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.
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.
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!
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.