Technical SEO is a critical component of a successful SEO campaign. It focuses on optimising the technical aspects of your website to improve its search engine visibility and user experience. A review of all technical SEO factors should form part of every basic SEO strategy. Here are ten important technical SEO factors that can significantly impact the success of your SEO campaign:
Website Speed and Performance
Slow-loading websites can negatively affect user experience and search engine rankings. Optimise your website’s speed by compressing images, using efficient code, leveraging browser caching, and minimizing server response times.
Mobile Friendly Factors
With the majority of web visitors accessing sites via small mobile devices, it’s crucial that your website is responsive and mobile-friendly. That means users must have a good experience on mobile devices and be able to use the website in full. Text must be legible (usually a minimum of 16 px font size), clickable elements such as buttons and links must be large enough to click easily and well-spaced out so that the user can be confident about what item they are clicking. Large sections of text need to be broken up to avoid excessive page scrolling – the use of tabs or accordions here can be useful to improve user experience.
Access for Search Engine Crawlers
Definition of a search engine crawler:
A search engine crawler, also known as a web crawler, web spider, or search engine bot, is a software program or automated script used by search engines to systematically browse and index the content of websites and web pages across the internet.
These crawlers play a fundamental role in how search engines gather and organise information, enabling users to find relevant search results when they enter queries.
Here’s how a search engine crawler works:
- Discovery: Crawlers start their journey by visiting a list of known web pages or websites (known as seed URLs) or by following links from pages they’ve previously crawled. They typically begin with popular or authoritative websites and then follow links to other pages.
- Crawling: Once on a web page, the crawler reads its content, including text, images, links, and other elements. It follows links to other pages, recursively crawling them and expanding the scope of pages indexed.
- Indexing: As the crawler parses the content, it collects information about each page, such as the page’s title, meta tags, headers, body text, and other attributes. This information is then stored in a database known as the search engine’s index.
- Revisiting and Updating: Crawlers periodically revisit web pages to check for changes, additions, or deletions. They may update the index accordingly to keep search results current.
Search engine crawlers have several important roles:
- Indexing Content: They create an index of web pages and their content, making it easier for search engines to retrieve relevant results when users enter search queries.
- Discovering New Content: Crawlers find and index new web pages, including those recently created or updated, ensuring that search engines have access to the latest information.
- Following Links: Crawlers systematically follow links from one web page to another, mapping the interconnected structure of the internet.
- Ranking Signals: Crawlers may gather data that search engines use as ranking signals, such as the number of backlinks to a page, the quality of content, and other factors.
- Handling Duplicate Content: They help identify and manage duplicate content issues, ensuring that search engines don’t index multiple copies of the same content.
Common examples of web crawlers include Googlebot (used by Google), Bingbot (used by Bing), and various others used by different search engines. Each search engine may have its unique crawler, but they all perform the same fundamental functions—crawling, indexing, and updating content to provide users with relevant search results.
Because every website is dependent on search engine crawlers being able to easily access and index the website’s content, make sure you address issues like blocked resources, broken links, and duplicate content that can hinder the crawling process. Use the robots.txt files and meta robots tags to control which pages are crawled and indexed. Additionally, submit an XML sitemap to assist with indexing.
HTTPS and Secure Connection
A secure website with an SSL certificate (HTTPS) is preferred by search engines and provides a safer user experience, especially if people have to input personal or sensitive information. Google, in particular, favours secure websites and may use it as a ranking factor. Whether search engines do or do not treat a secure website as a ranking factor the use of https offers customers reassurance that their information is safe. That in itself should persuade businesses to avoid SSL security warnings.
Site Structure and Internal Linking
Websites with a logical and well-organised structure enable both human visitors and search engines to navigate around it easily and find what they are looking for. It also enables search engines to find and index more pages and, since it is only indexed pages that will appear in the search listings, this is something every website should be aiming for to increase online visibility.. Websites should use a clear hierarchy, clear descriptions on menu items and for the anchor text of internal links. Use internal links generously to encourage visitors to explore more of the content on offer on the website. Remember good user engagement will impact the success of your business.
