How Technical SEO Influence Your Search Engine Rankings
However, it is essential to know that your site probably has some technical issues. There are no perfect websites without any room for growth, Elena Terenteva of SEMrush explained. Hundreds and even thousands of subjects might appear on your website.
For example, over 80% of websites tested had 4xx broken link errors, according to a 2017 SEMrush study, and more than 65% of sites had duplicate content.
Ultimately, you need your website to rank better, get better traffic, and net more conversions. Technical SEO is all about resolving errors to make that happen. Here are technical SEO elements to check for the best site optimization.
Technical SEO Influential Elements
Identify crawl errors with a crawl report
One of the primary things to do is run a crawl report for your site. A crawl report, or site audit, will give insight into some of your site’s errors.
You will see your most important technical SEO issues, such as duplicate content, low page speed, or missing H1/H2 tags.
You can automate site audits utilizing various tools and work through the list of errors or warnings created by the crawl. This is a task you should work through each month to keep your site clean of errors and as optimized as possible.
Check HTTPS status codes
Switching to HTTPS is a must because search engines and users will not have entrance to your site if you still have HTTP URLs. They will get 4xx and 5xx HTTP status codes rather than your content.
A Ranking Factors Study conducted by SEMrush found that HTTPS is an influential ranking factor and can impact your site’s rankings.
Make sure you switch over, and when you do, utilize this checklist to ensure a seamless migration.
Next, you require to look for other status code errors. Your site crawl report provides you a list of URL errors, including 404 errors. You can also get a list from the Google Search Console, which involves a detailed breakdown of potential errors. Make sure your Google Search Console error list is always blank and that you fix errors as soon as they arise.
Check XML sitemap status
The XML sitemap serves as a map for Google and different search engine crawlers. It essentially helps the crawlers see your website pages, thus ranking them accordingly.
You should guarantee your site’s XML sitemap meets a few fundamental guidelines:
- Make sure your sitemap is formatted correctly in an XML document
- Ensure it follows XML sitemap protocol
- Have all updated pages of your website in the sitemap
- Submit the Sitemap to your Google Search Console.
How do you submit an XML sitemap to Google?
You can submit your XML sitemap to Google through the Google Search Console Sitemaps tool. You can also insert the sitemap (i.e., http://example.com/sitemap_location.xml) anywhere in your robots.txt file.
Assure your XML Sitemap is pristine, with all the URLs returning 200 status codes and proper canonicals. You do not want to waste precious crawl budget on duplicate or broken pages.
Check the site load time
Your site’s load time is a different important technical SEO metric to check. According to the technical SEO error report through SEMrush, over 23% of sites have slow page load times.
Site speed is all about user experience and can influence other key metrics that search engines use for ranking, such as bounce rate and time on a page.
To find your site’s load time, you can use Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool. Insert your site URL and let Google do the rest. You’ll also get site load time metrics for mobile.
This has become increasingly important after Google’s rollout of mobile-first indexing. Ideally, your page load time should be shorter than 3 seconds. If it is more for either mobile or desktop, it is time to begin tweaking elements of your site to decrease the site load time for better rankings.
Ensure your site is mobile-friendly
Your site must be mobile-friendly to develop technical SEO and search engine rankings. This is a pretty easy SEO element to check using Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test: enter your site and get valuable insights on the mobile state of your website. You can even submit your returns to Google to let them know how your site performs.
A few mobile-friendly solutions include:
- Increase font size
- Embed YouTube videos
- Compress images
- Use Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP).
Audit for keyword cannibalization
Keyword cannibalization can confuse search engines. For instance, if you have two pages in keyword competition, Google will need to decide which page is best.
One of the most common keyword cannibalization pitfalls is to optimize the home page and subpage for the particular keywords, which is common in local SEO. Utilize Google Search Console’s Performance report to look for pages that are competing for the same keywords. Use the filter to see which pages have the exact keywords in the URL, or search by keyword to see how many pages rank for those exact keywords.
In this example, notice many pages on the same site with the same keyword. It might be ideal for consolidating a few of these pages, where possible, to avoid keyword cannibalization.
Check your site’s robots.txt file
If you see that all of your pages aren’t indexed, the first place to look is your robots.txt file. There are sometimes occasions when site owners accidentally block pages from search engine crawling. This makes auditing your robots.txt file a must.
When checking your robots.txt file, you should look for “Disallow: /”
This tells search engines not to crawl a page on your site or even your entire website. Make sure none of your relevant pages are accidentally disallowed in your robots.txt file.
Perform a Google site search
On the topic of search engine indexing, there is a simple way to check how well Google is indexing your website. In Google search, type in “site:yourwebsite.com”
It will present to you all pages indexed by Google, which you can use as a reference. A word of sign, however: if your site is not on the top of the list, you may have a Google penalty on your hands, or you’re blocking your site from being indexed.
Check for duplicate metadata
This technical SEO faux pas is quite common for eCommerce sites and large sites with hundreds to thousands of pages. Nearly 54% of websites have duplicate metadata, identified as Meta descriptions, and approximately 63% have missing Meta descriptions.
Duplicate Meta descriptions occur when similar products or pages have content copied and pasted into the Meta descriptions field.
A detailed SEO audit or a crawl report will inform you of Meta description issues. It may take some time to get unique descriptions in place, but it is deserving of it.
Meta description length
While you are reviewing all your Meta descriptions for duplicate content errors, you can also optimize them by ensuring they are the correct length. This is not an important ranking factor, but it is a technical SEO tactic that can improve your CTR in SERPs.
Recent changes to Meta description length expanded the 160 character count to 320 characters. This gives you lots of space to add keywords, product specs, location (for local SEO), and other key elements.
Check for site-wide duplicate content.
Duplicate content in meta-descriptions is not the only related content you need to be on the lookout for when it comes to technical SEO. Almost 66% of websites have duplicate content issues.
Copyscape is a great tool to detect duplicate content on the internet. You can also use Screaming Frog, Site Bulb, or SEMrush to identify duplication.
Once you have your list, it is just a matter of running through the pages and changing the content to avoid duplication.
Check for broken links
Any type of broken link is incorrect for your SEO; it can waste crawl budget, create a bad user experience, and lead to lower rankings. This makes knowing and fixing broken links on your website important.
One way in which to see broken links is to check your crawl report. This will provide you a detailed view of each URL that has broken links.