Although keywords is an important feature of SEO, it is not the only element in SEO. Technical SEO is also an aspect of on-site SEO. It works together with keywords in creating an SEO strategy that is robust. This article will provide you with some tips in setting up a strong technical SEO strategy.
What is Technical SEO?
Technical SEO refers to the guidelines in which a website should comply in relation to the ranking requirements of a search engine. In other words, one of the ways for you to be ranked highly is to make sure that the search engine understands the content and structure of your website.
Why Do I Need to Focus on Technical SEO?
When you are optimising for technical SEO, you are trying to make is easier for the search engine to crawl through the information your website. At the same time, you are also trying to inform the search engine that your site contains relevant information that users are looking for. Additionally, you are able to do all this while providing excellent user experience.
All these factors are taken into consideration when Google determines the ranking for the webpages. Therefore, technical SEO can be seen as the foundation for your SEO strategy, as it provides the structure in which the keywords in your content can be easily picked up by the search engine in order to be matched to the relevant user’s search query. Thus, a good technical SEO will give the content on your website the boost that it needs in order to be visible to the users.
Now, let’s get down into the details of what makes a technically good website:
Elements of A Successful Technical SEO
1) Fast Loading Speed
Instant gratification is a real human trait of modern society now. We have been accustomed to being able to receive information very, very quickly. In fact, your bounce rate are more likely to increase if your webpages does not load in under 3 seconds on mobile, and under 2 seconds on desktop^. Thus, for every second of delay, you are missing out on conversions and are essentially losing sales. Slow loading speed can be a double whammy in the sense that:
- Potential customers are lost
- Bounce rates are increased which will result in lower ranking
Source : thinkwithgoogle
How to Measure Loading Speed?
Google PageSpeed Insights is a free tool that you can use to measure your site’s loading speed. Beyond just providing you with a metric to gauge your page speed, this tool also provides you with the ways in which you may be advised to improve your page speed. Do also take note that not all your pages will load at the same time. Try to test at least 10 pages across your website to have a more accurate gauge of the loading speed. You may consider testing the web pages that is the longest, or even contain the largest image size.
^Do note that there might be limitations that are may be beyond your control such as shared-hosting or even firewall installations. These may affect the loading speed of the website. In this scenario, it’s a performance VS security kind of trade off. Therefore, while it is good to keep in mind the ideal loading speed of 2-3 seconds, our recommendation is to try your best to keep the load speed as low as possible.
How to Improve Loading Speed?
You will be assured of faster loading speeds if you are able to stick to these 2 main practices:
i) Use simple templates
The more elements you have in your website, the longer it will take for Google to fully load the site, the higher the chances of your customers losing interest. Other than minimising or reducing the design elements on your website, it is also good to optimize the code behind the elements. Do strive to achieve a good balance between having a completed page design and minimal but necessary design elements. A good rule of thumb will be to not make your customers wait longer than 3 seconds.
ii) Optimize images
Sharpen your images by accurately adjusting the size. Avoid using large photos as they are considered heavier and will take a longer time to load. Also, make sure that the image formats are correct. Use .jpg for photographs and .png for graphics. Another thing you that will help im optimising for images would be to set up alt attributes on your site. The alt attribute text provides the user with alternative information about the image in the event that the image is broken.
2) Mobile Friendliness
Next to loading speed, this is an equally important indication of a good website. This is especially so since most users are known to be conducting a search on their mobile just as frequently (or if not, then more frequently) as on their desktops. Use the Mobile-Friendly Tool to test your website to see if it is mobile friendly or not.
3) Good Site Architecture
Ensuring a site structure that is also SEO-friendly is the mark of a great SEO practitioner. Some important elements that you will need to look out for are :
- Secure browsing
- Clear URL Structure
- Create XML and HTML sitemaps
i) Have Secure Browsing
Google is placing more emphasis on user security. Some web browsers such as Chrome may also start to warn users is a site is not secure. A good site architecture must always use ensure that the website is using the secure protocol – HTTPS.
Google places great importance on security. A HTTPS is a signal to Google that your website is safe and secure for users, which instantly boosts your ranking position. A HTTPS website ensures that the data that is sent over between the browser and site cannot be intercepted. Your visitors will be assured that the credentials and personal information shared on your website is secure.