Sometimes there is a good business reason to have URLs with the same content – but only when there is a very good reason such as using a tracking code to monitor results from a particular marketing campaign or when you want to direct people to a particular location on a page to more accurately deliver answers for their search, or use a parameter to filter the content on the page. Here are some valid examples:
Address potentially duplicate content issues such as these by implementing canonical tags to indicate to search engines the preferred version of a page. In the example above this would simply be the URL with no parameters or location tags i.e. https://yourwebsite.com/example-page. This ensures search engines understand which version to index and show in the search listings.
Schema markup is often also referred to as structured data and provides context and meaning to your content. This can help some of your content to be shown as rich snippets, for example, in search results, which generally result in a higher click-through rate (CTR). It can also help your content appear with other search features, making it more attractive and informative to potential customers. Note, however, that schema markup based on the schema.org guidelines for using structured data mark-up on web-pages is vastly more detailed than Google’s own Structured Data subset or the structured data offered by SEO tools such as the Yoast WordPress plugin.
See below for the differences between schema.org, Google and Yoast structured data.
What is the difference between schema.org, Google and Yoast structured data?
Google, Yoast and Schema.org structured data are related but different concepts used to mark up and provide structured information about web content. Here are the key differences:
Schema.org Structured Data:
Schema.org is a collaborative project initiated by major search engines, including Google, Microsoft, Yahoo, and Yandex, with the goal of providing a standardized vocabulary for structured data on the web.
Schema.org provides a broad and comprehensive set of structured data types (schemas) that can be applied to a wide range of content, such as articles, events, products, recipes, organizations, and more. These schemas define the properties and data points related to the content type, allowing webmasters to add structured data to their web pages using standardised entities. The structured data marked up with Schema.org can be used by various search engines, not just Google, to better understand and present search results. It enhances the way search engines display rich snippets and provides more informative search results.
Google Structured Data:
Google structured data is a subset of structured data marked up with Schema.org that Google uses to understand and present content in its search results. While it primarily relies on Schema.org schemas, Google may have specific requirements or recommendations for implementing structured data.
Google provides a tool called “Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper” and offers documentation that focuses on how to mark up content for Google Search specifically. This can enhance search results by enabling rich snippets, knowledge panels, and other interactive features in Google’s search results pages. However, it is limited to the defined subset so some businesses will benefit from using the full schema.org data, especially when seeking to outperform rivals in highly competitive industries.
Yoast Structured Data:
Yoast structured data is a feature provided by the Yoast SEO plugin, a popular SEO plugin for WordPress websites. It is a part of Yoast’s efforts to help users enhance the structured data on their websites without needing to write code manually. It simplifies the process of adding structured data to specific content types in WordPress, such as articles, events, recipes, and more, by providing a user-friendly interface for configuration. It essentially assists users in adding Schema.org structured data to their content without directly manipulating the HTML code. Yoast’s implementation uses only a small subset of Schema.org schemas but presents a simple interface for users to specify structured data elements related to their content.
Yoast’s structured data feature is specific to websites that use the Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress.
In summary, Schema.org structured data is a broader and more comprehensive standard for adding structured information to web content, supported by various search engines. Google structured data and Yoast structured data, on the other hand, are a basic subset of structured data specifically tailored for search engines and with a simple method of implementation.
It is essential to create and submit XML sitemaps to search engines to help them understand your website’s structure and content. Sitemaps make it easier for search engines to index your pages. To discover more about sitemaps and their importance for SEO read our guide: SEO and Sitemaps: What You Need To Know.
It’s important to regularly audit your website for technical SEO factors and ensure that these factors are optimised. Correcting technical SEO issues can have a significant impact on your website’s search engine rankings, visibility, and user experience, ultimately contributing to the success of your SEO campaign.