When we set out to improve the search ranking results for an old site, we weren’t expecting an overnight increase of 1000% crawled URLs! Here’s what we did to make our client’s website more SEO friendly from a technology perspective.
Breaking it down
If you want more than the TLDR, lets dig in!
When Google crawls your page, what is sees is code, code, and more code. How does it discern the code which just makes your website look pretty and the code which makes up the substance of your primary content? The answer is that it opens your web page and tries to parse out your content from the rift raft of other code. By moving the code out of the files which contain your content, you are making Google’s job easier when indexing your page. By doing this, it just has to pick out the meat of your page without worrying about all the other code.
Changing Page File Names
The 2000’s called, they want their file extensions back. Remember when sites had www.example.com/about.php ? Those are old school. We arent’ trying to be hipster on the internet, so we have to get rid of those. Working with .htaccess files, it’s possible to remove the .php and replace it with a /. So now it can look like www.example.com/about/. It may seem just cosmetic, but Google may treat it differently versus a simple file. Is this documented on Google? No, but we’ll take every edge that we can take.
File not found errors
Over the years, your marketing team may have made pages, and then deleted them. Perhaps for some marketing campaign, or perhaps on a mistake. Well, those 404s add up. There are a few reasons you want to get rid of them. One is because Google may think you aren’t keeping your website up to shape. The other is that visitors are potentially going to those URLs and aren’t getting anything useful.
301 Directs for SEO
Speaking of all of those file name changes and 404 cleanups, how you actually implement those changes matters. You want them to be 301 redirects to Google will transfer the importance of the old page to the new page. This is important which sculpting your SEO page importance.
Ok, so your website is all trimmed up properly. The next step is to make it fast. One major reason Google was able to index 13,000 URLs overnight was because the client’s website was blazing fast. It would take hours for Google to go to each page if it was slow. And Google might think that since the site is slow, it should back off the speed at which it indexes. So what we did was install a varnish cache in front of the website. Varnish cache takes a copy of each web page and puts it in memory. When a visitor goes to one of the web pages, it first checks varnish to see if it is in there. If it is, it will return that data instead of going to the server. This means that website response time went from over 1.5 seconds to .33 milliseconds.
What if your server takes only 33ms to return a web page, but the data has to go around the world? The website would still have to take about 200ms to get to the user because of the speed of light (data). That is even without any other calculations of latency due to going through numerous routers and interchanges. So what we did was put our client’s data on a content delivery network. This is a network of servers around the world which individually puts a copy of the website in various places around the world. So users in Japan do not have to connect to servers in the United States but can connect to servers in Japan. We utilized Fastly for this.
With the above changes made for our client, and with some additional changes, we were able to have an overnight increase in the amount of pages index in Google by 10,000%. If you’d like us to have a look at your website, click the button below!