Technical SEO is always the initial stage in any SEO effort. Your SEO efforts won’t produce the desired results if your technical SEO is not working properly.
Therefore, it is important that you comprehend technical SEO in its entirety.
It’s good to know that once you have done a technical SEO audit on your website and fixed any problems, you won’t need to do it again.
This post will explain what technical SEO is, the best practices, and how to perform a technical audit on your website using our technical optimization checklist.
How does technical SEO work?
Guidelines for Technical SEO
Detailed SEO Checklist
How does technical SEO work?
The process of optimizing your website so that search engines can crawl and index it is known as technical SEO. Technical SEO allows you to make it easy for search engines to access, crawl, index, and interpret your website.
Technical SEO has nothing to do with website promotion or content. The infrastructure of a website is optimized by technical SEO.
Let’s begin with the basics of terminology to understand technical SEO.
Let’s first define SEO. SEO can be described as optimizing your website to search engines.
SEO optimization means:
- Search engines should be able to index and access your website easily.
- High-quality content that matches the searcher’s intent
- Make your website’s structure clear to search engine crawlers by providing them with the appropriate signals.
- Your content can be used by search engine crawlers to comprehend its context.
- Search engine algorithms give reasons for trusting your website and ranking it higher than other sites.
If you follow the above steps correctly, your website can be SEO-friendly. It will also appear in the SERPS when many searches are related to your content.
How do you begin with SEO?
You ought to have read the explanation of search engine functionality in my earlier essay. It is important to know that search engines begin crawling and indexing before they can answer a query.
Search engines look for publicly accessible web pages to add to their index during this process.
These pages are discovered, read, and organized by them in their database. Later, their algorithms can access these pages to provide users with precise answers.
The diagram below shows the three main pillars of SEO: On-Page SEO and Technical SEO.
The term “on-page SEO” refers to content and how to make it more pertinent to the user’s search. The technique of obtaining mentions from other websites in order to boost trust and enhance the ranking process is known as off-page SEO, commonly referred to as link building.
Technical SEO and SEO
The diagram shows that there is no clear line between technical, on-page, or off-page SEO. To the fullest extent possible, they must all work together to optimize a website.
The Best Technical SEO Practices
Let’s now understand what technical SEO is. Now let’s look at the best practices. To conduct your own technical SEO audit, you can refer to the following list.
- Select a preferred domain
- Optimize Robots.txt
- Optimize Your URL Structure
- Navigation and site structure
- Breadcrumb menus
- Implement Structured Data Markup
- URLs for Canonical Use
- Optimize 404 Page
- Optimize XML Sitemap
- SSL and HTTPS
- Website speed
- Mobile Friendliness
- Accelerated Mobile Pages
- Multilingual websites and pagination
- Register your site using webmaster tools
Select a preferred domain
Your preferred domain must be specified when you set up your blog or website. This will allow search engines to determine which version of your domain you wish to use for the life of your website.
Let’s look at why this is important.
A website is automatically accessible without or with www before a domain name.
For example, if your domain is example.com, your website can be accessed by both http://www.example.com and http://example.com (i.e. Without the www
This is fine for users but confusing for search engines as they see these two websites as one.
This could lead to indexing problems, duplicate content problems, and loss of page ranking.
This problem can be solved by setting your preferred domain and informing search engines about it.
http://www or not www?
Many people are unsure whether to use www before their domain name or the non-www version.
There are no SEO advantages to choosing one format over another, it is a personal choice.
Although I prefer having www before my domains, it feels more natural to me. However, there are no problems if you choose to use the HTTP version.
It is crucial to inform search engines of your decision and remain consistent throughout the lifecycle of your website.
If you decide to change your mind, 301 redirections can be used to switch between formats. However, this is not recommended as there is always the risk of domain migrations.
How to choose your preferred domain
Google Search Console is used to allow you to select your preferred domain. However, Google removed this setting and instead relies on canonical URLs.
This guide provides more information on canonical URLs, and how they can be used to help search engines understand the domain you prefer.
Optimize Your Robots.txt
After you have set your preferred domain, it is time to optimize your robots.txt.
How can I use robots.txt? What is it?
Robots.txt, a text file located in the root directory of your site that tells search engines which pages they can crawl and how to add them to their index, is called.
This file’s format is simple, and you won’t need to modify it in most cases.
Example of robots.txt disallowing rules
It is crucial to ensure that your website is not blocked by search engine crawlers.
