The Ultimate Guide to Create an SEO friendly website

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Google is a huge pool of billions of web pages and works relentlessly to crawl onto each and every page to index it. While it is important for your website to be visible to the bots in order to appear in the SERPs, why not make the bot’s task of spotting you easier? 

An SEO-friendly website makes it easier for Google bots to crawl through it. Google bots, also known as crawlers, crawl onto the web to find content that can best serve the user query. The bots hop onto a web page and follow links to discover and index web pages as relevant. Further, the bots scour through a vast directory of indexed pages to serve the most relevant content on top, called ranking. For your website to be visible in the search results, these bots must find your website, index the webpages on your website as relevant, and further push them up in search rankings. 

Many factors go into making a website SEO friendly. Listed below are some of the significant factors that influence the friendly interaction of your website with search engine bots. Optimising each of these factors requires expertise, in-depth analysis and careful execution. However, it can help you win the SEO game when done right.

Top 10 Key elements that contribute to an SEO friendly website and how to optimise them:

1. Website architecture

A developer planning to organise the website architecture in an SEO friendly way

Website architecture forms the foundation of your SEO strategy.  The architecture of your website determines how well the search engines can crawl through your site and, equally importantly, how users navigate through your site. Organizing your website, categorizing web pages according to their relevance, and structuring content simplify the search engines’ job in crawling and indexing your website. 

A well-thought-out site architecture makes it easier for Google bots to navigate your site. It also demonstrates your content’s importance and relevance, which is necessary for ranking. The ultimate aim is to create a website structure that Google finds easy to crawl, helps the authority of key pages stack easily, and helps users navigate your website better. What’s more important is to figure out how. 

Site architecture depends on two factors, namely categorization, and linking. It is essential to decide what type of pages will your site have and how will they be connected internally. Performing thorough keyword and competitive research can help you benchmark the structure of your website. While deciding on the website architecture, it is crucial to determine which pages your website should have, pages dedicated to a specific query and if a set of keywords can be clubbed and targeted on the same page. 

Analyzing your competitors’ websites, understanding the user intent, and visioning how to best serve it can help decide the optimum architecture for your website.

2. Optimising Robots.txt files

The robots.txt file is the first file that Google crawls on your site. This file includes a set of rules for various search engine bots which define the process of indexing. Robots.txt file instructs the Google bot as to which URL’s the crawler can access on your website. The robots.txt file is a part of web standards that regulate the behaviour of search engine bots in crawling, indexing, and accessing webpages. 

Through the robots.txt file, you can control which pages the bots can access through accurate commands. However, it is necessary to ensure that the roboto.txt file does not block important category pages on your website. 

What makes the robots.txt file a crucial element in SEO? Google uses a term called ‘crawl budget’ that limits the number of URLs the Google bot can crawl on a site. Low-value or unimportant URL’s on your website can negatively affect the crawling and indexing process. It drains the bot’s crawl budget, resulting in inefficient crawling of valuable pages on your site. 

Some of the best practices for robots.txt files include placing the robots.txt file in the top directories, adding accurate directives for crawlers, adding an XML sitemap, and testing your robots.txt file for errors and mistakes. By optimising the roboto.txt file, you can direct the Google bot to crawl the most important and superior value pages on your site, thus making it spend the crawl budget acutely. Does crawling signal a higher search ranking? No. According to Google, crawling is a prerequisite for being visible in the search results and not a direct ranking signal.

3. XML Sitemap

Pink sticky notes representing the pages on the XML sitemap implemented on the website

XML stands for Extensible Markup Language and is a way of displaying information on your website. An XML sitemap is the directory of all the static pages present on your website. XML sitemap represents your website’s structure and helps crawlers identify what’s available on your website. It also updates the search engines with information such as where the page is located, when was it last updated, how often it changes, and its priority with respect to other pages on the site. 

Optimising XML sitemap for your website includes prioritising web pages on your site and setting a change frequency. Priority in XML is marked on a scale of 0.0 to 1, where 0.0 indicates the least important and one the most important. Marking priority 1 to the home page and 0.9 to the service or product pages is ideal to indicate crawlers of the most important and valuable pages on your website. 

Blogs and other miscellaneous pages can be assigned a priority ranging from 0.8 to 0.85. Besides, it is essential to set the change frequency field in the sitemap. You can set the change frequency to daily, weekly or monthly through the “ChangeFreq” field in the XML sitemap. Setting a change frequency in your sitemap invites the Google bot to crawl your site a specified number of times. If you set it to daily, the bot crawls your website daily and on a weekly basis if you set it to weekly. It is recommended to set the change frequency to “weekly” if you are a B2B or B2C business or a service provider. Besides, it is also crucial to have a URL with a status code of 200, which means the URL is in a proper working condition.

