Elevate Your Website’s Ranking and User Experience with Technical SEO

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Mimi Phan

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If you’re running a website or an online business, you likely know how crucial it is to get your website to appear on the first page of search engine results. And that’s where Search Engine Optimization (SEO) comes in.

While most people are familiar with SEO basics, such as content optimization and keyword research, another equally important aspect that can significantly impact your website’s search engine visibility is Technical SEO.

In simple terms, Technical SEO involves optimizing your website’s technical backend structure to make it easier for search engines to crawl and index your website. It includes factors like website speed, mobile-friendliness, and website security, which can significantly affect your website’s performance.

In this article, we’ll explore the world of Technical SEO, explain its benefits, and provide you with actionable tips to help you optimize your website for better search engine rankings and user experience.

What is Technical SEO

Technical SEO refers to optimizing a website’s technical structure and foundation to improve its crawling, indexing, and ranking by search engines. It involves various technical factors essential for search engines to crawl and index your website efficiently.

These factors include website speed, mobile-friendliness, security, architecture, structured data, etc. Optimizing these technical elements of your website can help search engines understand and prioritize your website’s content, leading to better search engine rankings and improved user experience.

In other words, Technical SEO is essential to any successful SEO strategy that helps you build a strong foundation for your website’s search engine visibility.

Difference between Technical SEO, On-Page SEO, and Off-Page SEO

Technical SEO, On-Page SEO, and Off-Page SEO are the three fundamental aspects of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) that improve a website’s search engine ranking and visibility.

Technical SEO involves optimizing the technical structure of a website, including factors like website speed, mobile-friendliness, website security, website architecture, and structured data. Technical SEO aims to ensure that your website is technically optimized and structured so that search engines can easily crawl and index.

On-Page SEO optimizes individual web pages’ content and HTML source code to make them more relevant and understandable to search engines and users. It includes optimizing page titles, meta descriptions, header tags, and keyword usage in content.

Finally, Off-Page SEO concerns activities outside your website to improve search engine rankings, such as building backlinks, social media marketing, and influencer outreach. Off-Page SEO is about building your website’s authority and credibility and getting other websites to link to your site.

These three pillars are essential in improving a website’s search engine visibility and ranking. By balancing your efforts across all three, you can ensure your website is fully optimized for search engines and users.

Why is Technical SEO Important?

Technical SEO is essential because it provides the foundation for all other SEO activities. It involves optimizing the technical structure of your website to improve crawl ability, indexing, speed, mobile-friendliness, security, and other factors that impact search engine ranking and user experience.

By prioritizing Technical SEO as part of your SEO strategy, you can ensure that your website is technically optimized and structured so that search engines can easily crawl and index and users can easily navigate and engage with your content. Ultimately, this can lead to better search engine visibility, increased website traffic, and improved user experience.

Technical SEO Audit Fundamentals

Technical SEO Audit Fundamentals - iRocket VC

Copywriters must establish a few foundational elements before starting their technical SEO audit. Before moving on to the remaining portions of your website assessment, let’s review some technical SEO principles.

Verify Your Preference Domain

The URL visitors type to access your website, such as irocket.com, is your domain. Your website’s domain determines whether you may be found through searches and offers a dependable way to recognize your site.

Choosing a preferred domain lets search engines know your site’s www or non-www version in the search results. It instructs search engines to prefer your website’s www version and directs all users to that URL. If not, search engines will view these two versions as different sites, reducing their SEO value.

Google previously prompted you to specify which URL version you prefer. Now, Google will recognize and decide which version to display to searchers. But you may use canonical tags to specify the preferred version. Ensure that all variations, including www, non-www, HTTP, and index.html, permanently point to your desired domain after you’ve put it up.

Utilize SSL

This phrase has probably been used before because it is significant. Your website is secure thanks to SSL, or Secure Sockets Layer, which adds an extra layer of security between a browser and a web server (the program in charge of fulfilling an online request). Because you have SSL to safeguard them, when a user provides information to your website, including payment or contact information, that information is less likely to be compromised.

A domain that starts with “https://” rather than “http://” and the lock icon in the URL bar are indicators of an SSL certificate.

Search engines like secure websites; Google declared that SSL would be considered when determining rankings as early as 2014. As a result, select your homepage’s SSL version as your desired domain.

SSL configuration must be followed by HTTPS conversion for any non-SSL pages. It’s a challenging task, but the reward of a higher rating makes it worthwhile. The actions you need to take are as follows:

Improve Page Speed

Do you know how long a website visitor will load your website? Six seconds and even that is being kind. According to some studies, the bounce rate rises by 90% as the page load time grows from one to five seconds.

