When it comes to SEO, the three major components are:
- On-Page SEO
- Off-Page SEO
- Technical SEO
While marketers often focus on the On-Page and Off-page SEO, they ignore the third component. Technical SEO has become an integral part of SEO and now accounts for page ranking.
In this blog, we will share the aspects of technical SEO, its importance, and tips to improve the technical SEO of a page.
What is Technical SEO?
Technical SEO is the optimization of a website's technical functionality that help search engines readily crawl, index, and render the webpages.
Technical SEO considers many aspects of a site beyond simply keywords and traffic volume. It seeks to provide an optimal user experience across all devices, improve search engine ranking through better presentation of information, and engage potential customers with engaging content throughout their entire journey on your site.
Technical SEO vs. On-Page SEO vs. Off-Page SEO
On-page SEO is a part of SEO that tells search engines (and readers) what it's about, such as image alt text, keyword usage, meta descriptions, H1 tags, URL naming, and internal linking. Because everything is on your site, you have the most control over on-page SEO.
Off-page SEO refers to the activity of promoting your website beyond the pages you host on your own site. The most important part of Off-page SEO is backlink building. The quantity and quality of backlinks enhance a page's PageRank. If all other factors remain constant, a page with 10 backlinks from a credible site will outrank a site with 100 backlinks from spammy sites.
Technical SEO is trickier and more in our control. If you are knowledgeable about HTML and CSS, Technical SEO isn't hard to crack.
Why is Technical SEO Important?
You may have the best site in the world with the best content, but what if your technical SEO is a mess?
Then you will not be ranked. The major purpose of technical SEO is that Google and other search engines should crawl, index, and render the pages on your site.
The first step that search engines do is index and crawl your web page.
Even if Google indexes all of your site's content, your work isn't done.
For your site to be fully optimized for technical SEO, its pages must be safe, mobile-friendly, free of duplicate content, and fast-loading. There are many more factors that contribute to technological optimization.
Without a site architecture, search engines will not easily find your content. No matter how good your site content is, the search engine bots need to understand the foundation to reach them.
Technical SEO Checklist
A technical SEO has a lot of things to cover. While some of them are important, some might be less important. Let's discuss each one in detail:
#1: Site Navigation & Architecture
To begin with, many crawling and indexing challenges arise as a result of poorly planned site structure. So, if you do this step perfectly, you won't have to worry about Google crawling all of your site's pages as much.
Second, the structure of your site affects everything else you do to improve it; from URLs to sitemaps, to utilizing robots.txt to prevent search engines from indexing specific sites.
Here are some of the steps to create smooth site navigation:
Design an organized site structure
The website structure is a key to determine the way pages are organized.
Your site should have a flat structure. In other words, your site's pages should all be simply a few links apart.
A flat structure allows Google and other search engines to easily crawl all of your site's pages
A flat site structure facilitates crawling by Google and other search engines. You also want your structure to be extremely well-organized.
Add breadcrumbs navigation
Breadcrumb navigation is a feature that appears at the top of a webpage and informs the user of the sites they've visited and how they arrived at their current location.
This breadcrumb navigation allows users to simply return to a previous page or traverse numerous steps back into their website.
This form of navigation is useful for keeping a site's infrastructure in order, and it adds an extra layer of accessibility for the user.
#2: Duplicate and Thin Content
Blogs, articles, and web pages with thin content give Googlebot crawlers little to work with. Perhaps there isn't any internal linking on the page to help crawlers get to other areas of your site. It's also possible that the page's content fails to correctly address consumers' search intent.
A page that doesn't link to any other pages on your site and doesn't truly talk about the services you offer is an example of thin content. Instead, it refers to the names and extension numbers of your employees.
Duplicate content is defined as blogs, articles, or web pages that have an identical copy elsewhere on your website.
Thin content may have various effects on your site rankings.
First, search engines can find it difficult to index your pages effectively. This is because Google needs text and images to understand what you're writing about.
