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Technical SEO: 14 Simple Yet Effective Tactics




What Is Technical SEO?

Before tackling this concept, let’s make sure we are on the same page about SEO first. SEO or Search Engine Optimization refers to the process of optimizing your website on search engines (most commonly Google).

SEO is well-known for bringing about multiple business benefits, such as:

  • Ensure search engines have no trouble accessing and indexing the website
  • Provide quality content that meets the user search intent
  • Help search engines understand the website structure
  • Help search engines understand the meaning (context) of the content
  • Increase website authority and ranking on SERPs (search engine results pages)

Technical SEO: Optimization for websites

Technical SEO: Optimization for websites

So what is technical SEO? Technical SEO means every optimization action taken at the crawling and indexing stages. This helps eliminate troubles that search engines may encounter when accessing, indexing and interpreting your website.

In general, technical SEO consists of 2 main factors: On page SEO and Off page SEO.

  • On page SEO includes all actions taken directly on the website to increase the site authority for search engines and create value for users.
  • Off page SEO refers to the process of building links with other websites to boost the site reliability and SERP rankings.

14 Technical SEO Tactics For Newbies

When done right, technical SEO has a significant impact on the website rankings. Let’s go through 14 tactics that every SEO expert has learned by heart.

Choose the right domain name

A domain name is a fixed address leading to your website. Think of it as the “house number” of each website, which means for any site to be set up, there must be a domain name.

For example, the domain name of On Digitals website is ondigitals.com.

You can access a site with or without “www” in front of the domain name. In the case of ondigitals.com, http://www.ondigitals.com and http://ondigitals.com both work.

To online users, adding or removing “www” means no difference, but search engines don’t take it as easy. In fact, these tools will confuse these as two separate websites.

In this case, your website is vulnerable to certain issues related to indexing, duplication and content. Consequently, your rankings will suffer and even plummet.

Therefore, you need to choose the right domain name for your website and declare to search engines whether it is with or without “www”.

Technical SEO guide: Choose the right domain name

Technical SEO guide: Choose the right domain name

Optimize the robots.txt file

After setting up the right domain name, the next step is to check and optimize the robots.txt file.

Located in the root directory of the website, the robots.txt text file serves as a guide to search engines about how to crawl the pages for indexing purposes.

Robots.txt has a fairly simple format, so it doesn’t need much intervention. You just need to check and make sure there is nothing that affects the crawling process of search engines.

Example of On Digitals robots.txt file:

Technical SEO guide: Optimize robots.txt file

Technical SEO guide: Optimize robots.txt file

Optimize the URL structure

To optimize the URL structure of the pages, follow these criteria:

  • Use lowercase instead of uppercase characters
  • Use hyphen to separate words in the URL
  • Keep the URL short and easy to remember, avoid redundancy
  • Insert keywords in the URL selectively, avoid stuffing
  • Optimize the URL when publishing new content

Example of an optimized URL: https://ondigitals.com/optimize-for-featured-snippet/.

If you use WordPress, the default option will take the content title to generate the URL, but these auto-generated URLs are relatively long and unoptimized.

Therefore, you don’t need to change the URLs of published posts, but remember to optimize the URL structure before posting new content.

Design the site structure and category

The structure and category of the website are among the most important factors affecting SEO results. Users will spend more time on a website where they can easily find the information they want.

At the same time, the right design of website structure and category will facilitate the interpretation and indexing process of search engines.

Technical SEO guide: Categories and site structure

Technical SEO guide: Categories and site structure

A common mistake of rookie SEO practitioners is neglecting website navigation and structure, which may make SEO effectiveness and site rankings take a dive. A logical, consistent and straightforward website structure is what helps your important pages rank well on Google SERPs.

Add breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs are a set of links that allow users to navigate to a previous page or to the homepage of a website. Breadcrumbs can be placed at the top or bottom of the website.

The main purpose of breadcrumbs is to help users navigate the website with ease and always know where they are. It also serves as suggestions to search engines about the website structure.

