Plan Your Site So It Ranks Online [Marketing Consulting Series]
Welcome to the first post in Tony Ahn & Co.’s online marketing consulting series.
Your site’s ranking by Google is largely determined by how well you distribute your link equity. What is link equity? Link equity (also known as “link juice” in the SEO community) is the value that Google assigns to a particular page, scored by Google’s PageRank algorithm on a scale of zero to ten. A page with a PageRank (PR) of 1 has low link equity, while a page with a PR of 8 has very high link equity.
Link equity is transferable. A PR 6 page linking to a PR 0 page will give that page a PR boost. What this means is that you can transfer link equity to lower ranked pages in order to help them rank for specific keywords.
Here’s an example: the page on most sites that has the highest PageRank is usually the home page. This is because the home page tends to be the one most commonly linked to by other pages. If you think about it, when you want to tell your friend about a cool new site you saw, you link to the home page so they can “go in the front door,” since the home page usually is written for first-time visitors to be able to best understand what the site is and how it operates. So let’s say your website has a PR4 home page. It ranks well on Google for the name of your company, but not for other keywords. However, you have a product page for insulated widgets in four colors. There’s a lot of competition for the keyword “widgets” on Google, but almost none for insulated widgets. You don’t have a lot of inbound links to your insulated widgets page, but if you link to it from your home page, the link equity your PR4 home page transfers to your low-ranking insulated widgets product page might be enough to get it on the first page of Google search results for “insulated widgets.”
While the above answer might seem like a no-brainer for some, most websites would have navigation that takes you first to “widgets” and from there to “insulated widgets.” In that case, the link equity is being diluted by a middleman: the widgets page. As you can see by the diagram below, typical site architecture is several layers deep. Link equity tends to gravitate towards the home page for typical sites, but for blogs, it gravitates toward the individual blog posts (detail pages).
The above graphic is an example of typical site architecture. Click attrition statistics show that the average website loses half of its traffic for every click a visitor must make to get to a desired page. This leads us to a discussion of the graphic below, covered in depth in our free tip sheet How to Build a Website Blueprint for Killer Traffic.