Ready for something painfully obvious; ranking for hard keywords is hard.

But there’s a strategy you can deploy to do a better job.

I’ve written at length about how¬†your content doesn’t matter and link building still works. And I’ve gone on and on about keyword researchbut there’s more to it.

Today I want to show you how to systematically expand your website’s keyword footprint, one page at a time – and exponentially increase your website’s traffic from SEO.

The Bigfoot Strategy

This SEO strategy focuses on building out individual URL’s to rank for lots and lots of keywords (or Bigfoot pages as I like to call them).

This is often referred to as keyword spread and it’s a simple measurement of an individual page’s organic reach and visibility. The measurement is the volume of traffic-generating keywords.

The definition of a bigfoot page (or page with a large spread of rankings across many keywords) is going to vary for each niche, but for the purposes of this post I’m going to be looking at pages ranking for at least 1,000 different keywords.

To get started I want to share a few examples of bigfoot pages, across a few different niches.

Bigfoot Page Examples

Niche: Student Loans

bigfoot-example-1

URL: http://www.studentdebtrelief.us/forgiveness/obama-student-loan-forgiveness/
Keyword Spread: 2,137
Estimated Organic Traffic: ~75,000 visits/month

 

Niche: Bad Credit

bigfoot-example-2

URL: http://www.thesimpledollar.com/best-credit-cards-for-bad-credit/
Keyword Spread: 3,252
Estimated Organic Traffic: ~59,000 vists/month

 

Niche: Halloween Costumes

bigfoot-example-3

URL: http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/holidays/halloween-ideas/g2750/easy-last-minute-halloween-costumes-diy/
Keyword Spread: 1,093
Estimated Organic Traffic: ~88,000 visits/month

 

Bigfoot Keyword Analysis

For each of the above examples I want to look at both the root keyword, content type, word count, and then pick apart the topic use via LSI keywords they might be using by running the head keyword for each page through lsigraph.com.

StudentDebtRelief.us

Root Keyword: Student Loan Forgiveness
Monthly Volume: 111,000
Content Type: Blog post
Word Count: 1,661
Macro Topic: Loan (appears 68 times on page)
Micro Topic: Student (appears 61 times on page)
Topic Modifier: Forgiveness (appears 39 times on page)

LSI Topics:

  • board of education student loans
  • department of education loan forgiveness
  • department of education loan consolidation
  • united states department of education
  • refinancing student loans

 

TheSimpleDollar.com

Root Keyword: Credit Cards for Bad Credit
Monthly Volume: 76,000
Content Type: Hub page
Word Count: 4,768
Macro Topic: credit (appears 310 times on page)
Micro Topic: card (appears 130 times on page, plural [cards] appears 99 times)
Topic Modifier: bad (appears 40 times on page)

LSI Topics:

  • instant approval credit cards for bad credit
  • unsecured credit cards for bad credit with no deposit
  • bad credit credit cards guaranteed approval
  • second chance credit card with no security deposit
  • credit cards for bad credit with no deposit instant approval
  • credit cards for rebuilding credit

 

GoodHousekeeping.com

Root Keyword: Easy Halloween Costumes
Monthly Volume: 51,000
Content Type: Image gallery + category hub
Word Count: 1,192
Macro Topic: Halloween (appears 40 times on page)
Micro Topic: Costumes (appears 20 times on page)
Topic Modifier: Ideas (appears 19 times on page)

LSI Topics:

  • last minute halloween costume ideas
  • diy halloween costumes
  • halloween costumes for adults
  • diy halloween costumes for adults
  • easy diy costumes for adults
  • easy homemade costumes for women
  • funny homemade halloween costume ideas

 

Some Observations

Seems you can still stuff a crap load of target keywords, many times into the more competitive SEO verticals. Having a word appear on a page 68 times within 1,600 words (like in the case of our student loan example) is a bit much – but then you look at the credit cards page with the word credit appearing over THREE HUNDRED times within 4,700 words.. wow.

It’s so valuable to run an LSI keyword analysis for your page’s head term – it brings so many additional topics to the surface that you should expand on within the page.

The Halloween page¬†is my favorite example of this, with LSI terms bubbling up like; last minute, diy, ideas, and homemade. All of which make perfect sense when you consider them in the context of being related to “easy.”

