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Technical search engine optimization (SEO) is as crucial as on-page and off-page SEO. Especially, when it comes to e-commerce business, technical issues can impact search performance.  So, let’s dive deeper into the integration of technical SEO and how you can implement it for your business. 

What is Technical SEO? 

Technical SEO revolves around enhancing the technical aspects of a website to enhance the ranking of its page in search engines. Increasing website speed, facilitating easier crawling, and enhancing comprehensibility for search engines form the foundational principles of technical optimization. 

It constitutes a segment of on-page SEO, which is dedicated to refining elements within the website to achieve better rankings. In contrast, it differs from off-page SEO, which involves gaining exposure for a website through other channels.

Difference Between On-page, Off-page and Technical SEO

Let’s understand the key difference between, on-page, off-page SEO, and technical SEO:

On-page SEO: On-page SEO pertains to the content that conveys to search engines and users the subject matter of your page. It encompasses elements such as image alt text, keyword utilization, meta descriptions, H1 tags, URL structure, and internal linking. On-page SEO offers the greatest degree of control since all optimizations are implemented directly on the website.

Off-page SEO: Off-page SEO communicates to search engines the popularity and relevance of your page through indications of approval, primarily manifested in backlinks. The quantity and quality of backlinks contribute to a page’s PageRank. Holding other factors constant, a page with 100 relevant links from reputable websites will outperform a page with 50 relevant links from reputable or credible websites.

Technical SEO: Technical SEO is within your control as well, but it requires a somewhat more intricate understanding as it involves less straightforward concepts. 

Importance of Optimizing Your Website Technically

Google and other search engines aim to provide users with the best search results possible. This means they assess various factors when crawling web pages. Some of these factors, like page loading speed, focus on user experience. Other factors, such as structured data, help search engines understand the content of your pages. By improving the technical details, you can make it easier for search engines to crawl and interpret your site. Doing this well can lead to higher rankings and possibly even earning rich results. 

On the contrary, neglecting SEO technical aspects can have consequences. Serious technical errors on your site could lead to problems. For instance, a mistake like misplacing a trailing slash in your robots.txt file could accidentally block search engines from crawling your site. 

However, it is essential to remember that optimizing your site for search engines should not be your sole focus. Your website should also provide a positive experience for users –  it should be fast, clear, and easy to use. That’s why, focusing on technical optimization often aligns with improving user experience and search engine performance simultaneously. 

Basics of Technical SEO Audit

Before delving into the details of SEO website audit, it is crucial to establish some fundamental technical website aspects. 

  • Audit Your Website

Start by auditing your website or preferred domain. Your domain, the URL people use to access your site, such as yourwebsite.com, significantly influences your site’s discoverability through search engines. Selecting a preferred domain informs search engines whether you prioritize the www or non-www version of your site in search results. 

For example, you might choose www.yourwebsite.com over yourwebsite.com, instructing search engines to prioritize the www version and redirect users accordingly. Failure to do so may lead search engines to treat these versions separately, dispersing SEO value. Although Google now automatically selects a preferred version, you can set it through canonical tags. Regardless, ensure all variants (www, non-www, HTTP, and index.html) permanently redirect to your chosen version. 

  • Incorporate SSL 

Next, implementing SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) is crucial. SSL adds a layer of security between the web server and browsers, projecting users’ information from potential hacks. An SSL certificate is identifiable by the domain starting with “https://” and a lock symbol in the URL bar. Google pays more attention to secure sites, making SSL a crucial ranking factor since 2014. After setting up SSL, migrate non-SSL pages to HTTPS, updating all related tags and URLs accordingly. 

  • Optimize Page Speed

Optimizing page speed is equally crucial in technical SEO. Research suggests that visitors typically wait around six seconds for a page to load before bouncing. This highlights the significance of speed optimization for user experience and conversion rates. Use the Page Speed Assessment tool to identify how fast your website loads. 

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Additionally, site speed is a ranking factor. To enhance page load times, consider compressing files, audit redirects, cleaning up code, utilizing content distribution networks (CDNs), minimizing plugin usage, and employing cache plugins. 

By ensuring these technical SEO fundamentals are in place, you pave the way for improved crawlability and enhance the overall performance of your website. 

Critical Technical SEO Factors

Here are the important technical SEO factors for Google search essentials that play a vital role when it comes to your website: 

1. Crawling

Ensuring that search bots can effectively crawl your website is paramount for a robust technical SEO strategy. These bots collect information about your site by crawling its pages. If any obstacle prevents them from crawling, your pages will not get indexed or ranked. Therefore, one of the first steps in technical SEO techniques is ensuring accessibility and easy navigation for all your essentials. Follow these steps to ensure seamless crawlability: 

  • Generate an XML Sitemap

An XML Sitemap is similar to that of a site architecture. It aids search bots in understanding and crawling your web pages efficiently. It acts as a roadmap for your website. After completion, submit your sitemap to Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools. Remember to keep it updated whenever you add or remove pages. 

