The API is a powerful but often overlooked opportunity for searchability and visibility. Getting your content into a format that it can be indexed by search engines can make a huge difference on your business, e.g. your inbound marketing. An API can also be used by other developers to create new apps based on your data, or even create new content directly from their applications.
This article will explain how APIs work and how they can be used to make your web pages more visible in the SERPs (search engine results pages).
Avoid using dynamic content in your API responses.
When building a REST API, using dynamic content in your responses is tempting. For example, maybe you want to return the latest comments on a blog post or the latest news stories from an RSS feed. However, doing so will make your API more difficult for search engines such as Google to index because they won’t be able to crawl and understand what each response means without accessing a separate source of information (like your website).
Instead of using dynamic content in your API responses, try using static data, as it will make things easier to read! If necessary, use a cache service like Cloudflare Workers or Fastly’s Edge Cache (both free) so that search engines can access cached copies of these resources rather than having access only through direct links within their websites.
Serve a JSON-LD alternate representation.
JSON-LD is a standard for describing your data in JSON format. As Google supports JSON-LD, it is important to make sure you’re using this format.
When using JSON-LD with your API, there are two main benefits:
- It allows search engines to better understand the content of your API without having to parse all of its responses manually. This means that when users search for something related to what’s contained within an API response, they’ll see more relevant results from other websites rather than just yours–and this can help boost user engagement!
- It provides additional information about each resource (e.g., products) that may not be easily available through normal usage patterns alone because most APIs only provide access via GET requests (i.e., no POST/PUT methods).
Add a sitemap.xml file to your API server and ensure it has the right directives.
Sitemap.xml is a file that describes the URLs on your site. You can use it to optimize the crawling and indexing of your content, as well as to provide information about the nature of your content, like whether it’s XML or JSON, if it’s an API endpoint, whether you have pagination, etc.
You should add this file directly to the root directory of your API server so that search engines know where to find it (if they don’t already). You should also ensure that there are no duplicate sitemaps on any subdomains or subdirectories–for example: if http://www/sitemap_v2_3/ exists but not http://www/.well-known/sitemap_v2_3/. Only one version will get picked up by Googlebot (or other crawlers) when they crawl through those paths later!
In addition to adding directives such as “index” or “noindex,” we recommend adding some basic information about what kind of resource each URL represents using HTTP headers like Content-Type and X-Robots-Tag; these will help search engines understand how best to show results for those particular pages within their platforms.”
Publish your API on a domain that will be easy for search bots to crawl.
- Your API’s domain should be crawlable.
- Avoid redirects, if possible.
- Use a domain name that matches your brand or business name, and ensure it’s as short and descriptive as possible.
- If you can’t get a subdomain, consider using a CNAME record instead of an A record for your RESTful API; this will keep Google from seeing it as a separate site (and thus having to crawl the entire site) but will still allow bots access to all of its resources on their subdomains (e.g., /API/, /products/, etc.).
If you change domains after publishing an API, use 301 redirects so search engines don’t think they’ve been hacked or abandoned!
Use the HTTP status codes appropriate for the request types you’re handling, or risk confusing search engines about what’s happening with your API.
The HTTP status code is a simple way to tell search engines what’s happening with your API. If the request was successful, use 200 OK. If it wasn’t successful, use 500 Internal Server Error (or another appropriate error code).
You can find more information about HTTP status codes here: http://www.w3schools.com/http/httpstatuscodes_m_00001c_index2html
Search engine-friendly API development can help SEO
- Use the right HTTP status codes.
- Use JSON-LD to signal information about your API and its contents.
- Add a sitemap.xml file to help search engines discover the URLs of all your pages and assets, such as images or scripts that are part of your site but not linked from other pages on the site (for example, in blog posts).
- Publish on a domain that is easy for search bots to crawl (e.g., “example-API” instead of “https://example-api/” or “ipbase.com” ).
Web APIs are powerful but often overlooked opportunities for searchability and visibility.