There is so much that goes into creating a website. Many moving parts that you need to figure out for your site to – potentially – become successful.
A lot to worry about.
Over the years, there have been things that other publishers invest a lot of time and effort into while I don’t. Three specific examples are –
- Site Speed
- Domain Authority
- Internal linking structures
In this post, I’ll share why I don’t worry about these three things (and what I do instead).
But first, a public service announcement:
You can still get my new course at a discount!
Before I get into today’s post, a quick reminder that I have launched a mini course where I share my content plan spreadsheet and explain how I use that to create content for our sites.
The course costs $147 but there’s a special discount coupon to celebrate the launch.
The coupon is time-limited and will expire on Cyber Monday, Nov 28, 2022
And one more reminder. If you join my mailing list, you’ll be getting content faster and directly to your Inbox. In fact, this post has already been sent out to subscribers, in separate email installments.
And now, with the appetizers out of the way, let’s get to the meat and potatoes of this post. The three things I don’t worry about when publishing sites.
1. Site speed
Remember the summer of 2021 and Google’s Core Web Vitals update?
Google announced this almost a year before the update rolled out.
Essentially, they said the algorithm would begin weighing several aspects of user experience. One of those elements was site loading speed.
And everyone went crazy.
For over half a year, web publishers everywhere spent an unfathomable number of hours and a lot of money optimizing their site speed.
People still do that today, comparing loading times measurements by various tools and tweaking sites to decrease loading times by a few more milliseconds.
I never did that.
Admittedly, it felt strange when everyone around me was counting the (milli)seconds to the update, frantically trying to get their site optimized on time. A part of me worried I might be doing something wrong.
How I view site speed
It’s not that I think site speed doesn’t matter. Clearly, if a site is too sluggish to load, it will drive away visitors.
That much was evident long before the CWV update.
So, regardless of Google’s algorithm, I always ensured my sites were fast enough for visitors. Just the basic stuff –
- A good host
- Solid WordPress themes
- Avoiding huge image files
Did I have the fastest sites in the world? No. At least not according to the standard measuring tools. My sites never got green, A, or whatever the scale was.
But I felt like they were fast enough for me when I was browsing them, and to me, that was enough.
Look at it from Google’s point of view.
They wanted to deliver search results that would make people happy. No one would be happy with a site that takes 10 seconds to load. That’s why I assumed that Google would – at most – penalize sites that took forever to load.
But it didn’t make sense to me that Google would prefer to rank one site over another just because the first site was faster by half a second.
I confess, when the update rolled out, I was a bit worried.
So many smart people around me had been spending so much time, effort, and money, on optimizing for speed. What if they were right and I was wrong? What if my sites would all crash during the update?
Well, they didn’t.
Nothing happened to my sites during that update. It was one of those boring updates where nothing much happened.
Meanwhile, I saved a lot of time and money by not going crazy trying to make my sites faster.
I continue to do the same. Site speed tests don’t bother me one bit. I don’t use them.
All I care about is how I experience my sites. If the sites feel fast enough for me, that’s enough.
2. Domain Authority & KD
Ask me what the DA (Domain Authority) or DR (Domain Rating) of my sites and I’ll tell you –
I don’t know.
I also don’t know how many backlinks my sites have. Or where those links are from and what their DA is.
I do have a general awareness of how established each site is. It’s simple enough to assess:
The older and larger the site – the more established.
While the correlation isn’t always linear, it’s a good enough approximation for my needs.
Typically, I apply the longtail keyword approach with a new site by going after low-competition queries. I tend to go after more competitive topics as the site becomes more established. I blogged about that here.
My point is: I don’t look at the actual DR/DA numbers. They’re more confusing than helpful, IMHO.
They’re confusing because high DA does not necessarily trump low DA. If you’re staying away from a query just because your site’s DA is lower than the sites currently ranking, you could be missing out on some great topics.
Why I don’t like the Keyword Difficulty Metric
Keyword Difficulty – aka KD – is an ahrefs metric that is based on the Domain Authority of the sites currently ranking for the query.
In other words, Keyword Difficulty is an extension of Domain Authority.
And again, in my experience, you can rank for a query with a site with a lower DA compared to the competition. This means that KD does not indicate how difficult it might be for you to rank for a keyword.
I blogged more about Keyword Difficulty and why I don’t use it here.
I don’t worry about either.
I still use ahrefs and other tools (Low Fruits is a current favorite). I’m just extra cautious when it comes to metrics such as DA or KD and generally try to ignore them.
What do I do instead?
I check every query manually to get a sense of the competition. I try to gauge the quality of competing search results for myself.
The key here is not to be fooled by the number shown next to DA, or KD. I know it’s tempting to filter out those hundreds of results on ahrefs, but those numbers can be misleading.
There is no good substitute for common sense and experience. Or at least, I still haven’t found one. But let me know if you have; I’m always happy to learn about new ways to find topics for my sites.
3. Internal Linking & Clusters
I hope the above title didn’t make you cringe.
Don’t hit the back button just yet.
I am not saying that internal links don’t matter. Of course, they do.
I am not saying that internal links don’t matter. Of course, they do.
Links within your post are a great way to reference your claims and help your reader get more information on the topic. If you can send them to another post on your site where they can find that additional info, that’s awesome.
Getting your reader to stay on your blog is ALWAYS a good thing.
After all, our sites are monetized using display ads. Every time we get a user to click an internal link and spend time reading one more post, we make money.
What I don’t worry about is using these internal links for SEO.
I have seen SEO experts that claim you have to create clusters, or silos, around specific content. According to some, you need to craft ingenious linking patterns to get those posts to rank higher. They have charts that show you how to connect those pages “the right way.”
I don’t do that.
I do use “clusters” or “silos” in the sense of researching keywords around specific concepts. In fact, my content plans include silos and silo reports ( you can buy your copy here .)
I don’t worry about creating a linking scheme around those content clusters.
Putting this to the test
I’ve tested it more than once. Here’s how the test went: We created batched of 20+ articles covering various aspects of specific topics and then carefully interlinked them in specific ways.
A typical structure would have one or two “cornerstone posts”. We would then link all of the other posts to that cornerstone content. Additionally, each post would also link to two other posts in the silo. That also meant that each post received two incoming links from other posts on the same topic.
At the same time, we’d have a control group. That would be a group with a similar number of posts on a topic. We never bothered creating a fancy linking structure for the control group. We treated these posts just as we would any other post on our sites (more on that later).
The posts with the structured internal linking did not rank higher than the posts in the control group.
Just one more thing that never moved the needle.
So, I no longer worry about creating silos or clusters using deliberate internal linking structures.
Here’s how we handle internal linking instead
We simply ask our writers to include at least two internal links in every post and make sure they are relevant to the reader.
The idea is to put user experience first without worrying about clustering or creating unique linking structures for SEO purposes.
What about the risk of orphaned posts?
An orphan post is one that has no incoming links. With no backlinks, readers can’t find the post. Google won’t be able to find that page either so it has no chance of ranking.
Since all we do is ask writers to pick a couple of posts to link to, that means some posts have no internal links from other posts. But I don’t consider these to be orphan posts. Why? Because we make sure the site menu covers everything.
Robust menus make it easy for Google’s bots to crawl the site. No post falls off the face of the earth just because we never made sure to create an internal link pointing in its direction.
It works. Maybe it’s not an ideal way of doing things, but it’s effective enough for our needs.
As I see it, focusing on linking structures takes up a lot of time and energy that can be used elsewhere. And again, for us, it hasn’t increased traffic one bit.
As always, I’m just sharing what works for me. Your mileage may vary. Leave me a comment and let me know if that’s the case.