A very common mistake made among a large precentage of ecommerce site owners, realtive to SEO, is the repetition of a few major keywords throughout the entire site. Much of this is due to the nature of a dynamically driven website (template based), but even site owners that have an element of control over such things, consistantly make this mistake.
What is website infighting and page vs. page? let me explain…
I do a lot of website analysis around here. It’s the nature of my job. Generally, if I’m analyzing a website it’s because they either signed up for SEO services or are interested in them. From my experience, most people looking for SEO services have an idea of the major keywords in their niche. This means that they are well aware of certain traffic driving keywords they would like to target.
For instance; if a real estate company here in Manhattan is inquiring with us, some major (and obvious) keywords they could be looking to target might be something like ‘apartments nyc’, ‘manhattan apartment’, etc. When I go and take a look at the site in question, 99% of the time I click through it, EVERY SINGLE PAGE is targeting the same line of keywords! I’ll see something like the following:
Home page says: The best apartments in NYC, find your Manhattan apartment today!
About Us says: The best apartments in NYC, find your Manhattan apartment today!
Search Properties says: The best apartments in NYC, find your Manhattan apartment today!
Our Agents says: The best apartments in NYC, find your Manhattan apartment today!
get my drift?
In my opinion, this is a futile attempt at targeting a couple of highly competitive keywords. One of the basics of SEO understanding is that search engines list web pages, not web sites. With that simple philosophy in mind, logic states that only one page (possibly two if we’re going for the double listing) should be optimized for any given keyphrase. Anything more than that is complete overkill.
Question: But will this actually hurt my rankings if I continue to do it?
Answer: In my opinion, yes, it could
How will it hurt? Possibly, in a variety of ways. Here’s a few:
- Page vs. Page
Getting back to the title of this post… what you’re creating when you do this on your site is in essence, infighting between the pages of your site. Each page and section is optimized for the same keyphrases and is, in essence, fighting the other pages for rankings (rankings for the targeted keywords). Which causes…
- Rotating listings:
What ends up happening is Google and the other engines get confused as to which page it should list in the index. On any given day Google may spider your home page and list it, and on the next day they may decide to use your ‘About Us’ page instead. Depending on how strong your external linkage is, this is a real possibility. It’s even more prevelant throughout the interior structure of a site with a defined hierarchy. For instance, if you have an ecommerce store with mid-level categories which are all optimized for their parent category…
Example: you sell Home products and have a category for bed frames… you have 4 sub-categories of bedframes (wrought iron, maple, pine, modern), but each sub-category of bedframes is optimized for the main category keyword ‘bedframes’. What happens here is that a search engine may serve any one of those sub-category pages in the listings for a general ‘bedframes’ search. Which brings us to…
- Wrong landing page is served in listings:
If you’re serious about your user experience and conversions, you should be serious about what a user sees when landing on your site. Sticking with the example above: If someone searched for ‘bedframes’, will they be landing on your bedframes page that shows them all the sub-categories of bedframes you have? With page vs. page, it’s a crapshoot. By optimizing for ‘bedframes’ on the bedframes page AND across all sub-categories (wrought iron, maple, etc.) you’re essentially leaving it up to the search engines to choose from 1 of 5 pages targeted towards ‘bedframes’. When in fact it should be clear the bedframes section has bedframes and the maple bedframes section has… you guessed it, maple bedframes. All very logical stuff here.
So, there’s plenty of reasons to avoid this Page vs. Page syndrome, but my time has run out. If you’d like to read another discussion on this topic, view this blog post entitled keyword self-cannibalization over at SEOmoz.