When most people hear “SEO,” or “Search Engine Optimization,” they probably think of keywords, meta descriptions, and written content. But the reality is that’s just one part of SEO. The other, just as important, part is technical SEO.
Technical SEO serves as the base on which the rest of an SEO strategy is built. If your site’s technical SEO isn’t up to snuff, it’s going to be harder for your site to rank on search engines regardless of how stellar your keywords, meta descriptions, and articles are.
Think of SEO as climbing a mountain. Reaching the summit is achieving the top spot for a given search term. Anyone can climb the mountain. But without the right equipment and training, they’re unlikely to make it very high up. Technical SEO is the mountain climbing equipment that will help you reach the top of the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages).
Some important technical SEO tasks to be aware of include site structure, schema, page speed, image optimization, and SSL certificates. This article will cover the basics of each and how they impact your ranking.
Structuring Your Site for Success
How your site is structured is an important aspect of technical SEO. Your site needs to be easy to use and understand for both human visitors and search engine indexing robots.
Page hierarchy lets people and bots figure out how the pages on your website are related. It’s a way of grouping pages based on their shared topic.
A site about mountain climbing might have top-level pages on mountains and climbing gear. Beneath the mountains page, there may be sub-pages on different mountains. And below the climbing gear page, there may be sub-pages on different types of gear.
The relationships between pages are important for two reasons. First, they allow users to quickly find the information they need. If you’re looking for mountain climbing gloves, you know to look in the glove sub-page under climbing gear. And second, it adds context to pages for search engines.
Site navigation should be simplified so that visitors can easily find the information, products, or services they came to your site looking for. The faster they find what they need, the more likely they are to convert into paying customers.
Additionally, you also want to make your site easy for bots to navigate for indexing purposes. If you have orphan pages – pages that aren’t linked to from anywhere else on your site – bots are unlikely to find and index them.
A good rule of thumb is to have every page on your site no more than 3 clicks from the home page. This will make it easy for visitors and bots to navigate to the pages they need, especially if page hierarchy is properly implemented.
Sitemaps are used to help search engine bots find new pages on your site easier. They also help bots determine page hierarchy.
Internally linking between the pages of your site adds additional relevance to your pages. This further helps bots figure out how pages on your site relate to each other. And for visitors, it provinces access to additional information they may want. A page on hiking boots may also mention gloves and link to a page on gloves.
Adding Context with Schema
Schema is code for bots. It helps bots figure out what your page is about. For example, you can use travel schema on your blog post about the best places to mountain climb in your state.
Google also uses schema for “rich snippets” within search results. These are extra ways to get your site in front of prospective customers and clients. If you have ever searched for something and were shown a paragraph, list, chart, etc. above the main search results, that’s a rich snippet.
Increasing Your Page Speed
Page speed is an important ranking factor. Google prioritizes pages and sites that load quickly. But that’s not the only reason to want a faster site. User bounce rate – the rate at which users leave a site without interacting with it – increases with page load time. The longer your pages take to load, the more customers you lose.
Streamlining the code of your site is one way to increase page speeds. Minifying code, reducing unused code, and caching code are all ways to achieve this.
Serve Images Effectively
The images on your site can also increase load times. One simple way of combatting this is to use more compact file types and sizes. Images can be compressed into smaller file sizes while still maintaining quality. And some image types, such as SVGs are better for things like logos.
Content delivery services are also helpful. They’re third-party services that are used to store and serve images, thereby reducing bloat on site pages. We currently use Imgix for this.
Many content delivery services also have lazy loading as an option. This is when images only load as they enter a user’s view. With lazy loading, all the images on a page aren’t loaded upfront, reducing initial page load times.
Optimizing Your Images for the Web
There are also other ways to optimize images beyond simply serving them effectively. Adding alt text to images, using descriptive file names, and creating original content can all impact your rankings – especially within image searches.
Alt text is important for two reasons. First, it helps Google understand the content found within your images. Google can make educated guesses regarding what’s in your images. But alt text tells Google exactly what’s in the images.
Second, alt text is how people who rely on screen readers “view” the images on your site. A user may not be able to see your picture of a mountain on your site. But by adding the alt text “mountain” to the image, you can let them know what it is.
Descriptive File Names
Descriptive file names are another way to help Google understand the context of your images. If you have a product image for a pair of snow boots, label the image accordingly, such as Snowboots.jpg.
Lastly, using original photos – as long as they’re high-quality – is better than using stock photography. Of course, stock photography isn’t always bad. The images in this article are all stock. But when it comes to how your home page and products/services, it’s always better to show off images of your own.
Your imagery is just one way your company stands out from the competition. Both Google and your site visitors would rather see unique photos than the same stock photos your competitors are using.
Protecting Your Site with SSL Certificates
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificates add a layer of security to websites. Every site should have a working SSL certificate if it wants to be seen as legitimate. And visitors can tell if one is in use by looking for the lock icon in the URL bar of their browser.
Google prioritizes sites that are secured with SSL certificates. That makes sense. It doesn’t want to direct traffic to sites that may harm users or their devices. Additionally, some browsers simply block insecure sites, such as Google Chrome.
Media Proper Web Development
Is the technical SEO of your site holding your business back? Are visitors having trouble navigating your site? Do your pages load slowly? Contact Media Proper today for full website redesign, development, and aftercare services.