Last week I talked about the amazing world of information architecture. We discussed how important it is to correctly classify information not only for the user’s benefit, but also to help power things like recommendation engines. I briefly mentioned then, that from an SEO perspective, correctly classifying information can aid in the form of creating powerful archive sections of web sites that can rank extremely well.
In this post we will take a look at some common elements that make archive pages a very valuable SEO asset.
Minimize Duplicate Content
One of the biggest concerns with archive pages is the formation of duplicated content. This is typical because often times with the case of many CMS’ like WordPress, the default archive page looks almost identical to the main blog posts listing page. However, you can change this by minimizing the amount of duplicated text by changing each post listing to only show the post title/link. This will condense the listings making it easier for the users to scan quickly and eliminate duplicated text. Also make sure not to duplicate a classification. For example some sites with have a “hot dog” category, and then will mistakenly also tag a post “hot dogs”. This will create two identical archive pages that should be consolidated into each other.
Add Additional Content Above Listings
Have you seen our author archive sections? We designed these pages to include a large professional bio above the listings. This text gives the page more unique content and gives us an opportunity to include more related terms. I have seen some sites use this area to introduce a product or service that they offer that is related to the topic. This is an awesome idea because it closely aligns targeted traffic with a business goal.
Increase Internal Linking
Internal links are what give these archive pages so much power. But if you are not using the links to their full extent, then these pages aren’t likely to see their full benefit. You can typically link to these archive pages from any piece of content that is listed in each archive. Some times blog posts will have a list of tags that the post is listed under. Other times categories are listed. Categories are great to include into breadcrumbs and post footers.
Use rel=”next” and rel=”prev” Paginated Archive Pages
Sometimes you will have a topic that you have a lot of content on. If this is the case you might need to use paginated archive pages to list the content in a series of pages. When doing this, it is best to use the rel=”next” and rel=”prev” link tags to declare what pages in a series should be consolidated. When applied correctly Google and other search engines will treat all the pages in a series of pages as the same entity. This is great for two reasons: all of the link equity will be funnel to the page you want to rank, and it will mitigate from the risk of duplicated content.