Think SEO is just about content? Think again. It’s true that high quality content is critical to search engine optimization, but the technical aspects of your site also influence search engine rank and user experience. Here’s what you need to know about technical SEO.
Optimizing Technical SEO
The performance of your website and the quality of its underlying code has a significant impact on your SEO. Search engines like Google and Bing favor sites that perform well and make use of helpful code to support high-quality content. For your site to improve its search engine results page (SERP) appearance, these are just a few of the technical issues that must be addressed.
Fast internet, fast devices, and screens of all sizes add up to website visitors expecting sites to load quickly. A slow site can lead to high rates of abandonment, and that can doubly damage a site’s search engine rank. Search engines tend to rank slower sites lower, and sites that quickly lose visitors also tend to slip in the ranks. Optimizing for speed is essential.
Most everyone has a smartphone these days, and some people have more than one, plus tablets, e-readers, and other mobile devices. It’s no wonder then that as many as 2/3 of website visits are made on mobile. Whether a site is mobile-friendly or not is part of Google’s ranking algorithm, and the risk of not being mobile-friendly is that you site is at best frustrating to mobile users and at worst practically invisible in SERP.
HTML (for users) and XML (for search engines) sitemaps help outline the “lay of the land” of your website, and also provide helpful additional code and information for search engines regarding content “freshness” and priority.
SSL certificates and serving website pages over HTTPS used to be crucial only for sites that gathered sensitive information like credit cards or social security numbers, but Google has also added it to their ranking algorithm for all sites—with browsers flagging HTTP sites as “not secure.” SSL is no longer optional.
How well is your site organized? Do you make use of parent-child structure? Is your navigation clear? Well-organized menus, site architecture that connects pages that naturally belong together (e.g., yourdomain.com/topic/sub-topic), and proper use of heading tags (H1, H2, H3, etc.) are all helpful to users and rewarded by search engines.
Do you have broken links lurking in the content of your website? It’s important to monitor your site for broken links and correct them or permanently redirect to fresh content so that search engine crawlers and site visitors don’t get lost as they navigate your site. That can also include setting up the right redirects between the www and non-www versions of your domain.
Duplicate content within your site is frowned upon by search engines, but it’s more than just using boilerplate on too many pages. It can also be a technical SEO issue. Canonical tags to denote the primary version of the content may be necessary in cases where duplicate content has to exist, but some “handy” tools can even cause the problem (such as printer-friendly versions of content, session IDs and query tags added to bare URLs).
Structured data markup allows you to use standardized code to signal to search engines what kind of content is contained within. Some times of structured data enhance search engine listings with pricing, ratings, reviews, and more. These visually appealing listings tend to have higher clickthrough rates, and that interaction can also improve search engine results.
These are just the tip of the iceberg in the ways that the technical aspects of your website affect SEO—and why ongoing SEO service can be important. Do you know how your site stacks up? Try our Free Website Audit and find out now, then give us a call or contact us to explore your digital marketing options.