A Beginner's Guide to Technical SEO

16 June 2021
by Archie Williamson
5 mins
A Beginner's Guide to Technical SEO

Our beginner’s guide to technical SEO covers basic tweaks and tactics that can help to optimise your website and servers for the crawling and indexing process that ranks content organically in search engines.

While the technical aspects of SEO may appear daunting and complicated at first glance, it is possible for someone without any prior knowledge of SEO to implement basic updates and changes that can improve the visibility of a site in search.

What exactly is technical SEO?

There are different types of SEO that can be optimised for. These include “on-page”, which covers keywords and other elements that are actually visible to a visitor on a site, and “off-page”, which focuses on building links, social networking, influencers and brand mentions.

Technical SEO covers the things you can’t see but that are no less important when trying to deliver excellent web experiences and preparing your site for crawling bots and the indexing process. In layman’s terms, technical SEO makes it easier for Google to understand your site, which can improve rankings.

There is a range of ranking signals that Google looks at when ranking content that is directly linked to technical SEO. The Core Web Vitals, a set of metrics related to how fast a page loads and its visual stability, will soon be rolled into a new algorithm update that is weighted more heavily towards the page experience.

By making changes to your site and server that improves the speed of pages, you could benefit from better rankings and in turn, higher levels of organic traffic on both mobile and desktop devices.

Where is the best place to start?

You can prepare for a technical SEO overhaul by conducting a website audit. This in-depth analysis will provide you with a clear overview of your site’s performance and the issues that could be preventing you from being more visible in search. It is possible to get a free website audit from a reputable SEO agency, which will create a report based on the findings. This can then be used as a foundation for technical SEO tweaks.

Fortunately, the basics are quite easy to understand. It is definitely best to focus on quicker fixes and more accessible factors to begin with, as prioritising the right technical changes is a challenge for even the most experienced SEOs.

Check content is being indexed

Getting Google to index your content is critical as your site won’t show up in search engines if bots can’t find your web pages. Google’s URL Inspection tool will tell you whether a specific page is being indexed, and list any of its current issues. A website audit should also detail any problems here, so you can skip this step if you have identified pages that aren’t being indexed.

Reasons for a lack of indexing include the presence of a robots.txt file that is blocking crawlers from a site, the erroneous use of ‘noindex’ tags, and in extreme cases, pages that are deemed very poor quality due to spam and low-value links.

Google says the home page is “commonly the first page” it finds, so work from there and make sure everything is ready and waiting to be indexed.

Add schema markup

Adding code to your pages in the form of schema markup can improve your search performance by making pages eligible for rich results. Google has a Structured Data Markup Helper that can assist with this process. In its guidance for the tool, Google notes that adding markup will help pages to be “presented more attractively” in search.

The process is relatively straightforward. You need to navigate to the ‘Website’ tab within the Helper, select the page type then enter a URL, before clicking on ‘Start Tagging’. You can then start highlighting important information. This could be event data, for example, that could be crawled and presented as a rich snippet in search results

When you have finished the tagging process, you can then select ‘Create HTML’ to generate the code. Now, all you need to do is to test the code using Google’s Rich Results test before it goes live.

Fine-tune URLs

Even though you can see URLs, the text within them still falls within technical SEO. Making your URLs search-friendly can improve rankings as Google will be able to understand the context of pages more readily when they are optimised. That means no long URLs with scrambled letters and numbers, and more lowercase, plain-text that is easier to digest.

Perform general maintenance

This is also a good time to perform some general maintenance as part of your regular technical SEO processes. You should try to fix any broken links that are delivering 404s or pointing to non-existent resources, and get rid of any redirect chains. Again, this is something that will be flagged in a website audit, which highlights the value of quality SEO services.

Optimise for page experience

Technical SEO should also cater to the user experience (UX). As noted earlier, Google is set to roll out a page experience update in June that includes the Core Web Vitals and a few other important signals. The main signals are:

  • Loading
  • Interactivity
  • Visual stability
  • Mobile-friendly
  • Safe browsing
  • No intrusive interstitials

You can optimise for the Core Web Vitals right away by optimising and compressing images on your site to reduce the weight of pages, deploying delayed loading where possible to save system resources and improve load times, and reducing JavaScript (JS) execution.

You also need to implement HTTPS encryption by installing an SSL certificate, and prioritise anything that can improve the user experience, such as using an intuitive web design that is easy to navigate and adheres to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines.

Work with IT to improve backend

Liaising with your IT department to improve server times is also a good idea. Google notes: “The longer it takes a browser to receive content from the server, the longer it takes to render anything on the screen. A faster server response time directly improves every single page-load metric, including LCP.”

You now have a technical SEO checklist to work from and an idea about how to implement these changes. If you want to get started with technical SEO fixes right away and would prefer the support of an experienced agency, contact us today and we will provide you with the best, bespoke SEO services available.


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