Rankability Checklist for Technical SEO
Let’s move to the next step Rankability checklist, of our The Ultimate Guide to Technical SEO checklist. After Crawlability Checklist for Technical SEO, Indexability Checklist for Technical SEO and Renderability Checklist. Now we move to the more topical elements that you’re probably already aware of — how to improve ranking from a technical SEO standpoint. Getting your pages to rank involves some of the on-page and off-page elements that we mentioned before but from a technical lens.
Remember that all of these elements work together to create an SEO-friendly site. So, we’d be remiss to leave out all the contributing factors. Let’s dive into it.
Internal and External Linking
Links help search bots understand where a page fits in the grand scheme of a query and gives context for how to rank that page. Links guide search bots (and users) to related content and transfer page importance. Overall, linking improves crawling, indexing, and your ability to rank.
Backlinks — links from other sites back to your own — provide a vote of confidence for your site. They tell search bots that External Website A believes your page is high-quality and worth crawling. As these votes add up, search bots notice and treat your site as more credible. Sounds like a great deal right? However, as with most great things, there’s a caveat. The quality of those backlinks matter, a lot.
Links from low-quality sites can actually hurt your rankings. There are many ways to get quality backlinks to your site, like outreach to relevant publications, claiming unlinked mentions, providing relevant publications, claiming unlinked mentions, and providing helpful content that other sites want to link to.
We at HubSpot have not been shy about our love for content clusters or how they contribute to organic growth. Content clusters link related content so search bots can easily find, crawl, and index all of the pages you own on a particular topic. They act as a self-promotion tool to show search engines how much you know about a topic, so they are more likely to rank your site as an authority for any related search query.
Your rankability is the main determinant in organic traffic growth because studies show that searchers are more likely to click on the top three search results on SERPs. But how do you ensure that yours is the result that gets clicked?
Let’s round this out with the final piece to the organic traffic pyramid: clickability.
While click-through rate (CTR) has everything to do with searcher behaviour, there are things you can do to improve your clickability on the SERPs. While meta descriptions and page titles with keywords do impact CTR, we’re going to focus on the technical elements because that’s why you’re here.
- Use structured data.
- Win SERP features.
- Optimize for Featured Snippets.
- Consider Google Discover.
Ranking and click-through rate go hand-in-hand because, let’s be honest, searchers want immediate answers. The more your result stands out on the SERP, the more likely you’ll get the click. Let’s go over a few ways to improve your clickability.
1. Use structured data.
Structured data employs a specific vocabulary called schema to categorize and label elements on your webpage for search bots. The schema makes it crystal clear what each element is, how it relates to your site, and how to interpret it. Basically, structured data tells bots, “This is a video,” “This is a product,” or “This is a recipe,” leaving no room for interpretation.
To be clear, using structured data is not a “clickability factor” (if there even is such a thing), but it does help organize your content in a way that makes it easy for search bots to understand, index, and potentially rank your pages.
2. Win SERP features.
SERP features, otherwise known as rich results, are a double-edged sword. If you win them and get the click-through, you’re golden. If not, your organic results are pushed down the page beneath sponsored ads, text answer boxes, video carousels, and the like.
Rich results are those elements that don’t follow the page title, URL, meta description format of other search results. For example, the image below shows two SERP features — a video carousel and “People Also Ask” box — above the first organic result.
While you can still get clicks from appearing in the top organic results, your chances are greatly improved with rich results.
How do you increase your chances of earning rich results? Write useful content and use structured data. The easier it is for search bots to understand the elements of your site, the better your chances of getting a rich result.
Structured data is useful for getting these (and other search gallery elements) from your site to the top of the SERPs, thereby, increasing the probability of a click-through:
- FAQs (“People Also Ask” boxes)
- Local Business Listings
3. Optimize for Featured Snippets.
One unicorn SERP feature that has nothing to do with schema markup is Featured Snippets, those boxes above the search results that provide concise answers to search queries.
Featured Snippets are intended to get searchers the answers to their queries as quickly as possible. According to Google, providing the best answer to the searcher’s query is the only way to win a snippet. However, HubSpot’s research revealed a few additional ways to optimize your content for featured snippets.
4. Consider Google Discover.
Google Discover is a relatively new algorithmic listing of content by category specifically for mobile users. It’s no secret that Google has been doubling down on the mobile experience; with over 50% of searches coming from mobile, it’s no surprise either. The tool allows users to build a library of content by selecting categories of interest (think: gardening, music, or politics).
At HubSpot, we believe topic clustering can increase the likelihood of Google Discover inclusion and are actively monitoring our Google Discover traffic in Google Search Console to determine the validity of that hypothesis. We recommend that you also invest some time in researching this new feature. The payoff is a highly engaged user base that has basically hand-selected the content you’ve worked hard to create.
The Perfect Trio
Technical SEO, on-page SEO, and off-page SEO work together to unlock the door to organic traffic. While on-page and off-page techniques are often the first to be deployed, technical SEO plays a critical role in getting your site to the top of the search results and your content in front of your ideal audience. Use these technical tactics to round out your SEO strategy and watch the results unfold.