Technical SEO is one of the most fundamental aspects of SEO. You may have the most incredible piece of content for a popular topic in your niche, but if your site has unresolved Technical Seo issues, you’ll struggle to rank high in search engine result pages (SERPs).
As a result, it’s really important that you spend some time optimizing the technical SEO of your website.
In this article, we’ll explain the key aspects of technical SEO and share 10 actionable technical SEO tips you can use to instantly increase your site’s organic traffic.
Let’s dive right in.
What is Technical SEO?
Technical SEO is the process of optimizing the crawling, indexing, and rendering phase of your website to achieve higher search rankings.
Neil Patel, serial entrepreneur and co-founder of CrazyEgg, has a simple definition for technical SEO: “any SEO work that is done aside from the content. Essentially, it’s laying a strong foundation to give your content the best chance it can have to rank for relevant keywords and phrases.”
Here are some of the most important topics covered under technical SEO:
- Site Structure
- Site Speed
- SSL Certificates
- Image Optimization
10 Actionable Technical SEO Tips
Now that you know the basics of technical SEO, here are 10 tips you can use to improve your site’s technical SEO and boost your search rankings.
1. Make Sure Your Website is Mobile-Friendly
Let’s start with the most basic technical SEO tip.
One of the major Google algorithm updates in 2015 was to give increased preference to mobile-friendly, responsive websites. In what was termed as ‘Mobilegeddon’, several top websites were penalized for not adopting a more mobile-friendly web template.
So how do you check the mobile-friendliness of your website? You can use any of the following free tools:
- Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test
- HubSpot’s Website Grader
- Bing’s Mobile Friendliness Test Tool
Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test will determine whether your website meets Google’s criteria for mobile-optimized website.
HubSpot’s Website Grader and GTMetrix provide deeper insights into what you can do to improve the mobile-friendliness of your website.
BONUS: Check out this article by Startup Cafe Digital on how to make your website 100% mobile-friendly and download the mobile SEO audit checklist.
2. Create and Optimize Your XML Sitemap
Sitemaps are necessary for Google to find and index your webpages.
Luckily, it’s easy to create an XML sitemap. If you’re a WordPress user, you can generate it using Yoast SEO plugin or Google’s very own Google XML sitemaps plugin.
Once you’ve created the sitemap, submit it to Google via Google Search Console. Login to your Google Search Console account and navigate to Sitemaps -> Add a new sitemap and then hit ‘Submit’.
Once your sitemap is successfully submitted, follow these tips to optimize your XML Sitemap:
- If you block a page in robots.txt, it has no business being in your XML sitemap
- Prioritize high-quality pages in your sitemap
- If you’ve got a big site with over 50,000 URLs, use dynamic XML sitemaps
BONUS: Check out these 13 SEO Best Practices to Optimize XML Sitemaps by Search Engine Journal
3. Speed Up Your Website
Site speed matters. Make no mistake. If your site is slow and takes a long time to respond, Google will place a small penalty on your website.
That means even if your content is gold standard for that particular topic, your website will rank lower in SERPs than it would if your website had faster load times.
This is a technical SEO aspect that you simply can’t afford to ignore.
Follow these steps to speed up your website:
- Optimize your site’s images – Use a compressed image format like JPG in majority of your posts. Use a tool like TinyPNG to further compress the image files.
- Enable browser caching – This lets you temporarily store some data on a visitors’ computer, so they don’t have to wait for it to load every time they visit your site.
- Enable compression – According to Yahoo, enabling compression on your website can reduce HTML and CSS files by 50-70% and increase site speed significantly.
- Reduce server response time – Google recommends keeping server response time under 200ms.
- Use a Content Delivery System (CDN) – Use a CDN like Cloudflare or MaxCDN to increase your site speed.
Learn more about how to implement these steps in this comprehensive guide.
BONUS: Download our FREE eBook: “How to Increase Site Speed”
4. Fix Your Site Errors by Running a Weekly Technical Audit
Running a technical audit every week is a must if you want your website to rank well in SERPs on a consistent basis.
There are several tools on the market which can help you do this. SEMrush, Moz, and Ahrefs are all great tools. But we’d highly recommend SEMrush for this activity as it’s considered the industry gold standard and it offers the most comprehensive glimpse to the technical aspects of your website. If you don’t have access to the tool, you can sign up for a 14-day free trial of SEMrush PRO by clicking here.
To perform a site audit on SEMrush, click on ‘Add New Project‘, enter the details, and select ‘Setup Site Audit‘.
Select the number of pages you’d like SEMrushBot to crawl, skip all other steps for now, and click on ‘Start Site Audit’.
SEMrush will scan your website for errors, warnings, and issues, and then subsequently provide recommendations to fix these errors to improve the overall technical health of your website.
