One of the easiest things to overlook in analysing the on page SEO for a particular website it is added value. If there’s one thing I could strongly urge every online business competing with others it is this – providing users with additional value over your competition is always worth doing.
When we as marketers think about search optimisation, on page metrics are one of the first ports of call, but when you’ve ticked those boxes, you need to try and get into the head of Google who are consistently striving to provide better results for the queries your customers are using to find you. Adding additional features (and content) to your pages can separate you in established markets, and is especially important if you are engaged in marketing traditionally thin or duplicate content. For affiliate marketers, this is particularly relevant – but if you are in a market online with other players with the same content as you yet you are struggling. Read on. This is applicable to you too.
With the effects of Google Panda still ringing in many webmasters ears, we can all learn lessons. The site with unique content, and plenty of it in easily digestible chunks always wins hands down against the scraper site which is clearly lifting content and re-syndicating it elsewhere – and that trend is unlikely to change. If you are syndicating content which is available elsewhere on the web, you need to think about what else you can bring to the table to not only attract visitors, but keep them there as well.
In my own recent experience with running a few affiliate sites, I’ve been looking around the web at other, more successful sites than my own – particularly in the e-commerce field, and continually trying to reverse engineer that success. One common element crops up across all of the sites I have worked on.
Quality and unique Content go hand in hand.
Take Amazon for example. Whilst Amazon dominates across multiple niche items and categories in the search results, if you take their massive weight out of the equation, we can learn a lot about what is working for them. Have a look at this product page for the Kindle.
This is a key product in Amazon’s inventory considering a huge proportion of their future business relies on its success. When you break it down, its absolutely huge in terms of the information contained therein, and deserves to rank at number 1. If any of you are running an e-commerce site, Amazon is a great example of added value product pages. The guys over at HallamInternet have used and explained how Firebox dominate their niche in a similar vein. Here are just some of the key value added aspects to those pages:
Reviews – User generated content adding value to the page.
Video – Used to enhance the click through rate in organic search
Information above and beyond the manufacturer description.
Photos from customers being used to enhance the listing
Number of ‘likes’ the product has received
Humour hook where appropriate.
“So what!” I hear you say – “I don’t run a product based website”
Regardless of what your chosen site may be, there’s always room for adding additional features that enhance the user experience. For example, if you run a blog – do you share related posts? Do you showcase trending information for those posts? Do you link out heavily to others? In analysing the competition, its easy to become blinkered into looking solely at their URL structure and site architecture, but yet fundamentally missing the features that provide user benefit.
There are a number of user engagement metrics that can be measured through Google Analytics. Do you know which of these are working on your site? How many do you think Google know about?
- clicks on internal links
- clicks on outbound links
- clicks on download links
- clicks on mailto: links
- clicks on key buttons
- member vs. non-member status of visitors
- logged-in status of visitors
- user- provided demographic info
- marketing campaigns- source, medium, campaign, term, ad copy, and any “intentional” medium
- clicks on social shares
- content rating
- watching video
- interacting with Flash
- conversions- forms, funnels and transactions
I’ve also seen Amazon include information on other pages which is less relevant for visitors, but is included anyway as it adds more data to the page. ‘Date first appeared on Amazon’ would be one such field, ‘Manufacturer Reference’ and ‘ASIN’ number another couple which are increasing the on page weight for a result which would otherwise be seen as thin content.
For all of us, there’s a take-home point from that. Whilst search optimisation is more than just on page related metrics its obvious that Google wants to serve the page with the most value for a visitor attached to it. As they move toward engagement metrics more and more, this is where I firmly believe site owners should concentrate.
Ask yourself one simple question, (and leave your ego at the door)
Why should I rank first for a query compared to the competition?
Forget how big you are offline, forget that you pay Google more money in Adwords, forget that your design is prettier, forget that your other half is more attractive than any of the Google team. It’s simply not enough.
Bite the bullet and work out where you can make the users life easier, or where you can provide them with additional on page value.
Fundamentally, this is the same question Google algorithms ask of your content every day, and if you can’t answer it whole heartedly aren’t giving them enough reasons to put your site number one.