UPDATE: I have reposted this post over at SEOrigami.org. Feel free to check it out over there.
Last week while searching for “Fallout 3 multiplayer” I noticed some really cool results in Google. In the image below you can see that the Wikipedia result has in-site links to subsections of the page. As if this was not impressive enough to see, the following result included a “Jump to Is there a multiplayer mode?” Why is this so awesome? This is another step toward Google supporting onsite semantic markup. What microformat support could be next?
Any good SEO knows the number one rule of research, “don’t tip your hand.” I feel this news is less of a secret method or technique, and more of a verification that Google is headed in a specific direction with search. Plus, we have been using this method for a while now, and I would hope that every website applies this method where it makes sense.
How to Get a Jump-To Link in Google Results
If you visit the page directly you will find a table of contents, which links to anchor tags farther down on the page. Notice the use of keywords in question format for the hash link.
Farther down the page, name="Is_there_a_multiplayer_mode.3f" shows up in an anchor tag. This is where the page will load when linked to directly. By using keywords in the anchor name, and having a link at the top of the page for engines and people to follow, the site is clearly showing that various parts of the page have various question answer combos, or more generally a table of contents.
Second, make sure your pages are semantic. Properly use your H-n level tags to create good page structure.
Don’t keyword stuff the content. It is easy to be overzealous when creating titles and subtitles. Stay away from keyword stuffing!
Create a table of contents at the top of the page and also at the bottom (if its a long page). I have seen some people make the table of contents slide with the scrolling of the page. If done right, it can be pretty nice.
Link to the page with hashmarks when it makes sense. If you are referring to a specific section of the page, use hashmarks to direct the browser directly to that section. I wouldn’t recommend doing this with aggressive link building, as it may trip a filter, but I do recommend hash linking when it makes sense.
FAQ SEO – One Page per Question or One Page per Topic
A few years ago, I was tasked with creating the SEO plan for a regional clinic. One of the goals of the site was to rank on some long tail FAQ questions about various procedures. At the time, long tail wordpress posts seemed to be the key to ranking for specific key phrases. As a result, one topic with 20 questions would have required 20 individule pages. The benefit of which is that you can really focus on the keywords in the URL and titles of each post for each question. This allowed smaller, beginning websites to rank for specific long tail terms with very little page authority or link building.
The downside to building multiple pages is that your pages can become a bear to manage, and category pages were then linking to 20 pagers per topic (think watered down link authority).
As a result, I decided to create a single FAQ page for each topic and use hash anchors and hash links for navigation of the long pages. The pages preformed fairly well, although we had no control to compare to ranking speed. This method did require some creative link building to rank for competative terms; however, it is much easier to build the authority of a single page than of twenty.
Semantic Microformat Markup and SEO – hCards and vCards
Use semantic markup, even if it doesn’t have any proven direct ranking value right now. For instance, to date, Google is not using hCard information in its search results, but I still recommend using hCard in SEO campaigns. It doens’t hurt, and nothing feels better than informing your client that the latest Google change puts their website ahead automatically and with no extra work. Check out this site on microformat markup if you want to dive deeper into microformats.
Also, I would like to thank Andrew Murphy and Juston Johnson (Justin is also a Principal here at Zebra Kick). Justin and Andrew taught me the importance of semantic markup a few years ago, and were deadset on making pages as semantic as possible. Thanks guys!
Finally, what semantic tricks do you use on your pages that you don’t see often elsewhere? Do you have pages that outpreform competition based partially on better markup? I’d love to know.