What are Technical SEO Strategies?
Search engine optimization (SEO) is not just one thing — rather, it’s more like a recipe of ingredients that make up an overall optimized website. One such ingredient is technical SEO, which involves optimizing the technical structure and functionality of a website.
To attract organic traffic from search engines, you need to use technical SEO strategies to ensure that your site is fast, functional, and user-friendly. Below, we outline the technical SEO strategies you should follow to make sure your site ticks all the boxes.
Technical SEO Defined
Technical SEO is an area of SEO that involves optimizing the technical components of your website. Technical SEO mainly covers how your website functions, whether it is accessible to users and search engines, and whether your web pages are laid out in an SEO-friendly way.
Technical SEO encompasses several components of your site, including:
- Site speed
- URL structure
- Mobile friendliness
- Schema markup
Here’s why you should use technical SEO strategies to get your website ranking high in the search results.
Why Use Technical SEO Strategies?
You might post the most engaging, keyword-optimized content in the world, but if your site isn’t optimized technically, search engines and users will have a hard time accessing this content and navigating your site.
Using technical SEO strategies is important because those strategies ensure that your website is indexable, rankable, and accessible. You can be confident that users can access your site from any device, navigate your site with ease, and find the goods/services they are looking for.
Further, technical SEO involves many areas of optimization that are considered ranking factors by Google, such as mobile optimization and site speed. You will need to optimize these areas of your site if you want to rank high and attract organic traffic.
12 Technical SEO Strategies to Implement on Your Website
Due to the “technical” aspect of technical SEO, many website owners assume implementing technical SEO strategies is difficult or nearly impossible for a beginner. In reality, you can make many of these changes on your own or otherwise work with your chosen web developer to make these changes for you.
The first step is to run a technical SEO audit on your site to identify any existing issues, make the appropriate changes, and apply technical SEO best practices going forward. Review the 12 strategies below to learn what to look for during your audit and what to implement on your site.
SSL stands for “Secure Sockets Layer” and is a security protocol that establishes encrypted links between a browser and a web server. Simply put, it adds a layer of security to your websites that protects users when they visit.
You might have seen SSL in action if you noticed the “HTTPS” before a website’s URL in your browser. If a website does not have SSL, this URL will often have a “Not Secure” status, which does not make for a friendly user experience.
Google Chrome and other browsers have reiterated the importance of SSL with their “Not Secure” movement — noting that any website without a security certificate will be marked as “Not Secure”, which can hinder a website’s rankings.
The solution is to install an SSL security certificate on your website and migrate your website to the HTTPS version.
Specify a Preferred Domain
Another technical SEO strategy is to set a preferred domain for your website. Usually this means choosing whether you want the www or non-www version of your domain to show up in the search results.
Your preferred domain is also the domain that you want users to be redirected to if they type in the www or non-www version of your site. That way, they will be directed to the root domain (and the correct version of your site) whether or not they include the www.
You used to be able to set this up in Google Search Console, but Google has removed this feature because it is now able to choose the preferred domain for you based on a variety of signals. Still, it’s worth being aware of this component and how it works on your site.
Fix Broken Links/404s
If you delete a page or post from your website, this might mean that the page is no longer live on your site, but the URL is not removed from the web altogether. If you have shared this old link to social media, included it in a guest article, sent it to a friend, etc., people can still find this link.
Unfortunately, that means these users will be taken to a 404 page that indicates that the page is no longer there unless you redirect them to a new URL. This strategy of redirecting a user to a different page from the original link is known as a 301 redirect.
Fixing broken links is ideal because it keeps users on your site when they might otherwise go somewhere else when faced with a 404 error page. You can always direct users to another relevant page so they do not leave your site right away.
Reduce Site Load Time
If you’ve ever visited a website that took forever to load, then you were likely the victim of the crime of slow site speed. It would not be a surprise if you left this website because it took too long to load.
You’re certainly not alone. Over 40% of users have abandoned a website because of poor page loading times. With this in mind, website owners need to make sure their sites load quickly so as not to deter users.
Site load time is an important part of technical SEO because:
- Users are likely to abandon your website if it doesn’t load in under three seconds.
- Site speed is one of Google’s ranking factors.
- When users leave your site, this counts as an increase to your website’s bounce rate, which is also a ranking factor for Google.
You can improve your website’s site speed by compressing large images on your site, optimizing any large files on your site, removing unused scripts, limiting the amount of redirects used, and decreasing HTTP requests.
