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What do you think of when you hear the term search engine optimisation? Is it something tech-heavy and laborious? If it is, we don’t blame you. That’s certainly part of it, but if you’ve been reading our other guides on the topic of SEO, then you’ll know there’s a lot more to it than endlessly tweaking the code of a website.

You might also have guessed, especially based on the title of this article, that there is certainly a technical element to the way SEO functions. However, this shouldn’t put you off, because it’s not nearly as tricky as you might think once you’ve got a little bit of coding knowledge under your belt.

But we want to make sure you get off on the right foot when it comes to understanding what technical SEO is, and how to implement all the technical SEO tips we’re going to give you in this article. This might not be the most interesting stuff out there, but it’s absolutely crucial to know and implement.

Points we’ll touch on:

  • What is technical SEO?
  • Why is technical SEO important?
  • How to implement technical SEO
  • Our technical SEO checklist

If you’re ready to get started, let’s dive headfirst into technical SEO so we can get right to the technical SEO tips that will help you make any website rank better on the search engine results page (SERP)!

What is technical SEO?

Even with minimal exposure to SEO, you might already be aware that there are a few different types. These include:

  • Off-site SEO, which relates to SEO away from your site.
  • On-site or on-page SEO.
  • Technical SEO, which is what we’re talking about today.

While off-site and on-site SEO can be rather nebulous in what they cover, technical SEO is very specific (though it does occasionally stray into on-site SEO territory).

From a top-down perspective, technical SEO is all about improving the internal structure of your website so that search engines can easily find, crawl, index, and render your site. This naturally involves a lot of technical work with regards to coding, ensuring your website is built in a language that search engines can understand.

A beginner’s guide to technical SEOWhy is technical SEO important?

Technical SEO covers a myriad of behind-the-scenes elements, like site architecture, mobile optimisations, and page speed enhancements, all of which can go a long way in boosting your website’s ranking in the SERP.

But technical SEO isn’t just about getting better rankings. It’s about delivering a website that looks visually good to a user and search engine, is easily navigable, and is ultimately findable by search engines.

At the bottom level, you can have the best, most thoughtful content in the world on your site, but if Google can’t find the page to begin with, then the content is utterly irrelevant compared to fixing your site. If it can’t be crawled, it might as well not exist.

How to implement technical SEO

There’s a lot that goes into implementing technical SEO, that’s why we’ve created a nifty technical SEO checklist of things to do when you next have to optimise a website. That being said, however, there is one thing you should do before anything else with technical SEO, and that’s conducting one or more technical SEO audits.

Technical SEO audits

Even though the word audit might conjure up images of vast lengthy documents you need to trawl through, technical SEO audits are much simpler. Essentially, all a technical SEO audit does is assess the health of your website and tell you how to improve it.

This could include identifying broken links, orphaned pages, and suggested improvements for crawlability and indexing; the list is rather exhaustive. Google Search Console is a good auditing program to get started when it comes to tech audits as it’s completely free and easy to use.

Of course, if you’re building your website from scratch, auditing it is irrelevant as there’s nothing to audit, but it’s worth doing once you’ve built the website.

Our technical SEO checklist

With the audit out of the way, it’s now time to tick everything off on our technical SEO checklist. You might not be fully comfortable doing all of these as a beginner, but even addressing a few of the areas we’re about to discuss can massively affect the visibility of your website.

Streamlining your domain

One of the first things to look at with regard to technical SEO is to set up your preferred domain appearance. This governs whether or not you want a search engine to give preference to a www. or non-www. domain. All this initially does is dictate how your website will appear in search results. However, there’s another side to it.

You might prefer how one looks over the other, but more importantly, stating preference will ensure no search engine looks at both versions and assumes they’re different sites. Instead, it will redirect searches from your non-preferred domain to your preferred one, keeping everything nice and tidy when crawling and indexing.

Organising your website layout

Before we move on to discussing things relating to coding and site speed, we also need to touch on how a website should be laid out to maximise its crawlability.

As a general rule of thumb, your website should be built in a structure that makes it easy to find things, keeping pages linked together in a clear manner, and making page depth as shallow as possible.

Search engines rely on standardised website structures to make crawling as simple as possible. This is very important to getting your site indexed, which allows search engines to display them in the SERP. There’s a lot more that goes into crawling and indexing, all of which you can learn about in our beginner’s guide to how search engines work.

But, in short, you want to ensure that the main navigation features of your site are laid out in simple HTML code, alongside keeping the mobile and desktop versions the same with a focus on mobile display so search engine bots don’t have to crawl your site more than once.

And, of course, go through and make sure that the navigation on your site actually works. Check all your links go where they should, and ensure that there are no orphaned pages that could be missed in a crawl.

If you’re at all worried that your site could be missed for indexing, then registering with Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster means you can submit your website for indexing with a site map.

Site maps and schemas

Speaking of site maps, what are they and how do they work?

XML site maps are as they sound, they’re maps you can make to help search engines understand how to navigate your site. This comes in the form of a detailed site or page description, often including a page title, a description of its content, when it was last modified, how often it’s updated, the page’s priority, and any other elements on the page.

