Technical SEO: The Backbone of your SEO Strategy
Technical SEO is one of the most important components to a successful SEO plan, because, without it, Google won’t pay attention to your content.
SEO, as most of us know it, is about writing and optimizing killer online content, otherwise known as on-page SEO. While this is true, even the world’s greatest content and a strong link profile are meaningless if you don’t also optimize for another kind of SEO. Technical SEO.
So, what is technical SEO? In formal terms, it is an aspect of SEO that focuses on how well bots can crawl your site and index your content. In more manageable terms, it is all the SEO work done outside of content and link building. It is the bones of your website, and it lays the necessary groundwork so that your content has the chance it needs to rank well.
If you think of SEO as a car, technical SEO is the car engine. You can build an immaculate, top-of-the-line car, but without an engine, it’s not destined to go anywhere fast.
These are some of the most important factors of technical SEO:
1. Page speed
The speed in which your website loads is included in the top ten SEO ranking factors, and for good reason. A slow website can have two types of serious implications. The first being, if your website is slow to load, a large majority of your visitors will leave. Almost half of all internet users expect a website to load within two seconds, and 40 percent of them will back out if it takes longer than three seconds to load.
This is where the second implication comes in to play, because when enough users hit the ‘back’ button too soon (otherwise known as “pogo-sticking”) and your bounce rate increases, Google views that as a sign that readers are dissatisfied with your site. In this scenario, your rankings will drop and instead go to a competing site that doesn’t have the same speed issues.
Here are some of the best ways to increase your page load speed:
- Use simple website templates
- Optimize your visuals
- Reduce the number of redirects
- Leverage your browser cache
2. Optimize for mobile
Gone are the days of home phones and phone books, and Google knows it. In 2015, Google released an update to its algorithm to help shift the emphasis from desktop browsing to mobile-based browsing, and just a few years later, mobile-first indexing plans were announced.
Today, mobile traffic is more popular than desktop traffic, and over half of all Google searches are being performed via mobile devices. This is exactly why Google is now using the mobile version of your website to deal rankings.
So, what does all of this mean? It means that you either need to make sure that your site is responsive, or appropriately adjusts its display based on screen size, or you need to build a separate site just for mobile users.
To test your site’s mobile compatibility, you can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test Tool.
If you choose to build a separate site, make sure it closely matches your desktop site in structure, content, images, videos, etc. You’ll also want to use Google’s robots.txt tester to make sure that Google can effectively crawl and read your mobile site.
3. The architecture of your site
The architecture of your site is a very important aspect of technical SEO and a key component to whether or not Google’s spiders can quickly index and rank your website.
These are the architecture components involved with building a site that Google can crawl and review with ease:
The first step to building an SEO-friendly architecture is choosing a secure hypertext transfer protocol. In this case, that is HTTPS protocol. Google actually included this on their ranking factors list, so having your website on HTTPS:// will give your rankings a boost. It will also add security to your website.
Breadcrumbs (or breadcrumb trail) is a type of navigation that reveals the location of a user while on a website. Breadcrumb navigation is generally used by websites that call for a clear structure, as it makes it much easier for users to find their way around, and lessens the number of steps one needs to take to go from page to page.
A user-friendly URL also helps to boost your rankings. It’s best to make them descriptive, short, separated by hyphens, and optimized with relevant keywords.
For a technical SEO boost, create internal links to create easy access to older articles and past content.
4. Structured data
Another strong component of technical SEO is structured data. Marking your site up with structured data makes it easier for Google to place pertinent sections of your site into rich snippets, which are found at the top of the search engine results page, just before the organic listings.
Again, Google loves sites that it can crawl quickly, and structured data is an efficient way for the search engine to find exactly what users are looking for.
5. Duplicate content
This is a serious foul in the SEO world. Google targets anything it deems low-quality content, which includes instances of duplicate content on your website. Review your site for duplicate content, and if you find it, chuck it. You can either remove it entirely or rephrase it, but either way, keeping your content free of any dupes is key to maintaining a healthy SEO standing.
SEO is an ever-evolving landscape and algorithm updates are made regularly. It’s important to remain educated and agile. It’s also important to remember that even if your on-page SEO is world-class, your ratings will drop if you don’t also stay on top of your technical SEO. Try not to get overwhelmed by the terminology (“technical “can sound a little scary) and focus on tackling the most important aspects listed above, one step at a time.