How to Destroy the Zombie Pages That Are Creeping on Your Website!

Warning, this is going to be a rant against Zombie pages – the living dead that creep into the websites of local businesses, infecting them with ugly, boring, lifeless content that is going to have a very hard time ranking for anything.  You’ve seen them. You know them all too well. Wherever you find them, they must be killed and buried once and for all.

Why Zombies?

The most unfortunate thing about Zombie pages is that they that live in the top level navigation of their websites as either Product or Service pages. There’s nothing unique or interesting about the content on them – either to the Search Engines or to human visitors. Anyone landing on them is just as likely to bounce away as they are to click on one of the links, especially since little effort is made to encourage further movement around the site. The creators of these sites have essentially placed an unappealing blockade between their site visitors and the content that lies beyond these Zombie pages.

Meanwhile, because of the way web authority is distributed via site structure and internal linking, these pages have some of the strongest native ranking potential on their respective websites.  But instead of writing and optimizing a great page with the ability to compete for tough terms in their niches, the owners of these sites have squandered that potential on pages that only serve a navigational function. What a waste!

Brains Spilling Out

In this example, the long list of terms on the page clues us in that this lawyer wants to rank for all these different search terms involving criminal defense, personal injury, family law and employment law. That’s a really big job to expect one page containing almost no useful content to pull off!

The attorney would be better off getting rid of some of the URLs now in the main navigation, including Services. If this were my site, I’d also eliminate the Directions tab and place the directions to the office on the Contact page and place the content in Personal Message on the home page or the About page.

Then, I’d have spots to put Personal Injury, Criminal Defense, Family Law and perhaps Employment Law in the navigation. There’s only one mention of employment issues on the page, so maybe that’s not very important to this law practice? Then I’d create truly useful pages about how I can help my website visitors resolve problems in each of those areas and build out additional, well-optimized content within each of those sections of the site.

For example, on the Family Law page I would write a nice, empathic introduction about the attorney’s expertise in family law and a paragraph or two about how he can help with Child Support, Paternity and Divorce/Dissolution issues. Then, I’d link to additional pages and posts on the site that go into more detail on each of those topics.

This gives the Search Engines a much better understanding of what the business does. It also makes it easier for visitors to figure out what they can hire this attorney to do for them and to more easily find the information on the site that addresses their particular concerns.

The Walking Dead

In this example, the Zombie page has a short introduction that talks about what this company does – sort of. The company’s main products are SAAS programs designed specifically for pharmacies. It also has some robotic equipment that helps pharmacists automate pill dispensing. But if you landed here, it would be pretty darn hard for you to figure that out from what you see on the page. I don’t think the Search Engines would mistake this for a useful page, either. Yet, it’s 1 of only 6 links in the main navigation of this website.

It makes much more sense to give each of the main topics on this page – Pharmacy, HME/DME (home medical equipment) and Long Term Care Pharmacy – their own spot in the main navigation (they are now in the subnavigation) and eliminating this page altogether. Then each page could be optimized for the fat head terms that people search for around those products, and longer tail content can also live within that theme on the site.

I’d also look to see if any of the other pages in the main navigation were Zombies and think about completely rearranging the site structure, as needed, to emphasize the company’s products and services, and help the website to rank better for relevant queries.

Zombie Apocalypse

This is yet another example of a top-level navigation page that does nothing for the website or for its human visitors, other than try to send them to other pages deeper in the site. Apparently, the owner would like it to rank for something like reconstructive plastic surgery, but is not putting in the effort needed to make it a useful page on that topic.

Heck, the 2 links on the page don’t even go to information about how this doctor can help with breast or hand reconstruction. Instead, they link out to other websites. The desire to rank for terms related to plastic surgery for burn victims doesn’t even warrant a link. Do you see any reason why the Search Engines would want to rank this page highly in the results? At some point, the Panda algorithm may even exclude it from the Google index because of its lack of life.

Keep Fighting the Zombies

After the home page, the top level pages should be viewed as the most valuable pages of any website. They have enough potential to attract new visitors via search, but they need to earn those visitors with useful content rather than lists of links. Don’t just try to make them visually appealing. Put plenty of information on them aimed at encouraging prospects to learn more about what you do and sell, and persuading them to contact you because you can help them resolve their problems.

Don’t let dead pages suck the life out of your website. No Zombie pages, please!

 

Zombie Killers Quiz

John L Smith Plumbing and Heating would like the page below to rank well for all of the terms related to his plumbing services.  What suggestions would you make to him to increase his chances of that happening? Please let us know in the comments!

 

 

About Mary

Mary Bowling has been involved in all aspects of SEO since 2003. Her background as a serial entrepreneur helps her to approach Local Search and Internet Marketing from a practical standpoint, and gives her a keen awareness of the small business owner’s perspective. Mary is an SEO practitioner and consultant and speaks frequently on Local Search at industry conferences –SMX, Pubcon, Searchfest, OMS and SES.

