Whether running a business, writing blog posts, or trying to expand your social media presence, you likely have come across the term “SEO,” which stands for search engine optimization. But what is technical SEO, and how does it differ? While technical SEO can be difficult to understand initially, even learning the basics can mean the difference between a website that ranks well and one that barely shows up in search results.
Leveraging the technical aspects of a sound SEO strategy can significantly improve your website URL’s ability to rank and gain organic traffic. While technical optimization is challenging, this guide helps break it down for you in a beginner-friendly way.
- Technical SEO is the act of optimizing a website with various tactics to make it more likely to appear at the top of search engine result pages.
- Technical SEO tactics, like improving site speed and having a site map, help search engines crawl, understand, and index your pages.
- Implementing a technical SEO strategy comes with many benefits, including achieving higher rankings, identifying and removing duplicate content, making crawling easier for search engines, increasing mobile speed, implementing structured data, and making your website more secure.
- Possible technical SEO issues include slow load speeds, duplicate content, unsecured structured data and site files, and poor navigation.
- While there are some easier components of technical optimization, beginners may find some tactics complex. Hiring an SEO specialist can help ensure your site is optimized fully.
What Does Technical SEO Mean?
Technical SEO is when you optimize a website with specific tactics that make it more likely to appear at the top of search engine result pages. These technical SEO tactics help search engines crawl, understand, and index your pages. An action like improving a website’s crawling ability or loading speed tells search engines you have good content.
Technical SEO vs. Off-Page SEO vs. On-Page SEO
If you’re newer to SEO, you might be surprised to learn that there are different types of optimization. While a beginner may find technical SEO the most complicated to grasp, off-page and on-page are more user-friendly. Here’s a look at the differences.
Technical SEO is the process of optimizing the technical aspects of your website in order to make it easier for search engine bots to crawl and index your content. This includes things like making sure all of your pages are properly linked together, fixing any broken links or images, setting up redirects if you move content around, and ensuring your website loads quickly. Technical SEO also involves optimizing for mobile devices and making sure your site is secure. By taking care of these technical issues, you can ensure that search engine bots will be able to easily access and index your content — which will help boost your organic rankings over time.
Off-page optimization refers to activities that are performed outside of your website in order to improve its rankings in the SERPs (search engine results pages). These activities include building a strong backlink profile from other websites that link back to yours, as well as social media marketing efforts, such as creating shareable content or engaging with influencers who have large followings. The main goal of off-page optimization is to build trust and credibility in the eyes of search engines — which can help improve your rankings.
On-page optimization refers to the optimization of individual web pages on your website in order to improve their rankings in the SERPs. This includes things like optimizing titles and headings with keywords, using alt tags on images so they can be indexed by search engines, and making sure all internal links point to relevant pages on your site. By taking care of these details, you help search engines understand what each page is about — which will help increase visibility in the SERPs.
Benefits of Technical SEO
Improving your technical SEO strategy comes with many benefits, including the following:
- Achieve higher search engine rankings: Users can use webmaster tools to increase a site’s ranking for exact search terms. This process will drive more organic traffic to your site’s landing pages, allowing Google to better index your content.
- Identify and remove duplicate content: Canonical tags can help you identify and eliminate duplicate URLs. This process lets you choose the best website URL among multiple versions for a web page.
- Makes crawling easier for search engines: Bots will crawl a page’s URL structure and links to explore your site’s content. You want these bots to be able to navigate your internal links to easily find the most important blog post or content on your site.
- Increases page speed: Most users will leave a desktop or mobile site if it doesn’t load within a few seconds. A slow website means users will take their search queries elsewhere.
- Ability to implement structured data: Structured data helps a website perform more efficiently. This aspect of technical SEO refers to your website’s coding, helping search engines better comprehend your content and multiple pages.
- Makes your website more secure: A technical SEO audit can help identify problems in your URL structure. Besides optimizing search results, a site audit can also improve your website’s security — for yourself and your visitors.
