A Quick Guide to Technical SEO and How It Works

Published: 11-Feb-2022
Last Updated: 09-Jan-2022
A Quick Guide to Technical SEO and How It Works

A website is the focal point of most companies' online marketing strategy. The sheer volume of search engine users makes the potential reach almost unlimited. However, it can only work if a company’s website is optimized. One of the many ways to do this is through search engine optimization (SEO).

SEO involves using relevant keywords to rank high in search engine results pages (SERPs). If you rank high enough, then there’s a possibility that a viewer will see your site. In turn, they can do business with you right then and there, or in the future. One crucial aspect of SEO is technical SEO. What is it, and how does it work? How is it different from traditional SEO? This article will tell you all about it. Read on below to learn more.

More about Technical SEO

To say that it’s hard to be proficient in SEO is an understatement. The easy part lies in the process, but the hard part is everything in between. Aside from that, other factors need to be considered, such as on-page and off-page SEO. 

In the simplest of terms, technical SEO is an area that helps the “behind-the-scenes” aspect of how your website can rank on SERPs. Such examples include improving the robot.txt files, improving your website’s load time, and ensuring that redirects are working correctly. In other words, technical SEO involves making sure that your website is noticed and ranked by search engines.

Some search engines favor websites that are properly optimized, such as Google. The terms are pretty simple to rank high enough on Google because your website must be user-friendly and easily accessible. If your website loads slowly or has an unresponsive design, your website won’t rank very high.

Elements of Technical Optimization for SEO

When performing a technical SEO audit, you have to take into account a lot of elements. These elements include:

Page Loading Speeds

A hand holding a stopwatch.

Page loading speeds were introduced as an official landing page ranking factor for Google Search and Google Ads in 2018. So what's a good load time? Well, according to Google, 53% of mobile site visits are abandoned at the 3-second mark. So aim for 3 seconds on mobile. A 2019 Backlinko study, found an average desktop load time is 10.3 seconds. So we aim to meet or beat this average. You can quickly view a loading time report if you use Google Analytics. You can access the site speed report by following these instructions. 

Schemas

Schema markup is a project developed by employees of the Big 3 (Google, Bing, & Yahoo). Schema markup is vocabulary that can be embedded in HTML microdata to provide additional context about content to search engines. Schema.org compares the functionality of schema to HTML tags, you can see their full description here. Developers and SEO teams use Google Structured Data Markup Helper to add schema markup to their web pages. 

Mobile Optimization

A woman uses her phone to access a web page.

Mobile-first indexing was introduced by Google in 2019. It works exactly the way it sounds like it would. Google crawlers use the mobile version of your pages instead of the desktop version to decide where your page appears in search engine rankings. Knowing that Google uses mobile-first indexing makes the importance of optimizing your web pages for mobile users and mobile searches obvious.

Some marketers use drag and drop content management systems that automatically create a mobile version. Marketers who do this are publishing the most important version of their web pages without even reviewing it. This is not a good SEO practice, to say the least.

We recommend checking mobile pages for crawling issues, optimizing headers, and making sure text content is skimmable but contextual. For information from Google itself, watch this video about mobile-first indexing.

Duplicate content

Search engines will punish your websites if you publish long blocks of text content that are similar or duplicated on your website or another website. Duplicate content issues can occur when restructuring your website or when using content syndication to distribute your content to a wider audience. 

Crawl Errors

A crawl error is when a search engine crawler fails to reach a certain page of your website. You want every page on your site to lead to an actual page, even if it's via a redirect. You can use the Crawl Stats report in Google Search Console to find crawl errors. 

Site security

A lock and key in front of a keyboard.

Internet users expect to see HTTPS:// in front of your URL. Websites that have an HTTPS:// have purchased an SSL certificate which means they have invested in encryption and data security for their site. If you have not done this, you're losing customers. 

Optimize Images For Search & User Experience

Image optimization is important for a couple of different reasons. First, large images can cause your page to load slower than it should. You will want to use a tool like Imagify to resize and compress images to create "lighter" web pages. The second reason is you want your site to be optimized for Google Images. If you add relevant file names, alt text, and captions the chances of someone landing on your site via an image search increases. 

301 Redirects

A 301 redirect is a server-side redirect that routes web users from an old URL to a new URL.

