If you want your website to appear in search engine results, you must ensure search engines can understand your content. This is where search engine optimisation (SEO) comes in.
There are different parts to SEO, including:
- technical SEO
- on-page SEO
- off-page SEO.
In this article, I’ll focus on technical SEO because it’s the most important one to consider when building your website. However, keeping on-page and off-page SEO in mind is essential to optimise your website.
What is Technical SEO
When it comes to optimising your website, Technical SEO focuses on the structure of your site. Implementing these strategies during the building process is essential, as it can be challenging to make changes later on. Whether you’re building your website or working with a professional web developer, include the recommendations outlined in this article.
- The web address of your webpage is essential for your SEO. It should accurately reflect the content of the page.
- For instance, a URL like yoursite.com/3486/54585484 won’t provide search engines with any information about your page.
- It’s better to use descriptive text, such as yoursite.com/how-to-wire-a-plug or yoursite.com/how-to/wire-a-plug.
Fast Loading Speeds
Many modern content management systems (CMS) like WordPress can create SEGoogle is particularly vigilant in ranking fast-loading sites well.
Having a fast-loading website is essential because users tend to leave slow sites. If a site takes too long to load, visitors are more likely to click the “back” button instead of waiting. In addition, the longer it takes for your site to load, the higher the bounce rate.
To improve your website’s loading speed, consider the following:
- Choose a good web hosting provider with fast servers
- Optimise your images to reduce their file size
- Use caching techniques, where a server stores a snapshot of your site for quicker access
Google prioritises fast-loading sites, so improving your website’s loading speed is essential for better search engine rankings.
Mobile First Design
Google’s mobile-first indexing has made prioritising a fast-loading and user-friendly mobile website crucial.
There are a few things you must do to help your site offer a great mobile experience:
- Ensure the mobile version of your site is quick loading (especially on 3G and 4G networks)
- Make sure the content on your mobile and desktop sites is the same. Google will often use the mobile version of the site to rank. If you’re missing content for mobile users, then Google may struggle to get that content to rank.
- Optimise the user interface for the mobile experience – is the text big enough to read? Are links easy to click on with a finger?
- Consider using Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) by Google. This unique framework allows your pages to be stored in a Google cache so that they display lightning-fast to website visitors that come via the search engine. AMP is tricky to implement and has pros and cons, so it’s worth talking to a web developer to see if the technology suits you.
To avoid search engines flagging your content as duplicate, it’s important to use tags. Most content management systems (CMS) allow you to categorise your pages and blog posts into multiple categories. However, search engines may see this as duplicate content.
For instance, suppose you’re a gardener and have written a blog post called “Top Tips for beautiful roses.” Your CMS has several categories, such as “top tips,” “roses,” “evergreens,” “garden maintenance,” and “lawn care.” Your new blog post fits into three categories, so you add it to “top tips,” “roses,” and “garden maintenance.” But first, you must select the primary category, “top tips.”
When you add a blog post to multiple categories, many CMSs create separate URLs for each type. This allows website visitors and search engines to access the same content through different URLs.
- yoursite.com/top-tips/top-tips-for-beautiful-roses (main category)
One issue is that search engines may identify a webpage as duplicate content if the blog appears identical under three different URLs. To address this, you can use canonical tags, which are small code snippets that indicate to search engines where the original content can be found. The original blog chosen as the ‘main’ category will be identified as such.
Schema markup, found at schema.org, is an effective way to categorise your website’s content so that search engines can better understand its meaning. This markup is available for various subjects, such as events, people, recipes, products, books, and movies.
One of the benefits of using schema markup is that it can improve your website’s visibility in Google’s Rich Results. This feature directly displays additional information, like product prices and stock availability, in the search engine results.
Since Rich Results are typically positioned near the top of search engine results pages, using schema markup can potentially help your website achieve a higher ranking.
If you’re not a web developer, implementing Schema into your website’s coding can be complex. However, some CMS systems, like WooCommerce (the shop plugin) on WordPress, have built-in product schema. You can also use add-ons and plugins to help with other schemas. If a web developer is creating your site, ask them which schemas they need to include. Once your site is built, you can use the Rich Results Test tool to ensure that your Schema works correctly and that Google will recognise it.
When transitioning from an old website to a new one, it is vital to redirect any changed URLs to maintain the S.
EO value that has been built up. If the site has been moved to an entirely new domain name, the entire site will need to be redirected.
- No redirect needed:
Old site: yoursite.com/services/plumbing
New site: yoursite.com/services/plumbing
- Redirect needed:
Old site: yoursite.com/services/plumbing
New site: yoursite.com/services/plumbing-and-boiler-repair
When changing your website URLs, it’s essential to use 301 redirects to inform search engines that your pages have moved permanently. To accomplish this, you can list all the old URLs and their corresponding new URLs. Your web developer can then implement these redirects. If you’re building the site yourself, your CMS might have a built-in redirect feature, or you can use a plugin like Easy Redirect Manager for WordPress.
A sitemap called Extensible Markup Language (XML) is a map of your website in code format. It ensures search engines can see all the pages on your site and understand their hierarchy. Don’t worry about coding it yourself – you can use an add-on or plugin for your CMS, like the Yoast plugin for WordPress, to create and manage it. Ideally, you want the sitemap to self-update when you add or remove pages so that search engines invariably have the most up-to-date view of your site.
You must use Google Search Console to submit your XML sitemap to Google. If you haven’t created an account and set up your website on the platform, you’ll need to do so first. Once you’ve added your sitemap, you can watch it using the Sitemaps Report. You can learn more about sitemaps at sitemaps.org.
While technical SEO may seem complex, many CMSs like WordPress and Wix have built-in SEO basics. There are also helpful plugins and add-ons available. If you’re using a company to develop your site, you can ask them about the SEO they include in the site’s structure and help map out what you need to ensure your site is as search-engine-friendly as possible.