It should go without saying that Vicki is my all-time favorite robot.
When I hear “bot,” I automatically reminisce about “Small Wonder,” the memorable ’80s gem by which we were gifted Vicki the Robot (a.k.a. V.I.C.I. [Voice Input Child Identicant]).
But in terms of search engine optimization (SEO), “bot” generally refers to programs that search the internet and determine which websites deserve to be ranked on search engine result pages (SERPs); it does not refer to a 10-year-old-looking robot girl who can act as a power source and pick up a car.
There are many easy ways to make your website stand out to these search engine bots who are crawling the web regularly. Here are 5 things to focus on when trying to improve your site’s SEO.
Bots are scanning your site to get a general idea of what your content is about. An easy way to show them is by using headings and subheadings. In your site code or your WYSIWYG editor, use “H” (or heading) tags: H1, H2, H3, etc. Each page should have only one H1 tag that gives a clear idea of what the page is about.
2. Internal Links
Bots are able to navigate your site more easily if relevant pages and posts are linked to each other. Pages that point to each other are essentially a vote of confidence in one another and bots see this as a sign of authority on the topic. But be sure to maintain and update these links if necessary because a broken link sends a negative message to the bots regarding your content and their “trust” in your site will likely decrease.
3. Image Metadata
We all know that, to humans, images are more exciting than text, so definitely continue to illustrate your topics with graphics. Unfortunately, bots don’t feel the same way, so include alt tags, descriptive file names, and captions when possible, and then they’ll be able to pick up on content they wouldn’t otherwise see. The same goes for any video and audio content—include transcripts to make the content more accessible.
4. Friendly URL structures
Bots don’t want to waste time reading lengthy or complicated URLs. They also don’t know what the hell http://www.mywebsite.com/page/12345%THW/0856239LRJ#/subpage/8271 even means. The URL structure should logically illustrate the website’s organization. A proper URL will include the categories and subcategories leading up to the page or post title. For example: www.yoursite.com/travel/europe/must-see-beaches/ provides a great description of what this post will be about for both the user and bots.
5. XML Sitemaps
Last but definitely not least, sitemaps. Sitemaps provide bots with a clear breakdown of your website’s content hierarchy. They also indicate how often each piece of content gets updated communicating how often bots should recrawl the site. Here is an example of what a typical sitemap looks like.
A sitemap typically lives in the root of your website. If your site is built in WordPress, you can use a plugin like All in One SEO Pack plugin or Yoast. Otherwise, you can use a sitemap generator to build your sitemap and then just upload it to the webroot directory in your hosting account.
Vicki would be proud
There is a lot that goes into top-notch SEO and search engines are always fine tuning their algorithms in an effort to provide searchers with the content they are looking for. Employing these simple best practices is a great start to playing nice with bots.