How I visualize seo (note I said visualise – this is not “how it works” as nobody knows “how it works”) and note, this is how I ensure my sales pages get enough Google Pagerank ‘heat’ or ‘Google-juice’ or ‘link equity’ to get into the primary index of Google and then rank. Please bear in mind, a page only needs Page Rank to get into this index – that’s all Google PR is good for.
SEO Gurus talk about PageRank, ToolBar Page Rank, Link Equity, Topical Relevance, Hub, Neighbourhood, Co-Citation, Link Flows, Link Juice, PR Leaks, Conduits….the list goes on. I have listened to many theories and always will – it’s definitely one of the things I enjoy about search engine optimization.
I have a slightly different view on seo, one that seems to help me get the results I aim for. I say seems because in the end, nobody can really pinpoint exactly why a site enters the top spot for a very competitive term – I can always put it down to a cascade of decisions and choices, the right content and the right links.
I don’t pretend to understand the mathematics – actually I ignore the mathematics for as long as I can!
SEO Theory – How I visualize it all in my head so my head doesn’t burst
OK so everybody knows it’s about the links. Trying to figure out why it is the links, and which links, can make me go a little mad. And yes, I know Google sees a link as a vote and all that in a big “democratic”world wide web of information.
Trying to understand the interlinking structure of any network or site and the back and fro of the actual measurements a search engine makes, could again, make you a little mad.
Thinking of it in terms of “Google-Juice” as I have for the past few years, can again get me a bit mixed up.
A Heating System
I forget about the links when I’m trying to look at the big picture and think of a heating system, one that’s been calculated for me. I don’t need to calculate anything – I just need to observe.
Links are like lasers. When you link to a page, you heat the page you are linking to. If your site was measured in heat, you could see the heat-map of your site pages, once all the links have been accounted for.
This is manageable. You control this by which pages you you choose to link to and from which pages you link from – it’s a simple premise which seems to get me results.
Get past all the interlinking of links. Once you have created a search engine friendly navigation system for your website and Google has crawled and indexed, it’s been calculated, and now you must have “hot” and “cold” pages for whatever Google is wanting a hot or cold page for (To Get Into The Main Index In The First Place! Trust? Authority? Relevance? Neighbourhood?).
Hot pages are created when you link to them. The more you link to them the hotter they get. The more links to a page from the others, the hotter that page. (This is where the analogy of PR is put aside, because it doesn’t matter if you overheat a page in terms of PR. Many think Google PR is just a means to get a page into the main index, the whole point of PR is to spread it about as many pages as possible – a PR 5 is not going to rank above a PR1 on every occasion).
Typically, you’re home page is hotter than the rest of the site, and indeed this is generally the hottest page on the site. In my example, I only have a couple of real sales pages – the rest is just introductory pages to hopefully my sales pages – these are generally a bit more targeted and generally geared to the theme of this site – seo. Any body interested in my services or looking to hire the company will definitely want to read these pages so i make sure I tell Google, for instance, these are important pages I’d actually like the visitor to be presented with.
In the model above, I wanted to ensure my sales pages were the hottest pages on the site, so made sure my site tells the search engine this. If I can’t be bothered telling a search engine what’s the most important pages on my site, can I expect Google, Yahoo or MSN to figure it out for themselves? Actually, Google wants you tell them what’s the hottest pages on your site in Webmaster Tools these days.
Then I wanted to make sure I took the rest of the heat and use it to warm up as many of the other pages on my site as is posible before it left in a natural way via external links.
As of last month, I don’t link out to other sites from the Hobo home page. I’m greedy with my heat. I want all my pages to be toasty before I pass on the rest. I now don’t link out together sites from my category pages or my sales pages either. I think your hottest pages should really be for heating up your own site.
Sure you can share the heat. I do, and some of these links are quite “hot” relatively but now from pages I designate and not at the expense of the Hobo site. I could go one further and add a lot of links on my single pages to further dilute the heat “transfer” externally, and I might.
Sure, you want as many pages in the main index as possible. A new site however doesn’t have a lot of heat to spread around, so ensure your sales pages are optimized properly and are the hottest pages in your structure, because odds are some pages will be marked “cold” and threw into the supplementals.
Cooler pages can be drawn into the main index by increasing the heat of your site root by getting links from other websites – other hot spots.
You can heat up a cold page by linking to it from the home page.
I make sure my “hot pages” are as optimized as possible for the type of serps I’m chasing at any given time.
It’s a little uncool to admit it but I am a SERPS chaser. I’d rather have ten people visit my site in one week because of some keyword I targeted in Google and have two people by my product than have 5,000 people hit my website because of something I wrote for a bit of fun 6 months ago to test out an idea for a site map (this page is currently getting “Stumbled” and has been all week).
We actually get a couple of hundred visitors a day to this site and a couple of leads per day. For a four man team trying to work out how to manage a company never mind a growing one, that’s far too many leads, and the reason we don’t have a sales team. We’ve never “asked” for work in our existance.
It’s worth noting that every site, every neighbourhood is different. The above structure suits me, as we only sell a couple of products, and we have a good amount of heat to circulate. A shopping cart might want to drive all that heat down and spread it out to as many salespages as possible possibly through a category > sub-category > products hierarchy. If you don’t have a lot of heat to start off with though, you may find that a thankless task, for a while, so you may want to rethink this strategy and focus your internal links on products you want to promote quickly.
At the beginning of projects, I like to get a handle on which pages are or need to be hot, especially with new sites or sites without a lot of link-love. You can’t control much but this you can do.
I like to structure my site so I don’t need to “nofollow” a lot of internal links to target heat – but I have no problem using this method. I’m thinking of a page by page process – pages I am “nofollowing” will get some link at some point to heat it up a little.
Thinking like this when I am thinking about navigation helps me, I think, build a site for visitors, which is the ideal scenario. I want visitors to see my sales pages. Same with Google.
Once you’ve optimized a site, it’s time to get those hot pages optimized for your main keywords and get some links from other sites.
Which sites? Hot sites, of course, or at least sites with some sort of heat signature. Thinking in this way makes me think neighbourhood (if you want heat in a particular neighbourhood you’ve usually got to join it by linking to it) and relevance and hub is just a natural phenomenon following this heat about, and the above diagram helps me visualise a neighbourhood of sites too.
If I could take a link today from a Hot! site / page or a very relevant page that looked cold and had little chance of getting hotter…. er I’d take the Hot link if the site was authorative and in some way “trusted”. Probably get more click through traffic too.
With this in mind, Hot sites could rank for anything if optimized to do so. This is what I see in many cases. Want to see a hot site with hot pages optimized to rank for a term – try Google. They are at the top, and you’ll probably notice a couple of pages in there that don’t seem very relevant at all too – hot sites all though as far as Google is concerned and until some manual or algorithmic relevance filter kicks in.
So there you have it. A bit of seo theory bunkum I sometimes use to visualise things.