Technical SEO – Javascript, Scheme, Usability and Mobile

Google aims to serve its users with high-quality sites which quickly answer their query. Consequently, it has started to consider a range of factors related to the site’s performance and technical architecture. Since the technical structure can have a massive impact on its performance, it is essential to understand the factors that can affect performance.

JavaScript

Most websites use JavaScript to add interactivity and improve the user experience. It is commonly used in menus as well as pulling in products or prices. The dynamic nature of JavaScript, however, has historically caused issues with search engine crawling. If Google cannot access the menus on a site, it may have difficulties reading the content.

Google has stated that, if you are not blocking the Googlebot from crawling your JavaScript files, they can read JavaScript as a browser can. However, it can take Google longer to index JavaScript content. It is best to check that Google can read your pages correctly. This can be done from within Google Search Console using their URL Inspection Tool.

Schema

Schema is a way to label or organise your content so that search engines can better understand what some aspects of your web pages are. Schema provides structure to your data, which is why it is often referred to as ‘structured data’. The process of structuring data is often referred to as ‘markup’ because you are marking up your content with organisational code.

JSON-LD is Google’s preferred schema markup which Bing also supports. To view a complete list of the thousands of available schema markups, visit Schema.org. Besides helping bots like Google understand what a particular piece of content is about, schema markup can also enable rich snippets (mentioned above) to accompany your pages in the SERPs.

Page Load Speed and Usability

As well as being vital factors in your site’s conversion rate, page speed and website usability are also ranking factors considered by Google. These factors are combined into Google’s Core Web Vitals measures which available in the Google search console.

To benchmark your site’s performance, use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool and measure your page speed and identify improvement opportunities.

Mobile Friendliness

In 2020 mobile internet usage exceeded desktop usage for the first time. In response to this, as of March 2021, Google will stop indexing desktop versions of a website and only index mobile-friendly sites. Making your website compatible with mobile screens is necessary for maintaining search performance and is good for users who access sites via mobiles. To ensure a good mobile experience, Website owners should implement the following:

  • Responsive design. Responsive websites are designed to adjust to the size of the user’s screen.

AMP. Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) are used to deliver content to mobile visitors at greater speeds

Interview with Jamie Riddell from Escaping Gravity

Jamie Riddell has been at the forefront of Search Engine Optimisation for over 20 years and his latest venture is Escaping Gravity, a Global SEO agency for Challenger brands.

SEO was one of the first things which got me excited about eCommerce, so it was great to discuss the latest developments with Jamie.

Amongst other things, we chatted about:

  • Over the last few years, paid search results are taking up more space on the SERPs.  Does that mean that natural search is less important for retailers?
  • I notice that Amazon seems to appear prominently in the SERPs for product-related searches.  Is it becoming more difficult for ‘challenger brands’ to make an impact?  Is it a case of the Matthew effect (‘For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away.’)
  • Should SEO have a higher ROI than other (paid) forms of online promotion?
  • How important is getting excellent quality links vs creating great content?
  • Google is implementing core web metrics soon, how much effect do you think this will have on retailers, may of which have slow sites 
  • What has inspired you recently?

Chloe Thomas – Ecommerce MasterPlan Ecommerce Odyssey Podcast

Our latest podcast interview is with the wonderful Chloe Thomas from eCommerce MasterPlan. Chloe runs a successful eCommerce Podcast as well as being a writer of several books and a speaker.We talked about:Tell us about what you do?How did you get started?How do you describe yourself – a writer, podcaster, ecommerce nerd?You work with a number of channels e.g. podcast, books etc. Which gets the best engagement?Which do you enjoy most?How long do you think it requires to get traction with a podcast/training business?What has inspired you recently?If you have time I recommend checking out the eCommerce MasterPlan podcast and also her other podcast Keep OptimisingChloe was talking to Trevor Ginn from vendlab.com, an eCommerce agency specialising in online marketplaces and e-commerce sales platforms.
  1. Chloe Thomas – Ecommerce MasterPlan
  2. Rosie Bailey from Nibble – Negotiation Chatbot
  3. Interview with Neil Twa from Voltage Direct Marketing
  4. Interview with Dr Traffic – Social Media Agency
  5. Interview with Dan Marsland from Payoneer – Online Payment Provider

How Search Engines Work

Search engines perform a marvelous feat. Based on a text query, they produce a list of (usually) relevant results from the billions of pages on the World Wide Web. Moreover, they do this at lightning speed, with search results appearing as your type.

