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April 3, 2009

Theme Density – The Ultimate SEO Ranking Factor

Even though theme density is not a well known term in search engine optimization, many will come to know this as SEO evolves. The root of this SEO model is based on semantic relationships, co-occurrence of synonyms, polynyms and thematic modifiers. The end result, multiple top 5 and top 10 rankings for broad match and exact match keywords and key phrases (which all add up over time).

This strategy is based on the premise of using multiple pages within a website to concentrate a particular ranking factor and then transfer that ranking factor to a singular or multiple target pages. Wikipedia is known best for this tactic, so, questioning the effectiveness of the method would be a moot point. Each keyword represents a virtual theme for Wikipedia, with its own H1, sub folder in a sub domain and a high concentration of internal and external links.

The prerequisite however is that this tactic requires a larger website, preferably over 1,000 pages in order to harness its full potential. The benefit occurs over time as each page gets indexed and adds yet another layer to the process of SERP domination.

Say for example you wanted to rank for a specific range of keywords like business to business internet marketing for example. Since this key phrase has polynyms as well as a number of interesting shingles (word groups). You can approach it from many angles when building internal and external links. Shingles such as b2b marketing, business to business online marketing, Internet business, Internet marketing and others exist within this context.

Anchoring Content Based on Semantic Relevance

By concentrating content, several articles, blog posts or pages within your website to cross reference a specific pinnacle, you can effectively stem or blossom keywords for each page and the entire website respectively. First, you may witness a page ranking for more than one keyword, then stemming into long tail keywords (keywords with more than 3 words) then sometime peculiar happens over time.

The Process of Semantic Stemming

Semantic stemming is when a page starts to rank for competitive combination of keywords within the title, description or body text. The next stage is when the page starts ranking for sparsely related queries and encroaches on other searches as a relevant result with a mere mention in a title, or somewhere on the page. A website with a high concentration of inbound links, trust rank or authority can easily push a search result right into the top 10 from a title tag alone. Other less fortunate sites will have to work much harder to cross the tipping point.

Crossing the Tipping Point

Although each keywords top 10 threshold is a moving target, the website with the least resistance to the dominant ranking factor required for that “exact match shingle” a.k.a. keyword or “key phrase” will have to tap-out when someone nails the semantic threshold for on page factors, has sufficient link flow from within the website and is augmented by a tinge of trust rank.

Each of these respective achievements has their root in two prevalent factors (1) optimization over time and (2) the layering of relevant content. Although this may seem grossly technical with all the geek speak and references to code junky jargon, the reality can be reduced to (a) intelligent keyword research as the DNA (b) relevant topical content layered and administered over time and (c) the ability to produce over 70% of its own ranking factor to propel your authority site past everything in sight that is not using a thematic content model.

With a few hundred links and a themed website (saturating a topic from multiple trajectories) we have been able to produce websites that rank for 1200 or more competitive keywords and outrank websites that are 10 years their senior in roughly 4-5 months time. The model is proven, fortunately for most who enjoy the lion share of keyword positioning for competitive verticals, not many are pursuing this method of SEO (mainly because it is the best kept SEO secret online).

In closing, here are a few indicators of what an ideal page would be under the premise of theme density.

The ideal conditions to Promote Theme Density is from:

a) a website with established content and rankings for the root phrase or topic. Although it is possible to rank new content with an aged site with momentum in a niche, typically, you want to stay on topic until authority settles in, then venture into another topic / sub folder / category for that website.

For example if your site is about insurance and well established in that niche, don’t expect a few pages of content on real estate or interior decorating to fly to the top of search engines. Search engines gauge relevance and co-occurrence, so, a sparse mention is hardly enough to convince them that you should be first in line for others who have more relevant content on that niche on their websites.

b) the page should have a plethora of internal links. For example out of those 1000 pages, I may use 50 for provide internal links to 1 landing page (to hit it over the fence) and create an internal link dynamo / tipping point that allows that page to outrank other pages targeting that term (with less back links).

I may then use the remainder of the 950 pages, such as 100 for another landing page, 200 pages for boosting a sub folder, 500 for linking to my homepage with the main keyword, etc. Each page can have up to 10 links leaving the page (without hemorrhaging vital ranking factor), so calculating the number of possibilities for a 1000 page site represents an immense undertaking.

c) The most useful contingent for an ideal page is to (1) establish itself for its main attribute / target phrase then (2) become a hub that can be used to transfer ranking factor to other areas of the site. The fastest way to get another page into the top 10 is to get a link from a link from a page already ranking in the top 10 for that keyword.

It does not matter if that page is from your site or from another, it is pure leverage when wielded properly all that matters is that it is passing value to the target page. Leveraging a higher percentage of internal links means you require less external deep links from other websites to rank higher for specific keywords.

In closing, here are some great resources to other pages from the past spanning a wide range of related topics.

In this post ( Internal Links are you making the most of yours ) we discuss the importance of internal link leverage and making every link that passes value count.

In this post (SEO Web Design – Harnessing the Power of Alt Text and Images ) we discuss the power of SEO Web Design which shows you ways you can have your cake and eat it too. Essentially, through leveraging the alt attribute, you can build links seamlessly that pass value without disrupting the flow of design or on page shingles with text (which could diffuse your pages focus).

Given the strategies presented in those two posts, then coupled with tips on semantic optimization and co-occurrence you could potentially be well on your way to some genuine search engine result page domination. Not that anyone would like to rank higher for specific or multiple keywords of course.

In which case, keep your eyes and ears open for the topic of theme density, on page website architecture, internal linking, sculpting link flow and authority site development to see what the fallout brings.

In our experience it is more intentional and unintentional rankings than you can shake a stick at, but a this phase its just testing the waters in the attempt to build the perfect SEO / CMS (content management system) coupled with all of the goodies we have discussed above. Stay tuned, but in the meantime, check out our Happy Landings Word Press landing page theme which, despite the soft launch, has so many bells and whistles that it was overlooked as a top 10 contender.

Just to let you in on a little secret, out of the box it validates with the W3C, has one of the most flexible ad options for affiliates I have ever seen and with a few tweaks to supercharge the settings, it can capture more top ten tenure on accident, than most sites on purpose.

Jeffrey Smith is an active internet marketing optimization strategist, consultant and the founder of Seo Design Solutions Seo Company He has actively been involved in internet marketing since 1995 and brings a wealth of collective experiences and fresh marketing strategies to individuals involved in online business.