You can find more information at How to optimize your robots.txt
Optimize Your URL Structure
Next on your technical SEO audit checklist is revising the URL structure of the website. The URL structure refers to the format of your URLs.
The following are the best SEO practices for URLs:
- Use lowercase characters
- Separate words using –
- Keep them brief and descriptive
- Avoid unnecessary characters and words
- Use your goal keywords in the URL without overloading it with terms.
Once you have established the structure of your permanent links, you can optimize your URLs for new content.
WordPress is your CMS. WordPress will create the URL and take your title.
The URL generated by WordPress, for instance, will be http://www.example.com/10-technical-seo-best-practices-for-beginners if your post’s title is “10 Technical SEO Best Practices For Beginners.”
This is not bad, but you can make it shorter like this http://www.example.com/technical-seo which is more targeted and easier to remember.
SEO Friendly URLS Guidelines
You can use 301 redirects to modify your permanent link structure, just like with the preferred domain.
However, it is not recommended to modify URLs for existing points. This is a waste of time and can be detrimental to the quality of your posts.
More samples and details are available at:
What is an SEO-Friendly URL
Navigation and website structure
For many reasons, the structure of a website can be a crucial SEO factor.
It is more common for users to stay longer on a website and find what they are looking for faster. Search engines can also understand and index websites better.
Many webmasters make a huge mistake when they try to optimize their websites for conversions. They forget about site structure and navigation and end up damaging their SEO.
One example is to hide users’ archive pages and place all content under one category.
It was once believed that multiple category pages and archive pages could harm your SEO. However, this is a bad practice.
The general structure of a page affects how Google will rank it. You need to be really careful in this situation.
If you want to maximize your benefit, then your category pages must be optimized.
Google also states that webmasters can use a well-defined structure to help Google identify the most important content on a website. This will allow them to rank the pages that are really important higher in search engines.
Guidelines for Website Structure
More information about site structure and navigation can be found here: How to optimize your site structure
Breadcrumb Trail – Amazon
A breadcrumb is a menu that links to different pages. It allows users to navigate to previous pages (usually the category page or the homepage of a website).
The breadcrumb menu serves two primary purposes. It allows users to navigate to a website without having to use the back button. Additionally, it provides search engines with additional information about the site’s structure.
Google highly recommends breadcrumbs as an SEO element in their various SEO Guides.
Breadcrumbs must be enabled on your website.
More information can be found at Breadcrumbs and SEO
Structured Data Markup and Search Engine Optimization
Structured data can improve your website’s visibility in the SERPs
Because Google heavily uses structured data in Search Results, it has been gaining importance over the past few years.
What is structured data?
Structured data, in simple words, is code that you can add to your pages and make search engine crawlers aware of the context of your content. This is a way to describe the data you want to search engines using a language they understand.
What is the relationship between structured data and technical SEO?
Structured data is not related to the content of a website. However, it is part of technical SEO as you will need to add code to your website in order to achieve it. You usually only need to add the structured data definition once, and then it is done.
In the case of breadcrumbs, for example, you only need to set up your structured data once. No further actions are necessary.
It is the same for articles. The correct structured data definition will be added to your CMS and automatically applied to any new content.
What are the benefits of structured data?
You can use it to enhance your listings’ presentation in the SERPS by using featured snippets or knowledge graph entries. It also increases your CTR.
What are the benefits of structured data?
Your content can be described in many different ways using structured data. These consist of publications, menus, and activities. The complete list is available here.
You can find more information about adding structured data to your website at What is Schema Markup
Verify Your Canonical URLs
What is a canonical URL?
Your website should have a different URL for each page. By including the tag in your articles and pages, you may define this.
What is a Canonical URL?
This is a quick way for Google to determine which version of a page it should index. This concept is similar to the preferred URL, where one page can be accessed through multiple URLs.
The rel=”canonical” keyword can be used to identify pages that have similar content. This is useful for paging and preventing duplicate content problems when adding content to your website from other sites.
You should generally specify a canonical URL on all pages of your website.
To check if your website has a canonical URL, visit any page on your site and click anywhere on it to select VIEW SOURCE. Look up rel=canonical to find out the value.
If you can’t find any references to Canonical, you can either use a plugin (if you’re on WordPress Yoast SEO) or hire a developer who will make the necessary modifications to your code.
You don’t need to do anything other than setting up your website to output the correct canonical URL, just as with technical SEO elements.
