Content plays a natural major role in search engine optimisation. But there are still more intricate processes you may want to consider to improve how search engines index and rank your pages.
No matter how excellent and easy-to-understand your content is, if even a small error disables Google to index it properly, you won’t rank anyway.
That’s why you need to put an effort into ensuring that you have excellent technical SEO.
What is Technical SEO?
Technical SEO refers to optimisations done to your website and server so that it becomes easier for search engine spiders to crawl and index your site.
The optimisations can also help improve how your content ranks on search engine results pages (SERPs).
Technical SEO essentially aims to make a website faster, easier to crawl and more understandable toGoogle.
Technical SEO vs. On-Page vs. Off-Page SEO
Technical SEO doesn’t directly involve optimising content. It mainly involves deeper manipulation of your website or server settings and features.
On the other hand, on-page SEO involves optimisations of the various elements on your site that are displayed to users, i.e. content. It mainly involves ensuring the correct use of keywords and optimising text and image usage.
Another category is off-page or off-site SEO which covers strategies you would do outside your website to benefit your website SEO-wise. This process mainly involves getting backlinks, which, is a process all by itself
The Basics of Technical SEO
Now that we have defined clearly what technical SEO is, here are the essential steps you need to take to complete the job correctly.
Consider this as a checklist that you can use to optimise your website. Bookmark it for later.
You can also download a more detailed checklist here FOR FREE, created by our KAMG SEO team of experts.
- Ensure to use SSL.
SSL is a security technology that establishes an encrypted link between a web server and a browser.
You can tell if a website is using SSL by its URL, which begins with https://. See below example.
Google announced in 2014 that they wanted to see ‘HTTPS everywhere,’ and that secure HTTPS websites would be prioritised over non-secure ones in search results.
As a result, it makes sense to ensure your site is secure whenever possible.
You can do this by installing an SSL certificate on your website, though most top website builders now include SSL by default.
- See to it that your website is mobile-friendly.
Google is unequivocal in its assertion that having a responsive website is a significant ranking signal for its algorithms. And, with Google’s mobile-first approach to indexing content, a responsive website is now more important than ever.
So you have to make sure that your website and its pages are responsive, including for mobile devices. This means that the layout of your pages should adjust to match any device display including for PCs, mobile phones or tablets.
Your content should be in the best possible format for desktop, mobile and tablet users.
You can check your pages’ mobile-friendliness with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test
And here’s a guide from Google about getting started with mobile-friendliness.
- Increase your pages’ loading speed.
Page speed is a considerably vital ranking factor as search engines prefer sites that load more quickly than slower loading ones.
And you can ensure a fast site loading speed by doing the following.
- Ensure you have a fast hosting service.
- See to it that you have a fast domain name system (DNS) provider.
- Reduce your HTTP requests by keeping your script and plugin usage to a minimum.
- Do not use multiple CSS stylesheets – stick to only one.
Your CSS stylesheet is the code used to tell the browser how your website should be displayed. If you have more than one of it, there will be extra time used to load your page.
- Make sure to use small image file sizes. But also see to it that your preferred image quality is at standard.
- Compress your website pages. You can compress your pages by using the tool, GZIP.
- Optimise the code of your website pages.
You can use Google’s resource page for help with minifying your code.
Remember that faster loading speeds, directly and indirectly, improve your SEO. At a minimum, users will appreciate it and potentially use your site more partly because of its fast loading speed.
Ideally, you want your website to load within 3 seconds, or 2 seconds if it’s an eCommerce store. This is because 40% of consumers will wait no more than 3 seconds before leaving or abandoning a site.
You can use the PageSpeed Insights speed testing tool to see how your website loads.
- Resolve duplicate content issues.
Duplicate content on a website can be confusing for users and search engine algorithms as well. Also, some SEO specialists undertake blackhat strategies of purposively duplicating content to manipulate search rankings or gain more traffic.
As a result, search engines dislike duplicate content. So most search engines like Google and Bing advise that you correct any duplicate content issues you discover on your website.
You can resolve duplicate content issues by doing the following.
- Prevent multiple versions of a page or post from being published by your content management system (CMS).
- Disable Session IDs where they are not vital to the functionality of your website
- Get rid of printer-friendly versions of your content.
- Use the canonical link element to inform search engines about the location of your content’s “main” version.
Also, of course, you can avoid having duplicate content by naturally writing and building your pages with unique content.
One thing you to take into account is that Google does not levy a duplicate content penalty. So you don’t have to make every word or every phrase on your pages unique.
But if you have pages that are confusing to differentiate, it can harm your SEO strategies.
- Make an XML sitemap.
An XML (Extensible Markup Language) sitemap is a file that helps search engines understand your website while crawling it. Think of it as a sort of search roadmap telling search engines where each page is.
It also includes useful information about each page on your website, such as:
- When the last time a page was modified;
- What priority or importance it has on your website; and
- The frequency with which it is updated.
Your XML site is created automatically in some CRMs like BigCommerce. if you are using one that doesn’t have it built-in, you may need to use a sitemap generator to create one.
For example, if you are using WordPress, you can use the Yoast SEO plugin which can generate your XML sitemap.
See the top ten picks for sitemap generator tools by SemRush.
- Enable AMP
Accelerated mobile pages (AMP) is a Google-backed project that aims to speed up content delivery on mobile devices by utilising a special code.
It is an open-source HTML framework developed by the AMP Open Source Project. AMP is optimised for mobile web browsing and intended to help web pages load faster.
On mobile devices, AMP versions of your web pages load extremely quickly.
They accomplish this by reducing your content and code to their bare essentials, retaining text, images, and video but disabling scripts, comments, and forms.
All you need to do is to install the AMP plugin and enable it on your website.
- Add structured data markup.
Structured data markup is code that you can add to your website to help search engines understand the content. This information can assist search engines in indexing your site more effectively and providing more relevant results.
Furthermore, structured data improves search results by adding rich snippets. For example, you can use structured data to add star ratings to reviews, prices to products, images, inclusion on special SERP layouts (like carousel display) or reviewer information to reviews like in the example below.
These enhanced results can improve your click-through rate (CTR) and generate additional traffic to your site because they are more visually appealing and highlight immediately useful information to searchers.
Because sites with higher CTRs are generally preferred by search engines, it is worthwhile to make the effort to add structured data to your site.
- Submit your website to Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools.
Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools are free tools from Google and Microsoft respectively. These tools allow you to submit your website to their search engines, Google and Bing, for indexing.
When you’re ready to launch your website, submit its XML sitemap to both tools so that their search engines can crawl it and start displaying results from it in SERPs.
These services also allow you to monitor your site’s overall performance from a search engine standpoint.
Other things you can do with the tools include the following.
- Evaluate your site’s mobile usability
- Access search analytics
- Check backlinks to your website
- Eliminate spammy links
Technical SEO ensures that your website is indexed and can rank.
If you are to rank on SERPs, you need to get indexed by search engines first. So you need to do technical SEO to ensure that happens.
But of course, it would help if your content is rich and your pages are good looking. And images will help you do that.
Yet as part of your content, images also need to be optimised so they help inform search engines of your pages’ context and don’t slow down your page loading speeds. That’s what you’ll learn and more in the next part of the KAMG SEO Content Hub about optimising your images.