Crawlability and indexability are SEO ranking factors that tend to fly under the radar. However, 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!
5 Tips for Enhancing Crawlability
Let’s start with a little background.
Crawlability is 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 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.
‘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. Ensuring the website’s informational architecture is clear and readable to search engines is vital because poorly constructed website navigation can prevent your pages from crawling. 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 so that anyone visiting your website (whether it be a site visitor or one of Google’s bots) can access every page in one to two clicks. The deeper a visitor has to dig to reach a page, the more likely it is that Google will dock your website, as this presents a ‘bad user experience.’ Not only will you risk being docked, but it could also be difficult for the bot crawlers to find and index your web pages.
Internal Link to Important Pages
A well-developed internal link structure is so important because the following links are exactly how bots crawl your website. The more difficult it is to follow these pages, the more difficult it is to crawl the website. A website with an ideal internal linking structure should have pages linked to one another in a way that makes sense. This will allow the bots to find pages within your website even faster because they can reach pages buried deep within it. 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 sidebar 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 informs Google and other search engines about how 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 bots have to crawl your website (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 few crawl errors as possible to prevent unnecessary waste. One of a website’s most common crawl errors is links that lead to nonexistent or inaccessible pages, 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 web pages. 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 ‘404 Error: Page Not Found.”
If you’re getting the “Page Not Found” message, it could also result from 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 initially, but they’re pretty straightforward 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 a San Diego SEO content creator, social media manager, and stand-up comic. In addition to running her website, Slow Boat Library, she works for a digital marketing agency, New Dimension Marketing and Research.