Terms like “technical SEO” make some people shake in their boots, especially those new to or just learning the ropes of search engine optimization. I’ll admit I was a bit of a freak when I first found out about it: while it was confusing, it was also exciting. Though apparently it worries some people. That’s why I’ve written this short, simple post which will hopefully work as a basic introduction to the technical aspects of SEO.
Search engine optimization is about making your website easy to rank in the search engines and appear in the top search results. It is done through optimizing relevant keywords in your website copy, getting relevant inbound links from reputable sites and ensuring that content is unique and relevant to users (notice repetition of the word “relevant”?).
So, there’s a lot of focus on content. However…
…technical SEO focuses on the non-content side of your website.
It is the art of helping search engine spiders crawl and index your site as efficiently and easily as possible.
With technical SEO, you basically need to be aware of the major technical ranking factors.
Technical SEO: Basic aspects to keep in mind
As an SEO, you may primarily focus on content and not the technical aspect of search engine optimization. That’s fine, but even being aware of the following points is a good idea. There’s no way around it (stop crying). Or, you may be very interested in learning technical SEO so you can charge thousands to get people’s websites up and running.
Whatever your reason for learning technical SEO, the following points are aspects that will affect your website as a whole from the technical standpoint.
- Site loading speed: Search engines and users alike love a site that loads fast on all devices. A significant chunk of people will close their browser if it takes more than 3 seconds to load (not me, I do wait a bit… but I’m also a little strange). They’ll click “Back” and that’s it, your bounce rate goes up (and gives Google another reason to punish you). It’s a bad day for everyone (except the Masters of Google). When considering loading speed, don’t forget about images.
- Good site architecture refers to the structure of your site and how easy it is for Google’s little minion spiders to crawl through and index all that content. So, it would be highly advisable to look into sitemaps (both HTML and XML versions). Make sure to read up on site architecture, and sitemaps so you have a better idea.
- SEO Siloes: This means stacking all of your content neatly. Effective internal linking is therefore a good strategy to implement here. You will also need to categorize your content by subject so that the website isn’t a horrible, confusing mess (and it gets worse the bigger your site gets). As a general rule, however, try to have all parts of your site at least three or four clicks away from one another.
- If you have to redirect a page then be mindful of how you do it. Look into 301 and 302 redirects (so you can see how much traffic you preserve). And don’t forget about 404 redirects: customize the page because the standard ones look tacky and will just make the user click away. Instead, making it look pretty gives it a higher chance of the user staying on your site.
- Content: Basically, try to ensure that you have fat and juicy content for the user to lap up. So, it mustn’t be “thin”. In addition, duplicate content should also be avoided. Again, just a couple of basics to keep in mind (I’ve also just noticed this is the shortest point on the list…).
- Structured data libraries: Search engines can look at a page and understand what the content is about. However, there’s no reason to make it more difficult for them. Structured data libraries are essentially a tool that describes content to the search engines (the most popular and recommended one is Schema.org).
Like SEO itself, the scope of technical SEO goes far, far beyond a single post. This is, however, a good way of getting to grips with the most technical aspects. I hope to be exploring it a little more in the future, so stay tuned.