What is Technical SEO? An Overlooked Aspect of SEO
Updated: Jul 13
When business owners think about SEO, it's unlikely that technical SEO comes up.
In the vast and ever-evolving realm of SEO (Search Engine Optimization), we often find ourselves engrossed in the world of keywords, content creation, and backlinks. While these facets are undeniably crucial for optimizing websites, there's a hidden gem that often goes unnoticed: Technical SEO.
What is Technical SEO?
Technical SEO is a comprehensive approach aimed at optimizing various technical aspects of a website to enhance its visibility and ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs).
It encompasses a broad range of factors, including website structure, content organization, and performance optimizations.
Why is Technical SEO Important?
Technical SEO plays a pivotal role in enhancing the online visibility of businesses and their ability to attract organic traffic.
Doing technical SEO can help improve your website's search rankings. When your website performs well technically, it is more likely to be crawled and indexed by search engines which means search engines will be able to find your website more easily- and better yet, people will be able to find it more easily.
But What Does Technical SEO Include?
Technical SEO can include a lot of minor details, but for time's sake here are some of the biggest aspects of technical SEO:
Website Structure and Navigation
Website Speed and Performance
Mobile-Friendliness and Responsive Design
SSL and Website Security
Schema Markup & Structured Data
Image Optimization (e.g., file size, alt text)
Website Accessibility (e.g., ADA compliance)
Website Crawling and Indexing
How Does Google Discover my Website?
Google discovers your website by crawling the web. Crawling is the process of Google search bots finding new websites and adding them to its index. Google uses a web crawler, which is a program that visits websites and reads their pages. The web crawler looks for new pages and links to other websites. When the web crawler finds a new page, it adds it to Google's index.
Google's index is a database of all the websites that Google has found. When someone searches for something on Google, Google looks in its index for websites that match the search terms.
Google then ranks the websites in the search results based on a number of ranking factors.
Why Technical SEO Matters for Your Website
Improved Search Engine Crawling
Search engines employ bots, also known as search engine crawlers or spiders, to navigate and index websites. Technical SEO ensures that these bots can effectively crawl and understand the structure, content, and relevance of a website. By optimizing website structure, implementing proper redirects, and fixing broken links, businesses can facilitate smooth crawling and ensure that search engines can access and index all relevant pages.
Search Engines Understand Your Content Easier
When search engines crawl a website, they analyze its content and store the information in their index. Technical SEO helps businesses present their content in a way that search engines can easily interpret and index. Optimizing meta tags, headings, and other HTML elements with relevant keywords provides search engines with valuable information about the website's content, improving its chances of appearing in relevant search results.
Better User Experience & Engagement
Technical SEO optimizations contribute to a positive user experience. Website speed, easy navigation, and mobile friendliness all impact how users interact with a site. A fast-loading website with intuitive navigation keeps users engaged and encourages them to explore further, reducing bounce rates. Search engines consider user experience metrics when determining search rankings, so a technically optimized website has a higher chance of ranking well.
In today's competitive online landscape, businesses need every advantage they can get. Technical SEO provides an opportunity for businesses to stand out and gain an edge over their competitors. A well-optimized website that loads quickly, has a user-friendly structure and provides a seamless mobile experience can attract more organic traffic and capture the attention of potential customers.
Higher Search Engine Rankings
Search engines utilize complex algorithms to determine the ranking of websites in search results. Technical SEO factors heavily into these algorithms. Search engines reward websites that are technically optimized and provide a positive user experience. Elements such as website speed, mobile-friendliness, and proper implementation of structured data play a crucial role in ranking. A well-optimized website is more likely to rank higher in search engine results, increasing its visibility and attracting more organic traffic.
Technical SEO Best Practices
Use an SSL Certificate (HTTPS)
Search engines favor HTTPS-enabled websites, potentially leading to higher rankings in search results and increased visibility.
HTTPS, which stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure, is an enhanced version of HTTP that ensures data encryption between a web server and a web browser. In simpler terms, it provides a secure environment for your sensitive information like login information & payment methods, protecting them from hackers or other unauthorized people.
Most websites we go on every day already have these, but there are some that don't. And those are more susceptible to cyber-attacks if they contain people's sensitive information.
To implement HTTPS for your website, you need to purchase an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate from a trusted website. Once purchased, you will need to install the certificate on your web server (usually through your hosting provider). The process may vary, so it's recommended to look up how to do it through your web hosting provider.
Once your SSL certificate is installed, your website can be accessed using the HTTPS protocol. You'll notice the "https://" prefix in the URL bar of web browsers, indicating the secure connection.
Fix Broken Pages
Not everyone will have this issue, but if your website has any pages returning a 404 error, it can negatively affect user experience.
Even worse if those broken pages have backlinks or internal links from with your site pointing to them- which makes it a useless resource.
Make sure to fix these issues as soon as possible by either redirecting backlinks to the correct page or
editing the page that your internal links go to.
