When looking at a website, you mostly notice the design, the content, etc. Those visible elements are on-page SEO, directly impacting users’ visiting experience.
Technical SEO is the opposite. This strategy includes technical site factors like HTLM, mobile optimization, and page speed that most people tend to ignore. Yet, its role in website optimization is vital, as it directly contacts search engines to crawl and index your page to rank on search results.
So, how do you get started with technical SEO? What part of your site’s technical SEO needs to improve? No worries, here is your to-do technical SEO checklist!
3 Technical SEO Audit Fundamentals
Don’t rush the process yet! Before jumping into action, a basic understanding of technical SEO audit fundamentals is necessary.
- Audit Your Preferred Domain: In a technical SEO audit, choosing between “www” or “non-www” website version in search results is important. Set a preferred domain using canonical tags and ensure all variants permanently redirect to the selected version.
- Implement SSL: Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is a ranking factor that protects user information. Set up an SSL certificate for your website and migrate all non-SSL pages to HTTPS. Finally, update URLs on your sitemap and robots.txt accordingly.
- Optimize Page Speed: Try to compress files, audit redirects, trim down code, consider using a content distribution network (CDN), avoid excessive use of plugins, leverage cache plugins, and use asynchronous loading to shorten page load time.
4 Technical SEO Checklists You Should Know
Try these 4 technical SEO checklists and let your journey begin:
- Crawdability Checklist
- Indexability Checklist
- Renderability Checklist
- Clickability Checklist
- Crawdability Checklist
Crawlability in technical SEO refers to the search engine’s ability to access and crawl the content on a website. Simply put, this step is how an engine bot crawls to find and position your page on search results.
When a search bot visits a website, it follows the links on the web and saves the page’s HTML version in its database. Then, the bot will crawl through the website’s structure, content, and others to determine your website’s relevance and quality. This information will be used to determine your ranking position.
So, what does this say about your website? Obviously, if the page is linked correctly, has clear URLs, is valuable to audiences, and has no broken links, then there should be no reason why your page is not ranked.
Moreover, by optimizing crawlability, the indexing process will be faster and more recognizable by search engines. Here is your crawability checklist:
a. Have an XML Sitemap
Nothing is beatable when you have a well-structured website that provides the best convenience for users or search engines to crawl. It is like having a detailed roadmap showing visitors what to do and how to find the information they need.
Remember, once you have finished creating a site map, submit it to the search engine’s analytics tool like Google Search Console or Bing Webmaster Tools. Don’t forget to regularly update your sitemap whenever making changes.
b. Utilize Your Crawl Budget
Crawl budget means how many resources are allocated for crawling by a server or how many pages are crawled by the search engines in a specific period.
Google says there is nothing to worry about if the pages tend to be crawled often. The issues appear on more prominent sites. It is imperative to optimize your crawl budget.
Don’t panic, a crawl budget is not something related to money. It is the amount of allocated page resources for crawling by a server or search engine in a specific time frame. As this number is limited, only prioritize the most important pages for crawling. Here are a few tips:
- Remove duplicate pages
- Fix or redirect broken links
- Monitor crawl stats
- Review disallowed bots or pages
- Keep your sitemap updated
- Remove unnecessary or outdated content
- Be aware of dynamically generated URLs
c. Optimize Site Structure
As previously mentioned, you want visitors to realize how convenient your website is by displaying all the features and organizing them logically and hierarchically. This step is where you start, try to:
- Group all related pages: Group all related page content under one specific category, such as blogs, services, or contacts. This step allows search engines to see the connections between different sites on the page.
- Check for link equity: How vital a site is determines where to place it on your site. The page closes to the homepage, the page receives many internal links, and the page has higher link equity most utilized by search engines.
- Optimize navigation: Implement user-friendly menus for visitors and search engine crawlers to navigate your website simply. Use descriptive anchor text for internal links to provide context and improve crawlability.
In technical SEO, setting a URL structure refers to organizing and formatting the URLs of your website’s pages. This structure can be influenced by your site architecture, which determines your website’s page organization.
d. Know Your URL Structure
Google once stated: “A site’s URL structure should be as simple as possible.”
URLs contain subdirectories, which indicate the location or category of the page. For example,
Realize something in the link? Based on the URL, we can conclude that it is an article’s link: “How To Choose The Right SEO Agency.”
The /blog/ shows the subfolders the link is placed in, which is the blog category. The rest is in the name of the website.
See, a URL can tell a lot about your webpage just by looking at it. Hence, knowing what to link and set a clear structure is indispensable.
