Search engine optimization, or SEO, is one of the pillars of today’s online ecosystem.
SEO can make or break a website, and learning how to successfully utilize SEO can be one of the determining factors for if your website succeeds or gets left in the dust.
Making that strategy you use for SEO work as best as it can means that you will need to implement multiple methods in your approach. Not only will you need to get some backlinks alongside your quality content, but you will also need to utilize technical SEO and ensure that your website is outfitted with the essentials to make it work.
Backlinks and good content can only get you so far,
So make sure that you give technical SEO the time and attention that it deserves.
Identify what technical SEO is and how it can affect your rankings, take a look at the parts of your website that need to be looked at and examined, and learn some helpful tips and techniques throughout this article so that you can effectively utilize technical SEO to your benefit.
What Exactly is Technical SEO?
As the name suggests, technical SEO focuses on more technical aspects of search engine optimization, such as the analysis of the technical features of a website as well as how those features interact with search engine bots, and how the features facilitate crawling and indexing.
The main goal of technical SEO is to make the job of crawling and indexing your website much easier for search engine bots by getting rid of any errors that may be present in the website’s code.
It doesn’t matter what the niche is,
All websites will benefit from improving and optimizing their infrastructure and implementing technical SEO strategies.
You may think that technical SEO is only relevant to search engine bots and it does not matter to humans, but it can actually be used to optimize the experience for both human and bot visitors of your website.
How Technical SEO Affects Your Site’s Rankings
The way that search engine rankings work through the utilization of technical SEO can be explained as follows:
A search engine crawling bot scours your website for important keywords that it determines it should rank the site for, and then attempts to determine the position that the website should be placed in based off of the keywords alongside how well your page or website fulfills the intent of the searcher.
These web crawling bots are fully automated and their job is to comb through millions of websites across the Internet in order to index them. The way that these web crawlers navigate the sites is by examining the files present on each website and then following the links available.
If a bot visits more pages and spends a longer amount of time on your website they will be able to have more information available and more accurately determine the ranking of your site.
Remember that these bots typically utilize links when navigating websites, so a convoluted and confusing link structure that suffers from technical issues and broken links, or is laden with mistakes and other errors, can slow the speed of these web crawlers to, quite literally, a crawl.
If the web crawler detects that your website’s links are not conducive for indexing and examination then they will simply move onto the next website.
The bots would rather not spend ages trying to decipher the link structure of your page and choose to move onto other options instead.
Using technical SEO opens up doors to other types of ever-important SEO strategies like link building and even on-page SEO. Always keep in mind that your backlinks will suffer if a search engine bot cannot crawl your site effectively.
Leaving your link structure in disarray will ensure that the search engine bots look elsewhere.
So get the link structure sorted before anything else. Always remember how important technical SEO is in ensuring that your site gets properly indexed and ranked by the search engine bots.
Things to Check for When Using Technical SEO
The following are some very important things to check for whenever you utilize technical SEO.
These things should be paid attention to whether you are new to technical SEO or have been using it for years.
Take some time to check over these important aspects since they have a big effect on how well your site performs in the search engine rankings and can impact your other SEO strategies, as well.
Evaluate Your Robots.txt File
This should be one of the first things that you do.
This file directs bots as they crawl through your website. It does not tell them exactly how they should crawl the site, but it does help to guide them to where they need to go.
These plain text files can have different commands contained within them in order to tell the bots what you want to happen. You can prevent pages from being indexed altogether, or you can direct them towards a path that you want them to take while indexing your site.
By either using a wild card (signified by an *) or specifying a user-agent (the bot that the rule will apply to) for the commands you write out you can somewhat control how the bots will act while indexing your website.
By using specific commands in your robots.txt file you will be able to communicate the pages you want to be crawled and those which you would rather keep untouched.
Address Page Error Codes
If the server that is trying to access your webpage runs into an issue you get a page error code. While not all page error codes are related to SEO, there are some that are due to web crawlers getting confused.
Some of these codes include:
- 1xx: This is an informational code that indicates that the server has understood as well as received your request, but is still trying to process it. (Informational)
- 2xx: This indicates that your request was accepted and your browser got the response that it was expecting. (Successful)
- 3xx: This happens when the server gets your request but instead redirects you someplace else. (Redirection)
- 4xx: This is the notorious client error code. It means that there is something wrong with the website itself. (Client Error)
- 5xx: The server was not able to complete your request, in spite of it being valid. (Server Error)
You never want your visitors to run into an error code. Whenever one of these codes pops up you risk losing all the effort you poured into SEO, negatively affecting your rankings and possibly dragging you lower and lower the longer they go unfixed.
Don’t ignore these codes. Fix them as soon as possible so that both bots and humans alike can navigate your site effectively.
Delete Duplicate Pages
Pages that have duplicates can be confusing for human visitors as well as bots.
Know that search engines do not actively penalize you if you have duplicate content on your website.
However, they will filter out these duplicates in the search results, possibly harming the traffic to your website.
Web crawlers will tend to pick one content over another when both are very similar. That means that any duplicate content that they detect will only ever get one version shown in the search results. Therefore, it is best to delete any and all duplicate content on your website that is not essential, as it can harm your rankings.
Use SSL Certificates
Google has stated publicly that they prioritize websites that have SSL certificates, and that it is one of the factors that they take into account when ranking a website.
If you find two websites that are of the same quality and ranking yet one has an SSL certificate and the other does not, the search engine will give priority to the site that has the SSL.
If you have access to an SSL certificate make sure that you are using it.
It can help you to do much better in the search results and also show users that your website is secure and trustworthy, which in turn encourages them to return.
Don’t Neglect Your Mobile Design
There is no denying that mobile devices have become just as important in the web-space as desktops have.
Search engines have adapted to take this into account, and evaluate your website based on how responsive the mobile format of the website is.
Google will prioritize your website if it is easy to use and responsive when viewed on mobile devices.
Take time to format your website’s mobile design so that it is as usable as possible for a human viewing it.
These are just a few of the important things that you should take a look at when evaluating your website on its technical SEO credentials, but there are many more things to think about such as the URL structure of your website as well as the utilization of the Google Search Console
If you find that your website is not up to snuff in some of the areas we mentioned in this article then take some time to adjust and reconfigure the aspects of your website that you find lacking.
It is better to change sooner, rather than later since many of the things mentioned in this article can be detrimental to your website’s growth and performance if left unaltered.
Constantly growing in the knowledge of technical SEO and keeping your website up-to-date and to the highest standard of quality will ensure that it continues to grow and improve.