AUTHOR

Mary Bowling

Mary Bowling has been involved in all aspects of SEO since 2003. Her background as a serial entrepreneur helps her to approach Local Search and Internet Marketing from a practical standpoint, and gives her a keen awareness of the small business owner’s perspective. Mary is an SEO practitioner and consultant and speaks frequently on Local Search at industry conferences –SMX, Pubcon, Searchfest, OMS and SES.

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0 comments on “How to Destroy the Zombie Pages That Are Creeping on Your Website!

  • Hi Mary,

    Great post. For John’s services page I would recommend the following:
    Expanding each of those services into an in-depth, robust resource on how what’s entailed in receiving said service. All of those services should have it’s own page and be it’s own “guide” covering the topic top to bottom.

    When this process is complete that URL above is the landing page for a very useful resource (Something that would be bookmarked and shared) that covers what a homeowner can expect when seeking information on plumbing services. From an search engine perspective they’ve thematically covered the topic of plumbing services, which is the goal of the 2015 focus on semantic search.

    Looking forward to your thoughts.

    Dylan

  • Nice post Mary!

    Build lots of links to this page with exact match anchor text 😉 jk jk

    John needs supporting pages for each of those bullets to interlink. Also is this site responsive? (by the esthetics I doubt it) A plumber like many local based businesses should be building their sites from the ground up. Ground being mobile.

  • Hey Mary, great post. So many businesses look to their competitors’ sites and structure and assume that it’s the navigation they should replicate on their site.

    Looking at his zombie page, I would think he’s targeting Emergency Repairs and Bathroom Renovations. But the “24 hour emergency repair service available:” lists Kitchen Remodelling, Bathroom Remodelling. Not really emergency repair related.

    So possibly:
    Emergency Repair | Kitchen Renovations | Bathroom Renovations | Free Estimates

  • Hi Marie,

    Love your zombie analogy! I agree that it is sad and highly inefficient to nourish a strong “zombie page” that has no potential whatsoever to convert or retain its visitors.

    I hope I can add to your idea without changing it too much:
    As lifelessness of the “zombie landing pages” is their main problem, the solution should be pretty straightforward – personalizing those pages for the targeted customers. In this regard having a clear idea of what kind of customers a company is targeting is the key. Listing down customers main concerns, problems and challenges and showing HOW those are being handled by the team is among the main things the site visitors what to learn in order to convert.

    Creating a single article and linking it from the “zombie page” won’t suffice to freshen up the page content/outlook. Everything on the given page including design, headings, lists and even case studies should be personalized as to attract attention and to be able to differentiate the given brand from its competitors.

    If there is a WordPress theme common for the vertical, by all means stay away from it; if there is a uniform “call to action” sign on all your competitors sites – try to add to it, elaborate it further – surprise your visitors, make them wonder what’s next.

    I don’t know about the rest but the “zombie from the crowd” will only see my back and my only interaction with it will be hitting the backspace button to escape from it.

  • @Linda thanks for such a nice compliment!
    @Dylan great suggestions for making John’s plumbing site much more useful to its visitors.
    @Donnie excellent suggestion for plumbers to be building sites for mobile first
    @Chris it sure is hard to optimize a single page for so many different topics, isn’t it?
    @Nevyana Your suggestions are right on the mark!

  • Become creative! Do something that adds value in a way that will help you rank because you actually deserve it!

    “Are you experiencing a plumbing emergency? *After you call us*, click on your emergency below to learn how you can save your home from further damage before we get there! Our response time to emergency situations is #1 in our area, but you could save hundreds on damage repair costs by implementing the solutions below.”

    Then list all the keywords in a way that makes sense and looks pretty, with a scrolling link on each of them.

    Then create 100-200 words descriptions of how to address each of these emergencies, with warnings and suggestions and any safety concerns and recommendation. Use images and videos if you have to.

    Benefits:

    1) you will create a page with around 2000 words that will go way beyond what any of your local competitors are doing.

    2) you are creating a resource that is perfect for some broken back link building, outreach to complimentary businesses or organization in your area, etc.

    3) you are adding value to the client’s experience with you, because let’s say, they do call you and then utilize your resource, they could save hundreds of dollars! Don’t you think that is gonna get you some referrals, happy customers, testimonials, and all around advocates of your brand?

    Add value, earn the right to be up top, and promote your content effectively. Watch the magic happen!

  • Zombie pages have been around forever and when designing a website I make great effort to get rid of them. The key is to ask the question “Does this page offer any value to the user?” If the answer is no then the question that should follow “Can I put the information in another page or can I just get rid of it?”

    I’ve found user experience and quality information lead to lower bounce rates and higher on line satisfaction. In turn those factors are what help my clients rankings. That along with some targeted link building 🙂

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