SEO Part 2: Technical SEO

Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

In the second part of our SEO series, we’ll be taking a look at technical SEO. Technical SEO is the backbone of a webpage and ensures that websites are compatible with search engines and can be indexed and ranked. The techniques below are most effective when integrated during your website’s construction, as fixing technical SEO problems, later on, is a lengthy and involved process. Thankfully, recognizing these issues is half the battle, which is why we’ll be outlining common problems and solutions that can help regardless of where you are in the website design stage.

What is technical SEO?

For our purposes, technical SEO describes any search optimization work that is done aside from the content, which mainly focuses on the on-site build and optimizing your website to remain relevant in search algorithms. Technical SEO focuses on the indexing and crawling process of a search engine, where they look for publicly available web pages to add to their index, which they ultimately read, organize and add to databases for algorithms to access and pull up in response to specific search queries. Technical SEO optimizes your website for the crawling and indexing portion of the process and ultimately serves to make your website easier to read. If we’re being honest, technical SEO is a bit of a misnomer – it doesn’t have anything to do with the technology behind your website and isn’t that challenging once you grasp the basics. You may read this article and realize you’re already implementing these tactics!

Why do I care?

Let’s say you have a website. Let’s say you want people to come to this website and check out your products. SEO increases your chance of visibility exponentially – Google receives over 57,000 searches per second on any given day, and 72% of consumers who do local searchers visit a store within five miles. If given the right tools, search engines find the consumers for you. Technical SEO is integral because although search engines are advancing and getting better at crawling, indexing and understanding information, they’ll move on if you have a messy website that can’t be easily decoded. It doesn’t matter how good your content is – if a search engine can’t understand it, they’ll make sure no one can read it.

Steps for Good Technical SEO:

Below, I’m going to outline some of the common & most important steps you can take for good technical SEO. Mind you, this is going to be general – I’m not a wizard who knows what your website needs and doesn’t need. If you’re concerned about your SEO and a total beginner, it’s best to hire a consultant for a complete SEO audit. For those more advanced, these are tests you can run at home.

  1. Set up a preferred domain – This is very important because, as you may have noticed, you can get to websites with or without the “www”. Although it may seem innocent enough for users, it confuses search engines to no end, which leads to indexing issues, duplicate content, and overall bumps your page rank down. Simply choose which domain you want (to www or not to www, that is the question), and make sure to stay consistent throughout your site architecture. This cuts down on confusion and lets search engines better direct users to your page.
  2. Check Robots.txt – This is a precautionary step at best. Robots.txt is a file within your site’s root directory and basically provides the instructions to search engines so they can crawl your website. Most of the time you don’t actually have to do anything, just make sure there isn’t any blocking that would inhibit search engines.
  3. Optimize URLs – You want your URLs as simple to understand as possible, which keeps things organized and makes it easier for search engines to crawl. You want your URL to clearly display the content and topic of the page, short and descriptive in all lowercase characters. Additionally, each page on your website should have a canonical URL, which tells Google which version of a page should be taken into account when indexing the site. Make sure to distinguish between pages with similar content to ensure no duplicate content.
    1. Psst, here’s how to check = Simply right-click on any page on your site and click VIEW SOURCE. From there, search for the rel=canonical value. If you don’t have one, you can add the tag <link rel=”canonical” href=”yourpageurl”> to the <head> of your posts and pages.
  4. Optimize your 404 page – Similar to the Robots.txt, this doesn’t require too much work. Just make sure that if a user does get routed to a 404 page that they can easily get back to your home page, and the 404 page politely sends them on their way.
  5. Make your site mobile friendly – This is an integral step. Probably one of the two most important takeaways from this article. Today, the majority of online searches are done online, therefore your website has to be optimized for the mobile format. The mobile version of your website should have the same content, load within six seconds, and work as intended – meaning no popups, menus that still direct to the right places, and avoid overly complicated forms.
  6. Boost speed & optimize performance – Another important step, as no one, search engines or users, like a slow website. Ideally, pages should load under or around two seconds. If your website takes too long, users will leave. Google calls this “pogo-sticking” and hates it, and will subsequently drop your rankings if they notice users leaving your site too quickly after clicking on it. There a number of free online tools you can use to check website speed, but some quick fixes to ensure your site is loading as fast as possible are to make sure your server is updated, optimizing image sizes, and making sure to keep your page as organized as possible and remove unnecessary add-ons.
  7. Optimize your XML Sitemap – Remember how I said making your site mobile friendly was 1/2 important things? This is thing #2. The XML Sitemap is an XML file that lists all the pages/posts/items & their publication date on your site. Search engines use the XML sitemap as a guide (hence the name) as they crawl your site, and you want that map as clear as possible. To keep your sitemap as organized as possible, only include important pages with original content and update it as you update your site and post new content.

That concludes our brief analysis of Technical SEO – technical SEO encompasses a lot, much more than I can explain in a brief article. And, as I said before, you need to look at your website and see which of the above-outlined steps you need to be taking. In the next part of the series, we’ll be taking a look at the content part of SEO… because now that we’ve figured out how to get people to your website, we have to make sure we’re giving them some quality content!


Sources Used: