Congratulations! You’ve got a page that’s ranking for a number of search terms — some of which are ranking well and others not so.
As you work through that list, the question naturally arises, “Should I optimize this page for that topic?”
A good rule of thumb is to optimize the page that most closely aligns with the topic. Ranking itself is a reliable indicator of that alignment — typically the worse the ranking, the greater the intent mismatch. So it’s a safe bet to at least consider optimizing the page ranking highest for the topic.
Evaluate if the Page is Suitable for Optimizing
Let’s use a real example to work through the process of deciding whether to optimize a page for a specific topic. In this case we’ll use “collect customer feedback” with the page “What is Customer Feedback?” which at the time ranked position 30 for that topic.
Step 1: Compare the topic to the title.
The title is a good indicator regarding the topic of an article. So look at the page details to determine if the topic strictly aligns with the page.
Based on its title, this page would align better with terms around definition and meaning than collecting customer feedback.
Sure enough, its top ranking terms are all definition oriented. The fact that it holds position 30 for the term “collect customer feedback” indicates there must be some similarity between that term and the primary topic of the page, “what is customer feedback.”
Step 2: Evaluate Topical Coverage
Let’s run the page through Optimize for the topic “collect customer feedback” to check how well it’s covered. Specifically we want to compare its Content Score versus the Target Content Score. This provides a rough indicator as to how closely the page aligns with the topic.
If the topic and page are completely unrelated, its Content Score will be zero. This parallels what you’ll find when checking for SERP similarity.
In this case the page scores average — there is definitely room for improvement. That’s because, while “collect customer feedback” and “what is customer feedback” have some similarity, there are sufficient differences between the two subjects.
Step 3: Examine the Page
Let’s examine the page to see how the topic “collect customer feedback” is currently addressed:
- Is it just mentioned in a sentence?
- Is there a paragraph offering additional explanation?
- Is there a whole section providing even more details?
Not surprisingly, this article is about defining customer feedback. However, it does have a section detailing how to collect customer feedback along with two methods to do so.
Could we add even more to boost its content score? Yes, but it’s not advisable.
Use caution when conducting any optimization, unless there’s 100% alignment between a topic and page. Think back to high school English 101 and writing essays — focus your article on one primary topic and ensure everything else supports the main subject.
You don’t want to turn this article, about defining customer feedback, into one about collecting customer feedback.
Decide How to Best Optimize
In this example, the page isn’t suited for further optimizing on the topic “collect customer feedback.” Since there aren’t any other pages associated with the topic, the next course of action is to create a new page and then link to it from the existing page.
The best place to link from is somewhere in the section “What is the best way to collect customer feedback?” using the phrase “collect customer feedback.”
If the page has a paragraph about collecting customer feedback, expanding this into a section would be appropriate. With a Personalized Difficulty of 23 and Topic Authority of 37, this most likely will be enough for this example.
Likewise, if the page has just a sentence about collecting customer feedback, updating it with a paragraph is a good bet.
The idea here is to minimize the amount of effort necessary to generate the desired results — although there’s nothing wrong with doing a little bit extra. Just make sure you don’t add so much that it changes the original focus of the article.
The best way to look at Personalized Difficulty is in terms of the ranges or bands. Here’s a good rule of thumb, assuming you have a Topic Authority of at least 10:
- Below 20 – update the existing page if it matches the intent, otherwise create a new page.
- 20 to 35 – update the existing page and link to a newly create page that focuses specifically on the topic.
- 35 to 55 – analyze the current footprint, update the whole cluster and build out the gaps in the cluster.
- 55 plus – multiple clusters needed to create a foundation, update semantically related pages.
In conjunction with Personalized Difficulty, Topic Authority is a good indicator of the probability of success.
For example, If Personalized Difficulty is 10 and Keyword Difficulty is 10, then your Topic Authority is 0. Everyone has the same difficulty in ranking for the topic. So just updating the one page is unlikely to succeed.
But if your Personalized Difficulty in 10 and Keyword Diffculty is 100, then your Topic Authority is 90. Your competitive advantage is massive and you’ll likely see improvement by just updating the one page.
Every article should have a focus topic — the subject, or what the article is about. Incorporating material into the article should only improve the understanding of that subject. So be careful that adding extra material doesn’t change the focus of your piece. When in doubt, it’s safer to create a new article and link from the existing one.
What you should do now
When you’re ready… here are 3 ways we can help you publish better content, faster:
- Book time with MarketMuse Schedule a live demo with one of our strategists to see how MarketMuse can help your team reach their content goals.
- If you’d like to learn how to create better content faster, visit our blog. It’s full of resources to help scale content.
- If you know another marketer who’d enjoy reading this page, share it with them via email, LinkedIn, Twitter, or Facebook.