What is Technical SEO and Why is it Important for Your Google Rankings?
January 24th 2022 | By Emma Grant
You may have come across the term, ‘technical SEO’ and wondered what it means and how important it is. The fact is, technical SEO plays a vital role in any SEO campaign. It can spell the difference between great search engine rankings, and no rankings at all. Here we explain what technical SEO is, and why it’s essential to search engine success.
What is technical SEO?
Technical SEO is concerned with enhancing the technical aspects of a website. Its aim is to boost search engine rankings. In short, technical SEO is about speeding up a website, making it easier to crawl by the search engines, and helping the search engines better understand what it’s about.
Technical SEO forms part of on-page SEO. This focuses on enhancing various elements on your website with a view to improving search rankings.
Why is technical SEO important?
Google is dedicated to making sure its users enjoy the best possible experience, and therefore to ensuring they get the most relevant results for their search queries. So when its crawlers analyse web pages, they take various factors into consideration. One is page speed. No one likes a slow loading website after all. Other factors help the crawlers understand what a website’s pages are all about. Structured data is important here. It helps search engines check that the content of a web page is relevant to the search query.
In summary, by improving the technical elements of your website, you can help search engines better crawl and understand it, which will potentially land you higher rankings, or rich snippets, which can make your website all the more visible in the search results.
But technical SEO isn’t just about making the search engines happy. It’s just as much concerned with enhancing the user experience. As we’ve already said, users are never impressed by a website that has slow loading pages. Neither are they going to be happy with a site that they find difficult to use.
The good news is that technical SEO forms a solid foundation that is positive for search engines and users alike.
What is involved in technical SEO?
Various factors are covered by the term, ‘technical SEO’. Any SEO consultant providing this service as part of your SEO campaign will be working on a range of tactics.
Improving site speed
No one has much patience these days. We’re all in a hurry, and haven’t got time to wait around for web pages to load. Over half of mobile web users will leave if a web page doesn’t open within three seconds. And last year, Core Web Vitals and Google’s Page Experience update made site speed crucial for top rankings.
Speeding up a website is part of technical SEO. It involves the likes of compressing oversized files, optimising code, reducing the size of large images, installing a caching plugin, clearing redirects and ensuring the website hosting is the best it can be.
Making websites easier to crawl by the search engines
Search engine crawlers follow links to discover what’s on a website. It’s important to make it easy for them to do this, so that they find all the content, understand it, and index it so that users can find it.
Technical SEO will make sure that the internal linking structure of your website is good enough for the search engine crawlers to analyse what’s on your site. It’s also concerned with guiding the crawlers in particular ways. You may sometimes, for example, wish to block search engines from seeing certain content, from showing a page in the search results, or from following the links from certain pages.
Removing broken links
Slow loading websites are frustrating, but coming across a web page that doesn’t exist is enough to send users running in the opposite direction and never come back.
If your website has links that lead to non-existent pages, users will come across a 404 error page. And that’s definitely not a positive user experience. Search engines don’t like it either.
Most sites will have a few dead links, especially if you’re in the habit of linking out to external sources over which you have no control. Things change over time, so it’s vital to regularly check for broken links. The good news is that there are tools that make it easy to detect dead links and resolve 404 errors. It’s just another aspect of technical SEO.
Getting rid of duplicate content
If there is duplicate content on multiple pages of your website, or you have pages on your site that is copied from elsewhere on the website, then the search engines will get confused. Which should they rank the highest? Which is the most important or original source? This confusion may well lead to all the pages being ranked lower, or not at all.
Duplicate content can arise due to technical reasons, and you may have an issue without even being aware of it. This is where technical SEO can help, by identifying duplicate content, and then setting a canonical URL for each page. This tells the search engines which is the preferred version of a web page.
Making sure the site is secure
It really is so important to make your website secure for your users. There are various ways to do this, including implementing HTTPS. This will make sure that no one is able to intercept any data being sent between a user’s browser and your site.
Google acknowledges the importance of security and made HTTPS a ranking signal.
Adding structured data
Structured data helps search engines better understand a website and its content. By using structured data, you can inform the search engines what you sell or offer, or where your areas of expertise lie. It also gives you the chance to provide details about your products or services.
By adding structured data, such as Schema Markup, to your site, it will make your content eligible for rich results, such as featured snippets, which make your website stand out in the search results.
Adding an XML sitemap
An XML sitemap is a list of all the pages of your website. It provides a clear roadmap for search engines to find their way around the site, ensuring they never miss anything.
In theory, a website with a well-structured navigation which connects all the pages clearly should not need an XML sitemap. But not all sites benefit from such a structure, and so an XML sitemap will prove helpful.
Technical SEO made easy
At Figment, we’ve been helping local businesses enhance their online visibility through personalised managed SEO campaigns for several years. We are experts in technical SEO, always incorporating it into our online strategies to help boost our clients’ online profiles.
Looking for help boosting your online visibility? You are welcome to get in touch to discuss how we can make a difference to your business.