10 high value tips to optimize your website for technical SEO
One of the most important – yet least understood – aspects of search engine optimization, SEO is technical SEO. This refers to the behind-the-scenes work that goes into making a website as search engine friendly as possible. Other parts of SEO are keyword research on page SEO, off page SEO
Is technical SEO important? Incorporating best practices for technical SEO can be tricky, but it’s crucial if you want your site to rank well in search results. In this post, we’ll explain what technical SEO is and outline some of the most important techniques you need to know.
We’ll be looking at Crawling, Indexing, XML sitemap and health monitoring with Google Search Console. Thin and duplicate content issues. Structured data, website speed, mobile optimization and much more.
We’ll also provide tips for how to get started optimizing your website for search engines. So, if you’re interested in learning more about technical SEO fundamentals to increase your ranking and organic traffic, keep reading!
With 8,5 billion Google searches per day, SEO is the most powerful lead generation strategy in 2022 and will remain that for at least another decade.
What is technical SEO and why is it important.
Technical SEO refers to the technical optimization of a website to meet Google’s health and technical SEO standards that also increase the positive experience that your website visitors are having on your website.
For example, a certain website loading speed is required by Google to rank your website well but that’s because the data show that people abandon slow websites. Google doesn’t want to show websites that people abandon (statistically) so he ranks fast websites better than slow ones.
Think about what Google wants. Google wants people to keep using Google so it needs to show relevant and good results for any search query. Good and relevant results are good content, good authority, good technical state, good structure…
Failing to meet these technical SEO standards will result in a bad Google ranking for your website.
A site’s content is the lifeblood of SEO. Technical SEO strategy is the brain that controls all the mechanisms. On page SEO are directions.
What does technical SEO include: Technical SEO audit
- Website structure and navigation: What is it and why is it important?
- Crawling and Indexing with Google Search Console: Identify and fix issues.
- Internal linking strategy: What is it and why is it important?
- Thin content: How to avoid and fix it
- Duplicate content: Prevent duplicate content issues
- Page speed is a ranking factor: Optimize your website loading speed
- Is your website multilingual? Set up hreflang
- Broken links: How to find them and fix them
- Implementing structured data to your website
- Optimizing your website for mobile devices
Website structure and navigation. What it is and why is it important?
Website structure defines how your web pages are organized and interlinked in the website hierarchy. Good site structure makes it easy for Google AI and humans to understand and find things on the website. Good structure groups content, uses patterns and is logical and consistent.
Why is website structure important for SEO?
A good website structure increases dwell time, click-through rate and conversions, all of which are strong signals for search engines to increase the search engine ranking of your website.
Google can reward great structure with sitelinks (image). Sitelinks are additional links to other web pages on your website that show in SERP. These give users the most relevant information and increase your website’s trust and reputation. Google bots will have an easier job of crawling and indexing your site. I would argue that a bad site structure can doom your SEO efforts.
How to create a good web page's URL structure?
Start by organizing the website content. Prepare and divide it based on common things. Keep services, product categories or related blog topics together. Organize these content clusters in a flat hierarchy.
Transform this hierarchy to site navigation and URL structure.
Website structure and navigation TIPS
- Make your structure logical and straightforward
- Create unique main website categories to give more context.
- Create related subcategories to the main categories
- Neil Patel advises having 2-7 main website categories
- Keep the subcategories balanced, and even if you can
- Don’t create more than three levels of depth.
- Your navigation header/menu should have all the main categories.
- Use appropriate anchor text for links to categories and subcategories.
- Strengthen the website structure by interlinking related subcategories and main categories, effectively creating content clusters.
Breadcrumbs: What are they and why are they important for structure and navigation
Breadcrumbs are internal links that show visitors the path from the homepage to the current page. They help users understand where they are on your website and provide an easy way to navigate back to previous pages. Breadcrumbs help search engines understand your website’s structure which is great for SEO
Crawling and Indexing with Google Search Console (GSC): Identify and fix problems
What are crawling and indexing?
Crawling is how Googles search engine spiders discover new and updated web pages and add them to the Google index. Google Bot processes all the crawled pages to compile a vast index of all the web pages’ words and their location on specific pages. Google then searches these indexes after people have submitted a search query to return the most relevant result.
Why is this important?
If search engines don’t crawl or index pages, they cannot show them in the Search Engine Results Page, SERP.
How to make sure that Google crawls and indexes your pages?
Add your website to Search Console and monitor the health and technical SEO issues.
How to add your website to Google Search Console
Login to your Google Search Console.
Add your website as property and verify it. You can find common verification methods here
Submit an XML sitemap to the GSC
Repeat a similar process in Bing Webmaster tools. Even though Google dominates the search engine market, some people still use Firefox, Edge or others.
What to do in the Search Console
Submit an XML sitemap to let Google know that you have added or updated your web page.
