By Henrik Sandberg, Online Media Specialist
How to improve your technical SEO in 2019
Opposed to what you might think, technical SEO is, in fact, not that challenging when you get a hold on the basics. You might already use technical SEO without even knowing it. One of the fundamental things to be aware of is that your website probably has some technical issues. There is no such thing as a perfect website with no room for improvement. Hundreds of issues can be revealed with a technical SEO-audit of your website. A comprehensive study shows that over 80 % of the websites surveyed, had 4xx broken link errors, and more than 65 % had duplicate content issues. The target is to make your website rank better in searches, get more traffic and more conversions. Technical SEO is about fixing the technical errors and issues that the website suffers from.
Here are 12 technical SEO factors which are essential to understand and manage in order to optimize your website the most.
1. The SEO audit
First of all, you need to make an SEO audit of your website. The SEO audit will provide you with insight into the most urgent technical SEO issues. Issues like duplicate content, low site speed, or missing H1/H2 tags. Different tools make it possible for you to automate an SEO audit, and you will be able to solve the issues or warnings as they occur. We suggest you go through your list of issues each month to keep your website as updated and optimized as possible.
Are you in any doubt about how to do an SEO audit? Heyday is happy to help you out.
2. Check HTTPS status codes
As search engines and users not always have direct access to websites that use HTTP-URL’s, changing to HTTPS is a must. The users may risk getting 4xx and 5xx HTTP status codes instead of getting your content. A ranking factor study by SEMrush shows that HTTPS is a powerful ranking factor today and can affect the ranking of your website. Make sure to change, and when you do, remember to redirect from HTTP to HTTPS. Afterward, you need to take a look at other status code errors. Your SEO audit rapport provides you with a list of URL errors, including 404 errors. You can also get a list from Google Search Console, which includes a detailed overview of potential errors. Make sure that the list of errors in your Google Search Console is empty at all times, and that you react on any errors as soon as they occur. Finally, you must be aware of whether the SSL certificate is set up correctly.
If you have not done this yet, Heyday is happy to help you change to HTTPS.
3. Check XML sitemap status
The XML sitemap works as a map to Google and other search engines. It helps the search engines find your different sites, and thus, they can rank them and show them to the end-users.
You must ensure that your website’s XML sitemap meets these guidelines:
- It is formatted correctly in an XML document.
- It follows the XML sitemap protocol.
- It has all the updated pages on your website.
- Send in the sitemap to your Google Search Console.
- Implement the XML sitemap address to your robots.txt file.
Be aware, that your XML sitemap contains all website addresses that return 200 status codes and not redirect to canonical links. Usually, you can check your sitemap by typing “the websites name/sitemap.xml” in Googles address box.
4. Check the speed
The speed of your website is another essential factor to control in your technical SEO audit. According to several studies, over 23 % of all websites have slow pages. The website’s speed is about user experience and affects other core values that search engines use to rank such as bounce rate and time spent on the page. To find the speeds of your website, you can use Googles PageSpeed Insight tool. You just need to type your web address and leave the rest to Google.
You are even able to receive data about speeds for the website for mobile. This has become more important since the rollout of Googles first mobile-first index. Ideally, your speeds need to be less than 3 seconds. If they are any slower, you need to enhance the speeds on your website. High speed on your website will eventually give you a better ranking and thus more visitors and customers.
5. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly
Your website has to be mobile-friendly to improve your technical SEO and thus your rankings in the search engines. You can quickly check if your website is mobile friendly with Googles own tool. Just type the name of your website and receive valuable data about the mobility of your website.
Some mobile-friendly solutions require that you need to:
- Enlarge the font size.
- Embed YouTube videos.
- Compress images.
- Or e.g., use AMP pages.
AMP pages, Accelerated Mobile Pages, is Googles new mobile format. The purpose of AMP is to increase the speeds on websites that use mobile devices.
6. Search word cannibalism
Search word cannibalism can confuse the search engines. E.g., if you have two pages competing with each other with search words, Google has to decide which page is the best. Sometimes Google will show one page, and other times, Google will show the other page. This causes both pages will get a lower click rate, reduced authority, and lower conversion rate than a consolidated page would have had.
One of the most usual pitfalls, when it comes to search word cannibalism, is optimizing the page and the subpage with the same search words, which is pretty common in local SEO. You can benefit from Google Search Console result rapport to look for pages that are competing for the same search words. Use the filter to examine which pages that have the same search word in the web address, or search for search words to check how many pages that are ranked on the same search words.
7. Check your website’s robots.txt-fil
If you notice that it is not all of your pages that are indexed, the first place to look is your robots.txt file. Sometimes the owner of the website accidentally blocks pages from the search engine’s screening. The checking of your robots.txt file is therefore important. When you check your robots.txt file, you need to search for “Disallow:/”. It tells that the search engines cannot screen a page on your website or maybe your whole website. Make sure that none of your relevant pages are blocked by mistake in your robots.txt file. You will find your robots.txt file by type “name of website.dk/robot.txt” in your browser.
8. Do a Google site search
There is an easy way to check how good the search engines have indexed your website. Just type “site:website name.dk” in Google search type. This search will show you all the pages that are indexed by Google, which you can use as reference. If your website is not on top of the list, you might have a Google penalty on your hands, or you are blocking your website from getting indexed in your robots.txt file.
9. Check for duplicated meta description and duplicated site titles
This technical SEO issue is common among e-commerce websites and big websites with thousands of pages. Almost 54 % of all websites have duplicated meta description issues, and 63 % of them are missing the meta description completely. An SEO audit will make you aware of any meta description issues. It takes time to write unique descriptions, but it is all worth it. See it as a free ad for your page, and even though meta descriptions do not have a direct influence on the rankings in search engines, you need to take advantage of it of course.
An excellent meta description can get more people to click on your website, and CTR is an important SEO factor. Opposed to meta descriptions site titles have a direct influence on your SEO. So, while you are checking your meta descriptions for duplicated content, you should take a look at your site titles too.
10. The length of a meta description
While checking all your meta descriptions, you can optimize them by making sure they have the right length. It is not an important SEO factor, but it is a technical SEO tactic which will improve your CTR in the search results. Google has changed the length from time to time, but right now, 160 characters are the correct length. Meta descriptions are actually measured in pixels and not the number of characters. An m-character will, therefore, count for more than an i-character. So, it is a good idea to check the length of your meta description in either a crawl rapport or online from the number of pixels.
11. Check for duplicated content
Duplicated content in meta descriptions and site titles are not the only duplicate content that you have to be aware of when it comes to technical SEO. Almost 66 % of all websites have duplicate content issues. Copyscape is a great tool to identify double content on the internet. There are also alternative tools such as Screaming Frog, Site Bulb, or SEMrush to find the issues. When you get the list of issues, then it is just about getting started reviewing the pages and change the content to avoid any duplicated content.
12. Check for broken links
Any kind of broken link is bad for your SEO. Broken links provide a bad user experience and lead to lower rankings. So, it is important to check your website for broken links. One way to find these links are by checking your SEO audit rapport. The rapport gives a detailed insight into each website that has broken links.
Enjoy optimizing your technical SEO. Remember, Heyday is always ready to help you.