Technical SEO [The Ultimate Guide 2021]
Technical SEO refers to the process of checking and rectifying the On-page SEO and Off-page SEO activities of your site for the crawling and indexing phase. If the technical SEO of your website is not right, then your site is likely to lose its ranking very soon, and you do not get the desired SEO results.
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What is Technical SEO?
You can’t clap with one hand. Right? In the same way, you can’t move further with your website unless you follow all the techniques of SEO, including technical SEO. Most of the beginners don’t know that there exists something termed technical SEO. They only know about On-page SEO and Off-page SEO.
To understand technical SEO, you need to be clear with the concept of what is SEO? In simple words, SEO is the process of optimizing the web pages for higher ranking.
The main thing that you have to keep in mind is that once you have done the on-page and off-page SEO, keep a check on whether everything is going fine with your website. It is known as technical SEO. All three SEO types have to work together to have the best results.
How to Perform a Technical SEO Audit?
You might not know that your website is having tens of broken links, images with no alt tags, pages with bad AMP, your website might be badly broken and you have no idea about this. There might be several crawling errors that you can’t find out unless you perform a technical SEO audit.
In this technical SEO guide, we are going to give you a step by step technical SEO checklist which you must use in 2021 to get better and faster results. Don’t let a small error spoil the user experience and confuse the search engine.
17 Step Powerful Technical SEO Checklist to Follow in 2021:
1. Https (SSL Secured)
Whether it’s a website or a blog, it needs security. You can use SSL (Secure Socket Layer) to protect your site. It keeps the data secure between the two systems (which can be a server or a client). It provides privacy, security, authentication, and data integrity for the admin as well as the user.
If you install SSL for your website or blog, then your site runs using HTTPS, not with HTTP. SSL uses the encryption algorithm to hide the data from unauthorized access.
HTTPS with your website URL ensures that your website is secured and has an SSL certificate. Google gives more preference to HTTPS sites than HTTP sites.
2. Mobile-Friendly Website
Out of all the internet users, 60% are mobile users, which means that 60% of traffic comes from mobile devices, which indeed is a high number. That’s the reason why it is crucial to make a mobile-friendly website.
Google considers the responsiveness of a website as an essential factor for its ranking. If you don’t have a mobile-friendly website, your rankings inevitably suffer. Mobile-friendliness includes that the page should load faster. The font and menus should be according to a mobile user.
You can check the percentage of how friendly your website is on mobile devices using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test Tool. These tools give you a complete analysis of how your website runs on mobile devices. In addition to this, they show the problems and ways to rectify them.
3. AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages)
You must have come across the term AMP hundreds of times while Googling for SEO. Google introduced AMP to make the mobile web even faster. The question here is, what exactly is Accelerated Mobile Pages? AMP uses a unique code of HTML that is AMP HTML (which is a different version extracted from HTML), which aims at providing high speed for the delivery of the content on mobile devices.
If your web pages are the AMP versions of the site, then they undoubtedly load faster on mobile devices than they used to. AMP versions of pages have higher dwell time, backlinks, and more traffic as compared to non-AMP pages. It also increases your mobile CTR rates.
Also, Google gives more preference to AMP pages. Implementing AMP is not merely an easy task, but it’s not difficult either. If something is ensuring more traffic for your site, there is no problem in learning and implementing it.
If you are a WordPress user, you can install the AMP plugin for automatically enabled all pages in AMP.
And, you can use Google AMP Testing Tool to check whether your page is AMP-enabled or not. It’s one of the best free SEO tools.
4. Structured Data
Structure data (known as schema data) helps the Google search engine to understand the web page in a much better way. It is not visible to the users. It is used by the search engine to crawl the web page and understand it better.
You can provide all sorts of information regarding the web page. The web page with the schema data has more chances of appearing in the featured snippets than the ones without structure data.
Most people are not good at coding, and structured data can be made by coding. Does this mean that there is an end to structure data for you? Well, the answer is no because SEO tools are for this purpose.
You can use the JSON-LD tool to create the schema data and the Structured Data Testing Tool for testing it. In the JSON-LD tool, you only have to fill in the details about your web page, such as author name, URL, image URL, meta description, title, log, and it converts the details entered by you to code.
5. Set Preferred Domain Version
When you set up your blog or website, you need to set up a preferred domain version of your website also. By doing this, you inform the search engine that which version of the domain you are going to use throughout the lifetime.
