6 Ways to Improve Your Website’s Crawlability
One of the most important technical aspects of SEO is increasing your website’s crawlability (its ability to be found by search engines). Google and other search engines use crawlers, or bots that follow links, to find and index new content.
If you make it easier for Google to crawl your website, it will discover your new pages faster, helping you rank quicker and higher. Here are six ways to make your website more crawlable.
1. Create a Sitemap and Submit It
One of the easiest ways to increase your crawlability is to create a sitemap and submit it to the search engines. A sitemap is a map of all pages on your website that you want Google to crawl. This list is in Extensible Markup Language (XML) format.
Sitemaps make the job of search engine crawlers a lot easier. A sitemap compiles all the pages you created, so Google doesn’t have to. It includes blog pages, service pages, and any other page you want indexed.
The more removed a page is from your root page, and the fewer internal links you have to that page, the harder it will be for Google to crawl it. A sitemap informs Google about those pages as well.
Sitemaps are updated in real time. When you publish new pages, Google will find out about them quickly.
You can create a sitemap using simple coding skills. However, if you use WordPress, it’s a lot easier to download a plugin like XML Sitemaps that will generate the sitemap file for you. SEO plugins like Yoast and All In One SEO can also create sitemaps for you.
Shopify also generates a sitemap file for all stores automatically.
Once you’ve created your sitemap, you should submit them to the search engines. Google is the most crucial search engine to focus on. You can submit your sitemap in the Google Search Console. After doing that, Google will periodically recrawl your sitemap, though you can manually resubmit it after making significant changes to your site.
Don’t forget about Bing, though. Submit your sitemap to Bing in Bing Webmaster Tools. Bing Webmaster Tools controls Yahoo as well, so you’ll kill two birds with one stone.
2. Make Your Website Easier to Navigate
Another way to make your website easier to crawl is to focus on improving navigation. By adding better menu options, you’ll make it easier for both people and bots (Google’s bots, that is) to find your most important pages.
Start by optimizing your main menu. Adding sub-options to your main menu options will provide a structure to your overall site and help Google find the most important pages.
I recommend adding a secondary menu in the sidebar or footer of your website as well. In that menu, you can link to your other essential pages, such as the about page, terms and conditions, etc.
Make sure each menu option works. Nothing’s worse than clicking on a menu option only for it to lead to a 404 page. Also, make sure your website is responsive on mobile. Some drop-down menus don’t respond well on touchscreen devices or end up obscuring the screen and using up precious screen space.
3. Improve Your Website Speed
Site speed is another critical thing to work on if you want to make your website easier to crawl and index. Google’s crawlers will have a much easier time crawling your pages – and doing it more frequently – if your site is fast.
If your site loads slowly, the Googlebot will have a more difficult time keeping an updated list of your site’s pages. The bigger your site is and the more pages the Googlebot has to visit, the more critical site speed becomes.
To understand why it’s vital to speed up your site, it’s critical to understand what a crawl budget is. Google’s crawl budget is the amount of time and resources it can spend to crawl and index your site. With almost two billion websites online, crawling the entire internet costs Google a significant amount of time and money.
Google can only allocate a certain amount of time to indexing each site. That’s your crawl budget, and you want to make the most of it. If your site is slow, though, Google will take more time to crawl each page, leading to fewer pages crawled overall.
In addition, people will have a more challenging time navigating to the pages they want to visit if your pages load slowly.
Site speed itself is a significant factor for SEO and has been for quite some time. According to Google, site speed increases user satisfaction, helps reduce operating costs, and increases time spent on site. Because Google wants its users to be happy, it also places emphasis on site speed as a ranking factor.
So, how can you improve site speed? The first step is ensuring you get a good hosting provider. A fast hosting plan – with a dedicated server, depending on your website’s size – will improve load times and increase uptime. You should also choose a good theme and update your plugins. Compressing your images before uploading them can help as well.
I recommend using Google PageSpeed Insights to test your site’s loading times and find issues that are slowing down your blog. It’s free to use, and you can learn a lot about how different coding errors can make a big difference when it comes to site speed.
Another helpful tool is YSlow. It’s an open-source project and Chrome extension that analyzes your website’s site speed based on Yahoo’s rules. It’s also available for Firefox, Safari, and other browsers.
A third tool I recommend using is Pingdom’s Website Speed Test. It allows you to test your site’s speed using servers around the world, in North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and the Pacific.
If you have a global user base, your site might load slower the further away your readers get from your hosting servers.
4. Keep Your Content Up-to-Date
Updating your content is one of the best ways to improve crawlability. If you don’t update your content on a consistent basis, you might not notice dead or broken internal links, which make it difficult for Google to find your pages. In your Google Search Console, you can find a list of those crawl errors.
It’s a good idea to add new content to your blog posts as you learn new information or as things change in the industry. That will allow you to provide your readers with the most up-to-date information possible.
Furthermore, it will give you a chance to build internal links to new pages you have published since the last time you edited the post. Adding internal links to your new pages will make it easier for the Googlebot to find them.
Remember, Google will recrawl your website periodically. While you can’t control the frequency of that, you can ensure that when Googlebot does revisit your website, it can find new pages more easily.
5. Watch Out for Duplicate Content
Duplicate content also affects your crawl budget. It wastes Googlebot’s time, and it’s terrible for SEO overall. There are ways to fix duplicate content, such as by setting up a 301 redirect.
You can’t always avoid duplicate content. Sometimes, you’ll need to publish the same content on multiple landing pages.
However, it’s important to remember that not all of them need to be indexed by Google. One way to tell Google that you want it to ignore a particular page and not crawl it is by adding the noindex tag to a page, which you can easily do with a plugin like All In One SEO.
There are other issues that could potentially cause duplicate content. Pagination, or breaking up a listicle article into many pages, can make Google think you have multiples of the same page. Setting up separate URLs for desktop and mobile versions of a page is also a poor strategy, as you only need a responsive theme that automatically adapts to mobile.
6. Look for Backend Website Problems
Finally, watch out for technical errors preventing Google from crawling all your pages. You might have mistakenly blocked certain pages from being indexed in your robots.txt file or in your Bing Webmaster Tools.
Redirects that were not set up correctly can also lead to crawl errors. Server issues, incorrect URL paths, misspellings in URLs, and dead links that weren’t removed are also issues.
You can check for crawl errors in your Google Search Console. Take these errors seriously, and fix them right away. If you have a lot of errors, fix them all and consider resubmitting your sitemap.
Before You Go
Another way to increase crawlability is by building backlinks. When you publish a new page that you want Google to crawl and index, try to get a backlink, so Google finds it even while it’s busy crawling other sites. Google also uses backlinks to help determine a website’s authority.
This local link plan will help you build high-quality local backlinks that will increase crawlability and boost your SEO rankings.
My name is Andrew David Scherer and I’ve been involved in digital marketing since 2006. I’ve built local businesses from 0 to 6 figures in sales – leased, sold, and rented a handful of them. And I’ve had hundreds of them as clients. Feel free to contact me if you have questions about marketing your local clients online. I’m always happy to help and share what I know.