In technical SEO, your website is fully compatible with search engine guidelines so it can be crawled and indexed with no issues. The purpose of a technical SEO audit is to assess your website’s current SEO and determine what aspects need to be improved for a seamless online experience.
The demands of users have changed drastically over time and search engines have evolved. Statista reports that there are now about 3.5 billion smartphone users worldwide. Google has responded to this massive rise in smartphone usage by updating its algorithm to place more importance on site speed and mobile experience in ranking web pages.
Google penalizes websites with bad structure, slow loading times, and wonky redirects today. This may result in a steep drop in search rankings and organic traffic if not addressed in a timely manner. With almost 35 percent of clicks going to the top organic search results, a decline in ranking could be detrimental to your business.
What Are the Benefits of Technical SEO?
There are many moving parts in websites, so the success of your website marketing depends on optimizing your website to be fast, functional, and user-friendly.
Technical SEO involves optimizing the infrastructure of your website as a subcategory of search engine optimization.
The technical aspects of SEO are important since they enhance the usability of your website and ensure that there are no technical issues that prevent the site from being understood or ranked by search engines. To convert organic traffic into customers, you need technical SEO.
Why should you optimize your site technically?
Search engines like Google want to present their users with the best results for their queries. Because of this, Google’s robots crawl and evaluate web pages based on a variety of factors. A page’s speed has a direct impact on how it is perceived by a user. A page’s content is discernible to search engines based on its speed. Structured data, among others, helps with this. In this way, you assist search engines in crawling and understanding your site through improving technical aspects. You may receive higher rankings or even richer results if you do this well.
In the opposite direction, if you make serious technical mistakes on your site, they may cost you. In your robots.txt file, you aren’t the first person to add a trailing slash in the wrong place, preventing search engines from crawling your site entirely.
However, it’s a misconception that search engines only care about the technical elements of a website. In the first place, your website should work well for your users – be fast, clear, and easy to use. It’s fortunate that a strong technical foundation often leads to a better user experience as well as a better search engine experience.
How to get started with technical SEO?
You can reap all the benefits of SEO from higher rankings to improved sales on your website when you optimize it for technical SEO. Here are the important things to get started with Technical SEO:
Make a Google Search Console account
Create a Google Search Console account if you don’t already have one. There’s no need to worry, it’s free. In Google Search Console, you can see your website’s overall performance in search results, as well as individual page performance.
View the errors that Googlebot encounters when it visits your website. If you want to know how Google perceives your website, you should use Google Search Console. You can submit pages to Google, track Google rankings, fix Google crawling issues, and more with it.
Create a robots.txt file
The next step is to create the robots.txt file. Robots.txt files are used as instructions for web crawlers. If you wish, you can specify instructions for specific search engines, such as Google or Bing.
Use these instructions to prevent crawlers from viewing unimportant pages or overloading your server. Your website should not be blocked from being crawled by all web crawlers. Search engines cannot index your website if you block web crawlers.
You will have trouble getting traffic to your site if your website doesn’t appear in search results. However, there’s good news: Google makes it easy to create an SEO-friendly robots.txt
Build an XML and HTML sitemap
You should also build an XML and HTML sitemap for your site in addition to the robots.txt file. Crawlers use an XML sitemap to find the most important pages on your site, like your products and services. Users won’t use an XML sitemap.
If they need to, they’ll refer to your HTML sitemap (more on that later). A WordPress website makes it easy to create an XML sitemap. Yoast SEO plugins build XML sitemaps for WordPress websites.
You don’t have a WordPress site? No worries. Make your sitemap using one of the dozens of free XML sitemap generators, such as Screaming Frog.
Once you have submitted your XML sitemap, Google will accept it through its search console. Once you have completed that part of the technical SEO checklist, move on to creating your HTML sitemap.
Visit your website. Look at the URL bar on your browser. Is your website’s URL accompanied by a padlock or a “Not secure” message?
You must move your website from HTTP to HTTPS if you do not see a padlock.