URLs are primarily of two types, namely static and dynamic. What differentiates the dynamic URLs from the static ones is the presence of special characters in the URL, besides hyphens. While static URLs are comparatively easier for Google bots to crawl, sites like Amazon use dynamic URLs on the fly. Google debunks the myth that dynamic URLs cannot be crawled and recommends avoiding the reformatting of dynamic URLs to make them appear static. 

Implementing dynamic URLs properly can act as a great booster to your SEO strategy. It is advisable to use static URLs to indicate static content on your website. However, websites that keep updating their content frequently, such as online stores, forums, and content management systems, tend to make use of dynamic URLs. A good rule of thumb is to keep your URLs short and avoid hiding the incorrect parameters to make them appear static.

4. URL Structure

A user clicking the URL of a website on the search bar

5. Navigation

Website navigation plays a vital role in crawling. Just as intuitive navigation helps the user get the most out of your website, it helps search engines crawl your website better. Your site’s navigation menu is the first thing Google bot will crawl on your page. Optimising the navigation menu with strategic links pointing to important pages on your website helps the crawler quickly find important pages from an SEO perspective. 

You can use different navigation menus for your website through a thorough analysis and optimisation of their respective pros and cons. Besides the top of the universal navigation menu, the footer menu also plays a crucial role in internal link building and navigation for your website. Typically called the secondary universal navigation, the footer menu allows you to link to the other business-related pages such as careers, about, and resources. 

The Footer menu is an excellent place to provide links to the archives, such as blog pages, resources, insights, and social media links. Many websites implement adding links to their sitemaps in the footer menu. However, the Google webmaster advises putting links in the footer that help the users and not the search engines. Besides optimising the navigation menus on your website, breadcrumbs make the crawling process a lot more efficient. Breadcrumb navigation bar looks something like this: Home > Services > Search Engine Optimisation. 

Breadcrumbs significantly enhance user experience since they tell the users where they are on your site. The users can track back to where they begin in the first place, thus making navigation a lot easier. Breadcrumbs act like a trail on your website, making it easier for Google bot to track down even the most internally situated pages. Besides making navigation easier for the user and the bots, breadcrumbs have the potential to improve your site ranking. Google uses breadcrumbs to categorise the information from the web pages in the search results, making breadcrumbs a big deal for SEO.

Content forms a significant part of any SEO strategy. An SEO optimised, keyword-rich, quality content is the needle mover for your SERP rankings. However, as important as it is to host the absolute best content on your website, more important is for Google Bots to discover and crawl your content. Using javascript code or javascript elements to call content on your website can make it difficult for Google bots to crawl through your content. We recommend avoiding using javascript elements to call the content on your website.  

Heading and hyperlinks, too, have a vital role to play in creating an SEO-friendly website. Adding hyperlinks to your content aids in the effective crawling of your content by the bots and raises the chances of your web pages being discovered by Google bots. Headings are often underlooked at but are a key factor in boosting the SEO of your website. Header tags are HTML tags ranging from H1 to H6, which help Google bots to understand the structure and flow of the content.  

Adding effective sub-headings and a single heading (H1) to your website content can provide an overall boost to your SEO strategy. Besides headings and hyperlinks, carefully optimising your content for different keywords based on user intent can help you rank higher in the search results for different sets of user queries.

6. Content

A writer curating some SEO optimised content for a website after going through all the statistics on his tablet

7. Title and meta description

Title and meta descriptions are the first things to appear in search results. These elements play a vital role in attracting the viewer’s attention and increasing the click-through rate. Keyword-rich titles and meta descriptions can help you rank higher. Using a variety of keywords in your title and meta description can help Google crawl through your content and mark it as relevant. 

The character limit for title tags is around 60 to 65 characters, above which Google truncates the text, which may result in your title appearing incomplete. Similarly, the character limit is about 160 to 165 characters for the meta description. Google has not specified this character limit. However, since only a snippet of your content gets displayed in the search results, exceeding these character limits, your titles and descriptions may appear incomplete. 

Noting the fact that readers tend to click through search results whose titles appear relevant, it is essential to customise your titles and add relevant keywords in the best way possible. According to a recent update by Google, titles and text snippets are chosen by Google itself to best serve the users’ search intent. Through this update, Google aims to pick the best titles from the web pages to lead the user to the most relevant search result. Google search uses content in the title tag element, main visual headline or title on a page, the anchor text on the page, heading elements and more to create title links in the search results. Similarly, Google uses a number of sources to automatically generate text snippets for a submitted user query. 

