SEO is always evolving – and the methodologies of SEOs along with it.
In the pursuit of greater rankings and higher traffic, there are techniques that SEOs either stumble upon by happenstance, or discover through a period of testing, iteration and further experimentation. Some work well for a period of time. Others for a certain industry or monetization model.
And then there are some strategies that seem to work consistently across the board. We think this one is the greatest.
Can you guess what it is?
It Isn’t A Blog
Blogging has been the reigning pillar of content marketing strategy for many years now.
While a great hub for SEO, links and brand building, blogging is also limited to a predictable body of largely useless information.
Let’s face it — there’s only so many list-type posts we can produce with any sense of quality and comprehension. Polluting the web with more “top 10” headlines isn’t exactly a worthy endeavor. The same would apply for the dreaded ’round up’ post, where semi-known individuals’ opinions are collected into a single piece and passed off as a unique resource of knowledge and relevance. And the recycled notion of stealing a competitors outdated content and republishing it for the present day is careless and borderline sleazy.
You can only blog about a topic for so long before there is a noticeable decline in post quality, originality and frequency.
Blogging is a solid strategy, especially in the early stages of a company, but it’s not the best one.
It Isn’t A Guide
Despite its recent resurgence of popularity and intrigue, the concept of an authoritative guide has been around for a while now.
The definitive/conclusive/ultimate/mega/whatever-you-want-to-call-it guide is another way to describe a helpful resource on a particular topic, from beginning to end, in order to grasp a concept in its entirety without having to read multiple articles or blog posts surrounding the subject.
This strategy worked extremely well when they were first published. They still do, to some extent. But I think we’re all tired of them. Marketers, as they say, ruin everything. Guides are no exception.
The pressure to create a 10,000+ word guide that is better than any competitor is real. This manufactured guide, as the sentiment goes, must be the greatest page on the web for that particular topic. It doesn’t matter if you can communicate the same message in less than 2000 words — you must be in the 10K range if you want to be taken seriously as the guide to end all other guides.
The glaring problem with this strategy is that it can only ever be published once. After that, like a book, you’ll be subjugated to continuous updates over the next few years in order to keep the content relevant to the present time. Furthermore, and more importantly, it’s effectively just one large page – not a set of pages that can impact a greater number of keywords and ideas with pinpoint relevance and search intent. Any extra content you may want to create around the topic in the future would most likely have to be incorporated into the guide, rather than a standalone post or page. That’s the nature of such a beast.
The underlying risk of publishing these type of guides is not merely the state of digital marketing, where a new one seems to pop up every other day. It is that its strength is also its weakness. An oversized guide is an irrelevant one. Its visitors have mixed intent, arriving through a variation of keywords and sources. They are typically not there to purchase anything, nor could they. By providing them with a colossal body of information, they are either in a state of research, learning or boredom – none of which is helpful to us.
There is definitely room for a guide on a website. But it simply doesn’t serve the purpose of SEO the way other content strategies can.
It Isn’t A Comparison
The ‘[X] vs. [Y]’ technique is a simple and effective solution for a few extra visits and conversions for most companies.
Having said that, it is severely limited to a handful of opportunities, largely those involving your direct competitors. Even if the idea could be expanded further along the lines of ‘[X] alternatives’, it would still not reach a respectable magnitude of impact.
In a best case scenario, you could create 5-15 pages to the effect of:
- [Competitor 1] vs. [You]
- [Competitor 2] vs. [You]
- [Competitor 3] vs. [You]
- [Competitor 1] vs. [Competitor 2] vs. [Competitor 3] vs. [You]
- [Competitor 1] alternatives
- [Competitor 2] alternatives
- [Competitor 3] alternatives
Yes, a lot of brands do it. That doesn’t mean it should continue to be replicated.
The production of such content is typically lazy, uninspiring and often skewed in one direction (which you can guess by analyzing who is hosting the content). It’s ideal to leave this kind of thing to bloggers who are genuinely curious about comparing multiple products and services, while having a much higher chance of constructing their conclusions with objectivity. Besides, users tend to attribute more trust to an independent third party over those who have a conflict of interest.
Creating a mini-site with said content may be a more fruitful pursuit. But don’t count on it.
The Dapper Doorway
The greatest content strategy for SEO is one we’ve come to call the “dapper doorway” strategy.
Immediately, the use of the word ‘doorway’ may conjure a negative or black hat connotation. And while that may have been the case in times past, I believe we can reclaim and redeem the term for a higher purpose. Or, at the very least, give it a spin in a new direction.
The dapper doorway strategy is not something new, I’ll be the first to admit it. Back in the day, they were commonly referred to as “content rich doorways” which, as the name suggests, involved a type of landing page which was not built for deception or spam, rather as an opportunity to claim rankings for keywords a business should very well be considered for.
