Attempting to get your website to the top of the search engine results can bear a striking similarity to the endless quest for the Holy Grail, right?
You’ve poured hours into crafting a pristine website,
filled it with engaging content,
and yet, it seems like you’re not getting that online love you truly deserve.
Ah, the elusive Google algorithm – an enigma wrapped in code, shuffling the cards of your digital fate.
But what if there were a few special maneuvers, some underlying tricks of the trade that could propel your site beyond the obscurity of page ten?
Well, there just might be.
Known to us as “Technical SEO”, it’s neither rocket science nor pure wizardry, but rather a comprehensive understanding of what makes search engines, especially Google, tick.
So keep reading – by the end of this post, you’ll know everything any entry-level web admin needs to ramp up their technical SEO skills!
What is Technical SEO?
Just another concept in the long list of SEO basics—Technical SEO is the technical side of SEO that focuses on making websites more visible to search engines.
It’s about optimizing a website for technical aspects like server configurations, crawlability, and structure rather than the heavy concentration on keyword research and content strategies as in regular SEO.
Technical SEO ensures websites are correctly structured from a technical point of view, allowing crawlers of search engines access to the necessary files to assess and index your website data accurately.
In this way, technical SEO vastly improves the user experience, giving them more efficient search results with better-structured information.
If technical SEO is done right then regular SEO tactics will more often rank higher in SERPs giving you more potential traffic and visibility on the web.
Why is Technical SEO So Important?
Technical SEO can often fly under the radar of website owners, but it’s an essential component of search engine optimization.
Without technical SEO, crawlers won’t be able to interpret or understand what they find on your site, and your content won’t get indexed properly on search engines.
Failing to take technical SEO into consideration can mean the difference between being number one in search engines versus being buried underneath dozens of other web pages—or worst, not having any spot in the SERPs at all.
Put technical SEO at the top of your list when looking to improve your website’s visibility in SERPs – it may just be the difference you need!
Defining Crawling and Indexing
We all know how important good SEO is for successful websites, but what exactly do indexing and crawling mean in the context of technical SEO?
When conducting technical SEO, you’ll encounter these two terms multiple times. So it’s important that we differentiate them now.
Crawling is the process of discovering new and updated web pages on search engines. Search engine crawlers, or bots, are used to discover pages on the internet by following links from one page to another.
When a crawler discovers a new page, it adds that page to its index and follows the internal links on the page to find more pages. The goal of crawling is to create an up-to-date list of all known web pages and their associated content.
Search engine crawlers, also known as search engine spiders, are the ones who conduct the crawling of every content online. Crawlers have one objective—to understand what one content is about.
Indexing is an important part of SEO. It is the process of adding a web page to a search engine’s index for it to be found by users. In order for a web page to appear in search engines, it must first be indexed by search platforms like Google.
The indexing process may involve crawling the page, analyzing its content, and determining its relevance to certain keywords or topics.
How to Optimize Your Web Pages for Technical SEO
For a particular content to rank well in search engines, one shouldn’t just focus on optimizing the content with the right keywords alone.
Technical SEO, when conducted optimally, will help search engines find your content and understand your content right in order to rank it. That’s why a sound technical SEO audit must take part.
So, how should you go about a proper technical SEO audit? Websites that are well-optimized for technical SEO have a few things in common, and that’s what we’re going to cover in this section.
Start with a Sitemap
An XML sitemap is an XML file that lists all the URLs of a website, along with their metadata.
This particular file is critical to technical SEO because it helps bots to crawl and index the site more efficiently and ensure that all content on the website will be seen by platforms like Google.
Additionally, having an updated XML sitemap can help improve a website’s ranking in SERPs.
Without an XML sitemap, your website will be more difficult to crawl for search platforms and as a result, the pages that you want to rank may not be included in the index, which can lead to fewer visitors or lower rankings.
How to create and use an XML site map:
1. To create your XML site map, go to https://www.xml-sitemaps.com/.
2. Enter your site URL in the blank space that says “Your Website URL” then click the ‘Start’ button.
3. Wait for the generator to finish crawling your website.
4. Once you see “Complete!” click the button that says ‘View Sitemap Details’ then click ‘Download Your XML Sitemap File’ to get your XML sitemap.
