There are two different types of Search Engine Optimization. What is thought of as traditional SEO revolves around content, ensuring that the words and images on a site lead to high rankings from search engine algorithms. The second is Technical SEO, it is lesser known but just as important. It rewards practices that enable these algorithms to interpret a website easily and prevents problems that could disrupt the user experience.
For small business owners, the fact that search engines already show a preference for websites run by larger businesses is a problem. Technical SEO is a critical tool to help small business sites stand out. Elements of technical SEO fall into four distinct categories. This list is designed to help you understand how to maximize your site’s potential.
Technical SEO: Design Considerations
Optimize for Mobile:
Google has long been deprioritizing websites that are not mobile friendly. Simply put, if Google marks your site as not easily viewable on a mobile device, it will not show up in search results. Think about the fact that likely over two-thirds of visitors are accessing your site via mobile and this practice makes sense. Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs) are one item that can help here. These are pages designed to render very quickly on mobile devices.
Well Structured URLs:
Search engines need help interpreting websites logically. URL design is a strategic way to help them. If your site’s URLs have an easily understood structure, search engines will be able to translate that logic into their index. Because the algorithms prioritize new content, it is critical that your URLs not include dates. Marking a URL with a date will render it obsolete quickly.
Well Structured Pages:
Technical SEO requires that your content be organized in a way that search engines can easily understand. Be sure to use proper headings and subheadings with the appropriate H* tags. All images should have alt text as algorithms use this info to understand what is being shown.
Search engines use links to determine how critical a piece of content is to a website. To help them understand what is most relevant to you, be sure to include as many links as possible to your most important pages. At a minimum, try to put at least a couple of internal links into every page and post that appears on your site.
Avoid Duplicate Content:
Re-using the same content across multiple pages can negatively impact your rankings. Search engines are hypersensitive to plagiarism, and duplicate content sets off their alarm bells. Take care to ensure that all the content on your site is entirely unique. If you have text that needs to appear on multiple pages, even minor re-writing should remedy the problem.
Technical SEO: Website Set-Up
SSL Certificates: Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is the standard way web data is encrypted. Any site that is secured with an SSL certificate can use HTTPS for their web address. Businesses that engage in e-commerce should use this for security. Even if your business does not, the fact that search engines prioritize sites with SSL certificates is reason enough to get one.
Traditional tags help site visitors find related information. Canonical tags do something comparable for search engines by linking web addresses pointing to the same content. An example of this would connect https://www.examplepage.com and https://examplepage.com together. Also, consider the use of a special tag to note the written language being used. Search engines will prioritize pages in English, Spanish, or other languages to appropriate users.
Avoid Broken Links:
Search engines get as frustrated with 404 Page Not Found errors as users do. If you link to outside content, have automated processes in place to check these links are still working. When making changes to the structure of your site, always check for broken links and fix them quickly with redirects.
These provide a breakdown of page navigation. An example would be something like: HomeàServicesàSEO. You see something similar when navigating through the files and folders on your PC or Mac. These are helpful for site visitors but are more so for search engines as they help them understand the relationship of a site’s pages.
Technical SEO: Website Optimization
Don’t use more image than you need. Websites generally do not require anything over 72 pixels per inch (PPI). For contrast, printed images typically require 300ppi. Create images in the smallest format possible. In most cases, this will be JPEG (or JPG). WordPress also has plug-ins available to optimize images as they are uploaded.
Leverage Browser Caching:
If someone is a repeat visitor to your site, browser caching will help it load faster. This practice lets a website work in concert with a user’s browser to store parts of a page for a set amount of time. These settings can be tricky. Web professionals can help.
Show Pages As Soon as Possible:
Your site only needs to display what a visitor will initially see to get someone going. Don’t wait until everything is loaded for your information to be visible. Every second matters.
Optimize Site Coding:
Have Enough Bandwidth:
Bots like the Google Spider are very considerate not to impact your site’s actual users. If the bot thinks the work it has to do will negatively impact visitors, it will move on, and your website will not be indexed. Make sure you have enough bandwidth available.
Technical SEO: Tools
Google offers many tools to help optimize your site. Start by signing up for a free Google Console account here. A treasure trove of valuable information will soon be available. This is also where you can upload an XML sitemap, which will give Google a roadmap for your site making it easier for their algorithm to understand what it finds.
Check Your Coverage:
There could be coding or set-up problems with your site that prevent it from being indexed. Google offers an index coverage status report here that can be used to make sure all your pages are being covered.
Structured Data Markups:
Without getting too technical, structured data markups are information stored in an organized format within the site coding. Your business name and hours of operation are examples of information that could be structured. Google offers a service to help better understand this concept here. Web development professionals can advise further.
The quicker a site loads, the better it will appear in search rankings. Google has another great tool to analyze your site’s load time. Enter your URL here to get speed score and a diagnostic report. Actionable items will be provided to improve things if needed.
Like traditional SEO, many factors come into play for technical SEO. A combination of proper design, tight structure, and site optimization will help your site work better with search engines. Using available tools will help you know if you have problems. Hopefully, this list gets you on the way to better rankings.