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How does using PathFactory affect my SEO?

Overview

PathFactory supports your SEO strategy and plays friendly with the SEO settings of the modern website CMS. PathFactory won’t do anything to harm your SEO, since it offers flexible settings to choose how you want to handle crawlers and avoid concerns of duplicate content. Plus, you can use your own subdomain in the URL, allowing you to use descriptive keywords like “resources” or “documents” that support your SEO strategy. Your SEO is in good hands with PathFactory.


The Basics of PathFactory and SEO

Unlike other platforms in the B2B Content Marketing space, PathFactory does not host your webpage content. Since we don’t host your content, this means your optimization strategy, as related to page metadata, is not something PathFactory impacts and should not be a concern when deploying our solution. We leave these functions, including the creation and hosting of webpage content, to your website CMS, so you can continue executing your established SEO strategy without needing to migrate your content or disrupt your process.

PathFactory’s Campaign Tools allow marketers to create “Content Tracks,” which are extremely fast-loading HTML pages, hosted by PathFactory, that act as a “wrapper” around your content. Content Tracks are simply full-screen iframes that house a sequence of related content assets, which remain hosted by your CMS.

Content Tracks offer two important benefits:

  1. Measure the time each visitor spends on each asset, including PDFs & videos. PathFactory natively tracks the time spent on every asset, but can also use your own website analytics script such as Google Analytics.
  2. Promote related assets in-session that encourage visitors to “binge-consume” content.

You can use Content Tracks to mix and match various types of content into a content journey, including:

  • Videos hosted on sites like Vimeo, YouTube, and Vidyard
  • PDF content like eBooks, whitepapers, and reports
  • Image content such as infographics
  • Interactive assets such as calculators or Ceros content
  • 3rd party webpages such as review websites, analyst reports, and articles written about your company

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Marketers love using Content Tracks because they’re fast to build, easy to deploy, and can be delivered from any click to content, since each Content Track has a unique URL.

Using Content Tracks, you can produce more qualified leads quicker, and access insight on your audience’s content consumption that wouldn’t be possible without PathFactory. You can answer questions such as which visitors or accounts have spent the most time on content related to a particular topic, or which channels are driving an audience that spends the most time binge-consuming content. This allows you to optimize your tactics using extremely precise and meaningful metrics.

Technical considerations

Every Content Track can have external code, which allows you to insert any HTML, CSS or Javascript you wish. This means that any tracking scripts or meta tags you might use on other digital properties can also be added to any Content Track (i.e. Google Analytics, Adobe Analytics, or retargeting pixels.)

The vast majority of PathFactory customers use a CNAME record to create a subdomain to use with Content Tracks (for example, insertanykeyword.yourdomain.com.)

Reverse Proxies

While the majority of PathFactory customers use a CNAME to create a custom subdomain, some customers wish to have PathFactory Content Tracks and Explore Pages on their top-level .com domain, believing this may positively affect their SEO. For example instead of a Content Track url being insertanykeyword.yourdomain.com it would be yourdomain.com/insertanykeyword (PathFactory continues to host the experience, not your website CMS). PathFactory supports this configuration via Reverse Proxy. The process for setting up a reverse proxy is handled by a PathFactory Solutions Architect and someone at your organization’s IT department who has access to edit your DNS record.


Putting PathFactory To Good Use and Producing the best SEO Impact

First, you need to consider which use cases you’re using PathFactory to support. Many Content Tracks are built specifically for campaigns and are deployed on channels like email, social, or paid advertising, so they’re not intended to be indexed by search engines. This is why the default setting is for PathFactory to “no-index” all Content Tracks.

But if you’re building one or more Content Tracks for your website, then you might want to consider allowing crawlers to index those Content Tracks and/or their content because, in this case, they’re really an extension of your website. That’s why we’ve given users the ability to selectively turn on indexing for individual Content Tracks.

