What is Technical Search Engine Optimization (Technical SEO)
Our analysts perform in-depth SEO audits and present to you easy to understand diagnoses of how your website performs for dozens of technical factors like load time, Schema and mobile usability. Our Windsor-based SEO consultants have a particular appetite for identifying and fixing errors in your website’s technical build. In short, we make sure your website is configured for optimal search engine exposure, saving you time and headache from working with another Windsor SEO company.
Technical SEO refers to the process of optimizing your website for the crawling and indexing phase. With technical SEO, you can help search engines access, crawl, interpret and index your website without any problems. It is called “technical” because it has nothing to do with the actual content of the website or with website promotion.
Here is a list of steps to follow in order to perform a standard Technical SEO on your website.
Make a Google Search Console account
If you haven’t already, you want to create a free Google Search Console account. Within Google Search Console, you can see your website’s overall performance in search results, as well as the performance of individual pages. You can also view errors that Google’s crawler, Googlebot, encounters when visiting your site.
Create a robots.txt file
A robots.txt file serves as an instruction manual for web crawlers. You can even specify instructions for specific web crawlers, like those from Google or Bing. Ideally, you want to use these instructions to prevent crawlers from overwhelming your server with requests or from viewing unimportant pages. The trick is to not block the web crawlers from blocking your entire website.
If you block web crawlers from your website, you prevent search engines from indexing your site. Your website won’t appear in search results. Use Robots.txt checker tool by Google to test it.
Build an XML and HTML sitemap
An XML sitemap serves as a map to your website, which crawlers use to find the most important pages, like your products or services, on your site. Users will not use an XML sitemap. Instead, they’ll reference your HTML sitemap (more on that later) if they have too. Creating an XML sitemap is easy, especially if you have a WordPress site.
If your WordPress website uses the Yoast SEO plugin, for example, that plugin will build an XML sitemap for you. Then, submit your XML sitemap to Google via Google Search Console.
An HTML sitemap also serves as a roadmap to crawlers, as well as users. People can usually find HTML sitemaps when looking at the footer of a website or when (unfortunately) arriving on a 404 page. These sitemaps, however, help crawlers and users explore your website, which is why they’re helpful.
Generally, your sitemap will include the most important pages on your website, like general product or service pages, as well as about pages. It won’t have every single page on your site. If you do add all your website pages to your HTML sitemap, you’ll reduce the value of your sitemap to users.
HTTPS improves your website security by creating a secure connection that encrypts any data submitted by a user, like someone’s credit card information, email address, or phone number. People do more shopping and communicating online, making HTTPs a must for any business.
- You also want HTTPS because Google uses HTTPS as a ranking factor, which means it can help you rank higher in search results Users reference the HTTPS padlock when shopping online, which can influence online sales
- HTTPS protects customer data, which helps your business protect its brand
Get started with moving from HTTP to HTTPS by purchasing a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) certificate.
Establish an SEO-friendly navigation
Whether you have a small or large website, you want to take a second look at your site’s navigation.
Your navigation often describes your main navigation menu, which usually appears at the top or left-hand side of your website. In some cases, however, your business may have additional menus that people can use to find additional content.
- Focus on your main navigation menu and these best practices:
- Keep your main navigation to seven core menu items. Make your main navigation menu the same across pages. Use keyword-rich anchor text for navigation items.
- Organize menu items within sub-menus, if appropriate
- When choosing which pages to feature on your main navigation, think about your most valuable pages. These often include product and service pages, as well as descriptive pages about your business and policies.
Follow an SEO-friendly URL structure
Technical SEO often focuses on the discoverability and usability of your website, which is why this technical SEO checklist includes a to-do that focuses on optimizing your site’s navigation and URL structure.
If you want to make the most of SEO, follow these rules for your URLs:
- Use lowercase letters
- Separate words with “-“
- Keep URLs short (most URLs will feature your target keyword)
- Avoid symbols, like “#” or “&,” and dates
- Nest your URLs appropriately.
Develop a mobile-friendly website
Every business must have a mobile-friendly website, especially for SEO.
Google now follows a mobile-first index, which means it crawls and indexes your site from the perspective of a mobile user. If you don’t have a mobile-friendly website, your business will see the impact in your search result rankings.
Check and see if you have a mobile-friendly page with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool.