Technical SEO is the work that is done in optimizing the technical aspects of a website, specifically to meet the expectations of search engines. This is a form of on-page SEO, where the work is done on the website itself rather than off it.
In the rest of the article, we are going to look at why technical SEO is important and learn about a few common hallmarks of a technically optimized site, including speed, security, search engine accessibility, use of links, and more.
Search engines like Google are increasingly placing a greater importance on the user experience that a website offers its visitors. Although every webmaster should be aiming for the best user experience possible, this has now become an SEO issue as search engines have begun rewarding and penalizing websites based on how technically optimized they are.
Although it might seem like just another thing to worry about, this requirement is actually beneficial because if you or your developers are willing to put the work in, you can rank ahead of your competitors in search results even if you are behind in other factors that are more outside of your control
Generally speaking, the elements that a search engine will look for in determining how well technically optimized a site is are the same ones that users will notice, either consciously or subconsciously, when assessing their user experience. Let’s look at a few examples to gain a clearer picture.
Gone are the days of dial-up internet when waiting for pages to load was just accepted as a hazard of web browsing. With the meteoric increase in internet speeds, users expect load times to be as short as possible, preferably imperceptible.
If you are a user of Google Search Console, the tool that helps you monitor your site’s presence and performance on Google, then you have surely seen the Core Web Vitals page. This lets you know if Google considers your page loading speeds to be too slow and which pages are affected.
There are a huge number of ways of improving your site’s speed, from using better compression for media to minifying scripts to more subtle things like deciding how many third party elements – the loading speeds of which you naturally have no control over – you want integrated on your pages.
Privacy on the internet is a topic that has gained more and more prominence over the past few years, and it is now on the forefront of internet users’ concerns. Making sure your website is secure will earn you crucial points (or save you from a harsh penalty) from Google and other search engines.
One very basic way to boost your site’s security is to implement HTTPS. HTTPS is a protocol that prevents the data sent between your site and its users from being intercepted by third parties. You will need an SSL certificate for HTTPS to be successfully implemented.
Search engine spiders do not operate in exactly the same way as human users do, so a well technically optimized site will need an internal linking structure that is suitable for both groups. If you do not know where to start, make sure that every page on your site that you want indexed is accessible by following links elsewhere on your site.
Search engines do not like seeing content duplicated. If your site’s content is being duplicated by third parties without your permission, this is outside your control, but you can make sure that any duplicates within your site are taken care of in two ways.
The first is to redirect duplicated pages to one version, essentially passing all of the authority onto one final destination. The second way is to use canonical links. These tell search engines which version you want them to focus on without removing the others.
We have already discussed the shape and extent of a site’s internal linking structure, but the other thing to keep in mind is the health of the links. Users will be frustrated by links that lead to error pages, and search engines will penalize sites with these links accordingly. The occasional site audit is helpful in weeding these dead links out.
The above 5 points are the main ones to focus on, but technical SEO is potentially boundless since there is always a strive to perfection that is out of reach. Other aspects of technical SEO that you may want to focus on include generating an XML sitemap, using structured data, and implementing hreflang tags to identify which countries and languages those pages are for.