If SEO is like building a house, then Technical SEO is building a solid foundation for the house. You can consider it as any work done to a site apart from the content.
It deals with the technical aspects of a website with the aim of increasing ranking on search engines. Rendering a website faster, easier to crawl, and comprehensible to search engines are the cornerstones of technical SEO. It is a part of on-page SEO which concentrates on improving the elements of your website to arrive at higher rankings. All SEO activities are related to technical SEO with the exception of link building and content optimization. These demands are constantly evolving and getting more complex to keep pace with search engines that are increasingly getting sophisticated day by day. Technical SEO is dynamic and constantly refining.
When you enter a query, Google and other search engines want to present you with the most relevant information. Hence, Google’s robots constantly crawl evaluating web pages on many factors. Some factors are user-based such as how fast your website loads. Other factors aid search engine robots to understand what your pages are all about. This is the outcome of structured data.
So by improving the technical aspects of your website, you are in actuality helping search engines to crawl and understand your site. If this is done well, higher rankings stands guaranteed.
A robots.txt file serves to direct web crawlers what they can access. It is a sort of instruction manual. Crawlers will go anywhere that is not restricted. For instance, you do not want Google to index your private members-only page or an unimportant page. These instructions are placed in the robots.txt file.Some examples are shown below.
The meta robots tag has almost the same function as the robot.txt file- it instructs search engine crawlers which links are to be followed and which links to stop at. In other words, search engine robots may crawl a page but keep the search results out.
Page loading speed is included among the top 10 ranking factors of SEO. If your site is slow to load, user frustration kicks in and a visitor will leave your site. A study carried out in 2016 points at about 3 seconds being the time limit for your website to load to draw visitors.
In short, the faster a website loads the better.
You can better the user experience by improving your website load rate.
Optimize Visuals - Images can be rendered sharp by correctly adjusting the size. Keep the size down to the required minimum as large pictures can severely impact loading time. For photographs, use jpg format and for graphics, png.
Browsers cache- Website resources are automatically stored in the browser cache when you initially visit a website. The browser remembers the website version cached and loads it faster when you next visit it. Returning visitors get the benefit of significantly faster loading.
The second element of Technical SEO is mobile adaptability and has as much bearing as website speed.
When Google rolled out an update algorithm in April 2015 that experts dubbed “Mobilegeddon,” a play on Armageddon it had a massive effect on the way search results ranked websites. It virtually marked the demise of the desktop era and launched the new era of mobile search.
If your site displays the same content on multiple pages or even other sites, search engines get unsettled. If the pages have the same content, then which one should be ranked highest. As a result, they may rank all similar pages lower.
Unfortunately, you may be unaware of such a duplicate content issue. For technical reasons, the same content may be under different URLs. But there is a technical solution to this called the canonical link element. With this, you can show what the original page that you wish to be ranked by search engines is.
Search engines will tend to give your site a skip if the content is not strong enough. SEO, in essence, means designing your site so that crawlers find your most relevant and best content and index it.
For instance, say you own a store that is well advertised, and in a prime location. It will draw a crowd to your door. But if your store itself is so disorganized that finding anything worth buying is a bother, your potential customers will leave in no time. Think of web architecture on the same lines.
Security issues have been around since the dawn of the web. It has become critical today. To discourage such breaches, Google is doing its bit. Sites that support HTTPS and SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) get an SEO ranking boost. Adding this support is easy. You can purchase an SSL certificate from a certified provider. Routing traffic through the server ensures encryption of data.
Just as in the story Hansel and Gretal who dropped breadcrumbs when they ventured into the woods so that they could find their way back if they got lost. Similarly, a breadcrumb in SEO is a small text path indicating where the user is on the page. These tiny navigational aids do not only tell visitors where they are on your site but also aid Google to figure out how your site is structured.
Search engines prefer the path of least resistance. Technical SEO is often focused on the usability and discoverability of a website. Here are a few pointers for a good URL:
As your website expands, you’ll need to incorporate internal linking with your technical SEO strategy. Internal linking with sitemaps and a navigation menu help both users and crawlers find your content and remain on your site. Internal links offer clues and context about the focus of a page and keyword targeting.
For search engines to understand your website and content, structured data is a must. With structured data, you can pass on to search engines all information about your product along with all details. How this information is to be formatted is fixed so that search engines can easily find it and comprehend it. Placing your content in the broader picture becomes easy for them. Structured data well implemented brings with it great results for your content.
Like a slow page load rate, equally tiresome for users is to end up in a non-existent page; a 404 error. Search engines don’t like it either. Because they are capable of following all links including hidden ones, they can discover all such dead links. It happens as websites are constantly worked on.
The guarantee of users’ privacy is an absolute must. A technically optimized website accomplishes this by HTTPS whereby no one can intercept data between the website and the user’s browser.
Your website is doing pretty well in the US. But what if you want to reach surfers in Asia. The hreflang attribute lets search engines locate localized versions of your site for different locations and languages.
A sitemap is like a tour guide that shows the organizational structure of your site. Crawlers examine these files to make a better sense of what is where and then put the data to use highlighting the key elements of a site.
Below is an example of Apple’s HTML sitemap.
Technical SEO is an exhaustive subject and when discussing what is Technical SEO, we’ve presented here just an overview to help you understand the basic concepts involved. The importance of technical SEO cannot be emphasized enough; it is vitally important to increase your rankings and boost traffic to your website.
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