Second, thin content may not be interesting or engaging enough for visitors. If users are unable to find the information they're looking for on your page quickly and easily, they'll likely move on to other pages.
The same goes for duplicate content issues. Google puts duplicate content as a strict factor for removing the pages and punishing the site.
To find a duplicate content page on your site, you can use a site audit tool like the Raven tool. This tool scans your entire site and detects duplicate content.
Here are some of the quick solutions to fix duplicate content pages:
The possible solution is to noindex the pages with duplicate content. The noindex tag informs search engines like Google that the page should not be indexed.
Another solution is by adding the canonical tag.
When there are many versions of the same page, Google will choose one to index. This is known as canonicalization, and the URL chosen as the canonical will be the one Google displays in search results.
Canonical URLs are ideal for pages with substantially similar content but small variations.
#3: Crawling, Indexing & Rendering
To ensure that your website shows in the SERPs, pay close attention to what Google does when crawling, indexing, and displaying your website.
The more you understand each of these processes, the better your technical SEO strategy will be able to match the needs of people and search engines. The more you satisfy search engines' needs, the higher your chances of ranking in the SERPs.
Google crawls the content of your website to extract all the data it needs to show your page in search results.
If your web server is perfectly set up, this process should not impact site speed too much. However, if you have pages with a high amount of text or lots of images, Google may take longer to crawl them and index them.
A badly coded CMS could also result in crawling issues because it often won't properly return XML and JSON data. This will cause Google to either error out or give very low-quality results on search result pages.
Google indexes your website by looking for the codes that identify specific pages, posts, sections, etc. There are a lot of these codes (thousands), but we're going to focus on three: URLs, meta tags, and title tags.
Here are some quick tips to improve crawlability:
- Create XML sitemaps: XML Sitemap helps search spiders understand and crawl your web pages. You can think of it as a website map. Once you've finished, upload your sitemap to Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools. Keep your sitemap up to date as you add and remove web pages.
- Maximize crawl budget: The pages and resources on your site that search bots will crawl are referred to as your crawl budget. Because your crawl budget is limited, make sure your most critical pages are crawled first.
- Set up URL structure: Use the same URL structure on all of your pages. For example, create a page called "My Page" and use the same URL (http://mydomain.com/MyPage) for every other page on your site. This will help Google better index your pages and improve your ranking in search results.
Once Google has indexed your website, it can use that information to display certain pages and posts in search results.
Indexation is a pretty reliable process - most websites will show up as indexed the first time Google crawls them. However, there are some cases where websites may not be included in the index until their owners manually update them or someone else takes action on their behalf (like adding new URLs).
You can use the Google webmaster tool- Google Search Console (GSC) to check if the pages on your site are indexed or not.
In GSC, head to the coverage section on the left sidebar. The coverage section shows all the pages with indexing issues.
Here is a quick checklist to fix indexing issues on your website:
- Unblock search bots from accessing pages.
- Audit your redirects.
- Check the mobile responsiveness of your site.
- Fix HTTP errors.
Google considers another factor to decide whether or not to include your website in its results is how well it renders.
A site that is easily accessible is considered to be completely rendered.
Some factors affect the page rendering. These may be:
- Server performance: Server load, server response time, and hosting capacity are important factors to consider while assessing the page rendering. Poor performance can cause users’ experiences with your website to be frustrating or slow.
- Page size and loading time: A slow page load time can cause a server problem, preventing bots from seeing your site or causing them to crawl partially loaded versions that are missing crucial content. Bots will spend a comparable amount of resources to load, render, and index pages, depending on how much crawl budget there is for a specific resource.
- Page depth: Page depth in your site structure refers to how many layers it has, or how many clicks it is away from your homepage. Keep your site architecture as simple as possible while still retaining a logical hierarchy. Sometimes a multi-layered site is unavoidable. In such cases, a well-organized site should take precedence above shallowness.
