Understanding Technical SEO for More Efficient Optimization
The thing about SEO is, whichever one of its three heads you’re talking about, you know it’s there to make you rank higher (or lower) in the SERPs.
For those who didn’t get the hint, SEO has three big parts:
- Technical: SEO for making sure your website’s optimized for search engine spiders
- On-site: SEO for making sure your website content is optimized for your keywords
- Off-site: SEO for making sure you get quality backlinks from authority sites
While a lot is said about on-site and off-site optimization, there’s isn’t enough chatter about technical SEO on all those blogs you must have read understanding SEO.
What’s ironic is technical SEO is the foremost step of optimizing your website. If a house is your website, technical SEO is the walls, on-page SEO is the furniture and paint, and off-page SEO is your front- and backyard.
Late last year, SEJ conducted a study with their Twitter followers, asking questions about their SEO practices. In response to the question what component of SEO they attend to first after an audit, 39% people (making the biggest slice of the pie) said they start with technical SEO.
In this article, we’ll show you why understanding technical SEO will help your overall optimization strategies.
To do that, we first share a list of do’s and don’ts of technical SEO practices below.
But first things first!
Here’s one more way to understand what each of SEO’s three parts is about and how they work together for your overall SEO.
Technical SEO Checklist
As the image above tells you, technical SEO is basically all about your website’s architecture. We’ve discussed website architecture do’s and don’ts in detail already, but the list below provides further help with advanced tips and some new aspects of technical SEO.
1. Run Regular Audits
The first tip anybody should give you about technical SEO is to run regular and frequent audits. This is the most important part of successful technical SEO once you’ve created optimized website architecture.
And when you run one of these audits, make sure of the following:
- All of your pages are indexed (except the ones you don’t want to).
- Your URL hierarchy goes three layers deep (keep your architecture shallow).
- To know only those pages are unindexed that you wanted to, use a crawler.
- Your crawl budget is optimized and you’re not wasting any.
- Your internal links are up and running.
- Review sitemaps to make sure it accounts for all recently added (or removed) pages.
- Double check your design for mobile devices (especially those new pages).
- Test your load speed and improve it by removing unnecessary and heavy files.
2. Spiders like Mobile
Now that we know mobile devices are growing into a bigger medium for Internet connectivity in comparison with desktop computers, it’s time to understand how it can help your SEO.
It also becomes very relevant for you to understand how Google’s mobile phone spider crawls your content.
Related bonus tip: Google’s added AMP-optimized pages in its algorithm as a factor for mobile-friendly design and architecture. So, make sure your pages’ AMP versions are available for search engine crawlers.
3. Load Fast
And score fast. Page load speed is a factor in Google’s ranking algorithm, and for good reason, too, when you realize 40% users do not wait for a webpage if it takes longer than 3 seconds to load. They prefer to go back to the SERP and try a different suggestion.
The simplest form of advice for this problem is not dump any content (especially images because they carry unnecessary metadata and weight) that isn’t necessary for your page. To optimize images, try to use .VSG images and small files.
Apart from image optimization, make sure of the following factors to improve your page load speed drastically:
- Ensure HTTP compression before you serve content
- Avoid unnecessary CSS image requests
- Ensure caching information is available
- Avoid unnecessary plugins
- Use CDN appropriately for your static files
- Get a good web host
List of Google’s crawlers: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/1061943?hl=en
4. Unique Content
By that, we don’t just mean you should create fresh content for your website. That tip would be on an on-page SEO checklist. Here, we mean your website shouldn’t contain duplicate content.
Search engines hate duplicate content.
Google launched a periodic update to its algorithm, which the company named Panda. All these panda did was look for duplicate or thin content on websites and penalize them for it.
As with the case with page speed, Google cares about duplicate content only because its users do. They hate it, so Google hates it, too, and punishes you for making its users drag into it.
Make sure you don’t have any duplicate content on your website. Fear the panda.
5. Befriend the Schema
Google introduced schema as part of its assessment measures of a website’s data structure. If Google likes how you’ve used structured data in your HTML code, it will reward your pages with rich snippets on its SERPs.
If you’re looking at that word schema with a confused expression, it’s simply a specialized vocabulary that you use to describe your content to your search engine. While Google doesn’t use schema as a direct influencing factor on rankings, the rich snippets you can win by ensuring structured data can definitely improve your ranks.
If you’re feeling intrigued, here’s a complete list of all schema terms.
JS has caused optimization problems for a long time. While Google says it now handles JS content well, some people who’ve tested this claim aren’t sure.
With this problem still confusing a lot of people, it’s crucially important that you either avoid JS (if you can) or stick to only JS structures without add-ons (read AJAX), and even when you do that, make sure you do it carefully without getting too smart.
7. Why Not Go Secure?
Not only does Google use HTTPS configuration as an influence factor in its ranking algorithm, it started labeling HTTP websites that requested credit card details as ‘Not Secure’. This was a major shock to the e-commerce sector and a lot of them are now making sure they migrate to the secure configuration as fast as they can. This has resulted in a couple of interesting things: (a) almost all results on Google’s first SERP, the most revered of them all, are now usually HTTPS migrated sites, and (b) commercial websites that do not have the secure status yet get hit with visibility push-downs because users believe they’re unsafe.
So, make that journey. Migrate to security.
Get in Touch
Let us know which of these steps you’ve already taken and ask us if you don’t understand any of the rest. We’d love to hear from you and receive your comments on the article.