You don’t have time to waste; thus, your website’s speed needs to be increased immediately. Site speed is a ranking criterion in addition to being significant for user experience and conversion.

Improve your average page load time by following these suggestions:

  • You should compress each file. Your photos and your CSS, HTML, and JavaScript files can all be compressed to make them smaller and load more quickly.
  • Review redirects frequently. It takes a few seconds for a 301 redirect to complete. Multiplying multiple pages or redirect layers will significantly slow down your website.
  • Streamline your code. Your site’s speed could be negatively impacted by messy coding. Lazy code is messy code. It’s similar to writing; you need six phrases to communicate your point in the initial draft. You get to three in the second draft. The faster the page loads, the more efficient the coding is (in general). You should minify and compress your code after you’ve cleaned up.
  • Think about a content delivery network (CDN). CDNs are distributed web servers that store copies of your website in several geographic areas to deliver your website based on the searcher’s location. Your site loads quicker for the user since there is less distance for the information to travel between servers.
  • Try not to avoid getting too plugged in. Your website is more vulnerable to hostile hackers who can ruin its rankings due to outdated plugins’ security flaws. Use only the most necessary plugins and always utilize the most recent versions. In a similar vein, take into account using custom-made themes as pre-made website themes frequently contain a lot of extraneous code.
  • Use plugins that cache data. Cache plugins save a static copy of your website from transmitting to returning visitors, reducing the time it takes to load on subsequent visits.
    Here’s how an async script looks: <script async src=”script.js”></script>
    Once you’ve mastered the technical SEO principles, it’s time to advance to the next phase, crawlability.

Crawlability Checklist

The cornerstone of your technical SEO strategy is crawlability. Search bots will crawl your pages and collect data about your website.

These bots cannot index or rank your sites if they are prevented from crawling. Creating accessible and intuitive navigation for all your key sites is the first step in adopting technical SEO.

To ensure that your pages are ready for crawling, we’ll cover some items to include on your checklist and specific website components to examine below.

  1. Make an XML sitemap.

Recall the site hierarchy we discussed earlier. It goes in a tool called an XML Sitemap that aids in the comprehension and crawling of your web pages by search engines. XML Sitemap could compare to a website map. Once finished, you’ll upload your sitemap to Bing Webmaster Tools and Google Search Console. Remember to update your sitemap as you add and remove web pages.

  1. Make the most of your crawl budget.

The pages and resources on your website that search bots will crawl are your crawl budget.

Make sure you prioritize your most crucial pages for crawling because the funding for crawling is finite.

To make sure you’re making the most of your crawl budget, follow these suggestions:

  • Canonicalize or delete duplicate pages.
  • Redirect or fix any broken links.
  • Make sure that crawlers can access your CSS and Javascript files.
  • Watch for any unexpected drops or rises in your crawl statistics.
  • Ensure that any bot or page you’ve stopped from being crawled has done so on purpose.
  • Maintain an updated sitemap and publish it to the proper webmaster tools.
  • Remove any old or unneeded content from your website.
  • Beware of dynamically generated URLs, which can drastically increase the number of pages on your website.
  1. Improve the architecture of your website.

The pages on your website are numerous. These pages must be organized so search engines can easily find and crawl them. That’s where your website’s information architecture, often known as the site’s structure, comes into play.

Your site architecture determines how you arrange the pages on your website, just as how a building’s architectural design informs its construction.

Relevant pages are grouped; for instance, the homepage of your blog links to specific blog articles, and those individual blog entries each link to a different author page. Thanks to this structure, search engines can better understand the relationships between your pages.

The significance of individual pages should also influence and be influenced by your site architecture. Search engines will give Page A more weight if it is closer to your homepage, has more sites linking to it, and those pages have more significant link equity.

For instance, a link from your homepage to Page A conveys greater importance than a link from a blog article. Page A becomes more “important” to search engines due to more links pointing to it.

Conceptually, a site architecture might resemble this, with the About, Product, News, and other essential pages at the top of the hierarchy.

Ensure that the pages that matter the most to your company are at the top of the hierarchy with the most (relevant!) internal links.

  1. Setting up a URL structure.

The structure of your URLs, which your site architecture can influence, is called URL structure. First, let’s clarify that URLs can contain subdirectories (like blog.hubspot.com) or subfolders (like hubspot.com/blog) that indicate where the URL links.