More information is available at: What is a Canonical URL?
Optimize Your 404 Page
If the URL that they have visited is not on your site, a 404 page will be displayed to them. The page could have been deleted, changed, or mistyped in their browsers.
Modern WordPress themes optimize 404 pages automatically. If not, you can easily improve your 404-page SEO by adding a plugin to your theme templates or by editing your template templates.
What is an optimized page 404?
An optimized 404 page should be:
- Your website should have the same structure as your site and use the same navigation menus
- In friendly language, inform visitors that the page they were looking for is no more available
- Offer them alternative options (suggest related pages).
- It should be easy to return to the homepage, previous page, or any other important pages.
How do you check your 404 pages?
It is easy to test how your 404 page looks. Simply open a new browser and type the URL of your website that doesn’t exist. Your 404 page will appear in the browser.
Do not spend too much time optimizing your 404 pages. Just make sure that if a page isn’t found, it returns a custom-404 page.
Optimize your XML Sitemap
XML sitemap optimization is one of the most important aspects of technical SEO.
An XML Sitemap, an XML file that lists all pages/posts on your website, is called an XML Sitemap. It includes their title as well as the last updated date and published date.
When crawling a website, search engines can use the XML Sitemap to guide them.
How to Optimize your XML Sitemap
XML sitemap optimization can be simple. Include only the pages that are most important to your website in your sitemap. These are usually your pages, posts, and categories.
Do not include author pages, sitemap pages, or pages with no original content in your sitemap tag.
Your sitemap should be automatically updated whenever a page gets published or updated.
You can submit your sitemap using the Google search console or Bing Webmaster Tools and then check its status.
This guide will provide more details: Optimizing your XML Sitemap to Maximize SEO
To make your website HTTPS, add SSL
Security is the latest trend on the Internet. HTTPS is a well-known ranking signal that can be used to build trust with your users.
Your website can now be accessed via HTTPS after you have installed an SSL certificate on your server. This means that all information on your website (such as usernames and passwords) is encrypted.
SSL was an important feature for eCommerce websites in the past. However, SSL should be installed on all websites that use the Internet today.
You can activate SSL without losing your rankings by contacting your hosting provider if you do not have SSL installed.
You will need to take care when adding an SSL.
For step-by-step instructions, see my previous guide: How do I migrate my website to HTTPS with no SEO loss?
Website speed – Better is faster
Website speed is another ranking signal. Google has included speed as a ranking signal in all of its SEO recommendations. Studies have shown that websites with faster speeds perform better than those with slower ones.
Website speed and bounce rate
Website speed is a technical problem that requires you to make changes to your website and to your infrastructure in order to achieve good results.
Start by checking your speed with three tools: Pingdom tools and Google page speed insights.
These tools will help you make suggestions on how to improve your speed, but it is a technical issue so you might need to hire a developer.
The following are some things you can do to speed up your website’s loading times:
- Upgrade your server to the 64-bit operating system
- Upgrade to PHP7.2 -> This will provide you with huge speed improvements compared to PHP5.2.
- Optimizing the image size tools can help you achieve this without sacrificing quality.
- Reduce the use of plug-ins
- Upgrade WordPress and all plugins for the most recent versions
- Avoid using pre-made themes that are too heavy. You can save a lot of code by not using them. Instead, invest in a custom-made template.
- Optimize and minimize your CSS and files
- Use a caching plugin for users to cache pages
- Do not add too many scripts to your website.
You can read the easy guide on How to Increase Page Speed for more information.
It is essential to have a mobile-friendly site. Your users will be on their mobiles most of the time. With the introduction of Google’s mobile-first index, your rankings could suffer if your website is not mobile-friendly.
Technical SEO includes mobile-friendliness. Once you have a mobile-friendly theme that has been properly configured, you won’t need to worry about it again.
This task requires technical knowledge about how to set it all up.
First, use this Google tool to determine if your website is mobile-friendly.
Your website must pass the test to pass. This should be your top priority.
Even if your application passes the test, there are many things you should know about SEO and mobile.
- Your mobile website should contain the same content as your desktop website. Google’s mobile-first index will allow them to rank mobile websites according to their mobile content. This means that any content you have on your desktop website should be accessible on mobile.
- When tested on 3G, your mobile website should load in under 6 seconds
- Although it is common to see a lower conversion rate for mobile than desktop, this does not mean you should ignore optimizing your mobile website.
