On the surface, the HTML form seems to be one of the least interesting and rewarding topics in web design. With a monumentally high time commitment for most forms, they just don’t seem to do much for their investment. A form can take hours upon hours to fully implement, and all that you have to show for it in the end is an automated means of registering people to a newsletter mailing list, or providing the user with some specific web page in response to search text. At times, it hardly seems worth it, but we also continue to do it out of our deeper knowledge that it enhances the user’s experience, thus making them more likely to become a future customer or client.
However, there is a nasty secret lurking in those text boxes and buttons: Web crawlers don’t know how to use forms. That means if your site uses a form to direct traffic to different parts of the website, a web crawler cannot see your entire site. This is one of the most common SEO problems when it comes to optimizing forms, and the results of such an optimization can be drastic. Here are some questions to ask yourself when developing forms for your website.
Does My Form Lead to A Page On My Website?
This is the first question for one simple reason: It is, by far, the most important question to ask about any given form. If a form is for registering for a newsletter, chances are good that it doesn’t lead to any new page on your website. While it might lead to a thank you page or a confirmation page, informing the user that they did, in fact, register for your newsletter, this is precisely the sort of page which a web crawler really doesn’t need to see. So for such forms, the answer to this question is “no.” In that case, such a form can safely be considered “optimized” for the purposes of SEO. However, when the answer to this question is “yes,” that’s when you need to keep digging.
Do I Have A Sitemap?
Sitemaps are a handy way to provide web crawlers (and interested users) access to every page on your website without navigating through forms. Most websites put the link to the sitemap in the footer of their site, and there is little reason to display it more prominently on your site. The goal of any sitemap is to give the web crawlers which come to your site an easy place to index as much information as possible about your company. By putting links to every page of your website on a single index, the web crawler is able to navigate your entire site with ease. Just make sure you are actually indexing every web page. If your website has a store locator form, for instance, each of your store results will need its own link in the site map to maximize your exposure to the web crawler.
If you have a lot of search-oriented forms, which direct traffic to different sections of your website based on an input, a sitemap is usually all you need to deliver this same content to web crawlers. However, if you have a sales-oriented form on your website (a quote request form, for instance), you also need to ask yourself one more question.
Do I Have Unique Confirmation Pages for Conversion Analysis?
Let me explain what I mean, as this is a somewhat complex topic to sum up in a single question. Most websites are more than just the information they provide—you want the customer to do something while they are there. This might be to call a phone number, or it might be to fill out a form, either to order your product or service or to request a quote. If you are looking to track each time someone fills out a specific form, you need to check a few things to ensure your form is sending all the right messages to Google Analytics.
The easiest way to ensure that Google Analytics are measuring your conversion rate correctly is to have confirmation page set up which is specific to the form. This requires that each “submit” button which you want to track clicks through to a unique page. Then you can make that unique page a goal in Google Analytics and you’re set. The same is true for any type of form which you want to track. A unique page makes it easy to track a unique action; a generic page makes it impossible.
These are just a few of the nuances which are associated with optimizing your website for search engines and analytics. The truth is that web forms are a rather interesting, vast feature of HTML. Thank you for letting us continue to provide exceptional support of these forms for your SEO and Google Analytics needs.