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How to Choose Pages to Optimize on Your Site

how to choose pages to optimize

Fact: Google likes timely, relevant content better than outdated work. (Who doesn’t?)

Another fact: Content doesn’t update itself, so if you want your pages to rank better, you’re going to need to do some optimizations.

In this post, our on-page optimizations team takes a deep dive into the best ways to choose what pages to optimize. That’s usually the hardest part of the process, so we’re here to give you some tips and technical insight.

If you want to know more about on-page optimizations (OPO), check out our blog “What is On-Site SEO?” 

Everyone else, keep reading to learn how to choose pages to optimize on your site. 

Which of your pages should you optimize first?

How to Choose Pages for On-Page Optimization

The first method we’ll discuss is great for very small businesses or those without a ton of supplemental content (think blogs, FAQs, and the like). You don’t need to buy any online tools or software. 

In fact, all you have to do is look at the structure of your site. Here’s how.

Consider Site Hierarchy

Finding which pages to optimize first is as easy as looking at your main header navigation (“nav”).

Pages that link from the main nav receive the most authority, which means they also have the greatest opportunity to rank.

We suggest optimizing all of the pages that link from your main nav first, except for your About Us or Contact Us page.

Those types of pages don’t really have any ranking authority and are usually just there to show people that you’re human.

Let’s break down what we mean by “parent pages” that link from the nav.

how to choose pages to optimize site hierarchy

Boy, that’s a good-looking website. Notice how the menu expanded to show all of our Service pages.

These service pages are what we call “parent” pages – they hold more authority and can send some of that authority to smaller pages through internal linking.

Any page that drops down like this from the main nav is fair game to optimize unless it was already optimized recently.

Remember, you don’t want to optimize pages too often. You could end up changing or removing something that Google liked.

We recommend optimizing main service pages once a year to 18 months. You can check that your links are up to date and images haven’t been removed, in addition to checking page speed and other factors.

For more information about what to optimize once you choose a page, check out our blog “What is On-Site SEO?

Other Ways to Find Pages to Optimize

If you want to follow any of the methods below, you’ll need to purchase a subscription for an analytics/tracking platform. 

Our in-house on-page optimization team prefers Google Search Console and Google Analytics, but you can use whatever platform you want as long as it can access basic site data.

Without further ado, five more ways of choosing pages to optimize:

1. Look for pages that have lots of traffic but aren’t ranking well.

A page with traffic disproportionate to its ranking is a great page to optimize. For example, one of our client’s blogs that we haven’t yet optimized:

how to choose pages to optimize traffic

This blog has a ton of traffic and impressions compared to others on his site, but it’s ranking on page five of search results. The click-through rate (CTR) is also decent, so why would it be ranking so low?

One answer is that although it seems most users find the page helpful, Google does not find it helpful.

Maybe there are conflicting elements on the page that are confusing to the search engine.

Maybe the page’s URL is identical to another page on the site, which is definitely not something you want.

In addition to the metrics listed above (clicks, impressions, and click-through rate), you can examine the page’s number of entrances or number of users in comparison to its ranking. 

Generally, if a page has a lot of clicks, impressions, or entrances, but is not ranking well, that page needs on-site optimization.

2. Look for pages that have been sitting in the same position for months.

Sometimes, all you need is a little encouragement to be your best self. Did you know that websites are the same?

Optimizations are like that precious boost in morale: they get a lazy page off its feet and make sure Google doesn’t ignore them any longer.

how to choose pages to optimize same position

Ignore the purple part of the graph and look at the orange dots.

The orange dots represent this page’s average position in Google search results over the course of five months. You’ll notice that the page had some fluctuation, but even the biggest difference was only five places, from position 13 to eight.

That’s not what a “normal” page looks like. Even the most beautiful, optimized, user-friendly page will have significant rises and falls (hopefully more rises than falls, of course).

If it’s been more than one month and your page hasn’t moved up or down in rankings, it’s probably because Google just doesn’t know what to do with it.

It’s not great enough to rank higher, but it’s also not terrible enough to be sent to the end.

Google’s solution is to just keep it where it is, so if you want that page to break out of the trap you need to give it some encouragement. You need to optimize it.

Similarly, you should optimize pages that haven’t been touched in two or more years. Chances are Google will start treating the page as outdated and irrelevant (it is).

If that happens, you can kiss your chances of being on page one goodbye.

Read these blogs for more info and how-tos:

3. Look for “on the brink” pages.

Basically, an “on the brink” (OTB) page is one that is right on the verge (brink) of ranking on page one, two, or three, or whatever page it’s so close to ranking on, but isn’t.

To find pages that are OTB, all you have to do is look for pages in positions 2-10 and 10-15.

A page that’s in position two is on the brink of ranking in position one, and a page that’s in position 11 is on the brink of ranking on page one.

how to choose pages to optimize on the brink

Take a look at the highlighted sections.

These pages are four of one client’s top-performing FAQs. On the left, you’ll see the URL. On the right, you’ll see the average ranking for that page. These pages are sitting at positions 16, 18.1, 9.8, and 11.1.

In the case of the first two, those pages are on the brink of moving up to the middle of page two and onto page one.

The page in position 9.8 is currently at the very bottom of page one and is on the brink of moving up to a more visible spot.

The page in position 11.1 is just about to break onto page one.

OTB pages are great to optimize because you know how close they are to performing better.

These types of pages are generally pretty easy because they’re already so close to ranking that you probably don’t have many glaring issues to fix, maybe just some stylistic choices.

Our on-page optimization team likes to find OTB pages using Search Console, but you could use Google Analytics or Ahrefs, too.

4. Look for pages that don’t have a set keyword or have a keyword that doesn’t match the topic.

Ah, keywords. Sometimes they’re our friend, sometimes they’re our foe, but they’re always important, especially when finding pages to optimize.

Keywords are one of the greatest “clues” you can give search engines for learning what your page is about.

Search engines are lazy; they don’t want to have to dig and read every word on the page to figure out what your main point is.

If you provide a clear, set keyword that matches your topic and is used strategically throughout the page, you’re giving the search engine exactly what it wants – to do as little work as possible.

And you can bet they’ll reward you for it with better rankings.

So, here’s a couple of ways you can find out if your page has a keyword, and if it does, that it’s the right keyword for the page:

  • Visit the page through the back end of your website.
  • Scroll below the copy until you reach a box with the words “Focus Keyphrase.” This section may be inside a collapsible menu with other SEO settings, so you might want to look extra carefully.
  • If you chose a keyword for this page, you will see it in the “Focus Keyphrase” box. 
  • If the box is empty, decide which keyword is best for that specific page and plug it into the box. Google won’t rank elements like these that are in your website’s back end, but platforms like WordPress do provide helpful SEO tips when you type in a keyword.

how to choose pages to optimize keyword

Think of a keyword as you would think of an essay topic you were assigned to in school.

The keyword, just like the essay topic, is an overarching idea or concept that holds the page together. 

Just like the essay theme, your keyword should guide the copy on the page, staying on topic and actually having something to say rather than just regurgitating old material.

Having trouble getting started? We can help you choose pages to optimize.

Believe us, we know how much work goes into an on-page optimization strategy. Once you get the hang of it, it’s much easier, but you have to start somewhere. 

EverSpark can help you take that first step to choose pages that will give you a boost in traffic and rankings. Our in-house law firm SEO team will get your website on a path to success.