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Keyword Dilution – the Guiding Light in Website Architecture

August 26th, 2010 | | Information Architecture

I absolutely love going down to Blog Indiana every year. Not only do I get to talk shop with industry peers who’ve become friends, but there’s always one conversation I have that completely changes the way I think about content and keyword strategies.

This year’s conversation occurred Saturday afternoon in the lobby at IUPUI after the event was over. Just me, Douglas Karr, and Chad Pollitt.

They were talking about real estate clients they’ve had in the past and how they used a multiple domain strategy instead of an all-in-one or even a subdomain strategy.

Their reason: keyword dilution
Their results: clients’ sites outranked those big aggregator sites and received a good ROI

And it got me thinking about my company’s redesign.

For fear of giving too much of a plug, I work at a place that Karr describes as an “all in one shop.” We offer the big three:  IT & Support, Custom [web] Development and Marketing & Design. To the casual observer, all those services sound related. But upon further review, you realize that those segments, despite the fact they all relate to online activities, are night and day from each other.

And this is coming from someone who confesses to being too broad in initial keyword targeting. “Test it and see what happens,” is usually the motto I hide behind because I”m afraid of missing potential opportunities.

But now they have me that afraid of keyword dilution.

What Is Keyword Dilution

Keyword dilution happens when the spectrum of keywords on a page / site are so unrelated that not only do they fail to cross-optimize but they dilute each other’s impact on the site. For example, in theory, “Zen” and “the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance,” [title “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” is a book written by Robert Pirsig] would be such contrasting concepts that if both were written about on a site would their impact, in essence, detract from each other. And if you did “Zen,” “Art,” and “Motorcycle Maintenance,” …well, you get the picture.

Pending your keywords and present [and future] competition, having such anchors will hinder your ability to reach your target audience.

If you have a site that has contrasting themes, consider the following strategies:

Multiple domains. Now, be careful. If you link too many of them all together you run the risk of link farms.

Subdomains. I can’t believe I’m saying this out loud, but because the three sections can be so different, using the subdomains can help show solidarity and differences. Pending on algorithm changes, splitting the site into corporateurl.com and three subdomains – “it”, “development”, “design,” – will allow each section to be their own site and my boss gets his microsites while still getting about 25% of the privilege of a corporate URL’s subfolder.

Now our upcoming blogging strategy becomes more of a niche blogging strategy. The blog posts can now be higher up in the site architecture. And we now can better target our keyword strategies.

A little 301 nightmare is forthcoming, but in the end it should be worth the effort.

I can’t wait for my old partner-in-crime to read this one. “I told you so!” followed by “Sure, if Doug says it…

(And I reserve the right to change my mind, again)
What steps do you take to avoid keyword dilution?

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  • http://www.anglotopia.net jonathanwthomas

    Welcome to the Dark Side, padawan.

  • Finn

    Evil, my friend. Evil.

    I don’t know if I can let myself do it.