A 5-step method to optimizing web sites with tens of millions of pages


You’ve been tasked to optimize a website that’s so large it makes the Nice Wall of China seem like a picket fence. And it’s your sole accountability. It is advisable to make an enormous SEO influence with fewer assets. What do you do?

On this article, I’ll share 5 approaches you may concentrate on while you’re optimizing large web sites. 

By the tip, you’ll really feel assured figuring out that you’ve got a battle plan to overcome that nice wall of webpages that lie forward:

  • Sharpen your weapon, then go to battle.
  • Deal with international modifications.
  • Enhance the top-performing pages.
  • Deal with pages that focus on head phrases.
  • Clear up the content material.

1. Sharpen your weapon, then go to battle

It’s helpful to have a sure mindset about your search engine optimization program earlier than you begin. 

That mentioned, two key steps will make it easier to create an search engine optimization recreation plan: 

  • Website evaluation.
  • Aggressive evaluation. 

Let’s take a look at these in additional element.

Website evaluation

Within the battlefield of the search engine outcomes pages, your web site is the weapon. 

So your first mission: Sharpen that weapon by making the location one of the best it may be so that you simply’re not your personal worst enemy. 

A website evaluation will uncover the issues which are hindering your rankings. 

You are able to do this in a few methods:

  • Run some search engine optimization diagnostic instruments.
  • Get an search engine optimization audit.

Diagnostic instruments

The typical search engine optimization device is supposed to restore your website, not rank it. In different phrases, it is not going to inform you methods to rank however what you should repair based mostly on greatest practices.

Most companies use diagnostic instruments to do a self-audit. Whereas it will probably uncover some helpful info, there are a few limitations:

  • The suggestions are based mostly on greatest practices and are surface-level ideas. They don’t have in mind the distinctive wants of the enterprise. They have no idea your rivals. They have no idea the nuances of your explicit trade area of interest. 
  • Some folks is not going to know methods to discern the issues that have to be achieved and the issues that may be left alone, nor will they know methods to prioritize the suggestions based mostly on the distinctive conditions of their web sites.

For instance, let’s say you’re seeing a drop in natural search visitors. The diagnostic device won’t be able to know what elements contribute to that – is it because of an algorithm replace? Did your website just lately migrate? Is your content material dangerous?  

So, it’s the diagnostic device operator’s job (a.ok.a. you) to have the ability to take the info and apply knowledge to make sure you are specializing in essentially the most impactful issues.  

Some instruments you may take into account for diagnosing your website embody:

  • Nibbler
  • SEOptimer
  • UpCity’s search engine optimization Report Card
  • WebPageTest.org
  • Semrush
  • SEOToolSet (Disclaimer: That is my firm’s software program)

search engine optimization audits

Nothing beats the methods you may uncover from a professional-level search engine optimization audit that marries diagnostic instruments with knowledgeable knowledge from an search engine optimization vendor. 

Along with operating one of the best instruments, an search engine optimization knowledgeable conducting a website audit can:

  • Get to know your enterprise, its website, previous search engine optimization selections and your objectives, after which take all of that into consideration when diagnosing your website and creating a method.
  • Uncover the true causes you aren’t performing effectively within the search outcomes utilizing knowledgeable, technical analyses. 
  • Prioritize the suggestions in order that you realize precisely which steps to soak up which order to make the strongest influence.

Aggressive evaluation

When you’ve sharpened your device, it’s time to go to the battlefield within the SERPs, the place your second mission is to beat the competitors (not the algorithm). 

Keep in mind, you can’t try and beat an infinitely giant algorithm. 

By specializing in what your competitors is doing, and making an attempt to do in addition to them or higher, you set the stage for a extra manageable battle.  

Right here once more, you’ll depend on instruments that can assist you uncover your competitors’s technique. 

You want to discover issues like who your true rivals are, and proposals on optimizing your webpages based mostly on the top-ranked pages within the SERPs.

Some instruments you may take into account for aggressive analysis embody:

  • Semrush’s Site visitors Analytic and Natural Analysis device 
  • Moz’s Area Authority Checker
  • Ahrefs Content material Hole and Website Explorer instruments
  • SEOToolSet’s Single Web page Analyzer, Analysis Abstract report, Multi Web page Analyzer, Hyperlinks Report and Website Checker
  • Bruce Clay search engine optimization WP plugin (Disclaimer: That is additionally my firm’s device)

By understanding your website and your competitors, you may enter the battlefield with a clearly outlined plan. This makes managing a big website’s search engine optimization much less overwhelming.

