Technical SEO Explained: What To Check For in 2019
To SEO beginners or non-technical people, the technical SEO seems a bit overwhelming. But you can’t avoid technical SEO forever, if you really want your business to progress. With a staggering 75% of people only accepting first page results on Google, you can’t afford to fall behind.
It isn’t all that complicated if you gain a simple understanding. Not only that, but it makes your time and labor truly worth it. Think about all the work that you put into creating your content. Without managing technical factors of SEO, the page won’t get indexed by Google and all that hard work will remain unseen!
If the thought of performing the task worries you so much and don’t want to face technical SEO problems, then let our team of seo experts in boston handle it for you. We specialize in search engine optimization and many other aspects of digital marketing.
Here’s your crash course on how to approach each factor, and what it all means.
Part One: Get This Done
XML Sitemap Explained
An XML sitemap is a list of pages (URLs) in your website. It acts as an outline by showing the number of pages and how to reach them. Thus, Google and other search engines use it as a map to navigate around your site.
When you submit an XML sitemap to Google, you are calling for bots to crawl your website. This is how you can rapidly get your web pages indexed so that they will show up in the search result.
The alternative is that your pages may not get indexed or that it will take a long time. In that situation they may not be found by Google, Bing or any user. This can be especially problematic for sites that update frequently.
How to Optimize a Sitemap
Manually creating a map requires a bit of coding. For those people who are not coders, using a sitemap generating tool or plugin is your best bet. Do your research to see which will be most effective for your type of website.
However, you can’t simply create the element and be done with it. Naturally, a little optimization is required. Here are some quick tips:
- Indicate which pages are most important by marking them as priority pages. It’s best to prioritize them based on overall content quality.
- Exclude any pages that don’t have SEO functions, as the search engine won’t understand it. That mistake could, in turn, hurt your ranking.
- Point out canonical links (a preferred version of a page) in your map. Add the canonical tag to indicate the right page. Exclude the other version of the webpage from your sitemap altogether.
Doing this will guide the bots to the best pages in your website and help make a positive impression. Again, this helps the crawlers interpret your site the way you intended.
Mobile Friendliness Explained
Speaking of interpreting your website correctly, you’d be crazy not to make your website mobile friendly in 2018. After all, 52% of Google searches are conducted via cell phone and now the Voice search optimization is the future that relies on one factor of mobile friendliness of the website.
Not to mention Google’s Mobile first indexing was introduced earlier this year. Now mobile elements are prioritized, and they increase rankings. Therefore, any website that is not optimized for mobile will surely get outranked.
How to Optimize for Mobile
What experience do you anticipate when surfing the web on your mobile phone? Probably something that is easy to read and visually appealing. Furthermore, no one likes to continuously scroll back and forth to view the content. Avoid this if you don’t want people to bounce from your site.
If you’re unsure about how your website will appear on a mobile device you can run a test to check. Here are some ways to make sure your site is ready to go.
- Create a separate mobile version of your site that will automatically be used for cell phones and tablets.
- If you don’t have a mobile site, make sure your website is responsive and adjusts to the screen size of the device.
- Use large fonts so that users won’t have to zoom in to see the words.
- Try using accelerated mobile pages (AMPs) or progressive web apps (PWAs) for better compatibility. They are also known for being fast loading.
You should also pay attention to how much information your sites can process. Especially when it comes to loading time, it will be much slower when there are more things happening on your site.
This is true when it comes to crawlers too. Having bots crawling your site is a good thing but can also slow it down. So, make sure you have the right resources to support all the different processes.
Loading Speed Explained
As technology progresses, we’ve become accustomed to instant gratification. Therefore, when someone visits your site and it is taking too long to load, this can be a problem! In fact, your bounce rate may be 50% higher, if your site takes more than two seconds to load.
Also Read: How to rank for Google 0 Position?
This is why you need to pay attention to the different elements in your website. Images, videos, audio and similarly large files are highly likely to load slowly on your site. This means that the large sum of people accessing your site via mobile devices will leave before even viewing your content! When Google notices people being deferred from your site for this reason, it will harm your ranking.
How to Optimize Loading Speed
It’s a good idea, to test the speed of different pages in your website. Depending on what the pages contains, the various elements can tremendously slow down the loading. Don’t let people bounce from your site because of this. Use these tips to boost loading time:
- Compress content, like images and videos, so that they are smaller and take less work to load.
- Try to use mostly lightweight plugins on your website so that they won’t take up as much space.
- Avoid using web hosts, if possible. If you are, then go for secured server or dedicated hosting.
There are plenty of tools and sites that you can do to rate the speed of your website. You can run a few tests on a few different sites to make sure everything is running smoothly. This way, people can easily browse your site with no issue.
Secure Browsing (HTTPS) Explained
These days, cyber threats are becoming more and more real. For this reason, secure browsing is a must. Google has made this a necessity now, by warning users that a site is not secure (meaning it’s not https). This warning message puts lots of users off and causes them to leave the website without first exploring it.