It is totally up to you to utilize subdomains, subdirectories, or “products” versus “stores” in your URL. The benefit of building your website is that you have complete control over the regulations. These guidelines must adhere to a consistent format; thus, you shouldn’t alternate between blog.yourwebsite.com and yourwebsite.com/blogs on separate pages. Create a plan, use it to guide your naming convention for URLs, and follow it religiously.

Here are some additional pointers for creating URLs:

  • Enter letters in lowercase.
  • Dashes should separate words.
  • Keep them concise and informative.
  • Don’t use extraneous characters or words (including prepositions).
  • Insert your target keywords here.

After your URL structure is perfect, publish an XML sitemap to search engines with a list of the URLs of your key pages. Doing this gives search engine crawlers more information about your website than they would otherwise have.

  1. Make use of robots.txt.

When a web robot crawls your site, it will first look for the Robot Exclusion Protocol file or /robot.txt. This protocol can let or prohibit some web robots from crawling your website, including particular regions or even individual pages. In addition, you can use a noindex robots meta tag to stop bots from indexing your website. Let’s talk about both of these situations.

You should completely prevent some bots from crawling your website. Unfortunately, bots that scrape your content or spam your community forums are some of the bots with nefarious intentions. If you observe this undesirable conduct, you will utilize your robot.txt to prohibit people from accessing your website. In this situation, think of robot.txt as your force field against malicious internet bots.

The indexing process involves search bots crawling your website to gather information and identify keywords that will help them match your web pages with pertinent search requests. You have a crawl budget, though, and you want to avoid blowing it on extraneous data, as we’ll cover later. As a result, sites like login pages and thank you pages from offers that don’t help search bots comprehend what your website is about can be excluded.

Your robot.txt protocol will be different regardless of what, depending on what you want to achieve.

  1. Employ pagination

Do you recall how your professors made you number the pages of your research paper? That is what pagination is. Pagination has a different role in technical SEO, but you can still consider it a type of organizing.

Search engines are informed by pagination when sites with different URLs are related. You might, for instance, have a content series that you divide into chapters or several web pages. You’ll utilize pagination to make it simple for search bots to find and crawl these pages.

It functions in a relatively straightforward manner. You’ll use the series’ page one’s head> to navigate there.

To tell the search engine bot which website to crawl, use rel=” next.” You’ll use rel=”prev” to indicate the previous page on page two, rel=”next” to indicate the next page, and so on.

While Google no longer supports pagination for batch indexing pages, it is still beneficial for crawl discovery.

  1. Examine the SEO log files.

An entry in a journal might be compared to a log file. Every activity users perform on your site is logged and stored by web servers (the journaler) in log files (the journal). The recorded information includes the request’s time and date, the requested material, and the sender’s IP address. You can also determine the user agent, a specifically identifiable piece of software (like a search engine, for instance) that responds to a user’s request.

So how does this relate to SEO?

When they crawl your website, search bots leave a trace in the form of log files. You may discover whether, when, and what was crawled by looking through the log files and filtering by the user agent and search engine.

You can use this information to determine how your crawl budget is used and what obstacles a bot is running across while trying to index or gain access using it. For example, you can ask a developer to access your log files or utilize a log file analyzer like Screaming Frog.

A search engine bot may be able to crawl your website, but that does not guarantee that it will be able to index all your pages. Let’s look at the indexability layer of your technical SEO assessment.

Factors that Affect Indexability

Search engine bots start indexing pages as they crawl your website based on the pages’ topics and relevancy to those topics. Your page is qualified to rank in the SERPs once indexed. These are several elements that may aid in your pages being indexed.

Unblocking the access of search bots to pages

This phase will probably be handled when you talk about crawl ability, but it’s still important to include it here. You want to ensure that bots can access and navigate your favorite pages freely. A few tools are at your disposal to help you with this. You can see a list of restricted pages using Google’s robots.txt tester, and you can use the Inspect tool in the Google Search Console to find out why.

Get rid of duplicate stuff.

The same material confounds search engines and hurts your capacity to be indexed. Remember to establish your chosen pages using canonical URLs.

Look over your redirects.

When your site is indexed, redirect loops, broken URLs, or inappropriate redirects might cause problems. Audit all of your redirects frequently to prevent this. Make sure all of your redirects are configured correctly.

Check that your website is mobile-responsive.

If your website still needs to be responsive to mobile devices, you are far behind where you should be. Google indexed mobile sites first in 2016, prioritizing the mobile experience over the desktop one. These days, indexing is turned on by default. You can use Google’s mobile-friendly test to see where your website needs to improve to keep up with this significant trend.

