A Beginner-Friendly Guide to Technical SEO

by | Sep 20, 2022 | Editors Picks, SEO

If we ask you to name three SEO tactics you swear by, what would they be?

Like most marketers, you’d probably mention keyword research, quality content, and backlinks.

Don’t get us wrong. Choosing high-ranking keywords is a fundamental step in search engine optimization. So are link building and content creation. However, they’re only a piece of the greater SEO puzzle.

There’s another set of tactics you should be employing to get your site on Google’s coveted first page. Together, it is known as technical SEO.

Although technical SEO may not be as glamorous as other aspects of search engine optimization, it’s incredibly important. Without it, you may end up with glaring gaps in your website architecture that can ultimately affect your SERPs rank.

Are you intrigued? We’ve got answers. In this technical SEO guide, we’ll walk you through the basics, starting with what it means.

What is Technical SEO?

In a nutshell, technical SEO refers to the backstage elements that power your organic growth engine. It’s what goes into your code base, page layouts, and load times.

The purpose of technical SEO is to optimize your website so that it’s easier for search engines to crawl, index, and render. Simply put, this form of SEO aligns your website with the technical requirements of search engines.

An example of technical SEO services would be developing structured data. Structured data is how you describe your website in search engine-friendly language, like your schema markup.

Most search engines rely on structured data to provide searchers with the most relevant and thorough results to their queries. So, unless your schema markup is on point, you won’t show for searches.

Why is Technical SEO Important?

Here’s the million-dollar question – why should you prioritize technical SEO?

First off, technical SEO assures that your website is easy to navigate and free from technical errors that prevent it from being understood and ranked by search engines. It gives you a better shot at generating more organic traffic and getting more leads.

That’s not all. A technically sound site is intuitive and fast-loading, which can increase your dwell time. The longer users remain on your site, the more likely they are to make a purchase. Hence, technical SEO services can turn traffic into paying customers.

This can also work the other way around. Serious technical mistakes can cost you your current rank- or, worse still – block search engines from crawling your site entirely. The last thing you want is to lose favor with Google because of technical missteps.

You could be making the world’s most engaging content and still lose out on customers if search engines can’t browse and index your site. That’s where a technical SEO audit can help.

How are Technical SEO, On-Page SEO, and Off-Page SEO Different?

Most people break down SEO into technical, on-page, and off-page SEO. While all three operate on similar planes, there are slight differences between them. Let’s quickly cover what they are.

1. On-Page SEO

On-page SEO is the practice of optimizing individual web pages to improve rankings and user experience. It refers to the content that tells search engines what your site is about, such as meta descriptions, ALT tags, keywords, URLs, internal links, and more.

2. Technical SEO

Technical SEO deals with the back end of a website- that is, everything besides the content. We’re talking spider-friendly code, mobile usability, and site speed, among other things.

3. Off-Page SEO

Off-page SEO informs search engines of the credibility of your website through votes of confidence. For example, backlinking is a common off-page SEO technique. The more links that go back to a page, the higher it is ranked.

Other off-page SEO factors are as follows.

  • Including company information in business directories
  • Mentions on social media
  • Unlinked brand mentions on different websites/publications
  • Reviews on popular platforms

11 Technical SEO Checkpoints to Consider

While understanding technical SEO is important, correctly implementing it is the real goal. Fortunately, this isn’t all that hard, provided you think ahead. To make things easier, we have created a list of 11 technical SEO optimization checkpoints you must keep on your radar.

1. Locating Crawl Errors

A ‘crawl error’ is when search engines like Google have trouble viewing a page on your site. This can happen due to problems in the server settings, CMS failures, changes in the URL structure, and more. Because these errors can affect your search ranking, you’ll want to fix them as soon as possible.

2. Discovering How Google Views Your Pages

In some cases, users can see everything on your page, but Google cannot. These types of technical SEO issues can also hamper your SERPs position.

