Most modern internet-users will have at least some understanding of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), a term used to describe the tactics that online businesses employ to boost the visibility of important web pages. For most creators, SEO starts and ends with efforts like keyword research, meta description creation and backlink outreach, though the more technical aspects of the practice may be overlooked.
While both on page SEO and off page SEO efforts do help search engines to better understand content, these practices often only represent part of the picture. In short, while efforts to optimise raw content will make it easier for search engines to rank web pages, websites themselves also need some attention.
That’s where technical SEO comes into play, a selection of proven strategies and techniques designed to improve website performance and optimise the user experience. From website speed to web page load times, through security and mobile friendliness, technical SEO specialists are committed to making sure website content ranks well when crawled by search engines. But how do specialists achieve this?
For content creators, online businesses and marketing experts looking to broaden their understanding of the more technical details of SEO, this post covers everything a technical SEO specialist should know.
Technical SEO covers a number of important practices used to improve website performance. Technical SEO experts will typically focus on ways to make websites faster, easier for search engines to crawl and better structured with regards to website architecture and backend optimisation. In layman’s terms, the goal is to provide search engines with clear and concise technical information to boost search visibility.
Technical SEO falls under the branch of on page SEO. Alongside practises like keyword research, meta description creation and the use of internal links, technical SEO looks to optimise the internal aspects of a website to improve search results rankings. However, technical SEO isn’t always as straightforward as those aforementioned SEO practices, with specialists often requiring some computer coding knowledge.
To best illustrate the role of technical SEO specialists, below are some examples of technical SEO tasks:
A technical SEO consultant will work alongside content marketing, content creation and wider SEO staff to ensure the creative and technical sides of an online business are complementing each other. Through these practices, teams can position websites to appear of a higher quality to search engines like Google.
Technical SEO has a great impact on the visibility of a website. The main purpose of search engines like Google is to connect internet users with high-quality and highly relevant content. But to do this, engines need to be able to easily understand the purpose of the content their algorithms are trying to evaluate.
When search engines crawl your website, multiple factors are considered before a final search ranking is decided on. Alongside aspects such as relevant keywords, high-quality backlinks, internal links and content length, the general performance of a website has a notable impact on search engine rankings.
Page loading times, website speed, site structure and mobile friendliness will all be considered before a search results ranking is finalised, meaning efforts to optimise these factors can boost search visibility.
It’s also important to note that technical SEO services act to benefit the user experience. Taking steps to optimise websites should not only be performed to improve rankings on search engine results pages, but also to provide internet users with a fast, reliable and high-quality browsing experience. Data shows technical SEO efforts can lead to benefits that are well received by consumers, with 82% saying page load times affect their purchasing habits and 25% known to leave sites that take over 4 seconds to load.
In short, a website’s structure and performance must be optimised for its pages to gain desired traffic.
What’s the first step in the search engine optimisation process for your website? If your answer doesn’t involve optimising pages for search engine crawlers, you may benefit from the work of a technical SEO expert. Crawling is a continuous process in which search bots scan all the pages currently viewable by search engine algorithms, with an eye to following any newly inserted links in published online content.
When new content is found, these bots will analyse the source of the links alongside the website that’s hosting them in an effort to better understand the quality and intention of online content. The results of this analysis are reflected in a website’s search engine ranking, impacting the visibility of digital content.
The easier it is for search bots to read a website, the faster it will be indexed by search engines and the more likely it will be to rank well. It’s for this reason that technical SEO should be considered vital to any and all rank optimisation efforts. When businesses add structured data, well-formatted sitemaps, URL structures and robots.txt files to their websites, search engines find their content far easier to navigate.
To simplify things, your site’s performance and structure will be directly linked with its perceived quality when it comes to indexing and search results rankings. Technical SEO practices help to improve these metrics, in turn boosting a website’s visibility, but what aspects of technical SEO should you prioritise?
A well-optimised website will be fast, reliable and easy to navigate for both internet users and Google, with little to no broken links or duplicate content. Core web vitals will be analysed and structured data will be added to ensure content is easily accessed, this can be achieved via the following best practices.
One of the most important aspects of technical SEO concerns efforts to improve website loading times and page speed metrics. Multiple reports have shown a clear correlation between page speed and client retention, with data suggesting sites that load in in one second or less have a conversion rate 3X higher than those that load in five or more seconds, and 5X higher than pages that load in ten seconds or more.
Page loading speeds become even more important for mobile users, with research indicating that 53% of site visits from mobile users will be abandoned if a website takes longer than three seconds to load. With this in mind, efforts to create a mobile friendly website are likely worth pursuing equally alongside traditional SEO, accounting for the fact that at least 50% of web traffic now comes from mobile devices.
Online businesses can review current website loading speeds by checking their core web vitals in Google search console. This report highlights areas in which optimisation efforts may be improved to best meet Google’s current ranking factor expectations. Working alongside a technical SEO agency can help businesses to identify and resolve potential loading time issues to optimise sites for modern users.
For Google and other search engines to analyse and assess websites efficiently, site owners must make efforts to structure online content in such a way that it’s easily understood by crawler bots and related algorithms. Well-crafted XML sitemaps help businesses to achieve this by applying categorical tags to all present pages, posts and images, structured in a way that Google’s tool systems can easily analyse.
