A page can’t rank if it doesn’t exist

As our clients know, although we only offer pay-per-click advertising management as a paid service, we’re always happy to offer any advice for free, particularly when it comes to their website design and improvement. We’re often asked to join in the chat about improving SEO, as you might expect. One of the most common issues concerns search driven websites, especially stores. The problem with these is that for humans, they’re fine. Tick the boxes for the brands which interest you, the price range, etc., and you get a personalised results page. Wonderful.

But search engines can’t do that. Pages which are generated on the fly, in response to a user request, can’t be indexed because they don’t permanently exist. If we want to score highly in search results for specific terms, we need a good page about that term.

Let me give you an example. A website sells widgets. Click on the ‘widgets’ link on the home page and you’re taken to a list of widgets available (items 1-10, page 1 of 15). The page looks nice. Visitors can scan through all the widgets shown. It’s easy for them to select tick-boxes down the side to focus in on a widget type, supplier, price range, etc. So they tick ‘fast widget’ in one box, and ‘from The Blue Widget Co’ in another and bang, they get a focused list from which to select (items 1-7, page 1 of 1).

There are two problems here. Firstly, the company wants its website to rank for searches on ‘widgets’. Well, there’s a page listing loads of widgets, linked-to from the home page, which search engines can follow. So that’s good, right?

Only if it’s more than just a listing. It’s no good if there’s no real text which the search engines can get hold of. A few hundred words of introductory information alongside the listing would go a long way here. It would also make visitors who came into the site on that page feel a lot more comfortable.

The second problem is that the company wants its website to rank for searches on ‘fast widgets’, ‘The Blue Widget Co widgets’ and of course ‘fast widgets from The Blue Widget Co’. And here, the search engines are really in trouble, because there’s no focused page on those products at all. Human visitors may be able to generate it easily, but machines can’t. So we need to work out what’s important, and to create a permanent version of that page.

At a minimum, it shouldn’t be hard to create a page about ‘fast widgets’ and another about ‘The Blue Widget Co’. A few hundred words of original text, a decent link from elsewhere on the site, and we’re away.

Are you trying to rank for searches which you don’t have an actual, linked page for?