WHAT IS TECHNICAL SEO?
Understanding the hard science of Search Engine Optimization to boost your website's performance.
Introduction to Technical SEO
When it comes to dominating the digital landscape, technical SEO takes the gold. Think of it as your website's personal fitness guru, whipping it into tip-top shape and getting it ready for the big leagues. It optimizes your site's infrastructure so search engines can't resist giving it a high-five.
With technical SEO in your corner, you'll gain more eyeballs, visitors, and potential conversions organically. Here we’ll explain why technical SEO is so important and give the hard science of SEO the standing ovation it deserves!
What Is Technical SEO and What Does It Do?
SEO is often called a blend of art and science. Technical SEO is where the pure science happens. It’s all about optimizing your website to make it faster, easier to find, and simple to comprehend. It's a key part of SEO that ensures search engines can crawl, interpret, and index all the pages of your site.
Technical SEO doesn’t deal with the content of the website, or with promotion. Rather, it's focused on the setup and configuration of the website’s infrastructure. Though changes don’t appear overnight, technical SEO improvements can be some of the first to visibly boost your site’s ranking.
Why Is Technical SEO Important?
Knowing how long your SEO process is expected to take is important for planning your brand’s other marketing and advertising strategies. Be Found Online wants to keep you on the frustration-free path to successful SEO, so we’ve put together this in-depth guide to help you understand what goes into SEO and when you can expect to start seeing positive returns on your pages and site.
- Bullets are great
- For spelling out benefits and
- Turning visitors into leads.
In a world where everyone wants everything right away, a slow website can turn off potential customers. Technical SEO helps speed things up, making for a better user experience and lower bounce rates.
Without optimizing for crawlability, your website might not even rank or appear in search results at all. Technical SEO ensures that your site and its pages are visible and easy to parse for search engines. That way, both Google and your audience can find what they’re looking for.
With so many people browsing on their phones, having a mobile-friendly site is a must. Technical SEO makes sure your site looks great and works well on any device.
Don’t forget about structured data, which is a total game-changer. It helps search engines understand your content better, which can lead to enhanced results and more clicks.
The BFO Technical SEO Checklist
These six best practices are the core tenets of a great technical SEO audit:
1. Website Crawling and Indexing
Indexing and crawling are two of the biggest pieces of the technical SEO puzzle. Website crawling is how search engines find new or updated content on the web. Indexing is the process of sorting that information into the search engines database.
- Search Engine Bots: Crawlers, also known as spiders or search engine bots, are like digital explorers. They navigate through the vast web of existing pages to uncover new and hidden gems. As they explore, they gather data that search engines use as ranking factors on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs.) They analyze keywords, look through site updates, and examine internal linking structure. They make sure that the search engine's index is always up-to-date and well-organized so users can find what they need.
- The Importance of Proper Crawling and Indexing: Proper crawling and indexing determine how search engine bots interpret your website. This impacts your visibility in search results. A well-optimized site that gets crawled and indexed the right way can upgrade SEO and increase visibility to your target audience.
2. Website Page Speed and Performance
Common Techniques for Improving Website Speed Through Technical SEO
There are a couple of technical SEO methods that can help improve website speed and performance:
- Caching is where you store some parts of a webpage in a temporary storage container (cache) so they don't reload every time users visit the site. This reduces the server's workload and makes pages load faster.
- A Content Delivery Network (CDN) is a network of servers located worldwide that store copies of your site's content. When a user requests your site, the CDN delivers the content from the closest server to the user, thereby reducing page load times and improving site speed.
- Image optimization makes a big difference when it comes to site speed. It's all about shrinking image sizes, picking the best format, and using compression tools. That's how we achieve quicker loading times without compromising on image quality.
3. Mobile-Friendliness and Responsiveness
Mobile optimization is super important in today's digital world. More people use smartphones and tablets to access the internet than ever before. Websites that aren't mobile-friendly risk giving users a bad experience. That can lead to higher bounce rates and lower search rankings.
Mobile optimization makes sure your site looks great, works well, and keeps people engaged no matter what device they're using. Additionally, passing Google’s mobile friendly test.
- Mobile-First Indexing: Google's new mobile-first indexing means that mobile versions of websites get first place for search rankings. It's all about mobile-friendly sites and better user experience. This shift shows how important technical SEO is to optimize content, links, and metadata for mobile devices.
4. URL Structure and Site Architecture
When building or migrating a website, it’s important to have a simple, crawlable URL hierarchy with URLs that follow all best practices.
A well-structured URL should always be user-friendly and reflect what's on the page. It's recommended to use hyphens and keep URLs short but descriptive.
Having a website with proper architecture is a win-win for both users and search engines. It not only enhances navigation and user experience but also boosts credibility. That means improved visibility and higher rankings.
Best Practices for Organizing URLs and Categories
With URLs, aim for short, meaningful, and to-the-point formats. For example, 'technical-seo.com/technical-seo-best-practices' is more user-friendly and SEO-friendly than 'technicalseo.com/page?id=xxy1234'. Focus on keywords relevant to the page.
