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Technically optimizing your website is an important part of a successful digital marketing campaign. Understanding the elements of a technically optimized website may help you maximize your keyword integration, generate organic traffic, improve your rankings on search engine results and enhance user experience. In this article, we define technical SEO, discuss the importance and characteristics of a technically optimized website and offer tips to help you technically optimize your website.

What is Technical SEO?

Technical SEO refers to a combination of website and server optimizations that allow search engine spiders (a type of bot that scans websites for relevant content for search engine results) to more easily scan and index your website’s content. Technical SEO focuses less on keyword integration and more on the technical characteristics, such as fast loading time and a secure server, to ensure that scanning bots can easily interpret your website’s information.

Why Should You Optimize Your Site Technically?

Optimizing your website technically is an important part of generating organic traffic. Technically optimizing your website helps to ensure that major search engines interpret the value of your content and rank your website higher on search engine results. This could result in increased traffic and an enhanced user experience.

Simply creating high-quality, relevant content may not be enough to increase your website’s visibility. Technical SEO is a powerful way to ensure your website receives the attention it deserves.

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What Are the Characteristics of a Technically Optimized Website?

There are a few key characteristics of a technically optimized website, including:

High Performance

Stellar performance is an important characteristic of a technically optimized website. Performance encompasses your page’s loading time (an ideal loading time for websites is typically under two seconds), the waterfall of your pages (the order that page components come together during loading), the responsiveness of commands, and the usability of your website. A few page-speed metrics worth tracking and optimizing for include:

  • First byte: First byte loading times represent the time between an HTTP request and when the page’s first byte appears in the user’s browser.
  • First paint: First paint time represents how quickly the first pixel of a webpage appears after a user navigates to the page.
  • First meaningful paint: First meaningful paint is the paint after which the biggest above-the-fold layout change has happened, and web fonts have loaded.
  • First interactive: First interactive measures when the user’s window is quiet enough to handle user input.
  • DOM content load: DOM content load fires when an initial HTML document has been completely loaded and parsed.
  • Page load: Page load represents the amount of time it takes for a webpage to fully load in a user’s browser.

Removing any old or unused code from your webpages is another great way to enhance your site’s performance.

Crawlability

Crawlability refers to how easily a search engine scanning bot, like a spider or crawler, can navigate and interpret your website. When you technically optimize your website for search engine crawler bots, you greatly increase the chances of expanding your site’s audience. Aspects of a technically optimized site that contribute to its crawlability include:

  • Minimal site errors
  • Wisely implemented redirects
  • An updated XML site map
  • Minimal duplicate content
  • Indexed pages

Indexation

Indexability is an important part of ensuring that spiders and crawlers can easily access your website. Indexability is often modified and implemented through a series of coding. There are several steps you can take to ensure your site’s indexability, including checking pages for non-index tabs, monitoring your robots.txt files, and testing your canonical tags.

Why Is Technical SEO Important?

Technical SEO is an important part of a successful digital marketing campaign because it may help to:

Demonstrate Your Site’s Value

Improving your website’s technical SEO allows your high-quality content to remain the focus of your webpages and can enhance the perception of your site’s value. If you’ve implemented an exceptional keyword SEO strategy, optimizing your site for technical SEO can ensure that your valuable content reaches your desired audience and maintains its search result rankings.

Increase Your Rankings

Optimizing your site for technical SEO can improve your rankings in two key ways: attracting and retaining visitors and allowing crawlers to easily scan your content. Sites that are successfully optimized for technical SEO offer a pleasant user experience, with fast loading times and reliable links. This ensures that visitors to your site interact with your pages as long as possible, boosting your search result ratings. Sites optimized for spiders and crawlers also have a higher chance of impressive ratings on major search engine results.

How Can You Improve Your Technical SEO?

To improve your technical SEO, consider following these simple steps:

1. Apply SSL

Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is a security protocol established to create encrypted links between a web server and a browser. SSLs are frequently present on sites that involve receiving and storing your personal information, such as credit card purchases. Major search engines have recently implemented a notification system to warn users about entering sites without SSL. Applying SSL to your website can ensure that search engines don’t redirect users from your webpage and could help to maintain your search result ratings.

