In simple terms, technical SEO (Search Engine Optimization) refers to website and server optimizations that make it easier for search engines to crawl and index your site.
The question now is - why is it important to technically optimize your website for search engines?
Below, you’ll find a checklist that details the importance of technical optimization of SEO. You will also see tips on actionable techniques to help you get started. By following the tips, you will ensure that your website meets the expectations of search engine algorithms so it can rank well and get more visibility in organic search while improving your site’s visitors’ user experience.
Let’s get started.
Page speed is one of the important ranking factors used by search engines like Google. In May 2021, Google introduced Core Web Vital signals to its search ranking algorithm. These signals allow Google to measure how fast your website is.
Core Web Vitals consists of three user-centric metrics:
Google’s algorithm will always put the users first. And if your website takes longer than 4 seconds to load, most visitors will bounce. As a result, websites that take too long to load get less love from the algorithm than faster websites. So, implementing technical search engine optimization strategies is key if you want to significantly improve your website’s speed.
Here are a couple of technical SEO tips to help you improve your website speed.
Use hosting services that offer fast speeds or fast page load time. It’s also best to opt for a hosting plan that includes SSDs (Solid-state drives) as they deliver fast reads and writes which will make your website load faster.
HTTP requests directly affect how fast a website loads. Generally, fewer HTTP requests translate into a faster website. Some of the ways you can minimize these requests include:
If after doing all these steps and your website isn’t as responsive as you would like, make use of a content delivery network (CDN).
A CDN is a network of servers that caches static content on your site and then serves the cached content whenever people visit your site again. Since your website isn't loading from scratch whenever the user visits, it loads faster.
The CSS stylesheet lets the website browser know how to load your site. Using multiple stylesheets or inline CSS will slow down your site.
Minification involves removing redundant or unnecessary data from your site’s code without affecting how it is processed by the browser. For example, simply using shorter function names and variables can make a difference.
Duplicate content is content that appears multiple times on the internet. So if the exact or similar versions of your content appear on different pages of your website or other websites, you have duplicate content.
And even though Google doesn’t specifically have penalties for duplicate content, it can still affect your website’s search engine ranking and lead to traffic loss.
Search engines want to provide the best search experience possible. So if a website has multiple versions of the same content on their website, the search engine will have to choose which version it should rank. What usually happens is that the algorithm gets confused and just reduces the visibility of each of the duplicates.
Duplicate content also dilutes your link equity.
Other site publishers coming across multiple versions of the same content and linking to it, means that you will share link equity with all these other duplicates, instead of having a single content with all the links. And since one of Google’s ranking factors is inbound links, it will impact your search visibility and also reduce your page authority.
Technical SEO can help you take care of this issue. But before we look at how to go about it, let’s briefly see how duplication occurs.
Next, let’s see some ways you can fix duplicate content issues on your site.
The most effective way to fix duplicate content is to set up a 301 redirect from the duplicate pages to the main content page you want to rank. This will ensure that all the pages stop competing for search visibility.
This function lets search engines know that the page is a copy of a specific URL and that all the ranking power and link equity that search engines will normally attribute to the page should instead be credited to the specified URL.
Meta tags are snippets of text that help search engines understand what a page is about. There are four types: meta keyword attribute, title tag, meta description attribute, and meta robots attributes.
The meta robot attribute lets search engine crawlers know what to do about a page. Whether they can index or not.
Adding the “Noindex,Follow” markup to the HTML head of each duplicate content will ensure that search engines don’t index it.
Including a rel=canonical to the HTML code of your URL will let search engines know that your page is the original content.
Note that this tag is only effective if the scrapers copy your full HTML code of the page. You could also file a DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) with their host. 9 out of 10 times, the host will take the content offline if you can prove it’s yours.
According to Google, “structured data is a standardized format for providing information about a page and classifying the page content; for example, on a recipe page, what are the ingredients, the cooking time and temperature, the calories, and so on.”
Implementing structured data is a technical SEO strategy that helps Google better understand the content of your page so it can crawl it faster.
