Technical SEO is a subset of search engine optimization that involves optimizing technical aspects of a website in an effort to improve search engine rankings. Often, the first steps in establishing technical SEO is setting up a website and selecting a domain name so every page can be organized and crawled properly. In this 5-minute article we discuss the following key factors of technical SEO:
- Mobile friendliness
- Site speed
- Meta description
- Duplicate content
- Site structure
- Structured data
- Canonical tags
Importance Of Technical SEO
A website can have some pretty great content—expertly written and formatted for SEO, but if the technical side is disorganized, the content will most likely fail to rank in search engine result pages (SERPs). Yes, Google algorithms look for pages with the most relevant content, but they also look for pages that are reliable, fast, safe, and maintain a good user experience.
Technical SEO can both improve and harm rankings. Meaning, a site that includes too many technical errors may be intentionally penalized by Google, in addition to the natural drop in rankings that the errors cause.
Technical SEO lays the foundation for all other SEO and marketing strategies, and if that foundation is shaky or slightly disjointed, all the pages built on top of it will topple down.
Technical SEO Vs On-Page SEO And Off-Page SEO
When discussing SEO, many experts break down the broader term into three specific subsets:
- Technical SEO
- On-page SEO
- Off-page SEO.
Although similar in many ways, each of these three categories require specific knowledge and practices to be implemented successfully.
Technical SEO refers to website, coding, and technical optimizations that help search engines crawl and index website pages. It is often a prerequisite for successful on-page and off-page SEO.
On-page SEO is the practice of optimizing and editing pages and content on a website site in an attempt to rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs). Writing, publishing, and optimizing a blog article with specific keywords is an example of on-page SEO.
Off-page SEO involves actions taken outside of your website to improve the ranking of website pages. Popular off-page SEO tactics include link building, social media posts and links, and content marketing.
How To Set Up A Website For Technical SEO
Before technical SEO practices can be implemented, a website must be set up correctly so every page functions as intended. This includes purchasing a domain name and linking this title to an IP address. Once you have accomplished these two tasks and populated your site with some content, you will then need to prepare your site to appear in SERPs. Users can find your site in a number of different ways and many sites follow the procedure listed below when setting up a website for technical SEO.
1. Establish A Domain Name
Purchasing and establishing a unique domain name will help users reach your site when they search for your company. Domain names may help users remember websites.
2. Link Domain Name To Website
After you have purchased and established a unique, captivating domain name, it is now time to link that domain to your website’s IP address. An internet protocol (IP) address is a set of numbers that allows the internet to catalog and organize a domain name. The internet’s domain name servers (DNS) track and organize billions of IP addresses into the structure you see on search engines.
The most common sites to purchase a domain name from include:
- Google Domains
10 Key Factors For Technical SEO
Conducting technical SEO helps you identify underlying website issues that non-technical SEO tactics fail to uncover. Sites which are optimized for technical SEO are both desktop and mobile friendly, and contain a wide array of original content. To optimize a site for technical SEO, you must also create pages that are fast and easily accessible through a site map. In the following paragraphs, we list and discuss ten of the most essential components of technical SEO.
1. Ensure Your Site Is Mobile-Friendly
Recently, Google expanded its online search results to include mobile web listings for searches made on both desktop and mobile. This update necessitates that a site must now be optimized both for desktop and mobile to reach potential customers. Google estimates that over 60% of its online traffic occurs on mobile devices, making mobile optimization more important than ever. You can use Google’s Mobile Friendly Test to view how a site performs on mobile and what steps might be needed to improve performance. If you have questions on how to improve your site's speed on mobile please contact us.
2. Site Speed
Many experts peg loading time as the number one SEO factor that many large companies take into account, but smaller ones do not. In fact, a site loading time of just three seconds leads to 22% fewer conversions and doubles the bounce rate of a site that takes just one second to load. Site speed may be the most important of all technical SEO factors because a slow site will drive away traffic, rendering all other SEO strategies and content irrelevant.