Adding breadcrumbs is considered one of the highly appreciated SEO techniques. If you are using WordPress and Yoast SEO Plugins, follow these two steps to create breadcrumbs:

  1. Copy the following code to the position you want the breadcrumbs to display. The most common option is to put it in the content file (single.php) and page file (page.php) of that theme.
    <?php if ( function_exists(‘yoast_breadcrumb’) ) { yoast_breadcrumb(‘ <p id=”breadcrumbs”>’,'</p> ‘); } ?>
  2. Next, go to the dashboard and select SEO → Advanced to enable breadcrumbs and customize the display of breadcrumb hierarchy.

Pay attention to structured data

In recent years, structured data has been under a more or less “spotlight treatment” thanks to its ability to support Google in the process of returning search results.

Technical SEO guide: Structured data

Technical SEO guide: Structured data

Structured data can be interpreted as information that has been arranged. The purpose of structured data is to help describe specific information about a web page, which can lead to the birth of a featured snippet on Google SERPs.

Check canonical URLs

Canonical URLs tell Google which version of the page to take into account when indexing the site. Every website and every page on it must have a canonical URL.

You can add canonical URLs by adding the <link rel=”canonical” href=”your page URL”> tag in the <head> of your posts and web pages.

As a rule of thumb, specify a canonical URL for all the pages of your website. To check whether your site has a canonical URL, right-click anywhere in the page, choose View Page Source, search for rel=”canonical” and check the value.

You can also add canonical URLs automatically by plugins. If your website uses WordPress, choose the Yoast SEO Plugin. Or you can always get help from a technical SEO services provider to make the necessary changes.

Optimize 404 error pages

A 404 error page will show up when a user visits a URL that no longer exists. It may be because the page was deleted, the URL has changed, or the user just entered the wrong URL.

The latest versions of WordPress mostly have 404 pages optimized by default. But you can always use plugins or edit the interface themes to make 404 error pages more user-friendly.

Technical SEO guide: 404 error page

Technical SEO guide: 404 error page

A 404 page is considered friendly when it has the following elements:

  • Share the same structure and navigation menu with your website
  • Show up with a friendly interface and language
  • Recommend related pages for users to have alternatives
  • Help users return to the homepage, previous pages, or related pages

However, don’t over-invest in optimizing 404 error pages. Just make sure when an URL is not found, it will return a user-friendly 404 page.

Optimize XML sitemap

XML sitemap optimization is one essential technical SEO tactic. An XML sitemap is an XML file that lists out existing pages or posts on a website. In addition to the post title, this file also includes the publication date and last update date. Search engines use XML sitemaps as a guide when crawling websites.

Technical SEO guide: XML sitemap optimization

Technical SEO guide: XML sitemap optimization

The way to optimize XML sitemaps is quite simple. You only need to add important pages in the sitemap, which means your content posts and the category of the website. Don’t include tag pages, author pages or pages with no content of their own.

Also, make sure that when a page is published or updated, the site profile will be updated automatically. You can use Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster tools to submit your profile to Google for a status check.

Install SSL to create HTTPS

HTTPS is an indication of a website with high security, ensuring the safety of visitors. When you install SSL on your server, the site address will show “https” instead of “http”.

This means that any information transferred between the website and the server is encrypted, such as usernames, passwords, personal information, etc. Therefore, users can enjoy surfing the site without the risk of information leakage.

Technical SEO guide: SSL installation for enhanced security

Technical SEO guide: SSL installation for enhanced security

In short, every website should have SSL installed. If you have not completed this task, contact your hosting providers for installation assistance.

Optimize page loading speed

Page speed also plays a role in site rankings and user experience. It’s no rocket science that websites with high loading speed provide a more pleasant experience hence more visitors. After all, why should you wait for a page to load when just one click back and there is a sea of information waiting to serve you?

To reach the desired page speed, you need to take action on both the website and the server. You can check your current speed with Google PageSpeed Insights or Pingdom Tools. They will give you some suggestions to improve the loading speed.

