Edging into the world of Technical SEO is no mean feat but it is doable, if you take it one step at a time and follow specific tips from the world wide web!
Which is why we have asked our resident SEO Guru, Dave, for his top 11 tips on technically optimising your website, over to Dave…
Top tip #1: Page Speed!
Slow response times are a pain for anyone, developers, users and everyone in-between.
This one has been an important ranking factor for a while now, so it’s certainly something you should look into.
There are a number of online tools that you can use to test your website and get some great insights into how and where you can make improvements. If you’re not sure on how to complete any of the recommendations, it my recommendation, that you ask a web developer. That way they can show you how they make the improvement and teach you along the way, with less risk of anything going wrong!
Top tip #2: Robots.txt file
The robots.txt file is something that can easily be over-looked but is important in declaring elements that you want search engines, like google, to pay attention to, or over-look, in their indexing process.
Robots.txt files are very sensitive, even case-sensitive so make sure you test yours in Google Search Console. Keep yours all lowercase, also make sure you declare the robots.txt file. Search engines only look in one place for them, so not declaring them in Search Console, suggests that you don’t have one.
Top tip #3: Crawlers can’t always access infinite scroll (just yet)…
Infinite scroll is proving to be quite a popular design trend at the minute and can look fantastic! However, if you go too far with the infinite scroll, search engines do at times struggle to crawl it all. If that’s the case, then some of your content is simply going to be ignored.
To get around this, make sure you add a pagination series of pages in addition to the one long scroll. Make sure you implement replaceState/pushState on the infinite scroll page. Make sure to check your infinite scroll for ‘rel=”next”’, and ‘rel=”prev”’, in the code to make sure it’s set up correctly.
Top tip #4: Sitemap structure
Sitemap structure is not important, as long as you have an .xml sitemap submitted to Google, you will be fine. Adding subcategories etc to your sitemap might make it easier for you to keep on track in terms of what is added and what is not, but it won’t affect how Google or other search engines access and crawl it.
Just make sure you have one and you submit it on a fairly regular basis, and you should be fine!
Top tip #5: Homepage first
Google usually crawls your homepage first. This is in no way a rule at all but is generally how it works.
If you have a large number of links to another part of your site that strengthens that page more than the strength of your homepage then this may not be the case.
Focus on your homepage first and then work through your site.
Top tip #6: Google looks at links differently
Internal and external links are essential in working your way up the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
They are very different though and Google recognises this when crawling and indexing your site. They are now scored differently to the links from your own site. So, keep an eye on your linking structure and profile to ensure you have a good balance of them both.
Top tip #7: Google’s mobile crawler
With the shift to mobile first indexing, it’s more important than ever to know how your site is performing on mobile devices! Using Google’s Mobile Usability Report to find specific pages on your site that may have issues on mobile devices. Another top tool is the Google mobile-friendly test that gives you a solid understanding of how you’re doing.
You should also try and find as many devices as possible and check your site on each, just to be sure.
Top tip #8: HTTPS
This has been an up and coming transference for a while now, but sites that are not secure, (HTTP), are starting to see the difficulties in not updating to the secure counterpart, HTTPS. Over half of the results on page 1 of Google’s SERPs are now HTTPs.
Google Chrome has now started to issue warnings to users that are accessing a non-secure site, stating that the user may be at risk and that those sites are not secure. This message could start o affect he number of people that visit your site and result in reduced traffic numbers.
Top tip #9: Load time
Building more on the speed tip is trying to keep your load time down to a maximum of 2 to 3 seconds. Whilst this won’t impact on your rankings as per, it may impact on your user journey and conversion rates. Any longer than 2-3 seconds may cause users to start to fall off the site and visit elsewhere.
Top tip #10: Canonical tags
Using canonical tags can be very helpful for your site in terms of differentiating between duplicate or similar content and through referring strength throughout your site. These are very sensitive though, make sure you use them wisely as one wrong canonical tag that goes unnoticed, can massively affect your performance in the SERPs.
If you have an old domain that you are no longer using, it makes sense to add a canonical tag to that domain and point it to your new one. That way, you can transfer a part of the old domains’ strength, over to your new site.
Top tip #11: Redirects
Redirects can take a while to take effect in terms of rankings but they should be in place for at least a year to get the full impact from them. Especially 301 redirects! For those pages that had rankings, links and a solid authority, that have been redirected, should probably be in place forever, you don’t want to lose all of that strength!
Taking charge of your technical optimisation is a big step, but I hope these tips help you out a little. If you are unsure on any of these or would like us to help you out, just get in touch. It can take a little time to get your head around some of these if you haven’t delved into this world before, so take your time and work though each one individually, test the results and the impacts to see how your site is going from strength to strength.