10 Best Practices to Optimize Resource Centers for SEO

Marketers are flocking to resource centers as the holy grail of lead generation and SEO, and for good reason. But how do you actually start building one? Learn the keys to structuring your resource center, and to creating the right kind of content for it, so you can build a library of resources that will work hard for your brand and your audience.
Nate Dame
Nate Dame
CEO and Founder
Nate is the founder and CEO of Propecta, a results-oriented SEO consultancy trusted by forward-thinking companies, including a few of the world's largest B2B and technology brands. Propecta builds holistic SEO strategies, supports internal teams, and offers full-service execution to create an organic search presence that generates significant revenue.
December 4, 2014

Marketers are flocking to resource centers as the holy grail of lead generation (and SEO), and for good reason. Your audience, especially if its a B2B audience, is willing to give you something for high-quality content – for example, their email address! And with every algorithm update, Google continues to insist that reliable, resourceful content is the best way to generate organic traffic and improve rankings.

A robust resource center creates a great user experience, and provides a host of SEO opportunities. But if you’ve ever browsed a resource center — especially a mammoth like those provided by Velocity or Motorola — creating one can start to seem like an impossibly huge task. Fear not: the right strategy and inspiration will get you launching your own in no time.

Last week we covered inspiration when we toured six of my favorite online resource centers, and examined pros and cons of each, so this week let’s talk strategy. Building a good resource center is like building anything else that you want to stand strong over a long period of time, and under heavy usage: you need a solid structure and high-quality materials.

Structure Your Resource Center for the User

Putting together a resource center that actually drives leads means starting with the right structure. Before you start creating or curating content, commit some structure considerations to paper.

Resource Center Navigation

Structure navigation for the user’s needs, not by content type. Your user isn’t going to click through thinking, “I need an ebook.” They come with specific questions or pain points to address. Topical categories are much more effective in your primary navigation than content-type categories (such as Webinars, Case Studies, etc.). If you’re not sure where your users are starting, consider a few clues:

  • Personas — Walk through each of your audience personas one at a time. What is your target CEO probably concerned about? What is your target mid-level manager likely to be worried about? What might your target entry-level employee be searching the web for? Those are good places to start.
  • Keyword rankings — Google Analytics doesn’t want to share much keyword info anymore, but you can still do some depersonalized Google searches for industry keywords. See which ones put your site on the first page of results, and include those topics in the main navigation of your resource center.
  • Popular landing pages — Google Webmaster Tools will show you which of your landing pages are most popular. That’s a good clue that your audience is finding those pages in search results, or clicking links to them from other sites. Include those topics in the main navigation of your resource center too.

A little testing here won’t hurt either. If you gamble on a topic and discover after a few months that it’s getting far fewer clicks than the others, swap it out for something else.

Should You Gate Content?

Yes and no. Ungated content is crawlable, which makes it really good for SEO. The more ungated content you provide, the more content Google can find and index. Gated content, however, generates precious leads. For most business, the right approach is a mix of gated and ungated content. Gated content generates leads, but it doesn’t do much for SEO!

When you do gate your content, be sure to include specific, unique, and compelling descriptions of that material on pages which Google can index. Landing pages for gated content can still rank and earn SEO traffic, if approached properly. When thinking about ungated content, build authoritative figurehead resources for the important topics in your industry. Consider Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How questions. We have found that a detailed “What Is…?” article about the most important keyword in your industry is often the quickest route to Page 1 rankings.

URL Guidelines

Keep URLs short, clean, and descriptive of that page’s content. And avoid those pesky URL parameters!. Good: www.domain.com/resources/title-of-a-reasource Bad: www.domain.com/resources/category/sub-category/resource-title Good: www.domain.com/resources  or www.domain.com/answers Bad: www.domain.com/resource-center?category=your-category&sory=most-recent

Resource Best Practices to Improve SEO

Once your strategic foundation is in place, don’t just line the walls with every blog post the brand has ever produced for the sake of volume.

1) User Intent is the New Keyword Strategy

If you want resources to rank well, build content strategically for each of your target keyword + user intent combinations. Don’t simply write about the same one or two keywords over and over.

2) Visuals as Far as the Eye Can See

Visually appealing content earns more engagement and more shares, significantly increasing its SEO value.

3) Thought Leadership

Most markets are flooded with resources saying the same thing. Be sure that you have something new or unique to say about each topic you take on.

4) Social Proof

Demonstrate the value of your content with social proof: Share buttons with share counts are easy indicators of the value of your content. Also ask other leaders in your industry to review your material – a handful of short testimonials will go far.

Keep the End Goal in Mind

The goal is not simply a re-collection of old blog posts and PDFs that you have laying around. You’re creating a centralized location that will define your company’s unique expertise for the whole world to see, with resources to eventually answer every pain point your audience may have.

Watch It Grow

Hosting and organizing a library of resources on your website can be an SEO goldmine, but it’s not a push-button strategy. Organize content for the user’s needs, mix both gated and ungated content, make it sharable – and get started! No resource center ever starts perfect.

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