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Technical SEO is the process of optimising the technical aspects of your website in order to increase the search engine ranking. Search engines today look at a wide range of factors in order to rank a webpage. This goes beyond just the content on the page.
Technical SEO includes many components such as website speed, site structure, page indexing, and many more. In this post, we will discuss the following:
- Why is technical SEO important?
- How to optimise your website?
Let’s start by understanding technical SEO better.
Why is Technical SEO Important?
In order for a site to rank on the search engine results page (SERP), the search engine bots need to find, crawl and index it. This needs to be done for every page of your website.
Technical SEO goes a step further to make sure that not only the website’s pages are being crawled and indexed, they are also optimized for use. This includes ensuring that the page has a fast loading speed, is optimized for free, is secure, etc.
Such optimization conveys that once the user clicks on the website in SERP, she will be able to access the information provided in it. Google and other search engines consider this a positive factor and improve the website’s ranking in SERP.
Now that you know why technical SEO is important, let’s look at some of the steps you can take.
Use a Clear Site Structure
The site structure is the organization of your website. Let’s say you start at the home page. From there, you click on the blog section and then open a specific blog. If you lay it down all similar steps from the home page to every single webpage on your website, you will get the site structure
Generally speaking, the site structure should be flat. This means that every webpage on your website is 2-3 clicks away. This makes it easier for Google to access every webpage.
Such accessing of web pages is known as crawling. Google’s bots need to crawl the web pages in order to index them and list them in SERP.
Having a flat site structure will also ensure that you have an internal link to every webpage on your website. This avoids the chance of having “orphan pages”, which are not linked to any other webpage.
You can use a free tool like Visual Site Mapper to audit your website’s site structure.
Optimize Website for Mobile Use
As per a study conducted by Statista, over 90% of internet users access various services through their mobile. In 2020, this amounted to 4.28 billion users. This means that failing to optimize your website for mobile use means a failure to reach the majority of users.
Optimizing for mobile ensures that a user can easily access a webpage through their mobile. For example, the font size shouldn’t be so small that it isn’t readable on phone. Or the elements shouldn’t be so close that a user will be unable to select them.
You can use the Google Mobile-Friendly Test to determine if your website is mobile-friendly. If not, Google will suggest changes that you can make to optimize your website for mobile use.
Have a Logical URL Structure
The URL structure of every webpage on your website should follow a consistent and logical structure. The URL is important for two reasons:
- It helps Google in understanding the nature of the content.
- It helps the user navigate through multiple web pages on the website.
For example, let’s say you have written a blog on “small business”. A good URL structure would be www.xyz.com/small-businses. Or you could choose to create a different category for the blog with the URL www.xyz.com/blog/small-business.
The URL structure will be informed by the site structure.
Optimize for Indexing
In order to rank in SERP, it is crucial to ensure that your web pages are getting indexed by Google. You can see such coverage reports for free using Google Search Console.
Once you have determined the pages that are not getting indexed by Google, the easiest way to change this is by linking it to another page. For example, let’s say you have a product section on your website and three of those product pages are not indexed.
In this case, you can provide an internal link on other product pages which are already indexed. This will naturally lead to Google’s bots discovering and indexing the previously ignored pages.
Use an XML Sitemap
An XML sitemap is a list of URLs of all the web pages on your website. This helps the search engines understand the structure of your website and ensures that all the pages on your website get crawled.
The sitemap usually consists of all the important web pages. Here are some best practices to follow while creating an XML sitemap:
- Keep it concise: The sitemap should be concise and include all the important pages. Google will not crawl a sitemap with more than 50,000 URLs. While this will not be a concern for a small blog, it is something you need to be mindful of once the site starts growing.
- Update it regularly: The sitemap should be updated regularly to help Google find new content. For example, if you have added a new blog, you would want Google to index it quickly so that users can discover it from SERP.
- Validate to find issues: It’s very difficult to regularly look at the status of each URL in your sitemap. Due to this, running your sitemap through a Sitemap Validator is a great idea. This will give you a bird’s eye view of the sitemap with details of the status code such as 404 error and broken links.
- Register it with Google Search Console: You need to register your sitemap with Google for it to be crawled. You can build it depending on the format of your choice and submit it to Search Console.
This might seem slightly complex if you have never done it before. Since sitemaps are of high importance, you should consult an SEO firm before finalizing them.