The concept behind the dapper doorway strategy is simple: create a multitude of pages that allow your brand to expand its reach to a vast number of potential users who are using a wide array of keywords to find exactly what you are offering.
But it doesn’t stop there. Each page should be:
- Contextually relevant
- Helpful to a visitor
- Leading to an action
- Beneficial to the brand, regardless of SEO value
This concept, while straightforward in theory, is a long and difficult task to implement — especially if the desired impact is on a grand scale. When it has been executed well, however, it is a wonderful example of content working at scale for branding, SEO, growth and subsequent revenue.
Some great case studies include the likes of many diverse sites:
The popular trading platform Robinhood didn’t just pop out of nowhere, although that’s definitely how it felt only a couple of years ago. In an extremely short period of time, they rose to the top of the trading platform industry, disrupting behemoths like eTrade and TD Ameritrade in remarkable fashion.
Robinhood did a number of things right. They offered a great product, at an unbelievable price (free) with a beautiful interface and design.
They also implemented the dapper doorway strategy magnificently. With over 9,000 stocks available at your fingertips when you sign up for a Robinhood account, little was left to the imagination.
Robinhood proceeded to create a page for every available stock you could buy once on the platform. By making such pages crawlable and accessible to search engine robots, they were able to dominate the search engine results for any individual stock inquiry they happened to hold inventory for.
The landing pages created by Robinhood were not low quality by any measure. They were helpful hubs which featured insightful details such as current prices, performance history over varying periods of time, price calculator, watchlist, company news, analyst ratings and of course the ability to “sign up to buy” the stock immediately.
With over 1,000,000 organic visits a month, ranking for over 122,000 keywords, it’s safe to say the strategy was a resounding success.
Another stellar example of the dapper doorway strategy done right, is the resume service Visual CV.
Touted as the #1 resume builder on the web, Visual CV was able to corner the market by solving a real problem in the industry – boring, ugly looking resumes which didn’t represent the talent and skill of a candidate which would ultimately hurt them in securing interviews and leaving a less-than-desired first impression to their potential employers.
Considering most people inherently want to spruce up their resumes and typically search for a sample CV in their desired profession, it only made sense for Visual CV to capitalize on the opportunity. They began creating pages which showcased samples of every possible industry and position, giving them a total output of over 1,200 pages and counting. Each page included visual examples of the featured title, along with key skills required, resume writing tips and a chance to consider other roles as well.
When job seekers came to find what they are looking for, along with the chance to see what the platform can do for their own resume, there is little wonder why Visual CV is succeeding with this strategy. The chance to expand into more roles and titles is almost endless, if they would (and should!) double-down on a strategy that is clearly working for them on a minor scale.
A lesser-known, yet most certainly worth mentioning example is that of SSL.com.
With the rise of website security and changing search engine algorithms, there has been a renewed interest in SSL certificates and data protection in general. An exact-match domain and well-designed website wasn’t enough for SSL.com – they needed to capitalize on their opportunity with better content and organic reach.
Understanding there was a common ignorance about SSL certificates and the varying nuance that comes into play when deciding what solution is right for different kinds of businesses, they went to work, creating hundreds of FAQ’s and How To’s on the subject.
The strategy was a roaring success.
Pages explaining encryption, HTTPS, sockets, UCC, certificates, keys and signatures soon became the #1 driver of traffic to SSL.com, a website which now receives tens of thousands of extra visitors a month from an idea that many wouldn’t even consider.
Avoid Duplication, Dummy
It should go without saying, but it must be said — we are not creating thousands of similar sounding pages. We are not creating pages with slight alterations, or where there is just enough change to fool a search engine.
Do not confuse the dapper doorway with the lazy, low-effort filler pages a lot of companies resort to for a quick win e.g. pages created for every metro city, with essentially the same content. If there is no discernable difference between a “[Service] in Los Angeles CA” and “[Service] in New York NY” page, that is the typical transgression we’ve come to witness from careless and miserly companies.
There is no more room for crap on the internet. We’re full. We want quality, relevant pages that serve a real purpose. There is no excuse for duplication in this age, and users will alert search engines of it through their low engagement.
It’s Your Turn
The dapper doorway strategy is here to stay. It works. It helps users, search engines and companies alike. Moreso than a win-win situation, it’s also one that is no-lose.
How can you utilize it for your own business or clients?
You are only limited by your own imagination and execution. It may take a while to conceive ideas and brainstorm possible solutions. And yet, it may be the very thing that will catapult your project to a new level of organic growth.
Put the blogs, guides and comparison pages aside for a moment and embrace this new strategy for a little while – you may be very well shocked from what you can create!