Crawlability and indexability are two SEO ranking factors that tend to fly under the radar. However, in order for you to receive traffic from the search engines, Google’s bots need to be able to crawl and index your website properly. Enhancing your website’s crawlability is easy if you know how to do it right. Here are our top five tips!
Let’s start with a little background.
Crawlability is the term for the ease at which Google can crawl the content of your website, from your links to content pages. Google’s bots (also known as ‘spiders’ or ‘crawlers’) scan a given website and collect data by jumping through links and by identifying images, keywords, external links, and other features. A website’s crawlability is heavily based on how the structure and technical condition of the website fares.
The term ‘indexability’ refers to when Google uses the data collected to evaluate certain keywords. Google will then add each categorized page to its index. There are certain aspects of a website that could disrupt Google’s ability to crawl your website, which would, in turn, prevent it from indexing your website. This could be anything from a faulty website design or broken links.
Improved Site Structure
Now for the good stuff. It is vital to ensure that the website’s informational architecture is both clear and readable to search engines because a poorly constructed website navigation can prevent your pages from being crawled. One example of a poor site structure would be dead links, meaning a hyperlink that leads to a page that has either been deleted or is nonexistent.
Your website should be constructed in a way that every single page can be accessed by anyone who visits your website (whether it be a site visitor or one of Google’s bots) in one to two clicks. The deeper a visitor has to dig to reach a given page, the more likely it is that your website will be docked by Google, as this presents a ‘bad user experience.’ Not only will you run the risk of being docked, but it could also prove to be difficult for the bot crawlers to find and index your webpages.
Internal Link to Important Pages
The reason that a well-developed internal link structure is so important is that the following links are exactly how bots that crawl your website. The more difficult it is to follow these pages, the more difficult it is to crawl the website as a whole. A website with an ideal internal linking structure should have webpages that are linked to one another in a way that makes sense. This will allow the bots to find pages within your website even faster because it can reach pages that are buried deep within your website. Additionally, interlinking between important pages helps to distribute and share the link power between these pages.
Finally, all of the major pages on your website should only be one or two clicks away from the homepage. Usually, these would be pages for products you may be selling, a directory or archive of other key pages, or a company blog. The best place to put these would be at the menu bar on the top. If you have a side-bar on your website, you could use it to place additional, lower-level, pages. As long as every page on your website is easily accessible through your homepage, you’ll be fine.
Submit A Sitemap
A sitemap is a list of all the pages present on your website. This file is what informs Google and other search engines about the way in which your site is organized. Web bots use this file to crawl your website and discover valuable metadata, such as when your content was last updated. An XML sitemap is the most direct way to present your site’s information structure to a search engine and to identify your priority pages. It essentially serves it up to Google on a silver platter.
The image below shows the sitemap for a company that offers CBD for sale called Neuro XPF.
Increase Page Load Time
The amount of time that bots have to crawl your website (known as the crawl budget) is extremely limited. Once that crawl budget runs out, they will vacate your website. So the faster your pages load, the more time the bots have to crawl and visit the rest of your website before time runs out. You can use Google PageSpeed Insights to check your website’s speed performance.
Fix Crawl Errors
Due to the limited amount of time within the crawl budget, you’ll want to ensure that there are as little crawl errors as possible, to prevent any unnecessary waste. One of the most common crawl errors on a website is links that lead to nonexistent or inaccessible pages, which are known as HTTP errors. You can identify these errors through Google Search Console or crawl your website using a tool, such as Screaming Frog, to inspect all the pages and their statuses.
Below is an example of what a Screaming Frog crawl looks like for Neuro XPF:
This program allows you to view whether or not certain pages have been redirected, detect 404 errors, and even see the indexability of your webpages. If you use these programs, you should also be prepared to fix broken links when they occur. Broken links, also known as dead-end links, are created (often inadvertently) by web pages that have been renamed or relocated. A dead-end link will lead you to a page that reads something along the lines of, ‘404 Error: Page Not Found.”
If you’re getting the “Page Not Found” message, it could also be a result of looped redirects. A fully functioning redirect will deliver a user to ‘Page One’ when ‘Page Two’ is clicked. But if ‘Page Two’ is also linked to ‘Page One,’ it will stay in an endless and conflicting cycle of bouncing between those two pages. This looped redirect can be caused by moving around content or renaming certain URLs and can prevent bots from accessing both pages.
These tips might seem overwhelming at first, but they’re pretty straight forward once you try them out. Once you implement these practices, you’ll be amazed to see how effective they are. We hope you can use what you learned here to help your site perform as best as possible!
Elena Goodson is an SEO content creator, social media manager, and stand-up comic in San Diego. In addition to running her own website, Slow Boat Library, she works for a digital marketing agency, New Dimension Marketing and Research.