How to Turn Your Glossary into a Long-Tail Search-Marketing Machine

Posted by in Search Marketing (SEO) on October 12th, 2009 3 Comments

Every industry has its own set of technical terms and jargon, the problem is that not all your potential customers will know what they mean.

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First up it means you should write you site using a lexicon your audience will understand.

Secondly, if your competitors are making a mistake in the words they use to describe their products, you have an opportunity. A search-optimised glossary of terms can be a in ideal way to increase your search engine performance, targeting long-tail low-competition terms.

Often these searchers will be early in the buying cycle, but if you’re clever a good glossary can be a great way to create a new traffic stream to your site.

So you’ve decided to introduce a glossary, and here is the best way to do it for SEO.

  • Each term should have it’s own independent page – To really target a keyphrase you need to give the term it’s own page. If you combine all your glossary onto just one page, you’ll be hiding the terms under a bushel.
  • You should have a glossary index which links to all the terms in the glossary – Despite what I’ve said above, you should still have one central page which links out to all the other definiton pages. Not everyone is going to land on a definition page so you need to make your glossary easy to navigate.
  • Each individual page should have at least 250 words of unique content – Ideally every page should have 300-400 words of unique content, however that might be a little difficult when providing a short and coherent glossary definition. I’d suggest aimining for around the 250 word mark. This should plenty for the search engines while not forcing you to write more than feels natural.
  • Each page should have a title tag like the following ‘The Term Glossary Definition | What Does The Term Mean’ – The title tag is still your strongest signal to the search engines of a pages keyword content, so it’s important it covers a few keyword variations. It might not be practical to write by hand each title tag so using a formula like I’ve suggested might get the balance between effort and reward right.
  • Each page should have a h1 header with the following as text ‘What does the term mean?’ If your title tag is one of your strongest keyword signals, h1 has got to be vying for second place. I like my title tags and h1′s to integrate and contain very similar content so the formula above may suit your glossary.
  • Each page should have a meta description like ‘ Want to know what the term means? Find an easy-to-understand explanation in The Company’s glossary’ People spend hundreds of hours refining their PPC advert copy but meta descriptions never get the same amount of attention despite have as much influence on CTR as any PPC adverts copy. The purpose of the meta description is three-fold; you need to contain the keywords from the title, mention the brand and wrap it all into a call to action to encourage the click.
  • Where ever in the site the defined terms are used you should link to the definition page with a hyper link using the term as the anchor text – What use is a glossary if it’s orphaned from the rest of your site? You should link to the glossary liberally to direct both users and search spiders towards it. It might be worth considering a piece of script that automatically links to the glossary whenever you mention the word which you have the definition of.
  • The main glossary index should have the h1 ‘ITIL & IT Support Glossary’ – Same as above on every page of your site, there should be a strong correlation between the words used in the title tag and the h1 tag.
  • At the end of every glossary try a ‘you might like’ link to other glossary pages which may also interest the reader – One area of onsite optimisation that’s far too easy to forget is your internal linking. Wherever you can sensibly inter-link your pages you should. You may be able to automatically link between similar glossary terms and even if you have to do it manually it is recommended.
  • Repurpose some of this content to provide ‘beginners guide to your industry’s jargon’ which you might be able to use on your blog or other link building efforts – If you’ve downloaded Helen’s recent integrated search whitepaper you’ll have come across her acronym CAPER. It’s a great modeal to think about and I recommend reading about it. In that acronymn the R stands for repurposing. If you’re in search marketing, one of you top priorities should be how you can repurpose existing content and media. It’ll be more cost and resource-effective than building something from scratch, which is great news if your measuring ROI. If you’ve gone to the effort of producing an extensive glossary you probably can think of dozens of ways to repurpose and re-package that content. Perhaps it can become a pdf whitepaper, a presentation on slideshare or basis for an article to syndicate.
  • Where appropriate on each term link out to external sources to provide further information to your readers – I’m not the type of SEO who spends months constructing labratory conditions to test the out the implications of linking out on page rank. I’m much more of the type of SEO who see’s his role of trying to reconcile what users want and what search engines think users want. With that in mind I always recommend outbound linking – it’ll be useful to your readers who’ll respect you more and I keep an open mind about the possibility it may have benefits for your own search engine ranking.
  • If appropriate link build to these pages i.e. from the Wikipedia pages for those terms etc. - Everyone says content is king, and now you have a whole new slew of content you need to let people know about. Mention it in your link requests, link to it via wikipedia, announce it via twitter etc.
  • Make sure you have a simple keyword-rich url structure for the glossary, eg. Domain.com/glossary/the-term.php The chances are you’ll already have a good URL structure in place from an SEO point of view, so make sure you carry that on throughout your glossary. I don’t want to hear any excuses about parameters or 17 digit article codes!
  • Ensure the glossary is included in existing html and xml site maps - Again simple stuff but after all the time you’ll have invested in the writing and uploading of your glossary, the last thing you want to do is orphan it from the site so the search engine spiders have no idea about it’s existence.
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