How to make your site more crawlable: the most effective ways

Time is the most valuable thing that a person has in the modern information world. People don't go to waste precious time. As a result, the average visitor reads approximately 20% of the content of the entire page.

Therefore, in order for a site to be successful, web designers and developers must put in their best efforts. First, you need to make sure that the web pages you create are as interesting as possible. 

Secondly, you need to find a way to highlight important information on any page. And third, every designer needs to create resources that are easy to use for modern clients.

By improving the crawl ability of sites, you provide users with the fast and convenient experience they sorely need.

So, how can a designer improve page crawl properties?

General principles for improving website crawlability

At first glance, the concept of creating a fast-crawling site in order to save time seems strange. Because most designers design websites that could get customers to stay on the page for as long as possible.

That's why it's not quite common to think about how to calculate the design in such a way that the user can navigate through the internal pages of the site in a matter of seconds.

However, the point of improving crawl ability is not only about providing the most important information and reducing the time spent on the page. 

An easily crawlable site allows customers to move through the buying funnel faster and easier. As practice has shown, a faster and more convenient path to purchase leads to a better user experience and more conversions.

Take, for example, the design of Netflix. The site does not provide interested users with a ton of information on their home page. 

Instead, the product's unique selling proposition is highlighted in bold in the center of the screen. Also on the main page is one concise call to action: “Get Started”.

Designing for scannability means users can look around the screen and instantly get all the information they need. This way, they will be much closer to taking the next step in their purchase journey.

This approach eliminates the need for scrolling and lengthy site analysis.

According to analyst Jakob Nielsen, crawlability is an extremely important property of a modern website. People are always looking for specific things on the pages they visit.

Customers won't read every word that fits your product description. Instead, they skim the content, extracting the information that suits their requirements.

Questions to help you design a more crawlable site

So, how do you know how well your page is being crawled?

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What are the intentions of the people who land on this page?
  • What information should be given first?
  • Can the visitor immediately see the next step on the path to the desired action?
For example, when a visitor visits the Evernote home page, you can assume they want to:
  • Learn about Evernote;
  • Find out how to register on the site;
  • Go to other pages to learn more about features or get contact information.

That's why the designer of the Evernote site put the most useful information at the top of the page. The main phrase provides the client with an understanding of the essence of the product: "Organize your work and plan your life." The brief informational paragraph at the bottom provides a few more details, and if the customer is interested, there is a direct call to action below: "Sign up for free."

The call to action not only tells users what to do next but also gives them the most important information that the service is free to use.

Easily crawlable pages are useful because:

  • They help users complete their tasks faster. It doesn't matter if you want to register or learn more about a product, everything you need is always available on the first screen, without having to scroll.
  • High scannability reduces the bounce rate. Customers will not get confused and will not click the “Back” arrow. And this, in turn, is good for your client's SEO and their profits.
  • The site looks and feels more reliable. Since customers get all the answers to their questions right away, they are more likely to trust the site.

So, what to do to make the site as crawlable as possible?

Use visual hierarchy

Visual hierarchy is a way of organizing content on a site according to how people are used to using it. For example, if you land on a blog page, you expect to see the title first, then the author information or other important information, followed by the main content.

While you might be tempted to surprise users with new visual strategies, the best way to make content more crawlable is to give the end user exactly what they expect.

If you don't know what a particular type of page should look like, research competitors' designs.

One of the most obvious visual hierarchy rules is that the main navigation should always be at the top of the page.

Customers are already accustomed to the fact that site navigation is carried out at the top of the page. They should not be scrolling through the site looking for a way to get to another page. If you want to make it as easy as possible to navigate from one page to another, you can pin the navigation bar so that it remains accessible as you scroll through the site.

Save negative space

White space, or the so-called negative space, is the part of the design that is left empty.

White space is a critical part of the design. It gives users the opportunity to take a breath while scanning the page.

If you remove the negative space, the page will no longer be scannable, since the heap of text and images does not allow you to perceive the information properly.

Notice the large gaps between each item in the Forbes post. Sufficient negative space on the site ensures that users can quickly obtain general information and use it to make decisions about future actions.

To make sure you have enough negative space on your site's pages, ask yourself what are the key elements that catch your eye when you visit your site. The main elements of the page should be:

  • Title or heading confirming that the user is in the right place;
  • CTA, which shows the user possible actions;
  • The navigation bar or menu;
  • Highlighted information, including information about the content of the page or an excerpt from the publication they are about to read;
  • Visual Component: A photo or image that displays the specifics of the page.

Everything else that can interfere with page scanning can be easily removed. So, for example, if Forbes wants to make the page more crawlable, they can easily remove the ads and social share buttons.

Make the next step clear

Each page of the site has its own place in the hierarchy because it has a certain role in the process of interaction with the client.

The home page takes the customer to the product page, which in turn leads to the checkout page. This is followed by a thank you page, and at the end, the user has redirected either back to the home page or to another product page.

When designing a site that is easy to crawl, it's important to make the user journey as clear as possible. Therefore, you should always place a call to action at the top of the page. So the buyer will be immediately notified of the next step.

Ideally, crawlable pages should only have one call to action. This will remove the likelihood that the user will get confused, or take a long time to make a choice.

However, if you have multiple calls to action, focus on the one you think the visitor needs to see first.

If there are too many buttons, you can place the CTA lower on the page so that when the user scrolls, they see other options for the next step.

Test every page

Testing crawl rates means examining every page and making sure it's as easy as possible for customers to navigate their path to purchase. It is important to make this path enjoyable and give the user a choice so that he can spend exactly as much time on this process as he sees fit.

Imagine being a site user and going all the way to see how fast you can get from point A to point B. Here are some of the common issues that can slow down the customer journey and lower crawl rates:

  • ReadabilityHow readable is the font? Is it big enough? How readable is it on various devices, from a computer to a smartphone? These characteristics determine how quickly and intuitively users can understand what is happening on each page. Keep in mind that background color, the amount of negative space around text boxes, and even font pairing can affect the readability of content. Show the site to several people and record the amount of time it takes them to understand the main message of a particular page.
  • Additional itemsAdditional visuals and elements can make your pages more intriguing, but they can also slow down users. For example, an image at the top of a blog page can be a great addition to an article. While an image slideshow will delay the client and spend more time exploring the top of the page.
  • Numbers instead of words. Studies have shown that numbers are more attractive to users. They are compact and most often associated with statistics and facts, so they are more effective in attracting attention. If you want to get important points across to end users quickly, use numbers instead of words.

Create easily scannable pages

Making websites easier to crawl is becoming an increasingly important concept in an information-overloaded world.

Now that more customers are browsing on their smartphones or exploring products on the go, designers need to be more thoughtful when designing modern web pages.

Easy-to-crawl pages that move users through the purchase cycle immediately and clearly demonstrate the next steps will bring better results to your customers. Accordingly, you will remain only in the black. 

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