As a small business owner, you’ve probably asked this question many times — “What is technical SEO?” Or, other questions like:
Why is technical SEO important?
How do you optimize for technical SEO?
This post will answer those questions and more, helping ensure that your digital marketing efforts have a better chance of being effective.
What is Technical SEO (and Why is it Important)?
When you dive into the world of search engine optimization (SEO), you’ll discover that there are three main categories of SEO:
- On-page SEO: This category mainly deals with factors directly related to the content on your website
- Off-page SEO: Off-page SEO involves actions taken outside of your website yet can impact your search rankings. Examples include backlinks, social shares, and more.
Then comes technical SEO.
Technical SEO refers to optimizing the technical elements of your website and server that impact your performance and user experience. These are the two primary elements that impact how users and search engines appreciate your website.
Traditionally, technical SEO referred to optimizing your website for crawlability and indexability. Crawlability is the ability for search engines to access the pages on your site while. On the other hand, indexability refers to a search engine’s ability to analyze your pages and add them to its index.
Today, however, technical SEO encompasses any technical processes that can improve search visibility. These can include, among many others:
- Site architecture
- XML sitemaps
- Site speed
- Duplicate content
- User experience
Before we get carried away, let’s back up and look at the essential components you need to get right for your technical SEO to be on point.
8 Best Technical SEO Checklist Points for 2022
Mention technical SEO, and many people feel it’s something out of their depth. However, it’s not as daunting as it sounds. Here’s a technical SEO checklist you can use to improve yours:
1. Nail Your Page Experience
One of the first stops when looking to boost your technical SEO is to nail your page experience. That’s because page experience encompasses many other technical SEO aspects that you need to optimize.
What is page experience?
As the name suggests, page experience refers to a set of signals Google uses to measure how users perceive the experience they have when interacting with any of your web pages. These signals include:
Core Web Vitals
Core web vitals are Google’s three metrics for measuring user experience when a page loads. These are:
- Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): This measures a page’s load speed, and Google recommends it be within 2.5 seconds of when a page first starts loading.
- First Input Delay (FID): FID is a measure of how interactive your page is. It measures how quickly users start interacting with your web page. To provide a positive UX, your pages should have a FID of 100 milliseconds or less.
- Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): CLS measures a page’s visual stability as it loads. Elements moving around a lot result in a high CLS. A good CLS is 0.1 or lower.
You can measure your website’s core vitals in Google Search Console (GSC) under the enhancements section.
The other page experience signals include:
While this may sound like old news, but you’ll be surprised at how many websites are still lagging in providing a mobile-first experience. However, with mobile devices enjoying a 54.37% market share, search engines prioritize mobile-friendly sites over those that aren’t.
Security With HTTPS
Security plays a huge role in how people experience your website. When people feel that your website is secure, they interact more freely (and longer) with it.
That’s why search engines, particularly Google, use HTTPS as one of the metrics for measuring page experience.
What’s the difference between HTTP and HTTPS?
The main difference is that HTTPS is encrypted, making it more secure. And with the increase in cybercrime, search engines want to be sure they’re sending users to safe domains.
Intrusive Interstitial Elements
With the advent of mobile-first websites came a problem — unscrupulous webmasters and advertisers who want to manipulate the limited real estate on mobile devices by displaying full-screen popups. An intrusive interstitial is any element on a page that covers most of the content on a web page, making it difficult to access.
Search engines frown on this practice as it results in a negative user experience. Remember, search engines prioritize user satisfaction above many other factors. Therefore, anything that takes away from a good experience negatively impacts your SEO.
2. Check Your Website for Crawl Errors
To know the purpose of a website, search engines “crawl” your web pages. Crawling simply means following the links from one page to another. This is why having an internal linking strategy is crucial — it helps search engines understand your website and the hierarchy of the pages.
That’s also why you must ensure there are no crawl errors on your website. A few common factors that could lead to crawl errors include:
Because a website is always a work in progress, there are bound to be broken links. Always monitor your website for these and create redirects.
As much as redirects are handy, wrongly done, they can do more harm than good to your website. You can end up with redirect chains, a situation where one redirect leads to another, and another, and another, and so forth. Redirect chains can lead to serious crawl errors.
The easier it is for search engines to crawl your site, the better your chances of ranking higher.
3. Create a User-friendly Site Architecture
Site architecture refers to how the pages on your website are organized, grouped, and linked together. Your site architecture, done well, can help users and search engines easily find what they are looking for on your site. From a user point of view, this results in increased time on site, signaling to search engines that your site offers a positive UX and valuable content. A few factors that can influence your site architecture include:
Remember, search engines are all about providing users with a positive UX. On a website, one of the most significant elements that contribute to UX is your site architecture. So, make sure you optimize it for SEO.
4. Optimize Your Robots .txt File
A robots.txt file gives search engines instructions on which pages to crawl and display in search engine results.
Yes, there are some pages you’d rather not have search engines waste their time by crawling. Examples include:
- Admin pages
- Cart and checkout pages
- Login pages
- Resources like PDFs
Optimizing your robots.txt file ensures that only the important pages on your website are crawled and indexed. For large sites, optimizing the robots.txt file also helps maximize crawl budget.
Again, this is another area in which AIOSEO shines. It allows you to manage and optimize your robots.txt file easily. You can find this under the “Tools” section of AIOSEO’s dashboard:
Besides automatically optimizing the default robots.txt file WordPress generates for your site, AIOSEO also allows you to edit your robots.txt file manually.
This enables you to give search engines specific instructions about how to crawl your site, allowing you to prioritize the URLs search engines should crawl.
5. Create and Optimize an XML Sitemap
XML sitemaps are often overlooked elements of an effective technical SEO strategy. Yet, they can be powerful if executed well.
