Technical SEO is one of the hardest disciplines of SEO to master. No matter what platforms are used in their development, every website is different in one way or another. What technical SEO best practices provide us is a roadmap to make a unique website more search- and user-friendly.
When discussing this topic, I can’t fail to mention the importance of optimizing your website for mobile devices. With smaller screens and less sophisticated hardware, designing a website for mobile must take into account different user behaviors for mobile. This makes the need for the fast page speed, mobile responsiveness, and website security imperative in the quest to compete in organic mobile search.
Here are five important technical SEO considerations for websites in 2019:
According to research, 40% of users will bounce from a webpage that takes three seconds or longer to load. Page speed has always been a critical factor for search engines in sorting through results, but it’s arguably more important in a mobile-first world still reliant on 4G and scattered internet connection.
Google’s PageSpeed Insights offers a free evaluation that scores websites based on how fast they load on mobile and desktop devices. Using the suggestions Google provides, webmasters can implement strategies to help improve the speed and responsiveness of their website. Additionally, I always recommend installing the following tools for your CMS:
• Caching plugins
• Image compression
• Resource minification
Generally, managing image dimensions, using proper image formats, minifying on-page resources, and compressing image files will provide the most positive impact on your page speed. Of course, sometimes page speed errors can be a result of a poor server, which will register as a 5xx error.
Mobile responsiveness runs deeper than just page speed. Webmasters must optimize their CSS for long scrolls, enable the srcset attribute to properly size images, and substitute hyperlinks with buttons to create a seamless mobile experience.
There are many ways to approach mobile design. I’d recommend using a responsive web design within your CMS’s framework and then implementing an Accelerated Mobile Pages plugin. Responsive web design is essentially a mobile-friendly design that scales images and on-page resources to mobile displays. AMP is a stripped down version of HTML designed to deliver lightning-fast page speeds. Both formats work well together to give you a responsive and fast mobile webpage.
Many new websites struggle to get their domain registered in the Google or Bing index for seemingly no reason. Fortunately, an XML sitemap allows us to register our pages in the Google or Bing index by submitting a list of our URLs directly using either of the webmaster toolkits.
Furthermore, we can improve our indexation rate, or the frequency new pages get indexed, by implementing the following strategies:
• Minify on-page resources
• Deep link to isolated webpages
• Increase horizontal linking between pages
• Submit an XML sitemap to search engines
Additionally, improper usage of the noindex or robots.txt tag could be preventing search engine spiders from accessing and indexing your webpages. As a best practice, be sure to call your sitemap in the robots.txt tag to ensure that all disabled pages are not important to your information architecture.
Website Security (HTTPS)
Website security is so important to search engines that not having the HTTP protocol will provide a warning to users who use Google Chrome. Furthermore, Google even gives websites with the HTTPS protocol a soft rankings boost.
For those unfamiliar with hypertext protocol, HTTP facilitates the communication between a web browser and a server. Adding a secure socket layer, or SSL certificate, to your hypertext protocol provides a layer of encryption between users and your website. SSL is recommended for all websites, but especially e-commerce websites that use personal and financial information.
Adding one is as easy as purchasing a certificate through your domain host and adding a card to renew your subscription.
Finally, canonicalizing content on your website to avoid duplicate content can help you better manage your information architecture and preserve your crawl budget. Canonicalization is also important when setting up hreflang tags for websites in multiple languages or countries.
The rel=canonical tag essentially tells search engines which page should be used for ranking. For example, most domains will naturally have duplicate copies of their homepage, such as https://example.com.index.php. But we don’t really want that page showing up as the preferred copy of our homepage in search results.
To fix this, we need to go into the source code of that page and place the following tag in the HTML:
<link rel+”canonical” href=”https://example.com” />
This essentially tells search engines that the original example.com domain is the preferred page between the duplicates.
There are many technical SEO considerations I was unable to cover in this article, such as interlinking, structured data, .htaccess, and much more that are critical to your website success. I encourage all webmasters who are beginning to build a website to research these topics thoroughly and continually track these areas of your website.