How To Build Bigfoot Pages

  1. To get started you need to have completed at least your initial keyword research.
  2. Build out your seed list of terms – and it’s important you have a strong grasp on keyword modifiers.
    TIP: If you’re unsure what a modifier is check out my keyword research post.
  3. Next run  your head term through an LSI keyword tool (like LSI Graph) to blow out your list of contextually related topics that surround the root topic of your page.
  4. You will want to back into your word count for the page –¬†for this I would recommend using the Top Pages report from Ahrefs.
  5. Run the above report for all the pages currently ranking on page 1 of Google for your root term.

You will need to run this report for each domain, then once in the top pages report sort descending by keywords:

toppages-postexample

Then you can expand these individual results to get the full list of keywords their pages are ranking for:

ahrefs-keyword-report

You can also use this data to build your SEO content map and look for opportunities to extend existing page topics to cover more even more terms.

Combining Pages

A big piece of building Bigfoot pages is folding in weaker pages on your site that are not performing on their own.

A simple rule of thumb for identifying these pages is to look at all of your pages individual organic traffic performance over the past 6 months and make a judgement call.

If you are going to combine your thinner/weaker pages make sure you not only move all of the source content to the destination page, but be sure to add a proper 301 redirect and then regenerate / submit your XML sitemap.

There are some specific details in terms of time periods and thresholds that I use to identify opportunities to refine/extend/combine pages – which I cover in much greater detail in Traffic Think Tank.

In Conclusion

Bigfoot pages are money.

The more you can extend the relevancy of every individual URL, the more SERP real estate you can eat up and the more organic traffic you can acquire.

One critical mistake you need to beware of is keyword cannibalization, and ensuring you’re not creating too many pages targeting terms that are too similar.

This is another reason LSI research is so important, because even though you may think you need to create separate pages for keywords that look completely different (i.e. contain no duplicate terms) РGoogle may see these terms as synonyms (or very closely related).

In this case you’re actually hurting yourself by building multiple pages to target each version versus building just one bigfoot page.

I have a simple process for checking¬†keyword overlap that I’ll be emailing to my list – sign up if you would like to see it.

Nick Eubanks
Nick Eubanks

Nick is the Founder and CEO of From The Future. When he's not elbow deep in data, he's spending time with his wife, his dogs, or his cars.

COMMENTS (31)

Avatar
  • […] expanding keyword visibility […]

  • Nick thats an excellent post for increasing keyword footprint. Never aware of this strategy though.Undoubtedly we will try this method for our tough keywords.

  • Avatar Joe says:

    Great post!

    I haven’t found any good software to manage vast amounts of pages and keywords to keep control of KW cannibalization.

    Seems there’s no great KW mgmt solution short of enterprise tools. Are there any you have found?

  • Avatar Paul P says:

    Hi Nick,

    Came here from your Keyword Cannibalisation email, which, along with this post, are both excellent and actionable guides to an issue of increasing importance. (Is it just me or has Google got MUCH better at determining related topics recently?)

    One problem I’ve seen on multiple small sites is the home page competing with a sub page for the root keywords for the domain. For example:
    http://nicks-blue-widgets.com ranks for “blue widgets” (page 1, ‘cos that’s how we roll)
    http://nicks-blue-widgets.com/widgets also ranks for “blue widgets”

    As you say in the article, you would normally fold weaker pages into stronger ones in this scenario. But the home page might be a special case because from a user point of view you DO usually want a whole subpage explaining what blue widgets are, and from a design point of view you don’t want that 1,000 words of content skewing the home page, but from an SEO point of view it’s a big blue nightmare.

    So far I’ve seen Google rank BOTH the homepage and the sub page, but both lower than I’d expect, and eventually (weeks or months later), drop one of them entirely in favour of the other, which then recovers some (perhaps not all) of its expected rank. For some sites I’m still waiting for one of the entries to drop.

    => Is this consistent with what you would expect, and do you have any advice for these situations?

    Thanks and regards,
    Paul

    • Hey Paul –

      So glad you found the email (and this post) useful!

      RE: Google’s ability to score and rank related topics getting much better; YES, totally. I’m seeing more and more groupings of domains for similar terms, versus the old days where you used to get huge swings of different results for even singular vs. plural kw’s!

      Yes I also see this a lot, and more times than not it’s pretty easy to diagnose… usually 1 of 2 things is happening (or sometimes both) the site has the category keyword in the page title of their homepage -OR- they have the keyword on the homepage in plain text but DON’T have it linked to the category / hub page.

