELL before the days of automatic updating were even probably conceived. There just weren’t that many sites out there. I remember being able to get updated drivers for my Creative sound card. What a joy. Didn’t have to request and then wait for shipment of those crazy disks.

Lest I get drawn off into reminiscence, the point is, back in those days, it was NOT so difficult to keep track of things. Structures were usually what those of us in the business call a “flat” structure – every page was in the “root” of the website. Very few even THOUGHT about structuring their sites. You often saw just small sites. There were NOT those thousand page+ behemoths that almost ANYONE can create effortlessly today – say NOTHING about massive sites like Microsoft or Wikipedia. There was no need to do a whole lot of structuring with your 10 page site… I could go to the Creative Drivers page and there would be my card number and I clicked on the link and downloaded the zip file and installed. Granted, downloading it at 14.4K was a lengthy process, but…

As time went along, the web became more and more crowded. Those same files that we went to Creative to get might also be offered elsewhere – maybe with a bunch of OTHER manufacturer drivers. There had to be some sort of structuring to help categorize things and make accessing finding them easier. As time went along, the search engines had to get “smarter” to better categorize things and keep track of them. What web devs discovered worked well for THEM was to categorize their OWN pages in a way that might logically make sense TO the search engines.  Not only did it make it easier for web devs and webmasters to keep track of their pages as their sites got bigger and bigger, it helped create logical relationships that the search engines could understand – parent/child relationships.

Flat Structures

Just to make sure we’re on the same page – a flat structure would give you urls like http://mydomain.tld/mypage1, http://mydomain.tld/mypage2, http://mydomain.tld/mypage3, etc… This kind of structure is easy to maintain – there is no concern over categorizing it, CSS and link structures are easy to handle even if done in manual HTML/CSS/Javascript. That can be fine if there really is not too much content, or your products are not very diverse, or maybe you only have one service / product and don’t need explanations too far.

But when you do have more than just one service to discuss? Or you need to take it further? How DO you do that? It’s simple and just like you do most other things in life – but because it’s digital, people seldom think about it. Categories or “parent/child” structures are the answer. So in my food pantry, I have 1 shelf that is pretty much canned goods. I have the shelf arranged from good ol’ Chef Boyardee on the far left, then meat products – yes even Spam 🙂 – then vegetables, then all types of tomato stuff in various forms and then finally finished and meal-ready sauces/gravies. So when the fiancee asks – “Hey where’s my ravioli?” I can immediately tell her “canned goods shelf on the left.” Inevitably she WON’T find it as she’s a stranger to the kitchen, but she likes to THINK she can…

Okay, so you cook and have an organized pantry. How does THAT apply to my website?

Silo Structures (Using Parent/Child page structures)

We always suggest setting up your website similarly. Shelf=Parent. Row=Child. Services? Unless you have one and only one service, we bet there’s a lot of “sub-services” that better explain the full SCOPE of your services or further help people understand all the things your company DOES do. And with our example, MAYBE you should think about setting up some of your cans in rows.  Let’s take a hypothetical Plumbing company. I’m about to do a plumbing website design, so this will help me work through it anyway 🙂

So our root is “myplumbingcompany.com”. Instead of just trying to blather it all on the front page and hope we can rank for every location and term on one page (yes, we hear people ask us to do THAT for them all the time too…), let’s put out a service oriented page. We can do this as a standalone page OR as a top level page with child pages that further outline all your services. So maybe we have the following…

/home-services
/home-services/well-pumps
/home-services/water-heaters
/home-services/pipe-replacements
/home-services/plumbing-repairs

This is VERY simple and was done with no research. It also neglects to figure out which one is more popular – all of these terms WITH the “s” at the end or WITHOUT the “s” at the end. LOL – yes, we DO get that picky.  Anyway, this example structure is probably NOT where I’ll end up when I build our SEO-friendly plumbing site, but… We now have a PARENT page as /home-services and a number of CHILD pages. This concept is applied over and over again throughout many sites. How about that plumbing repair page? Are all plumbing repairs the same? Betting not. Might you also have people searching for repairs in the kitchen? Maybe in the bathroom? How about we add on some additional child pages to that Plumbing Repair parent page?


