Target pages

Choosing target pages comes in the second phase of an SEO campaign. After the learning phase, in the improving stage, we select target pages.

The improving stage is crucial because we gather knowledge from website quality audits, technical SEO audits, and proper keyword research for existing web pages. If you have completed all the steps up until now, then selecting target pages will be a fairly easy task.

What are the target pages?

We use target pages because many websites have a lot of webpages, and these can get tough to track. Moreover, among these extensive webpages, most of them are irrelevant to SEO. Another reason why we use target pages is to simplify the process of improving each segment of the website. Focusing on the target pages makes our job for SEO much easier.

We can improve the web traffic on such target pages as they are ‘low hanging fruit’ pages. By working on such segments of the website, you can deliver faster and noticeable results.

By choosing ‘focus’ or target pages, we are essentially creating a progress sheet that will record all the data from these focus pages. Selecting target pages is a simple process that will take into account the information collected from the website quality audit and keyword research. We choose target pages to map out the most important web pages on a website.

The progress tracking sheet will make it clear to the client what pages we are focusing on during the life of the SEO campaign.

Why do we need Target pages?

Let’s see some of the important reasons why we need to target pages in an SEO campaign.

Priority

We calculate the priority of the page based on a lot of factors like the opportunity of a page. In general, we like to focus on ‘low hanging fruit’ pages. The reason is that these pages are by now ranking for the main keywords. Then the effort in terms of putting links and keywords is also to be considered. Webpages that have a good existing structure of links and keywords will be ranking higher in priority. When we are assigning priority to the pages, we also see the value of the keywords to the company.

Section

Sectioning the website is important for you as an SEO specialist. Sometimes the budget of the client and the scope of SEO are very limited. In such cases, pouring in all the efforts at once is not feasible. The length of the SEO campaign also determines the number of sections that you will be doing. You cannot optimize all the pages at once, so segmenting these webpages comes in handy.

If you’re looking to extend the life of the campaign, then sectioning is a great method. Segmenting the webpages gives you more ease to operate and focus on different parts of the campaign like link building, keyword research, etc. You can duplicate the project plan and work on different sections of the webpages for a couple of months. Sectioning will maintain the quality of the work and the number of hours that you’re putting in.

Baselining

We benchmark where target keywords are at the beginning of the campaign and give us a definitive list of keywords to track. We will be recording the target pages across factors like current main keywords and their ranking. These keywords will be tracked as the SEO campaign progresses and will show how they are improving.

Link planning

Target pages are very useful in building an effective link building plan. By using the data collected, we can determine how many links we’ll need to acquire for each target page in the campaign. This will help us to rank the page higher!

Understanding the template of target pages

If you see the screenshot below, you’ll see the spreadsheet columns that you need to include. The columns and headings are very important as this sheet will be tracking your progress throughout the SEO campaign.

(Source : Google Images)

Let’s go through the nitty-gritty of the template for target pages. The first column is the priority, the priority is listed out in an ascending order where 1 is the highest priority.  Then comes the sections of the target pages. As we discussed earlier, this column is very important. Make sure you map out the sections in order of the priority. After that comes the URL, then the main keyword of the target page.

The volume column tracks the number of keywords, including the main and the secondary keywords. The next column has the ranking of only the main keyword. After that comes the journey column, which has the data that we got from the keyword research.

(Source : Google Images)

Then comes the referring domains to that website and the domain authority of the page, which we will need for comparison purposes. After this, we have the top 3 results of the keyword research in terms of average referring domains, average domain authority, and average monthly velocity for the main keyword.

Then the next columns are suggested RD, DA, and velocity. These are just additions and modifications to the average values form the previous columns. We build such columns so that it gives us a framework to work on. Moreover, this data is beneficial in designing a link building strategy.

Designing a link building plan depends on what is the scope of your SEO campaign and what the client wants. This serves as a research tool for you to track your progress! The spreadsheet is pretty simple and easy to understand. It’s very straightforward and needs the data to be updated manually. Most of the information is based on previous audits and keyword research.

