The Modern Toolbox for Advanced Technical SEO

Posted on Jul 25, 2018 - By Leesa Love

In the early years of website indexing, search engine optimization (SEO) was largely based on keyword frequency and Meta tags. Web developers and content writers worked hard to increase the search rankings of their sites, often by stuffing them with as many keywords as possible.

Since then, SEO has changed significantly. Search engines are steadily moving away from relevance and authority, and instead placing a greater emphasis on website performance and the human component. Now, web developers must shift their focus onto user experience (UX) as well.

These days, UX is becoming a major defining trait of SEO. Efforts must strike a balance between targeting human visitors and search engines. Having multiple backlinks leading to your website and a mass of keywords in your content is no longer enough to achieve a high search ranking. Search engines now pay attention to how users interact with your site, including the reviews they leave.

As SEO continues to evolve with new technology and user needs, elements like mobile friendliness are becoming more important. Other elements that impact UX signals, as well as SEO results, include:

  • Loading speed.
  • Site structure and navigation.
  • Content readability.
  • Server reliability.

Reworking the content on a website is just the first step to improving its UX signals and SEO rankings. In order to really get ahead of these changes to SEO practices, web developers need the right tools to help them improve site speed and crawl efficiency.

Building Your SEO Toolbox

Successful web developers rely on more than one tool to craft a high-quality and user-friendly website. In fact, it is a good idea to have multiple tools at your disposal in order to keep up with evolving SEO standards and user needs. Website auditors, crawlers and analyzers are all vital to making improvements in your website’s speed and crawl efficiency.

Many of the tools listed below have overlapping functions, but each also provides its own useful features. As a result, they all work together to create a detailed synopsis of your site’s functionality, UX and, ultimately, its SEO ranking.

Tools for Website Speed

The first tools you want to have in your arsenal are those that help improve website speed. Speed is often the first aspect that visitors notice about a website, as it has a significant effect on the UX. The longer your website takes to load, the more likely a user will leave in search of faster results.

Consequently, site speed heavily impacts SEO rankings, especially where mobile pages are concerned. Luckily, several tools have been developed that help address speed issues, including Chrome DevTools, Lighthouse and waterfall analysis.

  • Chrome DevTools is a Google software that analyzes site performance and speed. It provides detailed reports on how well and how fast a site is running, and it suggests ways to improve the speed as you go.
  • Lighthouse is an automated software that works with Chrome DevTools. It audits different facets of your website to give in-depth explanations of issues and explain their importance to the success of your website.
  • Waterfall analysis is more of a general tool, which concerns the process of interpreting a waterfall diagram. Waterfall diagrams provide a visual representation of how each part of a page loads and at what speed.

Tools for Crawl Efficiency

Crawl efficiency describes the ease with which search engine bots are able to scan your website for content. Similarly, it also reflects how easy it is for visitors to navigate your website. As such, the harder your website is to “crawl” or navigate, the lower its search ranking will be. Crawl efficiency has much to do with the way your website is structured and how well its parts function together. In order to improve overall crawl efficiency, you need to know your site’s crawl budget.

Every website’s crawl budget determines how much of the site a bot can scan before it has to move on. The more pages a bot crawls, the more pages get indexed in order to appear in search results. Unsurprisingly, this process favors small websites, which automatically have a high crawl efficiency.

However, there are tools you can use to improve your site’s crawl budget, regardless of size. This begins with website crawlers themselves. Web-crawling tools allow you to simulate how search engines crawl through your website. With tools like DeepCrawl and Sitebulb, you can identify ways to increase your site’s crawl budget and efficiency.

  • DeepCrawl is a tool that crawls your website and generates a crawl depth chart. This chart outlines how long it takes a bot to get to your most important content, and it suggests ways to improve this.
  • Sitebulb is a downloadable web crawler that markets itself as a comprehensive website-auditing tool. This software analyzes a lot of the data it gathers for you, which helps you find solutions quickly.

Up next in the SEO toolbox are log analyzers. The moment your website goes online, it begins generating mass amounts of data that report on how the site is running. As this collection of data grows, it becomes more difficult to sift through the information manually. Nevertheless, retaining the ability to evaluate this data is vital to improving your website. That is where log analysis tools come into play.

Log analyzers help sort through large amounts of data quickly and efficiently. This allows web developers to easily isolate problem areas and make development decisions based on concrete figures. Two log analyzers to consider include the following:

  • Botify: This log analyzer markets itself as the only available tool that evaluates advanced SEO situations. It is ideal for analyzing large log files and demonstrating how crawlers interact with your site.
  • Screaming Frog: Another downloadable software, Screaming Frog is great for storing and analyzing small log files, among many other uses. It shows how often each of your URLs is crawled to help find ways to adjust this.

Now that you have the tools to examine each individual aspect of your website, it is time to look at the bigger picture. Website structure visualizers allow web developers to examine how the pieces of a site fit together as a whole. Site structure and flow are vital to both UX and crawl efficiency.

The easier a site is to navigate, the more likely a user will return to it. Likewise, easy navigation allows bots to quickly identify the most important content on your site for proper indexing. Without this, you run the risk of spending your crawl budget on the least important content on your site. This is likely to result in a low search ranking. To prevent this, a popular tool for visualizing website structure is DYNO Mapper. DYNO Mapper provides a collaborative way to view and adjust website structures. The site uses its own crawler tool to scan your website and generate an interactive sitemap. This allows you and others to comment on and make adjustments to the site navigation with ease.