Implementing Structured Data
Use schema markup to provide search engines with additional context about your website's content, such as product details, reviews, events, or organization information.
Research and implement relevant schema types that align with your business and content offerings to enhance search engine visibility.
Ensure Your Site is Mobile Friendly
It's easy to get caught up in how visually appealing your website looks on a desktop screen, but you have to remember people will more than likely visit your website on mobile devices as well.
Adopt a responsive web design approach to ensure your website adapts and displays properly across different devices and screen sizes.
Test your website's mobile-friendliness using tools like Google's Mobile-Friendly Test to identify and address any issues.
Optimize typography, button sizes, and overall user interface elements for mobile users' ease of use and navigation.
Optimize Page Speed
Page speed plays a huge role in your website's ability to rank well in SERPs. For starters, if you don't optimize your site speed for both mobile and desktop your visitors will most likely grow frustrated by your slow website and 'bounce' out, thus increasing your website's bounce rate.
This sends negative signals to search engines, essentially telling them that users are not finding what they're looking for on your website- and your site can take a hit from this.
How can you do this? Let's talk about Core Web Vitals!
What are Core Web Vitals?
Core web vitals are one area of SEO that has gained significant importance in recent years. They're metrics created by Google to evaluate how users experience a website. These metrics focus on three main categories: largest contentful paint (LCP), first input delay (FID), and cumulative layout shift (CLS). They basically measure how fast your site loads, how interactive it is, and how stable the visuals are.
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) measures the time it takes for the largest visible element on a page to load. It is a vital metric that directly impacts a user's perception of how quickly a website loads.
FID measures the time between a user's first interaction with a webpage (such as clicking a button) and the browser's response to that interaction. It quantifies the interactivity and responsiveness of a website.
CLS measures the visual stability of a webpage by calculating the sum of all unexpected layout shifts that occur during the page's lifespan. It evaluates how often elements move around while the page is loading, which can be frustrating for users.
Although this stuff involves more technical knowledge, there are ways to optimize for Core Web Vitals without having a ton of experience with it.
Optimizing for Core Web Vitals
Choose a reliable website platform
Selecting a well-optimized website platform or content management system (CMS) can significantly impact your core web vitals. Look for platforms that prioritize performance and user experience.
Use a fast and reliable hosting provider
Your hosting provider can affect load times on your website, so it's best to do research on the best ones for your website instead of settling for the big names that people usually go with (we won't name names).
Optimize your images
Large image files can slow down your website. Before uploading images, compress them using online tools or plugins to reduce their file size without compromising quality. Also, consider using modern image formats such as WebP, which can further enhance loading speed.
Minimize unnecessary plugins and scripts
Each plugin or script you add to your website can impact performance. Regularly review and remove any unnecessary plugins or scripts that are not crucial for your website's functionality.
Prioritize above-the-fold content
Make sure the most important content on your webpage loads quickly. Optimize the loading of above-the-fold elements like text and images, so users can start interacting with your site while the rest of the page continues to load.
Regularly update your CMS and plugins: Keeping your CMS and plugins up to date is crucial for security and performance. Updates often include bug fixes, performance improvements, and optimizations that can positively impact core web vitals.
Tools That Can Help You
Google Search Console
Google Search Console is a must-have tool by Google that offers website managers useful information including:
What keywords their website comes up for in search results
Google SERPs performance insights
Website pages that have been indexed by Google
Core Web Vitals insights
Technicalseo.com has a great assortment of useful tools and resources to help you spruce up the technical SEO of your website, hence the name.
Tools range from crawling & rendering testing, to mobile SEO tools, a schema generator, and plenty more.
Semrush is an all-in-one (paid) SEO tool that essentially gives you everything you need to do SEO for your website. Domain analysis, keyword research & tracking, link building, and technical audit tools make it an invaluable tool.
However, it's definitely not the only tool out there. There are other sites like Moz, Ahrefs, and Ubersuggest that essentially do the same thing.
Google PageSpeed Insights
This invaluable tool from Google takes any URL you enter and tests your page for core web vitals as well as performance, accessibility, best practices, and SEO. It's an essential for technical SEO! Other tools like this that I have used that are just as good include GTMetrix and Pingdom.
Although this one is more advanced than the others listed above, it can tell you A TON about the technical aspects of your website:
Audit links and redirects on your site
Analyze page title and meta data
Discover duplicate content
Generate XML sitemaps
Remember, it's not just about impressing search engines; it's about creating a delightful user experience too. When your website is technically optimized, everyone's happy. Visitors stick around, explore more, and don't bounce out.
Armed with the knowledge shared in this blog post, you now have the power to optimize your website and improve its visibility on search engines. However, if you're looking for expert guidance or simply don't have the time to handle technical SEO yourself, consider exploring professional SEO services. With a professional's expertise and experience, they can help you navigate the intricate world of technical SEO, allowing you to focus on what you do best—growing your business.
Thanks for reading!