Google’s John Mueller posted on Twitter that SEO is all about not requiring search engines to read your mind. He said “SEO is all about not requiring search engines to read your mind” said Google’s John Mueller
There are many things that you can do to show search engines what you want but Mueller’s comments underscore the importance of page structure. No doubt, the structural elements of a page have some impact on website ranking.
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How to Help Google Better Understand Your Page
Google judges your website from the content you present and how you present them. Important parts of your content should show signs of priority with header tags like H1, H2, H3 and so on. Your page should be structured to give Google the clear signs of your website focus, preference and the keywords for which you want your website to rank.
1. Improve Your Page Click Dept
Improving your website click dept can have an impact on the performance of a website in Google’s search results. The question is what can you do to ensure that your web pages aren’t buried too deep on your website? Let’s begin with understanding what is click dept.
What is click-depth?
The click-depth of a page is the number of clicks that it takes to get to a page starting from the home page of your website. The home page of your website has a click-depth of 0. Pages that can be accessed by clicking a link on the home page have a click-depth of 1. Pages that are linked from pages that have a click-depth of 1 have a click-depth of 2, etc.
Does the click-depth of a page have an impact on its rankings?
Google’s John Mueller said in a webmaster hangout that the number of clicks that are needed shows Google how relevant the pages on your website are. John Mueller said:
“From our point of view, we don’t count the slashes in the URL. So if you put it into /stores and then /location and that’s how you want to keep your website on your server, that’s perfectly fine.
What does matter for us a little bit is how easy it is to actually find the content there. So especially, if your home page is generally the strongest page on your website, and from the home page it takes multiple clicks to actually get to one of these stores, then that makes it a lot harder for us to understand that these stores are actually pretty important.
On the other hand, if it’s one click from the home page to one of these stores, then that tells us that these stores are probably pretty relevant and that, probably, we should be giving them a little bit of weight in the search results as well.
So it’s more a matter of how many links you have to click through to actually get to that content rather than what the URL structure itself looks like.”
And Mueller also warned that although the important pages of your website should be available with one click, you should not overdo it. Overdoing things as we have noted in several other posts is a sign of manipulation and Google hates actions that manipulate or attempts to manipulate how it sees a website and attempts to gain an unfair advantage over competitors in its search results. Google can actually penalize websites for actions that try to manipulate its search results to gain an undeserved ranking position.. This is how John Mueller puts it:
“But it’s still something where you have to be careful not to overdo it.
So if you link to all of your pages from the home page, then they’re all on there. So it’s not something where you’d have much value from that.
So you still need some structure, some context around those pages. But if you have a handful of pages that are really important for you, then that will be perfect to link from the home page.”
Google has limited crawl resources. The deeper a page is buried on your website, the less likely Google will crawl it. In addition, the home page of a website is usually the page that has the most links from other pages, i.e. it has the highest PageRank in Google’s algorithm.
Pages that are linked from pages with a high PageRank get better rankings than pages that are linked from pages with low PageRank.
2. Take User Experience Seriously
User experience or UX is key to how Google ranks your website. When people visit your website and cannot find answers to the questions they have in mind or simply cannot find what they seek, they become disappointed and think visiting your site is not worth it. Because search engines use UX as a ranking factor, it is important you incorporate those elements that improve UX in your page design.
- Check Website Usability. Do a simple A/B test on your website usability. You can call some independent and trusted fellow to use your site, place an order and perform some tasks like filling a form and get their feedback on how easy it was to perform the tasks,, the problem they faced in some cases and what should have been their expectations.
- Website Navigation. This is directly related to the first point we made on click dept. The easier it is to navigate to other pages, the better it is for your website. This underscores the importance of internal links. Internal links make it easier to access related content and can bring a lot of satisfaction to your users. So, in building your website, make sure that navigation is good and made easy.
- Page Views and Average Time on Page. If people spend reasonable time on your website, it suggests that they are enjoying the content and could visit multiple pages. It also means they are likely to return to your website as repeat visitors. The results on page views and time on page also need to be reviewed for different cities and countries. If your performance in your target region and country is good, then you have less to worry about even though you could have figures that are disturbing from other countries and cities.
- Improve Customer Support Performance. Your customer service team, knowledge, availability and expertise can be very helpful in improving user experience. When visitors come to your website and need help, the first consideration for help will be your support team. If you have a support team that can respond speedily and provide expert advice that addresses the issues, that is good for your website UX.
- Website Speed. There are tons of information on the internet today covering a particular subject matter. People want to access as much information as possible and need it delivered speedily to help make fast decisions. Moreover, most users now access the internet via mobile devices thus they can work even while on the move and do not have the time to waste as they could just be searching for information upon which to anchor a decision. Slow websites perform poorly and Google has also stated its dislike for slow loading websites. You can test your website speed with Google.
- Errors. Whether they be 404 errors, spelling errors or some server errors, they all turn off your visitor interests. You will want to learn more in this post: How to Fix Error 404 Not Found on Your WordPress Site
Improve Page Structure
What are the components of web page structure. We have briefly talked about navigation earlier but now we need to touch on some key elements you need to take seriously that are important to Google as well. You have to take these five key elements seriously:
- Content. You could have stumbled on this page by virtue of what you were looking for, a question you wanted answered or you were linked from another content. Content they say is king and truly it is. Even Google in its mission statement acknowledges the role of content and places it as a primary reason for its business. The whole internet is about content and if you produce rich and quality content, it will surely pay off. Carefully craft your content to reflect professionalism, expertise and authoritativeness. They are important for user confidence and could affect how users interact with your page.
- Usability. Your website must be easy to navigate, should be intuitive, accessible and mobile-friendly. It is important that you commit time and resources to get the best performance in these areas. The interesting side of it is that if your usability is excellent, users may just see it as normal but your website usability is poor, they will quickly react by leaving the page or failing to complete tasks and all these affect conversion.
- Aesthetics. In this day and age, having a visually impressive website across all devices is crucial. However, you must maintain your brand image. Your website must reflect who you are as a business, and visually connect with the audience. The visual appeal of your website not only contributes to your brand awareness but also increases your credibility.
- Visibility. If you had the most aesthetically pleasing and user-friendly website on the web, it would still be unsuccessful unless it could be found. Your presence and visibility through digital marketing campaigns including SEO, social media and email marketing is vital to the success of your website.It’s important that you understand how to be found, what platforms to target and how to utilize your content. Thousands of factors have an impact on where you appear within the search engines, so make sure you have a plan in place!
- Interaction. Your website must engage with your audience, hold their attention, direct them through the stages of your website and finally encourage them to contact you.Your website isn’t just there for show, it is there to help you generate leads, increase sales and grow your business so ensure your website engages with your visitors in the correct way.
Google and indeed, most other search engines rely on the information or content you provide to understand and rate your website. The easier they can access your information, the better and more user friendly your website is perceived to be. So, as much as you can, endeavor to make your website navigation easy for your visitors by improving the click dept.
Remember that your website has been built for humans and not the search engines so your content should target the human visitors and not search engines. It is important to sound this warning because you may be tempted to focus on search engines and place less emphasis on human visitors. The search engines today have become so advanced that even if you were to make it to the top of the search engines, you will most certainly not be able to show good sign positions if your website does not show good signals for UX.
So pay attention to how your visitors relate with your website, the number of pages visited in each session, the bounce rate, page speed and other critical elements.