Possible Technical SEO Website Issues
Technical SEO issues are different for everyone. However, the main struggles include the following:
- Slow load speeds
- Having duplicate content
- Unsecured structured data and website files
- Poor user and search engine navigation
- Links that go nowhere or appear as spam
- Messy URLs, like links containing random letters versus keywords
- A website having too much flash
- Using images that aren’t search friendly
Technical SEO Basics
Below, we explore basic technical SEO strategies that can make a huge difference in having your pages rank in major search engines and search traffic.
Let’s first start with how to improve your website’s security. A technically optimized page results in greater security. Having a website that ensures the safety of your users remains a fundamental requirement. You can improve your website’s security in several ways, but our team recommends including HTTPS because it prevents people from interfering with data sent between a site and a browser.
For example, when users log in to your website, HTTPS ensures their credentials are safe and secure. To include HTTPS, you’ll need an SSL certificate. Today, many websites have HTTPS without creators or developers even realizing it.
How to Check if Your Website Is Secure
Checking if your website already has HTTPS is a breeze in most browsers. Check the left side of your browser’s search bar to see if there’s a lock. If there is one, then your site is secure. However, if you don’t spot one, you or your website developer will need to put in some extra work.
Securing users’ credentials is the main advantage of implementing HTTPS. However, doing so also helps your pages rank higher on search engines like Google. Therefore, Google’s algorithm will rank your page faster, and you’ll protect your users’ data.
No one likes a page that takes too long to load. A simple Google search can produce thousands or millions of search results. Even a very specific search like “same-day HVAC repairs near me” can produce never-ending results. A site that takes five seconds or longer to load can feel like an eternity to users. Instead of waiting, they’re more likely to exit and try their luck on a different page, especially when using mobile devices.
Besides frustrating potential customers or clients, slow loading times will also frustrate Google and other search engines. To create a better experience for users, search engines shove slower web pages further down their search results.
Many online tests and site audit tools exist that can help test your site speed, including Google’s Core Web Vitals. Other ways to improve your site’s speed include the following:
- Reduce the number of plugins your site uses by prioritizing only the necessary ones.
- Implement website caching tools.
- Optimize your website’s overall design, including image size.
- Move your site to a different host.
- Minimize how many fonts you use and use modern fonts.
- Implement a technical SEO audit to search for problematic pages like ones with 404 errors.
Crawling and Indexing
Your website should have an excellent internal link site structure that allows web crawlers, or search engine spiders, to better crawl and index your pages. In turn, these bots recommend the best-related pages to show up in search results.
However, there are ways to ensure these bots reach the same content you want to show up in competing search engines. There are places on your website that are essential to its success and functionality. However, you can block search engines from crawling certain pages. The proper index or no-index tags can determine whether or not you want search engines to index specific pages.
You can ensure robots crawl certain pages but prevent them from following any links on that page. You can also prevent bots from showing these pages in search engine results with robots meta tags.
Lastly, you’ll want to properly create and use an XML sitemap. As a file, an XML sitemap lists out every page on your website. Think of your website as a city. Essentially, your sitemap is the ultimate tour guide for your “city” or website. Some sites don’t need an XML sitemap, but unless you have a nearly perfect internal linking structure, it’s best to include one.
You can categorize your sitemap’s crucial details by including categorization tools like:
- Last modified dates
- Pages and more
For users getting ready to launch their website for the first time, you’ll want to submit its sitemap to Bing Webmaster tools and Google Search Console. Using Google Search Console, you can also see how robots view your site.
Implementing structured data markup allows search engines to comprehend your site and its content. For example, this technical SEO aspect can inform search engines about the type of services or products you sell. Armed with these details, you can provide greater information regarding your business’s services or products.
To provide better-structured data, you should add schema markup. This markup is a type of code that further assists search engines and results in understanding your content. When you add structured data, you may qualify for results that feature details or stars, further separating your business from other results on Google and Bing.
If you are a website owner, you want to ensure your website is optimized for mobile devices so people can easily access and enjoy your content.
