Along this continual road as a student of SEO, there have been a handful of breakthrough techniques that I’ve picked up which helped me rise to new level. Actually, I hesitate to call them techniques, since some of them are so simple, they really could be coined as “tricks” or “hacks”. Nevertheless, before I had these breakthroughs I was stuck with a particular problem, and after I had integrated them into my knowledge-base, my entire suite of client and personal money sites experienced huge gains.
Some examples of these breakthroughs can be found in my posts on:
The particular hack I’ll be discussing in this article is how to create “On-page Topic Relevance”
If you have any of the following issues, this article is especially for you:
- Trouble ranking a niche micro-site
- Couldn’t rank a new silo/product/review page on an authority site
- Had a client who wanted to rank in a new city and you couldn’t get past page 2
Each of these issues has the same root problem: not enough pages on a specific topic. Google doesn’t like thin content nor thin sites. This isn’t the old days where you could rank single landing pages.
Here are the two key takeaways that you must understand:
- Google now prefers to rank domains that have multiple pages on a given topic.
- When you try to rank a specific page on a particular topic, Google expects to see that there are other supporting articles on the same site using it as a reference (i.e.: linking to it).
This is called ‘establishing relevance’ on a topic. Understanding this concept, you can know the bare-minimum page count requirement that you’ll need to rank plus you’ll have full control over which page ranks by using contextual inner-page linking.
Here’s some real life client examples of how this plays out…
Example #1: Authority site won’t rank for anything new
A client of mine had a massive authority site related to fitness. Each day, for the past 6 years, he’d personally post a handwritten workout-related article. The client had built up so much authority and topic-relevance on fitness, he could toss up any brand new article about ‘crossfit’ (highly competitive) and it would rank in less than a week.
This client wanted to make more money from affiliate commissions by writing a ‘Top 5 Protein Supplements’ article. He’d wrote a killer page, with perfect onsite elements and it simply wouldn’t rank, even after hitting it with backlinks. Google knew his site was about fitness (there was no doubt about that) but he was an amateur on the protein supplement topic.
To resolve this, I simply created at 4 random articles about supplements and linked them contextually to his review page. It ranked in 2 weeks without the need for additional backlinks.
Example #2: Local SEO client wants to expand into a new city
Establishing relevance often comes into play in local SEO. I have a surgeon client in San Francisco, CA that was ranking fine in San Francisco. He came to me because he was having trouble ranking in the neighboring city of Oakland. Despite having an excellent Domain Authority (DA) of 33 and 20+ PBN links pointed to the Oakland page, it simply wouldn’t break into page 1.
All I did was throw-up 4 (random-ass) articles that talked about Oakland and linked them to his landing page.
- Oakland Nightlife Review
- Best Restaurants in Oakland
- Budget Hotels in Oakland
- Famous People from Oakland
Google knew his site was about his particular form of surgery. They also knew his site was all about San Francisco because of the Schema, Title tags, About and Contact pages which all discussed San Francisco.
His site just didn’t have enough to do with Oakland, so I gave them what they wanted. Even though the articles had nothing to do with his service, that didn’t matter. He needed to establish topic relevance for the city of Oakland and that was all.
The Tech: How to set up your site for topic relevance
Step 1: Create at least 4 Supporting articles for a topic on a site
Generally, I’ve found that Google wants to see at least 5 indexed pages of a site, in order to establish enough topic relevance. This would include your landing page that you want to rank, plus 4 additional supporting articles (500 words+) that you’ll be linking to it.
Sure, you can get away with less, I just find that 5 articles seems to be the magic number which makes things a lot easier.
Step 2: Contextually Link from the supporting articles to the main landing page
A contextual link is a link which is placed in the middle of the body of an article. Why is it important? Of all types of links (contextual, sidebar, footer, navigation bar, etc), it passes the most link juice. Furthermore, it’s another way of saying that the content of the supporting article is reinforced by the master topic article. Namely, the one we’re trying to rank.
What kind of anchor text should you use? Onsite anchors follow the same rules as offsite anchors but you can be much more relaxed in terms of diversity. Out of 4 anchors, I’d make them as follows…
- Target anchor: DUI lawyer in Tampa
- Target anchor: Tampa DUI attorney
- URL anchor: site.com/tampa-dui-lawyer
- Misc anchor: click here
Step 3: Get the supporting pages indexed
This part is crazy.
The supporting pages don’t even need to be accessible from the navigation bar.
As long as they’re in the XML sitemap and you’ve indexed them, they’ve played their part of establishing relevance for the master landing page. That’s why I’m able to get $2 iWriter articles written that have nothing to do with the client’s sales copy. No one will ever read these pages.
Step 4 (Bonus): Make sure all pages about topic ABC, only link to other pages about topic ABC
This part is the icing on the cake. For each of the supporting article pages, try to make sure that they link only to the other pages of this particular topic, and don’t cross link to unrelated pages. This includes links from the navigation bar, sidebar and footer. Once you do this, there is no confusion at all about your various silos and their topic relevance.
I pull this off by turning off the navigation bar on the supporting article pages, while installing the “Custom Sidebars” plug-in to create page-specific navigation bars for the side bar.
The concept of topic relevance is often completely missed. Most of my coaching students are blown away when they realize how simple it is, yet the results are so huge and so quick.
Try it out, and be sure to leave a comment on your result.