Drive website traffic using Technical SEO
Good content in your website will only get you so far when it comes to improving visibility, ROI, and leads for your business.
Technical search engine optimisation will get you the rest of the way there.
Technical SEO has never been more important, and websites have never been more complicated.
Why Technical SEO is important
When we talk about Technical SEO, we’re talking about the technical aspects of your website, specifically the stuff that happens behind the scenes.
Some of it, like a slow site, or a URL will be visible to your website visitors, but Technical SEO is really focused on helping search engine robots understand what your website’s all about.
You need to prove why you should rank for your target keywords and you need to present your absolute best face to search engines to earn that rank.
That being said, Technical SEO isn’t implemented at the expense of serving your website to visitors.
Anything that you do to improve your website for search engines should also improve your website for the people actually go to your website.
Fundamentally, Technical SEO can be broken down into four broad categories. These are;
Crawling and indexing
This considers how search engines are engaging with your site.
Looking at your website through search engines eyes helps you track down issues that are holding your website back.
A website that’s easily understood by search engines is a website that ranks well.
The speed of your website matters! A slow website doesn’t just irritate your visitors and turn them away.
It’ll turn off search engines too, making your website faster is a critical part of good SEO.
Content and site architecture
Are you organising your content in a way that makes it easily understood? Do you have links between relevant pieces of content?
And then the other stuff, this is the little extras like schema, images, videos, all the additional little pieces that really bring a site together.
Technical SEO is a fundamental part of any SEO project.
But it can often be overlooked because of a lack of technical knowledge on the SEO team or reluctance by the development team to implement seemingly irrelevant recommendations.
Your overall SEO success will suffer as a result of poor Technical SEO.
Sometimes no amount of link-building or great content can overcome basic technical issues in a website, that stop search engines from understanding it properly.
In fact, I’d say that Technical SEO is important enough that it’s where you should start on any SEO project before anything else happens.
That being said, Technical SEO can seem really daunting especially if you didn’t come to SEO from a technical background.
Don’t be intimidated, anyone can become great at Technical SEO. You don’t need a computer science background or years of experience building websites.
If you are curious, tenacious, and detail oriented you’re already halfway there.
Website Speed and Google Core Web Vitals
Making your website fast will help make your website successful.
It’s estimated that for every additional second your website takes to load, 20% of your visitors will leave.
The worst part is you won’t even know that they left since your analytics program wouldn’t have kicked in yet. Site speed is a silent traffic killer.
But beyond keeping people in your website, site speed is important part of ranking well.
Google announced in 2020 that there would be a set of speed metrics called the core web vitals that would be a part of their ranking algorithm starting in May, 2021 and beyond.
What’s nice about this is we have a very clear set of metrics to optimise their sites against. Google considers these metrics to be a part of their page experience score.
You can test your website against their PageSpeed Insights tool.
To read more about Google Core Web Vitals, we cover it in the following articles;
If you find that you have a poor LCP, Google’s page speed tool will give you some tips.
Or you’re loading in all the images at once when you should be using lazy load to bring in images later on. Especially for those images, the user wouldn’t even see until they scroll much further down the page.
A lot of what you can help you with LCP will also help you improve when it comes to FID – for example, take a look at your web host and see if there are big delays in responses when you request pages from the server.
Maybe you need to switch through faster web host … one time, all we did was move a client from a slow web host to a fast web host and their conversion rate went up 20% overnight. Visitors could actually fill out the forms in the website without waiting.
CLS is typically something you can see – if for example, you have a ton of CSS that loads in at the end of the whole loading sequence, and then your website snaps into place, that would cause a high CLS score.
You don’t want things to shift around as the page loads, since that can be really frustrating for your visitors, who thought they were clicking on one thing but it turns out there was something else, because everything shifted as the page loaded.
I’m sure you’ve had this frustrating experience in other websites!
To fix CLS, make sure you aren’t resizing images using CSS, instead you’re serving the correctly sized image right away, this is a really common issue we see and will also help with your LCP score.
Remember, anything you do to help these scores will also make your visitors happy, which overall will make your website more successful.
Prioritising technical SEO fixes
It is really easy to get caught up and making a list of things to fix, but then, it is super difficult to get started on that list.
It can seem even more difficult when the responsibility for implementation, isn’t entirely up to you and you need to rely on others to get these fixes done.
More than once we have presented lovely, detailed website audits only to find that just a few of the many, many fixes haven’t been implemented months and months later.
Start with small fixes instead focus on one particular topic. I do recommend starting with a crawl of the site, then checking for site speed and then from there, decide which things seem to be the most on fire. Then, you know, which part of the audit checklist you’ll want to work on first.
For example, if you’re seeing lots of broken internal links and the site speed scores are truly terrible, and there isn’t any schema, start with the internal links.
Someone can work on those while you unravel what’s going on with site speed. Schema can wait, cause it’s an enhancement that doesn’t currently exist.
How can you decide which fixes are most important?
Now, how will you decide what’s most important? Of course, I gave you the example of broken links versus slow speed, versus adding schema, but what if the question is less clear? We often use a system, where we have two factors to consider.
Site Health vs Resources
What’s the impact on your overall website health when it comes to SEO, and how much time and or money will it take to get this fixed implemented.
If the fix will have a large positive impact on website health and it’s quick, easy, and cheap then it’s a high priority.
If affects we’ll have a small or unknown impact on website health and it’s expensive and slow, then it’s a low priority.
Focus on the fundamentals first.
For example, when voice search first came out, people were all excited about optimising for voice search.
But if your website isn’t possible to navigate or clearly can’t be understood by search engine robots, all the voice search in the world, won’t save you. I call that mowing the lawn while the house is on fire.
Figure out what’s on fire the most? Fix that first, then present additional fixes.
Organise fixes by what files or templates are involved.
Additionally, when presenting fixes, you need to recognise that websites now are almost entirely template driven. There’s a template for a product page and a category page, and a blog page, and so on.
If you present a list of hundreds of URLs with exactly the same problem, it’s overwhelming. It doesn’t actually help the Web Developers you work with, get the job done. Instead, talk to them about how the site is structured.
What are the templates? What pages do they power? And then you should do the work to figure out the issues in common.
Then instead of saying, “there’s a broken link on these 100 blog pages”, you can instead say, “this link in the blog page template is broken” by presenting it as one fix, instead of 100, it will actually get done.
Are you talking to the right person?
Also, make sure you’re really talking to the right person.
It might be easier to speak directly to the Developer but if they aren’t setting their own priorities, your work might always get pushed further down the list.
Talk to the person who decides the priority work for the website.
Accept that some things will never be fixed.
Finally, sometimes you might need to accept that for reasons out of your control, some fixes just aren’t going to get done.
In that case, I advise you document this as well and outline for anyone who will be evaluating your performance why the fix couldn’t happen and what the negative consequences are.
You can also suggest ways to mitigate this issue.
Maybe you’ll need to spend more of your time working on inbound link building or invest in paid search to make up for your lack of organic traffic.
Try to present solutions, If you can.
In prioritising speed problems, the best fix is one that’ll actually get implemented.
Keep that in mind as you work through your Technical SEO tasks or project, and it will serve you well in all the sites that you improve.