It may sound cliche, but we are living in a crazy period. If you consider yourself a practitioner of SEO, I would like to pile on by offering the following controversial, and possibly unsettling, take: The Google Search Bot is the most important visitor to your website. Allow me to defend this position in the following post.
Technical SEO Is In Vogue Again
Communicate perfectly with search engines to increase organic traffic.
Twenty years ago, search engine optimization (SEO) was driven in large part by the need to make websites easier for Google’s Search Bots to crawl and index. In the ensuing years, as Google’s algorithm became more sophisticated, other elements, such as user experience and high-quality content, received increased priority.
However, the need to make websites crawlable and indexable for Google’s Search Bots has regained importance in recent years. As websites have become more dynamic and complicated and the Internet of Things has taken off, it has become vital once again to communicate as efficiently as possible with multiple robots like search engines, chat applications, and other digital assistants.
In fact, it is reasonable to argue that the most important visitor to your website these days is a robot, not a human. Search engines act as the gatekeepers between your content and target audience in the search results. If you do not take the necessary steps to optimize your website for their crawling experience, you could risk forfeiting a lot of high-quality organic search traffic.
Google’s Latest Technical SEO Initiatives
Introducing structured data markup and dynamic rendering.
Google’s search algorithm is more or less viewed as a “black box” by people who practice SEO. But for many of the technical initiatives that truly move the needle, they have actually been quite helpful. Over the last decade, in particular, Google has been public about how it wants websites structured to help their Search Bots fulfill the mission of organizing the world’s information to make it universally accessible and useful.
First, in 2014, they endorsed structured data markup as the preferred language of communication between a website and its Search Bots to understand everything it needs to know about your website in order to index it correctly.
Google has a hard time understanding and contextualizing content. It is a machine, after all, that lacks the full extent of natural language processing capabilities that humans take for granted. Say your website has a section dedicated to a certain product. With structured data markup in place, you can explicitly communicate to Google all sorts of information about it, such as pricing, availability, ratings, and reviews, so that its search engines have a thorough understanding of what they are crawling and how it should be indexed and presented in search results.
Dynamic rendering allows a business to serve a version of its website optimized for the human experience, as well as one optimized for the Search Bot experience. In the version optimized for the Search Bot, for example, you could convert the content to flat HTML, layer on structured data markup, and ensure that it loads instantly.
Technical SEO Benefits
Yes, optimizing your website for the perfect crawling experience drives significant increases in organic channel performance.
Structured data markup, in particular, offers a number of benefits.
Perhaps the most valuable benefit is a new organic search experience called rich results that embed such features as FAQs, how-tos, ratings, and reviews alongside your standard blue link to help your content stand out and take up more real estate on search result pages.
The latest research indicates that searchers are on the lookout for these types of features and direct their attention accordingly when entering queries into Google. So, when you think about the benefits of structured data for the organic channel, it all comes down to helping your content get in front of your target audience more often, prominently, and memorably via rich results.
Dynamic rendering also drives performance benefits.
With dynamic rendering in place, there are several really interesting metrics you can track to follow Google’s behavior on your website, including the number of pages crawled per day, time spent downloading pages, and the amount of data downloaded per crawl—so that you can optimize your website accordingly.
In Conclusion - Remember the Search Bot!
Technical SEO initiatives like dynamic rendering and structured data markup ensure that your content marketing efforts are being thoroughly, accurately, and prominently indexed in the search results that matter most to your business. It’s why I say the Search Bot is the most important visitor to your website. If you give it the best possible crawling experience, your organic channel will be rewarded. Not only that, but your website will be aligned with other initiatives, especially in the audio and voice realms, that are coming down the pipeline. Stay tuned!
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