All this is put into the code of your website to make what’s known as a schema, which you can then submit to a search engine to assist them with their crawl and indexing. In essence, it will get your site indexed faster.

URL structure

If you’ve read our guide on on-page SEO, you’ll notice that we’ve already touched on URL structure. This is one of those areas where on-page and technical SEO blend into the same area but for different reasons.

While on-page SEO URL structure primarily focuses on how the anchor text of the URL relates to linking, technical SEO looks at how the URL appears in the search bar as a whole. Your URL gives search engines and users important information about the web page in question, and it should reflect what’s contained on the page.

For URLs, make sure they’re kept consistent in their structure, with logical categories and page information. Stick to using lowercase, separate words with a dash, keep them short and descriptive by cutting out unnecessary chaff, and if possible, include the keyword you want to target.

One other thing to note with your URLs is to ensure that every single one that makes up your website is HTTPS secure. You may have heard of SSL (Secure Socket Layer), but if you haven’t, don’t worry.

SSL is important for protecting users when they navigate the web. It creates an encrypted link between a server and a browser to keep any information entered by the user nice and secure from prying eyes. Google, in particular, is big on implementing SSL, so double-check all your pages have the little padlock by their URL.

A beginner’s guide to technical SEOBreadcrumb navigation

As you might have guessed by now, linking is a crucial part of technical SEO and site crawling in general. Besides making sure your internal and external linking structure is solid and functional, you also want to look at implementing breadcrumb navigation.

Breadcrumb navigation is a simple concept that allows users to easily return to the previous page they were on or right back to the homepage with a single click. It makes for an orderly site infrastructure as well as an additional layer of accessibility.

You can easily spot breadcrumb navigation on other sites by looking for the pathway bars at the top of pages, but you can also implement it with clear buttons back to the home page or the page they just came from.

Site and page speed

Other parts of on-page SEO that can blend with the technical side of things, site and page speed are super important when it comes to getting your site ranked properly in the SERP.

There are many ways you can speed up a site, including:

  • Making use of fast hosting services.
  • Keeping the number of HTTP requests your site needs to make to an absolute minimum.
  • Cutting down on the number of site scripts and plugins used.
  • Sticking to one CSS format.
  • Shrinking or compressing your images to be as small as possible without causing them to pixilate.
  • Compressing your website pages using tools like GZIP.
  • Opting to use asynchronous loading so that all elements of a page can load simultaneously instead of one after the other.
  • Tidying up the code of your site by removing unnecessary spaces, line breaks, indentations, and other excessive coding elements.

Site and page speed is also the perfect place to talk about site code and how it can impact your site’s loading.

There are three different types of coding language you’ll work with when it comes to websites:

  • HTML – HyperText Markup Language provides the essential code structure for browsers to display your web content. It governs written content as well as headers, lists, body copy, alt text, etc…
  • JavaScript – Java makes up the functional parts of a site, making dynamic elements function correctly and generally governing all the techy interactive stuff on screen.
  • CSS – Cascading Style Sheets cover anything relating to the colours, fonts, and look of the site. Anything that makes it visually interesting.

There’s a lot of code that goes into making a site, hence why you want to keep it as minimal as possible with a focus on HTML. Java and CSS are more complex forms of code, and while they can make your site flashier, they can increase the render time of pages substantially.

All-in-all, the shorter you can make your page load times, the better.

User experience enhancements

Lastly, we come to improving the UX of your site. Again, we’ve covered some UX changes with on-site SEO, but there is still plenty you can do with technical SEO on this front.

First off, as we’ve mentioned, you want to focus on mobile indexing above all else, which means focusing primarily on making your site look good on mobile, with an emphasis on structure and user experience. Making use of Google’s accelerated mobile pages is a great option for this, being an open-source framework directed towards mobile sites.

On top of this, you want to eliminate any duplicate or thin content. Thin content gives search engines and users nothing to work with, often lacking internal links for crawling and failing to target user search intent. This needs to be bulked up or rewritten using on-site SEO knowledge.

As for duplicate content, besides eliminating it entirely (which we don’t always advise), you can merge pages together with redirects. However, if you’re an e-commerce site with multiple similar pages, making use of canonical tags can also be beneficial.

Canonical tags let you identify one page as the primary one that the search engine should focus on when crawling, preventing it from identifying the others as dupe content. Just be sure the canonical is relevant and not involved as part of a redirect.

Finally, be sure to eliminate or update dead links that go nowhere and include Hreflangs in your code to help with language changes under different IP addresses. You should also look to run through your site with an accessibility checker for those working with disabilities, all of which contribute to a higher ranking in the SERP.

While we’ve only covered the technical SEO tips you need to get started with technical SEO, you should be more than ready to get out there and start tweaking websites, so they jump higher up the SERP.

We do, of course, suggest going out there and getting more advanced training in all fields of SEO. But, if you found this guide useful, then we have plenty more available over on the c3 blog for you to read through. Why not take a look at our beginner’s guide to writing SEO copy or our beginner’s guide to mobile-friendly SEO?

You can also find out much more about what we do here at connective3 by looking at our work, roles, and service pages. Get in touch with our team today if you want to know more about what we can offer you in the world of digital marketing.