As a website owner or creator, you are no doubt aware of the importance of appearing on search engine results pages. Appearing high on Google when relevant searches are made by users means you have a much better chance of receiving visitors.
Receiving visitors means you have a better chance of selling your services or products, so search engine optimization is as important as ever and even more so as Google changes the way websites are ranked.
While many people are concerned about how high they appear on SERPS there is another consideration for new website owners; getting indexed and a rank in the first place.
What is SEO?
Search engine optimization is the business of taking a website, reviewing and auditing it to find out where problems and bottlenecks may be. It might be that the site contains poor and irrelevant content. Keywords may have been used incorrectly and there may be lots of irrelevant links.
Other areas of concern with SEO are image optimization, is your code minified, and do you have a sitemap.xml and robots.txt? There are over 200 ranking factors for how Google judges where you should be positioned.
Seeing that Google is by far the biggest fish in the search engine ocean you cannot ignore the signals it uses to rank websites.
How does technical SEO differ from this?
Technical SEO is slightly different from SEO. It is still very much part of search engine optimization but it doesn’t concern any of the content on your website and it only looks at your actual site, not any other domains or links.
Technical search engine optimization is more about building a strong base for your website so it can grow. It makes your website easier to be crawled by Google and therefore helps you get indexed and obtain a ranking.
This is important to understand as technical SEO isn’t about getting you to the top of the search engine results. There are many SEO tips for making a business successful, but technical SEO is about obtaining an initial ranking so it is very important to get this right for new websites.
How do you know if Google has indexed your website?
If you have had a new website built for you, you will surely want to know if you are appearing on Google searches. There is a simple way to do this. Open Google and enter the following into the search bar: site:yourwebsite.com replacing yourwebsite.com for your domain name.
If nothing appears in the search results then you are not indexed and at this point, you might want to hire a technical SEO company to perform a thorough audit and review where your site is not functioning as it should be.
What areas does technical SEO concern?
Whether you hire a technical SEO team or make improvements yourself you will need to look at the following 9 areas:
The speed of the website
Search engines can crawl the website
It has a good structure
It has rich data
It contains a sitemap in XML
It is compatible with mobile devices
It has good, working links
It is secure
You will notice that none of these areas specifically targets content or keywords although there is a little crossover due to some new metrics added by Google.
You can read more detail on the first five of these below:
Speeding up your website
This simply means how fast your website downloads and appears on a user’s device, be that a laptop or mobile phone. However, it is becoming far more important in how search engines rank you and Google in particular.
In May 2021 the new Core Web Vitals will come into play for how a website is perceived to be performing according to the user’s experience. This is one area that technical SEO and general SEO will crossover. There must be no bottlenecks in your coding or your content.
Again, back to the user experience. How easy it is to navigate around your website will affect your rankings and how you are shown in search results.
Can Google crawl your website?
You need to include a robots.txt file to make certain that only the areas that you need to be indexed are crawled. This helps Google to understand what are the important parts of the website and which should be ignored.
How is your website structured?
This regards how your website’s content is organized. The way your site is structured will affect how Google reads your URLs and therefore your ranking.
Does it have rich data?
If you use schema.org vocabulary, microdata, and itemscope attributes your site will be indexed easier and properly by Google and other search engines.
What do these areas have in common?
You will notice with the first five sections above none of them are particularly concerned with the content of your site. As already mentioned, keywords, images, and relevant content doesn’t concern technical SEO.
Improving your technical SEO is very much about looking at how your site is put together and the very way it is structured and linked together.
Here are the last four items:
It has a sitemap
This is a very simple part of technical SEO but you would be amazed at how many individuals can overlook this important area. A simple XML file can make all the difference in Google indexing your website correctly.
It must be mobile compatible
Depending on what statistics you look at, it may be that over half of all internet users browse websites by employing mobile devices. Google places great emphasis on having a mobile site so this is an essential part of technical SEO.
How are the links handled?
If you don’t know what broken links are or don’t understand why links can affect your SEO then you will need to increase your knowledge. How your website links to other websites and pages and whether you use ‘nofollow’ links will affect how much traffic you receive.
How secure is your site?
Using SSL or secure sockets layer certificates to increase security on your site can have an effect on your SERPs. Google has advised website designers to use HTTPS and therefore when it comes to filtering search results secure sites may be given precedence over unsecured ones. Also, consider your bounce rate if visitors arrive at your page to find it ‘not secure’.
Using metadata in your site
One last area not included above is the use of metadata. There is some talk that this is maybe not as important as it was before but it is still worth doing properly. The meta description isn’t part of Google’s ranking signals but it is worth having one as it will appear in search results. Other tags that remain relevant are Title, alt-tags, and Robots Meta tag.
This is a very basic introduction to technical SEO and hopefully, you can now see that this is an area all of its own in the overall world of search engine optimization.
There are many things you can learn and improve on your website and if you need to use experts then there are many resources online and professional SEO companies that can review and improve your site.