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What is technical SEO? 7 technical aspects everyone should know

Technical SEO isn't simple, but here we'll explain what things you should pay attention to when managing your website's technical framework in layman's terms.

Let's talk about precisely what technical SEO is and why it is crucial for your business's online presence. While it looks like the terms technical SEO are contradictions, they actually can make the difference between having a high ranking site and a site that does not rank at all in search results.

Technical SEO isn't simple, but here we'll explain what things you should pay attention to when managing your website's technical framework in layman's terms. This way, you have an outstanding online presence.

What is technical SEO?

Technical SEO pertains to enhancing the technical aspects of a website to boost its pages' ranking in the search engines. Making a website faster, more straightforward for search engines to crawl, and readable for search engines are technical optimization pillars. Technical SEO is an on-page SEO element that enhances your website's features to get higher rankings. It's the reverse of what off-page SEO does, which is more about creating publicity for a website through other websites and platforms.

Why should you technically optimize your site?

The big search engines, like Google, want to show their users the best possible query results. Therefore, the search engine's robots crawl and assess a website's pages on an abundance of factors. Some of these factors are based on the experience the user is having, like how quickly a page loads. Other factors help to show the search engine robots what the website's pages are about. All of this is what structured data does. So, by enhancing your site's technical aspects, you help search engines crawl and better understand your site. If this is done well, you could receive higher rankings or even rich results, which is fantastic!

There is a negative flip side as well, though: if you make severe technical mistakes on your site, they can cost you a little to a whole lot. For example, we have had people accidentally block search engines completely from crawling their website by accidentally typing a trailing slash in the wrong place in their robots.txt file or turning crawl permissions off completely so the crawl robots cannot find the site.

But it's a mistake that you should only concentrate on the technical aspects just to please search engines. The website should function great– it should be fast, straightforward, and easy to use. It should be built for your users, no robots, in the first place. Luckily, generating a robust technical framework often corresponds with a better experience for everyone and things involved (users and search engines).

What are the components of a technically optimized website?

A technically dependable website is fast for users and straightforward to crawl for the search engine robots. A precise technical setup assists search engines to know what a site is about, and it limits uncertainty caused by, for example, duplicate content. Moreover, it doesn't link visitors or search engines into dead-end paths with broken links. Below, we'll quickly go into some essential aspects of a technically optimized website.

Your website is fast.

In today's world, web pages need to load as fast as possible. The users are very impatient and don't want to wait for a page to open and load. In 2016, investigations showed that 53% of mobile website visitors would leave if the web page selected doesn't open within three seconds. This means that if your website is sluggish, users will get frustrated and move on to the next website, leading to you missing out on all that traffic and business.

Search engines know that slow web pages give a less than optimal experience. Therefore search engines will prefer web pages that load faster within their algorithm. A sluggish web page ends up further down the search results than its faster equivalent site—this results in even less traffic. Now, in 2021, page experience, referring to how fast people experience a web page, will become a ranking factor. So you better prepare!

Are you wondering if your website is fast enough? We recommend working with a company that handles websites (like QuickFix!!) or running a speed test yourself. If you run speed analyses yourself, most tests will also give you pointers on what to improve.

Your website is crawlable for search engines.

As we mentioned above, search engines will use robots to crawl or spider through your website. The robots follow any of the links present to discover content on your site. If you have an excellent internal linking framework, it will help ensure that the robots understand the critical content.

To help guide the robots through your site, you can make small tweaks on top of what we mentioned above. For instance, you can block the robots from crawling specific content if you don't want them to index something for whatever reason. You can also let the pages be crawled, but tell the search engine robots not to show a particular page in the search results or not to follow the links on that page. These practices are great for old pages with incorrect content or building out new pages that are not quite ready for the public yet.

1. Robots.txt file

With robots.txt files on the site, you are essentially giving the search engine's robots directions for your site. These directions are very powerful and need to be handled properly and very carefully. As we stated initially, a tiny slip could stop robots from crawling essential parts of your site or your whole site. For example, people have accidentally blocked their site's CSS and JS files from being seen by the robots. These particular files include code that instructs browsers what your site should look like and how it works. So, if these specific files are blocked for any reason, search engines can't figure out if your site works accurately.

All in all, we advise you to dive into robots.txt if you want to learn how it works. If you are going to do work on this, please make sure you do your research so that you do not accidentally cause damage. Or, better yet, let a developer handle it for you so that you can get back to things that you love to do!

2. The meta robots tag

The robots meta tag is a code section that you do not see on the page as a site guest. This is located in the head section of the pages' source code. Robots will read this code section when they first find the page. In this code section, the robots will find detailed data about the page or instructions for what they should do with the information they find.

