You can have the best website with amazing content and visuals. But you are not going to rank well on SERPs if your technical SEO is messed up.
It is thus crucial to ensure that you understand the significance of technical SEO for your website and implement the best website optimization strategies to generate the expected results.
At the most basic level, search engines must be able to successfully find, crawl, and index your web pages. But considering the fierce competition we are having in an online market space, is website ranking enough to make your website shine among the crowd?
For your website to be fully optimized for technical SEO, many other things need your consideration, including responsive design, unique and engaging content, and perfect inbound and outbound linking.
In this article, we are going to highlight some of the best technical SEO optimization checklist and tips for your website. We have also created a comprehensive technical SEO checklist to help you fuel your website working this year and beyond.
What is Technical SEO?
Your website acts like a machine that needs many visible and hidden components to function properly. The visible elements include graphics, videos, content on your website, etc.
Similarly, there are many hidden elements, such as CSS, HTML, and other backend configurations without which your website cannot be ranked well on search engines.
Simply put, technical SEO is the process of website optimization that is mainly linked with all the non-intuitive elements of your website. It has nothing to do with the actual content of the website.
Broadly, SEO is divided into two types:
The on-page SEO is all about technical SEO and content optimization on your website. Content optimization allows you to create keyword-focused blogs, reviews, and how-tos that help you rank better on search engines.
Technical SEO, on the other hand, is all about optimizing the structural elements on your website.
Off-page SEO includes all those activities, including social media marketing and link building you perform off-site to help your website rank better on SERPs.
To rank better on search engines, you have to implement both on-page and off-page strategies
Let’s have a look at the seven proven technical SEO checklists and optimization tips you should consider for your website to help it rank better on Google.
1. Website Structure and Navigation
Your website structure is of the utmost importance when it comes to creating a foolproof technical SEO strategy.
Visitors are more likely to spend time on websites that use a flat and organized website structure. Apart from that, many crawling and indexing issues happen because of poorly designed websites.
The biggest mistake SEO experts make is they completely forget about the structure and navigation of their websites while designing an SEO strategy for their business.
Since search engines take into account the overall structure of a website, you must optimize each category page to help rank your website better.
What is a Flat Website Structure?
A flat website structure refers to a design that organizes your website pages a few links away from each other.
The idea is to make it easy for search engines to crawl and index your website. It won’t be difficult if your product range is small, but if you own an online store with over 2k products, then achieving a flat website design goal is going to be a big deal.
Besides, your website structure should be well-organized and navigable. You can also use the site audit feature available in Ahrefs to get a visual look at how your category pages are linked with each other.
2. Crawling and Indexing
Indexing is all about telling Google which pages of your website you want to get ranked or appear on SERPs.
Make sure you only focus on the pages that are useful for your website visitors. For example, you may want all of your product pages to appear on search engines. But internal search pages and thank you pages provide zero value to the users. And you must exclude them while requesting Google to index your webpages.
When you create or add a new page to your website, you don’t have to make any additional effort to get your page indexed on Google. Search engines already have crawlers that they use to index new pages.
But if you want to get your pages indexed faster, there are a few additional methods you can use.
a). Create a Google Search Console Account
With the Google search console, you can monitor when your website was indexed last on Google. You have to use the Bing Webmaster Tools if you want to index your website on Bing.
b). Create an XML Sitemap
An XML sitemap is a list of page URLs that help Google find all of the essential pages on your website.
An XML sitemap is a surefire way to get your pages indexed on search engines quicker. Also, it ensures that your site is recrawled and reindexed regularly.
3. Search-Friendly URLs
The next thing on our technical SEO checklist is the optimization of your site URLs. Make sure your website URL is simple and readable for both search engines and humans alike.
Instead of using long strings of numbers and scrambled characters, try to keep your site URL short and meaningful. Here are a few things you should consider before formatting/optimizing your website URL.
- Keep it simple and short
- Use easy to understand terms
- Use a hyphen to separate two words in a URL
- Avoid capital letters and lots of numbers
- Limit the use of special characters and symbols
- Add target keywords in your website URL in a contextual manner
There are several online tools you can use to format and optimize your site URL – CMS, SEMrush, and a keyword research tool are just to name a few.
WordPress automatically creates the URL when you create a new post. Although these suggested URLs are good enough to get you started, they’re generally big and detailed. You can make them concise and more targeted by doing further formatting.
4. Page Speed and Mobile Responsiveness
Your website speed is another critical website optimization strategy that significantly impacts your bounce rate. Many studies prove that faster websites perform better than sites that take time to load.
