Technical SEO techniques to help website rank high

Chapter 6:

This chapter is about technical SEO. What is the meaning of doing technical optimization for SEO and what is its importance. You will come to know from this chapter how it positively impacts search engines presence and rankings of a website. We will tell you all the important technical SEO optimization techniques and how to follow these techniques to enhance accessibility and visibility of websites.

This is what you will learning in this chapter:

1. What is Technical SEO

2. 14 Technical SEO techniques to follow

3. How to do technical SEO optimization

Why learn SEO and why career in SEO

What is Technical SEO

Technical SEO means optimizing various technical aspects of a website to improve its functioning, accessibility by search engines, and user experience. We do technical SEO optimization to ensure better & smoother crawling and therefore better indexing which helps a website in improving its organic rankings.

Checklist of Technical SEO techniques to follow

These are the 14 technical search engine optimization techniques that we will be discussing in detail. These are the techniques for technical SEO that will help a website get indexed, be searchable and search and user friendly, and get ranked faster.

1. HTTP vs. HTTPS

2. WWW & Non-WWW

3. Optimized & unique URLs

4. Site structure

5. Mobile friendly website

6. Link Internally

7. Absolute or Relative URLs

8. Use of target_blank

9. Use Canonical tags

10. Redirects

11. Improve website speed

12. Submit Sitemap

13. Submit robots.txt

14. Readable content

Technical SEO optimization is more about looking technical things about a website and is something which is generally ignored by many. This is that part of search engine optimization which starts even before starting or planning for search engine optimization.

Therefore many of the technical improvements may not be seen as part of search optimization and rather as things to create a more functionally better website. That means it can be done while creating or planning for a website. Still from the point of view that a website is ultimately build to be seen by audience, and since search engines is one of the largest sources of visitors, it becomes a part of SEO.

Some of these technical optimization can be done while creating the website. In fact some of these are things which should ideally be done while or before making a website.

Then there are steps which are done to prepare a website for search engines and for better search visibility and to build better site accessibility and readability. These steps become part of search engine optimization. Some of these steps have been discussed in the chapter about making a site searchable and indexable. We will however cover all the important aspects of technical SEO in this chapter.

This technical improvement or correction through SEO is done at different aspects and levels of a website. At the domain level, at the site level, at the page level, and also at content level.

Sometimes Technical SEO is also called as on site SEO as it is wider in coverage and application than on page SEO, where on page is concerned with optimizing page and content while technical is about making the whole site accessible, searchable, indexable, and also readable. Some people also consider it as part of on page SEO as it is done at the site level.

The primary objective of technical SEO is to make sure that a site is easily crawled, indexed and therefore is searchable in search engines. All your rankings depend upon the right indexing of your site and its pages.

Here are things which you need to do in technical SEO to make a site better in crawl, indexing and search ranking.

How to do technical SEO optimization

1. HTTP vs. HTTPS

A website with HTTPS is considered more secure and safe than a HTTP website. HTTP means and stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol. It is an application protocol adopted by the World Wide Web. By default every website, web page and their domain name and URLs include only HTTP like http://www.mysite.com, and http://www.mysite.com/mypage.html. To get HTTPS one has to buy a SSL certificate which is installed on the web server and it activates the HTTPS protocol. Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) is a security protocol.

It is primarily beneficial and used for doing safe and secure transactions through websites. To do financial transactions like receiving online payment on site and also when you collect personal data from users like their email ids, etc. then HTTPS status is preferred and desired. So, it is required for ecommerce sites especially. Google and other search engines have started seeing it as a sign of trust and authenticity.

2. WWW & Non-WWW

Every website has two versions and two ways in which it can be accessed on the Internet, and both are valid and true for each website. For example, http://www.mysite.com and http://mysite.com refer to and lead to the same website. These are WWW and non WWW versions of the same website.

