SEO For Big Sites Versus Newer & Small Sites
Igal Stolpner joins the podcast to share his outlook on doing SEO for big/established sites in contrast to doing SEO for smaller/newer sites:
Doing SEO on new sites versus old sites
How understanding the growth potential of a site differs for small versus big sites
Creating site architecture on big and small sites
It goes without saying that there is no one size fits all SEO solution. How you approach everything from creating site structure to analyzing growth potential to doing keyword research all depends on the type of site you are working with. Whether the site is new or not, whether the site is big or not, all heavily factors into how you do SEO.
In this episode, Igal and I dive into the differences between SEO on a big site, SEO on a small site, SEO on a new site, SEO on an old... SEO on all kinds of sites.
The Difference Between Doing SEO on Big Versus Newer and Smaller Sites
Big sites, more established sites, are fundamentally different than smaller and newer sites. Knowing the difference can help you take the right approach in the right circumstances and even set your team up in a way where the right resources are properly allocated.
SEO On New Site Versus Old Sites
Let's take the idea of SEO on big versus small sites from a bit of a different angle by analyzing new sites versus big sites. Why? Because a big site is quite often more established and therefore bigger (more time online = more pages of content) whereas a small site can often be a newer site that has yet to grow into a bigger site.
One of the starkest contrasts when working with a big site versus a new site is that the immediate goal is completely different. A big site didn't become a big site overnight. It grew from a smaller site into a larger and more established site. This kind of site has context. It has a history. As an SEO, fundamentally, you're trying to take that context and history and use it to grow the site. In more specific terms, you're taking the site's authority, its backlink profile, its "ranking profile" (i.e., how Google sees the site and its pages in terms of relevancy to certain topics) and you're trying to grow and expand it all.
Not so with a new site. A new site has no context, it has no history. Meaning, in the eyes of Google and other search engines, it has no identity. Google doesn't know "who" the site is, how trustworthy it is, and where it fits into things topically. This means creating content and lots of it. It means creating focused content that helps the site build relevance for targeted topics.
Here, as an SEO, you're trying to painstakingly carve out a corner of the universe for the site. You're trying to establish the site, give it some context, and let Google know that this site has topical relevance in whatever cases. That's a very different goal than "growth per se" and because it's such a different goal, how you approach your "SEO" and what you focus on will be vastly different as well.
Understanding the Potential for Growth
One of the biggest differences between working with a newer and smaller site versus a more established larger site is the data available to you. When you have history and traction it's far easier to understand the potential. When you have something to work with you can see where the gaps are, what potential growth you might garner by filling those gaps.
With a newer site, what are you supposed to base the potential growth on? There's no past performance with which to predict a trajectory. It's harder to see where the gaps are as everything is a gap in a way since you're starting from scratch. Moreover, as your site is still emerging and establishing itself it's harder to predict the success of moving into a certain content area. As opposed to a site where you are taking the site to its next logical topic, with a newser site you don't always know how Google will take/understand your move into a certain topic and set of target keywords.
At the same time, once you get a newer site off the ground tracking and measuring, and analyzing it all is far easier. When you have 25 pages or even 200 pages you can map the whole thing out. You can analyze the SERP, run content gaps, dig into the keyword research more effectively than if you have a million pages on your site. Once you hit a certain level of scale the planning and research become an entirely different and more difficult beast.
Site Architecture & Hierarchy: Internal Linking New Versus Established Sites
Internal linking might just be the more undervalued SEO tactic out there. Working with internal links and setting a proper hierarchy can actually be a lot easier with a new site. Of course, it will be slow going on the internal linking side as you might not have a lot of pages. But as the site produces more content you can really take advantage of interlinking your pages.
Of course, you can do the same thing on a larger and more established site. However, with a new site, you're not working with thousands if not millions of pages. It's much easier to manage all of your pages with a younger site. You know exactly what pages you have, what categories it all fits under, and what should go where, and which pages should link to which.
But if you're managing a large number of pages, setting up proper site architecture gets really complicated really quickly and is far more laborious than working with a smaller or a newer site. This can easily lead to issues with URL structure, especially if a large site has not had hands-on SEO work done on a consistent basis.
Two Different Worlds
It should go without saying that working on bigger more established sites is vastly different than doing SEO on newer and smaller sites. To me, the fundamental difference is the basic goal. It's growth versus the establishment. On a site that's been around and has a decent number of pages, there's no need for Google to "figure you out." Google understands who you are. Of course, you want to refine that perception and grow into new areas, etc.
On newer, smaller sites, Google has no context. You are literally trying to carve a niche on the SERP out for yourself. That's a very different process than what we often refer to as "growth" in the traditional sense.
For more of the SEO Rant Podcast check out our previous episode on properly prioritizing your SEO efforts.