What is Technical SEO?
Technical SEO refers to website and server optimizations
that help search engine spiders to crawl and index your site more effectively
(to help improve organic rankings).
Search engines give preferential treatment in search results to websites that display certain technical characteristics — for example a secure connection, a responsive design, or a fast-loading time — and technical SEO is the work you need to do to ensure your website does so.
Implementing technical SEO on your website can help to ensure that the security and structure of your site meets the expectation of search engine algorithms and is rewarded in search results accordingly.
1. Use TLS.
Transport Layer Security (TLS), the successor of the now-deprecated Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), is a security technology which creates an encrypted link between a web server and a browser and provide communications security over a computer network. The protocol is widely used in applications such as email, instant messaging, and voice over IP, but its use in securing HTTPS remains the most publicly visible.
You can spot a site using SSL easily, the website URL starts with ‘https://’ rather than ‘http://.’
In 2014 Google announced that they wanted to see ‘HTTPS everywhere’, and that secure HTTPS websites were going to be given preference over non-secure ones in search results.
Ensure your site is secure – this can be done by installing an SSL certificate on your website.
2. Ensure your site is mobile-friendly.
When your website is mobile-friendly, it is designed, developed, and optimized for users on all standard mobile devices.
More internet users and consumers are using their mobile devices to go online (surf the internet), shop online. Mobile-friendly websites benefit from a host of additional advantages for example, Google prioritizes mobile-friendly websites, which means your business cannot afford to be mobile-unfriendly. Google is responsible for almost 95% of all internet search traffic, so if your website is pushed down on the search rankings, you will miss important exposure and business.
A ‘responsive’ website design adjusts itself automatically so that it can be navigated and read easily on all standard mobile devices (desktop, notebook, tablet, or mobile).
Google is very clear about the fact that having a responsive site is considered an extremely major ranking signal by its algorithms. With the introduction of Google’s ‘mobile first’ approach to indexing content, a responsive website is now more important than ever.
Ensure that your website is fully responsive and will display in the best format possible for mobile, tablet or desktop users.
3. Speed your site up.
The lack of speed will kill your site! You may think what is a few more seconds? Don’t people have time anymore? Turns out they really do not.
A slow-loading website pushes people to leave it. Especially on mobile, the slower your site, the more likely it is that visitors will bounce (leave the site) according to a Google study, it indicates bounce rates increase with increased page load times.
Just two seconds can make an enormous difference and only four seconds can increase bounce rates by 100%.
If you want keep visitors on your site, increase conversions, rank well in search engines, and keep visitors happy, you need to always provide a wonderful experience in terms of speed and on any screen size.
Search engines prefer sites that load instantly, and page speed is considered an important ranking signal.
If you want visitors to stick around, make your site fast.
4. Fix duplicate content issues.
Duplicate or copied content can appear on the internet in more than one place and by always make sure to find and fix such content issues on your site, you can have better rankings along with a great website user experience.
It contains similar (or the exact same) content being on multiple pages. It can be found within your website (due to technical issues on your site) or outside your website (due to others copying your content).
Here is where you can use canonical URLs to prevent problems caused by identical or “duplicate” content appearing on multiple URLs (more on this canonical tag later in the same post).
To put it simply, always keep an eye on duplicate content issues on your website if you want to increase your search rankings and provide a better experience to the readers.
Duplicate content can either be confusing for users (and indeed search engine algorithms). As a result, search engines are not keen on it, and Google and Bing advise webmasters to fix any duplicate content issues they find.
5. Create an XML sitemap.
A Sitemap is an XML file that lists all the URLs for a site and helps search engines to understand website whilst crawling it, allows webmasters to include additional information about each URL, when it was last updated, how often it changes, and how important it is in relation to other URLs of the site. This allows search engines to crawl the site more efficiently and to find URLs that may be isolated from the rest of the site's content.
You can think of it as being like a ‘search roadmap’ of sorts, telling search engines exactly where each page is
6. Consider enabling AMP.
What is AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages)?
AMP is a Google backed project designed as an open standard for any publisher to have pages load quickly on mobile devices and aims to speed up the delivery of content on mobile devices using special code known as AMP HTML.
AMP versions of your web pages load extremely quickly on mobile devices. They do this by stripping your content and code down to the bare bones, leaving text, images, and video intact but disabling scripts, comments, and forms.
Now more than ever it is critical that your website looks good, is easy to use and performs well on all mobile devices. With that in mind you must find ways to improve the user experience on mobile devices through enabling AMP on your website.
Because they load so fast, AMP versions of pages are far more likely to be read and shared by your users, increasing dwell time and the number of backlinks pointing to your content – all good things from an SEO point of view. On top of that, Google sometimes highlights AMP pages in prominent carousels in search results – giving you an important search bump.
7. Add structured data markup to your website.
Structured data markup is code that you add to your website to help search engines better understand the content on it. This data can help search engines index your site more effectively and provide more relevant results.
Structured data is not just about making your products look nice and orderly anymore. It is the only way to stay on top of your SEO. Structured data has several underlying factors that manipulate everything from user experience to click-through rate and more.
Google does not recognize structured data by itself as a ranking factor, it is how you manipulate the structured data and what you do with it, that affects your SEO and in turn your site traffic, ranking, and conversion rate.
Structured Data, like any other markup language, is important for the presentation of your content, in particular, your products and other information. It also has a variety of uses that improve your SEO and helps Google understand your content and it is one of the keys to how well you are defined by search engines and how users can find you and your products.
Structured data also enhances search results through the addition of ‘rich snippets,’ for example, you can use structured data to add star ratings to reviews; prices to products; or reviewer information (example below).
Because they are more visually appealing and highlight immediately useful information to online explorers, these enhanced results can improve your click-through rate (CTR) and generate additional traffic to your site. Because sites with results featuring higher CTRs are considered to receive preferential treatment in search engines, it is worth making the effort to add structured data to your site.
8. Register your site with Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools.
Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools are free tools from Google and Microsoft respectively that allow you to submit your website to their search engines for indexing.
Google Search Console tools and reports help you measure your site's search traffic and performance, fix issues, and make your site shine in Google Search results.
Bing Webmaster Tools is a free service as part of Microsoft's Bing search engine which allows webmasters to add their websites to the Bing index crawler, see their site's performance in Bing and a lot more. The service also offers tools for webmasters to troubleshoot the crawling and indexing of their website, submission of new URLs, Sitemap creation, submission and ping tools, website statistics, consolidation of content submission, and added content and community resources.
When you are ready to launch your website, you should submit its XML sitemap to both Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools so that they can crawl your new site and start to display results from it in search results.
These services also allow you to keep an eye on the overall performance of your site from a search engine prospective - other things you can do with the tools include:
evaluating your site’s mobile usability
accessing search analytics
viewing backlinks to your site
disavowing spammy links
and much more besides.