- Redirects: You pay a price when you decide to redirect traffic from one page to another. If your redirects aren't set up properly, they might slow down crawling, reduce the page load time, and even make your site unavailable. Redirects should be kept to a bare minimum for all of these reasons.
#4: Page Speed
Website pages were easier for search engines to render in the early days of the internet. The programming was simple, and the site's elements were minimal.
You can monitor your page speed by keeping an eye on Core Web Vitals.
The three main categories of Core Web Vitals are as follows:
- Largest contentful paint: The time it takes for the main piece of material on a web page to appear/load for users is known as the Largest Contentful Paint (LCP).
- FID (First Input Delay): It is a metric that assesses how quickly a page responds when a user visits for the first time.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): This is a metric for the number of unanticipated changes in a page's layout that influence the page's main content.
#5: User-friendly Sites
User-friendly websites are those that prioritize the user experience. This does not imply that you ignore or disdain what search engines want; instead, you recognize that people come first (a sentiment shared by Google).
Here is how to create a user-friendly site:
As the name implies, mobile-first indexing is when search engines (and thus web developers) prioritize indexing mobile versions of websites.
This means you should think about putting a lot of emphasis on your mobile site's experience and structure.
If you go to the Google Search Console and look at the recent crawl log for a recently added page to your site, you can see if your site is using mobile-first indexing.
Accelerated mobile pages
Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is a form of open-source HTML framework developed by Google to assist web developers in making web content mobile-friendly.
Because Google realizes that most consumers will access your site via a mobile device, you should prioritize their type of experience.
Other advantages of using the open-source HTML framework known as AMP to create web content include:
- AMP loads in a fraction of a second.
- Much easier to create than other frameworks.
- AMP is supported by a slew of key platforms.
- CSS can still be used with AMP (but the code will be less complex).
- The foundational elements of AMP are already in place; all you have to do now is expand on them.
#6: Hreflang Tag
Hreflang is an HTML tag that informs search engines about the language used on a particular website. This allows you to show how web pages written in different languages relate to one another.
If you want to target specific audiences based on their location, this is crucial. Imagine you own a German company that wants to build a service branch in France.
And, you want to show them the French language.
If someone visits your site via an IP address, most likely from France, the Hreflang tag "hreflang=fr" tells Google that they should get the French version of the page.
Not only does Hreflang improve the user experience, but it also improves accessibility.
Use Technical SEO Audit Tools
While there is no substitute for hands-on technical SEO work, using the right tools can help you speed up your process and narrow down your focus.
Here are some good technical SEO auditing tools:
- Google Search Console
- Raven Tools
- Google analytics
Q. Is Page Speed a ranking factor?
Ans: Google's search results have revealed that page speed is a ranking factor. The speed at which this ranking signal must be met changes regularly.
Q. Is technical SEO difficult?
Ans: No, technical SEO is not difficult. However, it takes time and effort to master the art of optimizing a website for search engines.
Q. How much time does it take to learn technical SEO?
Ans: Learning technical SEO can take anywhere from 4-6 weeks to 5-8 years, depending on a variety of criteria such as the level you want to accomplish, the amount of time you want to spend learning SEO, your current experience, your perseverance, the tools you use, and more.
Q. Does content affect Technical SEO?
Ans: Technical SEO is different from content. Without effective technical SEO in place, it will be tough to rank even with high-quality content that answers search intent, gives value, and is loaded with backlinks.
Q. How a website gets from server to browser?
Ans: Web browsers communicate with web servers using the HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP). Each time you click a link on a website, fill out a form, or search through it, the browser sends a request from HTTP.
Technical SEO isn't something you can learn in a day or two; it takes time as well as effort and trial and error. However, with the right tools and resources at your disposal, you can start auditing your site and identify the errors on your site.
There are a number of good tools that you can use for Technical SEO audits, but we would suggest you try SEMRush or Ahrefs.