Getting started with technical SEO

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a pretty simple phrase for what is, in reality, a huge area of digital marketing. Generally speaking, when people refer to SEO they’re talking about making sure their website appears high in a search engine’s listings. So what on earth is technical SEO? 

What is technical SEO?

Technical SEO is just one part of SEO (which also includes content marketing, keyword optimisation, link building and UX design); it’s the process of ensuring your website functionality is as efficient as possible, so that search engines can easily crawl, index and rank your website. 

How do I get started? 

No pun intended, but technical SEO is, well… technical! That said, there are five keys elements to getting started, all of which can be (relatively) easily checked using some great free tools.

Site crawl

Firstly, you’ll need to establish which pages of your website the search engines have indexed and identify any potential crawl errors. In the Google search box, run the following search query for the website you are working on, “Site:www.MyDomain.com” i.e. “site:www.cognique.co.uk”. Whilst the results generated are estimates, the number of results returned will give you an indication on the number of pages Google has indexed. 

Then dive deeper and check the status codes. Status codes tell us what happens when a browser tries to contact a website. Run your website through Screaming Frog to check your status codes and give particular attention to any 404 codes (404 codes indicates a page cannot be found or accessed). This often happens when a page has been moved and redirected incorrectly. Google hates 404s, so correct any broken links and / or check your redirects. 

Speed

Website speed is a major ranking factor. Running your website through Google’s PageSpeed Insights will diagnose performance and suggest improvements. Typically, issues that slow a website include; large images, too many plug ins, embedded videos, hosting issues and overly inflated or ‘dense’ code. 

Duplicate content 

Google defines duplicate content as; “substantive blocks of content within or across domains” and it’s an issue because it makes it really hard for search engines to index and rank pages. If you’re targeting a specific keyword and duplicate content appears on the same page, search engines will struggle to decide which page of your website to rank against the keyword. Running your website through Siteliner will quickly identify any duplication issues.

Mobile friendly 

More than half of the world’s search engine queries run through mobile devices and Google now prioritises mobile website loading speeds over desktop speeds. If you’re not sure how mobile friendly your wesite is, Google has a nifty mobile-friendly test

SSL Certificates

Check that your website has an SSL Certificate installed? SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) Certificates increase website security, ensuring that any data sent between the website and a server is encrypted and therefore, harder to intercept. Secure websites (those that have an SSL Certificate) will display ‘HTTPS’ in the URL, rather than HTTP. Historically, HTTPS addresses were  only necessary for ecommerce sites. However, it has been a ranking factor for Google since 2014 and an alarming number of websites still run on a HTTP address.

James PattenTechnical Director

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