The beauty of search engine optimization (SEO) is that it's platform agnostic. Whatever platform a website is using, the basic rules of SEO still apply. Pages need to have Title Tags, Meta Descriptions, Images and Alt Text as well as good, relevant content.
While each instance may be set up differently, Sitecore SEO requires these same basic components, and Sitecore Experience Accelerator (SXA) makes it easy to edit pages to adhere to SEO best practices. SXA allows teams to work in tandem with other departments and eliminates the need to wait for a deployment before adding any content. This can make the development process more efficient and cost effective.
Design and SEO
Having a responsive design is a must if you want your website to rank well, and providing a great user experience across multiple devices is paramount if you want to successfully display your content. What many people may not know is that web design can affect many different aspects of a page's performance.
One of the more important factors used by Google to determine a page's ability to rank is page speed, which makes it a priority. While load sequence and plugins effect page speed as well, the two I'll focus on here are:
Image Size: images that are too large will take longer to load and create a poor user experience; compressing images or reducing the file size is a great way to help them load faster and improve the pages overall speed.
Navigation is not only how visitors navigate sites, it's also how search engine bots crawl content. Having a good, solid universal navigation will allow visitors to quickly and easily find the content they're looking for. If you're uncertain of how the nomenclature of the navigation should be laid out, refer to the internal site search keywords in Google Analytics. That will show you exactly what terms visitors are looking for within the site, and that information allows for accurately named navigation links.
Breadcrumbs are also important - depending on the depth of the site in question, breadcrumbs help users easily navigate to a previous category within the site. There can also be used as a point of reference in Google Tag Manager when implementing Schema breadcrumbs.
Content is ultimately the most important aspect of SEO, and Sitecore SEO is no different. If content is not compelling enough or does not answer a specific question, visitors will likely look for an answer or resolution elsewhere. Content and calls to action that appear above the fold (content that visitors can see without having to scroll) will have more of an impact in terms of performance as it is easier to see (humans) and crawl (bots).
Telling Search Engines When to Crawl Pages
Another important element of SEO is the XML sitemap. An XML sitemap is a protocol that tell search engines information about each page of a site: what URLs are to be crawled, the location of a page, how frequently they are updated, the last time they were updated and the priority of each page.
With SXA we can easily set the change frequency <changefreq> and the priority <priority>. The change frequency lets search engines know how often a page is updated so it knows how often to come back and recrawl that page. The priority option lets us set the importance of each page. On a scale from 0.1 to 1.0, 1.0 being the highest or most important, pages with a higher priority will likely be crawled more frequently.
So, how does this all tie in to SEO? With all the aforementioned aspects of SXA, we are able to quickly mark up each page with important elements of SEO. By adding title tags, meta descriptions, twitter cards and open graph elements on each page, we can control how our pages appear in the SERPs and on other platforms as well.
While SEO is an investment that takes time to manifest, Sitecore SXA makes it a lot easier to set up necessary aspects of SEO that are the building blocks to a great digital marketing strategy.