5. Add your XML sitemap file to the root folder of your website’s main directory.
6. Now, open Google Search Console and go to ‘Sitemaps’ located on the left side of the screen under Indexing.
7. Under ‘Add a new sitemap’ head over to the blank space and type “sitemap.xml” then click submit.
8. Wait for the loading to finish, once you see “Sitemap Submitted Successfully” click the ‘GOT IT’ button and you’re done. Google will now start to crawl your website and its various content.
Use a Robots.txt File
Robots.txt files are text files that tell crawlers which parts of a website to crawl or not crawl.
This can be especially important in technical SEO, as it allows webmasters to prevent crawlers, or bots, from indexing certain areas which could cause crawling issues or duplicate content.
It can also limit them to only index areas with content which is relevant to the website’s ranking in SERPs.
Not having a robots.txt file can cause crawlers to waste time crawling pages and duplicate content that doesn’t need to be ranked. This includes author pages, about us pages, and other similar pages that aren’t important for SEO purposes.
In addition, it can lead to duplicate content issues in the index by including multiple versions of the same page.
How to manually create and use a robots.txt file:
1. Go to your desktop.
2. Right-click on the screen, click the ‘New’ option, then choose ‘Text Document.’
3. Rename the newly created text document to ‘robots.txt’ then click enter.
4. Open the file, then start typing the following:
- Remember that every time you type “:” a space should follow right after before you type any command.
- For the purpose of demonstration, the “/about/” and “/terms-of-use/” refers to the parts of the website that we do not want to be crawled by crawlers.
- The parts of your website that you type after “Disallow:” will not be crawled.
- The parts of your website that you type after “Noindex:” will not be indexed.
- It is best that you repeat the specifications you give to “Disallow:” with the “Noindex:” command to make sure that crawlers understand what not to crawl and index.
- End your robots.txt file with a “Sitemap: https://yourwebsite.com/sitemap.xml” command.
5. Add your robots.txt file to the root folder of your website’s main directory.
You’re Better Off Using SSL
A Secure Socket Layer (SSL) is a protocol that helps secure data transmissions over the internet. It is important for SEO ranking because it enables the implementation of HTTPS, which Google prefers over HTTP websites.
HTTPS websites are seen as more secure and trustworthy, thus resulting in higher rankings in SERPs. Additionally, Google has publicly stated that it actively favors sites that use HTTPS over sites with HTTP connections.
Not using a Secure Socket Layer (SSL) in technical SEO can have a number of negative effects, including:
- Increased vulnerability to malicious hackers and exploits due to lack of encryption
- Poor user experience as the website is not able to receive the full range of security benefits that an SSL would provide
- Lowered rankings on Google due to the lack of HTTPS protocol support
Leverage Structured Data
Structured data is a specific type of code that provides platforms like Google with more information about the content on a page.
It helps search platforms better understand what is on a page and can also result in more website traffic as it helps optimize portions of a website for rich results, such as product reviews, recipes, events, and so on.
Structured data can also help improve internal linking and make a website easier to crawl for crawlers, leading to higher rankings.
Not taking advantage of structured data can neglect the opportunity to give searchers rich, informative detail about your content.
Creating advanced structured data is best left to coding experts, but if you want to create basic structured data quickly, go with these tools:
- Google Structured Data Markup Helper
Use a Uniform URL Structure
It is important to use a unified URL structure in your website when optimizing for technical SEO because it helps bots crawl and index content more easily.
Having a consistent structure also helps with creating logical paths that users can follow, which in turn can also improve the user experience of your website.
If your pages use different URL structures from each other, site visitors may get confused and may get lost in your website, resulting in poor user experience and higher bounce rates.
As seen in the image above, GrowPredictably uses a subfolder for its website’s designated section for blogs.
Now, if a “https://aboutme.growpredictably.com” subdomain is used for its ‘About Me’ section rather than a “/aboutme” subfolder, site visitors may find it strange and inconvenient.
