What to Do When You Need Boring Content to Rank Well in Competitive SERPs – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

What happens when you have a page that ranks very well, but it isn't the page that pulls in the sales that you need? Often times the page that does convert very well is "boring" and subsequently ranks poorly.

In this weeks Whiteboard Friday, we are going to go over some strategies you can use to get those classically "boring" pages to rank well. Don't forget to leave your comments below. Enjoy!

Video Transcription

Howdy, SEOmoz fans. Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we're talking about a particularly vexing problem that plagues many folks in the inbound marketing industry, and that is the challenge of having a different sort of content that you want to rank to help you earn sales, to help you sell your product or your service, your idea, versus the content you create that performs well in the link and social sharing graph of the web, the one that everyone's tweeting about, the one that everyone's putting on Facebook and Google+, the one that everyone's linking to. This is a big frustration because the problem becomes that you don't really want to see this, especially those of you who are very conversion focused don't want to see this, where you Google some particular keyword and then maybe some other guy's ranking number one and you're ranking number two, but you're ranking number two with some link-worthy content, maybe something from your blog, a cool infographic you did, a nifty tool you built, something that you thought would perform well on the web of ideas and the content web, but is not pulling in the sales that you want.

If you've got a page like this that the issue can be, yeah, it's awesome charts and it's graphs and cool images and information and maybe some great opinions, some video, whatever it is, but it's not getting people to take the next step that you want them to which is buy. "I want to collect your e- mail address. I want to get some information from you. I want you to fill out this form. I want to get in touch with you so my salespeople can get in touch. I want to have you click 'buy' right here and go through a shopping cart process," whatever that is, it tends to be on a very different page, a boring, classically boring, not necessarily boring, but a classically boring product or sales-focused page, and oftentimes, that's ranking way down here, number 27.

So, there's a number of strategies that you can use to work around this. I think that this challenge is actually one of the things that draws people away from inbound marketing and makes them focus on sometimes black hat activities or purely paid search activities. Remember with paid search I can go, "Well, you know what? I can just put this in an ad up here and, yeah, the click-through rate isn't going to be nearly as good. I'm not going to capture as many of those leads, but it's fine. I'll get some of them, and that will be a way that I can earn those visits." But what you really want to do is have the ability to rank number one, number two with your boring product or sales page. There's a bunch of ways to do this.

Number one, one of my favorites, it is the simplest one – combine and conquer. This doesn't always work, but there are many times when I've seen folks who, for one reason or another, they have this great page with all this information that people link to and people like and people have checked out and shared, and they have this other page that's boring, but they never think to combine these into one and it's very possible. So, what you can do is take the, whatever it is, the technical specifications of the product, the idea you're trying to present, the sales stuff of it and mix it together with stuff that you know has performed well, the opinion part, the content piece. This doesn't always work, but it can work very well, and one of the things that you can do is if you find content that works tremendously well to attract links and shares and those kinds of things and then you have this boring page, you can put them together and then redirect, 301 redirect one of these to the other one, whichever the new canonical version is or rel=canonical it over, assuming the content's going to be the same, and you can earn that same position, essentially killing this one that's ranking 27th, x'ing this guy out and putting him up here. Then this page, which has the e-mail capture, the lead capture form, the "buy this product" whatever it is, can start to get that traffic, earn that traffic. Granted, this doesn't always work and that's why there's a bunch of other strategies.

One of the ones that we use all the time here at SEOmoz is to leverage the authority that you earn by producing great content to get links to the sales page. What do I mean here? What I'm saying is, what happens if you put out one of these is that this page gets links and interesting stuff and that's great. But if you write a blog that every week has great content that people in your industry care about, eventually, you will find that other great things happen. People will start asking, "Can I translate your content?" When they ask for translation privileges, you say, "Sure. We ask that you provide these links, including the links that we've got on this page, which by the way, link over to this one." So that gives you some nice links right there. People will ask you to guest blog for them. They'll ask you to contribute to questions, to surveys, to industry conferences and events, all sorts of things. Your bio, your profile will fly around the web.

When that stuff happens, you have the opportunity to embed that link that points back to the content that you want to rank, and very often you'll get a chance to capture the indented double listing. Many of you have probably seen this in the Google search results, but when there's a second listing from the same domain, it goes in here if it's on the same page. So, for example, you could be ranking number 10, and you will automatically be popped into a sub-spot number 3, which can be great for traffic, particularly because this can help to get the right intents to the right places, right? If this guy over here says, "Hmm? I'm not sure which one I want to go to." He's even got some little thought bubbles there. He's not sure which of these he's trying to get to. Well, he can take a look at both of them and go, "Oh, yeah, you know what? I've read this piece from them. That's not what I'm interested in. I'm actually interested in the product." Now that's going to be a very high value click, high likelihood of transaction person.

Number three, a lot of the time, if you can't truly combine these, or you feel like it's disingenuous or it doesn't work well or it would be not really the same content to put these two together, you can still have a sales message in here. All sorts of great content on the web has advertising embedded in it. When you advertise for your own stuff, this works even better. You can see this on the SEOmoz blog, where we'll sort of ask, "Hey, have you taken a free trial yet? Do you want to sign up for a comment?" Then you'll put in your e-mail address and you'll say is it okay if we e-mail you, and we'll shoot you an e-mail in your first week of free membership and say, "Hey, do you want to give Pro a try?" So we're sort of capturing you, and that sales message that can pop over on this type of content, that could be something that comes up after the page has loaded. It could be embedded right in there. You can test all sorts of different formats. It could be on the sidebar. It could be at the bottom of the page. It could be only when they try and take action on the page. Whatever it is that you think works best, that's a great way to send the relevant portions of this traffic over to these sales pages and potentially capture those leads as well.

Then the last one I'll mention here, number four, is using content marketing, in general, all forms of content marketing, which would include things like SEO and social media and however your content is being distributed, to earn the permission to do marketing and get that follow-up. And what I mean in here is, if people start subscribing to your blog, if people are following you on Twitter, if people are connecting with your Facebook fan page, they're liking your stuff, they're encircling you on Google+, this essentially says, "Hey, I am open to being part of your community and part of your world. I'm interested in what you're doing," and now you have a relationship and that relationship allows for this kind of permission marketing, which means you can say, "Hey, would you like to subscribe to this e-mail newsletter? Could we contact you about our products? Would you like to watch this webinar about some of the things that we're doing? Does this particular individual product, which is timed with a season or an event match up for you?" Those are things that all sorts of folks do. You can see great examples of this all over the search world where industry blogs that are connected with events like an SMX or a SES or a Pubcon will essentially say to people who are in those communities, "Hey, now it's time for this event. Would you like to follow up?"

You can see this inside the SEOmoz community where we essentially gather a lot of people who subscribe to things like the Moz Top 10, and then there will be one marketing or sales-focused message and link somewhere in the Top 10, usually in paragraphs below, those kinds of things.

These tactics, these strategies, these ways of mixing the two of these are incredibly powerful because what it lets you do is to say, "Hey, inbound marketing and content marketing can be forms of sales," and that's an incredible power to have because the ability of these to attract a huge audience versus these, which tend to have a much tinier and more focused audience, is really impressive, and, over time, this audience actually grows as a part of this. So if you're attracting all these people, yeah, it could only be that a tiny dot starts out as a relevant part of who's going to buy, but over time, it grows and grows and grows. It's a great thing.

All right, everyone, I hope you've enjoyed this edition of Whiteboard Friday. I hope you'll try some of these strategies, and I hope we'll see you again next week. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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