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I run an online writers' community where authors publish their literature works and other members of the community read and comment on them.

The authors write a wide variety of literature pieces(such as haikus, stories, poems, scientific articles, personal narratives) on a wide variety of topics(about sun and anything under it).

My intention of providing the authors with search engine traffic is largely affected by the non existence of topical focus of the website(or so I think). Is there a way to overcome this problem?

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You have a focus topic: Site for literature works to get reviewed. –  Martijn Jun 6 at 8:38
@Martijn agreed. That means anything written on any other topic (an article written about the mechanism of energy production in sun) will not assume as much search engine value as it would have assumed had it been published on a site with focus on that particular topic(a website on scientific articles on sun), right? I am looking for a way to counter this(or at least reduce this). –  Rana Prathap Jun 6 at 8:42
@RanaPrathap: Although pages are indexed on their individual merits. Mixed content on the same page might be more tricky. –  w3d Jun 6 at 9:50
@w3d so a page listing links to all the articles with their teasers might be treated as mixed content on the same page? –  Rana Prathap Jun 6 at 9:53
Well, yes. Although it is presumably the target (full content) pages that you are trying to promote and maybe the teaser pages themselves will have a lower ranking. It is debatable whether the teaser pages (along with category / tag pages) should be indexed at all... webmasters.stackexchange.com/questions/47159/… YMMV. –  w3d Jun 6 at 10:55
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2 Answers 2

You shouldn't be concerned about this if your site is well categorized. Think about all newspaper websites which speak about many different themes too.

If it's not already the case, just try to apply categories to all literature pieces to permit to users to find easily what they're looking for (all poems in the same place, all stories in the same place, etc.).

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No, the site doesn't have to focus on a topic, but there should be pages that focus on topics so that they are catnip to searches for on-topic terms.

"The sun" might be an optimistic target given the competitiveness of existing search results, but supposing you were hoping to attract search traffic for the search term "sun", then you would want a page that links to/from all the best content on your site on that topic, incorporates sufficient snippets from them or descriptions of them that search engines can assess its content, and is linkable-to (and actually linked, although that's outside your direct control) as a useful resource from other pages/sites on that topic. If you have this page, then the many topics in the rest of the site's content will not harm your page's relevance to "sun" searches.

The one thing you'll always be missing, and I think this is marginal, is relevance of your domain name itself to topic-specific search terms. Can't have everything.

I know that this is a special case anyway, but consider that Wikipedia is by no means harmed in terms of search traffic by its variety of topics ;-)

It's tempting to think that something like a tag page will fulfil this role provided that your content is well tagged. I'm not sure that's reliably borne out by experience though, perhaps because any auto-generated page is at risk of being judged low quality both by search engines and by potential linkers who want something a bit more accessible and stable than what amounts to search results.

One you have your topic pages, watch their bounce rate carefully, and do everything you can to make it easy for visitors to see something interesting on them at a glance. Your goal, after all, is to get traffic to your authors, not just to get traffic to your index of articles! Of course you also want search traffic going directly to the articles themselves, so you should employ the usual good practice designing those pages to be comprehensible to search engines.

Google has spoken about sites being important in a particular topic, for example here: http://www.seroundtable.com/google-good-guy-algorithm-17848.html. Note that, as you'd probably expect, the implied mechanism to get Google's respect on a topic isn't to jettison all off-topic content, it's to get links from authorities in the topic. This suits Google because the example (a professor of journalism) presumably isn't inherently interested in selling links, so is fairly resistant to questionable SEO.

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