/home-services/plumbing-repair/kitchens
/home-services/plumbing-repair/bathrooms

So now… we have our FULL URL string as http://myplumbingcompany.com/home-services/plumbing-repair/kitchens

So what does THAT tell Google? The domain tells Google, front and center, that this is a plumbing company. The rest of the entire site will be shaded by that choice. EVERY child page that contains the parent word/words WILL be shaded by that choice. So starting off with either an exact match domain (EMD) or partial match domain (PMD) as discussed yesterday is a great start. Secondly, “home-services” – obviously these are services provided BY the plumbing company. I used “home” here to differentiate from commercial level services. We COULD break it down with “/services” and then childs of “/home” (or residential) and “/commercial” to differentiate more granularly in some cases. Not all plumbers offer commercial or are interested in commercial business – and ditto on the residential services side.

Next, we have “plumbing-repair”. So we have a variety of services and plumbing repair is one of them. From a search engine optimization perspective, that page can discuss a lot of items if desired and maybe even cover the gamut from kitchen, bathroom, wells, septic, under your house, water heaters and all. IF you have a very competitive area though, you likely will NEED to devote a page to it.

Why devote a page to it?

A lot of people miss the boat here. When it’s competitive, you want and often need as much goodness and “ooomph” as you can throw to it to knock out your competitors. So if someone is looking for kitchen sink repairs in Raleigh, can you beat someone with your “home-services” page when your competitor has a domain named “RaleighKitchenSinkRepairs.com” going for them? Yes, you CAN, but you better be able to just LOOK at that domain name and KNOW that your competitor is going to have a REAL leg up on that particular term. Unless they are really bad, you may have some issues knocking them out. OR you may incur/your SEO may incur some effort and costs beating them – and need to throw everything INCLUDING THE KITCHEN SINK at them (rim shot there…). It’s going to at least be easier with your URL string containing more of the appropriate words – and more focused pages.

That “devoted” page can be ALL about everything on that particular topic. You don’t need it to be an “everything to everybody” webpage, it can be all about that ONE topic. So if you ARE up against, RaleighKitchenSinkRepairs.com and YOUR competitive URL is myplumbingcompany.com/home-services/plumbing-repair/kitchen/sink-repairs – you NOW have all your keywords covered. You just need to make sure you ALSO cover as many topics as possible about kitchen sink repairs IN THE CONTENT.

Looking at that URL though, it’s getting too long. I think we would really want to trim this down to myplumbingcompany.com/home-services/repairs/kitchen-sinks. Once you GET categorizing, you CAN get carried away. OR break it down with /home-services/kitchen-repairs/sinks. There are a number of ways you CAN get your keywords in the URL and there is usually no “THAT’S WRONG!!!” or “THAT’S RIGHT!” and have it be the only solution. As you see above, there’s a few different ways that we have accomplished that – and that’s just off the tip of our noggins.

If you can wrap your head around THOSE examples, you’ll be WELL on your way towards helping out your rankings. Can you RANK with a flat structure? You CAN. Sites are doing it every day. BUT, if you want to make it as easy as possible for your site to rank, the more relevance you can give to your site, the more likely you are to GET the nod from Google. If you look back at our last example, we discussed branded domain names. With a straight branded name, like “http://zimmermans.tld”, you give NO shading to the entire site. You will have to do it further down. So maybe Zimmermans does plumbing AND HVAC. So now you would need a services/plumbing and services/hvac vertical to allow this kind structure to shine through. It presents a LOT of options.

Have fun – and look for the next segment on Image Optimization!  Does all this confuse the heck out of you? It’s really not that hard if someone explains it to you, but if you need someone to sit down with you and go over YOUR site, give us a call for search engine optimization services!