Learn how optimizing your technical SEO can change your businesses.
If you’re reading this post, chances are you’ve done your homework regarding search engine optimization (SEO). You’ve likely focused on researching and writing keyword-centric content and even attempted to gain genuine links to your site.
However, optimizing a website isn’t just about writing quality content and trying to earn links. It’s also about covering the basics, such as making sure search engines and users have easy access to your content. This is particularly important to search engines, which frequently crawl and index your site. This form of optimization is known as technical SEO.
It is a field that is becoming increasingly important in 2021. So, what is technical SEO and why does it matter for your rankings? Find out below.
What is crawling?
While you might assume search engine results pages (SERPs) are constantly and automatically updated with the latest content, the sheer size of the internet makes this extremely difficult.
Instead, search engines store all their information about websites in an index which can be used for easy reference when someone enters a query into a search box. This initial inspecting process is known as crawling. This is the stage where the search engine explores a site and looks for any changes, like updated content and new pages.
As well as looking around your site, crawlers examine links going to and from your site to gather additional information. Then it’s processed and added to the search engine’s index. This is called indexing. This stored information is then used to guide people searching for something to the most relevant pages.
How technical SEO helps crawling
Optimizing your site for crawlers (or spiders) is crucial to getting your website to appear in search engine results.
However, a search engine’s crawling technology may not find and crawl through all the pages on your website. That’s where technical SEO comes in to offer a helping hand. For example, website owners can help crawlers gather information by providing a list of website pages, known as a sitemap.
Technical SEO also helps crawlers by making sure they don’t run into errors or reach dead ends. If there are any technical errors on your site blocking pages from being accessed, the pages and content are unlikely to be indexed. As a result, they won’t show up in searches.
Not having a website appear on search engines is rarely intentional and can have dire consequences if ignored. This can be particularly devastating to business owners who may be oblivious to the fact some of their products or services are not appearing on search engine results pages.
To ensure search engines can crawl and index your site properly:
- Build a sitemap. The sitemap is an easy way to give Google the outline of your site and help crawlers know where to look. Follow Google’s guidelines on building a sitemap to ensure its error-free.
- Add canonical tags. These tags are ideal for websites that have lots of similar pages with duplicate content, especially those involved in e-commerce. A canonical tag alerts Google to similar content and points the crawler to the relevant page so it doesn’t waste time going through repetitive pages and ignoring important ones with unique content.
- Check your robots.txt file and robots meta tags. The robots.txt file gives Google simple instructions on how to crawl and index your site, including what should be ignored by the crawler. Robots meta tags take this a step further. This snippet of coding can be easily inserted on your web pages and consists of directions like “no-index” if the webmaster doesn’t want the page to appear on search engine results.
- Optimize for your crawl budget. While most sites won’t have tens of thousands of pages, a very large site can take time fully index. Only so much crawling can be done on a site at any given time, which can mean search engines take longer to add content than you may desire. Having HTML codes that start with 300 (redirects) or 400 (errors) can slow a crawler down and should be corrected, especially if you have a large website with many pages.
By implementing these best practices for your website, you can help search engine crawlers find the content they need, including important pages that will help you rank on search results.
Technical SEO also offers a better user experience
As well as helping Google and other search engines gather information about a website, technical SEO is gradually becoming an important way to boost SEO overall. This is especially true when it comes to user experience, also known as UX.
Just as you might expect, UX is all about offering your website visitors an excellent experience that satisfies their needs. A great UX depends on many factors, including the nature of your website. However, as a rule of thumb, it consists of:
- Accessible and relevant content.
- Easy navigation.
- Fast page-loading speed.
- Minimal pop-ups or ads.
- Visually pleasing designs.
Technical SEO goes hand in hand with content to create a quality user experience. Relevant, reliable and informative content that is easy to access without waiting is highly recommended by search engines.
In fact, Google has dedicated a portion of its algorithm updates to recognize a great user experience with its Page Experience Update in May 2021. This includes measuring websites based on a set of metrics known as Core Web Vitals. While no SEO expert should ever guarantee ranking success based on a single SEO factor, following Google’s recommendation for a better user experience is a step in the right direction.
Technical SEO is a must
Often overlooked, technical SEO may not offer the direct win you can get from writing quality content. However, it makes your site easier to crawl and ensures your site benefits from other SEO improvements.
Take the time to optimize the technical aspects of your site, especially as it becomes an increasingly important way to offer a flawless user experience that pleases both visitors and search engines. If you combine this with quality content and growing site authority, don’t be surprised if your site’s rankings start climbing substantially.