Side note: SEMrush is a powerful digital marketing suite that can help you with more than just technical site audits. Read our full review of the software to learn more.
5. Optimize Internal Links
An internal link is a hyperlink that points to another page on the same website.
While internal links may not have the same influence on search rankings as external links, they still play a critical role in helping search engines understand the information hierarchy for your website and establishing an SEO-friendly site architecture.
So what’s the easiest way to optimize your site’s internal links? Moz recommends using descriptive keywords in anchor text that give a sense of the keywords the source page is trying to target.
To learn more about optimizing internal links on your website, check out this resource.
6. Include Your Main Keywords in Image Alt Text
Google can’t see what’s in an image. Rather it uses metadata such as the image file name and image alt text (alternative text) to determine what’s in an image.
Alt text is used within an HTML code to describe the appearance and function of an image on a page.
Typically, the best practice for alt text is to keep it descriptive with sufficient use of the main keywords that you’re targeting. At the same time, make sure you’re not stuffing it with keywords.
7. Use Canonical URLs to Avoid Duplicate Content Issues
Your first priority should always be to delete the duplicate content on your site. Once again use an SEO tool like SEMrush to scan and fix duplicate content issues on your site.
That said, there are some cases where having duplicate content on your site can’t be avoided. In such cases, use canonical URLs.
Canonical URLs come in handy when you’re replicating a blog post from one website to the other. They are especially useful if you’re running an e-Commerce website with hundreds of identical pages.
So in order to avoid content duplication and a Google penalty, set up a canonical URL using the rel-canonical tag. You can add the rel-canonical tag via Yoast SEO WordPress plugin.
Just navigate to advanced settings on Yoast, then go to Canonical URL and enter the URL of the original article.
8. Install an SSL Certificate for Your Website
Google confirmed back in 2014 that SSL certificates aka HTTPS encryptions are now a ranking signal.
So if you’ve been thinking of getting an SSL certificate for your website, now is the time to upgrade, not just for enhanced security, but also for SEO.
We recommend SSL certificates from Namecheap if you’re looking at cheap, yet effective SSL implementation.
Pro Tip: Though there are several web hosting services which provide SSL certificates, I highly recommend you try Namecheap SSL certificates. They are reliable and highly cost effective compared to other SSL providers.
9. Check and Fix Crawl Errors in Google Search Console
Check for crawl errors in Google Search Console once a week and fix them promptly as these are serious technical issues that may hinder the performance of your website and hurt your rankings.
While you’re at it, check your robots.txt file as well to make sure you’re not blocking pages that shouldn’t be blocked.
10. Use Google AMP
AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages. These pages are designed to load super fast on mobile devices.
While Google has not made announcement whether implementing AMP is search engine ranking signal, Google has been pushing publishers to use AMP. AMP posts also get highlighted in SERPs as you can see below.
Pro Tip: If you’re a WordPress user, it’s super easy to implement AMP. Just download the Google AMP plugin and you’re all set.
Bonus Tips & Resources
Technical SEO is a vast topic that requires constant diligence and updation. While we’ll keep updating this article to provide you with deeper insights into SEO, here are some more tactics you can use to optimize the technical SEO of your site:
- Use Schema.org structured data – Click here to learn more
- Check and minimize the number of 301 redirects for your site.
- Always prefer subfolders over subdomains – This is a long, on-going debate, but most SEO experts agree that subfolders rank better in SERPs than subdomains.
Here are some more technical SEO resources you should check out:
- The Technical SEO Renaissance (Moz)
- How HubSpot Increased Organic Traffic by Over 50% Using Technical SEO Updates
- Technical SEO for Bloggers: 6 Changes to Drive More Traffic (Jeff Bullas)
Technical SEO Checklist & Summary
Technical SEO often takes a backseat to on-page and link building aspects of SEO. But it is equally important to fix technical issues on your site to perform better in SERPs.
To summarize, here’s the 10-point technical SEO checklist to increase your website traffic:
- #1 Optimize your website for mobile devices
- #2 Create and Optimize Your XML Sitemap
- #3 Boost your website’s speed
- #4 Fix Your Site Errors by Running a Weekly Technical Audit
- #5 Optimize Internal Links
- #6 Include Your Main Keywords in Image Alt Text
- #7 Use Canonical URLs to Avoid Duplicate Content Issues
- #8 Implement an SSL Certificate for Your Website
- #9 Check and Fix Crawl Errors in Google Search Console
- #10 Use Google AMP
Which is your favorite technical SEO tweak? Let us know in the comments section.
10 Technical #SEO Tips To Instantly Boost Your Site’s Rankings – http://www.99signals.com/technical-seo-tips/ (via @99signalsblog)
Editor’s Note: This article was first published on Aug 18, 2016 and has since been updated for relevance and comprehensiveness.
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