- Mobile popups should be avoided
- A fast mobile website is still essential. You still need a mobile-friendly website. Mobile-first index doesn’t consider AMP pages as a substitute for mobile-friendly pages.
You don’t need to worry about a mobile-first index if your responsive website is already up and running. However, if you have a separate mobile website that you have on a subdomain, folder, or other location, make sure it has the same content you have for your desktop website.
Take into account Accelerated Mobile Pages
Google’s new initiative Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is an attempt to speed up the mobile web.
Simply put, AMP HTML is a reduced version of normal HTML.
These AMP pages are saved and served to users via a Google cache. They load faster than mobile-friendly pages.
Only Google Mobile results and other AMP providers like Twitter can access AMP pages.
The debate is raging in the SEO community about whether or not to adopt AMP pages. This strategy has both many advantages and disadvantages.
The following are the most important pros and cons of AMP:
- Mobile pages made easier
- Potentially increase your CTR (from users on mobile)
- It is not easy to implement. It is not easy to activate the AMP plugin on WordPress
- AMP pages cannot be used for email marketing purposes
- To build a decent AMP site, you will need to hire a developer
- You will have trouble interpreting your analytics and reports as you must maintain and consider reports from both your normal website and your AMP site.
Google currently states that AMP has no SEO benefits, but this could change in the near future.
You can find my previous guide, How to set up AMP on WordPress if you are interested in adding AMP support to your site.
Advanced SEO Topics: Pagination and Multi-lingual Websites
Your technical SEO audit checklist should include pagination and multilingual websites.
Both are very technical and should be dealt with only if they relate to your website.
When you want to divide a page into smaller pages, or when you have enabled paging on your category pages, you can use pagination.
You can use rel=”next” and rel=”prev” links to inform search engines that subsequent pages are continuous of your main page. This will help to avoid duplicate content problems and consolidate links and page ranking to it.
Google will index the main page if it finds rel=”next” and rel=”prev” links within the code.
If pagination is enabled on your website, refer to this guide by Google.
You can use the hreflang attribute if you have content on your website that is in more than one language. This will give Google additional information about your site structure.
This will allow them to provide the best content to their users (i.e. This will allow them to display Swedish content in Swedish and optimize their SEO by avoiding duplicate content or indexing issues.
This guide provides more information about how to manage multilingual websites.
Google Search Console
Webmaster tools are essential for performing the most important tasks of technical SEO. Search engines provide webmaster tools that can be used for optimizing websites for technical SEO.
Google’s Search Console provides the most comprehensive set of tools.
You can use the Google search console to test your robots.txt files, submit a sitemap and fix crawl errors.
It is strongly recommended that you register your site with Google or Bing webmaster tools, and then configure the basic settings. You can start by using this manual.
Recommendation Guide: How to Use Webmaster Tools
Checklist for Technical SEO
You should now have an idea of what technical SEO is and how it differs from both on-page and off-page SEO.
Even if this has been done before, it is a good idea. This is your technical SEO checklist.
- Select a domain you prefer
- Optimize your robots.txt
- Optimize your URL Structure
- Restructure your website navigation
- Add breadcrumb menus on your pages and posts
- Add schema markup for breadcrumbs
- Your homepage can now be enhanced with structured data
- Add structured data to your posts
- You can add structured data to pages based on the type of those pages.
- Verify your canonical URLs
- Optimize Your 404 Page
- Optimize your XML sitemap and submit it to Google and Bing
- Allow HTTPS
- You can speed up your site’s loading speeds by checking your server.
- Verify the mobile-friendliness and accessibility of your website
- Consider using Accelerated Mobile Pages, (AMP)
- Verify your multilingual and pagination settings
- Register your website using Google Search Console
- Register your website using the Bing Webmaster tools
You can also perform a general SEO audit to further assess the website’s optimization. This includes additional checks beyond technical SEO.
The Best Technical SEO Courses: A list of the top technical SEO courses online. Learn technical SEO quickly.
Technical SEO is a series of settings and checks you must make to ensure search engines index and crawl your website quickly.
Most cases will be over once your technical SEO is in place. Other than periodic SEO Audits, it won’t be necessary to do anymore.
Technical means that you must have technical knowledge in order to perform some tasks, such as page speed optimization or adding structured data. It’s essential to complete these tasks otherwise your website will not reach its full potential.
If you have questions about any of these tasks, our SEO Courses will provide detailed information and guide you step by step through technical SEO.