Technical SEO Checklist: 5 Essential Tips to Implement
Whether you’re an SEO guru or novice, the chances are you’ve heard about on-page SEO and off-page SEO. However, rarely do people mention Technical SEO, which is also a critical component of the SEO ecosystem.
What is Technical SEO?
In simple terms, technical SEO refers to all SEO activities excluding link building and content optimization. It covers following the ever-changing requirements of search engines to improve crawling. If a search engine has difficulty crawling your website, it can’t index and serve it to relevant people in the search engine result pages. As such, your website must be technically sound.
So, what can you do to improve your website’s technical integrity and prevent a negative SEO performance?
Page speed is a critical ranking factor because it’s important for search engines and users alike. Make sure your site is up to standard and find ways to improve site speed. Research shows that users will abandon a site if it loads for more than three seconds, so try to ensure your pages load in 2 seconds or less. Some of the things to look out for to speed up your site include;
- Large HTML page size
- Uncompressed pages
- Redirect chains and loops
Here are some of the ways you can speed up your site:
- Use a fast DNS (domain name system) provider
- Use fast hosting
- Minimize HTTP requests
- Optimize your image files
- Minify your site code
- Compress your web pages
Use SSL (Secure Sockets Layer)
SSL refers to a technology that encrypts information between a browser and web server. Sites using SSL start with ‘https://’ rather than ‘http://’. Failing to use SSL literally tells users that your site is not secure. Search engines, therefore, give preference to secure sites over non-secure ones in search results.
Make your images crisp and sharp by adjusting their sizes correctly. However, it’s important to limit the sizes to the minimum because larger images are not only heavy but also increase loading time. To ensure faster loading pages, you can:
- Enable lazy image loading- this means that if all resources are downloaded except images, the web page appears with a low resolution, which loads as the user reads the page.
- Add responsive images via srcset (this allows for multiple versions of your image, where you can specify which versions would be used when and where).
- Submit an image sitemap
- Compress images
- Choose small image formats such as jpg for photos and png for graphics.
Your crawl budget refers to the number of pages search engines will crawl during a given period of time. You can use Google Search Console to get an idea of what your crawl budget is. For more detailed stats and specifics of the pages search engines are interacting with, perform a log file analysis of your server logs.
Once you have an idea of your crawl budget, you can optimize your crawl budget by:
- Getting rid of duplicate pages and content
- Preventing the indexation of pages with no value to your SEO. You can do this by adding a no-index tag to these pages, or a disallow rule in your robots.txt file.
- Fix broken links
- Keep your sitemap.xml up to date and register it in Google Search Console. This keeps search engines aware of all pages on your site you want to index.
Using canonicalization helps to tell search engines that although there may be certain similar URLs on your site, they aren’t the same. This is critical because whenever search engines crawl many identical URLs or very similar content, it can cause several SEO problems. First, if search engines crawl through too much duplicate content, you run the risk of them missing out on your unique content.
Also, large-scale duplication may lower your ranking. And even if your content ranks highly, you don’t want a search engine to pick the wrong URL as the “original”, as that’s a likely occurrence if you’re not using canonicalization.
Adding a canonical link to the HTML of a page, for example, tells Google that you know there are several similar pages, but you would like search engines to only index and serve the main page. Using canonicalization, therefore, helps to communicate with search engines and control your duplicate content.