Fix HTTP errors.

HyperText Transfer Protocol is what HTTP stands for, although you probably don’t care. You are interested in how HTTP errors are fixed when returned to users or search engines.

The operation of search bots can be hampered by HTTP failures that prevent them from accessing important content on your website. So, dealing with these mistakes as soon as possible and thoroughly is crucial.

You’ll use the resources in the section below to learn more about or find out how to fix each HTTP issue, as each is distinct and calls for a specific solution.

  • 301 Traffic can be permanently redirected from one URL to another using permanent redirects. These redirects can be put up using your CMS, but too many might slow down your website and worsen user experience since each extra redirect increases page load time. Avoid as many redirect chains as possible since search engines will stop crawling that website if there are too many.
  • Users are informed via 404 Error Pages that the requested page is unavailable, either because it has been deleted or because they typed the incorrect Address. To retain visitors to your site, it’s a good idea always to build entertaining and on-brand 404 pages.
  • The 405 Method Not Allowed error message indicates that your website server acknowledged and denied the access method.
  • 500 Internal Server Error is a standard error message that indicates your web server is having trouble getting your site to the person making the request.
  • An incorrect answer or a breakdown in communication between website servers is the cause of the 502 Bad Gateway Error.
  • The 503 Unavailable Service error message informs you that even though your server usually operates, it cannot process the request.
  • A 504 Gateway Timeout indicates that your web server did not promptly respond to a request to access the required information.

Regardless of the cause, fixing these issues is critical if you want users and search engines to continue visiting your website.

Accessibility problems that prevent users and bots from visiting your site will affect your SEO even if it has been crawled and indexed. We must go to the renderability phase of your technical SEO evaluation.

Renderability Checklist

The distinction between web accessibility and SEO accessibility should be made clear. The latter focuses on making your website pages simple for visitors who have impairments or disabilities, like blindness or dyslexia, for instance.

Website accessibility features frequently overlap with SEO-recommended practices. An SEO accessibility audit, however, does not take into account every step you would need to take to increase the accessibility of your website for impaired users.

We’re going to concentrate on accessibility for SEO. Easy rendering is the foundation of an accessible website. The website components to examine for your renderability audit are listed below.

Server Efficiency

As you now know, HTTP failures brought on by server timeouts and faults prevent users and bots from accessing your website and using the resources listed above to investigate and fix any problems your server may be having. Because it is frustrating for users to see a broken page, search engines may remove your website from their index if you fail to do this promptly.

HTTP Status

HTTP failures will restrict access to your web pages, like server performance. You can carry out a thorough error audit of your website using a web crawler like Screaming Frog, Botify, or DeepCrawl.

Page Size and Load Time

The bounce rate is not the only issue you must be concerned about if your page loads slowly. A slow page load time can cause a server issue that prevents bots from seeing your web pages or causes them to crawl incompletely loaded versions missing important content. Depending on the crawl demand for a particular resource, bots attempt to load, render, and index pages using similar resources. To reduce your website load time, you should take all reasonable steps.

JavaScript Rendering

To increase accessibility, Google advises using pre-rendered content since it can process JavaScript (JS) more easily. Also, Google has several resources to understand better how search bots access the Content on your website and how to resolve search-related issues.

Orphan Pages

Each page on your website should be connected to at least two other sites, depending on how important the page is. These pages lack the context bots require to understand how they should be indexed, similar to an essay without an introduction. An orphan page lacks any internal links.

Page Depth

Page depth describes how far from your homepage a page is in the hierarchy of your website or how many layers below it is. Your site architecture should be as thin as you can make it while yet maintaining a clear hierarchy. Sometimes a multi-layered website is unavoidable; in that case, you should put the organization ahead of shallowness.

No matter how many levels there are in your site’s architecture, crucial binding sites like your product and contact pages are no more profound than three clicks. A design that makes your product page so challenging to find for people and search engine bots makes it less accessible and offers a bad user experience.

Chain Redirect

A cost is associated with rerouted traffic. Efficiency at a crawl is that cost. Incorrectly configured redirects can make your site inaccessible, slow down crawling, and limit speed. Try to limit the number of redirects you use for each reason.

About how your pages rank in the SERPs, you can proceed after addressing accessibility concerns.

Factors That Affect Site Ranking

Factors That Affect Site Ranking - iRocket VC

We now go on to the topics you are probably already familiar with increasing ranking from a technical SEO perspective. Some of the previously listed on-page and off-page components, seen via a technological lens, are necessary to get your pages to rank.

