Technical SEO refers to coding, server, and performance issues that can affect your rankings in search engine results. From a development perspective, consider technical SEO the backend aspect of search optimization, or the parts of SEO the end-user/website visitor doesn’t see. On-site/on-page SEO refers to the frontend aspect (the parts of SEO the visitor can see).
Why is technical SEO important?
Technical SEO ties directly in with aspects of your website that affect user experience. We have proven that website performance effect’s a business’s bottom line. According to Think With Google:
“As page load time goes from one second to five seconds, the probability of bounce increases by 90%.”
If your website visitors bounce, they are not interacting with your webpages beyond loading and then leaving. If they aren’t staying on your webpages for more than a few seconds or clicking on your links, you probably aren’t capturing any leads or making many sales.
The exception would be people who note down your phone number to call later or look at directions without clicking or tapping on them.
A slow website likely means a lower converting website because of the increased user frustration. Low conversion rates lead to high ROI (return on investment) for all marketing and advertising campaigns, including SEO. Ultimately, your department will lose its budget because of a simple fix that could have been handled earlier.
Google places a lot of emphasis on website performance because they want to provide the best experience for individuals who value their search engine. According to StatCounter, as the leading search engine globally, Google has been enhancing their algorithm to include additional website performance metrics referred to as Core Web Vitals.
These metrics will allow Google to place the fastest websites on mobile-first in search engine results pages.
Smartphone adoption in Canada is steadily growing. Canadian consumers research products & services online before carrying out a decision to purchase. Hence, you need your website to position itself on the 1st search engine results page to ensure that your target customers can find your website via local search queries.
Web developers have access to a library of free resources from Google to help build better websites. We’ll discuss the additional tools and resources you need for technical SEO in the next section.
How can I improve my technical SEO?
If you want to improve your website’s design visibility in search engines, and ultimately increase the traffic, you receive from organic search and local search results, start with your technical SEO. The following are common technical SEO issues that can affect search rankings and how to fix them.
Check your website settings.
Suppose you use a content management system like WordPress or HubSpot. A website builder like Wix or Squarespace, or an eCommerce solution like Shopify or Bigcommerce, walk you through all of your settings. Most will have one or more settings related to SEO, including the option to make your website visible to search engines.
If you have a setting like the one above, you’re telling Google via your robots.txt not to index your website. It is great during the development stage, but not after you launch. This is the simplest thing to look for when diagnosing search visibility issues.
Secure your website
During uncertain times, risk mitigation is more important than ever. An important aspect of providing a positive user experience is to provide a secure website experience. If your website is not using HTTPS, competitors will outrank you with their SSL certificates. Check with your web hosting company to get an SSL certificate. Find out what changes need to be made to your Google Analytics to track website visitors and their behaviours on your site.
Add your website to Google Search Console
The next step in any SEO strategy should be adding your site to Google Search Console. This free tool from Google monitors your website’s health in search. While it doesn’t fix your website’s technical SEO issues, it can alert you to the ones Google prioritizes first.
Once you add a sitemap to Google Search Console, you can monitor the number of pages Google adds to their Search Index and how often they are clicked upon in search. (You can also submit your sitemap to other search engines for indexing)
If you don’t see data here and notice Google hasn’t indexed the number of pages submitted in the sitemap, it could alert you to a technical SEO problem. It could be as simple as a robots.txt issue that blocks bots from crawling all of your pages and indexing them in Google’s search database.
Google Search Console will also reveal any errors robots encounter when they crawl your web pages.
You can typically find discussions about specific error messages like the one above. 5xx errors typically mean Google robots are having trouble accessing your page, possibly because of a server that slows down during maintenance or at night.
Other common errors involve page not found errors. When websites are going through a redesign, content is being updated on new pages instead of existing pages, or URLs are being updated without proper redirects.
Missing pages can ultimately lead to user frustration, as they click on links expecting to find information that isn’t there. It can also lead to lost value from any links built to the page which no longer exists.
You can also monitor your website’s Core Web Vitals to determine if your performance meets Google’s benchmarks.
If your website doesn’t have enough data to generate these reports in Google Search Console, you can use the following tool as an alternative.
Check your website’s performance.
PageSpeed Insights is a free tool that allows you to analyze website performance metrics, including the new Core Web Vitals. Use it to reveal your top web pages’ performance and compare it to competitors that outrank you in search results.
This tool will offer suggested opportunities by which you can optimize your website’s performance. Most of the suggestions will be related to coding, imported scripts, and file sizes.
I have been working as a web designer for several years. I’m continually learning better ways to rank websites within reputable search engines. When I’m not working or studying, I’m spending time with my family exploring random activities.