For this reason, lots of business are switching their website over to “https”. However, if this is not done correctly google will view it as two separate sites which can cause an issue with your rank.
How to Get Secure Browsing
Though lots of sites have not yet made this switch, your website will seem more trustworthy when it is secure. Particularly e-Commerce sites and other business that allow online transactions need to employ secure browsing.
After all, it’s only natural that people would avoid giving personal information on an unsecured site. Secure your site this by doing these things:
- For sites that are switching over, make sure to make “https” the canonical version, so as not to confuse the search engines.
- Make sure all elements of your website have been redirected to the https version so that it will appear the same.
- Install an SSL certificate in the site.
- Once you’ve migrated to “https” run a test on the site to check for any errors or broken links.
When switching over, it’s easy to make mistakes or leave something out. Avoid missing anything important by also running updates while switching the site over. In this way, you can give deeper attention to each area of your site. When you find pages that you don’t like. Mark it as “no index” in your robots.txt file.
robots.txt File Explained
A robots.txt file is often optimized in conjunction with the sitemap. Similarly, it instructs bots that are crawling your website. However, this function is more in depth, telling crawlers how to read your site, as well. You can get specific regarding which search engines can crawl which pages and so forth.
This file is also a good place to check, if you find that your pages are not being indexed for some reason. Most times when pages are blocked from being indexed, it is due to an instruction in the robots.txt file. So double check it to make sure all the given instructions are correct. You can also take help from any seo services provider in your area to help you with robots.txt file.
How to Optimize the robots.txt File
When optimizing this file, you need to keep crawl rate in mind. This measures how many links the bots are willing to crawl in your site in a given time period. If you don’t optimize this site wisely, then it could hurt your ranking. Instead, follow these ways in which you can help your ranking instead.
- Make sure you are only allowing the web pages that were meant for the general public.
- Double check that you are not blocking any content that you mean to display.
- Learn the different commands and their functions for smoother operation of the robots.txt file.
Generally, every site has this file, for some it may be harder to locate than others. If you find that you don’t have this file already, don’t worry, because you can still generate one.
Either way, the robots.txt file is essential because it is a great help in identifying errors. For good measure, test it before submitting it to a search engine. This will help you pinpoint any issues and fix them before they go live.
Part Two: Avoid These Errors
Seeing as over 90% of all searches are conducted on Google, you ought to have a google search console account. As this corporation is so heavily in control, the best ways to survive is to use their resources as much as possible.
You can also employ a digital marketing agency like Marketalist to do it for you. As trained and experienced experts, we know the best ways to avoid these errors in the first place. What a way to save your precious time!
If you choose to do this part yourself, start by running an audit of your website via Google Search Console. This will help you to identify any errors with your website. We’ve provided an easy explanation of these common issues. You can try out the fixes and see how they work for you.
Crawl Errors Explained
When a crawl error occurs, this means that a bot did not have access to a page that it was trying to crawl. This can be due to several reasons. One may be that the page no longer exists or was moved to a different URL. Two may be that your site is down, or you don’t have enough resources for crawling.
How to Fix Crawl Rate
To fix your crawl rate, visit your robots.txt file. This may identify any pages that have been or give other insight as to your crawl budget. However, crawl errors can mean just about anything, so pay deeper attention and see if the issue was specified.
Broken Links Explained
When you have a broken link, this means on of the links in your site doesn’t lead anywhere. This can happen if someone blocks the page, removes it or redirects it. They are also referred to as dead links.
How to Fix Broken Links
Broken links are rather common and so you should check for them often. Three ways to fix the link is to redirect, replace the link or take it down all-together.
A redirect is exactly what it sounds like. When you travel towards a specific URL, it guides you to a separate URL that is meant to replace the original. Updated content may be one reason to use a redirect.
How to Redirect
The 301 redirect is quite common. Generally, when your site is hosted, it can be quite easy to do a redirect. You can set it up in the settings. Manually doing a redirect involves messing with the code. However, most people don’t deal with that.
Duplicate Content Explained
The duplicate content error can occur for many reasons. This usually happens when two pages are so similar that Google can’t tell the difference. Instead they are marked as the same content and consequently neither get displayed or worse, you’ll receive a penalty. Creating a strong content strategy can lead you to get positive results in your website optimization
How to Fix Duplicate Content
Make sure that there is plenty of variety in your content. Double check that you have different titles and descriptions. Use canonical tags when minor details have changed in the URL.
Keyword Cannibalization Explained
Keyword cannibalization occurs when the same keyword is being target on multiple pages of your website. For this reason, your SEO tactics may not be accepted, or you could receive a duplicate content error.
How to Avoid Keyword Cannibalization
Specifically target a separate keyword for each of the landing pages on your site. Periodically do checks to remember which keywords you’ve already used.
We hope we’ve provided some valuable insight into the technical world of SEO for you. As can be expected, there is much more depth to each subject, but this article is a great place to start your learning.
On the other hand, if none of this made sense, then don’t fret! Our professionals at Marketalist are more than willing to help. Contact us today for help with digital marketing and web development needs.