Challenges are fun, right? Well, I enjoy most challenges that clients place in my inbox. We recently took on a project different from our typical sort. A former co-owner of one of our current clients recently purchased a college search website. Like most college lead generation websites, it’s affiliate based with colleges regularly opting in and out of the lead payment program.
Running an initial analysis of the website, we noticed the following issues:
- The site featured hundreds of outbound affiliate links primarily pointing to the same domain name
- The site consisted largely of duplicate content featured on many other similar genre websites
- The site lacked proper link flow from top pages to deep internal pages
We’ve formulated a strategic plan of action and are addressing these issues through:
- Adding nofollow tags to the outbound affiliate links. The links need to remain in order for the site to generate income; however, there’s no need for our client to pass linkjuice on and strengthen the parent affiliate through his creative work and web marketing investment. By nofollowing the outbound affiliate links, the site will be gradually recognized less as an affiliate linking site and become more of a resource website (which is our goal).
- Applying textual differentiation to the duplicate content on the site. This second plan is underway presently. Instead of taking all the content and hiring a copywriter to completely write fresh content (which would be the goal but it’s also an expensive route to take), we’re applying differentiation theory to alter existing content and make it somewhat different so it becomes apparently unique. If the differentiation fails to cause the content pages to “stick” better in organic search, then we’ll up the ante and further differentiate the content or go with original content.
- The third issue has created a myriad of headaches and isn’t completely solved yet. The site (excluding the college search blog which is WordPress) is based on a lesser known and not too often used open source content management system called Symphony. It’s been difficult find a reasonably priced and experienced Symphony developer to make major changes on the site. We’ve jumped into the Symphony code and have been able to make many desired changes ourselves, but developing a reliable fix for full site navigation is beyond our coding knowledge.
Along with the above, we’ll be rejuvenating the blog and doing offsite marketing. We’re excited about what will take place as traffic to the website gradually begins to pick up in response to converting the site from being merely a copycat affiliate site and becoming an information rich resource site (while still generating income for the owner).