The term ‘technical SEO’ is one that’s shrouded in confusion for many people who don’t regularly focus on search engine optimization (SEO). The reason for the confusion is mainly because the term doesn’t refer to a single activity or action to take for a website. Instead, it represents a collection of possible actions that can help to improve website results with search engines. These include better visibility, increased clarity of meaning, reduced visitor bounce rate, and more. Here are seven technical SEO fixes that shouldn’t continue to be overlooked.
1. Page Loading Time
The page loading time is a critical factor in getting better results from a site. From a visitor’s standpoint, few people will wait past 2-3 seconds for a page to load. They will hit the ‘Back’ button and return to Google to try a different search result. Google also notices when visitors return and click other search listings. Google can see this is happening and because many sites also use Google Analytics, they have site data to rely upon too. It often results in a downgrade of the ranking for future search queries.
How to Speed Up a Site
To speed up a site, you’ll want to upgrade to faster hosting. Moving from shared hosting to virtual private hosting or cloud hosting is best. Both offer quicker response times to new visitors and load the initial page sooner. Also, sites can be optimized in various ways to load quicker by making them less heavy in the code, design, and features too. Furthermore, using a content delivery network – sometimes provided with a hosting package – helps visitors to load static content, e.g., images from a nearby web server for faster speeds.
2. Core Web Vitals
Core Web Vitals link into loading speed but have more depth to them. These are used by Google to measure site performance in interesting ways. Poor scores also have a bearing on ranking positions. Google is looking at increasing the number of metrics connected to site performance with a planned expansion beyond those they currently score. They currently include the following:
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) – Related to the time for the most sizable block (text paragraph or image) to load. Measured in seconds, the LCP should ideally be below 2.5 seconds on a mobile device.
First Input Delay (FID) – Puts a time limit on the responsiveness of the site from when the visitor first initiates action to when the website responds to it via event handlers. A response below 100 milliseconds is ideal.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) – The page layout may adjust fluidly as images load in or as advertising content slots into position. This regular movement of blocks of text and images to accommodate everything that loads in at different speeds can be jarring for the visitors. This metric aims for a 0.1 rating or lower for minimal movement.
A site should be optimized to provide better scores for Core Web Vitals. It’s often a progressive approach that’s needed to achieve this, rather than a quick-fix solution.
3. Clear Navigation
Navigation needs to be obvious to the visitor. An overly complicated navigational structure will confuse visitors. Creating clear categories and keeping things simple is key here. Any pages or sections where the location or address gets changed need to be redirected to the new location, rather than showing a 404 page-not-found error page. This will usually be a permanent 301 redirect (there are other types of temporary page redirections).
Linking between pages within a single website is referred to as interlinking. Interlinking is incredibly important for SEO. It serves several purposes:
Increase Page Views – Visitors see related content and may click through to see or read that too. This increases the time on the site as well as the chances to make a sale, get a newsletter subscriber, or something else.
Visitors Find Related Content Easily – Instead of relying on a site’s search function or returning to a search engine, it points the way to interesting content on the same site.
Show Search Engines What Relates to What – Without interlinking, search engines must figure out how one page relates to another. Often, they get it right, but sometimes they do not. When interlinking, the search robots can better understand how the content relates to each other by using what’s linked from what to make those connections.
Clusters of Content – Creating a cluster of content covering a broader topic with interlinking between the articles creates semantic relevance. This may confirm that, for this topic, the site provides superior information for visitors. It can also have a ‘raise all boats’ effect on the average site ranking.
5. Encrypted Website
Websites are now expected to all use encrypted access denoted by HTTPS:// in the website address. When supporting this, the connection between the user’s web browser and the webserver is encrypted (or scrambled to make the data unreadable).
Website encryption is intended to prevent monitoring or interfering with website traffic enroute across the internet from the web browser to the web server elsewhere. Furthermore, it provides the visitor with confidence about the security of the site.
Google and other search engines will mark down or highlight when a site doesn’t have a security certificate supporting an HTTPS connection. Also, non-HTTPS sites are indexed separately to HTTPS sites; as if they’re two different websites altogether. Additionally, a page when connecting to third-party resources from another website needs to do so securely too.
6. Mobile Accessibility & Functionality
While the Mobile-First strategy that Google has implemented encountered snags with some site owners having difficulty making their site mobile-friendly, the general emphasis is still there. For many websites, over half of visitors originate from a smartphone or tablet. Therefore, it’s necessary to provide a quick, easy-to-use experience for mobile visitors too. This also relates to site speed or Core Web Vitals, with the latter scoring mobile separately to desktop.
7. Crawling the Site
Google and other search engines use bots that visit the site, and crawl across various pages each visit. They do this to learn about the site. Over 90% of websites are abandoned and no longer updated. These bots must determine what’s new and worthy, versus old and out of date.
Bot crawlers also have a crawl budget which is dependent partly on the age of the site and quality metrics. Sites that are well established and updated regularly are likely to be crawled more frequently with more pages ultimately being indexed per visit. Newer, smaller sites only receive occasional visits from a search engine bot and may struggle to have many of their pages indexed.
For older sites with too much content that’s rarely viewed, it can make sense to remove these in favor of newer articles. This tactic can encourage the crawling and indexing of the new content because the crawl budget isn’t being needlessly used up re-crawling older content first.
Technical SEO is an excellent way to improve the ranking and traffic that a website receives. By boosting the page speed, getting higher Core Web Vital scores, and making other changes, it’s possible to gain a better footing in Google search results.