What Is Technical SEO: A Checklist
Technical SEO is a very important step in the whole SEO process. If there are problems with your technical SEO then it is likely that your SEO efforts will not generate the expected results. It is thus crucial to make sure that you understand what is technical SEO and how to get it right.
Mastering SEO fundamentals is only the bare minimum. If you really want to win against the competition, you must go beyond the basics. In this post, you will learn what is Technical SEO, its elements and our checklist for you to follow.
What is Technical SEO?
Technical SEO refers to the process of optimizing your website for the crawling and indexing phase. With technical SEO, you can help search engines access, crawl, interpret and index your website without any problems.
Technical SEO is part of On-Page SEO, which focuses on improving elements on your website to get higher rankings. It’s the opposite of Off-Page SEO, which is about generating exposure for a website through other channels.
Technical SEO Elements
Here are a few tips on how you can improve your website load speed and make your user experience smooth.
Limit your redirects
Multiple redirects influence your page load speed negatively. The more redirects installed on one page, the longer a user must wait. This is why you should always try to reduce the number of redirects on your website.
In the case of 404 error pages, when there is a “page not found” issue that can’t be avoided, make sure that you come up with a custom one. Design it in a user-friendly and humorous way to at least entertain your visitors and guide them back to your home page or any other important and popular part of your website. Never let a user hop onto the standard 404 error page because it will immediately make him bounce off your website and end the session.
Image file size can disproportionally affect page load time so it’s important to get it right. JPEGs are usually more SEO-friendly than PNGs, especially if you do not need transparent backgrounds, as they offer better compression levels. What matters most is the actual file size (in Kb) of the images themselves: always strive to save them under 100Kb or less whenever possible. If a larger file size must be used above the fold (for hero or banner images for instance), it can help to save images as progressive JPGs where images can start progressively displaying as they are being loaded (a blurry version of the full image first appears and gradually sharpens as more bytes are downloaded). So start by selecting the best format for your needs and then select the best settings for those!
As for dimensions (image height and width), ensure that images are not wider than the most popular largest desktop screen resolutions (which is typically 2,560 pixels in width at most. Otherwise browsers will unnecessarily scale them down) and that your CSS makes your images responsive (images adjust automatically to screen or window size). Ensuring that you are not serving larger images than necessary to display in the browser window properly is another area of optimization often overlooked. Pages often load images that are then scaled down by browsers to fit users’ screen configurations: it is important not to serve images that are wider than the user’s window can display to save on unnecessary bytes.
This is when the browser starts to store website resources automatically on your computer after the first time you visit a website. Your browser then remembers the first website version cached and is able to load it much faster. This significantly improves the page load speed for returning visitors. Leverage the browser cache and set it according to your needs.
It was April 2015 when Google rolled out the algorithm update that has been referred to as “Mobilegeddon” by many experts. Mobilegeddon had a huge effect on the way Google ranks websites in the search results. It literally ended the desktop era and started the new era of mobile search.
From that day forward, being mobile-friendly has played a key factor in one’s website display in mobile search, especially for local results.
So if you don’t know yet whether your site is mobile-friendly or not – test it immediately by using Google’s mobile-friendly test tool, and see how much you have to optimize. If you have further questions if your site is mobile-optimized, don’t hesitate to ask us.
Having a clear and simple site architecture will help your pages get indexed and ranked faster. Here are a few components you need to look at when optimizing your site architecture.
Everyone should definitely use the secure protocol – HTTPS.
In August 2014, Google announced that HTTPS is included on their ranking factors list. So having your website on HTTPS:// will give you a ranking boost. Although it’s impossible to isolate what impact HTTPS has exclusively, it’s better to follow all search engine requirements to maximize your ranking chances.
HTTPS also adds security and protection to your website, making the switch even more worthwhile.
Another vital part of SEO savvy site architecture is breadcrumbs.
A breadcrumb is a type of navigation that reveals the location of a user as it transparently presents the website hierarchy and indicates where the user currently is. They also reduce the number of actions a user has to take if he needs to go back to the homepage, different section or higher-level pages.
Breadcrumbs are a secondary navigation scheme and ought to be used as an extra addition to the website; they shouldn’t replace primary navigation.
A savvy site architecture also demands that you introduce a user-friendly, clear and consistent URL structure. URLs describe the page both for users and search engines.
If you optimize them well for SEO, they will also act as a ranking factor. So remember to make them descriptive and as brief as possible. Ideally, a user should be able to understand what is included under a particular link before he clicks on it, just by checking the URL.
Internal Linking and Siloes
Another major way Google uses to crawl sites is to follow internal links. In addition, this is partly how it assigns relevance to a page and website. Siloing content establishes a network of connections on your website and defines the hierarchy.
Internal links are important for improving the visibility of your older articles that are topically related to the newly published ones. You should categorize the website content and always link to the pages within one category. Doing so will ensure that the user can dig in and flow between resources on your website and find out more about each aspect of the specific topic on different pages.
As a result, your older posts won’t be forgotten, as each new publication will remind your users about them.
Structured Data Markup
Another element of technical SEO to talk about is structured data-rich snippets. Google can identify the type of your resource by looking at its content and on-page optimization, but rich snippets will bring it to the next level and help search engines a lot.
While there are multiple libraries you can use, stick to schema.org, which is a project created by all the major search engines. However, knowing which ones you’ll use most often takes time to learn. Instead of looking through that colossal list, you can use Google’s markup helper. It takes you through the process step-by-step for the URL you enter. You simply highlight text on the page, which will automatically open a small menu, and then pick which attribute the text describes.
Whether or not your code is generated by Google, it’s still a good idea to test the code. Copy the entire code into the structured data testing tool, and click “validate” to see if there are any errors.
Learn more about Structured Data here!
Technical SEO consists of a number of checks and settings you need to optimize to help search engines crawl and index your website without any problems. In the majority of cases, once you get your technical SEO right, you won’t have to deal with it again, other than doing periodical SEO Audits.
The word technical implies that you need to have some technical knowledge to carry out some of the tasks (like page speed optimization, adding structured data, etc.) but it’s necessary to do it otherwise your website won’t reach its full potential.
You may use this guide and checklist to optimize the technical aspects of your website. However, if you need help, then you can contact our team of experts for an SEO Audit.