So now that we’re done seeing the basics of the file, you can just send the same through to the client. Next, we can even put these in a keyword ranking tracker so that we can keep updating the progress. The results of the tracker are important for the monthly reports that you send out to the client.

How to set up the target pages file?

After you have initially set up the template from the keyword research file, it’s time to make sections. Sectioning, setting priority, and putting the suggested velocity of the page are the next steps in setting up your target pages.

Now setting priority is a very difficult task. With so many factors to consider, it gets confusing to choose which ones to give importance to. As a rule of thumb, look at the lead generation target pages first. In any SEO campaign, we first look at the lead generation pages and then the blog posts. Blog posts are next in priority as they also have a lot of referring domains to it.

The homepage is the first on priority for improvements in terms of referring domains for the main keyword.

Low Hanging Fruit Method

Then after that, what we suggest is go for the ‘low hanging fruit’ method to set priority. In this method, we will be choosing web pages that already have a decent ranking in the range of 6-20.

The reason why we choose web pages that are ranking in the range 6-20 is because these webpages are on the verge of gaining web traffic. We need to compare with the keyword volume to judge the opportunity of the page. Most of the organic traffic comes not only from the homepage but also from the top 3 positions.

So, we find these pages that google already likes and make them rank much better. Getting pages from a lower ranking to the top will take a lot of time. However, it’s easier to pull a page to the top because it already has a good ranking. Little adjustments, like link building, on-page changes, and analysis like meta titles and description. This will make our job a whole lot easier if we put these webpages higher on priority.

Comparing Against Keyword Metrics

Another method for setting up the target pages is comparing the pages against the metrics that are already on the sheet. In this method, we are looking at the keywords and the opportunity to rank the score to make the priority list. All these scores and metrics help us decide the priority score of certain keywords and URLs.

There’s no right method to do this. While many people prefer to outsource such work, it is preferred to have someone do this in-house. Putting the work on priority is not just for the client’s understanding, but also to decide how we are distributing the efforts over the life of the SEO campaign.

(Source : Google Images)

The template is just a framework that suggests the best way to go about making a target pages checklist. We are using the already present data to make decisions regarding the priority and the sectioning of the pages.

There is no fixed format to section the URLs; it all depends on the size of the client and the scope of the campaign and the competitiveness of the keyword.

The target pages file is a great way to show the client what the goals and next steps have to be in the SEO campaign. It is also beneficial to increase the budget/scope of the project with the improvements that you are suggesting.

Next steps

Now that you have set up the target pages file let’s outline the next steps that you should be considering for your SEO campaign.

  • Pushing into the improvement stage of the campaign

Using the site sections to alter the project plan and set the next stage of the campaign into action (on the page). This way, you can deliver more and show them the progress that you want to implement.

  • This is a living file, it should be updated

As you add more content to the site, we want to track them as target pages. Whether it is a new landing page or a new blog post, you want to make sure to update it on the sheet. As the campaign grows, tracking the changes is most important. The new webpages will need links, tracking, and reporting to show growth over time.

  • These pages should be reported on

Reporting on the keyword progress of these pages every month in the Data Studio monthly SEO report. In this report, the most important pages are the target pages file and the target keywords report.

To Sum Up

The target pages file and the reporting represent a smooth flow of the keywords and their progress. It gives proper backing to the conclusions and the suggested changes that you are requesting. These files are a great way to show the client how much effort you’re putting in and what are the steps that you have taken.

A ServiceNow wizard by trade, Gaby quit her 9-5 to pursue the world of search marketing. As a Customer Success Manager at SERPninja, she makes sure your projects get the attention they deserve. She is a certified Google Campaign Manager, HubSpot Inbound Marketing Expert and a SEMrush Expert – it is safe to say she knows exactly what she is talking about. She swears by  “The 5 Hour Work Week” but ends up working 80 hours a week to make sure your SEO is handled right.