What we need to do as SEO professionals is tell the search engines which one is our preferred version and which we want to use and display to the users. From SEO point of view both are equally fine and no option provides any clear and visible benefit over the other.

There are few things you need to do for this.

The first thing to do is tell Google about your 'preferred domain name'.

Go to old search console (as currently this feature is supported by old search console only) here, https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/home.

It will give you the list of all properties (or sites) which you have. Make sure that you have registered both WWW and non WWW versions of site with Google.

Go to each of the versions and select site settings from a drop down menu with a small gear icon, provided in the upper right section, towards the right of the Help dropdown. Click it and select Site Settings. Under the Preferred domain select, Display URLs as www.mysite.com.

Second thing to do is to use 301 redirect in .htaccess file to permanently redirect all non www versions to www versions.

This is what the code looks like when redirecting non www site to www version.

Third. When you submit sitemap include only the preferred version domain and URL names. For example if your preferred version is http://www.mysite.com then the URLs in sitemap should be like this

  • http://www.mysite.com/
  • http://www.mysite.com/mypage.html
  • http://www.mysite.com/mypage.html

Fourth, you can also indicate your preferred site version by using canonical tags, which we will explain in the canonical section down below.

Fifth, while doing link building, social media, email outreach, etc., you should always use the preferred version of your website.

3. Optimized & unique URLs

URLs are the addresses of pages of a website. Each page has different URL which includes domain name + page name.

No two URLs of any website can be the same. But you should not even create similar looking page names to avoid confusion for users.

Also, try to keep the URLs as short and clear as possible. Connecting or general words like a, an, the, this, that, here, etc. are best ignored for URLs. URLs can also be optimized for keywords.

4. Site structure

You need to have a clear and visible site structure to help search engines access and crawl all your pages easily.

A website needs to have a clear navigation and menu, where all important pages are listed and also are displayed in some order and are properly categorized if the website has sections.

Website can use category pages to clearly show all the inner product or services pages and to also link to each of the pages. What also this ensures that each page is accessible, linked to, and reachable not only by the search engines but also by the users.

5. Mobile friendly website

Having a mobile friendly website is perhaps the first thing to do and also the most important thing.

Not just because of SEO benefits, it is also a more common, accepted and logical option now a days. Mobile viewership is growing each day. More and more visitors are using mobiles to do organic as well as paid search. Mobile usage for social media is also very high. All this means that your website should be mobile friendly. And local searches are made much more on mobile.

Websites need to be fully responsive and mobile friendly. And Google has even created a mobile first indexing system where it looks at the mobile compatibility and mobile version of your site first to index your site.

A poor mobile compatibility would mean low mobile search visibility and when mobile usage is growing beyond 50% of all searches, you would be loosing significant volume of search traffic if your website is not properly optimized for mobile viewership.

6. Link Internally

Internal linking is very important for every website. It is especially important from SEO point of view and also important from users perspective.

Every page of a website is created with some purpose. And if it is important then you also want your users to reach it and read it. Internal linking helps in this, when you link that page from other important and relevant pages that are placed higher in the hierarchy and visibility.

It also helps search engines crawl all the inner yet important pages so that they get indexed and are searchable, and therefore can reach the audience in the organic searches.

7. Absolute or Relative URLs

When you create internal links or create navigation or menu for the website then you need to create links to other pages. When linking internally, we have two ways to create links which are by using absolute or relative URLs.

Every page has its name, which is its URL or its file name in the root directory of the domain. When we use the file name only for internal linking minus the domain name and the protocol then it is a relative URL and when we use the entire URL including domain name it becomes absolute URL.

For our example site page i.e. http://www.mysite.com/mypage.html

mypage.html is a relative URL, while

http://www.mysite.com/mypage.html is an absolute URL

Usually when including media files like images, we use relative URLs like this

images/myimagename.jpg

Using relative URLs for internal linking keeps the codes little shorter and page little lighter which is beneficial for reduced loading speed.

