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Most website owners are aware of the term “SEO,” which is short for search engine optimization. They frequently receive spammy emails asking for links to low-quality websites or propositions from people in other countries about how they may be able to boost the SEO value of the website in question. These messages and propositions often fall short of credible and come off as annoying.
If you’re frustrated from these types of messages, don’t write SEO off yet. Not only is it extremely important in a world where websites are regularly found and accessed via Google, but the spammy emails and sketchy propositions are only the underbelly of the entire situation. Actually, there are many approaches to SEO to ensure you’re being discovered via search engines, and they are a necessary form of marketing in the digital age. Real SEO goes beyond link requests, though a good backlink portfolio is an important part of the process.
Have you heard of the term “technical SEO”? This term is defined by the process of ensuring that your website is readable by search engine crawlers, not just people. Optimizing your site’s technical SEO is vital, and doing so can have a massive positive impact on your site’s visibility. In order to ensure your technical SEO is in order, there is a list of things that you need to make sure are in working order and set in place to ensure your site isn’t being devalued.
There are a lot of factors that go into having great technical SEO, and it can be hard to keep track of them all. Experts recommend making a checklist and performing a technical SEO audit on your website.
Page One Power addressed the fundamentals of what you need to conduct this audit. You can use this as a blueprint for your own checklist. The factors they listed are as follows:
- Robots.txt: This file informs search bots how they can crawl your website.
- Page error codes: Error codes explain to site users why a page isn’t working.
- Duplicate pages: Pages with the same URLs, code, and content can be confusing to crawlers. Ensure they aren’t being used.
- SSL certificates: Use Secure Socket Layer (SSL) certificates to encrypt information between servers and browsers, keeping you and your users safe. “HTTPS” URLs show that a site has an SSL certificate.
- Sitemaps: This will help users and bots navigate through your website.
- URL structure: Use subfolders to build your domain’s SEO value (domain.com/subfolder), as opposed to subdomains (subdomain.domain.com).
- Mobile responsive design: Ensure that your website adapts to different mobile devices and screen sizes so that users have no problem browsing.
- Google Search Console: Using this Google tool that will help you ensure your site is being crawled by Google’s bots.
Of course, these are only some of the basics. However, there are dilemmas that may come up that can make this otherwise simple process more complicated. For instance, there can be pages that aren’t even being crawled by search engines. To fix this you will need to look for orphan pages and discover what pages are restricted from indexing, which can be a time-consuming process and requires more learning. That’s why technical SEO can become complicated in dire situations.
There are other things you can do in order to increase your SEO value, such as setting up your site with progressive web applications (PWAs) so that web activity can be experienced by mobile users online, which may increase your conversions and visibility up to 80%. Understand that while a technical SEO checklist is fairly simple, the practice is still changing and there are further steps you can take to boost your site’s SEO value.
Technical SEO is an ongoing process. Of course, once you’re done with your checklist, you will hopefully have less to do in the future. But things can always be improved, and sometimes you’ll discover certain parts of your website are not working the way they once were. In these cases, you will need to fix them. For instance, sometimes site maps will link to dead pages. Sometimes you’ll miss pages that aren’t being indexed. Those little things will pop up from time to time, so it’s important you change them when they do.
With all of this said, it’s important that you prioritize your technical SEO work and understand what’s most important and why each part of it must be altered or fixed. Search Engine Land defines this as the “technical SEO hierarchy of needs.” The foundation of technical SEO is crawlability, followed by indexability and accessibility. At the top of your pyramid is rankability and clickability, and this is where optimization is key.
Furthermore, with the introduction of things like progressive web apps (Who would have thought a mobile app could allow web activity to continue offline and boost SEO value?), it’s important to note that SEO is always changing with technology. Much of it is dependent on Google’s algorithm, which is consistently learning to value websites differently. But a lot of it is technology and the push for efficiency in the digital age.
Since technical SEO is an ever-changing practice, it’s important to stay ahead of the weather when it comes to said changes. Here are some resources you can use to do so:
SEO news: Moz and Search Engine Land are able to tell you breaking SEO news from experts. They keep a pulse on what Google is up to and will let you know if you need to adapt your technical SEO to new algorithmic changes.
Rank-checking programs: There are a variety of rank checking applications that you can use to see if you’re falling in the search engine page results. If you notice significant de-rankings, you may need to see if there have been algorithmic changes on Google’s end, or if there’s something on your site that isn’t working correctly.
Audit Software: Using tools like SEMRush’s Site Audit or Google’s Search Console will allow you to repeatedly check your site to see if there is anything you need to change. You should probably check your site more frequently as the amount of visitors increases, which you can track using Google Analytics.
Technical SEO is a continual process in which you are able to ensure your site is crawlable and indexable by Google. While Google’s algorithm is always changing, you can check news sources, your rankings, and use audit software to stay ahead of those changes and keep your SEO value as high as possible.
Are you an SEO professional with anything to add? Let us know in the comments below!