Ask ten people what SEO is, and you’re likely to get ten different answers. Given the industry’s unsavoury past, this is hardly surprising. Keyword stuffing, gateway pages, and comment spam earned the first search engine optimisers a deservedly poor reputation within the web community. Snake oil salesmen continue to peddle these harmful techniques to unsuspecting website owners today, perpetuating the myth that optimising your website for Google or Bing is an inherently nefarious practise.
Needless to say, this is not true.
Broadly speaking, today’s SEO industry is split into two related fields: content marketing and technical optimisation. The ability to create content that resonates with audiences and communicates a brand identity is vital to the success of any website, and articles exploring every intricacy of this art can be found on the web with relative ease.
When it comes to the latter field, however – technical optimisation – the waters are often muddied by misinformation. This extraordinarily rich discipline is the key to realising the organic search potential of your content, and despite being listed as a skill on many developers’ resumés, it is also one of the most frequently misunderstood areas of modern web development.
Today we’ll be exploring some of the fundamental principles of technical SEO, including crawl efficiency, indexation control, link profile maintenance, and more. By the end, you’ll be armed with a wealth of techniques for organic search optimisation that are applicable to almost all established websites. Let’s get started.
Search engines use automated bots commonly known as spiders to find and crawl content on the web. Google’s spider (‘Googlebot’) discovers URLs by following links and by reading sitemaps provided by webmasters. It interprets the content, adds these pages to Google’s index, and ranks them for search queries to which it deems them relevant.
If Googlebot cannot efficiently crawl your website, it will not perform well in organic search. Regardless of your website’s size, history, and popularity, severe issues with crawl accessibility will cripple your performance and impact your ability to rank organically. Google assign a resource ‘budget’ to each domain based on its authority (more on this later), which is reflected in the regularity and depth of Googlebot’s crawl. Therefore, our primary goal is to maximise the efficiency of Googlebot’s visits.
ARCHITECTURE & SITEMAPS
This process begins with the basic architecture of your site. Disregard hackneyed advice telling you to make all information accessible within three clicks, and instead focus on building a website in accordance with Information Architecture (IA) best practices. Peter Morville’s Information Architecture for the World Wide Web is required reading (the fourth edition is available since September 2015), and you can find a good introduction to the basic principles of IA as they relate to SEO over at Moz.com.
Site structure should be crafted following extensive keyword research into search behaviour and user intent. This is an art in itself, and we’ll not be covering it here; as a general rule, however, you’ll want a logical, roughly symmetrical, pyramid-shaped hierarchy with your high-value category pages near the top and your more-specific pages closer to the bottom. Click-depth should be a consideration, but not your foremost concern.
Technical SEO 2016 Wiring Websites for Organic Search Ask ten people what SEO is, and you’re likely to get ten different answers. Given ...