Building Multi-Million $ Web Sites from Scratch (Part 3 of …)

Site Hierarchy and Keyword Selection

This is the third post in a series about building multi-million dollar web sites using a White Hat SEO approach. Today, we are going to focus on site hierarchy and keyword selection. However, the parts that will be different in today’s discussion from others you may have seen, is that we are going to talk about how to do this on a relatively massive scale.

If you recall the categories we talked about in the first article, they included deep topics, such as insurance, mortgages, shoes, and travel. What is great about these terms is 3 big things:

  1. The total search volume is really high
  2. The number of directly related terms that people to search on are huge. This means that the “long tail” is huge.
  3. There are people out there that pay good money for leads or sales in these spaces.

When these three things are true, we can build a multi-million dollar web site. But to do it, we need to build a site with thousands, tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of pages. We will talk about content in the next post. In this post, we will focus on keyword selection and site hierarchy (like the title says!).

Finding the right keyword patterns

If you are reading this post, you probably already have keyword tools that you like to use. That’s great. But now you want to use those tools to find interesting keyword patterns. To start the process, you would look at a major term, such as “Travel” and see what results you get. If you plug this term into Wordtracker you get the following results:

Wordtracker Travel Results

Even at this level it becomes quickly evident that people search on geography related terms. Yes, I know that this is a bit of a “duh” result for travel, but it illustrates the point. There are orders of magnitude more searches on travel related terms that include the destination than on the term “travel” by itself.

To win big on travel, you need to have a page for each travel destination. Thousands of pages you say? Exactly. This is what you are looking for. Since travel is geographically based, the hierarchy can be relatively simple: Country – State/Province – City/Town, or something to that affect.

Now if you are building a shoe site, your hierarchy will be quite different. If you plug in “shoes” to Wordtracker you get many variants to play off of. These include types of shoe covers, types of shoes, shoe brands, and many other categorizations. This is another business where you can easily have tens of thousands of pages. You will find that the answers tend to vary by the space you are in.

The shoe hierarchy gets more complex because you can have “tennis sneakers”, “Nike tennis sneakers”, “Nike sneakers”, or even individual Nike models. You need to figure out how to mess these diverse trees of data. Here are some rules you need to follow in the process:

  1. Avoid duplicate content. Each page on the site needs to be accessible at only 1 URL. In other words, if you go to the “Nike” page, then the “Nike Sneakers page”, and then the “Nike Tennis Sneakers page”, you should be on the same page you would get to it you went to the “Sneakers page”, then the “Tennis Sneakers Page”, and then the “Nike Tennis Sneakers” page.
  2. Keep the site as flat as you can. The fewer clicks from the home page to your deep content, the better.
  3. Try to keep the links per page to less than 200. Especially for new sites, crawlers are unlikely to look at more than this on a given page.
  4. Keep the navigation simple, as it will help you keep users and crawlers engaged.
  5. Plan to launch with only 2000 pages or so, and then increase the page volume on a regular basis. Faster site launches flag your site for manual review, and this simply delays your ultimate success.

While these are general guidelines, this is where the journey begins. Understanding how you are going to map you keyword opportunities into a large scale site architecture is fundamental to building a multi-million dollar web site.

Next up

  1. More on Building Content
  2. How to get links
  3. How to monitor results, and what to do about it

Already Published Articles in the Series

  1. Picking a Market and Content Strategy
  2. Using PPC to Enhance your Organic Traffic Strategy)

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