Mobile users expect pages to load quickly, and page speed is one of the most important aspects of technical SEO in regard to improving your website’s mobile experience. To ensure pages load quickly on both desktop and mobile, you should optimize image sizes, enable browser caching, reduce redirects, minify hypertext markup language (HTML) and cascading style sheets (CSS) files, and use a content delivery network (CDN). These techniques help improve page loading times so visitors don’t get frustrated with slow loading times when browsing your website on their phone or tablet.
You also need to ensure that your website has a responsive design to look great on all devices. A responsive design uses media queries, a CSS technique, and flexible layouts, so all elements on the page are sized correctly regardless of the device being used. This makes it easier for visitors to navigate the site since they won’t have to zoom in or out or scroll left or right just to read the content.
In addition to having a responsive design, your content should be optimized for mobile devices as well. This means using shorter paragraphs, bullet points instead of long blocks of text, larger font sizes for text-heavy pages, etc. Making these changes will help ensure visitors can easily read and digest the content.
AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages)
While AMP isn’t as important as it once was now that Google uses Core Web Vitals, it does still have some benefits. This includes helping to load your content quicker, with many pages loading immediately. Building this type of framework is more straightforward than other options, and most major platforms already support AMP links.
Original and informative content will keep web visitors engaged and appeal to search engine algorithms. But there are some red flags to watch out for when it comes to technical SEO and content quality. The first issue is thin content, which is content that doesn’t provide enough value to a web visitor. Examples of thin content include when blogs, service pages, or articles don’t appropriately target a visitor’s search intent or contain low-quality affiliate content.
For example, say a blog features an article with the headline “How to Optimize a Blog Post,” but instead of having actionable tips that actually teach the user how to optimize a blog post like the headline promises, it has nothing but filler and affiliate links. Google would consider this article to be thin content. Another issue content creators can run into is duplicate content. Having web pages, articles, and blog posts throughout your site with the same content can hurt your ranking in search results.
However, you don’t necessarily need the exact same page with the same copy to have Google mark your page as duplicate content. It’s common to have products or services similar to each other. Finding creative ways to differentiate pages can help prevent this problem. Sometimes, though, it makes sense to have identical content on pages, like a mission statement. Using canonical URLs, you can tell Google what page you want to show up in search results.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Technical SEO Difficult?
If you have web development or content development experience, you may not find technical SEO difficult. However, if you don’t, technical SEO can be a little complex, depending on the tactic. Fortunately, many tools exist that can help you optimize the technical aspects of your site without prior experience. This includes monitoring your site’s overall SEO health, discovering new internal linking opportunities, developing an XML sitemap, checking for potential SEO issues, including 404 errors or broken links, and improving site speed. If you don’t have the time to learn technical SEO, you can look into hiring a specialist.
Why Is Technical SEO Important?
The primary purpose of technical SEO is to help search engines properly crawl and index your pages. While technical SEO can’t magically help you produce engaging content, it can ensure your content reaches the masses. Pages with inadequate technical SEO will fall lower in Google’s search results. Whether you own a business targeting customers within your local community or your business targets customers worldwide, you want to be at the top of Google’s search results.
What Does a Technical SEO Specialist Do?
Fundamentally, a technical SEO specialist optimizes your users’ experiences by tweaking your web pages. Every website has unique needs, and some situations call for a few changes. However, other situations may call for a technical SEO specialist to optimize a website from top to bottom. Differentiating duplicate content, reducing loading times, making a website mobile-friendly, and eliminating bad links are all tasks a specialist may handle.
Technical SEO Is a Must for Site Owners
Now that you know what technical SEO is, you also know that implementing it is vital if you want your website to rank well on Google. By improving your website’s technical aspects, from page speed to your site map, you tell Google your site is high-quality and worthy of being displayed in search results.
The benefits of investing in technical SEO are numerous, from higher rankings to increased traffic and engagement. If you want to improve your website’s ranking on Google, investing in technical SEO is a smart move.
Raymond Li is known for his deep understanding of SEO and ability to develop successful client campaigns. His technical expertise and creativity have helped businesses of all sizes to improve their organic search presence. Ray enjoys playing ultimate frisbee and exploring the local cuisine when not dominating the SERPs for a wide array of juicy keywords.