It’s up to website owners to use subdomains or subdirectories and the specific names or keywords used in the URLs. But, establishing a consistent and unified structure makes it easier for search engines to understand and index your content.
e. Use the /robots.txt file
During crawling, the website bot initially looks for the /robots.txt file or Robot Exclusion Protocol. This gives you complete control over what to permit and restricts those robots from crawling on your site, even specific categories and individual landing pages.
To prevent bots from indexing your site, you can utilize a noindex robots meta tag. Here’s a breakdown of the critical aspects:
- Blocking specific bots: Using the robots.txt file to control the site’s crawling prevents specific misbehaved bots, such as content scraping or spamming, from accessing your website. By having the right to specify bots, you create a “shield” to protect your site from threatening activities.
- Controlling indexing: For example, you should exclude thank you pages after completing a form or login pages. To accomplish this, you can use a “noindex” robot meta tag on those pages. This tag instructs search engines not to include those pages in their search results.
f. Add Breadcrumb Menus
In technical SEO, adding breadcrumb menus involves incorporating a navigation feature on your website that guides users back to the starting point. Simply put, breadcrumbs like a page menu showing users how their current page is connected to the rest of the site.
These breadcrumbs serve two purposes:
- User Navigation: Breadcrumbs help users locate their current position in the site’s hierarchy and show a way to backtrack or explore related content.
- Search Bot Context: A properly structured markup language, like schema.org markup, in your breadcrumbs provides search bots with accurate context and hierarchical information. Thus, search engines about the connection between different pages on the site.
g. Re-check SEO Log Files
During your optimization process, thousands of site data have been saved by web servers: the time and date of each request, the content request, IP address, user agent, etc. Re-check SEO log files to examine those recorded data on your site to gain insights into how search bots interact with your site during crawling.
But what are log files? And how exactly do they affect SEO?
When search bots crawl your site, they leave behind a trace in the form of log files. By reviewing these log files and filtering them based on the user agent and search engine, you can determine crucial information such as:
- Crawl Frequency: Log files analyze how often search bots visit your site and identify any patterns or unusual actions in their crawling behavior. This process helps you understand how frequently those bots index your page.
- Crawl Budget Allocation: Log files determine how search bots allocate their crawl budget on your site, helping you to identify which pages are frequently crawled and which are not.
- Indexing and Accessibility Issues: Log files examine any barriers search bots may encounter while crawling your site—for example, pages blocked by robots.txt, server errors, or crawlability issues.
After a search bot crawls your webpage, it starts indexing by categorizing pages based on the topic and their relevance to the chosen topic.
If your page is successfully indexed, search engines have permitted you to rank on search results pages (SERP). But requesting an index is not enough, it requires a specific checklist to implement to achieve this step:
a. Allow Search Bots To Access Your Preferred Pages
While this might be pretty obvious because search bots must have access to rank your page, it is essential to double-check your sharing request.
Ensure you can grab the most bot’s attention to preferred pages. This process ensures no restrictions are in the robots.txt file that may prevent bots from crawling certain pages.
b. No Duplicate Content
Having duplicate content across your website can confuse search engines and negatively impact indexing. It’s essential to identify and remove any duplicate content to improve indexability.
c. Regularly Check Redirects
Redirects are complex, hence, regularly doing check-ups on them should be included in your technical SEO routine. Check the status of any redirects used on your site.
Remember, redirects should be properly implemented and not create unnecessary chains or loops that potentially harming indexing.
d. Test Mobile-Responsiveness Ability
There is no doubt about the potential of mobile optimization in recent days. As mobile search usage doesn’t seem to decrease, your mobile-responsive website always has room to develop.
e. Fix HTTPS Errors
HTTP errors block search bots from accessing important content on your website. And you don’t want to know about the consequences after that.
Thus, check and fix any HTTPS errors that occur on your page. Here is an explanation of some common HTTP errors and their resolutions:
- 301 Permanent Redirect: This error permanently redirects traffic from one URL to another. Yet, too many redirects can slow down your site and impact user experience. You should minimize redirect chains if possible.
- 302 Temporary Redirect: This error temporarily redirects traffic from one URL to another. If the temporary redirect persists for long, search engines may treat it as permanent. Consider clearing browser cookies and cache, try to deactivate plugins and reset.
- 403 Forbidden: This error occurs when the requested content is restricted based on access permissions or server misconfiguration. If necessary, review and adjust access settings and deactivate CDN temporarily.
- 404 Error Pages: This error indicates that the requested page does not exist because it has been removed or the URL was entered incorrectly. Try to refresh the page and double-check the URL, especially typos.
- 405 Method Not Allowed: This error occurs when the server recognizes the access method but still blocks it. It typically indicates a misconfiguration or limitation in allowed methods for accessing a particular resource. Consider checking your web server’s configuration and debug code.
