A Guide to Technical SEO in 2021. Search engine optimization or SEO is an important type of digital marketing used to drive organic traffic from search engines. This type of digital marketing strategy is divided into 3 parts i.e., on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO.
Recently, several Google algorithms like core web vitals, rank brain and Mobilegeddon have put a strong emphasis on technical SEO.
While we proceed further in this guide, all webmasters, SEO experts, and bloggers need to note that all 3 sections of SEO are equally important for driving traffic in 2021.
So, make sure to put equal efforts into fixing each of the 3 aspects.
However, in this guide, we’ll be solely covering technical SEO.
What is technical SEO?
As the name implies, technical SEO is the branch of SEO that solely focuses on creating a structurally sound website for a better user experience as well as rankings.
This type of SEO generally deals with certain back-end elements of a website like speed, layout, navigation, and a lot more.
In our opinion, technical SEO has a 30% impact on your overall search engine rankings.
Why is technical SEO important?
Now that you know what is technical SEO, you need to understand why is it so important. Most of the time technical SEO ensures that your website remains technically sound and free from errors. It also helps you ensure the fast loading of your website and the best user experience for visitors possible.
Since the search engine focuses on user experience when ranking a website, technical SEO allows you to easily rank. Search engines, like Google, do take note of websites that are technically sound and credit them with better rankings.
And who doesn’t like better rankings on Google?
Of course, everyone does.
So, make sure that you optimize your site technically.
Why should you optimize your site technically?
- To help search engines better crawl and index your site.
- To offer a better user experience to website visitors.
- Increase your organic traffic and rankings on Google.
- To make your site secure, mobile responsive, and improve its speed. All these factors are now ranking signals that Google takes into consideration.
- To improve your site health and fix the common errors that might be hampering your rankings.
After all this, the question remains, how do I apply technical SEO? Easy, with our next technical SEO checklist. In it, you’ll find 13 factors you must pay focus on to get the best results.
1. SSL certificate
There’s no doubt that website security is the most important aspect of technical SEO. In fact, during 2014, Google made it clear that website security will be the ranking factor. Since then, most webmasters and bloggers have shifted towards the HTTPS version from HTTP.
Before 2014, only the top e-commerce sites were using SSL certificates. Today, you’ll hardly find a website without an SSL certificate. After all, it ensures a smooth and safe connection between the web browser and a website.
You can easily spot the SSL certificate at the beginning of every URL. It will look like a lock and it ensures that whatever website you clicked on is safe to browse.
As a website owner, all you need to do is contact your hosting provider and ask for an SSL certificate.
2. Create a mobile-friendly website
The next important technical SEO ranking factor is that you need to create a mobile-friendly website. Google already knows the fact that mobile phone and internet users are increasing day after day.
That’s why to give the best possible experience to mobile users, Google is now focusing on improving the rankings of those websites that are mobile-friendly. In fact, mobile responsiveness is now a ranking factor. And with the introduction of the mobile-first indexing approach by Google, it becomes more important than ever.
So, make sure that you have created a mobile-friendly website.
You can also run a mobile-friendly test on the Google Search Console and check whether your site is mobile-friendly or not.
3. Improve the speed of your site
In 2010, Google made it clear that website speed will be a ranking factor for desktop searches. But, in 2018, they also made it a ranking factor for mobile searches. So, as you can see, you have no other option but to improve the speed of your website.
A slow website won’t only affect your rankings but you’ll also lose sales, conversions and your bounce rate will go up. Besides, it also impacts user experience.
You can check your website speed on the Google page speed insight tool or Gtmetrix. If it turns out that your website is slow, you can start to take corrective actions.
The following are some tips that you can use to improve the speed of your site:
- Use fast web hosting.
- Use CDN networks.
- Minimize the HTTPS request.
- Leverage browser cache.
- Compress or lazy load all your images.
- Minify your site code.
- Compress your web pages.
4. Fix duplicate content issues
Duplicate content or thin content is a big no. Hence, the need to avoid it at any cost. If your website has too much duplicate content, and Google sees it, it will place a small penalty on your site. This can then negatively impact your rankings and organic traffic as well.
Because of this, you should always create high-quality and original content for your website. If you aren’t good at creating content, you can try outsourcing it to a freelancer. What’s important is to not create duplicate content as it won’t take you anywhere.
Such type of content can confuse users as well as search engine bots. We know that some webmasters use duplicate content to manipulate search engine rankings. But it won’t help them in the long run.
So, make sure to avoid these mistakes.
