Technical SEO Checklist: We know what SEO means – it, basically, involves optimization activities to ensure search engine bots crawl your site effectively and index it, so that it, the relevant pages of your site to be precise, show up in the search results page. Since search engines are not like us – humans who can read and make a judgement on whether or not the content answers the query – SEO practices help search engines understand the relevancy of the content and decide how the pages are to be shown in the SERP.
Now, these SEO practices can be broadly classified into three categories:
- On-Page SEO, which involves optimization of the page that we want to rank, each and every element of it, so that search engines understand whether or not it answers the query of the users and rank it accordingly.
- Off-Page SEO, which deals with promotion of the page and getting vote of confidence from outside, thus, signalling search engines that people are liking the page, which implies the page provides the necessary information.
- Technical SEO.
In this article, I will talk about the third kind of SEO – What is Technical SEO and what are the Technical SEO Checklist. Read on to find out.
Technical SEO Checklist
You might have provided the most relevant information in your website and the posts are absolutely OK from the SEO-point of view.
But there is one problem. The site takes too much time to load. Users, in the meantime, lose their patient and leave the site and go to some other website.
Or may be the texts are too tiny when the site is opened in a mobile, which makes it too difficult to read. Users won’t be there to read your posts. They will just go back despite your content having all the necessary information that users are seeking.
And search engines will remove your blog post or its position in the SERP will fall, because the ultimate goal of search engines is to provide the users with whatever they are seeking for. And people are not even reading your post.
This means we need to ensure that, apart from the content and its promotion, certain other standards should also be maintained for effective crawling and indexing. These practices, which do not have anything to do with the content of the post, but help search engines crawl, index and rank the web pages, are called Technical SEO.
Let us now look into the Technical SEO Checklist:
1. Add SSL Certificate To Your Site
SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer. It is, basically, a security technology that makes your site more trusted. It creates an encrypted link between the servers and the browsers, thereby, making transfer of private information safe and secure. This is especially important for sites that ask various private information from the users, like credit card details, password, etc.
Websites that have SSL Certificate can be identified from their domain name which starts with ‘https’. Otherwise, they would start with ‘http’.
Although Google, back in 2014, had recommended every website to have SSL Certificate, there are still many sites without SSL. But it is always good to add the certificate because it builds trust. Security being a key concern in the online world, it makes sense that the secure websites be given preference when it comes to ranking in the SERP.
2. Reduce Load Time Of Your Site
Users expect web pages to load within 2-3 seconds. If that doesn’t happen, they are likely to get annoyed and click on the back button. While poor internet connection could be a reason behind slow loading of web pages, sometimes the problem is in the site itself. For example, a page will load slowly if there are too many images of large size in the page.
Because the ultimate goal is user satisfaction, a site that loads slowly is likely to rank below the ones which loads fast. So, from your end, you need to do everything possible to ensure that the site loads really fast.
Some of the steps that can be taken to increase site speed are as under:
- Compress the images but make sure they do not get distorted.
- Remove unused themes and plugins.
- Always upgrade the plugins to the latest version.
- Use a fast hosting service and a fast DNS provider.
- Consider using a custom made theme as the pre-made themes add a lot of unnecessary code.
- Use a caching plugin.
- Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN).
- Do not use multiple CSS stylesheet.
- Do not use too many scripts.
- Optimize the code of your site.
3. Make Your Site Mobile-Friendly
A large percentage of visitors use cell phone to connect to the Internet. This means your site should adjust to the display of smartphones and mobiles. People shouldn’t have to, for example, zoom in to read the content on your site when they are using a cell phone. If they have to put too much effort on your site, they will, in all likelihood, go to some other website which is mobile-friendly. Make sure you use a theme that is responsive.
4. Enable AMP
Accelerated Mobile Page is a page-format for mobile devices. It uses AMP HTML – a special code that strips your page to the bare minimum, making it load faster.
Again, this is a must because of the rising use of mobile devices, which mostly use mobile internet which are not so fast. As a result, web pages load very slowly.
Enabling AMP will create an AMP version of your web page which will load 15-85 percent faster than the original, non AMP page.
5. Set Up A Preferred Domain
A website might have multiple versions, i. e. one might be able to access a website – mysite.com by both https://www.mysite.com and https://mysite.com. While users might be absolutely OK with it, search engines will be confused. They will treat the two versions as separate sites and this will result in duplicate content issue, thereby, having a negative impact on rankings.
So, make sure you set up a preferred domain to let search engines know which version you want to be considered for indexing. You can do it in the Site Settings section of Google Search Console. You also need to do it in the settings of the Content Management System (CMS) you are using.
6. Use Search Engine Friendly URL Structure
The URL structure or format should be such that both search engines and humans understand it. It shouldn’t be unintelligible, like mysite.com/p=325. This doesn’t make any sense. Keep the following points in mind while setting URLs:
- Keep it short.
- Keep it keyword-rich, include the primary keyword in the URL.
- Do not use unnecessary words, like preposition, conjunction, and articles.
- Use a ‘hyphen’ to separate two words.
- Do not use capital letters.
- Do not use any other characters.
7. Keep Your Site Structure And Navigation Simple
No matter what, never compromise with the simplicity of your website. Users should be able to go from one part of the website to the other with ease. They shouldn’t have to struggle and put effort to find out what they are looking for. The site structure and navigation should not be complex. Keeping it simple will serve two purposes:
- Search engines will find it easier to crawl and index the site and it’s content.
- Users will stay longer on the site as the experience would be good.
8. Optimize The Robots.txt File Of Your Site
If your domain name is mysite.com, you can check the robots.txt file of your site at mysite.com/robots.txt. This is a text file located in the root directory that gives instructions to the web robots regarding how to crawl and index your site.
For example, it directs search engines not to crawl and index certain pages of your site. You can always edit it. But the main thing to do is to check if any page, which needs to be indexed, is blocked.
9. Use Canonical URL
Each and every page and post in your site should have a canonical URL, which is basically the preferred URL that you want search engines to index. When you have the same content in two or more pages, choose one as your preferred URL and direct the other two pages to the preferred URL by adding <link rel=”canonical” href=”preferredurl”> in the <head> of the other posts and pages.
And as for other pages (with unique content that is not there in any other page), direct search engines to the URL of that same page.
You can use Yoast SEO plugin which automatically sets the canonical URL.
10. Create And Optimize XML Sitemap
XML Sitemaps includes all the information about your site and it’s content – post, pages, images, videos, etc. and their relationship. Sitemap makes it easier for search engines to crawl through the website in a more intelligent manner. It also helps in identifying the various errors in the site.
Read this article on how to create and submit an XML Sitemap.
Once the Sitemap is created, you have to make sure certain things are not included here, for example, tags archive, author archive for single author blogs, or any other page that doesn’t have any original content.
These are the Technical SEO Checklist – 10 most important Technical SEO Practices. Make sure implement them in your website or blog. Implementing these doesn’t need any technical knowledge and you can easily do it yourself.
I hope I have been able to explain the Technical SEO Checklist. If you have any question or feedback regarding Technical SEO Checklist, drop them below and I will get back to you.