HTTPS improves the security of your website by creating a secure connection that encrypts any user data, such as credit card numbers, email addresses, or phone numbers. Increasing numbers of people are shopping and communicating online, so HTTPS is a necessity for any business. HTTPS is also beneficial because:
- You can rank higher in search results if your site uses HTTPS, which is a ranking factor for Google
- When users shop online, they refer to the HTTPS padlock, which can influence online sales
- By protecting customer data, HTTPS helps your business protect its brand
In the event that your website host does not provide an SSL certificate, you will need to purchase and install it yourself. Besides installing, you will need to set up redirects between your HTTP and HTTPS pages. Hire a consultant with experience in SEO to help you with this step.
Establish an SEO-friendly navigation
No matter what size your website is, you should take another look at your navigation. The navigation on your website is usually your main navigation menu, which appears either at the top or on the left. It is possible, however, that your business has additional menus that people can use to find additional content.
Here’s your technical SEO checklist focusing on your main navigation menu and these best practices:
- Keep your main navigation to seven core menu items
- All pages should have the same main navigation menu
- Use keyword-rich anchor text for navigation items, like “Residential Landscaping Services”
- Organize menu items within sub-menus, if appropriate
Think about your most valuable pages when selecting which page to feature in your main navigation. Usually, these pages include information about your products and services, as well as business and policy descriptions.
Follow an SEO-friendly URL structure
This technical SEO checklist includes tasks focused on optimizing your site’s navigation and URL structure, which is why technical SEO focuses on the discoverability and usability of your website. To make your URLs as SEO friendly as possible, follow these rules:
- Use lowercase letters
- Separate words with “-“
- Keep URLs short (most URLs will feature your target keyword)
- Avoid symbols, like “#” or “&,” and dates
Additionally, you should nest your URLs appropriately in addition to following these best practices.
It makes sense, for example, to nest an article within a page that contains or contains informational resources. It may be that your URL will be www.example.com/resources/example-article/ instead of www.example.com/example-article. You can provide users and crawlers with context by nesting your content like this.
It gives them the sense that they’re viewing a piece of content that’s likely to be informative rather than sales-focused. Your content will rank better for your targeted keywords when it has context, giving you a better chance of reaching your target audience.
Develop a mobile-friendly website
For SEO, every business should have a mobile-friendly website. As a result of the mobile-first index, Google now crawls and indexes your site from the perspective of a mobile user. If your business doesn’t have a mobile-friendly website, your search results will suffer.
Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool to determine if your page is mobile-friendly.
In case your site isn’t mobile-friendly, you should consider a responsive web design. You can create a website that is compatible with desktops, tablets, and smartphones with responsive web design. Furthermore, building, maintaining, and optimizing a second mobile site is more costly and time-consuming.
Optimize page speed
The speed of a web page is an ongoing SEO optimization factor, and it’s essential. You can improve the speed of a page when you optimize its speed. Users will spend less time waiting when a page loads faster.
This will increase their chances of staying on your site since they can start reading your content and interacting with your page sooner. 83 percent of users expect pages to load in three seconds or less. Check your page’s speed with Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool.
The following are also some of the best practices for improving your page speed:
- Using browser caching
- Getting a content distribution network (CDN)
Improve internal linking
Your technical SEO strategy should include internal linking as your website grows. Your internal linking strategy, like your sitemap and navigation menu, helps crawlers and users discover your content and stay on your site. Links within a page can also provide clues or context about a page’s focus and keyword targeting.
Consider the following sentence, which has an underline representing an internal link: “Before you start baking your first batch of cookies, you should get a good pair of oven mitts”.
As you can see from the anchor text, “good pair of oven mitts”, the link leads to an article about choosing oven mitts. Perhaps the article will compile a list of the best oven mitts. Regardless of how you choose to read the article, you know it’s about high-quality oven mitts.
Add structured data to relevant pages
Technical SEO also involves structured data, which is a worthwhile investment. An example of structured data is showing whether your page contains a recipe, a product, or a review. You may also see structured data generating an enhanced look for your page in search results.It often generates the following information when a recipe markup is used, for example:
- Cooking time
- User rating
Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool provides an easy way to see if structured data is used on a page.
Structured data can be added if relevant. To markup existing pages, you can use a free tool like Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper. The tool lets you highlight various elements of a page, such as a price, rating, and more, in order to generate structured data.