Use a logical structure for categories, allowing for intuitive and easy navigation. On an eCommerce site, main categories like 'Home', 'Office', and 'Electronics' can have subcategories such as 'Furniture', 'Appliances', and 'Accessories'.
Ensure your URL structure reflects your categories. This helps with user understanding and assists search engines in crawling your site better. For instance, 'example.com/Home/furniture/chairs' indicates specific category placement.
5. SSL and Website Security
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is a nifty security technology that encrypts the connection between a web server and a browser, keeping your data confidential and intact. SSLs are like digital IDs that verify a website's identity, making sure your browser connects securely. It not only shields websites from ominous threats but also builds trust with users by flaunting visible security indicators.
HTTPS encryption keeps hackers at bay and protects sensitive info. Plus, search engines give priority to secure websites, making SSL an absolute must for better user experience, credibility, and search rankings.
SEO Benefits of a Secure Website
Google openly says that HTTPS is a ranking signal, meaning a secure website has a better chance of showing up higher in search results. Plus, HTTPS sites load way faster, and speed is a big deal for search engines.
From a user's point of view, a secure website makes people feel confident, leading to more interactions, longer time on the site, more backlinks, and repeat visitors – all of which can boost SEO. And let's not forget the little padlock icon in the address bar that shows professionalism and trust, swaying user behavior and potentially increasing conversion rates.
So, investing in a secure website isn't just about dodging online threats – it's a must for a well-rounded Technical SEO strategy.
6. XML Sitemaps and Robots.txt
XML sitemaps are like roadmaps for search engines to find and understand your website's content. They list URLs and provide extra info, helping search engines crawl intelligently.
Especially for big websites with lots of pages, XML sitemaps are super important for search engine discovery. Just create and submit one to Google or Bing, and you'll invite them to crawl and index your site. The result? Improved visibility in SERPs!
What are Robots.txt Files and How are They Implemented?
Robots.txt files are vital for guiding search engine bots in crawling your website. These text files are found in your site's root directory and tell the bots which pages to visit or avoid, enabling you to control web traffic. They’re useful when excluding indexed pages like log-in or temporary pages.
To implement robots.txt, place it in the top-level directory of your web server. Bots always check this file first for instructions when accessing your site. Using robots.txt the right way is crucial for optimizing your crawl budget and prioritizing important pages for technical SEO.
Technical On-Page SEO Factors
On-page SEO and technical SEO share a few major factors like HTML tags, structured data, canonicalization, and duplicate content.
Title tags, meta descriptions, headers, and schema markup are all crucial for search engine understanding and website rankings.
Optimized titles improve visibility, concise meta descriptions increase click-through rates, headers divide content effectively, and schema markup enhances page meaning for improved SERP exposure and user engagement.
HTML Tags and Structured Data
Title tags, meta descriptions, headers, and structured data (schema)! These four dynamic elements hold the key to raising a website's visibility on search engine results pages (SERPs).
Title tags, you know, those HTML elements that tell you the title of a web page? Well, they're actually the first thing you see on search engine results pages. Pretty important. A well-crafted title tag not only boosts your SEO game, but also helps with social sharing, website navigation, and giving users a better overall experience.
It's important to note that effective link-building and acquisition require time and effort. Allocate at least 3-4 months for link acquisition before expecting to see any improvements in your website's backlink scores.
Meta descriptions give a summary of webpage content and show up under the title tag in SERPs. Even though they don't directly impact rankings, a catchy meta description can boost click-through rates and bring in more organic traffic to your website.
Headers (H1, H2, H3, etc.) are super important for organizing your content, making it easy for readers to understand, and helping search engines too! Using headers correctly can help Google get the gist of your main points in a long post. That means a better user experience and a nice SEO boost, potentially boosting your visibility in search results. So, be sure to pay attention to using headers well to make the most impact with your content strategy.
Structured Data (Schema)
Structured (or schema) is like a standardized format for giving info about a page and classifying the content. When you use schema, search engines can understand your content better, making you more visible in search results. Plus, you might get those eye-catching “rich snippets” or results that boost click-through rates!
Enhancing Search Results with Structured Data
Structured data: the ultimate wingman for search engines! It's like giving them a summary of your site, boosting their indexing game. The result? "Rich snippets" with star ratings, images, or event schedules that make your listing irresistible and informative.
Types of Content Suitable for Schema Markup
Schema markup is a secret weapon for technical SEO - it helps search engines understand your website's content better. This can really amp up your site's position in search results.
Different businesses need different types of schema markups, like articles, FAQs, events, and products. There are over thirty kinds of rich results on Google alone, so most content is now suitable for some type of schema markup.
Adding the right schema markup can improve search results and get you those coveted rich results too. Just remember, it's a long-term strategy, not a quick fix.
