What up, friends!
Welcome to our latest series, Technical SEO! This series is going to be a little different from our others. We’re diving deep into the work we do for our clients as SEO experts. Typically we write how-to posts, but this is more of a “what and why” post. We know this might get a little more technical than you’re used to, but take heart! We still have lots of fun (that’s so on brand for us, of course).
In this series, we’re pulling back the curtain on the technical side of signature optimization process. When we work with clients, right away we focus on three technical elements. We organize the technical side of things to get that in order first, so that the rest of our work will have maximum impact.
So pour yourself a cup of something delightful, and settle in!
1. Managing crawl budget and indexing
Our friend Google is a busy little robot, and when he comes to visit your site to see what it’s all about (called “crawling”), he only has a little bit of time. Every website gets a certain “crawl budget” aka limited amount of time for Google to read your site.
So, it’s our job to make sure that Google is reading the pages that are full of branded, SEO-rich content, not those that are empty of SEO-rich content.
So, how do we do this?
A little technique called “indexing”
One of the first things we do with our clients is deindex select pages on their site to control what Google “crawls” on your site.
What pages might we deindex?
First thing to know is that a page that’s not useful to Google might be very important to your audience. So this doesn’t mean that we’re removing these pages from your site. We’re just essentially hiding them from Google.
- Duplicate content because of tags (a category and a tag makes two instances of a page on your site, so we’ll deindex one of those so that Google doesn’t have to crawl both). Note: we don’t touch the tags. Tags are useful, so keep using them. They are what your audience uses to find content within your site.
- Any pages that have very little content. For example, photographers have lots of pages full of photos, and almost no words. While those photos can be useful places to put in alt tags, sometimes it’s not necessary to invite Google to crawl those sites, so we deindex them.
2. Content clustering + Intent
The old (and still current) way of ranking was to target a single keyword and write a post around that. Now, the “new” way is to write posts and link internally about umbrellas of topics. This is for 2 reasons:
- Because competition is fierce for singular keywords. It’s not at all to say that it doesn’t or can’t happen. The landscape is just harder.
- Search engines are increasingly better at “semantic search” which is searching for related terms and phrases. This is in big part because of voice search.
So…why does this matter?
Because search engines change their formulas all the time (we all know this, it’s what makes SEO so intimidating) to be more relevant and useful. Keep in mind that Google is always, always trying to make things easier for the end user, the searcher. So when you show Google that you have a wide breadth of content on a certain topic
“Using topic clusters and pillar content instead of trying to rank for a short list of keywords will boost your search engine rankings and improve user experience.” — Fronetics
How we do it (and you can too!):
- Define your core topics that you want to be known for, then write content for each of these categories. You’ll notice that we write about SEO every week, and this isn’t an accident. We’re actively working to grow our authority about SEO in Google’s eyes (PS–and it’s working!).
- Then, create a main hub page on your site on which you link to all of your content on that one topic. It makes it easy for your audience to find your content, but it also makes it easy for Google to know what your site is about. Think of this as an authority topic page.
- Keep at it! Keep writing and clustering your content around your core pillars, and you’ll see results if you’re consistent.
3. Broken Links and Redirects
Broken links, like sticky fingers on a toddler, are inevitable. It just happens, and there’s nothing you can do about it except for clean up the mess later.
You might have broken outbound links (to sites that are now gone) or broken inbound links (from sites that are now gone). It happens, and we use certain SEO cleanup tools to find these links, then remove and replace them.
Depending on the size of your site, it’s possible you have dozens or even hundreds of broken links. This is a BIG problem for SEO, because it’s a dead end, and usually a frustrating experience for the person who clicks on it. So Google prefers pages that have working links, which is why we fix them right away when working with clients.
How do you feel…overwhelmed? Underwhelmed? Just whelmed?
We totally get it. You might notice that unlike our other posts, we’re not teaching you how to do this. We’re simply telling you about what it is. That’s because this is slightly more technical than our other how-to posts. And this is something that we completely handle for our clients so that they don’t have to think about it (and get great boosts in SEO in the process).
If you’re feeling like you need some SEO support, we’re here for you! SEO isn’t scary, it’s just good business. And we’re here to answer your questions, and support you along the way!
Meg and the Clapping Dog Media Team