The SEO Halo Effect – Explained

I’m not talking about the latest instalment of the Halo franchise on the Xbox 360 nor am I writing about religious beliefs but an effect that happens on SEO campaigns that is often overlooked. You’ll sometimes hear this phrase being mentioned in pitches or discussions but it’s been a while since I’ve seen anyone comprehensively explain the process and results in actual detail – so here goes..

The best way of trying to understand the effect is to not think about SEO at all – recently a couple in the UK won £148 million pounds on the Euromillions lottery, lucky them. Now those people to date had earned a specific income, which they paid out to various people and businesses each month – this could include; utility bills, rent, phone bills, supermarkets, corner shops, local café, pubs and pocket money for their children. Now their income would generally dictate how much money they would spend on some of these areas (excluding utility bills), so imagine what that’s going to look like now they have more money than they can possibility imagine?

For a start I’m sure their children will get more pocket money which means they could afford better toys, drinkers in their local pub might get lucky with a couple of rounds of free drinks, the local shops will probably find themselves with an increase in sales with a couple of “big shops” and generally the people around the lucky winners will see themselves better off financially. Not only that but I’m sure they’re going to start spending at places they could previously not afford, like expensive car dealerships or luxury holiday agents.

So let’s start putting this into SEO perspective, imagine those lottery winners are in fact your target keywords that you’ve chosen for a link building campaign. So the keywords that you link to will pass some of their link value to keywords that are related to them and also to keywords that you hadn’t considered before.

The diagram above shows what happens when you see an increase in links/social signals to one particular product or keyword – other related keywords will also benefit, but at a much filtered lesser amount (the lottery winners give money to those around them, the more they give, the richer they will be – same rule applies to time for link building). For this this work properly you obviously need to make sure you have the right internal linking structure, be it in a content silo or contextually linking to related products (think category/sub-category).

What’s interesting about the Halo Effect is that it also works the other way round too;

So if you have many incoming links/social signals coming to the longer tailed keywords then as a Halo Effect (or side result) you will start seeing better rankings for the more important or “parent” keyword.

It’s important then, that you think about what areas of your website and which keyword to target when thinking about your link building strategy as the Halo Effect will help you more than you think.


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