What is Technical SEO?
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When it comes to making the crawling spiders of Google happy, you’ve got to feed them the good stuff – the on-page, off-page and technical SEO.
But does the word ‘technical’ put you off? Does it sound, quite simply… ‘too technical’?
Don’t you worry, because I’m Holly and today we’re going to share the low down on technical SEO for another episode of Giant Wednesday.
Let’s kick it off with an explanation…
What is technical SEO?
So, technical SEO is pretty much what it says on the tin… it’s the technical side of optimising your website for search engines.
Like other parts of SEO, such as on-page SEO & off-page SEO, it’s all about making your website do what it needs to do for the likes of Google so it shows up to customers when they come a’lookin.
The main pillars of technical SEO are making your website faster, easier to crawl and understandable for search engines. And those are also, obviously, the benefits.
And all of that’s achieved by concentrating on the… yep, you guessed it… technical bits!
This, together with a focus on on-page and off-page SEO, will see your website flourish online.
So, what are the technical bits that make up technical SEO I hear you ask?
Well, let’s delve deeper.
What’s involved in technical SEO?
There are a LOT of elements involved with technical SEO, so today I’m going to focus on
- Loading Speed
- Functionality & Usability
Starting with number one,
The loading speed refers to the time it takes for a website to download and display on a user’s browser.
Naturally, you want this to be fast!
Google knows we’ve got a limited attention span, so considers it a bad user experience if it’s slow.
As you can see below, a page speed of 1-3 seconds increases the bounce rate probability of 32%, whereas a 1-10 second speed has a bounce rate probability of 123%.
1-3 seconds load time increase the bounce rate probability by 32%
1-5 seconds load time increase the bounce rate probability by 90%
1-6 seconds load time increase the bounce rate probability by 106%
1-10 seconds load time increase the bounce rate probability by 123%
This falls under the technical SEO category because the elements that impact site speed are… technical!
If you use tools like Google’s Page Speed Insights or Lighthouse, you can monitor a web pages site speed and see the areas for improvement. You’ll see why it’s called ‘technical SEO’ when you get into that…
Things that might impact site speed are the likes of:
- Server Response Time
- Web hosting
- Optimising image sizes
- & File compression
Moving onto the second part,
Functionality & usability
First and foremost, you want to make sure that your website is mobile-friendly.
Google will prioritise mobile-friendly sites when it comes to indexing your website – meaning the order they display it in search engine results pages.
If your website doesn’t work well on smaller screen devices, then that’s one of your first actions.
Ideally, you’d have a responsive design rather than making a fully separate mobile version, and most website builders nowadays come with this as a feature in their builders.
A responsive design essentially means your website will resize itself based on screen size.
You can also look to edit individual elements based on screen sizes, for example shortening titles, changing font sizes, removing imagery etc. when you move from desktop to mobile.
You can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool to see if your website is… friendly. Which will offer some great advice to improve it!
Other areas to improve functionality & usability for both the user and the robots… are things like URL structure.
You want to make sure your URL structure is optimised to avoid this:
This helps users and robots understand the context which, ultimately, is king!
To build friendly URLs:
- Use dashes (-) instead of underscores
- Make it short & concise
- Use your focus keywords
Flying through these, our next focus is making sure your website is secure – I’m talking HTTPS – hypertext transfer protocol secure.
This is essentially a data layer to protect yourselves and website users, and is a ranking factor under technical SEO to help prove to Google you protect your users.
This is a nice easy one to implement – you’ll need to buy an SSL certificate and implement it! Boom – easy.
But if you were a HTTP site before, moving over to HTTPS, then make sure you set up 301 redirects so users aren’t presented by 404 pages when trying to find your site.
An important part of technical SEO is having a robots.txt file – a file that contains information about how a SEARCH ENGINE should crawl the information around your site.
That’s right, this ones for the robots! It’s mainly used to avoid overloading your site with requests, but also just helps that all-important search engine crawl.
Whilst not necessary for search engines to crawl your site, what it does so is prevent duplicate content from appearing in search engine results pages, keep sections of your site private (like staging pages) and prevent the indexation of things like PDFs or images which you might not want out there.
All of this, benefiting your SEO.
Moving on to the third and final section,
This is all about looking at how you can make the users experience on your website smoooooooooth and… friendly – there seems to be a theme today?
User-friendly websites are a crucial part of SEO now, and looking into the future of SEO with the evolution of machine learning technology, we expect it to continue, if not grow, to be more important.
You’ve got to please the robots, but to do that… you’ve got to please the user first.
Elements of technical SEO you can do to make your site more user-friendly include the likes of adding breadcrumbs for better navigation – something we’ve covered in an episode before actually.
But this is all about setting out clear paths and navigation for the user to find where they came from on your website, as well as painting the picture to the robots about your site structure.
On a similar subject, you just want to make sure the navigation of your site is permanently available or easy to access for users.
This could be the menu or the footer, but consider what you users want to see. Make sure it’s there.
For example, there’s nothing more annoying than not being able to find the menu on a restaurant site, the services on a B2B site or the delivery charges on a retail site… right?
Hopefully, all the elements I’ve mentioned today have removed the fear factor associated with the term ‘technical SEO’.
It’s not scary, but it is important…
As I said, these aren’t ALL the elements of technical SEO. There are so many, but these should give you enough to think about for now.
You’ve just got to start!
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