Canonicalization and Duplicate Content
Canonical tags, or "rel=canonical," are essential for resolving duplicate content issues on web pages. By specifying a preferred or original version of a page, these tags guide search engines and consolidate the SEO value on that chosen page.
Without canonical tags, search engines may struggle to determine the most relevant content, leading to suboptimal results.
Handling Duplicate Content to Avoid SEO Penalties
Effectively handling duplicate content is crucial for avoiding SEO penalties. Decide on a canonical URL and add the canonical tag to non-canonical versions. Remember, removing duplicate content may not always be necessary, so using the canonical tag is often the best solution.
Website Accessibility and User Experience
How your users feel on your website can make a big difference to your SEO rankings. Is your site easy to navigate? Technical SEO makes sure your website is both accessible and a pleasure to use.
Importance of Accessibility
For a website to be accessible, it must be easily navigated and understood by users of all abilities. By making your website accessible, you not only reach a wider audience but also improve its usability for everyone.
Investing in accessibility is not just a matter of inclusivity and fairness— it's also a smart business decision that can enhance your site's SEO performance. Adhering to accessibility guidelines makes your site easier for search engine bots to crawl, understand, and index, which can improve your search engine rankings. Clear and concise language on accessible sites also improves keyword optimization.
Achieving website compliance with WCAG (Web Content Accessibility Guidelines) involves several key steps:
- Understand the WCAG: The first step is to familiarize yourself with the guidelines. WCAG is split into three levels: A (minimum), AA (mid-range), and AAA (highest). Understanding these levels and the specific requirements of each will help guide your compliance efforts.
- Audit Your Website: You should perform an accessibility audit on your website. This process involves checking all elements of your website—text, images, forms, etc.—to ensure they meet WCAG guidelines.
- Fix Identified Issues: After the audit, you'll need to fix any identified issues. This may involve adding alt text to images, ensuring sufficient color contrast, including text transcripts for audio and video content, etc.
- Regular Monitoring and Updates: Ensuring WCAG compliance is an ongoing process. You should regularly monitor your website and implement updates as needed to remain compliant.
- Involve Users in Testing: Finally, consider involving users in testing your website. This can provide valuable feedback and help ensure your website is accessible to all users.
Remember, ensuring WCAG compliance not only enhances the user experience, but also boosts your website's technical SEO, making your content more findable for all users.
User Experience and Technical SEO
Finding Affecting User Experience and Bounce Rates
When it comes to a website's user experience, factors like loading speed, easy navigation, mobile compatibility, great content, and appealing design really make a difference. All of these play a role in whether visitors stick around or bounce away.
Aligning Technical Optimizations With User Needs
To nail a successful SEO strategy, you need to align technical search engine optimizations with what users actually want. It's all about focusing on key areas like mobile-first indexing, optimizing for mobile, and implementing structured data. These tactics can really level up your search listings and give users an awesome experience.
Future Trends in Technical SEO
Looking ahead, a few changes in search engine algorithms are anticipated that will invariably shape the landscape of Technical SEO. Here are a few trends to keep an eye on:
- Get ready for Core Web Vitals: These metrics are all about the speed, responsiveness, and stability of your page. They'll play a big role in determining your ranking, so it's important to optimize your codebase and choose a reliable web hosting service.
- Mobile-first is The Way to Go: Since most web traffic comes from mobile devices these days, search engines will give even more priority to mobile-first indexing. Make sure your website is not only mobile-friendly but also offers the same high-quality content and user experience as your desktop version.
- AI and Machine Learning are Game-changers: Search engines are becoming smarter at understanding and analyzing content, thanks to artificial intelligence and machine learning. This means you should focus more on semantic search optimization, creating content that not only includes relevant keywords but also contextually answers user queries.
- Don't Forget About Voice Search: Voice search is still gaining popularity, so it's crucial to get ready for this trend. Start incorporating long-tail keywords and use more natural language in your content to make it voice-search-friendly.
Technical SEO can get somewhat… uh… technical sometimes. Between the vocabulary and the number of factors that go into a technical SEO audit, it’s clear there are a lot of details that go into this hard science approach to SEO.
Why is technical SEO important? We hope we’ve given you a better understanding of the impact of things like website speed, SSL certificates, mobile-optimized design, and XML sitemaps on your website’s SERP rankings. We explained the importance of HTML tags, schema, and canonicalization to your site’s on-page technical SEO. We talked about the essential aspects of accessibility and user experience, as well as how to align the needs of our users with the needs of our search engine crawlers. Finally, we talked about a few predicted changes to search algorithms and their potential impact on the process of technical SEO.
If you want to improve your site’s visibility, discoverability, legibility, crawlability, and wow-ability, don’t give technical SEO a pass.
It’s a hard science, but someone has to do it! At Be Found Online, we tackle technical SEO with a team of experts to bring your business to the top of the charts. Contact us today and let's create your custom strategy for success. Embrace the power of technical SEO with Be Found Online.