2. Deal with international modifications

When you’ve got a large web site, each change must depend. Meaning wanting on the issues that may elevate the whole website or key pages throughout the location. 

One of many apparent wins right here is enhancing your web site efficiency (and your content material, however extra on that later). 

You possibly can deal with issues like:

  • Web site velocity
  • Core internet vitals
  • Cell-friendliness  
  • Code optimization 

Web site velocity

Web site velocity can influence many issues: The consumer expertise, your web site rankings and conversions … so that is one thing to take critically. 

Google performed some analysis on velocity and its influence on customers again in 2017 (highlighted beneath), and whereas the info is a bit previous, the message nonetheless holds.

As you take a look at your website, you might discover that a few of your pages could load slower than others. If that occurs in your most vital pages, you wish to begin there. 

And you’ll have teams of pages with the identical template the place making a number of modifications can enhance velocity throughout all these sorts of pages. 

Some issues you might want to deal with are:

  • Compressing the knowledge between your internet server and search engine browser.
  • Minifying JavaScript, and cleansing up and externalizing CSS code.
  • Selecting one of the best file codecs for pictures.

Some useful instruments and assets for this embody:

(Be aware that, technically, the old page speed algorithm has been replaced by core web vitals, which I’ll cowl subsequent.)

Core internet vitals

Core internet vitals concentrate on elements that create an excellent consumer expertise in your web site, this consists of:

  • Largest contentful paint: Having an optimum webpage load time.
  • First enter delay: Guaranteeing customers can simply work together with the web page rapidly. 
  • Cumulative structure shift: Ensuring the weather on a webpage are secure.

Google says that “if not less than 75 % of web page views to a website meet the ‘good’ threshold, the location is assessed as having ‘good’ efficiency for that metric.”

This more than likely solely issues to the top-performing pages on the location, although, not the whole website, as identified on this Google search engine optimization workplace hours: 

Nevertheless, Google has famous that some websites may not need to dedicate too many assets to core internet vitals, or obsess concerning the scores:

A number of instruments supply lab and field data that may make it easier to perceive core internet vitals:

  • PageSpeed Insights
  • Search Console (Core Internet Vitals report)
  • Internet Vitals Extension 
  • Chrome UX Report 
  • Lighthouse 
  • Chrome Person Expertise Report
  • Firebase Efficiency Monitoring
  • Chrome DevTools 
  • WebPageTest

So take a look at essentially the most essential pages on the location, and run some exams to see what could be improved.


Guaranteeing your website is mobile-friendly is a no brainer in in the present day’s mobile-centric world. In fact, there’s additionally Google’s mobile-first indexing.

There’s extra to contemplate than you might assume so as to have a mobile-friendly website. Basically, it would be best to take into consideration:

  • The cell web site configuration (for instance, is it responsive?).
  • The way you prioritize the content material for cell customers and make the content material cell pleasant. 
  • Cell-friendly design.

Instruments that may make it easier to alongside the way in which embody:

Code optimization

As a result of the code in your web site can influence a search engine’s capability to crawl your web site, you may take into account optimizing that code. 

Once more, you can begin with sure web page templates or key web page varieties and go from there.

Trying out W3.org’s developer tools could be useful. 

Validators and tools

However a warning for novices: You possibly can spend a variety of time and assets making an attempt to chase good code and the hassle doesn’t at all times match the result. 

So it’s sensible to know methods to prioritize the suggestions, and you might want knowledgeable assist from a developer who additionally understands search engine optimization or vice versa.

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3. Enhance the top-performing pages 

One other space to laser focus your search engine optimization efforts when you’re contending with a big web site is the top-performing pages. 

Usually, a handful of webpages drive the vast majority of natural visitors to an internet site. Take a look at these first.

That is according to an Ahrefs study which discovered that out of billions of webpages, solely about 4% of them acquired any significant visitors in any respect.

Ahrefs traffic study

In different phrases: If it’s important to select between optimizing a product web page that drives a variety of visitors to your website versus a lesser-known product web page that includes a left-handed socket wrench with a lightweight on it, select the highest performer.

You possibly can simply observe down your top-performing pages utilizing Google Analytics, and you can too use information from Search Console.

Pages report in Google Analytics.

When it comes to the way you enhance these pages, once more, you’ll wish to concentrate on web page evaluation and competitor evaluation. 

Run some diagnostic instruments like these linked earlier to get a way of the place these pages are, then evaluate that to the top-ranked pages within the SERPs for the queries you’re concentrating on.