Remember that all of these components work together to produce an SEO-friendly website. We would therefore be negligent if we omitted all the relevant elements. Let’s get started.

External and Internal Connecting

Links provide context for ranking a website and assist search bots in understanding where a page fits in the overall scheme of a query. Links direct visitors and search bots to relevant material and communicate the relevance of a page. Generally, linking helps with crawling, indexing, and ranking.

Backlink Strength

Backlinks, or links pointing back to your website from other websites, give your website credibility. These inform search engines that your page is of a good caliber and merits being crawled, according to External Website A. Search bots become aware of and view your site as more credible as these votes accumulate. It certainly seems like a fantastic deal. There is a catch, though, as with most beautiful things. The caliber of those backlinks is crucial.

Links from low-quality websites can harm your rankings. There are various techniques to attract high-quality backlinks to your website, including outreach to pertinent publications, securing unlinked mentions, offering pertinent publications, securing unlinked mentions, and offering relevant content that attracts links from other websites.

Content Clusters

Content clusters connect relevant content for search bots to quickly identify, crawl, and index, all to identify and crawl quickly on a specific topic. They serve as a method for self-promotion to demonstrate to search engines your expertise on a subject, increasing the likelihood that they will rank your website as an authority for any connected search queries.

Since studies have shown that users are more inclined to click on the first three search results on SERPs, your rankability is the primary factor in determining your organic traffic growth. But how can you be sure that your listing is the one that is clicked?

Clickability Checklist

Although searcher behavior has a significant role in click-through rate (CTR), there are things you can do to increase your clickability on the SERPs. Although page names and meta descriptions containing keywords affect CTR, we will concentrate on the technical aspects.

PageRank and click-through rate are closely related because let’s face it, searchers seek quick solutions. The more your SERP result shines out, the more likely someone will click on it. Let’s go over some strategies for increasing clickability.

Employ Structured Data.

Static data uses a particular vocabulary called schema to identify and name elements on your website for search bots. The schema clearly defines each element’s purpose, relationship to your website, and method of interpretation. Structured data informs bots, “This is a video,” “This is a product,” or “This is a recipe,” leaving no space for interpretation.

The use of structured data, however, can assist in organizing your material in a way that makes it simple for search bots to comprehend, index, and rank your pages. Structured data is not a “clickability factor”  (if there even is such a thing).

Win SERP Attributes.

Rich results, also called SERP features, have advantages and disadvantages. You’re in the clear if you triumph and receive the click-through. If not, paid advertising, text response boxes, video carousels, and other elements are displayed above your organic results on the page.

Rich results differ from other search results regarding the page title, URL, and meta description. For instance, the image below demonstrates two SERP features above the first organic result: a video carousel and a “People Also Ask” box.

While getting clicks from being in the top organic results still works, rich results provide much better possibilities.

What can you do to improve your chances of getting lucrative results? Use organized data and produce informative content. Your chances of receiving a rich result are better the simpler it is for search bots to understand the components of your website.

Structured data can help move this (and other search gallery items) from your website to the top of the SERPs, increasing the likelihood that someone will click through:

  • Articles
  • Videos
  • Reviews
  • Questions (the “People Also Ask” boxes)
  • Events
  • Images
  • Local Business Goods Listings
  • Sitelinks

Featured Snippet Optimization

Featured Snippets, those boxes that appear above the search results and offer brief responses to search queries, are one unicorn SERP feature that has nothing to do with schema markup.

Featured Snippets aims to provide searchers with results for their queries as rapidly as feasible. According to Google, winning a snippet requires offering the best response to the searcher’s query.

Consider Google Explore.

With over 50% of queries coming from mobile devices, it’s no wonder Google has focused more on the mobile experience. Google Explore is a relatively recent algorithmic ranking of material by category designed exclusively for mobile users. The tool allows users to create a content library (gardening, music, or politics) by choosing interest-based categories.

In summary, technical SEO is essential to a successful SEO strategy. It focuses on optimizing the technical aspects of a website to ensure that it is both user-friendly and easily discoverable by search engines. It can include improving site speed, ensuring mobile responsiveness, optimizing site structure, and more.

By addressing technical SEO issues, website owners can improve their website’s search engine visibility, leading to more traffic and potential customers. However, it’s important to remember that technical SEO requires ongoing attention as search engine algorithms and user behavior evolve.

Ultimately, technical SEO is a critical factor in achieving a website’s business goals, and website owners should prioritize addressing technical issues to improve their website’s overall performance.