While nearly everyone has caught on to the importance of great quality content, technical SEO has started to slip for many webmasters. And though it is true that good quality, informative content will likely remain a critical factor for SEO for years to come, it’s important not to forget about the technical aspects of your SEO efforts.
After all, why bother writing killer content if your site is not being found or is not accessible to your users?
The King and Queen of any castle must work together to create the strongest kingdom. The King may be mighty and strong, but the Queen ensures he is well loved by the people.
Similarly, content may have a strong influence on rankings, but technical SEO makes sure this content is found and appreciated.
One without the other is bound to lead to failure!
In order to stand out from your competition, you need to make sure you have an exceptional combination of content and site wide accessibility and functionality.
It is estimated that businesses will spend around $79 billion on SEO by the end of 2020. That means you have a lot of people competing with you to get that first position on Google. And with Google changing its search engine algorithm between 500 and 600 times per year, there really is no room for silly errors. Browsers want to find exactly what they are looking for in as short amount of time as possible, and it's up to you to make sure they do.
Read below for technical SEO tips that cannot be ignored. Use this guide as a sort of technical SEO checklist for the rest of 2017, and make sure you frequently review these elements. These tips can be closely followed by beginner SEOs and seasoned pros alike.
1. Easy navigation
As was mentioned in our post of the 7 Biggest Website Mistakes, it’s incredibly important to make sure your users can find what they are looking for in as few clicks as possible. Valuable information pages should not be buried deep within your site – make sure that you have links to these pages from the home page or somewhere else that is easy to find.
2. Site structure
Remember, Google is focused on the user experience. And this means that broken links continue to be a problem for SEO. We recommend performing a link audit at least once a month to ensure that there are no broken links anywhere within your site. Even if you think that they may not be accessible by your visitors, Google still sees these pages as a sign that your site is neglected and will treat it as such. As soon as you find an error 404, set up a 301 redirect to a similar, working page.
3. Mobile usability
Nope – the importance of mobile friendliness is not going away any time soon. If anything, it’s becoming more and more important as our world becomes increasingly mobile-based.
40% of visitors will skip to a different search result of the first is not mobile friendly.
This dramatically increases your bounce rate, which is an important ranking factor. Especially with the impending roll-out of mobile-first indexing, this is an aspect of your site that cannot be ignored if you are trying to move up the rankings. The way that your site performs on mobile devices will determine where your site shows up in the SERPs across all platforms, so we recommend using Google’s Mobile Friendly Test at least once a month to ensure everything is working smoothly.
Regardless of what tool you are using to monitor your SEO efforts (and you should be using one, if not then give us a call!), you should be able to determine exactly how many pages of your site have been indexed by Google. This number should coincide with the number of pages on your site, so if it looks like Google has indexed only a portion of your site, you’ll want to review your robots.txt file within your site’s root.
5. Crawling capability
Speaking of robots.txt, you’ll want to check this file to make sure that your pages are crawlable as well. While Google might index certain pages, that doesn’t always mean that they are crawlable. But this is only a starting point – if everything looks good in the robots.txt file, you’ll need to use an SEO tool to determine if there are any other errors on your site. Using the Fetch & Render as Google tool in Search Console, Google is able to render websites in much the same way that browsers do. This means that you need to make sure that your CSS as well as CMS files are not blocked.
6. Keyword implementation
Some may think that keyword implementation has become obsolete, thanks to the numerous articles detailing the dangers of keyword stuffing. And while of course we would never recommend using this tactic, we cannot ignore keywords completely. Google still looks at the words on your site to determine for what search terms your site should be displayed in the SERPs, meaning that careful, strategic placement of keywords is still necessary to rank.
7. Canonical link specification
This is basically a fancy term for telling Google which version of your site that you want indexed - either the www or non-www version. You may think that this doesn't apply to you, but try this: perform a "site" search by typing site:domain.com into your search bar. Review the resutls and you will likely notice that Google has indexed URLs that start with www and some that do not. This causes a few different problems: it creates duplicate content, it can render your backlinks useless and it can lead users to view URLs with a bunch of extra extensions (e.g domain.com/services/index.php/template/user).
By combining our tactics described above with high quality content, your chances of ranking for any particular keyword is much higher. Remember, nearly everyone is producing content these days, making it even more important to keep your technical SEO up-to-date.
Feel free to leave your thoughts below in the comment section, we love a good SEO discussion.
Not sure how your technical SEO shapes up? Learn more about our SEO services and get in touch if you're interested in a site-wide technical SEO audit.