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5 Effective Technical SEO Strategies for Sites Under 500K URLs

 min to read
March 7, 2024
Leslie Ramey
Director, Solutions Consulting US
last updated on
July 3, 2024

Your team has a well-executed SEO content plan. Every keyword, topic, and visual has been carefully selected for each page on your website to drive traffic, increase revenue, and hit your KPIs.

But will you get found in search engine results?

The hard work you put into your website could be wasted if you’re not factoring technical SEO into your plan. If your website isn’t following technical SEO best practices, it won’t rank.

SEO strategies for smaller websites have historically focused on on-page and content optimization. Both pillars are effective and necessary for smaller websites (those under a million pages). Although, while this is an effective strategy, it can also be very limiting. Content can take weeks to create, edit, and publish, even with the advancement in AI technologies.

Stopping with these two pillars means there are often untapped opportunities to drive organic traffic with technical optimizations. In fact, an argument can be made that technical SEO for smaller websites may drive greater and faster organic growth.

While on-page and content optimizations allow targeting very specific keywords and consumers in precise phases of the buying cycle, technical SEO raises all ships. SEOs at smaller brands usually spend most of their time focused on creating content briefs but could benefit from some key technical SEO projects that have scalable driving power. After all, if Google doesn’t crawl the pages you optimized the content for, they’ll never rank.

Technical SEO doesn’t have to be complex. It can easily be added to your daily to-do list. To get you started, here are five effective SEO tactics we’ve put together for sites that have less than 500K URLs.

1. XML Sitemap Optimization

XML sitemaps are a common strategy for on-page SEOs. They are critical for creating a clear path for search engines to find and crawl all your URLs.

XML sitemaps are often automated or only reviewed once a year. This can create holes that can prevent search engines from finding new content. SEOs should make the time to review their XML sitemaps as often as new pages/content are created.

If you are an e-commerce site, however, plan on auditing your XML sitemaps monthly. Products come and go, and the last thing you want is to give Google the URL of a page that has been moved or retired. The sitemaps should only contain indexable, clean URLs.

Botify - Sitemaps

Here are some tips for optimizing XML sitemaps that will make the process easier:

  • Ensure only URLs with a 2XX http status code are listed
  • Only include parent or noncanonical pages
  • Check that all strategic pages are listed in the sitemap
  • Do not link to pages that have a “no index” tag or are blocked by robots.txt
  • XML sitemaps should have fewer than 50,000 URLs
    • Create sitemaps by segments: product pages, category pages, supporting documentation if you have more URLs
  • Resubmit updated sitemaps in Google Search Console

Keeping accurate and clean XML sitemaps helps search engines crawl your website and ensure that your most strategic and optimized pages are being seen.

2. Schema Markup

One of the bigger challenges for SEOs working on smaller brands or sites is access to engineering resources. Often in these cases, SEOs’ requests take a lot of time to complete because a small dev team is responsible for the entire website’s upkeep and improvements. These teams often seek to scale their websites, which means using lots of tools and plugins, such as JavaScript or other complex programming.

As a result, it is not uncommon for Google to struggle to understand the content of smaller sites’ pages and, therefore, index them. The problem is that if Google can’t access content and links, they can’t show those pages to users.

That’s where schema markups come in. They clearly define key details on a page so that search engines can understand, categorize, and properly index these pages.

If you have only one opportunity to submit a technical ticket, let this be that project.

These three tips will make implementing schema easy:

  • Use JSON-LD format (it’s recommended by Google)
  • Check and verify the format is correct using the URL inspection tool
  • Nest items that have multiple markups, such as recipes or products with reviews

Clearly defining your company’s products, services, and important details helps search engines to easily categorize your pages.

3. HTTP Audit

Smaller websites and brands often have smaller SEO teams, too. A one- or two-person SEO team could be responsible for multiple website migrations a year. These changes, while important for driving business goals, also create big challenges.

For example, when changing the URL of a page, the SEO team will create a 301 redirect map to ensure consumers see the right content. Unfortunately, search engines can struggle to follow these maps, producing delays in indexing the new pages.

Some log analysis has shown that Google will crawl 3XX pages 8 times more than 2xx pages. These pages are usually fast, so Google can cycle through them quickly. With limited resources, those could be the only pages Google can crawl when they visit your website.

SEOs can easily audit HTTP codes with these three easy steps:

  • Use a crawler to identify all the HTTP codes of your pages
  • Uncover all links that point to non-200 URLs
  • Work with developers to remove links or change them to point to the proper pages
Botify - HTTP code distribution
Botify - Inlinks by HTTP status code

Since Google usually can crawl most of the pages on smaller sites, it is critical that they have a seamless experience. Ensuring clean internal linking to strategic pages improves overall quality scores.

4. Duplicate Pages Clean Up

As mentioned above, Google is usually quite successful in crawling smaller websites effectively. This means that your entire site will be considered when assessing your quality score. Then, the challenge becomes ensuring your website isn’t overrun with duplicate content or repetitive pages.

Websites that have been around for a while may inadvertently create highly similar or duplicate content by accident. It’s just the nature of driving organic traffic through a content SEO program.

Employing canonical tags can help ensure search engines understand you are aware that pages are highly similar. Ensuring that Google is honoring your canonical tags is a prime example of an area of opportunity often overlooked for smaller sites. Performing reviews of the whole website’s content and applying canonical clean-up or page pruning can have a major impact.

Duplicate page clean-up can be accomplished quickly using these tips:

  • Using a crawler that can identify duplicated content is critical here (this project cannot be completed without a tool).
  • Compare traffic to duplicative pages; is Google preferring a different page than you? Does it make sense to change a canonical to match their choice?
  • Are canonicals the best treatment? Should the page be retired or used to create a content hub?
  • Review Google Search Console to see what canonicals Google is overwriting.
Botify - Duplicate Content

Creating a clean site serves two big functions: First, you prove to search engines that you are the expert on your topic without overwhelming users with repetitive content, and second, you enable users to easily get the answers they need to convert them to customers.

5. Weekly Health Checks

Being an SEO is no easy task. You are often given a huge to-do list with limited resources while also trying to manage the monster that is Google’s never-ending algorithm updates

The struggle is real and daunting. Creating a health checklist and monitoring key performance indicators can be the difference between catching an issue as it happens versus catching it a month later and only then solving the issue.

Enterprise-size websites often have one person whose entire job is to do this monitoring. Some tools also allow for real-time monitoring.

Botify AlertPanel

If you do not have access to a tool, then a simple spreadsheet completed by the team every week can go a long way in ensuring continued growth.

Follow these four steps for creating weekly health checks:

  • Track KPIs that are important to your business
    • Impressions, Clicks, CTR, Active Pages
  • Monitor Google search console for the number of indexed pages
  • Track canonicals and “no robots” pages that Google is overreading
  • Verify XML sitemaps are up to date and are being crawled

Creating and tracking your website’s health weekly ensures that your hard work will continue to pay off. With limited resources for both small SEO teams and Google websites with under 500K URLs, you need to ensure they provide the best crawling experience possible. While on-page and content optimizations have their place, technical SEO provides scalable results faster. Employing a few basic strategies can drive traffic to the website at incredibly rapid rates.

Start Improving Technical SEO Optimization Today

Ready to start improving the discoverability of your website through technical SEO optimization? Get in touch to get insight into the five most impactful optimizations you can implement today.

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