If you’re a website owner or a content creator, then there’s a good chance you’ve already encountered the concept of technical SEO. The basic concept of SEO is building a site and writing content that appeals to search engines so that you can rank more highly and get more eyes on your page. Technical SEO refers to, well, the technical side of that process; it means optimising your site so that search engines don’t have a difficult time crawling it.
So, what can you do to make sure your technical SEO is on point? What are some of the most common errors that website owners and developers make when it comes to technical SEO? Let’s take a look at some common issues in this area and how you can fix them!
A slow page load time is one of the most crippling problems that can affect a website. Page load speed can have a huge effect on customer behaviour; if a page takes more than a few seconds to load, you could lose more than half of your potential visitors. Think about that for a second. People would rather click away and visit a different site than wait three seconds or more for your page to load. It should be obvious why fixing slow speeds is important!
You can fix this by optimising your site for page loads. Compressing images, cutting back on redirects, and caching are all good ways to achieve this, and if you’re talking to web developers about helping you design your site, they’ll probably have lots of other ideas as well.
If your site’s domain reads “http://” instead of “https://”, then you could be in trouble. HTTPS is a secure protocol that ensures your site is secure for visitors. Not having this protocol means that most browsers will display a “warning: potentially unsafe” message before visitors enter your site, and the reason this is bad should be apparent. Most visitors will likely click away from your site and go elsewhere rather than risk their info being stolen, even if your site is completely legitimate.
If you want to make sure your site is ready for HTTPS, then you’re going to need to seek out and purchase an SSL certificate. You can do this fairly easily, and the expense is well worth it, because the benefits of attracting more users vastly outweigh the cost of purchasing the certificate. Think of it as a necessary expense.
Google uses your XML sitemap to help it crawl through your site and all of its associated pages. If you don’t have an XML sitemap, Google and other search engines will find it hard to index all of your pages, which could result in you ranking much lower than you should. You can easily check if you’ve got an XML sitemap; simply type your site’s domain into the address bar and add the suffix “/sitemap.xml”. If you don’t see anything, you need a sitemap.
Usually, your web developer will add an XML sitemap during the process of creating the site for you. If you don’t have one, then there are also SEO plugins and sites out there that can generate XML sitemaps. Again, it’s well worth making one of these for your site, because the benefits in terms of SEO indexing are immense.
Making sure that your site looks good on mobile devices is incredibly important. Studies suggest that around 61% of all web traffic comes from mobile devices, which means that if you don’t have a site that looks good on mobile, you’re potentially losing almost two thirds of your audience before you’ve even started selling your product or service. Again, it should be obvious why this needs to be remedied if it’s a problem that’s affecting your site.
Responsive design is something that should be at the top of your web designer’s list, but if it isn’t or if you’re doing things yourself, make sure that your metadata is up to date and that your mobile pages redirect to special mobile URLs. This is the best way to ensure that your site looks good on mobile.
Does your site have any broken links, i.e. links that lead to pages that won’t load anymore? If so, that could be a serious problem for technical SEO. You need to make sure that every single link on your site works properly, because it’s not just the link itself; it’s every page that leads to that link, including any links on your homepage and any external links as well. That’s why it’s important to always keep an eye on your site’s content so that you can scan for broken links.
To avoid this happening, conduct regular site audits to see if any broken links can be found. If you’re not going to rework or relink to the content from those links, make sure to add a redirect so that they lead elsewhere. If you don’t, then you could be setting yourself up for a big technical SEO headache.
Duplicated pages or content
You might be surprised at just how much of an issue duplicate pages can be. This is especially an issue if you run an ecommerce venture; you might find that listings are duplicated due to linking practices, for instance, or that you’ve got the same page in different languages across international versions of your site. These can seriously harm your technical SEO, because Google will get confused about what your site is telling it and what it should do.
You can fix this by making sure that you follow Google’s tips regarding duplicate content. Redirects are a good idea, and adding rel=”canonical” tags will also show Google that URLs should become canonical. Keep an eye on Google’s advice for these types of issues, too, because it can change quickly and without warning.