If you’re nervous about techy tasks on your website, don’t let the title of this post fool you. Technical SEO refers to the foundation of your website, but many of these tips to improve your technical SEO are actually very simple to implement. So, roll up your sleeves and let’s get to work!
When we think about SEO (search engine optimization), we often think about using the right words. However, SEO isn’t just about using keywords and making sure your site contains the magical words your target audience is searching for. It’s also about optimizing your website as a whole to make it appear trustworthy, reliable, authoritative, and easy to navigate for your site visitors and search engines. That’s where these tips to improve technical SEO come in!
Search engines (like Google!) use an algorithm to rank websites by several different factors to determine a website’s expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness. It’s important to check the following areas of your site regularly to make sure your website remains in good standing.
Cover the Security Basics
Website security is obviously important, but it’s also a major tip to improve technical SEO. Addressing your website security will improve your website’s stability, your user experience, and your rank.
Note: When you purchase one of my WordPress packages with hosting, I take care of all this for you.
Assign a SSL Certificate
Is your site safe for people to enter their personal information when needed? Search engines verify this to determine whether your website is secure as factor in search result ranking. Web browsers also notify users if they should be concerned about their information being compromised or stolen with an alert when they try to visit an unsecured website. If you saw this warning, would you proceed to the website? I wouldn’t!
Website security is done through a Secure Sockets Layer, SSL, which enables an encrypted connection between a user’s computer and your website through the use of third-party issued SSL certificates. These are obtained through a Certificate Authority (CA) and then installed and activated by your web hosting provider.
That’s a bunch of fancy technical lingo, but it basically means your website needs a stamp of approval that says it has an extra layer of protection for visitors.
SSL is a necessity for all websites’ SEO, but even more important when your website is used to take in personal information (credit card information, usernames, passwords, etc.). You don’t want your customers to be worried about their personal information or hesitant to purchase from you because of it.
You can verify your certificate is up-to-date by navigating to your website beginning with https:// in the address bar. If the lock symbol appears next to the web address it means your SSL certificate is valid.
Redirect to HTTPS://
Your users should always be served the secure https:// version of your site, even if they don’t type it that way in the address bar. This step is important to your site’s technical SEO because one way search engines judge your site’s trustworthiness is by how secure it is.
You should verify that your site redirects any unsecured URL requests to the secure version of your site. For example, if a user types an insecure website address in the search bar (design.christifultz.com, http://design.christifultz.com, or www.design.christifultz.com), your site host should automatically redirect the web browser to the secure version https://design.christifultz.com. You can do this by enforcing security settings with your website host.
Finally, make sure you always share and internally link pages using the https:// URL format to avoid ‘mixed content’ errors.
Assess Your Site Structure
Another aspect of technical SEO is how well search engines are able to crawl your website to discover all the information it has.
Web crawlers (like Googlebot) “crawl” from one web page to another through links to discover new posts, pages, and sites they’ve never seen before. This information is cataloged and indexed to become the database search engines use when displaying search results.
Create Solid Site Layout
The structure, or architecture, of a website determines how quickly and easily the crawlers are able to navigate your site and discover your content. Site structure is also important for the way readers navigate your site while browsing.
No page of your site should be an “island” on its own. Every page should have internal links connecting them together as readers (and search engines!) hop from page to page. Ideally, each page of your site should be one or two clicks away from your home page.
For example, look at my main navigation bar. The top level links are all “core” content that’s most important. Dropdown links provide more information. Then those sub pages also include additional internal links to reach my additional pages.
When your site is structured this way, crawlers can easily move through your content. They can also efficiently identify your content groupings, which helps your content rate higher for topical authority.
A sitemap isn’t necessary for search bots to discover your site, but it does make it easier. A sItemap is like a blueprint providing an overview of all the pages on your site and how they are connected to each other. It also provides information about last modified dates, which can have a bearing on SEO rankings for ‘freshness.’
Sitemaps are helpful for you because they help identify island pages (pages not internally linked on your site) and identify pages that are supposed to be non-indexed but are still showing up.
Step 1: Create a sitemap
WordPress will create a simple sitemap, but I recommend using the Yoast SEO plugin too. It will create the sitemap for you and update it automatically as you add new pages, posts, and e-commerce items.
Once your sitemap has been created, you need to let Google know it’s available to speed up the crawling process. If you wait for your site to be discovered organically, it may take a while and you won’t appear in any search results until it does. So let Google know you’re site is there ASAP!
If you want to view your sitemap first to check for errors and verify it exists, it is usually found at yoursitename.com/sitemap.xml. This will allow you to see if any pages are missing (which can happen if they are not properly linked). It can also allow you to confirm that the pages you don’t want to be indexed are hidden correctly.
