What Is Technical SEO?
Technical SEO is part of the on-page SEO in that all of the activities done to improve the website’s rankings are performed on the site itself. However, technical SEO is about more than just getting better results on the SERPs. It’s a commitment to providing the utmost in user experience and maximizing the efficiency of the website.
While generally a complicated term to get right, you could say that technical SEO is the process of optimizing the technical aspects of the website. Technical aspects include page loading speed, security, indexing, properly structured data, and a few other factors that contribute to an optimally running website.
Unlike off-page SEO or the rest of on-page SEO, the technical side of website optimization is something that few SEO experts dare to approach without the help of a web developer. It is a crucial part of SEO that should not be neglected and that you need to plan for.
Why Is Technical SEO Important?
We already pointed out that the focus of technical SEO is user experience, and unless you’re very new to search engine optimization, you’ll know that Google values user experience above all other metrics.
Outstanding user experience directly translates to better rankings in SERPs, which is all the reason most site owners need to dedicate sufficient resources to technical optimization. Unless you plan on handling technical SEO on your own, it’s best to include the web developer in the optimization process from the get-go. Their insight will prove invaluable and help your SEO efforts in the long run.
It is not wise to ignore the technical aspects of SEO until it’s too late. Technical SEO also aims to prevent the website from malfunctioning, which can be a costly and time-consuming ordeal. Serious technical mistakes can be extremely harmful to the website and it’s always better to prevent them, rather than spending time fixing them.
Aspects of Technical SEO
While page load speed is by far the most relevant aspect of technical SEO, there are a couple of other contributing factors that are just as important. Most notably, ease of crawling and security are unavoidable parts of technical optimization.
Page Load Speed
The time a web page takes to load is the most crucial aspect of technical optimization. Given the fact that most users won’t wait around for more than three seconds, a page that fails to load by then is likely to lose visitors. In other words, the web page offers an abysmal user experience that search engines are going to pick up on and penalize.
With the advent of the Page Experience Update, speed’s become more important than ever. If there are two identical websites, Google is going to rank the faster one higher. There’s simply no more room in SERPs for web pages that underperform.
One of the main goals of technical SEO is to maximize page load speed. Images are the worst offenders when it comes to slow websites, so keeping them as small as possible (and compressing the web page itself) can bring a noticeable speed boost. Keeping the number of HTTP requests to a minimum is also relevant. When all else fails, switching to a faster hosting plan and a faster DNS will do.
HTTPS is a ranking signal, but to get it, you’ll need Secure Sockets Layer or SSL for short. SSL protects the connection between the browser and the webserver. All the information being passed to and from the server will be kept safe and secure from the prying eyes.
Crawlable for Search Engines
Crawlers use the internal linking structure of a website to navigate all the pages and hopefully index them. One part of the technical SEO is taking control of what crawlers can do with the pages on your website.
There are quite a number of reasons why you wouldn’t want robots to crawl certain pages or show them in search results. Tools such as the robot.txt file and the meta robots tag give you more control over crawlers’ behavior and let you guide them, in a manner of speaking.
An XML sitemap is yet another way of helping crawlers do their job better. It can provide the bots with metadata on each URL you list in the sitemap, giving them valuable information to work with.
Avoiding Duplicate Content
The duplicate content issue arises when different URLs show the same content. Duplicate content is not only confusing for users, but it’s also a red flag to any search engines watching. To them, it might indicate spammy tactics used to manipulate rankings in order to win more traffic.
Technical SEO aims to alleviate this problem using the canonical link element, which indicates what the original page is. Sometimes, your content management system (CMS) is at fault, in which case it needs to be barred from making multiple versions of the same page.
Adding structured data code to your website will give search engines more information about the website, its content, and your business. That way, search engines might index your website more efficiently and accurately.
Using structure data on your website could also earn you a rich snippet, which often leads to higher CTRs and more traffic in general.
Last but not least, responsive websites that adjust to a variety of devices are at the heart of technical SEO. The mobile-first design philosophy is on the rise, so having a site that works well on mobile devices is no longer a fine touch — it’s a bare necessity.
A responsive site has been imperative for quite some time now, and Google seems likely to keep it that way. Optimize your website for mobile or miss out on a significant ranking signal.
Technical SEO Is Not an Afterthought
Building your website from the ground up with technical SEO in mind is mandatory. Treating it as an afterthought will cause you headaches in the long run, and cost you quite a bit. For people who are less than tech-savvy, it means including web developers in SEO efforts from the very beginning.