5 Ways to Make Your Website More Crawlable
Your website’s crawlability will directly impact the success of your SEO campaigns.
See that little robot above? That’s Googlebot. Well, not exactly. Googlebot is actually the web crawling software that Google uses to index websites for the Google Search Engine. But, for the sake of this article, we’re going to imagine Googlebot is that little robot.
Googlebot may be small, but it’s pretty powerful. So powerful, in fact, that it can determine the success or failure of your SEO efforts. Let’s go over the 7 ways to make Googlebot’s life a little easier when it scans your website.
Googlebot is responsible for scanning trillions of webpages for the Google Search Engine. It then takes the information it gathers and feeds it into the algorithm that influences Google search results. That’s a lot of work. Therefore, Google rewards websites that make Googlebot’s job a little easier. Here are 7 ways we can accomplish that:
1. Mobile Friendliness
There are actually two different versions of the Googlebot: Googlebot Desktop and Googlebot Mobile. One scans websites at their desktop size and the other scans websites at their smartphone size.
In one of the more recent updates to the Google search algorithm, Google stated that mobile friendliness will play a large role in Google search rankings. This means that as a website owner, you need to make sure that Googlebot Mobile can scan your website as easily as possible.
So, how do we check to see if our website is “mobile friendly”? Well, one way is to pull out your smartphone and go to your website. Once there, you’ll want to check to make sure the site functions properly, the typography is readable, and elements are not overlapping other elements, among other things. Basically, you’re testing your website’s “responsiveness”—meaning its ability to adjust to different screen sizes.
For a more conclusive test, you can use Google’s mobile friendly testing tool to give you a better idea of where you website stands.
Visit the tool’s page and then simply type in the URL of your website.
Once you click “Test URL”, you’ll be redirected to a page that looks something like this:
If you get a message that says your website is mobile friendly, great! That means your website it okay in the eyes of Google. However, if you get a message that says your website is not mobile friendly, Google will give you a list of improvements you can make to get your website mobile friendly.
I highly recommend you make the improvements Google suggests as soon as possible if your website is not mobile friendly. Like I said before, mobile performance now plays a significant role within Google’s ranking algorithm.
The longer your website lacks mobile friendliness, the longer Google will penalize your search rankings.
2. Website Structure
The architecture of your website is very important to Google. The easier it is for Googlebot to scan and understand the topics of your webpages, the more likely it is that Google will view them as quality webpages. The easiest way to create a good site architecture is to organize your webpages into logical categories.
For example, if you own an ecommerce website that sells home furniture, you likely have a number of products that fall into many different categories. Let’s say you want to create a product page that lists all of the sofas you have for sale. In theory, you could create a page that falls into the root directory such as:
However, a better way of organizing the webpage would be to create something like this:
A URL like the one above gives Google a more robust understanding of the topic of the page in relation to the rest of the website.
Internal links are links on one webpage that link to another webpage on your site. Googlebot indexes your website’s webpages by following the internal links within it. Additionally, Google assumes the level of importance of each of your pages through the structure of your internal links. Simply put: internal links are very important for SEO.
This type of internal linking works exceptionally well if you are utilizing a pillar content strategy. In my opinion, having a pillar content strategy is one of the best ways to harness the power of internal linking.
So, what is pillar content? Pillar content is a long-form article (usually over 2,000 words) that is meant to be an informative, authoritative, and thorough discussion of the article’s topic. From an SEO standpoint, a piece of pillar content should accomplish two goals:
- Target one of your main keywords that have a high search volume
- Link to a number of sub-topic pages that are filled with keywords related to the main keyword targeted in the pillar content (also known as cluster content). These are basically just articles that focus on a narrower topic related to the pillar topic.
I’ll give this image a little more context. Let’s say you own a blog site that focuses on helping people grow a Youtube channel. A pillar piece of content could be an in-depth article with the title: “The Ultimate Guide for Starting a Youtube Channel in 2020”. Meanwhile, your cluster content around the pillar could include articles with narrower topics such as: “How To Make the Best Thumbnails for Youtube,” “5 Ways to Increase Your Youtube Subscribers,” or “4 Things You Need to Have Before You Start a Youtube Channel”. You get the point.
Ultimately, the main goal behind an internal linking strategy is to have related pages on your website link back to each other so that Google can effortlessly scan the topics and hierarchy of your webpages.
3: Produce Fresh Content
This one is pretty straightforward. Google likes websites that frequently create new content and update old content. Continually producing new content shows Google that your website is relevant and provides information that is up to date.
4: Remove Duplicate Content
Having duplicate content on your website is a big red flag for Google. Having two or more pages on your website that have the same content or target the same keywords is going to confuse Google’s algorithm. You can probably guess what happens next. Google will penalize your website.
At this point, you should start noticing a trend: if you make it difficult for Google to crawl your website, your search rankings will be penalized. It’s that simple.
penalize your website.
5: Make Sure Your Website Uses HTTPS
Back in 2014, Google openly stated that they were going to begin using “https” as a ranking signal for websites. This meant that they were going to give websites with “https” in their URL a boost in search engine rankings.
What is https? Basically, it just means that your website is considered secure. In order to get https in your website’s URL, you need to install a SSL certificate onto your website. There are a few different ways you can do this:
- Install the SSL certificate by yourself. If you’re an experienced web professional, you should be able to install the certificate without too much difficulty.
- Ask your web developer to install it. If you have your own web developer, I highly recommend that you ask them to install the certificate for you considering the fact that they deal with your website every day.
- Contact your hosting company. Many popular hosting providers will actually configure an SSL certificate for you (or at the very least they will walk you through the process).
No matter how you choose to install the certificate, make sure that you install it as soon as possible if you don’t already have one.
Disclaimer: If you own an ecommerce website, don’t even think about launching your website without an SSL certificate. Without an SSL certificate, you’re putting your customers and yourself at a huge security risk. Https protects your customers from things like identity theft and credit card fraud by encrypting their personal information.
Google’s ability to crawl your website plays an incredibly important role in your website’s search rankings. Google is responsible for crawling trillions of webpages to determine their topics so that they can serve relevant search results to their users. If you make it difficult for Google to crawl your website, your SEO efforts are going to suffer.