Technical SEO: Basics, Key Elements & How to Get Started

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Updated 2/3/2024

Learn about the importance of technical SEO and its key components, including website speed, mobile optimization, XML sitemaps, and more.

technical seo cover - cogs and plants

Technical SEO is the practice of optimizing a website’s technical elements to improve its search engine visibility and user experience.

It involves a range of tactics that help search engines crawl and index web pages more effectively, resulting in improved search rankings and visibility.

Why is Technical SEO Important?

Imagine trying to read a book in the dark, or one with pages stuck together. That’s how search engines feel when trying to crawl a site with poor technical SEO.

Ensuring the technical health of your site makes it easier for search engines to access, crawl, interpret, and index your site without any issues.

Key Elements of Technical SEO

Technical SEO involves a wide range of tasks and considerations. The overall goal is to improve the technical functionality of your site, but it’s good to narrow down the endless possibilities to a few top priorities:

  • Website Speed: Google values user experience, and a slow-loading site provides a poor one. Factors affecting speed include server response time, large image files, and uncompressed CSS or JavaScript files.
  • Mobile Optimization: With mobile searches outpacing desktop, having a mobile-optimized website is vital.
  • XML Sitemaps: These guide search engines to the crucial content on your site.
  • Robots.txt File: This file instructs search engines on which pages or sections of your site shouldn’t be crawled.
  • Structured Data: Provides search engines with extra information about your content, aiding in understanding its context.
  • HTTPS: An SSL certificate is crucial as Google confirms HTTPS as a ranking factor and warns users of non-HTTPS sites.
  • Duplicate Content: Ensure uniqueness in your content. Use canonical tags for unavoidable duplicates.
  • Crawl Errors: Regularly check and address errors like 404s or server errors to ensure smooth crawling.
  • Internal Linking: This boosts the SEO value of other pages and assists search engines in understanding your site’s structure.
  • Hreflang Tags: Vital for sites targeting multiple languages or regions to ensure search engines serve the right version to searchers.

How to Get Started with Technical SEO

Embarking on the journey of technical SEO might seem daunting, but breaking it down into manageable steps can simplify the process:

  1. Begin with an Audit: Tools like Screaming Frog, Semrush, or Ahrefs can crawl your website and highlight technical issues that might impede its performance. This audit will provide a clear picture of where your site stands technically.
  2. Address Immediate Concerns: Once the audit is complete, tackle the glaring issues. These could be broken links, slow-loading pages, or mobile optimization problems. Fixing these can bring about immediate improvements.
  3. Dive Deeper: Google Search Console is a free tool that provides insights into how the search engine views your site. Look for crawl errors, examine your XML sitemap, and check for mobile usability issues.
  4. Optimize for Mobile: With significant web traffic from mobile devices, ensuring your website is mobile-friendly is non-negotiable. Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to gauge your site’s performance on mobile devices.
  5. Invest in Speed: Page speed is an official ranking factor and crucial for user experience. Tools like Google’s PageSpeed Insights or GTmetrix can provide actionable advice on speeding up your website.
  6. Stay Updated & Educated: Regularly check trusted SEO blogs, forums, or websites like Moz, Search Engine Land, or Search Engine Journal to stay updated with the latest trends and best practices.
  7. Seek Expertise When Necessary: Technical SEO can be intricate. If you’re uncertain about certain aspects, consider seeking expert guidance or hiring professionals specializing in technical SEO.

Bottom Line

Technical SEO might seem complex at first glance, but it’s an integral part of a thriving SEO strategy. It ensures that your website is healthy, crawlable, and indexable.

By focusing on these technical details, your other SEO efforts, from top-notch content to backlink generation, are built on solid foundations. ?

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