In my previous chapter, “On Page Optimization – All You Need To Know”, we have gone through about On Site Optimization. In order to have SEO friendly website, it is necessary that your website contain certain tags and titles in order to get indexed with the search engines. In “Website Architecture – Everything You Need to Know”, we are trying to surface all the relevant points which will help in optimizing your website.
Before coming to that let me discuss “Website Crawl-ability”. Search engines crawl the Web to see what is there. This task is performed by search engine bots or spiders. Spiders follow links from one page to another and index everything they find on their way. They make copies of your pages that get stored in what’s called an “index,” which is like a massive book of the web. Whenever you enter a query in a search engine and hit ‘enter’, the search engine flips through this big book, finds all the relevant pages and then picks out what it thinks are the very best ones to show first. To be found, you have to be in the book. To be in the book, you have to be crawled.
When a search request comes, search engines compares the search string in the search request with the indexed pages in the database (book), and show results based on the relevancy of each of the pages in its index with the search string. In order to make your website relevant as per Search Engine Algorithm, you need certain details in your website which are required by bots or spiders.
What is Website Architecture?
As per definition, Website Architecture refers to the way we structure a website to ensure we meet our business goals while delivering a great experience for our users. We can say that it is planning and designing of the technical, functional and visual components of a website – before it is designed, developed and deployed. It includes numerous things like usability, interaction design, user interface design, information design, web design, graphic design and content strategy.
If we divide Website Architecture, then we get two things i.e. User Experience and Search Engine Experience.
While designing a website, you should keep in mind that users should be able to find things quickly and easily. Offering user friendly interface help not only your users but also your SEO. A happy users is one who links to you, stays on the page a long time, and provide other positive signals that search engines interpret. To offer such experience, you will require a firm understanding of the intent, drivers, and goals of the business. You should thoroughly understand what you want from your user like subscribing your newsletter, shop online, fill your contact form, book an appointment, etc. Easy Navigation is said to be the “key to success”. Try to make people only take three to four clicks to get to any page. We will discuss this topic comprehensive in upcoming chapters.
Search Engine Experience
The spiders crawl your website to know what is there and then indexed it in their database. You make sure search engines themselves are easily moving through your site. Search Engines are driven by algorithms and have some principles in mind whilst they crawl websites. We can do some smart things to make our sites architecturally friendly for those engines.
HTML Codes for Better Search Engine Experience
HTML Codes are used to create web pages. Search engines pick up ranking signals from specific HTML elements. Below are some of the most important HTML elements to achieve SEO success.
HTML Title Tag
The tag appears within the section of a web page and helps bots to understand what page is all about. Google typically displays the first 50–60 characters of a title tag. If you keep your titles under 60 characters, then it is expected that 90% of your titles display properly. HTML titles are the most important HTML signal that search engines use to understand what a page is about. Bad Titles may lead to SEO failure. It is recommended that your Title manifests everything related to your web page.
Meta Description Tag
The meta description tag allows you to suggest how you’d like your pages to be described in search listings. You can write meta descriptions for any length, however Google generally truncates snippets ~300 characters. A well-crafted meta description may help “sell” that result to the user or help in increasing number of clicks. This tag doesn’t contribute directly to ranking so some may think of leaving it. But in that case, Search engines may create different descriptions based on what they believe is most relevant for a particular query. So, it is recommended that you should use description containing your keyword to make sure that bots fetch your page in case of query.
Metadata is described as the structured information about a document, data or other information content. It is resource for purposes such as discovery and identification. It can include elements such as title, abstract, author, and keywords.
You must be aware of the fact that “404 error pages” hurts the rank of your site. You can usetag to redirect your page to any other webpage. 301 redirections help keep track of 404 errors by redirecting visitors to desired URL.
Single URL redirect using .htaccess (Apache server)
HTML meta refresh redirect
HTML meta refresh tag redirection does not return 301 permanent redirect status code, but considered by Google as a 301 redirect. HTML meta refresh redirect is a client side redirect and is not 301 permanent redirect. The HTML meta refresh with 0 seconds time interval, is considered by Google as a hint for 301 redirect for pagerank transfer.
Document Revision Date
You can usetag to give information about when last time the document was updated. This information can be used by various web browsers while refreshing your webpage.
Most of these Tags are used when you’re developing HTML based websites. However, if you are using WordPress or any other CMS then you can optimize all these tags using Plugins. If we talk of WordPress then SEO HTML Tags along with H1, H2, H3 tags are already defined in many themes. You can check these by going through CSS. Further, for Page Title, Metadata, you can use plugins which are available free as well as in paid versions.