Technical SEO 101

What Is Technical SEO?

Technical SEO involves optimizing your website to help search engine spiders crawl and index the web pages on your site.

By making it easier for search engines to crawl and index your page, you are boosting your opportunity to increase your ability to rank well organically in search engine results pages.

Why Is Technical SEO Important?

In order to rank on Google, having good technical SEO is a must. 

You can have a beautiful-looking website with tons of valuable content, but at the end of the day, your website won’t rank well on Google or any modern search engine if your technical SEO is messed up. 

This is because search engines rely on technical SEO to understand the contents of your page. Just like your website needs to be easy to read and navigate for users, it also needs to be easy to read and navigate for search engines. 

Technical SEO makes it possible for Google to:

  • Find
  • Crawl
  • Render; and
  • Index the pages of your website.

And getting your pages indexed is just the basic minimum. You’ll also need to take into account a number of additional technical SEO elements.

Components of Technical SEO

As stated above, technical SEO is more than just making sure Google can crawl and index your web pages.

To improve your website’s technical SEO, you’ll also need to take into account these additional components of technical SEO: 

  • Javascript
  • XML Sitemaps
  • Site Architecture
  • URL Structure
  • Structured data
  • Thin/duplicate content
  • Hreflang
  • Canonical tags
  • 404 pages
  • 301 redirects

In this guide, we will cover each of these technical SEO components and show you how to properly optimize each component. Keep reading to learn more.

Google Page Experience Update 2021

From time to time Google releases algorithm updates without announcement. 

However, for the first time, Google has alerted the public that a page experience update will be slowly rolled out in June 2021. 

What does this update mean? Google is placing more and more emphasis on the importance of user experience. 

To survive the page experience update without any drop in organic SEO, you’ll want to meet the following specifications for your core web vitals:

  • Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): This core web vital measures loading performance. Your LCP should occur within 2.5 seconds of when the web page first starts loading for optimal user experience.
  • First Input Delay (FID): This core web vital measure interactivity. measures interactivity. Your web pages should have an FID of 100 milliseconds or less in order to provide a good user experience.
  • Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): This core web vital measures visual stability. Your web pages should maintain a CLS of 0.1. or less to be considered capable of a good user experience.

To check the performance of your core web vitals, you can use Google Search Console’s Search Performance report.

Technical SEO Checklist: 9 Steps You Can Take to Improve Your Technical SEO

To improve your website’s technical SEO, there are several factors you need to consider.

In some areas, you may be able to make small adjustments to improve your website’s technical SEO. In other areas, you may need to do a complete overhaul.

Let’s walk through nine steps to help you improve your technical SEO.

#1: Improve Your Site Architecture

Site architecture refers to the structure and organization of your website’s pages. This hierarchy of web pages allows users to navigate through your website and allows search engine bots, hopefully, to crawl and index your pages.

Arguably, improving your website’s site architecture is the most important step of any technical SEO campaign. 

More often than not, poor site architecture is the cause of crawling and indexing issues. If you can lock down an easy-to-navigate site architecture, you won’t have to worry as much about Google not indexing all of your website’s pages. 

Let’s take a look at the best way to organize your site structure below.

Create a Flat, Organized Site Structure

When it comes to site architecture, a flat, organized site structure is the best way to go. This makes all of your website’s pages just a few link clicks away from each other. 

This type of site architecture not only makes it easier for users to navigate your website but also makes it easy for Google to crawl 100% of your site’s pages.

If you’re not sure what your site architecture looks like, you can use this handy tool, Visual Site Mapper, to get a visual of your site architecture so you can spot any structural problems.

Create Breadcrumbs Navigation

Creating breadcrumbs navigation is an uber SEO-friendly tactic that helps strengthen your site architecture by automatically adding internal links to a category and subpages to your website.

Google also uses breadcrumb-style navigation in the SERPs (search engine results pages).

#2: Make Sure Your URL Structure Is Consistent

It’s important that your URL structure is consistent and logical. Your URL should explain to the user (and Google) exactly “where” they are on your website.

In fact, Google Search Central speaks directly on the importance of navigation for search engines.

For example, all the pages on our blog include a /category/ subfolder so our content is neatly organized into related topics. 

This helps Google understand that all of the content under these categories are related and that users can easily navigate through the content on the blog to find what they are looking for.

#3: Find and Resolve Indexing Issues

To improve your local SEO, you need to scout out any pages on your website that search engine spiders are having trouble crawling. 

You can do this by using Google Search Console’s Index Coverage Report. This tool will inform you on which pages on your website are fully rendered and indexed, and which ones are not. 

Once you identify your problem pages, you can begin to work through resolving indexing issues by making sure that you complete the following:

  • Create internal links for “deep pages”
  • Use an XML Sitemap
  • Use Google Search Console ”Inspect” Feature

When it comes to indexing issues, most people don’t have any problems getting their home page indexed. It’s the deep pages (the pages farthest from the home page) that typically have problems getting indexed.

If you follow our advice on using a flat architecture for your website, you can avoid this problem altogether. 

However, if you have deep pages on your website that you want indexed, internal linking is a timeless strategy, especially if you are linking those pages internally to your best-performing pages.

Use an XML Sitemap

With mobile-friendly indexing and AMP being all the rage, you may be wondering if you still need an XML sitemap to find your website’s URLs.

According to a Google representative, the answer is yes.

Google stated that XML sitemaps are the second-most important source for finding URLs. While Google did not state the first most important source for finding URLs, we can take an educated guess and say that it is likely internal and external linking.