Using absolute URLs can give the slight benefit of having keywords for keyword specific URLs as part of anchor text.

There is one perceived difference between the two.

Relative URLs indicate internal linking while absolute URLs indicate outbound links to another websites.

8. Use of target_blank

Since we are talking about internal linking and URLs, and also mentioned outbound links in previous section, we will the use of this target_blank attribute. Outbound links from the website to other relevant and authority websites are also important for SEO purpose.

While creating external or outbound links this attribute is attached to the links.

Example: <a href="#" target="_blank">External Links</a>

What it does is that target website opens in a new tab or window and not the same window of the base website. It is a common accepted practice to use this attribute in all external links.

9. Use Canonical tags

When you have two pages that talk about the same topic in a very similar way then we use canonical tags to show which page is the original or important page one or the master page.

Canonical tags are used to show to search engines which is the first or the original content or page and which should be given priority in search engine rankings for the content and targeted keywords.

<link rel="canonical" href="site URL">

Canonical tag can also be used to indicate preferred site version like this

<link rel="canonical" href="http://www.site.com or http://site.com">

10. Redirects

Redirects can be very useful when it comes to improving user experience and search rankings too. Often times we change URLs or file names of pages. Or we may change folder location of a page. Then we also sometimes restructure complete or part of a website which may again lead to changes in pages and their locations.

Also we may buy new domain name for our website and load all the content to this new domain.

All this may results in new pages. When you change folder of page or its name then the URL changes. When a URL is changed it means a new URL. Now if you build some links to the old URL and that page was getting some traffic, all this can be lost.

To save all this, redirects are used. Redirects means telling search engines that the old page or URL is now changed to this present page or URL.

This is done through 301 and 302 redirects. 301 redirect means permanently moving a URL while 302 means temporarily moving a page, URL or a website.

11. Improve website speed

Website loading speed is one of the critical aspect for SEO. A slow loading speed can harm a website in more than one ways. It’s search engine rankings can suffer because of high loading time. Further, even if it ranks higher, visitors will go away if a website takes too much time in opening. If there are high instances of visitors closing the website soon after clicking on it from search results, this gives a very wrong impression to Google and other search engines. These search engines can then devalue that website in its rankings due to this.

All this one can rectify and improve through technical SEO. First of all check your site speed through these following websites:

https://developers.google.com/speed/pagespeed/insights/

https://tools.pingdom.com/

https://gtmetrix.com/

Look for the reasons why a website has a high loading time. Few things one can do to reduce that time is:

Optimize (reduce) image size

Compress HTML and CSS codes

Minimize the use of javascript

12. Submit Sitemap

As explained in this chapter submitting an XML sitemap is highly recommended to get a website indexed and make it searchable. Although Google and other search engines highly recommend maintaining and submitting sitemaps for websites, it is not a mandatory thing, in the sense that if you do not submit a sitemap you will not face any action from search engines. The only thing that may happen is all of some of your pages will not be indexed, and hence will not be searchable.

A sitemap should have all the pages of a website mentioned in it. Whenever you add any website, then you need to update your sitemap and submit it again to the search engines.

13. Submit robots.txt

Robots file tells search engines which all pages it can crawl. The pages crawled by a search engine will get indexed in database.

One can also allow or disallow specific spiders or bots with robots file too.

14. Readable content

Avoid using flash and similar techniques while website designing. Flash based or flash heavy content and websites are not indexed (either entirely or properly) in search engines. Hence, use of flash is not recommended or encouraged by search engines.

Similarly, search engines do not read images or videos. They are not viewed negatively like flash. Images, infographics and videos are very much used and encouraged and even ranked.

However, the important thing to do is to provide alternative content or text for media files. The alt tag serves this purpose. Alt text is a tag which allows search engines to know what the image, infographic or video is about.

This is how you put alt tag:

<img src="location of image file in the directory" alt="put a line or few words about what the image says">

This concludes the chapter number 6 on how to do technical search engine optimization