Whether preparing for a new site launch or auditing a site’s health, technical SEO takes a behind the scenes look at various elements that can make or break a site’s performance. There are a number of technical variables at play, but some are more common than others. Below we share five technical SEO tips that address common hurdles that can limita site’s ranking potential.
Evaluate Site Performance
More specifically, GTmetrix is particularly useful for optimizing site load speed. This in itself has become a major Google ranking factor, especially for mobile. With Google’s mission is to serve users the best experience possible, it rewards fast loading websites that offer a quality user experience.
Conversely, slow sites that take awhile to render will not likely realize their full SEO potential. In addition to GTmetrix, there are a couple other tools worth exploring to scan and optimize your site’s speed and performance. These are Google PageSpeed Insights and Web.Dev, both of which provide easy-to-follow insights that don’t require an SEO expert to translate.
Pinpoint Crawl Errors & Technical Issues
Crawl errors occur when a search engine attempts to reach a page on your website but encounters technical issues inhibited it to do so. There are several different types of crawl errors that can weaken a site’s performance. So if you encounter crawl errors, it’s important to fix them in a timely manner.
With the help of tools like Google Search Console, Raven Tools, or, SEMrush, you swiftly identify technical issues that may be hindering a site’s SEO performance. This may include crawl errors like broken or dead links (404 pages), as well as duplicate content issues, like redundant Meta data. It is recommended check for crawl errors and duplicate content issues as part of your site’s regular maintenance schedule.
Canonicalize Your Pages
One common problem that can plague SEO is when Google crawls and indexes multiple versions of the same page. It’s not uncommon for some sites to have upwards of 3-5 different URL versions of the same page. As a result, these pages step on each other, confuse Google, and dilute a site’s SEO potential.
When this problem occurs, it’s usually the result of clunky content management system or faulty server setup. For example, one website might have the 3 versions of its homepage:
To a search engine, the above is interpreted as three separate pages. Not only does this create search engine confusion, but it can sometimes makes the site appear spammy or low quality with duplicate content present.
The fix for this is canonicalization. Most efficiently added with WP plugins like Yoast SEO, by using the canonical tag, we can “canonicalize” or define which URL version we want to prioritize as the primary page. This will help discredit other very similar URLs and pages.
Assess Robots.txt File
The robots.txt file is another search engine communication tool that allows webmasters to specify which areas of the website should not be crawled. In this file, certain URLs can be disallowed, preventing search engines from crawling and indexing them. URLs listed as “noindex” or do not index in the robots.txt file will be dismissed, helping you further prevent shallow or duplicate content issues. It can be a great tool to use in conjunction with the canonicalization exercise above.
Like most things with SEO, robots.txt is a file that typically sees constant tweaking over time. It’s smart to evaluate a site’s robots.txt file to ensure it aligns with your SEO objectives and to prevent any conflicts from arising. In rare, devastating cases, there may be URLs listed that you do in fact want indexed.
Lastly, it’s recommended to review the robots.txt file for a reference to the site’s XML sitemap. Most agencies proficient in technical SEO will do this when major changes are being made to a site. If your sitemap structure gets updated, as in the case of site redesign, it’s imperative you update the reference in the robots.txt file as well.
Integrate Schema Markup
If you’re looking for a competitive SEO edge, integrating Schema (or structured data markup) may be it. Schema has become all the buzz in the technical SEO community, and for good reason. In short, Schema is unique form of markup that was developed to help webmasters better communicate a site’s content to search engines.
From address and location information to customer reviews and ratings, with Schema, you can define certain pieces of content so that Google and other search engines can properly understand what it means. As a result, your site can have advantages in the search results with rich snippets, expanded meta descriptions, and other eye-grabbing elements that can offer a competitive edge.
Google Search Console will also log any errors it sees with structured data, and provides a validation tool to help you when adding the markup to your site’s content. Visit Schema.org for more information about the different types of Schemas and properties.