A site I’ve been working with took a rankings and traffic hit from the 12/13 phantom update. I spent a lot of time trying to get to the root of the issue, analyzing what exactly this non-update was targeting. Eventually I realized I was never going to figure this out – and I said, “screw it, the site just needs to be better, the damage is done and it’s time to pick up the pieces.”
It’s not my intention to talk poorly about a site I work with, but if we are going to call a spade a spade, the sites’ landing pages utilized keyword-heavy subpar content that provided little to no value to the user.
When I first started working with them, we hired a writer to rewrite all the category landing pages because they were practically gibberish. We rewrote all the title tags, too, and made their meta descriptions appealing to humans. But, at the end of the day, this was just another run of the mill e-commerce site in a competitive vertical.
Before I go any further, I want to say that I LOVE this client. They are a dedicated and driven company. As far as their business model goes, they have a ton of unique value propositions:
- Lowest prices out of their competitors.
- Bi-lingual call center with an extremely knowledgeable staff.
- Open late for west coast clients.
- Fantastic domestic and international shipping rates.
They are doing a lot of things right as a business – but none of that gets recognized by the engines. Yes, they have extremely fast load times, easy-to-use and logical navigation, “unique” landing page content and clean code, but the site doesn’t appeal to Google – it’s pretty much the same as their competitors from the bots’ perspective.
While I was pounding my head against my desk and struggling to figure out why this site took a hit from the phantom update, I realized something – they have nothing that makes them stand apart from their competition; they have no unique ranking proposition.
There is nothing about their category landing page content that says “We deserve to rank above our competitors” They have a GREAT business and a BEAUTIFUL website, but Google doesn’t give a damn. Google rewards content, not the stuff that goes on in the real world that makes them an awesome company. In order to rank, we need a content strategy that makes every single landing page unique and engaging.
Moving to a Landing Page Content Strategy
Nick Eubanks wrote a post inspired by a tweet from Russ Jones stating that if you want to rank you need to be prepared to create one of the ten best websites in your industry. I couldn’t agree with him more.
If you want to rank you need a landing page content strategy that provides (or generates) the most unique, relevant and conversion driving content for your target keywords. There’s a lot of great sites already doing this , but here are a few of my favorite Unique Ranking Propositions:
- Solid Videos on landing pages that generate rich snippets - Zappos (Product Page & Rich Snippet)
- UGC content that allows for rich snippets – User Reviews on Yelp & REI product pages, which have video as well.
- Technology that engages users – Free People Using Instagram
- Fantastic interactivity – the Shopify and Spotify homepages.
- Free streaming rich media – Songza and Mixcloud
- Offering a freemium version of your product – SEMrush
- An intriguing persona – Ben the BodyGuard
People in the tech marketing space talk a lot about disruption: Uber disrupts the limo industry, Hipmunk and Oyster disrupt the travel space, Spotify disrupts the music industry – your landing pages need to disrupt your vertical.
On a personal note, I’ve been experimenting with unique landing page content strategies that provide value and engage users, all while pushing them to convert. For that site that got smacked by Google in the phantom update, we’re in the process of adding our Unique Ranking Proposition: engaging videos and UGC Q&A content on every landing page.
EDIT: I have been working with a different site to improve their unique ranking proposition as well, here are the results.