You of course want your website site to be user-friendly and intuitive for visitors. You don’t want the site to have a lot a pages, and you don’t want to have a lot of content on the pages. But then you talk to someone who does search engine optimization for a living and they say “whoa – that’s really bad for SEO.” Before the frustration sets in, it’s important to understand a few very important factors for organic search engine ranking so you can ultimately achieve a healthy balance between an easy-to-use site and great search engine ranking.
The larger the site…
You know what they say about large sites. That they can be cumbersome to manage. The common perception is that the larger the site, the more complicated a content strategy can be, and the more clicks a user will have to take to get to their desired destination. As a result, many site managers immediately look to simplify as much as possible when approaching a site redesign. Why have one page for every mortgage product when you can just consolidate to one page with all the choices? Because while visitors appreciate a digestible content presentation, search engines see individual topic-focused pages as more relevant to the user and a sign of credibility. Why rank a website well that just mentions fixed-rate mortgages in CA on a page among many mortgage types, when there is another quality site that has an entire page or more of great content solely dedicated fixed-rate mortgages in CA?
The trick is having a strategically large site, where the quality of the content on every single page is critical to its existence. It’s no coincidence that Amazon.com is consistently ranked highly on, well, practically everything. With $71.84 billion in online sales in 2015, Amazon clearly has some hefty marketing budgets to play with. More interestingly though is that 91%* of Amazon’s total marketing budget (or $1.65 billion) was spent on search last year. That’s right – 91%. In contrast, other retail giants like Wayfair and Williams-Sonoma spent less than 27% of their budgets on search. Amazon has realized that the size of its site, combined with the quality of its content and many other factors, is critical to successfully pulling in visitors and ultimately converting them to customers.
Length is strength
Creating a large site without establishing an appropriate content strategy is like building a big house and not having money left to furnish it. Visitors always appreciate well-crafted content that not only speaks to them in a suitable tone, but also quickly delivers the right information they need. Search engines on the other hand generally rank sites higher when they have 1,000 or more words on a page. So what is a site owner to do? The solution is a progressive content strategy.
For visitors who are simply looking for information about fixed-rate mortgages, the page should immediately highlight key features and prominently promote the desired actions, such as Check Rates or Apply Now. For visitors who aren’t yet ready to take action, the page should offer a more content-rich experience – perhaps by addressing the pros and cons of a 30 versus a 15-year mortgage, surfacing FAQs about mortgages, and linking to relevant mortgage calculators and articles. The idea is to not overwhelm site visitors with large amounts of boring content, but instead offer a more valuable experience for visitors in various stages of the buyer journey, while appeasing search engines.
Size isn’t everything
Search engine ranking algorithms are complex and continually changing. However, one thing has remained consistent since their inception. Search engines make their money off of paid advertising, so it is in their best interest to make visitors as satisfied as possible, no matter what search links they select. Search engines will always favor sites that offer relevant content – and plenty of it – so that visitors are happy. Being armed with this knowledge will allow you to map out a strategy for your business that prioritizes users, search engines and your own business goals.