Technical SEO is one of the most important elements of your website. It’s also, at times, one of the most confusing.
You don’t need to be an expert, but a basic technical knowledge will help you optimize your site for search engines and avoid costly mistakes.
As Tuff’s technical SEO strategist, I work on sites of all sizes. From websites with 5 pages to websites with 5,000 pages, I’ve helped companies make sure their web pages are structured for both crawlers and humans.
In today’s post, I share my experiences and strategies with you and leverage these learnings to help you get started with technical SEO tactics on your own website.
Let’s dig in!
What is technical SEO
Technical SEO covers a variety of different technical optimization techniques and strategies to improve a website’s organic traffic. Some areas are more technical in nature than others. Some borderline on development and some borderline on content SEO, which we’ll touch upon later.
Why is technical SEO important?
Technical SEO is important because it is the foundation of your website, which may also be the foundation of your whole company. If you build a weak foundation, then nothing you do afterwards well give you the results that you’re looking for.
It’s important to start with technical SEO before any other areas of SEO. If you start building high-quality content or high-quality backlinks on a website that is not fundamentally strong then you will not rank well in SERP.
Most important aspects of technical SEO
Core Web Vitals
Just a few months ago, Google released what is now known as the core web vitals that revolve around loading, interactivity, and visual stability.
And they describe them as,
“Web Vitals is an initiative by Google to provide unified guidance for quality signals that are essential to delivering a great user experience on the web…Core Web Vitals are the subset of Web Vitals that apply to all web pages, should be measured by all site owners, and will be surfaced across all Google tools. Each of the Core Web Vitals represents a distinct facet of the user experience, is measurable in the field, and reflects the real-world experience of a critical user-centric outcome.”
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): measures loading performance. To provide a good user experience, LCP should occur within 2.5 seconds of when the page first starts loading.
- First Input Delay (FID): measures interactivity. To provide a good user experience, pages should have a FID of less than 100 milliseconds.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): measures visual stability. To provide a good user experience, pages should maintain a CLS of less than 0.1.
From tracking how long it takes before the page visually loads, to how soon you can start interacting with the page, and then if the page moves after you start interacting with the page; the core web vitals all revolve around website speed and usability.
Google wants its users to have the best experience possible so it’s easy to see why they have such a focus on speed and usability, as well as security.
In this mobile-first indexing world it’s necessary to make sure that your website performs well on mobile.
Security – HTTPS
Having a secure site that runs on HTTPS is certainly a ranking factor that Google looks at. As far back as 2014 they started to penalize websites that were not secure with https. This also includes the sites that you linked to. So if you’re linking to websites that are not secure, I recommend that you update your external links with secure HTTPS links.
There are many different types of duplicate content. The most common is duplicate content within your own website.
This usually happens when you duplicate a page and then forget to change the title and/or meta description on that page. Search engines will penalize you for this, especially if the main body of content on the page is not unique. The reason for this is if both pages are the same how does Google know which one to rank. This is common with archived pages that have the same title and meta description on each paginated page. One way to avoid this is with canonical tags.
One of the most important aspects of technical SEO is making sure that Google and other search engines can crawl your website efficiently.
Depending on how large and complex your website is, this will most likely involve editing your robots.txt file, a well-thought-out XML and HTML sitemap, and the use of noindex tags to save your crawl budget.
Broken Pages & Links
Having broken pages in broken internal and external links on your website will not only hurt your organic traffic but also your user experience.
Search engines crawl all of the links on your website and check, amongst other things, if that page is broken or not. if you have a lot of broken pages or broken links on your website then it is seen as a poor user experience and search engines will penalize you for it.
SEO Tracking & Reporting
This is something that I don’t see mentioned much when talking about technical SEO and I believe it is an important piece that needs to be addressed. The famous saying “if you can’t measure it then it doesn’t exist” applies to SEO as well.
Assuming you’ve got Google Analytics and Google Search Console set up, the first thing to do is connect those two together. This way you can view your organic search traffic in Google Analytics. This gives you the ability to run reports and compare organic to other channels as well as other useful capabilities.
The next thing to do is get a keyword tracking tool such as SEMrush or ahrefs so that you can track your organic progress month-over-month
The above is a non-exhaustive list of the most important technical SEO aspects to optimize.
In my next article, I will describe more in-depth how to conduct a technical SEO audit. With that being said, in order to efficiently conduct a full technical SEO audit of your web properties, you will need an experienced SEO or technical SEO agency.
Implementing technical SEO fixes generally require going into the code and/or advising a developer on what changes to make.
Though technical SEO is the first aspect of SEO that you should focus on, it is still only one piece of the puzzle.
Derek is a digital marketer based in Boston, Massachusetts with almost a decade of hands-on SEO experience. He finds it meaningful, challenging, and exciting to develop, test, and implement new SEO strategies. When he’s not auditing websites and optimizing content he’s usually backpacking and exploring new cultures.