There are three subsections of search engine optimisation (SEO): on-page SEO, off-page SEO, and technical SEO.
While the first two are all about making your content great and ensuring it’s getting links back from decent sites, technical SEO is slightly different. It focuses on the crawling and indexing of a site’s pages.
It might not be as fun as creating epic content or building links from other sites, but it’s equally as important.
In fact, there are a number of technical things you can do to help Google find and rank your content. If you fall short on even one of them, you might find yourself banished to the depths of page two, three, or worse.
So what should you be doing to get on Google’s good side?
Optimise your website for mobile
63% of internet users access websites via their mobile device, and this number is continuing to grow. In response to this, Google rolled out its very first mobile-indexing project in 2016 that aimed to improve user experience for searchers who were using their devices.
Sites that are mobile-optimised are favoured in Google’s result pages. Start by running a mobile-friendly test to figure out any issues your site has, and then it’s simply a case of putting Google’s best practices into action.
Speed up load time
Attention spans are shorter than ever, and even a few seconds delay in your site loading can put visitors off.
Google actively calculates the amount of time people spend on your pages. If it’s a short amount of time, this indicates dissatisfaction, and the search engine might punish you by pushing your ranking down.
Visitors tend to move on to another search result if a page takes longer than five seconds to load. To find out how you can improve your load time, enter your site’s URL into Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool.
Think about your metadata
Everyone knows that keywords are an important part of any SEO strategy, but simply putting them in the body of your content isn’t enough if you want to get to that much-coveted first spot.
Google’s crawlers scan your metadata for keywords and indexes them according to those. This ultimately affects your search engine ranking.
You need to insert your keywords into key areas of your metadata.
- Title tags
- Meta descriptions
- Heading tags
- Alt tags on images
- Your page URLs
Remove duplicate content
You probably already know this, but Google hates duplicate content with a fiery passion.
Having identical content on the same domain can drastically affect your search engine rankings. While it’s not necessarily a problem for your visitors, it does affect the crawling process and makes it difficult to determine which page to rank for what.
You can fix this by rewriting pages that are the same or delete pages that are replicas of other, more important pages. However, what Google considers to be duplicate content is not always immediately obvious. For example, if the content of your website can be accessed via the www. version of your domain, as well as the version without www., then this might be considered duplicate content. Using canonical tags and 301 redirects can help prevent this.
Provide a secure browsing experience
Security is incredibly important to the internet users of today. According to research, 30% of page one Google results use HTTPS, which signifies the site is secure and safe to use.
In 2017, Google’s Chrome browser began flagging sites as “not secure” if they weren’t using HTTPS in the URL.
To fix this, make sure your site has a valid and correctly configured SSL certificate. You might find the transition pushes you up the rankings by a few spots or more.
Get rid of the 404 errors
A 404 error essentially indicates that a page does not exist. In the search engine world, they are also known as broken links and can affect your Google ranking.
Not only can it hurt your credibility with visitors, but it can also reduce the amount of people that visit your website and increase your bounce rate.
Use a free tool like the Broken Link Checker tool to get a list of all the broken links that are returning 404 errors. You can then change the URLs those links are pointing to if a suitable alternative page exists, or remove the links all together.
Technical SEO is important
If you’ve been focusing on making your content great and finding the right keywords, that’s awesome. But you also need to be thinking about your technical SEO if you want to boost your rankings.
A few quick tweaks could mean the difference between a page two ranking and a ranking in one of the top three spots.