In order to apply SSL to your webpages, you may install a security certificate on your website domain and migrate your website to HTTPS.

2. Decrease Site Load Time

Users may be more likely to abandon a website that takes too long to load. Ensuring that your website’s loading times are convenient for your users may increase the time they spend interacting with your content and improve your search result rankings. Additionally, major search engines now analyze loading speed as a metric to rank results. To decrease your site’s load time, consider compressing large images and rich files into smaller, more manageable content. You may also consider browser caching, implementing a content delivery network (CDN), and removing unused scripts and files to improve your site’s load time.

3. Remove 404s and Broken Links

404 pages are pages that no longer exist, though their links are still present on your webpage. Removing these pages is another great way to enhance the technical SEO of your sites. The most likely cause of 404s and broken links is that you had a page that originally lived at a specific URL, but you changed the URL, or you didn’t need the page, so you removed it. When either of these instances occurs, be sure to set up a 301 redirect to allow your users to be sent to the new pages.

When a page is broken, scanning bots like spiders and crawlers can’t successfully navigate your site. Ensuring your website is free of 404s and broken links can enhance user experience and improve your search result ranking.

4. Eliminate Mixed Content Issues

If you’re struggling with mixed content issues, it may be because you’ve recently applied SSL to your site but have remaining non-secured pages in your menus. To apply SSL to each of your links, you may need to manually adjust each page after applying SSL to your website. A simple way to identify any mixed content issues on your website is to run a site audit and look for mixed content in the errors report.

Moving forward, be sure to only add embedded pages to your website to avoid mixed content issues in the future.

5. Remove Duplicate Content

Duplicate content is content that appears on more than one of your web pages. Duplicate content can confuse crawler and spider bots and may feel redundant to your users. To avoid this and optimize your site for technical SEO, be sure to remove any duplicate content from your website. Duplicate content may be identical or similar. In either case, consider carefully scanning your webpages for this type of information and removing any redundant content.

6. Create an XML Sitemap

An XML sitemap is a protocol that allows a webmaster to inform major search engines of URLs available for crawling. This is a great way to ensure the visibility of your site and increase its chances of being noticed by spiders and crawlers.

Image via Flickr by jacksonvilleseos.com

Technical SEO Best Practices

Below is a list of common technical SEO best practices:

Specify a Preferred Domain

A preferred domain is a simple SEO tip that can greatly increase your site’s compatibility with crawlers and spiders. Updating your preferred domain settings can help Google understand which of your webpages is best suited for crawling. For example, Google would interpret www.wesbite.com and website.com as two different sites and could mistake them as duplicate content. Be sure to update your preferred domain settings in Google to improve the technical optimization of your website.

Optimize Robots.txt

A robots.txt file is a file extension that tells search engine robots which pages on your site to crawl. Optimizing your robots.txt file to direct spiders and crawlers to your best, most relevant information is a great way to improve your search engine result rankings and increase traffic to your site.

Optimize Your URL Structure

Optimizing your URL structure for easy recognition by users and search engine bot is an important step in technically optimizing your website. Consider the following checklist to ensure your URL is optimized for success:

  • Edit each page’s URL for relevance.
  • Follow a standard URL structure.
  • Keep it simple.
  • Use your primary keyword.
  • Use hyphens to separate words.
  • Remove stop words.
  • Use canonical tags when necessary.

Navigation and Site Structure

A cohesive, easily navigated website may help to attract users and increase your website’s compatibility with crawler bots. Consider following these steps to streamline and optimize your website’s navigation and structure:

  • Create a hierarchy to organize your information.
  • Use a URL structure that corresponds with your hierarchy.
  • Create your site navigation in HTML or CSS.
  • Use a shallow-depth navigation structure.
  • List your main navigation pages in a header on your homepage.
  • Develop a comprehensive internal linking structure.

