Hopefully, you’ve already learned about websites, on-site SEO, and off-site SEO and are ready to move onto technical SEO, dealing with site code and structure. If you haven’t read the other blogs, I highly recommend you starting there! Technical SEO is the most complicated.
Technical SEO, involving site code and structure, happens on the backend of things. It’s not what you see on the website or on Facebook – it’s what search engines “see” when they’re looking for information.
There are many factors that play into technical SEO, so I’ll address a few of them and some tips and hints for each.
Mobile friendliness is more important than ever these days. In fact, Google is soon changing the way it ranks websites to move sites that are mobile friendly to the top. If your website isn’t compatible with phones, it’s going to become increasingly difficult for you to get found online.
Not sure if your website is mobile friendly? Google has a tool for that!
Because mobile friendliness is becoming such a big deal, I’ll be doing another blog about it in the near future.
As I mentioned in a previous blog, the more user-friendly your website is, the better off you are. Sites that don’t load quickly aren’t considered user-friendly, so they’re less likely to rank. In fact, 40 percent of people will close a website if it takes more than three seconds to load. THREE. SECONDS.
Is your site fast enough? Luckily it’s not necessary for you to gauge this yourself. Google has a tool that will measure your site speed and identify areas that should be improved.
If your site speed is dramatically low, you may want to reconsider the server on which your website is hosted. You can check out the speeds of some servers here.
To read your page, Google (and other search engines) sends tiny “spiders” to “crawl” through your pages and figure out what they’re about and if they’re good fits for users. Sitemaps help give these spiders some direction.
There are HTML sitemaps and XML sitemaps, but XML sitemaps are the ones that matter for search engines. There are a variety of plugins you can add to your content management system to create a sitemap for you (such as Yoast – a personal favorite). After creating the sitemap, you should submit it to Google Search Console (and maybe Bing Search Console depending on where your traffic is coming from). This article will help you submit it to Google.
A sidenote of sitemaps: remember that you don’t want all your users to be able to access all of your pages. Maybe you have a contact form on your website, and users get a “thank you” page after filling it out (great practice!). Searchers and search engines shouldn’t be able to find that page, so you can add a robot.txt to the page to block it from your sitemap. These files can be a little difficult, but not if you use a plugin (like Yoast) to do it for you.
Sometimes when you submit your sitemap, you’ll come across certain crawl errors that search engines are experiencing. Pages that have crawl errors won’t be able to be found through a search, so it’s important to get these fixed. Moz has a great guide.
The “spiders” that search engines send out do a great job of finding information, they need, but it never hurts to help them! That’s where structured data comes in.
Structured data tells spiders “Hey, here are our hours! Look here!,” or “Look! This is our OFFICIAL name.” Structured data is also fairly easy to add.
Schema is an extremely popular way to handle structured data, but it does have to be added to your site code. Google can help you with this, or, if you’re using WordPress (which I highly recommend), you can get a plugin to help.