Technical SEO refers to creating and optimizing a website that follows search engine requirements. This lays down the foundation to give website content the strongest chance to rank for relevant keywords and phrases.
As search engines become more refined, it becomes more important for marketers and business development professionals to understand the mechanisms behind the webpage that allow for users to access and take action on their content.
Make sure your technical SEO practices are current by following these important steps listed below. Depending on your skill level, these are changes either you or your web developer can implement on your site.
1. Obtain an SSL Certificate and Have It Installed
When the beginning of the URL says “https”, this means you are visiting a secure site. Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is a standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. This link ensures that all data passed between the web server and browser remains private. Since 2014, Google has considered HTTPS a ranking signal.
2. Ensure Your Site is Up to Speed
Page speed is considered a ranking signal, which means search engines prefer pages that load quickly. Rather than guess what is causing slow page load speed, use Google’s PageSpeed Insight tool to diagnose the problem. This tool will callout areas of concerns and provide your site with a “score”.
Google’s PageSpeed Insight tool provides recommendations like
- Compressing image files as small as possible, without compromising their visibility (i.e. appearing too pixelated)
- Using a fast DNS (domain name system) provider
3. Mobile-Friendly Website
Ensure your website is “responsive”, meaning your website adjusts automatically to be viewed easily on various devices, like smartphones and tablets.
A responsive website is now a critical ranking factor, as stated by Google. Google stated in 2018 that it will start phasing in mobile-first indexing. This means they will now use the mobile version of the page for indexing and ranking, to better help their mobile users find what they are looking for.
4. Confirm Your Site Has an XML Sitemap
An XML Sitemap is a list of pages (URLs) included on your website. It provides search engine crawlers a convenient way to scan your site and its content. In order to have your site indexed and verified by a search engine, you must submit a sitemap for your website. Luckily, most website hosting platforms automatically generate and update your website’s sitemap. But, if you need to create a sitemap, you can search for sitemap generators online and generate one yourself.
5. Watch Out for Duplicate Content
Duplicate content can present itself as plagiarized content. Google is pretty skilled at their ability to detect duplicate content, so it’s important to make sure your content is original. Another problem duplicate content presents is that if you have too much repetitive content on your website, it can be bothersome to visitors who frequent your website regularly. If you have four webpages that basically say the same thing, those visitors may choose to no longer visit your site, resulting in lower traffic to your website.
In addition, if you update or refresh a page, sometimes it can create a new webpage with a new URL.
If you have several pages with similar content, you can rework the content to make it more unique. If you’re considering deleting a page that has been indexed, you can use a permanent 301 redirect or add a canonical URL to each page. These are ideas that you can share with your web development team if you aren’t comfortable placing these redirects or code on your page.
The idea of “technical” SEO can feel overwhelming, but if you tackle the items above one at a time, it will become much more manageable.