      IMO I would put more emphasis on the homepage around the brand and core root terms (in this case widget, widget supplier, colored widgets) and focus on building more relevancy for the shoulder term (blue widgets) on the category page, then use a mix of on-page/off-page signals to beef up the relevance for the modifier kw (blue).

      Thanks again!
      Nick

      • Avatar Paul P says:

        Wow, that’s a great reply, Nick. Obviously rests on and encapsulates a lot of experience. Thanks very much for your clear, actionable advice!

  • Avatar sam says:

    Hi Nick,

    Great article as usual. One related question: is it a good idea to use LSI keywords as anchor texts when linking from different sources to your money site? Assume you have 10 guest posts linking to your site. Is it a good idea to use 10 different LSI KW’s as anchor texts as opposed to for instance one or two anchor texts using main keywords and the rest of anchor texts would be generic terms or URL of the page etc…. Thank you

    • Hey Sam –

      The answer to this (as with most things in SEO) is really “it depends.”

      It depends on how relevant the surrounding content and topics are of the linking page, and if it makes sense for the LSI terms to be used as anchors from that page. In that same vein just acquiring links with LSI anchors to pages on your site is not going to be as helpful as if you’re acquiring those links (with those anchors) to the pages targeting those terms and related topics.

      Hopefully that makes sense ūüôā Thanks for the comment.
      /n

  • Pretty awesome idea but I am little bit worried about the keyword density of “micro” and “macro” keywords on that particular page.

    Interestingly, there is no mention of how this guys have done internal linking to that page. Also external links anchor text is also missed, but I guess it is obvious that they have used it

    • Hey Krunal – In terms of using “density” to reflect pure stuffing, you’re right.. it’s way heavy on pure repetition of the commercial targeted term.

      For this strategy I focused exclusively at on-page, but yes – internal links/anchors and external link diversity ratio / anchor mix is definitely going to influence rankings.

  • Great and helpful article and also I agree with you. All points have own importance in increase the keyword footprint. I also use the same points that you listed in this article. Thanks for sharing with us.

  • Avatar Stuart says:

    Please stop! I have been using this technique, which I tell people are my “Super Documents” for several years and it works very, very well. I have ranked one page for more than 1,000 phrases several times. I’d rather you didn’t explain it!

    • Hey Stuart –

      I know it works, that’s why I’m sharing it… why wouldn’t you want people to learn more about SEO that actually creates results instead of these blogs that just echo the same crap advice and outdated strategies?

      In any case, thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts.

  • I have already used this technique and it works.

    Your PDF about keyword research is awesome.

  • Very good article, I have a doubt what the minimum amount for variation of anchor text

  • Great article with loads of juicy info – I’ve found LSI Graph to be so useful recently. It does seem that many pages can get away with including a lot of keywords and phrases as long as they use relatively long form content – but I do question if these pages really convert that well as more concise content tends to convert better in my experience. This is especially pertinent when Google is using user metrics as ranking factors.

    • Thanks Simon.

      I completely agree here on the conversion likelihood of these pages being low, however, with that said it’s all going to depend on the ad models of the sites. So for example the student loan site may simply to rank TOFU to gain brand awareness, where GoodHousekeeping may be looking simply for pageviews to support their ad model.

      Time on page, time to long click, dwell time, etc. are definitely qualitative factors that I do believe are weighing more and more heavily on Google’s scoring algorithm, but with that said – long-form content that does address a topic from a more LSI/Holistic perspective is likely to keep users on the page longer – if not reading than scanning to find the information they’re looking for.

  • Avatar Will says:

    Hi Nick, your story-telling style is awesome, keep it up!

  • Avatar Ganhar says:

    Beautiful article very constructive

  • Excellent piece Nick. Thanks for sharing! But I was wondering, do you think keyword density still matters? if yes, what’s the preferable percentage for your main keyword?

  • Great post! Very good article

  • Avatar Carlo says:

    What does “You will want to back into your word count for the page” mean? Increase it?

  • a wonderful and useful information about keyword research, your article is really very informative and knowledgeable, it give a lot of ideas to work on future thanks for this article

  • Avatar dor says:

    Definitely an eye-opener. Thanks

  • […] Most SEO marketers know that if you target one keyword, you will also get traffic from several other keywords. This is known as a keyword footprint. […]

  • […] trouble getting visibility for a load of long-tail search phrases? Try creating Big Foot Pages! These are long-form content that works around a particular content theme. Because it’s […]

  • first we want to say that your article is very informative and knowledgeable. looking forward to more post like this.
    thanx

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