If you’re wondering, an XML sitemap is simply a blueprint of your website. It helps search engines easily find, crawl, and index your content. This helps speed up the indexation of the pages on your website.
Besides making it easy for search engines to crawl your site, a sitemap also provides valuable information such as:
- The relationship between the important pages on your website.
- How often each page on your website is updated.
- When they were last updated.
Creating a sitemap is super-easy if you use a tool like AIOSEO — that’s why it’s one of the best WordPress SEO plugins around.
To get started creating your sitemap, ll you have to do is to go to the plugin’s settings and click on “Sitemaps”.
This will take you to the page to enable AIOSEO to generate a sitemap for your website.
Toggling the “Enable Sitemap” results in AIOSEO automatically generating a sitemap of your website. You can even preview your sitemap by clicking on the “Open Sitemap” button.
If you’re confident playing around with sitemap settings, AIOSEO gives you the flexibility to further optimize sitemap by changing various settings. Examples include enabling/disabling sitemap indexes, setting the number of posts per sitemap, and much more.
Once you’ve created your sitemap, submit it to Google via Google Search Console. Also, make sure to add it to your robots.txt file.
6. Create Search Engine and User-friendly URLs
Another item to include on your technical SEO checklist is your URL structure.
According to Google, your website’s URL structure should be as simple as possible. Your URLs should be search engine and user-friendly.
Part of that means organizing your content so that URLs are constructed:
- Easy to read
- Intelligible to readers
URLs aren’t just meant to help search engines find a page’s address. They should also show readers that the page they’re clicking on will meet their search intent. To do this, use readable words that include your keyword. Avoid using the default URLs WordPress assigns as they’re incorrigible and contain meaningless ID numbers.
So, how do you edit your URLs?
The easiest way is to use the URL slug editor in AIOSEO. Simply click on the “Post” settings and scroll down to the “Permalink” option. Next, input the words you want to show in your URL, making sure to include your keyword. Also, keep the URL as short as possible.
If you’ve read this far and haven’t downloaded the plugin yet, we suggest you take a moment to do so. AIOSEO is one of the best WordPress SEO plugins and can help you effortlessly tick off items on your technical SEO checklist.
7. Eliminate Duplicate Content
Duplicate content is a plague that can easily attack any website. Particularly if you run an e-commerce website that sells similar products, you’ll have to be careful with your product descriptions.
However, duplicate content is not just a problem e-commerce stores face. Every website can suffer from duplicate content.
What is duplicate content?
As the name suggests, duplicate content is content that is similar but appears on different URLs. this can be on other sites or even other pages on your website. This can mean the content, meta tags,
And if you’re wondering, duplicate content impacts SEO negatively as search engines won’t know:
- Which version to index.
- Whether to direct link metrics to one page or split them between the multiple versions.
- Which version to rank for query results.
Search engines never display the same content on search engine results pages (SERPs). So, no matter how good the content is, it will struggle to rank if it’s duplicate content.
How do you deal with duplicate content?
For duplicate content on your site, one of the best ways to solve the problem is to 301 redirect all duplicate pages to the original page.
Another excellent way to deal with duplicate content is to add a rel= canonical tag to the URL you want search engines to index. This tag tells search engines that the canonicalized URL is the original one and should be indexed.
Lastly, you can also consider deleting the duplicate pages. When you do this, however, remember to redirect the URLs to the remaining page.
8. Implement Schema Markup
For search engines to better understand your website, it needs to be structured in such a way that the bots can easily understand it. But because humans and bots don’t speak the same language, it makes it difficult to create web pages that cater to both.
That’s where schema markup comes in.
Schema markup, or structured data, is the language of search engines. It’s a collection of standardized tags you can place on your website to describe various page elements in “robot speak.”
Schema markup helps search engines better understand the content on your website, resulting in them giving users a better experience. With schema markup implemented, search engines can show users “rich results” on SERPs.
These rich results are more interactive and give more information about your webpage, resulting in improved clickthrough rates.
Another advantage of adding schema markup is that it helps boost your entity SEO. In short, an entity is something unique and distinguishable enough to be searched for by name. This takes SEO to a more contextual level than the basic keyword level.
Take for example a person who types in “Paris” in a search engine. Search engines may not know whether the person is referring to the city or a person. Entity SEO takes into account the context of the keywords, thereby enabling search engines to give users relevant results.
What does this have to do with schema markup?
A whole lot!
Schema markup enables search engines to associate your brand with entities in your niche, field, or industry. As a result, when a search is made concerning entities that match your brand, your chances of showing up greatly increase. If we take our example of searching for “Paris,” here are the entities Google recognizes.
Entity SEO is still an untapped SEO tactic. And implementing schema markup is one of the ways to help you get it right.
So, how do you add schema markup to your pages?
If you’re an AIOSEO user, this is pretty easy — and you don’t have to hire a developer. All you have to do is go to the page you want to add schema markup to and go to the “General Settings” tab beneath the page. Click on the “Schema” tab and you’ll be led to the page with schema markup settings:
Next, select the type of schema markup relevant to that particular page:
With other types of schema markup (like product or recipe), you’ll have the option to include other tags:
Once you’ve filled in all the relevant fields, AIOSEO will do the rest and automatically implement schema markup for you.
Technical SEO — Laying a Strong Foundation for Your Digital Marketing
No matter how amazing your content may be, ranking will be an uphill battle if your technical SEO is poor.
Using this checklist, you can lay a strong foundation for a powerful content marketing engine. With your technical SEO sorted, ranking high on SERPs will become easier.
Remember, you also need an effective SEO tool to help you put these strategies into play. And it doesn’t get any better than AIOSEO.
So, go ahead. Download the original WordPress SEO plugin, and let’s help you get your technical SEO on point.