There are 4 main uses for 301 redirects:

  • Restructuring Website & URLs
  • Replacing Site During a Redesign
  • Changing Domains
  • Rerouting from alternate domains

Google crawlers see 301 redirects as a signal for canonicalization, but it's not the only factor for canonicalization. These other factors can cause a lag in Google search rankings for the new page.  

To make sure Google knows that you want to rank your new URL instead of the old one, update your sitemap files and any internal links that point to the old URL instead of the new URL. You can check which URL Google is using by using Google Search Console to find which URL is canonical. 

URL Structure

A readable and consistent URL structure will help your website's SEO. URLs should be descriptive and punctuated with hyphens(-). Your URL should never be a long string of random letters and numbers like https://carbondigital.us/index.php?id_sezione=360&sid=3a5ebc944f41daa6f849f730f1

Avoid running keywords together like this https://carbondigial.us/seotips. Instead, separate the keywords with a hyphen, https://carbondigital.us/seo-tips. This tip becomes more important when more keywords are included in the URL. Google recommends using hyphens(-) instead of (_) underscores to separate keywords. 

Site Architecture

Simple and logical site architecture will help search engine crawlers and web visitors access your content. Your site menu, categories, and URL structure all contribute to your site architecture. There are a few different site architecture theories: flat site architecture, 3-click rule, and hierarchical site structure/ theme pyramids. A hierarchical structure is recognized as the best site structure due to the complexity of websites today (especially e-commerce sites). That being said, you should aim to minimize the number of clicks it takes a user to reach a page on your website. 

404 pages

404 error on a mobile device.

A 404 error triggers a 404 page to display to the user. A 404 error occurs when a server can't find the web page requested. We have all run into 404 pages and it's horrible for user experience. However, you can make it a more positive experience with creative design and humor (watch this video). 

According to Google, "404s don't harm your site's indexing or ranking." But we wanted to include it in this article because removing 404s makes a big difference when it comes to user experience. 

A website is optimized if it’s loading quickly and user-friendly. It should also not have any duplicate links or content. These elements are also part of a bigger picture because some of them can engage website visitors even if they hit a dead-end, such as 301 redirect pages and 404 errors.

Conversely, a site should also have structured data to help search engines comprehend the content. Schema graphs and XML sitemaps help in this regard. However, it’s also important to note that you shouldn’t over-optimize your website. You might think that optimizing too much is a good idea, but it will only hurt your efforts in the long run.

Performing an SEO Audit

A person enters a search query on a laptop.

To perform an SEO audit, you have to follow these steps:

  1. Crawl your website. This is the most critical part of an SEO audit because it gives you how a search engine is crawling your site. To do so, enter your URL and click “Search.” On the left sidebar, click on “Site Audit” and run the scan.
  2. Perform a manual search. Since SEO deals in website rankings, you need to do this. Take note of how many of your pages are appearing in the search results, or if there are any at all.
  3. Make sure that only a single version of your website can be browsed. If there are any other versions (such as mobile or desktop), search engines will negatively take this, which badly affects your site’s rankings.
  4. Conduct on-page SEO checks by looking for duplicate pages, headers, or title tags. Make sure that all of these are relevant to your site so that there’s a chance that it will rank higher. Content must also contain the appropriate keywords to further help with ranking. 
  5. Check for internal and external links. Internal links build a positive user experience which helps with ranking. If there are broken links, you can use tools like Xenu Sleuth to help identify them.
  6. Check your site speed constantly. A tool like Ubersuggest can help in this regard because it gives a breakdown of your site’s speed. If your site is on the slow side, you might need to optimize images or leverage browser caching. Whatever the case, Ubersuggest can tell you what to do to improve your site’s speed.
  7. Evaluate your backlinks because it can help you focus on areas of improvement. Aside from that, you can also engage on social media because it helps with technical SEO by driving traffic.

Wrap Up

SEO is not a one-and-done process. Your site must evolve with Google’s algorithm and ranking factors. It may be a pretty complicated process, but getting SEO right is essential to driving organic website visitors and engagement, which will translate into revenue. 
Carbon Digital is a marketing agency that specializes in providing top-quality SEO services. We believe that every business deserves to grow, which is why we do our best to make sure that every company we work with has a chance of thriving in the digital space. Your business deserves the same, so contact us today to get started!

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