While other SEO processes can perform similar functions, such as strong internal linking structures used to show crawler bots how different pages relate to each other, XML sitemaps are specifically structured to be quickly and easily understood by Google’s tools. In short, the addition and continual optimisation of XML sitemaps helps to speed up indexing processes which can in turn boost a site’s search rankings.
The simplest way to create and adjust sitemap files is to input URL data directly into Google search console. A technical SEO expert can show online businesses how to navigate to the sitemaps section of the search console application, as well as advise teams how best to code and categorise site URLs with SEO best practises in mind, ultimately increasing the likelihood that websites will be indexed promptly.
Structured data can essentially be viewed as an additional way to provide Google with actionable data regarding the content on indexed websites. While a sitemap and internal links act to outline the general layout of a website, structured data provides additional details more specific to the content in question.
For example, customer reviews, ratings and product images can be added and formatted with Google’s tools in mind to enrich the perceived quality of a website. This additional information helps engines to see the value in online content with regards to the user experience. Also, the addition of structured data is known to influence a site’s chance of achieving position zero and ranking well in voice search results.
Structured data is compiled in a fixed format designed to be easily understood by crawlers and indexing bots. There are numerous free tools available online to help businesses navigate this process. Technical SEO specialists can adjust and compile structured data into a schema markup code that’s easily understood by Google’s algorithm, with tools like Google Search Central used to test the efficacy of structured data.
Technical SEO efforts are not only confined to off and on page SEO practices, with specialists equally invested in ways to improve the overall user experience. In the modern world, website security is often considered essential to internet users, especially for e-commerce sites dealing with credit card details and other forms of sensitive personal information. Technical SEO can help websites to improve security.
User opinions regarding website security can have a significant impact on engagement, traffic and click through rate metrics, with 70% of consumers claiming they avoid doing business with companies that have suffered data breaches, and 25% stating they’d abandon digital services impacted by ransomware.
A technical SEO specialist can help business leaders to both create a secure website and communicate website security features to internet users. The main way to do this is through HTTPS implementation, a commonly recognised security protocol that ensures external sources cannot intercept information sent between users and websites. The presence of HTTPS and related protocols such as SSL certificates are recognised as ranking signals by Google, meaning improving security can also improve search rankings.
Finally, one aspect of technical SEO that is important to note is the presence of duplicate content on a website. While this may not seem to be a serious issue, unintentionally hosting identical content on multiple pages can quickly confuse indexing bots, negatively impacting related search results rankings.
When crawlers come to analyse a website, they may not be able to differentiate between original and duplicate pages. Without any indication as to which page should be prioritised, algorithms will typically choose to lower the rankings of all similar pages, in turn lowering a website’s overall rank performance.
Technical SEO issues regarding duplicate content are not always immediately noticeable, with technical parameters like localisation, A/B testing and filtering tools known to cause multiple URLs to display the same content. Thankfully, a technical SEO specialist can easily rectify this issue using canonical tags, a process used to tell Google which pages should be considered indexable and which should be ignored.
Canonical tags must be added to the HTML CSS code associated with the host website. However, efforts to achieve this will differ depending on the content management system the website is built on. Technical SEO specialists can help businesses best navigate this process, while adjusting meta tags and on page SEO efforts to ensure each duplicate page is ignored by crawlers in favour of pages teams wish to rank.
Taking the above processes and best practices into consideration, a technical SEO specialist can assist online businesses in reviewing existing website structures and content marketing efforts. In turn, this helps to optimise a site’s performance. Below is a summary of key technical SEO guidelines worth considering.
Technical SEO specialists will make time to continually review page loading times using trusted tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights. Unique pages have a performance score between 0-100. This indicates a general overview of the site’s performance, while additional insights act to highlight the ways in which pages could be optimised including file compression actions and the removal of unnecessary characters.
Common mobile usability issues can be identified and addressed by frequently reviewing a site’s mobile performance in Google Search Console. A technical SEO specialist will help teams navigate the “mobile usability” report section of the service, revealing insights highlighting specific issues currently affecting mobile performance. Alternatively, Google’s mobile friendly testing tool can provide similar functionality.
When adding structured data, online businesses must consider the intent of their content. For example, technical SEO for e-commerce should prioritise product information as a form of structured data, while local businesses will benefit from focusing on geographical information. Schema.org is a useful resource for better understanding structured data, featuring up-to-date information regarding common schemas.
On page SEO must be frequently reviewed to ensure online businesses are targeting keywords relevant to their audience. A technical SEO specialist can use a range of auditing tools to optimise this process, including popular services like Moz Pro and Yoast SEO. Off page SEO must equally be considered, with factors like backlink profiles and social media presence impacting brand authority and search visibility.
Inactive pages and content featuring broken internal links can contribute to technical SEO issues and poor user experiences. As part of an effective technical SEO review, online businesses should utilise site auditing tools to crawl their own websites in search of broken content. Trusted services like Semrush and Ahrefs can be used to identify potential issues, assisting technical SEO experts in fixing problems.
Modern SEO can seem daunting, with technical SEO perhaps the most confusing aspect for online businesses to grasp. However, consulting a technical SEO expert can help teams better understand how to optimise websites with user experiences and search visibility in mind. If you could use some guidance from a technical SEO specialist, contact our expert team today.