Try using Google Search Console’s ‘Inspect URL’ feature to see your page from Google’s point of view. Doing this will alert you to the bugs you must correct to get your site ranking again.

3.Ensuring the Page is Mobile-Friendly

Did you know that 58.99% of global internet traffic is mobile? And if that wasn’t enough, Google switched to mobile-first indexing in 2021. Given these circumstances, it only makes sense for you to have a mobile-responsive website.

Generally, mobile-friendliness refers to a wide range of website features, such as:

  • Page elements that are inside the mobile viewport
  • Text and other elements sized for easy readability
  • Static page elements that are easy to tap and swipe

4. Creating a Strategic URL Structure

A consistent URL structure helps users understand where they are when navigating your website. Additionally, it also informs search engines about your services.

Here are some URL best practices for you to follow.

  • Develop logical parent-child folder relationships
  • Target relevant keywords
  • Use hyphenation
  • Avoid unconventional characters
  • Create a scalable folder structure

5. Optimizing Page Load Speed

Not only do slow-loading pages kill conversions, but they can also ruin your technical SEO performance. To increase your site speed, you can:

  • Limit third-party resource loading
  • Optimize images and videos
  • Choose a reliable web hosting company
  • Use Google Page Speed Insights Tool

6. Using Schema.org Structured Data Markup

The schema markup was developed to help businesses better describe their processes, products, services, and other offerings to search engines. Besides, this structured data can also bump up your chances of appearing for a rich snippet– special features in the SERPs other than the title, meta description, and URL.

7. Getting Rid of Dead Links

Broken links don’t just disrupt user experience: they also can harm your rank. If you have a missing page, it’ll show up as a 404 “Not Found” error and take users/search engine bots to a blank webpage. Although it’s one of the most common technical SEO issues, it can get you in trouble with search engines.

To prevent this, be sure to crawl your site periodically to find all 404 pages and replace them with the updated URLs of the new pages. It’s as simple as that!

8. Deleting Duplicate Content

Having the same (or similar) content on more than one webpage is a huge deal breaker for search engines. With Google, the penalty for it can go so far as destroy your SEO strategy. Be sure to browse through individual web pages to ensure each one is unique.

9. Enhancing Security Through HTTPS

Website security is a must-have for users and search engines alike, especially for e-commerce sites that host transactions. In this regard, consider adding HTTPS and an SSL certificate to beef up your cybersecurity efforts. Search engines will then include the details of your certification and show a “secure” message when they find you.

10. Building an XML Sitemap

A sitemap is a set of links you want search engines to index. In this regard, Extensible Markup Language (also known as XML) allows you to furnish specific information for a search engine to use and index your site more efficiently.  Be sure to pay close attention to your XML sitemap when running a technical SEO audit.

11. Improving Internal Linking

A robust internal linking strategy can work wonders for individual page ranks. Like backlinks, internal links can also inform search engines about the target page.

For this, you should:

  • Remember to update your internal links after the target pages are removed
  • Map out your internal links to target keywords you want the target page to rank higher for
  • Audit your site for orphaned pages and add at least one or two links to them

The Wrap

There you have it: a quick rundown on all things technical SEO! Again, this isn’t something you can master overnight- it does take a lot of dedicated research and some trial and error to round out your SEO strategy.

But the good news is that you don’t have to do this alone. The SEO experts at Watermark Design can help you out every step of the way! Our result-driven technical SEO services can help improve your search rankings and visibility hassle-free. For more information, feel free to contact us today!

Mark Haugtad
Mark Haugtad

Owner / Web Designer / SEO Enthusiast

Mark, founder of Watermark Design. With over 10 years of experience in Web Design & Development, Wordpress Services, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Web Hosting, and Logo Design. Mark has always wanted to provide better quality service, affordability & support to local businesses. At Watermark Design, he performs in-depth research and collaborates with his talented team to give businesses advice they can trust. When Mark is not working you can find him hanging out with his wife, five children enjoying the Minnesota outdoors; hunting, fishing and camping.

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