After addressing these issues, you likely will see your website’s speed increase almost immediately.
Optimize URL Structure
Having a clean, straightforward URL structure makes it easy for search engines to crawl and index your site and for users to navigate your site.
If your URL “buckets” don’t make sense (such as something like “/seothings/technical/info”) or your URLs don’t make any sense (“/technicalseoinfo20-facts”), it is unlikely that they will make sense to search engines and users either.
Instead, adopt an intuitive structure in which certain pages fall under categories (“/service/seo”, “/service/facebook-ads”, etc.) and clearly identify what the page is about (“10-best-seo-tips”). Organize these pages in your menu navigation to make it easy for users to find, such as by having a main “Services” tab with a dropdown menu for individual services.
Disavow Bad Backlinks
Sometimes your website will attract toxic backlinks through no fault of your own. Unfortunately, spam and scams exist on the web. In those cases, you can take steps to disavow these backlinks so they don’t hurt your SEO.
Use Google Search Console to create a disavow file for your website that basically tells search engines not to count these spammy links or domains against you. Once you’re done, Google will assign a “nofollow” tag to them so they will no longer affect your rankings. This is a technical SEO strategy you should utilize on a regular basis to maintain your site’s authority.
Implement Structured Data Markup
Structured data markup (or “schema”) is used to help search engines better understand your content and display it in a specific way in the search results. There are different types of schema you can use on your site which inform users what your content is about and attract clicks from the search results.
We recommend that you add structured data markup to your site so that you can optimize how your content is displayed in search while attracting as many new visitors as possible.
Remove Duplicate Content
If a website has duplicate content, this means that two or more pages have identical or nearly identical content. Having duplicate content confuses Google, as it isn’t sure which page to rank. This can hinder your rankings and organic traffic.
You can use tools like Screaming Frog to identify duplicate content issues. Once you find the duplicate pages, decide which page will be the original page and which pages need to be revised. Most of your pages should have unique content, including unique title tags and meta descriptions.
If your pages must have duplicate content, you can add a rel=”canonical” tag to one of them that lets search engines know which page should be shown in the search results.
Fix “Orphaned” Pages
“Orphaned” pages are pages on your site that have no other page linking to them and are therefore impossible for users to access by naturally navigating your site. They can rank in the search results and you can send users to this content directly, but users will not stumble upon it by accident.
If there are certain pages on your site that aren’t being linked to, this tells search engines that the content is not important. If that’s not the case, you will want to include internal links from other relevant pages and posts on your site.
Create a Mobile Version of Your Website
It is said that over 50% of all search traffic comes from mobile devices (phones, tablets, etc.), so optimizing your website for mobile is super important. This is also an important Google ranking factor.
Be sure to create a mobile-friendly version of your website so that users can access it from any device. This means you can attract more traffic and make it easier for users to find the products or services they’re looking for.
Register Your Site with Webmaster Tools
Enabling analytics on your website means you have access to tons of data about your website traffic, such as how many users are visiting your site, where they are visiting from, what keywords they used to find you, and more.
Having this data at your fingertips will allow you to make informed decisions about your SEO strategy and take data-driven steps to improve your rankings. So, an important technical SEO strategy is to set your site up with webmaster tools such as Google Analytics and Google Search Console to monitor your website traffic.
Submit XML Sitemap
Once you make all of the above tweaks to your website, you should let Google know that you have made these improvements and that they should index the latest version of your site.
This will happen naturally over time, but you can speed up the process by submitting the most up-to-date version of your XML sitemap. You can do this by logging into Google Search Console and submitting your sitemap there directly.
You can usually find your website’s sitemap by going to Settings, finding your site’s Domains and URLs, and accessing your Sitemap file. Then, log into Google Search Console, click Crawl, and select Sitemaps.
Your sitemap maps out the overall layout of your website pages and tells Google which URLs should or should not be indexed. You can choose which web pages should be indexed to directly affect your search engine rankings.
Need Help with Your Technical SEO Strategy?
This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to effective technical SEO strategies, and the strategies you use will greatly depend on your unique website. We recommend getting a comprehensive technical SEO audit to identify any existing site issues and creating an action plan going forward.
Our team at Hennessey Digital can audit your website and make the necessary changes to ensure your website is optimized for organic search. Don’t leave traffic or potential leads on the table by neglecting your website’s technical SEO.