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Taken together, they help to ensure that your website is working efficiently, is visible to search engines, and is functional and easy to understand.
Looking after the technical aspects of your website is not just about becoming more visible and attractive to search engines. It’s also about improving the functionality and overall user experience for visitors to your site.
Websites that work well, and are easy to use, tend to encourage visitors to stay for longer, increasing the chance that they will make a purchase or submit an enquiry. Here are some of the key points to bear in mind when you’re compiling a technical SEO checklist for your website.
Websites that are sluggish to load are off-putting to visitors. Many users will give up waiting if yours doesn’t load within a few seconds.
Most websites are relatively slow, taking an average of 19 seconds to load, and testing has shown that around 50 per cent of users will abandon a website if it doesn’t load within three seconds. Anything you can do to speed up your website loading time will improve your SEO performance.
Aspects of your website that might be slowing down its loading time include the size of image files, and the overall size of your website. Think about what’s essential on your website and what isn’t, removing anything that is superfluous.
Increasingly, we access the internet via mobile devices. As a result, Google has prioritised mobile indexation. This means that ensuring your website is mobile friendly is a vital part of any technical SEO strategy.
There are a number of ways in which you can achieve this.
First, choose a mobile responsive theme or template and don’t be afraid to strip back any unnecessary content. This will also assist with the loading speed, something that is even more important when you’re considering mobile accessibility.
Search engines gather information about your website using robots or spiders that ‘crawl’ or explore its structure and content. A good internal linking structure should ensure that they understand how to locate the most important content on your site.
As well as encouraging them to look in certain places, you can also block them from crawling any content you don’t want them to look at. You can also allow them to crawl a particular page but tell them not to produce that page in search results, or to follow the links on that specific page.
Any dead pages, particularly landing pages that are now redundant, should be removed. If a user follows a link to a page that doesn’t exist, they will be confronted with a ‘404 error’ page.
Not only are these frustrating for users, search engines hate them. What’s more, search engine spiders are much more likely to uncover them than the average user.
Have too many of these, and it will impact the overall impression you give of your website to search engines. To prevent any unnecessary dead links, you should always direct the URL of a page when you delete it or move it.
If you have the same content repeated across multiple pages on your sites, or on other related sites, search engines can get confused. If the pages have the same content, they will be unsure which to rank highest.
As a consequence, all pages with the same content may end up ranking lower. You may have duplicate content without even realising it because different URLs can sometimes show the same content for technical reasons.
This might not make any difference for a visitor to your website, but for a search engine that’s conducting a deep dive of your website it will matter. A technical fix for this issue is to add a canonical link element to your website.
This can indicate what the original page, or your preferred page to rank in the search results, is.
Ensuring that your website is safe for users and can guarantee their privacy is a foundational requirement when it comes to good technical SEO. One of the most important tasks to complete is to implement HTTPS. These ensure that the data that’s sent between the browser and your website can’t be intercepted.
To implement HTTPS you will need an SSL certificate. Google and other search engines prioritise security, making HTTPS a marker when it comes to ranking. A secure website is more attractive to search engines than any that have potential security weak spots.
Structured data tells search engines the type of products you sell or the services you offer. It enables search engines to understand your website better, and make sense of its content. Structured data refers to data that is placed in a fixed field within a file or record, such as a relational database (RDBMS).
It might consist of numbers and text, and will be based on a data model that defines the types of data it includes, as well as how to store and process that data.
An XML site map is a list of all the pages on your site. It acts as a map for search engines when they crawl your site, ensuring that they don’t miss any important content.
The site map will contain a range of categories, such as pages, posts and tags. It will include the number of images and the most recent date that any particular page was modified.
All too often SEO is treated like a ‘fire and forget’ exercise. Companies tick off a checklist of SEO essentials when they create or update their website and then forget to go back and look how their SEO is performing.
Is it delivering the goods as you would expect?
A technical SEO audit is one of the primary tools for ensuring that your SEO is in place and working as it should.
While some of these technical SEO elements are easy to understand and execute, others require more technical knowledge.
As well as the above, there’s a range of technical SEO aspects that can help improve the performance of your website.