How do search engines work?
Search Engines Use Crawlers. Crawlers are spider-like robots that move from one website to another via links. You must have established links on your site in order for search engines to find you. It is ideal to have a relevant link on each page.
Next, algorithms store information about how websites are retrieved. This includes the words in your search query, relevance of pages, and expertise of sources and your location.
Lastly, saved search paths are indexed. This is your goal!
What can I do to influence them?
Make sure your site is crawlable
- Check your robots.txt file to make sure Google is allowed on your pages. (Your robots.txt file is yourdomain.com/robots.txt)
- Check you HTTP header to make sure there are no redirects of error pages.
- Make sure there is content in your robots meta tag. This allows for and gives instructions for crawling on a single page.
Minimize site load time
See how long a page takes to load:
- Type site name in browser.
- Right click “Inspect”
- Select “Network”
- Command R.
- Look over the names of the elements on your page and their load times.
- Reduce image load time.
- Remove items that take too long to load by moving them to another page or reducing their content.
- Combine files using WP Rocket.
- For more tips, consult 20 Ways to Speed Up Your Website.
Add relevant links
When creating internal links, avoid generic anchor text like “click here”. Your links should be descriptive, but also part of a natural conversation. Make sure the anchor text for link is obviously clickable by underlining and using a different color text. Royal blue is the standard text color for a link.
To get external links to your site:
- Ask to be included in local directories
- Ask relevant links like suppliers or other businesses your work with to mention your site on their sites.
- Join business or neighborhood associations such as the chamber of commerce.
- Try to get featured in a trade publication or blog
Add a XML sitemap
What is a XML sitemap?
A file that contains a list of your site’s most important URLs and date when the page was last modified. Sitemaps help search engines crawl more intelligently.
Why should I have a XML sitemap?
- Your site is new and has few external links to it.
- Your site has rich media content.
- Your site is large.
How do I create a XML sitemap?
Use a mobile first strategy
Assume your site will be accessed via a mobile device. Focus on what you want them to see. Here are some guidelines:
- Be as succinct as possible. Minimize the # of pages, links in nav bar and columns – no more than 2.
- Add a search bar.
- Make sure that your links are mobile friendly and take less than 3s to load.
- Use white space to reduce crowding.
- Use a font that is large enough to read.
- Designwise – Use the following:
strong typographical elements
geometric shapes and/or abstract patterns
Add structured data
Structured data is a method of describing the content of a website that makes it easier for search engines to understand. Google uses schema.org to bridge this gap. If you use a plug-in such as Yoast, structured data is automatically added.