Don’t think that it’s just your site visitors that are affected though, crawlers will likely experience the same, affecting how your website is crawled, indexed, and ranked.
As a best practice, it’s wiser to use one format across all your pages. This way, site visitors have an easier time navigating your site.
Don’t Overlook Your Page Speed
It’s important for a web page to load within 5 seconds because users tend to quickly lose interest if a page takes too long to load. This can then lead to a high bounce rate, meaning visitors leave the website after only viewing one page.
Studies have found that the average attention span has decreased over the past decade and that approximately 40% of people will abandon a web page if it takes more than 5 seconds to load.
Thus, it’s important for pages to be as optimized as possible, when it comes to page speed, in order to ensure quick loading times and lower bounce rates.
For you to improve your web pages, especially with page speed, start with these tools:
- Google PageSpeed Insights
- Site 24×7
8 Tools to Use for Technical SEO
Technical SEO, like what it’s called, is a technical task to perform. Without the help of the top digital tools used by experts, you can only go so far as to ensure that your website meets the standards of platforms like Google.
The following are your top choices for technical SEO tools in the market today:
1. Google Search Console
Google Search Console is an invaluable tool for technical SEO.
It helps detect website errors and broken links, allows you to submit an XML sitemap, identifies crawl issues that may be preventing pages from being indexed, and provides URL parameters to indicate which should be ignored and which should be recognized by search platforms.
All of these features can help you ensure better indexing of your site and improve organic traffic.
2. Google’s Mobile Friendly Testing Tool
Google’s Mobile Friendly Testing Tool is an incredibly useful tool for technical SEO. It quickly identifies any pages that may not be optimized for mobile devices, which can have a huge impact on organic search rankings.
It also highlights potential elements that could interfere with user experience on mobile devices.
3. Screaming Frog
Screaming Frog is a powerful tool for technical SEO. It crawls websites and gathers data, helping you quickly identify any issues with your website’s SEO setup.
You can use it to analyze your page titles and meta descriptions, find redirect chains and loops, identify thin or duplicate content, check for broken links and images, view the site structure in a visual format, and more.
This allows you to ensure your website is correctly optimized from an SEO perspective and improve organic rankings.
4. Web Developer Toolbar
You can use it to audit redirects, view headers, check response times, validate HTML/CSS/JS code and perform other diagnostics related to the technical side of SEO.
5. GT Metrix
GT Metrix is an invaluable tool for technical SEO. It provides insights into the performance of a website, including page load time, total page size, and the number of requests.
You can use it to identify which resources need to be optimized in order to improve load times and user experience.
6. SEMrush Site Audit
SEMrush Site Audit is a great tool if you want to technically optimize your sites for SEO. It can help you quickly and accurately identify any issues related to website performance, security, content, and other elements that can affect your rankings in SERPs.
With its comprehensive report, it allows you to view errors and warnings at a glance so that you can address them quickly and efficiently.
It also provides detailed insights into how crawlers are viewing your website, which is helpful for optimizing page performance.
Ahrefs Tools can facilitate your technical efforts on SEO in several ways. It provides detailed information and analytics on the performance of your website, including things like crawling errors and traffic sources.
This allows you to identify areas that need improvement, as well as track progress over time.
Additionally, it helps you keep up with any changes made by search platforms, such as algorithm updates or content indexation issues, so that you can respond quickly and stay competitive.
MozBar is a free Chrome extension that can help identify and analyze on-page elements.
It includes features such as page analysis, link profiling, and keyword difficulty ranking, which provide valuable insights into how your website is performing in comparison to competing pages.
Additionally, it enables users to quickly spot issues such as missing meta tags or broken links so that they can take corrective actions right away.
For those who aren’t exposed to technical SEO, or the behind the curtains of SEO, it’s normal to have many questions about this and that. The following are the most frequently asked questions regarding technical SEO:
Technical SEO is a complex and important part of any digital marketing strategy. Because technical SEO deals mostly with improving a site’s infrastructure rather than its content, it can be easy to forget its importance.
However, without strong technical optimization, even the best-designed and written website will struggle to rank well in search results. The good news is that there are plenty of tools available to help you audit your site and identify areas for improvement.
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