Monitor the Performance report to see what KWs are you ranking for in what position and other useful information
Monitor the Index Coverage report to find and fix any crawling and indexing issues.
Internal linking strategy: What it is and why is it important?
Internal linking is the process of linking one web page on your website to another. Internal links are important for two main reasons:
They help search engines understand your website’s structure and content. The links group your related content into content clusters which gives your content more context which Google and other search engines can understand.
They help users navigate your website and find relevant information.
If you have a well-structured website with clear and concise content, then internal linking can help improve your technical SEO.
For example, I’m writing this article about technical SEO. One part of technical SEO is GSC, but instead of me going into detail about the Console in this post, I’ll instead link to another post of mine that is about the Search Console. By linking these 2 articles, I give people a chance to read more in-depth info on specific technical SEO topics and I show Google that these are related pages which gives Google more context that helps it understand what is my content about.
Internal linking TIPS
There are a few things to keep in mind when doing internal linking:
- Use keyword-rich anchor text.
- Use relevant and targeted pages.
- Do not overdo it.
- Use a mix of follow and no-follow links.
- Monitor your website’s internal linking with Search Console.
- Link to pages that are deep in your website navigation.
Thin content: Avoid creating pages with thin content.
Remember that content is one of the pillars of a successful SEO strategy. Publish only high-quality, original, rich and valuable content for each and every page on your website and you never have to worry about thin content.
Unfortunately, thin content is inevitable so we need to know how to find it and fix it.
What is thin content?
Pages with thin content are pages with no relevant content that provides little or no value at all, give no relevant answers and resolve none of the search queries.
Why is thin content bad for SEO?
Google and other search engines don’t rank pages with thin content. Thin content causes people to click the back button since they don’t see any relevant answers to their searches. The bounceback is a strong negative signal for Google.
What to do to avoid publishing thin content?
Create only pages that give your visitors valuable, quality and relevant content. Every page that you publish, whether it’s a product or category page, should have enough relevant information.
How to discover thin content on your website?
Great tools to discover thin content on your website are SEMrush, Ahrefs, Moz or any other relevant technical SEO tool.
Duplicate Content: Avoid creating pages with duplicate content.
What is duplicate content and what does canonical page mean?
Duplicate pages are exactly what they are. Pages that have the same or very similar content. Duplicate pages may happen in e-commerce stores when you have a product that is attached to multiple categories like colour or size.
Why is avoiding duplicate content important
Search engines don’t know which of the duplicate pages to index and rank, and both versions of a page ranking suffer.
How to prevent duplicate pages
Publish original content for all your web pages. If you cannot avoid duplicate content like in the eshop example, you need to set up canonical tags to tell Google which page should it index.
The canonical tag tells search engines that only one of these multiple pages is the main one that needs to be indexed. the other variations of the product like size or colour will be listed as variations, not a separate product.
Add no-index tags to pages with duplicate content. This will tell Google to not index them. You can check if the no-index tag is working in the Google search console in the test live URL report. Look for excluded pages by no-index tag.
How to implement canonical tags
There are multiple standard methods to use canonical tags.
- Setting rel=”canonical” HTML tags
- Setting rel=”canonical” in HTTP headers
- Using sitemaps to set canonical
- Using 301 redirects to divert traffic to the master version
- Have a look at official Google documentation for best practices
Page speed is a ranking factor. Optimize your website loading speed
What is website speed?
Site speed has always been a strong User Experience factor. But in May 2021 Google rolled out a Core Web Vitals: Page Experience algorithm update.
Google will include page experience signals in the Google Search ranking. What are those signals?
- Page speed is the time it takes a web browser to display your web page after clicking the link.
- Page load time is the time for a webpage to show on a device screen.
- Time to the first byte is the time it takes for a browser to receive the first byte of information from a web server.
Why is page speed optimization important for technical SEO?
- 25% of visitors leave a website if it takes more than 4 seconds to load
- 46% of people don’t revisit poorly performing websites
- 74% of mobile users leave a mobile website if it takes more than 5 seconds to load
- 47% of e-commerce clients expect a maximum 2-second loading time.
Your page speed impacts user experience, Google ranking, sales, conversions and revenue.
How do you find out if your website meets the Core Web Vitals specs and is fast enough?
How can you speed up your website? TIPS
- Optimize your image size before you upload them to your website. Make them as small as possible while still maintaining good quality.
- Reduce the number of images to only ones that support your webpage’s written content.
- Use image optimization tools/plugins after you upload your images to your website.
- Confirm that image dimensions fit into the space that you created for it.
- Use browser caching to store website resources locally on users’ computers. The browser won’t have to load them every time a user visits your website.
- Reduce your code to only what you are using.
- Note that various visual website builders such as Shopify, Squarespace, Wix, Visual Composer and others are built with a lot of code. These will naturally clog your website with a lot of excess code that you cannot remove, thus slowing down your website. I recommend using WordPress with its native Gutenberg blocks that are super fast. At the time I was writing this article, ASTRA WP theme was the fastest theme around.
