Improving your website to increase your keyword rankings and bring in more traffic requires a lot of work and is based on a large variety of factors.
On-page factors and link building are a crucial part of SEO, but these won’t matter if your page can’t get accessed by Google. This is why technical SEO is of utmost importance.
Technical SEO refers to the activities that help search engine crawlers to find and understand your content. Through a better understanding of your content, search engines can better understand where to rank you for relevant queries.
Optimizing the technical aspects of your website can be intimating as it involves coding and using different platforms.
However, it is essential for your site to rank well (or rank at all), and the basics are not as challenging as they seem. This article will act as a guide in describing the most important SEO elements as well as how to optimize them for both search engines and users.
The most critical technical SEO to check and fix is crawl errors. If search engines aren’t crawling your pages, it means that they don’t even know that it exists.
If search engines aren’t indexing your pages, it means that your pages can not rank. Also, smaller crawl errors will mean that search engines will not accurately be able to determine the content on your site.
There are two main categories of crawl errors; site errors and URL errors. Site errors are significant errors that cause problems for your entire site. Types of site errors include DNS errors, server errors, and issues with Robots.txt. These are detrimental to your site so you should fix them immediately.
The other category of crawl errors is URL errors. These aren’t as damaging as site errors as they affect single pages, but they are still very important. URL’s are marked with codes to mark them as running correctly, a redirect, or an issue. The pages with issues have codes in the 400s and 500s.
This indicates that the page doesn’t exist or has a server error. Check out this guide to learn how to spot and fix URL errors.
To look up crawl errors, use Google Search Console’s coverage feature, or run an SEO crawler platform such as Screaming Frog. Problems with crawling can occur for a variety of reasons, so it is crucial to use these tools to determine the root of the issues.
Implementing an HTTPS status code is a crucial way to improve your site from a technical SEO perspective. HTTPS or Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure is an extension of HTTP, and it is used to authenticate and secure websites. It is vital to use HTTPS over HTTP as HTTPS is a ranking signal for Google and some pages may get URL errors under HTTP.
It is easiest to say up HTTPS when you initially create your website. To do this, you have to obtain a security certificate and implement it. However, switching to an HTTPS from HTTP is a more challenging procedure. It is a relatively long and challenging process, but it is worth it to improve your rankings and secure your site. Click here for a step-by-step guide on switching from HTTP to HTTPS.
Another critical technical SEO element is canonicalization. Canonical tags are used to mark the most important or original content when the same content appears multiple times. When the same content appears on multiple pages, it is referred to as duplicate content, and this can cause some problems for search engines.
Duplicate content might cause search engines to have problems in determining which page to prioritize. Thus, the multiple pages might end up competing against each other.
This problem takes traffic and credibility away from the main page as well as confusing for users. Also, search engines can penalize sites for having duplicate content, and having duplicate content makes understanding analytics metrics much more confusing.
To fix the problem of duplicate content, you must implement rel canonical tags. Add these into the HTML of a page, and they tell search engines which URL of the ones with duplicate content to use. Also, 301 redirects can be sued from the duplicate pages to get users to the main URL. Check out this guide to find out more about the canonical tag and how to implement it.
XML and HTML sitemaps
Sitemaps are crucial for sites as they act as a roadmap for users and search engines to find all the pages on a site. XML sitemaps act as a directory for search engines to find and crawl all the pages on your site. This organization allows search engines to easily find all your pages, resulting in more accurate rankings.
While XML sitemaps are crucial to provide a framework of your site to search engines, they do not benefit users. These are implemented in the code, so they are not visible on the actual website. That’s why it is essential also to implement an HTML sitemap.
These provide a roadmap of the site just like XML sitemaps, but these sitemaps are for users. This allows them to more easily navigate the site, increasing user experience.
It is critical to implement both an XML sitemap and an HTML sitemap to create a roadmap of your site for search engines and users. Implementing these two sitemaps requires two different procedures. To create an HTML sitemap, simply edit the HTML code of your site. Implementing XML sitemaps, on the other hand, requires the use of Google Search Console or Robots.txt.
Due to the increasing usage of mobile devices in search, making a site mobile-friendly is imperative for user experience. Also, Google has announced mobile-first indexing, meaning that the mobile-friendliness of a site is only going to continue to grow in importance from the search engine’s perspective.
Thus, making your site mobile friendly is vital for appealing to both users and search engines.
Making your site mobile friendly is a relatively simple procedure as lots of tools are available for this, but there are still some things to be careful of, and you must make sure to cover every aspect of being mobile-friendly. This includes larger text, making images responsive, making phone numbers callable with a click, and more. For more information, check out this guide on making your website mobile-friendly.
Just like sites becoming mobile-friendly, site speed is another technical SEO element that is continuing to grow in importance. Site speed is how long it takes pages on your site to load, and it’s very impactful on metrics such as bounce rate and time on page.
Images and videos have a significant impact on site speed, so optimizing them goes a long way in improving your site’s speed, but numerous other factors are significant as well. This includes coding issues, redirects, and more. Click here for a complete guide on improving page speed.
Need assistance implementing technical SEO elements
Implementing and optimizing technical SEO elements is the basis for SEO practices as it crucial for search engines to accurately see and understand your pages. Since these elements are so essential, you should be proactively analyzing and optimizing these areas regularly.
This can be an intimidating task and require a lot of work, but if you need any assistance, WebFX is here to help.
Our experienced team of SEO professionals has years of experience identifying and addressing technical SEO issues for our clients, and they’ll do the same for you. Contact us today to speak with a strategist!