To make sure your sitemap is correct, run a Sitemaps Report on Google Search Console.

Use the Google Search Console “Inspect” Feature

If you are having trouble with a URL not getting indexed on your website, utilize Google Search Console’s Inspect feature.

This tool not only informs you why your pages aren’t getting indexed, but will show how Google renders pages that are indexed.

#4: Get Rid of Duplicate And Thin Content

If you do a stellar job of writing completely unique and original content for every page of your website, duplicate content may not be an area of concern for you.

The same goes for thin content. If you create comprehensive, long-form web pages then you may not have any issues in this area to resolve.

However, having duplicate and thin content can negatively impact your website’s technical SEO, so it is best to always double-check and resolve any issues as needed.

Let’s walk through finding and fixing duplicate and thin content on your website.

Use a Technical SEO Audit Tool

A good technical SEO audit tool will flag any duplicate and thin content on your website. 

At 7Greatmedia, our technical SEO audit tool is free when you create a free account with us. 

No Index Pages With Duplicate Content

With some sites, duplicate content can be inevitable. 

For example, the comments section at the bottom of your blog may be paginated.

What’s the workaround? Adding the no-index tag to those pages. This lets Google and other search engines know to not index the designated pages.

It may take a few days or weeks for Google to re-crawl all of the pages you no longer want indexed, depending on your crawl budget. You can track the status of your indexed pages using the “Inspect URL feature” in Google Search Console.

You also have the ability to block search engine crawlers from crawling pages by blocking their individual crawlers in your robots.txt. file.

Use Canonical URLs

Most pages with duplicate content will either be best solved by adding the no-index tag or simply revising the duplicate content to make it unique.

However, there are some instances where using canonical URLs is the best method of choice. Canonical URLs are typically best used for e-commerce websites that have pages with very similar content, but not identical content.

We’ll use an e-commerce website that sells shoes, for example.

Every size and color variation of one pair of shoes will result in multiple different URLs for the same product. To avoid this, you can use the rel= “canonical” tag to identify the main product page and signal to Google that the other pages for different sizes and colors of this product are just variations.

#5: Improve Your PageSpeed

As we mentioned with Google’s June 2021 Page Experience update, PageSpeed is incredibly important for organic SEO.

Slow PageSpeed is a hindrance on user experience and can drastically affect your website’s bounce rates and dwell times, that is if users ever find your website in the first place. As a key ranking factor, Google typically does not rank pages that have slow page speeds well.

Below, we will walk through some steps you can take to improve your Page Speed.

Reduce the Size of Your Web Page Size

The bigger your web page size is, the longer it will take for it to load.

Not sure where your PageSpeed is clocking in at? You can check with Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool.

What’s an easy way to trim down the size of your web page? Compress the images on your website and cache your web pages.

Eliminate Any 3rd Party Scripts

Looking over your site scripts and seeing if there are any unnecessary 3rd party scripts you can get rid of can help increase your pagespeed. 

Some 3rd party scripts, like Google Analytics, you’ll want to keep. However, it never hurts to check and make sure you aren’t running any unnecessary scripts that could be slowing your page down.

#6: Implement Hreflang (If Your Website Is International)

Implementing an hreflang tag is particularly important if you are running an international website. Search engines are able to interpret hreflang tags to clarify the lingual and geographical targeting of your website.

The only problem? The hreflang tag can be difficult to set up and Google doesn’t give a super clear explanation on how to use the tag:

According to Google, having broken or dead links on your web page isn’t a big deal.

However, broken internal links are another story. This is because broken internal links present difficulty for Google bots to crawl your site’s pages, which can affect your page’s ability to index and rank.

It’s a good idea to regularly perform a technical audit on your website to check for any broken links.

#8: Set Up Schema

Using schema markup helps Google and other search engines better understand your content, which can affect how well your content ranks in the SERPs. 

Schema markup can also help set you up for the opportunity to rank for rich snippets, which can improve your organic traffic and click-through rate. 

You can easily add schema markup to your web pages by using Google’s Structured Data Tool.

#9: Make Sure Your Site Is Mobile-Optimized

In 2020, 68.1% of website visits came from mobile devices, so it’s no surprise that making sure your site is mobile-friendly should be high on your priority list. 

You can use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to see how mobile-friendly your website actually is.

If Google determines that your website is not mobile-friendly, the report will tell you exactly what you need to fix. 

The Importance of Running Technical SEO Audits Often

A general rule of thumb is to run quarterly technical SEO audits.

Why? Because with your site growing and ever-evolving, there is always a chance for technical errors to pop up. The quicker you can solve these issues, the better, as technical errors can and will affect the organic performance of your website.

How Do You Do a Technical SEO Audit?

Running a technical SEO audit may sound difficult, but  7Greatmedia’s free SEO audit tool requires just the push of a button. 

Simply input your website URL into the SEO audit tool and 7Greatmedia will automatically generate a comprehensive report.

Let 7Greatmedia Improve Your Technical SEO And Increase Your Website Traffic and Revenue

7Greatmedia offers a complete, all-in-one SEO dashboard that allows you to:

  • Track keyword rankings
  • Track your organic traffic
  • Track monthly trends
  • Run on-page analysis
  • Run backlink analysis
  • Run site audits for technical SEO

Not sure you have the time or desire to improve your own technical SEO?

If you’re feeling a little over your head trying to tackle technical SEO on your own, 7GreatMedia can help.