- Compress your code with Gzip. Gzip is the standard to locate similar lines of code and replace them. This can reduce the response size by 70%
- Minify files. Minification removes everything that is not required for the code to run.
- Merge multiple script files into one to reduce the number of calls to the server
- Use a hosting provider that focuses on the performance of their servers like Kinsta, ScalaHosting or Siteground.
- Remove widgets and plugins that you don’t use. Test your website speed with and without those plugins and determine how much you need them.
- Use asynchronous loading to allow the files to load simultaneously.
- Use CDN. CDN (Content Delivery Network) is a global server network that hosts your files in various locations. CDN allows data to be delivered faster.
- Host video on external platforms and use links and embeds to place them on your site.
- Reduce the use of web fonts. If you have to use fonts, use modern formats WOFF2, including only character sets and styles that you are actually using.
- Reduce redirects
Implement Hreflang if your website is available in more than one language
What is hreflang
Hreflang is an attribute specifying language that Google should use for specific pages
Why is this important
You can serve your global visitors a proper language version of your site and prevent users bouncing off.
When to use hreflang tag
- Google should generally recognize what language to serve but there are certain examples where setting up hreflang isa good idea.
- If your main content is one language but your header, navigation and footer have language variations.
- If your content has regional variations even though it is served in a single language
- If your site is fully translated into multiple languages.
How to set up hreflang
- The best way is to follow this Google documentation
These are the links are links that lead to nowhere and your webpage visitors have to hit the back button to get back to your website.
Why are they bad?
Ending up on a broken link decreases the visitor experience and which may cause people to abandon your website. They also confuse Google bots who might not crawl your entire site as a result.
How to find and fix broken links
Do a site audit using any of the professional SEO tools like ahrefs, SEMrush or others. These will find the links that lead nowhere so you can fix them by pointing them to a website that is alive and well.
Implementing structured data to your website.
What is structured data?
A schema is a form of tags added to your HTML code (website) to give it more context.
For example. Website IMDB.com has a tag next to Steve Buscemi that probably says, actor. When Google reads Steve Buscemi on IMDB, it doesn’t see a random string of characters that it needs to interpret. It understands that Steve Buscemi is an actor.
Why is structured data, sometimes also called schema markup significant?
A schema describes to search engines what a specific text on a website means and how it should show it on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). This will help Google to understand your website better and faster. To succeed in SEO, you always want to help Google do its job.
Secondly, Search engines will interpret your HTML code better and display it in search results in the form of rich snippets.
Optimize your website for mobile devices
What does it mean to optimize your website for mobile devices?
The beginnings of the web and the internet are closely connected to desktop computers and laptops. With the introduction of the iPhone, the internet found its way into our mobile devices. Our computer screens are horizontal and large.
Mobile screen devices are vertical and small. Desktops and laptops use wi-fi, but our cellphones use mobile data. What worked for our desktops is not working for our cell phones. Your website needs to work well on mobile and desktop versions.
Why is it essential to optimize your website for mobiles?
Mobile devices and specifically smartphones have become a primary means of how people access the internet and your website. This has been reflected by Google with a change to mobile-first indexing. Google crawls and indexes the mobile version of your site, not the desktop one.
Smaller screens, absence of a standard keyboard or lack of wifi makes accessing your website from a cell more challenging than from a laptop. But your website needs to be as good on that cell as on the large computer screen.
Having a mobile-friendly website should be one of your primary objectives when developing one.
How to optimize your website for mobile devices? TIPS
- Build a responsive web design. Responsive design is based on detecting your visitor’s screen size/resolution and adjusting website elements to reflect it. You can choose from many responsive themes if you’re building your site on WordPress.
- Use the latest technology
- Understand why your visitors came to your site and optimize it for that purpose. Keep it simple, and build your design around a specific goal. Don’t overcomplicate your website
- Have your call to action visible and accessible
- Develop simple layouts. The small screen size on mobiles doesn’t allow for fancy designs suitable for desktops. Remember the purpose of your site. It’s not for your visitors to look at and admire your website. It is for them to click a button to book, call, etc.
- Use white space. Let webpage elements breathe. Don’t stuff too many things in one place.
- Optimize image size
- Optimize text size.
- Don’t use pop-ups on cell phone screen size.
- Design for large fingers.
- Use structured data and aim for rich results. This will help you stand out on the mobile SERP.
- Keep your website visitor experience in mind. Keep testing and adjusting.
- Don’t forget to use the Google Mobile-Friendly test to see how Google sees your website
So there you have it – our top 10 tips for getting started with technical SEO. Of course, this is just the beginning, and there’s a lot more to learn about making your website shine in the search engines.
If you need help taking your site to the next level, don’t hesitate to contact us. We’re experts in all things SEO, from on-page optimization to content creation and beyond. We will increase your website traffic with SEO.