Technical SEO guide: Page loading speed

Technical SEO guide: Page loading speed

Some proven tactics to boost your site speed include:

  • Use a 4-bit operating system by upgrading the server.
  • Instead of PHP 5.2, upgrade to PHP 7.2.
  • Make sure the image or video size follows the standard. Here bigger doesn’t mean better. You can use online tools to reduce the image size while maintaining the quality.
  • Be selective when using plugins, upgrade WordPress and plugins to the latest version.
  • Invest in one custom theme. Avoid using default themes because they often contain a lot of unnecessary code, slowing down the page speed.
  • Optimize and minimize the JS and CSS files.
  • Use a caching plugin and asynchronous Javascript loading
  • Avoid adding too much content in the <head> of the site

Make your website mobile-friendly

Searching for information on mobile devices has become a norm, which calls for more attention to mobile optimization.

Making a website mobile-friendly is a basic but essential technical SEO tactic. After all, users will stay longer and return more often to pages that adjust to their online search behaviors.

How to know if your site is mobile-friendly enough? You can:

  • Use the “Inspect URL” feature in Google Search Console, or
  • Take the Rich Result Test

Then take care of the following factors to ensure your site is optimized for mobile uses:

  • The web content should be the same on desktop and mobile views. Any information displayed on a computer must also be shown on a mobile device.
  • The page speed on mobile devices should be less than 6 seconds, and the faster the better.
  • Restrict mobile advertising.

Consider the use of AMP

AMP or Accelerated Mobile Pages is a method to increase page loading speed on mobile devices through AMP HTML.

Technical SEO guide: AMP for better mobile speed

Technical SEO guide: AMP for better mobile speed

Note that pages using AMP are only accessible through Google Mobile search results or other AMP providers. There are two main advantages of using AMP:

  • Increase the speed of mobile site
  • Boost CTR from mobile users

However, remember to use your good judgment because AMP also comes with certain disadvantages, such as:

  • The implementation is quite complicated. You need to do more than just activating AMP plugins on WordPress
  • AMP pages cannot be used for email marketing purposes
  • If you want to use an AMP website, you need the help of a developer
  • As you have to view the analytics and reports from  both the regular and AMP website, there is more room for confusion and human mistakes.

Right now, the common judgment of AMP is that its use is limited in accelerating the speed. However, with Google always updating their algorithms, more opportunities for AMP may open up in the future.

Pagination and multi-language settings

When you want to split a long page into multiple shorter pages, a typical solution is pagination. You can use rel=”next” and rel=”prev” links to let search engines know the next page is a continuation of the main page. It helps Google understand which page is the main page hence facilitating the indexing process.

Besides, if your content uses more than one language, don’t forget multi-language settings. You can use the hreflang attribute to specify the language and help Google better understand the content and structure of your site.

This action makes the website display the content adapted to the user’s language, such as displaying English for English-speaking users. At the same time, it also helps avoid duplicated content and boost your SEO results.

Technical SEO guide: Multiple language options

Technical SEO guide: Multiple language options

The Technical SEO Checklist

To make sure you have applied successfully all the tactics we mention above, let’s take one more step: Look at each item of the following checklist and tick them off as you go.

The checklist of technical SEO tactics includes:

  • Check a preferred domain in Google Search Console and WordPress
  • Check the robots.txt file
  • Check the URL structure
  • Customize the navigation and structure of the site
  • Add breadcrumbs menu to posts and pages
  • Add schema markup to breadcrumbs
  • Add structured data to the homepage and other pages
  • Optimize 404 error pages
  • Optimize and submit the XML sitemaps to Google and Bing
  • Enable HTTPS to ensure safe access for users.
  • Test and optimize the page loading speed and mobile friendliness
  • Consider whether to use AMP
  • Check your page counts and multi-language settings

Read more: How to submit URL to Google to accelerate the indexing process.

Final Thoughts

With the guide of 14 Technical SEO tactics, we hope you have a great start on the journey of optimizing your website for better rankings.

Pay a regular visit to On Digitals for the latest updates on SEO and Digital Marketing information. If you want tailored solutions for businesses such as SEO services, website design and more, don’t hesitate to contact us today.

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