What Is Technical SEO?
I talk about technical SEO when I'm teaching optimization, and a lot of my students who don't come from a coding or technical background (computers, electronics etc.) are confused by the term.
So, technical seo is not the content part of the site, nor is it link building; it means the things that impact search engine crawling and indexing of the site (making sure your site complies with webmaster guidelines and recommended best practices), such as these items:
Page load speed - how fast does each web page/blog post load on your domain server? You're evaluating the different elements that make up your website to see which ones need improvement. Minification of your CSS/JS files helps a lot, as does image compression. Remember, people don't want to wait around for a page to load, especially if they're on a mobile device or tablet.
3XX redirects - there are basically three types of 3XX redirects: 301, 302 and 307. The first one is a permanent redirect; the other two are both temporary ones, and no, I don't know why there are two. I haven't found a good answer yet. If I do, I'll let you know. Ideally, you don't want more than two total redirect chains (as they are called) for any given URL within your domain. Too many hops (as they are also called) slows down search engine spider crawling, and that is not a good thing.
More Technical SEO Issues To Discover And Resolve
Mobile friendly - get ready for Google's mobile-first indexing coming to you sometime in 2018. Google says it doesn't exactly when, but the search engine's been promising us all this year, so now is the time to budget and plan for a mobile-friendly version of your site to roll out. See the first bullet item, as it relates directly to this.
Information Architecture (IA) - what the heck is this? Simply put, it's an organizational system on your site that makes it easy for web visitors to find your most important content. Using links, navigation and names of pages and anchor text, it's a complex system that positively contributes to the overal user experience (UX). Make sure your most important content (usually product and service pages) are within 1 - 2 clicks from anyplace on your site. If not, you need to re-plan your navigation paths for this content to be easily accessible.
Structured Data Markup Language (schema.org) - simply put, this is additional marking up, or tagging your HTML source code to make it easier for the search engine crawlers to read, understand and compare the relevancy and authority of the page content compared to other pages with the same or similar topic and keyword phrase. Not only that, schema.org lets you tag images, prices, reviews and other key information about products and services that are highlighted in search results. Anything that stands out in search results is most likely going to draw more attention and get a higher click through rate (CTR), which translates to more visitors who view more pages on your site and stay there longer. All good things!
Crawl errors - this a biggie, and it's common as mud. 4XX errors are typically why search engine spiders can't index your pages for ranking, so be diligent about checking for 4XX issues and resolve them quickly. If you remove a page permanently, make it a 410 and use Google's Search Console to permanently remove the URL from their index. Don't waste crawl budget on useless, outdated or removed content, because your best stuff will be sitting around, waiting to be noticed for indexing and ranking.
HTTPS - in addition to making your site mobile-friendly, going forward, plan on making it secure. HTTPS is a minor ranking signal, but look for it to become a larger indicator in the next couple years. Secure browsing is especially critical for your web visitors if you collect credit card information, personal information such as birthdays, social security numbers or other data that could be misused, if it falls into the wrong hands.
How To Find Technical SEO Problems
Now that we've covered the most common SEO issues, how can you find them? You can some of them by using Google Search Console. Page load speed, structured data markup and crawl errors can be found here.
As for mobile friendliness, HTTPS and redirect chains, I highly recommend using Screaming Frog. It's an affordable tool that does lots of SEO work for you.
If you're interested in learning more about site technical issues, schedule advanced SEO training with me. We'll pop the hood on your site and uncover all the technical problems that are preventing your site from showing up high in search results.
Until the next time, stay safely between the ditches!
All the very best to you,
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