What is Technical SEO?
Technical SEO refers to website and server optimizations that help search engine spiders crawl and index your website more effectively and there giving your online business more visibility.
Technical SEO Checklist
Search engines give preferential treatment in search results to websites that display certain technical characteristics — for example a secure connection SSL, a responsive design or a fast loading time — and technical SEO is the work you need to do to ensure your website does this.
So here you will find a checklist of important steps you can take to ensure your technical onsite and offsite SEO is up to par. By following these guidelines, you can help to ensure that the security and structure of your site meets the expectation of the search engine algorithms (and we mean Google), and is rewarded in your search results accordingly.
What is SSL?
Secure Sockets Layer – SSL – is a security technology which creates an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. You can spot a site using SSL fairly easily: the website URL starts with ‘https://’ rather than ‘http://.’
In 2014 Google announced that they wanted to see ‘HTTPS everywhere’ and that secure HTTPS websites were going to be given preference over non-secure ones in search results. So, it makes sense, where possible, to ensure your site is secure – this can be done by installing an SSL certificate on your website.
What is mobile responsive website design?
A ‘responsive’ website design adjusts itself automatically so that it can be navigated and read easily on any device. Google is clear about the fact that having a responsive site is considered a very significant ranking signal by its algorithms. And, with the introduction of Google’s ‘mobile first’ approach to indexing content, a responsive website is now more important than ever – if not vital to your rankings.
So, it makes sense to ensure that your website is fully responsive and enabled for mobile, tablet or desktop users.
What is page speed?
Search engines prefer sites that load quickly: page speed is considered an important ranking signal. There are several ways you can speed up your site:
Use fast hosting.
Use a fast DNS (‘domain name system’) provider
Minimise ‘HTTP requests’ – keep the use of scripts and plugins to a minimum
Use one CSS stylesheet (the code which is used to tell a website browser how to display your website) instead of multiple CSS stylesheets or inline CSS
Ensure your image files are as small as possible (without being too pixelated)
Compress your web pages (this can be done using a tool called GZIP)
What is duplicate content?
Duplicate content can either be confusing for users (and indeed search engine algorithms); it can also be used to try to manipulate search rankings or win more traffic. This used to be called and considered “blackhat”. As a result, search engines aren’t keen on it, and Google and Bing advise webmasters to fix any duplicate content issues they find as quick as you can.
You can fix duplicate content issues by:
Preventing your CMS publishing multiple versions of a page or post (for example, by disabling Session IDs where they are not vital to the functionality of your website and getting rid of printer-friendly versions of your content).
Using the canonical link element to let search engines know where the ‘main’ version of your content resides.
What is an XML sitemap?
An XML sitemap is a web file that helps search engines to understand your website whilst crawling it – you can think of it as being like a ‘search roadmap’, telling Google exactly where each page is. It also contains useful information about each page on your site, including
When a page was last modified;
What priority it has on your site;
How frequently it is updated.
What is AMP?
AMP is a Google-backed project which aims to speed up the delivery of content on mobile devices through the use of special code known as AMP HTML. AMP versions of your web pages load very quickly on mobile devices. They do this by stripping your content and code down to the bare bones, leaving text, images and video visible but disabling scripts, comments and forms.
Because they load so fast, AMP versions of pages are far more likely to be read and shared by your users, increasing dwell time, engagement and the number of backlinks pointing to your web content – all excellent things from an SEO point of view. On top of that, Google sometimes highlights AMP pages in prominent carousels in search results – giving you an important and much needed search leap.
What is structured data markup?
Structured data markup is code which you add to your website to help search engines better understand the content on it. This data can help search engines index your site more effectively and provide more relevant results – sort of an extra level of data for Google to see.
What is structured data?
Also, structured data will enhance search results through the addition of ‘rich snippets’ – for example, you can use structured data to add star ratings to reviews; prices to products; or reviewer information, give enhanced geographical or business details.
Because they are more visually appealing and highlight immediately useful information to searchers, these enhanced results can improve your click-through rate (CTR) and generate additional traffic to your site. Because sites with results featuring higher CTRs are generally considered to receive preferential treatment in search engines, it is very worthwhile making the effort to add structured data to your site.
What is Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools?
Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools are free tools from Google and Microsoft respectively that allow you to submit your website to their search engines for indexing. When you are ready to launch your brand-new website, you should submit its XML sitemap (see above) to both Google Search Console and Webmaster Tools so that they can crawl your new site and start to display results from it in search results.
These online SEO services also allow you to keep an eye on the general performance of your site from a search engine prospective – other things you can do with the tools include:
Testing your site’s mobile usability
Accessing search analytics
Viewing backlinks to your site
Disavowing spammy links and much more besides.
If you feel your new ecommerce or business website could do with a little oomph from a Technical SEO Audit, why not give us a call.