Breadcrumb Menus

Breadcrumb menus are navigation systems that provide information about a user’s location on a website. This secondary navigation bar is a great way to add convenience to your user experience by providing a context for your user’s interaction with your content. Breadcrumb menus are an additional navigation option that may help to increase the usability of your site and enhance your rankings on search engine results.

Implement Structured Data Markup

A Structured Data Markup Helper allows you to mark up elements on your webpage so that Google can more easily understand the data on the page. Once Google fully understands your page data, it can be presented more attractively and in fresh ways in Google Search.

Canonical URLs

Canonical URLs are an important part of optimizing your website for search engine scanner bots. A canonical link element is an HTML code that helps webmasters prevent duplicate content issues in search engine optimization. It does this by specifying the “canonical” or “preferred” version of a web page and directing crawler bots to the preferred version of your webpages.

Optimize 404 Page

The best way to optimize 404 pages on your website is to ensure that users don’t follow broken links. There are several ways to monitor and optimize 404 error pages, including Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools) and Google Analytics.

XML Site Map Optimization

Optimizing your XML site map may contribute to the success of your technical SEO. There are a variety of tools and plug-ins available to automatically monitor and optimize your site map. You may also optimize your site map manually and submit it to Google for review. When optimizing your site map, be sure to prioritize your highest quality pages to enhance the visibility of your best content.

SSL and HTTPS

SSL is an important practice to implement into your technical SEO. Creating SSL is fairly simple: begin your URL with “https:” instead of “http.”

Implementing SSL into your URL helps to create an encrypted code between your web server and a browser, ensuring the security of your user’s information and resulting in higher credibility among search engine results.

Website Speed

Website speed is crucial to a technically optimized website. There are a few different ways you can increase your website’s speed, including:

  • Enabling compression
  • Minifying JavaScript, CSS, and HTML
  • Reducing redirects
  • Using browser caching
  • Using a content distribution network
  • Optimizing images

Mobile Friendliness

Ensuring that your website is compatible with smartphones and portable technologies is a crucial practice of a technically optimized site. You can optimize your mobile compatibility by:

  • Testing your site using Google’s mobile-friendly tool.
  • Using a responsive WordPress theme.
  • Choosing a reliable web host.
  • Redesigning your pop-ups for mobile browsers.
  • Creating a mobile app.

Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

Accelerated mobile pages (AMP) are a great way to optimize your website for mobile configuration. AMP is an open-source HTML framework to help webpages load faster on mobile browsers. Implementing AMPs can improve your site’s mobile responsiveness and enhance user experience.

Pagination and Multilingual Websites

Pagination, also known as paging, is the process of dividing a webpage into multiple discrete pages. This is a great technique for multilingual websites and can help to ensure the accessibility of each language on your site. To create a basic pagination, add the .pagination class to an element in your code.

Register Your Site with Webmaster Tools

Registering your site with webmaster tools such as Google’s Search Console can help streamline many of the practices necessary to technically optimize your site. Consider logging into your Google account and registering with the Search Console for easy modification and optimization tools.

The Biggest Mistakes People Make When Learning Technical SEO

Optimizing your site for SEO can be tricky for beginners. Understanding some common mistakes may help you avoid them when implementing these practices into your strategy. Below are some of the most common mistakes people make when learning technical SEO:

  • Keyword stuffing: Stuffing keywords into small segments of your content can decrease the value of your site as perceived by spiders and crawlers. Do your best to disperse keywords across your webpages to enhance the relevance and quality of your website.
  • Not understanding searcher intent: It’s important to understand user intent in order to optimize your website to best fulfill your user’s needs. Try to prioritize your information based on the most useful and relevant content.
  • Slow site speeds: It’s important to pay attention to your site’s speeds in order to enhance user experience, extend the average time spent on your site and boost your rankings on search engine results.

Takeaways

Simply optimizing your website for keyword recognition may not be enough to gain the attention of major search engines and their scanning bots. To ensure your website receives the attention it deserves, you should take the time to optimize your content from a technical standpoint. Using the variety of tools, techniques, and methods described in this article, you may be able to enhance the relevance of your content, generate traffic, maximize user experience and improve your search result ratings.

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