What Are The Minimum SEO Requirements for a New Website To Rank in Google?
Starting a website from scratch is intimidating; it takes time, technical knowledge, developers working tirelessly as well as a dedicated team or individual looking out for problems popping up – as expected. Once al, the ground work has been done, what minimum requirements does your SEO need to meet, to be able to rank organically in Google’s search results?
We already know about SEO good practice guidelines (LINK), but what software capabilities does your website need to feature for your blogs to be able to be indexed by Google?
Thanks to Search Engine Land for the information sourced in this article!
- Hosted on dedicated IP (IP shared with developer site is OK)
“Websites or blogs hosted along with dozens or hundreds of other websites generally hurts site performance and should be avoided.”
- Supports basic mobile-friendly range of view features
“Whether you choose to adopt a “mobile first” mind-set or not, being mobile-friendly should be a big part of your platform consideration. Two major elements of being deemed mobile-friendly:
- Pages specify a range of view matching the accessing device’s size.
- Contents of pages fit within the range of view.
In short, a platform that will support a responsive website is the shortest way of meeting these range of view requirements.”
- Allows (non-secure) JS and CSS to be indexed
- Supports canonical tag “rule sets” on all pages, specifically around sort, pagination and faceting.
“This is one of the most important elements of a site platform that people miss — does the platform support canonical tags? Probably so… but how easy is it to integrate advanced rules around, say, category facets? Does it follow Google’s advice on pagination?
Why is this important? Because canonicals allow you to eliminate duplicate and/or low-quality content that many platforms inevitably produce and, from an SEO point of view, it allows a site owner to direct the SEO “power” of those pages.”
- Supports ad hoc 301 redirect mapping
“The devil is in the details here. Most platforms allow webmasters to create 301 redirects. Many platforms insist that you do it through their GUI using a complicated table and row limits. Any ability to author individual redirects satisfies this requirement, but also look at the ease of their implementation.”
- Page URLs do not require SessionIDs
“The issue with sessionIDs in page URLs is that if the pages are not properly canonicalized and/or excluded within Google Search Console’s URL Parameters section, they commonly create duplicate content. Few platforms use sessionIDs in the URL any longer.”
- Supports a custom robots.txt file
“Having a robots.txt file that prevents indexation of cart and admin elements of a site is good, but being able to finely control directory and file-level permissions should also be something you ask of a website platform.”
- Automated XML Sitemap production (“one click” is OK)
“While it could be argued that a well-structured site does not need an XML sitemap to help search engines’ discovery of site pages, consider the following:
- It is a standard way of interacting with search engines through their webmaster tools utilities.
- It allows site owners to immediately call search engines’ attention to the existence of new URLs.
- An advanced XML sitemap allows a site owner to tie a URL to specific rich media and other attributes like lastmod and priority.”
- Supports navigation rendered in plain HTML text (links still clickable for users with JS, CSS and cookies disabled)
- Page URLs able to be customized on a per-page basis (or at least use syntax-based, real language to reference pages)
“Is this absolutely required to be successfully indexed and even to rank for key phrases? Strictly speaking, no. But Google does say the following:
Consider organizing your content so that URLs are constructed logically and in a manner that is most intelligible to humans (when possible, readable words rather than long ID numbers).
With that, I’d consider friendly URLs as key to a site’s SEO.”
- Navigation depth & inclusions able to be customized
“In other words, you should be able to choose to include (or not to include) subcategories in your top navigation. Similarly, retailers should have the ability to choose to not include an e-commerce category in top navigation.
Like the ability to customize page URLs, the ability to customize how the platform’s navigation links to your categories and subcategories is an important part of ensuring a good user experience. It also enables you to fine-tune your internal links.”
- Title tags able to be customized on a per-page basis
“Each page’s title tag should be unique and relevant to the page it represents. While it is true that auto-generating title tags based on category, subcategory, filters and the brand name may allow you to pass this “requirement,” it is common sense that, for advanced SEO, you should expect your platform of choice to allow you to customize each page’s title tag.”
- Meta description tags able to be customized on a per-page basis
“Same rationale as title tags”
- Content headers able to be customized on a per-page basis
“Same rationale as title tags and meta descriptions”
- Supports ability to create content pages “outside” of e-commerce/retail category and product pages
“While we aren’t insisting that an e-commerce platform be able to provide all features that a blogging platform provides (comments, for example), you should expect a platform to enable you to establish a template, insert content and effectively link to pages that aren’t in a product database. Moreover, if all platforms under consideration do allow that feature, ask yourself how difficult or “natural” the inclusion of non-retail elements will truly be.”
- Supports a custom 404 page (auto-generated but “friendly” is OK)
“Good user experience is a core part of Google’s Quality Guidelines. A custom 404 page not only helps satisfy that guideline, it may help “save” traffic from abandoning your site when they encounter a broken link.”
- Location pages able to be indexed at the individual store/location level (for companies with brick-and-mortar locations)
“It may be that your platform of choice doesn’t deal, specifically, with location pages or have a “Store Finder” widget. If they don’t, review the platform’s ability to include the third-party widget of your choice. If they do, make sure their widget is able to be spidered down to the individual store level — most notably, that there’s a clickable path from the Store Finder landing page to the individual stores.”
- Caters to more than one location or language (if applicable to your business)
“If your site is meant to target audiences in multiple markets, your website platform should include the following features to allow the site to be user friendly and prevent the perception of duplicate content:
- Supports a country/language selector (rendered in plain HTML).
- Country/language selector overrides any automated geolocation.
- Provides automated hreflang tagging either at the page level or within XML sitemaps.”
- AngularJS indexing
“If AngularJS is used, ensure body content can be indexed.”
If all of this is jargon to you, or you simply need SEO experts to implement this on your website, click here to get in touch with us today!
Cover Image Credit: Fi Darby