You might be thinking that the idea of technical SEO might be difficult for you to grasp. In this article, we’re going to attempt to share with you a little bit of basic knowledge about technical SEO without digging deep into industry jargon. It’s important for companies, or anyone interested in auditing their website for that matter, to understand the concept. This is because you need to know which aspects to focus on when talking to your developer about the technical structure of your website.
Chances are, if you clicked on this article, you might be wondering what technical SEO even is. The term itself, “technical SEO” refers to refining the technical aspects of a website in order to improve its ranking in search engines. To technically optimize your site, you want to make it faster, more coherent to search engines, and easier to crawl. Essentially, technical SEO focuses its lens on on-page SEO. On-page SEO consists of things like the user-friendliness of your website, the standard of your code, as well as its visual and text elements. Improving your website to be technically optimized will improve your rankings on search engines.
Why Your Website Needs a Technical SEO Audit
Remember that you’re not just optimizing your website for search engines. When you improve the technical aspects of your website, you are optimizing it for those who browse it as well. It’s important, not just for your placement on Google, to have an optimized site, but also for your customers.
Technically optimized websites generally are more user-friendly than websites that have not been optimized. The goal for your website should be that it’s clear and easy to use, just for the sake of your customers alone. Not only will your website be ranked higher on search engines, but it will also be easier to use after a technical SEO audit.
Each search engine wants to present its users with the most relevant webpages related to their particular search. In order to do this, search engines like Google, for example, utilize algorithms, crawlers, and indexes. To strip down these terms, the crawler follows links and saves webpages in HTML form to a database called an index. The algorithm decides which webpages are shown in which order after running through the index.
While we’re not completely sure how the Google algorithm works, we know which factors might be important. Even so, this changes over time, so it’s important to continue to be up to date on what factors affect your website’s ranking. Technical optimization of your site uses these factors and other techniques to make your website more understandable to crawlers.
Additionally, if your website has technical mistakes, it can hurt you and your company. Some websites end up accidentally blocking search engines entirely by making the wrong technical move. A technical SEO audit ensures that you don’t make these mistakes when it comes to your website.
Technical SEO Checklist
There are plenty of ways to tell if your website is technically optimized. Check out the following list and descriptions to see if your website matches up with some of the best practices for technical SEO.
- Increased website speed
- Website structure and navigation
- Specify your domain
- Optimized 404 pages
- Define a format for URL structure
- Breadcrumb Menus
- Optimized XML Sitemap
Increased website speed
In all of Google’s SEO studies and recommendations, the search engine mentions website speed as an important ranking factor. It’s a confirmed fact that faster websites perform better than slower websites in rank. Website speed is a technical issue that you can tackle using a variety of tools. You can gain insight into your website’s speed using Google page speed insights and other tools like Pingdom software. If you find that your site is running slow, you’ll likely have to hire a developer to fix it.
In this day and age, your website must be mobile-friendly. If not, your rankings are likely to suffer. It’s possible that most of your site visitors are on mobile devices, so you want to make the experience as easy and understandable as possible to them. This specific issue is part of technical SEO because you must develop a compatible theme for mobile devices.
There are different tools online that can help you determine whether your website is mobile-friendly or not. If it turns out that your site is not mobile-friendly, you’ll want to fix this issue straight away. As stated before, it’s of utmost importance that your website is optimized for mobile devices because mobile devices carry out the bulk of Google searches nowadays.
Website structure and navigation
Website structure is an important part of SEO. You must think about how your users will navigate your website and optimize it in order to allow them to browse with ease. You might end up needing multiple categories and subcategory pages if your website churns out a lot of content. The organization of your website not only helps your users and customers navigate easily but also helps search engines index your website faster.
Google and other search engines take in the structure of a website when looking at specific pages. This means that you can’t overlook having a well-thought-out structure for your website. Additionally, if you really want your ranking to move up, you have to optimize your category pages as well.
Specify your domain
This might seem like a mundane cosmetic issue, but it is an important part of technical SEO to have a consistent domain. A website is accessible with www in front of it as well as without the www. This is true for every site, including yours.
While it’s fine for people to forgo the www or keep it in their search, it can be confusing for search engines. Often, a search engine will consider your domain with www in front of it a different website than your domain without the www. To fix this issue, you must set a domain with or without the www, and notify search engines of your choice. As for the choice of including the www or not, there’s no real SEO benefit for choosing one over the other.
Optimized 404 pages
A 404 page is a page that comes up for users who have clicked on a link to a web page that no longer exists. This could happen to a user for any number of reasons. The most prominent reason is that the page has been deleted. You might be wondering, “how do you optimize a page that doesn’t exist?” Here’s how.
The 404 page that appears on your website should let the site visitor know that the page they’ve searched for cannot be found or is no longer available. Make sure that the language you use is friendly in this message. It should also give the visitor alternatives to the page they were looking for by redirecting them to a similar page.
Robots.txt is essentially just a file on your website that gives search engine robots the directions they need to navigate your site. It tells them which pages they should crawl and which they should block. You might inadvertently block code that tells robots how your site works and what your it should look like. This file is incredibly important to get right in order to technically optimize your website.
Define a format for URL structure
Yes, even something as small as your URL structure can be optimized for search engines. Optimizing your permanent link structure helps crawlers navigate your site. There are a number of best practices for formatting your URLs using SEO. Review the following list to make sure your URLs are optimized for SEO best practices:
- Make them short and descriptive
- Avoid unneeded words and characters
- Use dashes to separate words
- Use target keywords
A breadcrumb menu is a set of links on a web page that lets a user navigate to another page on a website, usually a homepage or previous web page. This gives more information to crawlers about how a website operates and also makes your site more user-friendly. Breadcrumb menus are highly recommended by Google and help visitors navigate your website.
This article has been a very simplified overview of a broad topic, but technical SEO is worth looking into more closely. There are so many different ways you can optimize your website to help it rank higher on search engines. Make sure to do thorough research before attempting to optimize your own website or you could risk making technical mistakes that might cost you a lot in the long run.
We at SEO Design Chicago suggest that you get a professional audit performed by a developer. If you’re interested in learning more about technical SEO, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We offer website audits, along with a number of other digital marketing services, and hope to be of help to you and your business.
- What is technical SEO?
- Which factors affect technical SEO?
- How do I optimize my website?
- Do I need a technical SEO audit?
- What is on-page SEO?