3. Meta Description Length And Content
The meta description is a short paragraph of text whose central purpose is to generate click-throughs from search engine users. Although Google claims its algorithm does not take meta description length into account, a concise and engaging meta description can increase click through rate. If more people click on a specific search result and stay on that page for an increased period of time, it is all but certain that Google will move that result up the rankings.
4. Duplicate Content Concerns
Duplicate content is a serious technical SEO concern that can prevent a page or site from showing up in any place within the SERPs. Google continuously monitors and controls content and does not hesitate to demote content they believe may be plagiarized or duplicated. Extreme cases of duplicate content, in which articles and pages are directly copied from one website to another, can even result in serious punishment from Google. Most duplicate content is not created intentionally. Rather, it is the result of a series of technical errors that can usually be fixed fairly quickly.
5. Site Structure
The underlying structure of a site is critical because it determines how all pages, links, and articles are arranged. In general, sites should be organized according to a flat structure in which all pages can be accessed within a few clicks. While smaller, traditional websites usually have no problem with this, large e-commerce sites can be much more difficult to structure. In these cases, establishing a site roadmap or dividing pages into subcategories may be useful.
Crawlability is one of the fundamental components of technical SEO. If Google bots are unable to crawl a page, it will never be indexed and never rank for a single keyword in the SERPs. The first step in improving crawlability is ensuring that all your site’s pages are accessible, indexable, and easy to navigate. In the indexing section located two slots below this one, we discuss the indexing tactics that can help prepare a site for indexing.
7. URL Structure
URL structure is closely related to site architecture, and refers to the way in which URLs are laid out and connected to each other. Most sites will have a domain URL such as google.com. This domain URL will then have subsets that link to certain pages. When creating a website, there are no set guidelines to how to structure URLs, but SEO experts recommend that URL text follows a unified structure. For example, the product page URL on your website probably should not read as www.website.com/home/pages/products if the blog page URL simply reads as www.website.com/blog.
Indexing is the process by which Google analyzes and stores content. It is Google’s online filing mechanism that prepares content to be featured in the SERPs. If a website’s content is never indexed, Google has no way of determining its potential value to viewers. Indexing is closely related to site structure and the construction of a XML sitemap, a file that lists all important web pages that Google should crawl. Indexing is directly related to crawlability, a measurement of how easily Google bots can examine a specific site or page.
9. Canonical Tags
Canonical tags are a lesser known element of technical SEO that appear in the header section of a page’s HTML code. Their purpose is to indicate to search engines that content on the provided URL is the true and original content of the page. Using canonical tags prevents issues related to identical or duplicate content on multiple pages. Many SEO users believe that canonical tags are only relevant for sites that intentionally produce duplicate content, but this is far from the truth. As humans, we tend to think of each page as a separate concept and entity. To search engines, however, even a minor mistake in HTML code can create multiple home pages and duplicate content.
In addition, many content management and tracking systems exacerbate duplicate content problems by automatically adding multiple tags to certain pages. Certain systems can also create multiple pathways to the same content, which prevents this content from being tracked if it does not include canonical tags.
Many large sites include hundreds of pages and utilize an organizational structure known as pagination to help users navigate. Pagination uses coding to indicate to search engines which specific URLs under a domain are related to each other. This can be especially useful for websites that contain content series, in which a certain article follows or precedes another. For example, an e-commerce beauty site that contains thousands of products may use pagination to connect pages of lipstick products to those that contain lipstick removal wipes.
Technical search engine optimization is a prerequisite to on-page and off-page SEO that ensures websites meet the technical parameters required to rank in search engine result pages (SERPs). Technical SEO requires dedication, consistency, and thorough research to set up and managed effectively.
Before a website can benefit from technical SEO, certain parameters and tasks must be completed, including establishing a domain name and linking that domain name to a website. The many aspects of technical SEO include, but are not limited to site speed, meta description, site structure, crawlability, URL structure, indexing, canonical tags, and pagination.
For any questions regarding technical SEO please contact us.