It is also beneficial to you as in terms of site analytics. This is because Google Analytics can only provide data is your website is secured. It is difficult to provide data for a website that is not secured as the source is traffic is not trackable.
ii) Have Clear Breadcrumbs
Breadcrumbs refer to the digital navigation that informs the user of their location on your website. They are considered to be a secondary navigation system and it is not meant to replace the primary navigational system of the website. A good breadcrumb trail is one that is transparent displays the website hierarchy and indicates to the user exactly where they are.
If your breadcrumbs are clear enough, it will help the user to navigate to a specific page in the most minimal number of clicks. E-commerce sites will benefit greatly from having a clear and consistent breadcrumbs as user will not feel lost which navigating through different products.
iii) Have Clear URL Structure
A clear URL structure is one that reflects the breadcrumbs and the navigational systems of your website. Instead of having the default numbering system as part of the URL, use text to describe the page to both your visitors as well as to the search engine robots who are crawling your website.
Similar to having a secure browsing protocol, having a clear and readable URL structure will also help to improve your ranking position. A good rule of thumb would be that the user will be able to understand the content of the page just be reading the URL description. Additionally, you may also want to add a targeted keyword to the URL structure so as to boost the relevancy of your webpage. This will also help the search engine to classify the webpage in the search ranking for that particular keyword used.
Try to limit your URL to not more than 2048 characters. Do separate the words using hyphens.
iii) Create HTML and XML sitemaps
Think of these as digital maps for both users and search engine crawlers to understand your site structure and the information on your site content. This has an added function of allowing your users to explore your website without getting lost.
A HTML sitemap is helpful for users to easily navigate around your website. It provides users with some reference points as they explore your website.
An XML sitemap is simply the XML format of the HTML sitemap. This is not visible to users but are used by the search engines for their web crawlers to understand and index your website effectively and efficiently. The sitemap will ensure that the search engine crawlers do not miss any of your webpages.
4) Avoid Duplicate Content
Duplicate content means that multiple pages have identical or nearly identical content. This is a severe technical SEO issue that can be highly problematic for you. Duplicate content within your website, or even across websites can be very confusing for search engines as they do not know which web page is more relevant to users.
An example of a duplicate content would be if you have a product or a blog post that is tied to two categories:
Search engines can easily get confused by this because they are unable to make a decision on which web page to rank higher or lower. A good outcome would be that all web pages with duplicate content will be ranked lower. A bad outcome would be to penalise all web pages with duplicate content. This means that all web pages with duplicate content will be not even be ranked by the search engine.
To check for duplicate content, you may use the free tool, Siteliner. This tool will also provide you with a report on the duplicate content, any broken links, and also provide an overview comparison of your site with other sites based features such as average page load time and inbound links.
To avoid duplicate content, you may use canonical link element to indicate to the search engine which page you would prefer to be ranked for. Canonicals essentially allows you to inform Google which web page they should be ranking for. A canonical is not seen by the user and is specifically only for the purposes of the search engine.
Another way to resolve this issue is to remove the duplicate content entirely. Alternatively, you may want to spend some time to rephrase the duplicated content. Although this might be time-consuming, it will enable you to keep the content rather than having to do away with it.
5) Remove Broken Links and Pages
If your website has 404 errors, it means that your web pages are linking to pages that are broken, or non-existent. The user experience of a visitor that is being directed to a broken page will form a negative impression of your website and will most likely leave your website altogether.
Broken links and pages could be a result of unpublished or deleted pages. It could also be a result of a change in URL. Broken pages affect its “crawlability” by the search engine bots. This will in turn affect the search rankings of the web page. Broken links can be detrimental. If you have set up internal links that are directed from, or even directed to that broken link, your authority on a keyword will be negatively affected.
To check for broken links and pages, use Google Search Console . You will be given a list of broken pages in the “Not Found” tab. The “Linked From” tab will provide you with a list of the pages that is linked to the broken pages. Remove these broken pages and update the broken links in order to update your site map as an indication to Google that some changes have taken place on your website.
This article covers the basics of technical SEO that you should not overlook. A good digital marketing strategy is one which addresses both on-page and off-page SEO.
For the technical aspect of on-page SEO, the critical factors that should always be priority would be to make sure that the website has been optimised for speed, search engine robots are able to crawl through the information efficiently and also strategic use of keywords.
It may be overwhelming in the beginning, but remember to always track the changes that you have made to see which works best for your website. Tackle one problem at a time and see your website slowly be better optimised.
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