Crawling and Indexing

Search engines do not achieve this by searching the web, but a massive database of the web’s content called the search engine’s ‘index’. This database holds information about the content of millions of websites (e.g., text, images, videos) and their links. The search engines use automated programs called robots (a.k.a. spiders, bots or crawlers) to investigate new websites and record any changes which have occurred to pages already in their index. This process is known as crawling. New content will be discovered by following links.

Ranking

When someone performs a search, search engines will interrogate their index for the most relevant content for that query and present that to the user. The ordering of results by relevance is referred to as ranking. A search engine’s method of indexing the web and producing a list of results for a given query is referred to as its ‘algorithm’ and is a closely guarded secret. Algorithms are complex and look at multiple factors when deciding on the ranking for each query. Industry experts now believe that Google uses over 200 ranking factors when compiling results. Ranking factors include:

Quality and Quantity of Links

Using link relationships was Google’s great insight that enabled it to build a much better search engine than the competition. Instead of just looking at the content of a site, Google considered links. A link was treated liked a vote, with content with more incoming links ranking higher. 

Links are not created equal, and links from more established sites will improve ranking more. All other things being equal, the more natural backlinks you have from trusted, high-authority websites, the better your chances of ranking higher within search results.

Content Relevancy

Your page’s rank for a query is decided by how well your page’s content matches Google’s perception of the searcher’s intent. The process of ‘On-Page Optimisation’ involves researching the best keywords to target your site pages and creating content that utilises these keywords.

Performance Metrics

Google is constantly revising its search results in light performance data. It uses performance metrics such as click-through rate and time on site and machine learning techniques to tweak its search results in real-time to produce more relevant results.

For example, if a lower result is getting more clicks than the higher result, it will judge that it is more relevant and move that result up the list to respond to user behaviour.

The Search Engine Results Page (SERPs)

Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) are web pages displayed to users when they search online using a search engine, such as Google. The user enters their search query, and the search engine then presents them with a Search Engine Results Page (SERP).

Before optimising your website, you should understand how it might be displayed in the search results. Understanding the layout of a search result page can help you create content that encourages users to click your link. The SERPs now have dozens of features, but the most critical distinction is between ‘paid’ and ‘organic’ results and paid results.

The natural (or organic) search results are the listings of web pages generated by the search engine’s algorithm. The paid results are from advertisers bidding on keywords on Google Ads. Although Google Ads take ad relevancy into account, how much the advertiser is willing to pay is the most significant factor.

In the following figure, the results on the left are all organic:

On the right is the ‘knowledge graph’ (see below). A standard organic search result includes:

  • Page title (title tag)
  • Page URL
  • Meta description

It may also include specific organic snippets such as sitelinks.

Title

This is the title tag for the page which is defined in the page’s HTML between the <title></title> tags. The title is the first and often only part of your search result that is read. It should short and relevant while still giving enough information to provide the user with a good grasp of what the page is about. Keep it short as Google will trim title tags over 70 characters.

Sitelinks

Sitelinks are links that sometimes appear in the results below a listing’s URL and meta description. Each Sitelink links to a leaf page within the current website and has a title and description. Sitelinks are more likely to appear in searches suggesting clear brand intent (e.g., searches for domains or brand names).

You cannot directly control the appearance of Sitelinks. Google’s algorithm decides whether there are relevant Sitelinks on a website and whether to show them.

URL

Your URLs should be relevant and short whilst still supplying enough information to display what the page is about.

Snippet

The snippet is the page’s description and is limited to about 156 characters. While the snippet may be the page’s meta description, Google sometimes compiles the snippet from page content. This enables Google to customise the snippet to each search query.

Rich Snippets

Rich Snippets provide extra information to answer a query, such as a photo or a star rating. Adding structured data to your site can increase your chances of having a rich snippet displayed alongside your search results. A rich snippet looks like this:

This snippet contains a picture of the ice cream, a list of ingredients and other details.

SERP Features

SERP features can be paid, natural, or pulled directly from Google’s Knowledge Graph. Popular features include:

  • Featured snippets. These show a content snippet from a top-ranking web page. They appear at the top of the search results.
  • Knowledge card. This appears at the top of the results and offer a short, answer to a query.
  • Knowledge Panel. Panels provide information about the main topic of the query. They appear near the top of the results on mobile and the right-hand side on the desktop.
  • Image Pack. Image Packs show a number of thumbnails and clicking on them takes you to Google Images.
  • Top stories. Top stories carousels show recently published articles, live blogs, and videos.

Google maps

Google Maps provides local information for places around the world. Google maps data often appears in search results, especially for local queries. It includes information such as aerial maps, road maps, street view maps taken from Google vehicles.

Adding your business to Google My Business is free and especially important for companies with local customers such as physical shops. By creating a Google My Business profile, your business information will appear in relevant local searches, generating free traffic for your business.