Use Schema Markup
Schema markup is a semantic language. These are tags that you add to the HTML code of your website. This is essentially the code that search engines employ to understand the content of a webpage. This is done in order to provide better results for users’ search queries.
You can find out a detailed guide on this here.
Check Page Load Speed
The page load speed is the amount of time it takes for a webpage to load. This is different from site speed which refers to the average time it takes for any webpage on the site to load. Generally speaking, 1-2 seconds is considered to be a good load speed.
The page load speed has a huge impact on the bounce rate. As per available data, a page speed of 3 seconds increased the bounce rate to 13%. This means that you are losing out on many users with every second increase in load speed.
Here are some practices that you can adapt to reduce the page load speed:
Use Code Minification
Code minification refers to the practice of reducing the size of code by eliminating all the unnecessary elements. This includes comments, semicolons, whitespaces, etc. which can reduce the size of the code.
The idea is that a smaller code will take lesser time to load. This will increase the overall page load speed.
While adding images is a great way to make the content more engaging and reader-friendly, it does increase the load speed.
The best way to tackle this issue is by compressing the images. You can use TinyPNG for this purpose. If your website is on WordPress, you can add a plugin for automatic optimisation. Apart from this, you should also be mindful of the format of the image.
Use Browser Caching
When the browser downloads the website’s resources, this is known as browser caching. HTML files, pictures, and other types of files fall under this category. This improves the website’s loading speed on subsequent visits.
The term caching refers to the fact that the content has been saved in the browser’s cache. The browser loads the item immediately from its cache when the user wants it. Otherwise, the browser will have to request the content from the website’s server, which would take longer and use more bandwidth.
CDNs (Content Delivery Networks) cache a website’s content in many places. This is dependent on a number of things, the most important of which is the user’s location.
After the CDN has cached the item, it can access it directly from the cache. This is similar to browser caching in that the material does not need to be downloaded from the server every time a user visits the site.
For example, Cloudfare is a reverse proxy website between the users and the hosting provider. This allows the user to access the content faster than would be possible otherwise.
Experiment with Lazy Loading
Lazy loading refers to postponing the loading of components of a website until they are required. This reduces the time it takes for the website to load. The user can begin accessing the main material, with the rest loading only if necessary.
For photos, lazy loading is widely utilized. The images are not displayed unless the viewer scrolls down to see them.
Tackle Duplicate or Thin Content
One of the most important SEO best practices is publishing unique content on each webpage. This means refraining from copying content from other websites or other web pages on your own website.
The best way to check the originality of content is by using Copyscape. If you find that the content is any webpage is substantially copied, you should ideally remove such web pages or completely change the content.
If you find that part of a webpage is copied, you should add such content in double quotes or provide a link to the source.
Optimise Internal Links
Internal links are an important part of technical SEO. They give a logical hierarchy to your website. This makes your website easy to navigate and use.
Here are some common issues that you should be mindful of:
- Click Depth: The click depth indicator indicates how far a page is from the homepage. You need to keep this number as low as possible. It should ideally be less than 3.
- Broken Links: Broken links are bad for SEO. While the search engine and users can see a link, they will not be able to access it. You should regularly audit your website to remove any broken links.
- Orphan Pages: These are the pages on your website that aren’t related to anything else and can be difficult for search engines to find. There is a good chance that such orphan pages do not get indexed by the search engine. The best way to remedy this is by adding an internal link to such a page.
Technical SEO audit is a great way of improving the technical aspects of your website. This is important for overall SEO to get a high page ranking.
Technical SEO might look slightly difficult to a layperson. The key part is to realize that a lot of it can be easily done by relying on technical SEO tools. Here’s a quick recap of everything we discussed above:
- Use a flat site structure to ensure that Google can easily crawl and index every webpage on your website.
- Run a Mobile-Friendly Test for each webpage to ensure that users can easily access the content through mobile phones.
- Set up a logical and concise URL structure that can be easily understood by both Google and the users.
- Run regular audits to find out pages that are not getting indexed by Google.
- Use an updated and concise XML sitemap with all the important pages of your website.
- Keep the page load speed under 2 seconds. You can use CDNs, compress images, reduce web page size for this.
For your ease, we have created an SEO checklist that you can use for conducting technical SEO for your website. You can find the Google sheet here. You can also download the Excel version:Practics.in-Technical-SEO-Template-1Download
– Practics.in team
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