People often ask us to write SEO checklists for them. But SEO encompasses such varied efforts – from blog writing to technical site review – that squeezing it into a checklist can be difficult. However, we always try to work with our clients’ processes, because we think that’s the most effective way to get SEO results. Here, we share a basic robot-friendliness checklist.
Search engine robots must be able to navigate through the site in order to access and index all pages on the site.
- All content on the site should be accessible by clicking on standard HTML links.
- Whenever possible, use a shallow site architecture that allows all pages on the site to be reached by under 5 clicks from the home page.
- It should not be expected that robots will perform searches or fill out forms on the site. We recommend that you provide a robot-navigable path that does not require these actions.
- If there is content hidden behind a login or registration, search engine robots will not be able to see it. We recommend that you create a “logged out” version of each page that shows teaser content that can be indexed by search engines.
- Use extreme caution with deindexing pages using the robots.txt file or the <robots> meta tag.
- Search engine robots can be considered a special case of accessibility. As a rule of thumb, how a page looks to a screen reader for the visually impaired is similar to how the page will look to a search engine robot.
- Ask: How does this page look to search engines? Is the search engine view of the page an accurate representation of the human view of the page? You can use the tool at www.seo-browser.com to approximate the search engine robot view, or use “Fetch as Googlebot” in Google Webmaster Tools, or view the cached version of the page in Google by typing <cache:www.yoursite.com/url-of-page.html> into the search box.
- For interactive sites, search engine robots may not be able to replicate the human experience. Is there a simplified version that can be shown to a search engine robot? For example, if an interactive experience requires that a person click through a series of steps before seeing text, consider presenting the text in robot readable format.
- Content in video and Flash are not easily indexable and require special SEO management.
This checklist would need to be used in conjunction with other SEO checklists, including editorial, social media, technical, video, and Flash specifications.
Readers, do you have anything to add to this simple robot-friendliness checklist?