4 min read

SEO: Maintain and Optimize Your Website's Search Presence

SEO: Maintain and Optimize Your Website's Search Presence

As a website owner or manager, you've likely invested time and resources into establishing your site's presence on Google. However, the work doesn't stop once your site appears in search results. 

To maintain and improve your site's SEO performance, you must continuously monitor, manage, and optimize various aspects of your website. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the essential tasks and best practices for maintaining your site's SEO, from controlling how Google crawls and indexes your content to managing the user experience and enhancing your search appearance.

Understanding Google's Crawl, Index, and Serve Pipeline

Before diving into specific SEO tasks, it's crucial to understand how Google Search works. Familiarize yourself with the crawl, index, and serve pipeline to debug issues and anticipate search behavior on your site effectively. Pay special attention to the concept of canonical pages, which play a significant role in how Google handles duplicate content.

Ensuring Resource Accessibility

For Google to crawl and index your site properly, all essential resources (images, CSS files, etc.) and pages must be accessible to the search engine. Verify that robots.txt rules do not block these elements and can be accessed by an anonymous user. Use the URL Inspection tool to render the live page and confirm that Google sees the page as expected. If critical resources are blocked, it can hinder Google's ability to crawl your page effectively.

Managing Crawling with Robots.txt and Sitemaps

Robots.txt and sitemaps are powerful tools for controlling how Google crawls your site. Use robots.txt rules to prevent crawling of duplicate content or unimportant resources that might overload your server with requests. However, avoid using robots.txt to prevent indexing; employ the noindex tag or login requirements instead.

Conversely, Sitemaps tell Google which pages are most important to your site and provide additional information like update frequency. They are particularly crucial for crawling non-textual content such as images or videos. While Google won't limit crawling to pages listed in your sitemaps, it will prioritize crawling them, making sitemaps essential for sites with rapidly changing content or pages that might not be discoverable through links.

Handling Multi-Lingual and Localized Content

If your site caters to multiple languages or targets users in specific locales, consider the following:

  1. Consult the guidelines for multi-regional and multi-lingual sites to manage localized content for different languages or regions effectively.
  2. Utilize the hreflang tag to inform Google about different language variations of pages on your site.
  3. If your site adapts page content based on the locale of the request, understand how this can impact Google's crawl of your site.

Migrating Pages and Sites

When moving a single URL or an entire site, adhere to these guidelines:

Migrating a Single URL:

  • Implement 301 redirects for permanent page moves.
  • Use 302 redirects for temporary moves to signal Google to continue crawling the original page.
  • Create custom 404 pages to enhance the user experience when a page has been removed, ensuring that a true 404 error is returned.

Migrating a Site:

  • Implement all necessary 301 redirects and sitemap changes.
  • Notify Google about the move to initiate crawling of the new site and transfer your signals to the new location.

Adhering to Crawling and Indexing Best Practices

Let’s go over some best practices to ensure that your site is optimized for crawling and indexing:

  • Ensure your links are crawlable.
  • Use rel=nofollow for paid, login-required, or untrusted content links to avoid passing quality signals or reflecting their quality on your site.
  • Manage your crawl budget by prioritizing recently updated or important pages in your sitemaps and hiding less important pages using robots.txt rules, especially for large sites.
  • Follow Google's recommendations for JavaScript usage on websites.
  • Provide prominent next and previous links for multi-page articles to ensure crawlability.
  • Offer a paginated version for infinite scroll pages to facilitate crawling.
  • Block access to URLs that change state (e.g., posting comments, creating accounts) using robots.txt.
  • Review the list of file types indexable by Google.
  • In rare cases where Google crawls your site excessively, reduce the crawl rate.
  • Migrate from HTTP to HTTPS for enhanced user and site security.

Helping Google Understand Your Site

Google doesn’t just automatically know what to look for when it comes to your website; it needs a helping hand. To aid Google in comprehending your site's content:

  1. Place critical information in text rather than graphics.
  2. Add structured data to your pages to provide additional guidance about the content, even enabling special search features like rich results.
  3. If you are comfortable with HTML and coding, you can add structured data manually following developer guidelines or use the WYSIWYG Structured Data Markup Helper for assistance.
  4. Utilize the Data Highlighter tool to highlight page sections and specify their meaning if unable to add structured data directly.

Adhering to Google's Guidelines

Ensure strict compliance with Google's Search Essentials. Some guidelines are recommendations and best practices, while others can result in removal from the Google index if violated.

Managing the User Experience

Prioritize providing an excellent user experience, as it is a ranking factor. Key elements include:

  • Implementing HTTPS for improved user and site security.
  • Optimizing page speed using the Core Web Vitals report, PageSpeed Insights, and AMP for fast pages.

Mobile Considerations

With the majority of the global internet population using mobile devices, ensure your site is mobile-friendly. Google uses a mobile crawler as the default, so consult the guidelines for making your site mobile-friendly.

Controlling Your Search Appearance

Leverage Google's various search result features and experiences, such as review stars, embedded site search boxes, and special result types for events or recipes. Provide a favicon and article date to appear in search results. Optimize titles, links, and snippets, and consider restricting snippet length or omitting it entirely using meta tags. If you are a European press publisher, inform Search Console.

Leveraging Search Console

Utilize the wide range of reports in Search Console to monitor and optimize your site's performance on Google Search. Familiarize yourself with the available reports and their applications.

Maintain and Optimize Your Website’s SEO

Maintaining and optimizing your website's SEO is an ongoing process that requires diligence, attention to detail, and a commitment to staying current with best practices and guidelines. 

Remember, the goal is to rank well and provide an easy user experience that keeps visitors coming back. You can achieve long-term success in the ever-evolving search landscape with a solid understanding of SEO fundamentals and a proactive approach to site management.

SEO for Large Websites: Managing Technical SEO and Content at Scale

SEO for Large Websites: Managing Technical SEO and Content at Scale

@ith great opportunities come great challenges, especially in the realm of Search Engine Optimization (SEO).

Read More
On-Page SEO and Website Visibility

On-Page SEO and Website Visibility

Search engine optimization (SEO) is key for any website's success in the vast and ever-evolving digital marketing landscape. While many people...

Read More
Improve Website Competitiveness: The Power of SEO Topic Clusters

Improve Website Competitiveness: The Power of SEO Topic Clusters

In the dynamic world of online marketing, search engine optimizers wield a potent tool: the SEO topic cluster. With meticulous attention to detail...

Read More