Finally, log in to Google Search Console (GSC) and navigate to ‘Index – Sitemaps’ in the sidebar. Enter your sitemap URL into the “Add new sitemap” field and submit.
You can check to see if your site is available in Google search results by typing your website name into a search box using an incognito browser.
Now that your site’s basic architecture is taken care of, let’s move on to content.
Writing your website content isn’t a “one and done” task. If your goal is website longevity, you will need to set aside time to routinely update it.
If you have a new website, you can skip this step. However, if you have an existing site then it’s time to clean up old content.
The easiest place to start is removing posts and pages that are no longer relevant, like outdated linky parties, closed giveaways, and expired sales.
Sometimes outdated content still has potential though. For outdated pages that you want to keep, you have two choices:
- refresh the original post/page
- replace it with a NEW post/page and provide redirect from the old link to the new one (to prevent broken links)
This is best done on an individual basis. Assess the post/page that needs an update. Is it still serving its initial purpose? Does it still achieve the goals you need it to? If it was last modified several years ago, is the content still relevant?
Once you decide which course of action to take, update it with the following SEO best practices in mind:
- Does the featured image/thumbnail match your current branding?
- Are the categories still applicable? Many older posts may have been created before you created a solid site structure.
- Do you need to adjust the keywords? If the post isn’t ranking as well as you’d like, it might need an SEO refresh.
- Does it have an accurate meta data description?
- Should some sections be rewritten? I personally have to update some of my posts as best practices evolve.
Refresh Core Pages
Your core pages are the main pages linked in the navigation bar. For most simple sites, those are Home, About, Blog, Shop, and Contact. It might also include a main sales page (landing page), portfolio, or “Start here” page.
Is your website bounce rate too high? Are readers leaving your site before they even get started? Does your website’s homepage fall flat? Do you feel like you’re missing out on potential customers because your page just doesn’t grab their attention? If any of those ring true, it’s time to transform your homepage with these eight important website homepage elements. Be sure to read all the way to the bottom for more bonus SEO tips too!
Just like all the other content on your site, your about page should be written with relevant keywords. You should evaluate your about page for updated photos, dates, timelines, additional experience, etc. Not sure what to include on your about page? Read this post!
If you don’t have a blog on your website, get started on that today! Blogs contribute to the SEO of your website by increasing your topical authority when you consistently post valuable and reliable content for your target audience.
Crawlers read, analyze, and recognize the keywords of your blog content and index your pages accordingly. When Google indexes multiple pages related to a content area, your expertise factor increases as well. This will lead to your site ranking higher in those search results over time.
Your contact page should also be written with keywords related to your business to help users connect with you. This is a nice place to add social media links too.
If you’re a local business, an embedded Google map will allow search engines to connect local visitors to your business when they are searching for keywords plus the phrase ‘near me.’
The best way to convert a lead to a sale is through your landing pages. When you create landing pages following SEO best practices you will rank higher in search results, reach your target audience faster, and drive conversions.
Be selective with your keywords here, so you show up in search results for exactly what you’re selling. Utilize URL slugs so bots can have a better understanding of what your landing page is about and index your page correctly.
Clean Up Content
When you’re evaluating your pages, also remove or link any “islands” you find that aren’t linked anywhere else on your website. You can also check for duplicate content during this audit to see where it makes sense to combine similar pages.
Bonus Tips to Improve Technical SEO
These three tips to improve technical SEO will make a big difference and are relatively easy to implement.
If you’re ready to give your page an additional boost, these techy tips can help!
Make It Mobile Friendly
If your site isn’t mobile friendly, it can affect your website ranking and bounce rate when users experience poor usability on their phones. This free tool can check your mobile friendly results. Responsive website design has come a long way, so if you’re running an older site it might be time to change your theme if you are finding this to be an issue.
Check Page Speed
Are your pages loading quickly according to core web vitals? Faster loading pages tend to have lower bounce rates, which increase the likelihood of conversions because visitors stay on your site longer. If your website isn’t passing, you can edit your design, adjust caching, evaluate plugins, upgrade hosting, etc. to help improve speed.
However, don’t stress over achieving only green scores. Balance your work between scores and actual user experience. Focus on creating a site for excellent human experience, but also take suggestions to improve page speed into consideration.
I Can Help You improve Technical SEO
SEO takes time to get right, but following the tips to improve technical SEO above will provide a solid foundation. If you get stuck, reach out to me for help. When you work with me, I become your digital marketing business bestie; one point person who helps you get it all done and saves you time.