Every domain has four versions HTTP with www, HTTP without www, HTTPS with www, and HTTPS without www. A preferred domain is the one that you want everyone and Google to see.
If a user enters any version of your domain in the search engine, he redirects to the preferred version of your domain set by you.
The main reason why the preferred domain has to be set is that it prevents the website from duplicity.
Suppose you have posted the content on https://www.example.com. If you have not set the preferred domain, the post appears on all four versions. It leads to duplicity, loss in page rank, and Google penalizes the website.
You can choose any one of the domains of your choice. You can set the domain using Google Search Console. If you are going to create your website on WordPress, you get an option while installing WordPress to set a preferred domain.
6. Page Speed
Page loading time or Page Speed is another essential factor in website ranking. People these days are impatient. They switch to other sites soon if they find that web pages taking time to load. A user hardly waits for 3 to 5 seconds for a website to load.
Faster websites rank up much faster than slower websites. Website speed requires you to technically make specific changes to your site and its architecture for better results. Generally, you can optimize the size of your images, use a caching plugin, not using heavy themes, minimize the use of plugins to increases the speed of your website.
7. XML Sitemap
An XML sitemap is an XML file that is an organized structure containing the list of all the pages or posts present on your website. Every website should have an XML sitemap of its own because it helps the search engine to explore or crawl the website easily.
XML sitemap ensures that search engines do not miss even a single important thing on our website. Crawlers use the sitemap to highlight the site’s key elements.
You can add the web pages as per your wish. If you don’t want the web page to be crawled, don’t add it to your XML sitemap.
As a suggestion, don’t add tags, author pages, or pages that have no original content in your sitemap. Keep updating your sitemap whenever you add a new web page to your website.
You can use an XML sitemap generator or Yoast for creating the sitemap of your site.
Robots.txt file is essential as per crawling and indexing basis. You can give the robots or search engines instructions about which web page they should crawl and index and which web page they shouldn’t. In the robots.txt file, you add the list of URLs that you don’t want to be crawled by the search engine bots, crawlers, or spiders.
There are only two things that you have to mention in the robost.txt file. One is the user agent, and the other is the URL of the web page, which you don’t want to be crawled.
The basic format of the robots.txt file is:
User-agent: [name of user-agent]
Disallow: [URL which you don’t want to be crawled]
9. Website Structure
Easy to understand website format is the first impression on a user. A good site structure ensures a good user experience and increases the chances of ranking up. The fonts, menus, headings, colors, images, designing everything add up to the site structure.
If your site is more appealing to the users, there are higher chances of more dwell time and CTR. Google considers these two factors the most while ranking your website.
Internal linking should be done well because it offers better navigation for users. Site structure requires accuracy in the organization and smart designing. Before designing your website plan, think of how, as a user, you would like to use a site. Keep it simple and easy to understand.
Breadcrumbs should be present for better indexing. They are an essential part of a good website. It tells the location or path of a web page. They are helpful for the user because they say to the user where the web page is present on the website. Breadcrumbs also help the user to move to the homepage of the website. The significant advantage of using breadcrumbs is that they enable users to explore your site and reduces bounce rates.
For example, consider that you have searched for what is SEO, and the search result includes a web page of lazyearning.com. You find https://lazyearning.com > seo > what is seo
Here the breadcrumbs are showing the complete path, which means that “What is SEO” is inside a category SEO.
If you are a WordPress user, you can use various plugins for setting the breadcrumbs. Popular WordPress themes also have the pre-built breadcrumbs feature.
11. Content Optimization
Content optimization requires significant attention because, after all, it is going to play the most critical role in ranking. You need to keep in mind that the content should not contain any duplicity. It should be unique. It should have optimized images for faster loading, and alt tags so that related text can appear if images don’t load due to any issues.
The content should be in such a way that a 13-year-old should easily read it. Use the focused keyword for a minimum of 4 times and also use it in the heading tags correctly. Add the relevant internal links to your content. Regular paragraph breaks must be there in the content.
You can use the Grammarly tool for checking the accuracy, grammatical errors, plagiarism, and readability of your content.
12. 301 Permanent Redirection
301 redirection refers to moving a web page to a new location permanently. If you have deleted a web page and there is a presence of a broken link. You can use 301 redirections and redirect the URL to a new location.
301 redirect sends the users to a different web page than the one they have requested. It maintains the site’s domain authority.