5. Use AMP
AMP or accelerated mobile pages are the next big thing in the world of SEO. After all, they are considered to be the better version of HTML which improves the speed of your website on mobile devices.
And since website speed is a ranking factor for mobile search as well, you must think of implementing AMP on all your web pages.
This technique works by deactivating all the unnecessary elements on your website such as comments, likes, and used CSS. This process makes your website a lot lighter and fast. In fact, if you use AMP correctly, it can also improve your click-through rates and organic traffic.
So, make sure to use the AMP version on your site.
6. Use structure data markups
We are sure that using structure data markup is not on your to-do list. If this is the case, you might lose great opportunities in terms of traffic and conversions.
Structure data markup is a snippet of code that you can add to your web pages to make them look more appealing and eye-catchy. Such code helps search engines better understand the context of your content.
Moreover, structure data also helps you improve the CRT and organic traffic on your site. For example, when you use data markups in your web pages, users find it attractive and eye-captivating. That’s why your web page might get more clicks as compared to others.
Also, the web pages that get more clicks tend to get better rankings on Google.
7. Submit your site to the Google Search Console
Until you submit your website to the Google Search Console, your site won’t appear on Google. So, make sure to use this feature wisely and submit your site to GSC.
There are multiple benefits to submitting your website on the Google Search Console.
You’ll get a complete overview of your website’s performance in terms of clicks, impressions, and CTRs. You can also check your links, critical website errors, and the mobile usability of your site.
8. Optimize your crawl budget
If you don’t know what is crawl budget then let us explain. A crawl budget is the number of times Googlebot visits your site, crawls, and indexes it. Since there are billions of web pages on the internet, Google’s bot has very little time to crawl every web page.
Because of this, you must allow the Googlebot to crawl all those important web pages you want to rank for. You can easily do this by making certain changes in your Robots.txt file. For example, you must also go through your Robots.txt file to check whether any necessary file is blocked from crawling or not.
Also, make sure to check if there are orphan pages on your, i.e., those pages that aren’t connected to any other web pages on your site. If so, fix them.
9. Create and submit a sitemap
Next in this list of technical SEO checklist is creating and submitting a sitemap. A sitemap is a list of all the useful information on your site. It contains changes made to the web pages, content, a list of all the web pages, and so on.
A sitemap gives an overview of your site to search engines and also tells them how to crawl and navigate it. In short, it makes the navigation process of your site easier for search engine bots.
Apart from this, a sitemap can also help you improve your crawl budget. So, make sure to create and submit your sitemap to the Google Search Console. This will help the Googlebot to better crawl and index your site.
10. Avoid 404 errors
If a web page on your site doesn’t exist, or if the URL is modified or the web page deleted, then the status code of 404 error will appear on your site. From the SEO point of view, such status code can impact your SEO rankings and not for the best.
Hence, the need to ensure your 404 pages is SEO optimized. You can either redirect that page to any similar URLs that may add value to the users. Or, you can create a custom 404 pages.
This way you can make it easy for the crawlers as well as users to crawl and navigate your site.
As you already know, duplicate content is a big no when it comes to better rankings on Google. To avoid such issues, you should always use Canonical URLs. A canonical URL will tell Google which version of a web page is original and which is duplicate.
In short, it will tell the search engine bot which web page to crawl and index and which ones to ignore. For this, you can simply use the rel=” canonical” tag on all your web pages to achieve this.
We would personally recommend using a preferred canonical URL on all your web pages. If you are using a content management system like WordPress then you can use a canonicalization plugin to do the same.
12. Keep auditing your site
Website auditing is a very crucial aspect of technical SEO.
A website auditing will help you diagnose the overall health of your site. It will also help you identify the critical errors of your website and how to deal with them.
You can use any website SEO auditing tool like SEMrush or Ahrefs and start auditing your site. Or, you can also use free tools like Google Search Console and check for critical website errors.
13. Check dead links on your site
Last in this list of technical SEO checklists is to check dead links on your site. These links are also called broken links and can affect the SEO of your website. Such links act as a barrier for Google in the process of crawling and indexing a web page.
Apart from this, such links also create a poor user experience, and they should be avoided. For this, you can check for dead links on your site with the help of a broken link checker tool.
Once you find broken links, you can redirect such links to a live page.
Technical SEO is often overlooked by many SEO experts, bloggers, and webmasters in general. However, one often forgets that technical SEO is an important part of SEO and it cannot be ignored.
With this technical SEO guide, you will take your technical SEO game to the next level. This guide will help you in fixing critical website errors and grow your website.
Make sure to follow these tips wisely and regularly to get the best results.