  • Maximize Your Crawl Budget

Your crawl budget denotes the pages and resources on your site that search bots will crawl. Since this budget is not unlimited, prioritize the crawling of your most critical pages. Strategies to maximize your crawl budget include removing or canonicalizing duplicate pages, fixing broken links, ensuring the crawlability of CSS and JavaScript files, and regularly monitoring crawl stats. 

  • Optimize Your Site Architecture

Similar to how a well-designed building relies on architectural principles, your site’s organization, known as site structure or information architecture, is vital for effective search engine navigation. For instance, just as related rooms in a house are grouped, your website’s related pages should be organized logically. Additionally, give importance to essential pages, such as your About or Product pages, positioning them prominently in the hierarchy with ample internal links for optimal search engine recognition. 

  • Establish a URL Structure

The structure of your URLs, whether involving subdomains or subdirectories, should align with your site architecture. Consistency in URL naming conventions is vital. Use lowercase characters, dashes to separate words, and descriptive keywords while keeping URLs concise. Submit a list of important URLs to search engines via an XML sitemap to provide additional context about your site. 

  • Utilize Robots.txt

The robots.txt file, or Robots Exclusion Protocol, regulates which web robots can crawl specific sections or pages of your site. It can allow or disallow specific bots’ access. Use it to prevent indexing pages that do not contribute to search bots’ understanding of your website. Employ the noindex robots meta tag to exclude pages from indexing. 

  • Incorporate Breadcrumb Menus

Breadcrumb menus guide users back to the start of their journey on your website. They provide a navigational trail and help search bots understand the site structure. Ensure breadcrumbs are visible to users and structured with markup language to offer accurate context to crawling bots.

  • Implement Pagination  

Pagination organizes related pages with distinct URLs, making it easier for search bots to crawl them. It tells search engines when pages are part of a series or related content. Utilize rel=“next” and rel=“prev” attributes in the <head> section of pages to indicate their relationship and sequence in the series. 

  • Review SEO Log Files

Log files act as your website’s journal, recording every server action, including request time, content accessed, and user agent details. By analyzing these files, you can track search bot activity, understand crawl patterns, and identify any indexing obstacles. Utilize online tools or consult a developer for access to these files. 

Remember, that crawling does not guarantee indexing. So let’s understand the factors you can implement to increase your chances. 

2. Indexing

As search engine bots navigate your website, they begin indexing pages based on their relevance and subject matter, making them eligible for ranking on search engine results (SERPs). Here are several crucial technical factors to ensure your pages get indexed efficiently:

  • Unblock Search Bot Access
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Ensure that search bots can easily access your preferred pages without any hindrance. Tools like Google’s robots.txt tester and the Google Search Console’s Inspect tool can be invaluable for identifying and rectifying any access restrictions that may exist. 

  • Address Duplicate Content

Eliminate any instances of duplicate content to prevent confusion for search bots. Utilize canonical URLs to specify your preferred pages and avoid diluting your site’s visibility in search engine results. 

  • Implement Hreflang Tags for Multilingual Content

If your website features content in multiple languages, utilizing Hreflang tags is essential. Hreflang is an HTML attribute that serves to specify the language and geographical targeting of web pages. It ensures that Google delivers the appropriate versions of your page to users based on their language preferences and location. Simply insert the relevant Hreflang tags within the <head> section of all page versions.

  • Review Redirects

Regularly audit and confirm the proper setup of all redirects to avoid any issues during indexing. Redirect loops, broken URLs, or improper redirects can all hinder the indexing process. That is why it is essential to keep these in check. 

  • Verify Mobile Responsiveness

Confirm that your website is fully optimized for mobile devices, as Google has been prioritizing mobile indexing for several years now. Use Google’s mobile-friendly test to identify any areas for improvement and ensure a seamless user experience across all devices. 

  • Fix HTTP Errors

Promptly address any HTTP errors on your site, as they can significantly impact search bot access to important content. Common HTTP errors include:

  • 301 Permanent Redirects: Aim to minimize redirect chains to maintain optimal page load times and ensure a smooth user experience.
  • 302 Temporary Redirects: Be aware of the long-term temporary redirects, as they may eventually be treated as permanent by search engines.
  • 403 Forbidden Messages: Review and adjust access permissions and server configurations to resolve any access issues. 
  • 404 Error Pages: Create custom error pages that are informative and engaging to retain visitor engagement and encourage exploration of your site. 
  • 405 Method Not Allowed: Adjust server settings to allow access to blocked methods and ensure smooth browsing experiences. 
  • 500 Internal Server Error: Troubleshoot server issues promptly to prevent disruptions to site delivery and user experience. 
  • 502 Bad Gateway Error: Address communication issues between website servers to ensure seamless data transmission. 
  • 503 Service Unavailable: Investigate server capacity issues and resolve them to ensure uninterrupted service for users and search bots. 
  • 504 Gateway Timeout: Resolve delays in server response to access requests to prevent user frustration and potential SEO impacts. 

By addressing these factors diligently, you can enhance your website’s user experience and search engine performance. Even after indexing, accessibility issues can continue to impact SEO due to which you need to work on renderability. 