- 500 Internal Server Error: This general error message indicates that the web server is experiencing issues delivering the site. In this case, refresh the page, deactivate faulty plugins, and fix the .htaccess file.
- 502 Bad Gateway Error: This error is related to miscommunication or an invalid response between website servers. It suggests a problem with the gateway server acting as an intermediary between different servers. Try to clear your browser and local DNS cache to specific issues.
Rendering is a solid contribution to an effective indexing process as it allows bots to interpret page elements like text, images, links, etc. Similar to others, to maximize your page pontiac, follow this specific checklist for renderability:
a. Ensure Optimal Server Performance
Any server timeouts or errors can lead to HTTP errors, preventing users and search engine bots from accessing your website.
Thus, to address any server issues, utilise the available resources to troubleshoot and resolve them. Remember that search engines can remove your page from their index if there are too many failures.
b. Check for HTTPS Status
As the consequences of HTTP errors have been mentioned above, it is now time to conduct a comprehensive error audit. Tools like Screaming Frog, Botify, or DeepCrawl can help to deeply identify and address any HTTP errors that might block access to your web pages.
c. Control Page Load Time
Obvious, but always worth mentioning, is the page load time and size.
Long loading time leads to users’ drop-out and increases bounce rate. However, regarding technical SEO, this can result in a server error, which blocks engine bots from crawling your webpage. And even if possible, the crawlability process will be challenging and might also miss some content sections.
In short, use an advanced tool to check your page load and control it within an acceptable period.
Here is when things get a little more complicated.
However, Google prioritizes pre-rendered content. Why?
e. Avoid Orphan Page
An orphan page is a webpage that lacks internal links to other pages on the same site. Missing internal linking challenges search engine bots to understand the context and index the page effectively.
It’s important to ensure that every page on your site is linked to at least one other page, preferably more, depending on its relevance.
f. Limit Page Layers
Too many layers on one page can confuse users and search bots when crawling.
Limiting page layers is like limiting the number of clicks or levels for a user or search engine crawler to reach a specific page. Keep your page depth shallow, which results in better accessibility and user experience.
Or else, implement the three-click rules.
When building a site, the three-click rule allows users to find information within three clicks or three navigational steps. The idea behind this rule is to provide a precise experience and ensure easy access to the content without many interruptions.
g. Enhance Redirect Chains
Redirect chains occur when a webpage has multiple redirects, which might slow down crawling or page load time.
To maintain crawl efficiency, minimize redirects and keep their quantity average.
Many of you might be familiar with the cost-per-click (CPC) metric. This clickability checklist is a direct impacting element.
Clickability describes a website’s potential to attract clicks from users on search engine results pages (SERPs). Though on-page SEO factors like meta descriptions or page titles might have more visible impacts, there are some technical elements to optimize for the best results.
a. Implement Structured Data
As mentioned above, structured data uses schema to draw a detailed roadmap showing users what to find and where to go for that information.
While using structured data doesn’t directly impact clickability, it does help search bots to organize better and index your pages. Structured data helps search engines better understand and categorize your content, making it more accessible to users.
b. Display on SERP
Being placed on SERP is the primary target, the dream, and a journey for all businesses currently running SEO campaigns.
SERP features, also known as rich results, are beneficial and challenging. When displayed on SERP, a page receives considerable clicks, potentially generating promising outcomes.
So, how can you increase your chances of getting rich results? The key is to write valuable content and use structured data. By making your website’s elements easier for search bots to understand, you enhance your chances of displaying on SERP.
c. Try Google Discover
Google Discover is a feature designed for mobile users that lists content based on categories. More than half of searches come from mobile devices, so Google has been focusing on improving the mobile experience. With Google Discover, users can personalize their content library by selecting specific categories they are interested in, like gardening, music, or politics.
To increase the chances of your content being included in Google Discover, topic clustering is recommended. This means organizing related content around specific topics.
By monitoring Google Discover traffic in Google Search Console, you can determine if this strategy is adequate for your website.
As professional marketers, researching and understanding this new feature is worthwhile. Users who use Google Discover have actively chosen the content you’ve created, resulting in a more targeted audience for your website.
Let’s be honest: How do you find which one is harder – Technical SEO or On-page SEO?
Most will answer technical SEO as it requires more advanced skills related to coding, bugs, and URLs. However, after going through all the checklists, it doesn’t sound so scary, isn’t it?
Technical SEO focuses on satisfying search engine bots’ guidelines and rules to ensure you have a position on search results. Thus, you must optimize every aspect of your website to avoid unnecessary errors affecting your rank.
Remember, there is no single one-size-fits-all approach to complete success on SERPs, but keeping these SEO checklists in mind can help boost your chances.