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How To Improve Your Technical SEO
The debate regarding the importance and relevance of technical SEO has raged for years. Some have suggested that its significance has dwindled over time, to such an extent as to perhaps have become largely irrelevant in 20203.
But in a simple and irrefutable clarification that’s characteristically his style, Google's John Mueller has finally set the record straight. For anyone who is still in any doubt as to the whole thing, his exact words this past week were:
"Technical SEO is not going away; it continues to be the foundation of everything built on the open web."
Job done - a statement that underscores the enduring importance of technical SEO for businesses seeking online relevance.
All well and good, but what exactly does it mean to excel in technical SEO stakes? Or for that matter, simply cover the basics well enough to run a viable campaign?
The Ongoing Relevance of Technical SEO
While content and user experience are undoubtedly crucial aspects of SEO, technical SEO remains the foundation upon which a successful online presence is built.
Technical SEO encompasses various aspects that ensure your website is optimally structured and accessible to search engines. It’s a process that involves fine-tuning the technical elements of your website to enhance its crawlability, indexability and overall performance.
Key fundamentals of effective technical SEO include:
1. Website Speed and Performance:
- What it means: This refers to how quickly your website loads and how well it performs in terms of responsiveness and usability.
- Why it's important: Users and search engines favour fast-loading websites. Slow-loading pages can lead to higher bounce rates and lower rankings.
- How to achieve it: Optimise images, leverage browser caching, use content delivery networks (CDNs) and choose reliable hosting.
- What it means: Ensuring your website is optimally displayed and functional on mobile devices.
- Why it's important: With the rise in mobile device usage, Google prioritises mobile-friendly sites in its rankings.
- How to achieve it: Use responsive web design, test mobile usability and implement mobile SEO best practices.
3. Site Structure and Navigation:
- What it means: Organising your website's content logically and ensuring easy navigation for users and search engines.
- Why it's important: A clear site structure improves user experience and helps search engines understand your content hierarchy.
- How to achieve it: Create a sitemap, use descriptive URLs and implement breadcrumbs for easy navigation.
4. Secure Website (HTTPS):
- What it means: Encrypting data exchanged between your website and users' browsers to establish a secure connection.
- Why it's important: Google considers HTTPS a ranking signal and it builds trust with users.
- How to achieve it: Acquire an SSL certificate and implement HTTPS on your website.
- What it means: Specifying the preferred version of a URL when multiple versions exist (e.g. www vs. non-www).
- Why it's important: Prevents duplicate content issues and consolidates ranking signals for a single URL.
- How to achieve it: Set canonical tags, choose a preferred domain and maintain a consistent URL structure.
6. XML Sitemaps:
- What it means: Creating a list of all the pages on your website to help search engines index your content.
- Why it's important: Ensures search engines discover and crawl all your pages efficiently.
- How to achieve it: Generate XML sitemaps and submit them to search engine webmaster tools.
7. Optimised Robots.txt:
- What it means: Using the robots.txt file to instruct search engine crawlers on which parts of your site to crawl or avoid.
- Why it's important: Prevents indexing of sensitive or irrelevant pages and optimises crawl budget.
- How to achieve it: Carefully configure your robots.txt file and regularly review it.
8. Structured Data Markup (Schema.org):
- What it means: Adding structured data to your content to provide context and enhance search results (rich snippets).
- Why it's important: Improves the visibility and attractiveness of your listings in search results.
- How to achieve it: Implement structured data markup relevant to your content using Schema.org guidelines.
As some of these technical SEO tasks are (significantly) more complex and time-consuming than others, outsourcing to an established digital agency is the recommended approach. This is often the only way of ensuring total consistency across the full spectrum of technical SEO activities for the benefit of your business.