As a part of this, you might have to strengthen the content material, so take a look at your content material with a essential eye, too.

4. Deal with pages that focus on head phrases

In my expertise, possibly 15% of an internet site is concentrating on its “head” phrases – the broader, extra generic key phrases/queries that folks use when looking for what it’s important to supply. 

In the end, you may drive a ton of visitors if you happen to can rank for these extra generic phrases – and they are often million-dollar key phrases. 

So if I had been to focus my efforts on a big website, I might wish to optimize the pages that focus on head phrases (the touchdown pages), after which secondly, optimize all of the subpages that assist them. 

This sometimes means you want stable info structure – the way you set up your content material. 

If you have already got well-organized content material that helps your head phrases, then you definately’d concentrate on optimizing these pages utilizing a number of the instruments and techniques I’ve already talked about. 

Should you don’t, nonetheless, you might have to do some reorganization of the content material, hyperlinks and navigation in your website. That is the place search engine optimization siloing is useful.

search engine optimization siloing is a type of web site content material group and inside linking practices. One of many objectives of this technique is to maximise your website’s relevance for head phrases.

Not solely that, however search engine optimization siloing will help by:

  • Enabling your website to indicate experience and authority.
  • Rating pages higher within the SERPs.
  • Serving to customers navigate your web site with ease.

Simply to offer a fast instance: Say you personal an influence instruments enterprise that sells cordless energy instruments, electrical energy instruments and gas-powered instruments.

You’d begin by organizing the web site content material (and website navigation) into classes supporting the three product strains you promote. 

Example of siloing website content

Your search engine optimization program aligns with this as a result of these classes would be the head phrases you’re after, too.

Virtually, every product line could have its personal part on the location with a touchdown web page and supporting pages. 

The objective is to have well-organized touchdown pages and supporting pages with useful, knowledgeable content material that aligns with how folks search and study concerning the issues it’s important to supply. 

Hyperlinks between the touchdown pages and their very own subpages make clear the relationships for search engine spiders crawling the web site.

You possibly can apply siloing to all sorts of websites, together with ecommerce, B2B and informational websites.

In fact, it is a extremely simplified rationalization, and the main points of methods to make search engine optimization siloing work effectively are huge.

Can this be a large venture? Sure. Nevertheless it is dependent upon the state of the location.

For some, they might need to do a bigger reorganization of the content material to attain their objectives, whereas others may have much less effort with maybe some new inside linking.

How massive of a job that is is dependent upon issues like:

  • Your capability to make modifications to the location (roadblocks may very well be buy-in or CMS points).
  • How organized or disorganized the location’s content material presently is.
  • If you should create new content material to fill within the gaps or considerably replace content material.

It may be a problem however effectively value it typically – it’s one of many methods we get our purchasers to rank for extremely aggressive one-word phrases. 

For our ultimate step in optimizing large web sites, let’s take a look at how one can elevate the standard of an internet site from an search engine optimization perspective by specializing in the content material.

5. Clear up the content material

Final however not least, having glorious content material is a precedence. And this could be a large problem for giant websites.

When you’ve got large quantities of content material, you will have to divide and conquer. 

I’ve mentioned beforehand that web site publishers ought to spend half the time creating new content material, and half the time updating old content

(And by the way in which, if you happen to plan on creating new AI content material, see my article on ChatGPT and SEO content.)

Massive web sites want a system for:

  • Evaluating the content material on the location, beginning with key pages, but additionally taking a look at these pages that have not been touched in years. 
  • Updating previous pages that also supply worth however want new info.
  • Updating meta tags so that you’ve got distinctive, unique content material on each key web page. 
  • Dealing with the irrelevant content material that exists on the location (301 redirects, eradicating the web page, and so forth.).

Google’s helpful content system seems to be on the website as an entire, not simply at a web page degree. 

So when you’ve got some nice content material, after which an entire bunch of “search engine first” content material, it will probably negatively influence the flexibility of the location to do effectively within the search outcomes. 

As you’re evaluating your content material, maintain some vital pointers in thoughts from Google:

Then you’ll undergo all of the steps of optimizing these pages after the content material is of the very best high quality.

Making search engine optimization for giant web sites extra manageable

Massive websites have their very own distinctive points. As you stand earlier than the towering fortress that’s your web site, the divide-and-conquer angle will make it easier to keep sane. 

Whereas the duty could seem daunting, you may remind your self that search engine optimization is an ongoing job – so play the lengthy recreation.

Opinions expressed on this article are these of the visitor creator and never essentially Search Engine Land. Workers authors are listed here.

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