301 redirection is also a trick used by SEO experts to direct traffic to other web pages or websites owned by the same person. The 301 redirects prevent the website from bounce rate and increase the dwell time on a particular site.
Google crawler checks for every link. Therefore, a 301 redirection adds up to the site value.
13. 404 Error Code
404 page not found is shown to the user when the URL on which the user has clicked is not available on your website. It might have happened either because the admin has renamed or removed the web page or done a slight change in the URL and forgot to do the 301 redirections for that particular URL.
You can fix 404 pages using a personalized message and a custom page. For example, you can add the word like a web page under construction or give a permanent 301 redirection.
You should build an optimized 404 page. Here you should give the alternatives to the user, provide an option for moving to the previous page or homepage.
It is advised not to waste must time on the 404 pages. Add a message to the users.
14. Identify Crawl Errors
Googlebot tries to visit every web page present across the internet. This process is known as crawling. Because of crawl errors, the Googlebot fails to reach a page, and a web page is neither crawled nor indexed.
Google divides the crawl errors into two categories:
- Site Errors– Site errors are those errors that occur when Googlebot is not able to visit the entire website. There are three site errors: DNS Errors, Server Errors, and Robots failure. For example, robots.txt and breadcrumbs errors.
- URL Errors– URL errors are those errors that occur when a Googlebot visits a specific web page of the website. The URL errors include mobile-specific URL errors such as AMP Issues, Malware Errors, and Google News Errors.
Site errors and URL errors have given you an idea of why it is essential to identify and fix the crawl errors. You can use Google Search Console (earlier known as Google Webmaster Tool) for finding the crawl errors. GSC is a free and easy to use SEO tool.
Firstly, you have to open the GSC and enter the domain address of your website in the “Add property” section on the left corner. After that, you only have to enter the URL of your website, and GSC does the complete analysis of that particular website.
It provides you with a report on crawling errors. In addition to this, it sends you an email consisting of a list of mistakes.
15. Fix Broken Links
Broken links (known as dead links) reduce the ranking of the website. When Google spider crawls your web page, and if it finds a broken link, this becomes a factor of a decrease in ranking of your website. What frustrates the user more is landing on a page which doesn’t exist at all. And if your user isn’t happy, consider it as Google not being the happy one too.
Broken link arises due to a specific change in URL, renaming or removing a web page, linking to a third party page, and not knowing if they have removed the web page. To prevent broken links, you should redirect the URL of the web page.
Finding them and fixing them is what you need to do if you want to maintain the ranking of the website. Broken links can harm the website traffic. Fix the broken links before someone finds the opportunity to steal them from yours.
If your website is on WordPress, you can use the broken links checker plugin for finding the broken links and fixing them.
16. Fix Duplicate Meta Tags
Google reports that every web page should have a unique meta tag. Websites are known for their uniqueness and maintain them is essential.
If there is more than one page with the same title on your website, they are going to compete with each other. Hence, making your entire effort zero.
Google Search Console gives you the report if there are duplicate meta titles and duplicate meta descriptions on your website. If there are some URLs with similar meta tags, you can change the title of the web page to fix the duplicity issue.
Most of the time, duplicity arises due to the four versions of the domain. Therefore, use the canonical URL to fix this problem.
You might not be penalized, but keep this thing in mind that your ranking suffers.
17. Use Reporting Tools
You can’t continue your journey of SEO without the tools. You should use reporting tools like Google Search Console, Google Analytics, Google Tag Manager, Google Data Studio, Structured Data Testing Tool to check and collect data related to the SEO of your website.
All Google SEO tools are free and easy to use. They provide you with a detailed analytical report of all the pages of your website.
These tools allow you to keep an eye on the performance of your website.
Starting from how many active users are there, the primary audience is of which region, crawl errors to bounce rate, everything can be identified using GSC and Google Analytics.
The significant advantage of using the reporting tool is that you get to know what is happening with your website from time to time and fix it before it is too late.
Technical SEO consists of many strategies that should be used to optimize the website for crawling and indexing purposes.
SEO is not that easy. Just like every work to be successful, it also requires hard work and patience. Wait for a couple of months, and reap the sweetest fruit of your hard work. Implement On-page, Off-page, and technical SEO side by side for better results. Don’t miss even a single strategy of SEO techniques.
Do let me if this article was informative? Which are your favorite technical SEO techniques? Do let me know in the comment box.
Originally published Jan 2, 2020, updated Jan 24, 2021