Structure data also allows Google to display rich results that encourage searchers to interact with your content.
Here is an example of a rich result:
Also, along with the Google search benefits, implementing structured data can lead to increased CTRs and conversions.
For instance, a Google SERP study by Milestone Research found that users clicked on rich results they see on the SERPs 58% of the time. Non-rich results had a lower CTR of 41%.
The study also found that rich results with branded keywords even perform a bit better with a CTR of 60%.
But why do rich results translate into better CTR and conversions?
Getting rich results means that your website will appear at the top of SERPs, above the organic list – so you get significantly more traffic. And the more people that see your page, the higher your click-through rate, and conversion.
With Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper Tool or Schema.org, you can set up structured data for your website.
When optimizing a website for SEO, one of the first measures to take is ensuring that the website is secure. And while this is a necessary online security measure to protect your website from hackers, note that having a secure site can also affect your SEO rankings.
Google uses HTTPS as a ranking signal.
The search engine wants to ensure that it directs users to websites that are safe to interact with. An unsecured website risks the safety of online users, and because of it limits visibility to such sites.
If you haven’t already implemented security, you can easily secure the data on your website by switching to an HTTPS domain. Note that you will need to purchase an SSL certificate to make the switch. But if you are in the process of creating a site, most top website builders now include SSL by default.
Even searchers see websites that are not secure as unsafe to visit. So even if your content gets to the first or the second page of search results, many people will leave immediately if there is no HTTPS in your URL. Some browsers even notify visitors when a site is not secure and advises them to leave the page.
If your website isn’t already secure, it should be at the top of your list.
Google has stated that mobile-friendliness is one of the ranking signals they use for mobile searches. So it’s important that you have a website that offers visitors a great mobile experience.
A mobile-responsive website is also great for increasing your overall sales and conversions. 67% of mobile users say that they are more likely to buy a product or service from a site that is mobile-friendly. 74% say they are more likely to visit the site in the future.
Here are some technical SEO tips to help your website be mobile-friendly:
This is the first step to take. Choose website builders like Squarespace and Wix that offer mobile responsive designs. And if you are using a CMS system like Wordpress, make sure you use the right theme. You can simply search “responsive themes” in your CMS theme’s library and make your choice. There is also the option of using a third-party store like StudioPress or Themeforest.
Mobile devices do not support Flash, so using it on your website will negatively affect your website’s responsiveness. It’s best practice to avoid it completely.
Pop-ups can be effective lead-generation tools. But while they are great, pop-ups can be very annoying, especially on the smaller screens of mobile devices. Limit pop-up use to just the desktop versions of your website. Even at that, the pop-up timing is very important. Consider displaying the pop-ups a few seconds after the visitor has interacted with your site or when they are done reading your blog. This way, they are not quickly distracted or annoyed.
Every element on your website; from your code, images, and videos, have to load each time a user clicks on your website. If they are too heavy, your website will take a long time to load. We have already seen some ways you can remedy this at the beginning of this article.
Another thing you can do is host your videos on a third-party website like YouTube or Wistia instead of uploading them directly to your website.
For larger brands that deal with a lot of image files, using an enterprise DAM tool will help you support your image SEO.
A DAM will help you automate the process of producing responsive image variations at scale. It automatically compresses images while ensuring that there is a balance between image quality and loading time. It also automatically suggests relevant alt text so that your image’s metadata is optimized for search engines.
Wedia’s DAM also supports responsive design and ensures that visitors have an optimal user experience when viewing images on your site, regardless of the viewing device.
So if you want an effective way to optimize your images for SEO at scale, check out Wedia along with its other features that helps large organizations efficiently manage, customize, and deliver relevant marketing content to their audience.
While implementing technical SEO practices does not guarantee that your website will automatically start ranking on the first page of Google, not doing it at all will be an even bigger mistake. You will be significantly reducing the chance of your website having any visibility in the SERPS.
Instead, take your time to audit your website to see the areas you need to improve and then implement the tips above where needed.