As a general rule, you may lose potential customers if your website takes longer than 3-seconds to load. You must also optimize your website for speed to avoid ranking penalties.
Handling your website speed is a technical issue, and you have to revamp your website structure to get the desired results. There are many tools you can use to test the speed of your website, including Google Mobile Speed Tool, Google PageSpeed Insights tools, etc.
These tools offer actionable steps to boost website speed. Also, you can implement the below-listed strategies to increase your website speed.
- Image Optimization: For simple graphics, try to stick to PNG format. Similarly, use JPEG format for images
- Minimize the Number of Redirects: Did you know you lose a chunk of your loading time whenever a link on one of your pages redirects to other pages. Minimizing the number of redirects on your website can help improve your website speed in real-time
- Set Scripts to Async: Ask your web developers to set scripts to async. By doing so will ensure the browser doesn’t interrupt the site assembly
- Structure HTML Code: Make sure you structure your HTML code to load content that is being displayed above the fold. While this will not impact your website speed, it will keep your visitors engaged and give them something to see while the rest of the page loads
Having a responsive website is critical to optimize your website for technical SEO. Here it is essential to understand that the mobile version of your website should display the same content as your desktop version.
The mobile version of your website should not take more than 6-seconds to load. While it is pretty normal to have a lower conversion rate on mobile as compared to the desktop version, it is still important to have a responsive web design that your users can access from their smartphones and laptops without any difficulty.
5. 404 Page Optimization
A 404 page is something that your website visitors see when they enter the URL that doesn’t exist on your website.
Most present-day themes come with an automated optimization for 404 pages. Here are a few things you should consider to make your 404 pages optimized.
- Having the same page structure/navigation structure as other pages on your website
- Politely tell your visitors that the page they are searching for is no longer accessible
- Suggest relevant pages
- Make redirecting easy from an unavailable page to your home page or other pages on your website
To see how your 404 pages look in front of the visitors, you have to open a new window. Type any URL that doesn’t currently have on your website.
6. Thin and Duplicate Content
Duplicate content must not be an issue for you if the content on your website is already unique and engaging.
In all honesty, duplicate content can appear on any website. The issue is having duplicate or thin content on your website can hurt your website’s ranking.
First and most importantly, you have to identify the content that is duplicate and thin. There are different free and paid website tools available that can help you scan your site for thin and duplicate content.
Notably, these tools also help you pinpoint content that has been copied from other websites. Copyscape’s batch search feature also helps you highlight the content that is copied from other internet sources.
That’s okay if some pages on your website are duplicated. Just ensure you include the noindex tag to those pages to prevent search engines from indexing those specific pages.
Besides duplicate content, toxic backlinks (links from unreliable sources) can also ruin your website’s search engine ranking.
SEMrush offers a tool called Backlink Audit to identify links that are spammy or unreliable. Also, you can disavow the link using your Google Console Account.
7. Check your Canonical URLs
A Canonical tag, also known as a canonical URL is a way of telling Google that a specific URL on your website is a copy of a page. In other words, a canonical tag is something that tells search engines to give preference to specific pages when indexing your website.
When you have duplicate content on your website, you can use the ‘rel=” canonical” to avoid issues you can have with similar pages.
Ideally, you should specify a canonical URL for all the pages currently listed on your website. To check whether your site offers a canonical tag is to click any page. Simply right-click anywhere on the page and tap ‘view source’.
Search for the canonical tag. If this tag isn’t visible in your view source, you can manually add it using a plugin. You can also work with your web developer to make the required changes if doing it on your own seems like a tough task.
Quick Technical SEO Checklist
✅Indexing, crawling, and rendering
✅Set a preferred domain
✅Optimize robots.txt and 404 pages
✅Website structure and navigation
✅Duplicate or thin content
✅Website speed and mobile responsiveness
✅SSL & HTTPS
Final Words: Technical SEO Checklist
All in all, technical SEO is a critical factor that improves the overall optimization of your website. There are many things you should pay attention to before you start working on the technical part of your website infrastructure.
The good news is, in the majority of cases, you don’t have to repeat the entire process again and again if you have already done it correctly in the first place. All you need to do is to perform your routine SEO audits, and you are good to go!
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Ricky Hayes is the Co-Founder and Head of Marketing at Debutify – free Shopify theme, helping dropshippers build high-converting stores in minutes. He is a passionate entrepreneur running multiple businesses, marketing agencies, and mentoring programs.