Some marketers might want the Content Track itself to be indexed while others might prefer to keep the Content Track invisible to search engines and simply have the content itself be indexed. All of these options are supported by PathFactory, and here is what each one does:

  • Canonical URL of Content – Index the Content Assets within the Content Track, and give the underlying asset URL credit (display the underlying asset in search engine results)
  • Canonical URL of Track – Index the Content Assets within the Content Track, and give the Content Track URL credit (display the Content track in search engine results)
  • Index, Follow – Index the Content Assets within the Content Track and follow any links in the content track. Leave it to the search engine to decide whether the Content Track or underlying asset gets credit and is displayed in search engine results.
  • Index, No Follow – Index the Content Assets within the Content Track but do not follow any links in the content track. Leave it to the search engine to decide whether the Content Track or underlying asset gets credit and is displayed in search engine results.
  • No Index, Follow – Do not index anything in the Content Track, but follow links to other areas outside the Content Track.
  • No Index, No Follow – Do not index the Content Track, and do not follow any links. Do not display the Content Track in search engine results.

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Here are a few things to consider if you’re using Content Tracks on your website:

  1. Search engines typically prefer original source URLs to Content Tracks
    Some marketers like their Content Tracks appearing in search engine results and others don’t. If you don’t like it, then it’s easy to use canonicalization to only allow underlying assets to appear in search engine results. Since Content Tracks display content inside an iframe, generally crawlers will index the content inside the iframe, and give credit to the original source URL. In other words, if a Content Track is set to be indexed, the underlying content will usually appear in search results instead of the Content Track itself. Occasionally the Content Track itself may be included in search engine results if it has a lot of inbound links around the internet pointing to it and/or it happens to have a title and description that the search engine is ranking high.
  2. Avoid duplicate content through your PathFactory settings
    Since PathFactory Campaign Tools can be used to iframe your webpages as assets, there can be concerns of duplicate content (i.e. the same content living at two unique URLs—the original website URL and the Content Track URL). If a webpage is used as an asset in a Content Track, then we recommend the track be canonicalized, meaning adding a canonical tag to every asset in the track which indicates to search engine crawlers to display the underlying asset in search results, and never the Content Track itself. This is an easy setting you can toggle on or off, on each individual Content Track.

Canonical URL override

If you’re using an asset across multiple tracks however, especially in the context of a microsite, this can cause duplication and dilute your search engine results across that asset. With the option to set a canonical URL override for an asset, this URL will take priority and allows you to create a single URL that acts as the canonical URL of content across multiple tracks.

In the track settings, select individual content assets to set a canonical URL override for the asset. This URL will override the setting in the track’s Search Engine Directive.


Should I Index My PathFactory Content Tracks?

Here’s an easy way to determine when it’s best to use index, no-index, or canonicalize.

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A note about image content

If you plan to use PDFs or image-based infographics in Content Tracks and you wish to have the assets’ SEO benefit linked to your parent domain, we recommend you upload any of these images or PDFs to your website CMS, and then copy and paste the CMS-hosted URLs of these assets into your PathFactory content library. In this way your website CMS will host the source file which will then be used in the Content Track. Then if you choose to index and canonicalize a Content Track, when search engine crawlers index these assets, they’ll see them hosted on  your parent domain and not hosted by the PathFactory platform.


What Happens When You Have A Resource Center?

If you have an existing resource center you’ve built using your website CMS, PathFactory is fully compatible, so you won’t need to replace it. Simply take the links to content your Resource Center contains and point them to PathFactory Content Tracks. Many of our customers love this approach. Because we offer easy canonicalization, crawlers can easily index underlying assets and make them appear in search engine results. You can then use PathFactory Content Tracks to help visitors see related content and easily get more from a single asset visit to your resources center.

This approach allows you to benefit from the best of both worlds. You can keep your existing resource center and any SEO you’ve built up around it, but use PathFactory to easily aggregate content into bingeable experiences so your visitors don’t have to dig through an extensive library of content to find and consume relevant pieces. You can create tracks based on topic, product, industry, or anything you wish. Then you can use our engagement metrics to understand which of the assets is driving actual content consumption, by specific individuals or accounts.

If you want to build a new resource center or replace an existing one, PathFactory offers a turnkey resource center. It’s great for marketers because it doesn’t require any code, and it’s easy to build and maintain. Many of our clients use Explore pages to power their resource center. They are hosted by PathFactory, on your custom subdomain and you can add your website header and footer to the page along with any scripts or custom CSS. Crawlers can index these Explore pages serving as resource centers, and because all Explore pages have underlying Content Tracks, all content within them can be canonicalized.

If you have additional questions, feel free to get in touch with your Account Executive, or Customer Success Manager if you’re a customer.

Updated on July 5, 2022

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