3. Rendering

It is crucial to distinguish between SEO accessibility and web accessibility before we dive deeper into this factor. While web accessibility focuses on facilitating navigation for users with disabilities or impairments, such as blindness or Dyslexia, SEO accessibility primarily concerns rendering for search engines. 

While there may be an overlap between the two, an SEO accessibility audit does not encompass all aspects of making a site accessible to disabled visitors. So, let’s check out the steps that you can implement for your site’s development and maintenance:

  • Server Performance

Issues like server timeouts and errors can result in HTTP errors, obstructing both users and bots from accessing your site. Promptly address any server issues to prevent negative impacts on user experience and search engine indexing. 

  • HTTP Status

HTTP errors similarly hinder access to your web pages. Conduct a thorough error audit using online web crawlers and rectify any HTTP errors on your site. 

  • Load Time and Page Size

Slow-loading pages can lead to increased bounce rates and server errors, preventing bots from properly crawling and indexing your content. Minimize page load times to ensure optimal accessibility for both users and search engines. 

  • JavaScript Rendering

Google struggles with processing JavaScript, so consider using pre-rendered content to enhance accessibility. Utilize Google’s resources to understand how search bots interact with JavaScript on your site and address any related issues.

  • Orphan Pages
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Ensure that every page on your site is internally linked to provide context for search bots. Orphan pages, lacking internal links, may struggle to be properly indexed due to insufficient context. 

  • Page Depth 

Maintain a shallow site architecture to facilitate easy navigation and indexing. Keep important pages, such as product and contact pages, no more than three clicks away from the homepage to ensure accessibility and a positive user experience. 

  • Redirect Chains 

Minimize the use of redirects to optimize crawl efficiency and prevent issues with page load times. Properly set up redirects to avoid hindering search engine crawling and ensure seamless accessibility for users and bots alike. 

By addressing these aspects of renderability, you can enhance your site’s accessibility for both users and search engines, ultimately improving your SEO performance. Once accessibility issues are resolved, you can focus on optimizing your pages’ ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs). 

4. Ranking 

Now we transition to the more pertinent components that you are likely familiar with- enhancing ranking from a technical SEO perspective. Elevating your pages’ rankings involves considering both on-page and off-page factors through a technical lens. It is crucial to recognize that all these elements collaborate to establish an SEO-friendly website. Therefore, it is essential to address all contributing factors, such as:

  • Internal and External Linking

Links play a vital role in aiding search bots in comprehending a page’s relevance to a given query and providing context for its ranking. They guide search bots (and users) to interconnected content, conveying the significance of each page. Overall, linking enhances crawling, indexing, and your potential to rank. 

  • Backlink Quality

Backlinks, originating from other websites and directing back to your own, serve as an endorsement for your site’s credibility. They signal to search bots that external websites perceive your page as valuable and worthy of crawling. As these endorsements accumulate, search bots recognize and treat your site as more authoritative. However, the quality of these backlinks is of utmost crucial. 

Links from low-quality sites can detriment your rankings. Securing high-quality backlinks involves various strategies, including outreach to relevant publications, leveraging unlinked mentions, and offering valuable content that other sites are eager to link to. 

  • Content Clusters 

Content clusters play a significant role in organic growth. They interlink related content, assisting search bots in discovering, crawling, and indexing all pages relevant to a specific topic. This approach serves as a strategic tool to demonstrate expertise on a subject, enhancing the probability of search engines acknowledging your site as an authority for related search queries. 

5. Clickability

Enhancing click-through rate (CTR) on search engine results pages (SERPs) involves various strategies that influence search behavior. While meta descriptions and page titles with keywords impact CTR, let’s focus on the tech SEO aspects to boost clickability: 

  • Implement Structured Data

Structured data utilizes schema vocabulary to categorize and label web page elements for search bots. This clear labeling assists bots in understanding, indexing, and potentially ranking pages by indicating the nature of each element, such as videos, products, or recipes. 

  • Aim for SERP Features

SERP features, also known as rich results, can significantly impact visibility. Securing these features, like video carousels, or FAQ boxes, can elevate your content above traditional organic results, increasing click-through rates. Providing useful content and utilizing structured data can improve your chances of earning rich results. 

  • Optimize for Featured Snippets

Featured Snippets are concise answers displayed above search results. Optimizing content to provide the best answer to a query increases the likelihood of winning a snippet. Strategic formatting and content optimization can improve your chances of appearing in Featured Snippets. 

  • Leverage Google Discover 

Google Discover is a mobile-focused content discovery tool that lists content by category for users based on their interests. As Google emphasizes mobile experience, leveraging Google Discover can enhance visibility among mobile users, catering to their preferences and browsing habits. 

Conclusion 

Thus, the combination of technical SEO, on-page SEO, and off-page SEO is pivotal in driving organic traffic to your website. Although on-page and off-page strategies are typically prioritized, technical SEO is equally essential for achieving top search engine rankings and reaching your target audience effectively. Therefore, by implementing these technical tactics, you can enhance your overall SEO strategy and ensure positive outcomes for a technically sound website.