SEO is all about improving organic traffic to generate more sales. We often spend more time increasing the number and quality of backlinks (a major component of OFF page SEO) and forget to improve the technical aspects of the website.
1. Optimize the Google Crawl Budget
Googlebots regularly crawls the existing and new pages on your site in the same manner as a regular human searcher might. This helps Google to understand the performance of the website as a slow loading time or a 404 page might degrade the user experience.
What is a Google Crawl Budget?
The number of pages that Google visits on your site during a single connection is referred to as the crawl budget. This crawl budget is different for different sites. An increased crawl budget means Google is interested in knowing more about your site which in turn can improve your search ranking positions (remember, rankings have over 200+ factors and crawl budget is just one of those).
Here is how Google defines crawl rate:
“Crawl rate limit Googlebot is designed to be a good citizen of the web. Crawling is its main priority, while making sure it doesn’t degrade the experience of users visiting the site. We call this the “crawl rate limit” which limits the maximum fetching rate for a given site. Simply put, this represents the number of simultaneous parallel connections Googlebot may use to crawl the site, as well as the time it has to wait between the fetches. The crawl rate can go up and down based on a couple of factors: Crawl health: if the site responds really quickly for a while, the limit goes up, meaning more connections can be used to crawl. If the site slows down or responds with server errors, the limit goes down and Googlebot crawls less.”
We can say that crawl limit is an excellent way to estimate the performance of a website in the search results as a better crawl budget leads to more organic traffic because it increases the importance of a website in the eyes of Google. In the words of Google ”An increased crawl rate will not necessarily lead to better positions in Search results.” The use of the word necessarily means that crawl rate indeed has an impact on the search performance and can be considered as a ranking factor.
How to Check Google Crawl Rate?
Login to the Webmasters search console and click on crawl stats under the crawl menu as displayed in the below screenshot:
This will give you a clear idea about the number of pages that Google crawls per day along with the amount of time Googlebot spends in downloading the page.
Here are some of the ways through which you can optimize the Google crawl budget:
- Increase the speed of the site as making a site faster improves the user experience and also increases the crawl rate. Efficient crawling automatically leads to better indexing and improved rankings.
- Regularly monitor the crawl error report and keep the number of server errors to as low as possible.
- Ensure you have proper AMP pages on your site so that it takes less time for Google to crawl such pages to improve the mobile performance of the website.
- Reduce the excessive page load time for dynamic page requests. Dynamic pages take too much time to load resulting in time-out issues.
- Make use of virtual private servers to improve the server response time.
- Optimize images and reduce unnecessary JS and CSS.
- Ensure to take the mobile-friendly test and fix any mobile crawlability or design issues that your site might be having.
2. Use HTML Tables for Direct Answer Queries
Google loves to give direct answers to the searchers.
In this context, if your web pages provide direct answers to the commonly searched user questions related to your niche then you have an excellent chance of diverting lots of traffic from the direct answer box results returned by Google.
Here is what Google returns when the user types the query: MacBook Pro price
The site macprices.net is ranking in the answer box on top of the regular search results because it uses proper HTML tables to give direct answers. Google loves HTML tables likes these, and this is the reason Apple gets defeated and wasn’t included in the answer box.
The crux of this experiment is, you need to first identify the question-based search queries then you can prepare answers in a tabular form by making use of HTML tables and structured data so that it becomes easier for Google to understand the content of the page and display it directly in the search results.
3. Leverage the Power of Internal Links
Internal linking still remains one of the most powerful SEO tactics. An internal link connects one page of a website to a different page on the same website.
Proper internal linking helps to pass link juice more efficiently across the inner pages. Following the below tree structure for directories, subdirectories, and pages helps.
Here are some of the ways through which you can improve the power of internal links:
- Create lots of actionable, authoritative, and high-quality content. When you have lots of content, then you can easily create a lot of internal links.
- Do not always link to the home page. Instead, link out to deeper pages that otherwise have fewer links. The more internal links you have to your important pages, the better chances you will have to get them ranked higher up in the search results.
- Follow Wikipedia if you are looking for an inspiration for relevant internal links. Contextual internal linking is far better than linking done at the bottom of the content.
- Use breadcrumbs, as it aids in navigation and also raises the importance of inner category pages especially in the case of an e-commerce site.
- Use relevant, natural, and do-follow links. Unnatural links that are not beneficial to the users but created for the sole purpose of internal linking will have a reduced CTR and time on page thereby reducing the overall importance of the website.
- Diversify your anchor text when doing internal linking to remain safe from the penalties of Penguin. You can make use of tools like Internal Link Analyzer to check the current status of your internal links.
4. Increase the Word Count of Blog Pages to 2500-3000 Words
If you want to rank for an informative search query like “how to improve WordPress SEO”, then make sure that you have at least 2500 words of content in your page.
Snapagency did a survey and found that blog posts having a word count of 2500 words or more received the maximum social shares.
Similarly, pages having a word count between 2200-2500 words received the maximum organic traffic.
Hence, the best blog post length that you should always aim for is 2500 words. Simply find out all the informative search queries based on Google Micro Moments that will help the customer to reach the end of the funnel. After that, create content that provides actionable and interactive text to help the user find answers to their problems or confusions.
5. Optimize Your Site for Mobile Web Crawling
Here are some of the ways to have a mobile friendly site:
- Conduct a mobile friendly test and use the “Fetch as Google” option from Google to check for any issues.
- Check the mobile usability report under the search console to check any mobile usability issues detected over time.
- Make use of Tools like Screaming Frog to simulate mobile bot search behavior and ensure that the mobile pages are rendered properly.
- Perform a log analysis and block spam bots so as to allow easy access to search engine crawlers.
6. Regularly Update Your Sitemap
“A sitemap is a file where you can list the web pages of your site to tell Google and other search engines about the organization of your site content. Search engine web crawlers like Googlebot read this file to more intelligently crawl your site. Also, your sitemap can provide valuable metadata associated with the pages you list in that sitemap: Metadata is information about a web page, such as when the page was last updated, how often the page is changed, and the importance of the page relative to other URLs in the site.”
Here are some ways to ensure that your sitemaps are proper and crawlable:
- Update your XML sitemap every time you add a new page on your site.
- Remove duplicate pages, non- canonicalized pages and improper redirected pages.
- Use consistent and fully qualified URLs.
- Do not include session ids.
- Ensure the sitemap file is UTF-8 encoded.
- Check the sitemap errors regularly under the Search Console.
- Keep the sitemap size to less than 50,000 URLs so that the important pages gets crawled more frequently. If you have multiple sitemaps, then use a sitemap index file.
- Have an optimized mobile sitemap. You can download the elements specific to mobile from here.
Follow the above technical SEO tips and you can instantly notice the difference.
Remember, both on-page and off-page are integral parts of an effective SEO strategy. Which on-page SEO hack has given you the maximum benefit? Please let me know in the comments below.