What is Technical SEO?
Most people don’t know that the first search engine page alone accounts for 67.60% of all clicks. Technical Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of optimizing all website technology, to increase the ranking of pages on various search engines, like Google. The easier it is for a search engine to crawl and understand your material, the higher you will appear on the search results. Technical SEO is unique, as it focuses entirely on optimizing technical aspects of the SEO process to get the desired results, while off-page SEO focuses squarely on using other channels to achieve more prominent search results.
Why Is Technical SEO Important?
Search engines like Google rank pages and content based on how easy they are to understand, how unique the content is, and the search engines’ ability to find, crawl, render and index your web pages. You may have the best content or product, but without technical SEO, your page simply won’t rank high on Google searches.
Technical SEO Checklist: How Do You Know When Your Site is Optimized?
Like anything worthwhile, technical SEO requires a great deal of planning and regular updates and development. Search engines prefer websites that load quickly, are secure, and have a more responsive design. So how do you know when you’ve finally achieved your technical SEO goals? This technical SEO checklist sets out several easy guidelines to follow on your SEO journey, proven to cater to the needs of search engine algorithms.
Speed Up Your Website
Back in 2016, 53% of website visitors would leave a webpage if it didn’t load within 3 seconds. These already high expectations have gotten even higher – leading to disaster for slow or poorly designed websites. Search engines are the first to know when your web page offers a poor user experience, and therefore won’t risk their own credibility with customers, by linking them to unsatisfying content.
Is your page fast enough? An easy way to test the speed of your site is through an open-source site-speed tester. Most reputable testing sites will even give you advice on where you can improve your site. There are several ways to speed up your site easily and quickly, including:
- Find a faster host!
- Use a fast DNS (‘domain name system’) provider
- Minimize ‘HTTP requests’ by keeping scripts and plugins to a minimum
- Choose one CSS stylesheet, over multiple CSS stylesheets or inline CSS
- Resize image files to be as small as possible
- Compress web pages
- Simplify your site by removing unnecessary spaces, lines or indentions in your content
Secure Your Website with an SSL Certificate
Online security has been increasingly important this year, with remote work, delayed detection and response, gaps in information security and a massive influx of cyber-criminals, making the internet a minefield for malware. It’s important to use an SSL Certificate to signal to search engines that your site users and their personal information is all safe. With an SSL Certificate, you can implement HTTPS on your site, a prefix Google looks for to determine the security capabilities of a website. If a search engine must take extra steps to verify the security of your website, it’s more likely other sites with more robust and apparent security measures will appear before your site on the search rankings.
On the left-hand side of the search bar on your internet browser, if you see a closed lock icon, your site is safe. If you see the words “not secure,” you are not safe, and neither are your users! If your website URL starts with a ‘https://’ (rather than ‘http://.’), you are secure and ready to go! If you find your site still needs some work to meet security standards, start by installing an SSL Certificate on your website – and watch as search engines and customers stop ignoring your site!
Avoid Duplicate Content
Creating and publishing unique content on your site is another great way to impress a search engine. If your site is littered with multiple pages displaying the same content (duplicated product descriptions or blog articles included), search engines might get confused about how to rank your pages. The most common result of this issue is that all pages displaying duplicate content will be ranked lower, and all together, meaning all your info is clustered well off the all-important first page.
Turn this issue on its head easily, by not publishing duplicate content of any kind, or by getting rid of printer-friendly versions of your content. Some businesses even use a “canonical link element” to show search engines where the “primary version” of your content is on the site, and link directly to it.
Make Your Website Mobile-Friendly
6.4 billion people worldwide own and use smartphones for everything from keeping in touch with work or family, to book holidays and to make purchases. A more “responsive” website design means easier navigation for mobile users. Google recently announced their move to a “mobile first” approach, a plan to prioritize sites that have been optimized for mobile – a directive that we assume came directly down from their end users.
You don’t want to penalize your customers for using their own devices, meaning it’s critical that your site be optimized for as many devices as possible.
Add an XML Sitemap to Your Website
An XML sitemap is essentially a map of your site and all the pages linked to it. Search engines use this map to search your site for specific content. An XML sitemap is often divided into categories of posts, pages and even tags or images, including the last time content was updated for every page.
Most sites are created using an XML sitemap automatically, but if your site is old, not updated frequently, or neglected, you might need to make use of an open-source sitemap generator like Slickplan, Dynomapper, or Writemaps.
Add Structured Data Markup to Your Website
Finally, ensure that search engines can understand your website and business better, by employing structured data markup to your website. This function will tell search engines what products you sell or what your site is all about. This part should be easy, due to the fixed format used to provide this information. Examples of where you can see this at work are with the “FAQ” section of a website, where each question and answer is formatted carefully and uniformly, for easy search engine discovery. In short, search engines love organization – and that should be key in your technical SEO goals.
Many businesses take advantage of the “rich snippets” section available with structured data, where you can add useful and vital information like prices or reviews – information now available on the search engine search results page. This type of information is easy, fast and appealing to users, proven to increase your click-through rate (CTR) over time.
Technical SEO is a complex concept with a surprisingly simple solution. The name of the SEO game is “organization” and “originality,” two elements that can be further bolstered, using readily available (and sometimes free) technology.
Want Deeper Insight into your Technical SEO?
Fill out the form below to request a complementary evaluation of your digital marketing today.