As mentioned above, if you want search engine robots to crawl a page but not be displayed in the search results, you can do this with the robots meta tag. Robots meta tag also allow you to instruct the robots to crawl a page without following the page's links. With tools such as Yoast SEO, it's straightforward to "noindex" or "nofollow" a page or post.

Your website doesn't have dead or broken links.

We've mentioned that slow websites are frustrating, but dead and broken links might be even more annoying for visitors than a slow page. If a link from somewhere on the internet leads to a non-existing page on your site, the user will be met with a 404 error page. Now, your carefully crafted user experience has been thrown out the window! Uh oh!

Pssst...search engines hate to detect these error pages too. And search engines manage to discover even more dead links and pages than actual users face because the robots follow every link they find, even if the link is hidden and only in the code.

Sadly, the majority of sites have some broken links present. A website is an ongoing work in progress, and somebody will always be tweaking things and accidentally breaking something. Luckily, some tools can help you find and fix dead and broken links on your site quickly.

Whenever you have to move or delete a page, you should always redirect the URL as part of the process. This will help prevent broken and dead links. Ideally, you'd redirect it to a new page that replaces the old page so that all old links throughout the internet will not cause problems.

Your website doesn't have duplicate content that confuses search engines.

If you have identical content on multiple pages on your site, search engines might get confused. If you have more than one website with duplicate content, search engines will get confused as well. The search engines become confused with duplicate content because now they have to subjectively, instead of objectively rank, which page should rank higher. As an outcome, the search engine could rank all pages with identical content lower, which does not help anyone.

Sadly, you might have a duplicate content problem without even recognizing it. One great example is how different URLs can display the same content, which can be done for technical reasons. If this happens, a visitor will not know the difference, but a search engine will see the same content on a different URL. This can cause a lot of damage.

Fortunately, there's a technical resolution to this potential problem. With a canonical link element, if you do have duplicate content that you find, you can designate what the original page is or show which page you want the search engines to rank. This will helps squash any issues with duplicate content that you might not know that you have. Many services can help with monitoring for this exact issue. Want to know more, just ask. QuickFix Geeks web team would be happy to help you!

Your website is secure.

A secure website is also a technically optimized website. Building your website safe for users to guarantee their privacy is essential for any and all websites nowadays. There are a bunch of tweaks that you can do to make your (WordPress) website secure, but one of the most essential tweaks would be implementing HTTPS.

For your site, HTTPS makes sure that no-one can see or obtain the data that is transmitted over between the browser and the website. For example, if somebody logs in to your website, their logins need to be kept safe. To create this safety, you have to have an SSL certificate to make it secure (HTTPS). Search engines, like Google, recognizes the value of security for a website. Therefore, most search engine ranking algorithms make websites that are secure rank higher than websites that are not secure.

Anyone can quickly verify if your website is secure (HTTPS) in most browsers. When you are online, you can look on the left-hand side of the address bar, and you'll notice a lock if it's secure. If you anything other than the lock, then it is probably "not secure". If it is not safe for any reason, please fix it because this is a huge ranking factor, and we have seen whole companies ruined by this factor alone.

Your site has structured data.

A search engine robot's number one goal is to understand your website, content, or even your business as much as possible. This can help with what is called structured data on your site. Structured data helps to tell the search engines various things, such as what sort of product you sell or what recipes you have on your site. Structured data also allows you to present all kinds of details about those products or recipes to the search engine.

Because there's a fixed format to follow, search engines can effortlessly find and parse through your website's structured data. The bonus is that it assists the search engine to arrange your content in a more significant picture. There are services such as Yoast SEO that help to created structured data for you.  

Setting up structured data for your website is more than just making search engines understand your site better, but there are more bonuses for doing it. For example, doing it can also make your content suitable for rich results. Rich results are those fancy results with stars or details in the search results.

Your site has an XML sitemap.

An XML sitemap of your website is just a list of every page of your site. It is used similarly to a roadmap for your site for search engines as they are crawling it. With having a sitemap, you have the power to make sure that the search engines won't avoid any critical content on your site. The XML sitemap often displays any information about the site, such as posts, pages, tags, custom post types, and typically includes the number of images and the last changed date for every page in the list.

In theory, a website doesn't have to have an XML sitemap. For example, if a site has an excellent internal linking structure that accurately attaches all content, robots won't need it. However, not all websites have a perfect internal linking structure, so having an XML sitemap would be more helpful than harmful.

Want to learn more about this?

So this is a short version of what technical SEO is all about. This is not all inclusive, but this is quite a lot already, while just scraped the surface of the topic. There is a lot more to discuss for the technical side of SEO! Want to learn more? Want to have someone help you with your website? Our website geeks can help! Just reach out anytime.

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