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I love a good analogy, especially when it comes to Search Engine Optimisation (SEO).

When you start talking SEO, people’s faces screw up into little balls of consternation. “It’s all too hard, I don’t understand,” they complain, and I sympathise. SEO can be confusing when you’re starting out, and I find a nice little analogy often helps clear things up.

Your home page

So here we go. Think of your home page as the front door to your house or business. It’s got a nice welcome mat, (that flash rotating thingo), a doorbell (contact button), and there’s even a little sign explaining what you do (graphics illustrating your services). The whole page screams ‘professional’ and makes customers sweaty with the urge to give you their business.

Your sub pages

Now think of your back door as a sub sub sub page on your website (still doing the analogy thing here, stay with me). There’s no doorbell, doormat, no little sign, just loads of copy. It’s hard to work out what you do or why you’re here.

Okay I get the analogy but why should I care?

When it comes to SEO, your customers are highly likely to turn up at your back door rather than your front door.

Why? Well it’s pretty hard to make your home page truly work well for SEO. You don’t want to clutter it up with a lot of ugly HTML copy; instead you want Flash movies and sexy, big graphics that sell your brand. Then there’s that lovely graphical navigation and all the JavaScript to deal with. Pretty soon you end up with a page that’s pretty much invisible to fussy little Search Spiders.

Now your sub pages are easier for Search Spiders to digest. They’ve FULL of SEO-friendly copy written by an expert SEO copywriter. You’ve kept the images to a minimum and used a simple HTML navigation: SEO GOLD!  So, as long as the page is correctly keyword saturated, it’s this page that will show up in the rankings, not your home page. Plus, if you offer lots of services, it’s easier to focus individual pages on each product, rather than trying to cover them all fully on the home page.

Type ‘Home Loans’ into Google and you’ll see what I mean.

For the big banks like CBA and NAB (who offer lots of services), it’s the individual product pages that rank, not their home page.

How to make your back door pages work for SEO

So to improve your back door SEO, here’s a simple check list to help you ensure that, even if your users end up at your back door, they still convert.

Ensure the following appears on ALL pages:

  • Your logo (obvious I know, but you’d be surprised).
  • A simple one-line description of what you do (ideally in HTML).
  • A quick contact method.
  • A log in area (if applicable).
  • A breadcrumb trail so users can quickly work out where they are in your site.
  • A search function.
  • A link to your sitemap.
  • Quality SEO copy that’s keyword saturated.

Ideally, you’ll also have consistent HTML based navigation on all pages (put it in the footer if you‘d rather stick with graphics for your primary navigation).

Although your backdoor may not be pretty, it can be functional and often more engaging than that whizz bang home page you’re so proud of.

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