It has thus become more important to keep your text relevant to all the possible search queries. In its guidance for site owners, Google recommends creating great HTML title elements since those are by far the most used by Google.  By optimising meta descriptions to fit the width of text displayed in the search results, creating unique descriptions for each of your web pages, and including relevant information in the descriptions, you can control your snippets in the search results.

Images are yet another form of information available on the web and form a valuable asset to your SEO strategy. Optimising images for SEO brings many advantages, such as additional ranking opportunities, better user experience, and faster page load speeds. Using alt texts to describe your images helps Google understand the context of the image. 

Descriptive alt tags help the Google bots to understand the content of the image. Hence, it is important to craft information-rich alt texts and use keywords appropriately while writing an alt tag for an image. Using schematic markups, including image sitemaps, and optimising images for safe search are some of the best image SEO practices you can deploy in your SEO strategy.

8. Image optimisation

9. Core Web Vitals

Google uses core web vitals to measure and enhance the overall user experience of your website. Core web vitals evaluate the performance of your website based on user interaction, load speed, visual stability, and responsiveness of your website. Google uses core web vitals as a ranking parameter as it helps Google measure the overall page experience and rank the best ones on top. Core web vitals are a set of 3 metrics, namely the largest contentful paint (LCP), First Input Delay (FID), and Cumulative layout shift (CLS). Let us look in detail at what these parameters mean and how can you optimise them.

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): The largest contentful paint refers to the time required for the content blocks on your website to load.  This can be anything from a background image to text content. LCP measures the time required for the largest piece of content on your website to render and be visible to the viewer. A good LCP score implies faster loading of content elements on your website, thus providing a good user experience.


    According to Google, a recommended LCP score is 2.5secs or less. Anything more than 4.0 secs is considered to be poor and needs improvement. Slow server response time, render-blocking javascript and CSS, slow resource load times, and client-side rendering are a few factors that affect LCP. Optimising your server for slow server response times by upgrading your server, using nearby CDN to route users, cache assets, having inline CSS, lazyloading all images after the first fold, not using animations in the first fold, using server-side rendering and prerendering are some of the techniques used to optimise LCP

  • First Input Delay (FID): The first input delay refers to the time taken for the user to interact with your website, such as clicking on a link, a button, or entering their email in a field. FID measures the time from when the user first interacts with your website to the time when the browser actually responds to the interaction.


    For websites to provide a better user experience, recommended FID score by Google is 100 milliseconds or less. Poor FID is the result of heavy JavaScript execution. Reducing the JavaScript execution time is the key to optimising FID, besides reducing the impact of third party scripts and using a browser cache to faster load content on your website.

  • Cumulative Layout Shift: Cumulative Layout Shift refers to the visual stability of your website. It points towards the steady, stable loading of content blocks on your website. Layout shifts get the user wondering where that button or text or image went, leading them to search for it all over again frantically. Such unexpected layout shifts distract the user and can pull them off your website.


    Good CLS values are 0.1 or less
    and are considered optimum by Google. Images without size attribution, ads, embed, inframes without dimensions, and dynamically injected content are common causes of poor CLS. Including side attributes to all types of media on the website, ensuring there are no layout shifts in the first fold due to CSS, and inserting new UI elements below the fold are some of the recommended ways to optimise CLS.

Broken links are the 404 error pages and can hurt the crawling process. Though broken links do not account for a drop in ranking, they negatively affect the crawl ability of your website. When the Google bots crawl onto your websites, they follow links to webpages. Broken links or server errors are the last things bots wish to see. Broken links indirectly affect the SEO of your website as they are undesirable and can add up to a poor user experience. 

If the Google bots crawl onto 404 broken links and 500 server error pages, they crawl nothing ‘valuable’ and end up wasting the crawl budget unnecessarily. Certain outbound links may also send negative signals to Google in terms of your website’s authority. It is thus highly recommended to fix any broken links or server error pages on your website to make it more SEO-friendly.

10. Broken links and server errors

Conclusion

Who doesn’t want to be ranked higher in the search results? It’s almost the only aim every brand, every business, and every SEO professional strives to achieve. A site that interacts well with the search engine bots makes it easier for them to discover the content, index it, and further rank it up in the search results. It all starts with an SEO-friendly website. However, optimising your website for SEO is easier said than done.  Besides knowing what to do, doing it with acute skill and expertise is of utmost importance, and so it is always better to partner with an SEO expert. Being a result-oriented SEO agency, we at Intent Farm have been implementing excellent SEO strategies for our brands. With sharp-witted SEO campaigns, we have helped our conglomerates achieve a significant rise in search leads, revenue, and ROI. In search of a full-stack SEO service for your brand? Look no further! Write to us at brand@intentfarm.com, and we shall get right back to you!
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