There are two main types of search engine optimisation (SEO) implementation – onpage and offpage SEO. When it comes to onpage SEO, it can be further divided into two categories – technical and content SEO optimisation. In this post, we will be discussing technical SEO.
Technical SEO refers to the process of optimizing the coding and infrastructure of your website so that search engines can crawl, index, and rank your website better.
From a search engine’s perspective, the technical design and build of a site must provide the best experience for the user. For example, Google assesses the core web vitals of a site to ensure the site loads fast and displays on all devices properly. Technical SEO is implemented to ensure the core web vitals of a site are optimised. Ensuring website security and safety (i.e. no viruses) also falls under technical SEO.
These include ensuring the site will display on all devices properly, will load fast and is secure.
Website Design, Website Development and SEO
Before you can do any form of SEO implementation, you will need a website. Your website is your primary digital asset in the online world as you own it completely and have full control over all aspects of the website design and content. This is unlike a social media account where you are creating a user account on a social media platform and have no access to the coding or design of your page, beyond basic aesthetic customisation.
As such, the way your website is designed and developed is critical to your SEO success. Without a website, even the best content in the world will not have a platform to be showcased. SEO web development is a specific discipline in web designing and building and requires experience in both web developing and SEO.
When building a website, technical SEO optimisation should be considered right from the start. Many websites are built based on functional or aesthetic design and SEO is implemented after the site is built. However, for maximum optimization, SEO should be built into the web development process from the very start.
Technical SEO Checklist
To improve technical SEO, consider the following factors that can affect the user experience of your site and the ability for a search engine like Google to crawl, index and rank your site accurately.
Navigation and Website Architecture
Good navigation design and a logical site architecture provides users with a better experience as they are more likely to stay on a website longer and find the information they need faster. A good website structure also helps search engines understand and index a site easier.
URL structures are the slugs at the of a page name. For example, yourdomain.com/this-is-the-slug
Format your website’s URL structure following best SEO practices, such as:
- Use lowercase characters
- Make them short and descriptive
- Use – to separate words in the URL
- Avoid using unnecessary characters or words
- Use your target keywords in the URL without overusing them
A Mobile-friendly Website with Responsive Design
An essential technical SEO requirement to ensure your website has a responsive design to cater to the increasing number of mobile users. A responsive design means your website will be mobile-friendly which allows your website to be displayed properly regardless of the device that is being used.
Mobile friendliness is essential for technical SEO as there are more mobile users performing searches than ever before. Over the past few years, mobile searches have increased to 51.3%, crossing the web searches. For Singapore specifically, 98.25% of the population uses Google search engine through smartphones.
A responsive website design requires technical knowledge on how to set it up unless you use a content management system like WordPress with a responsive theme.
One of Google’s key ranking signals is user experience. A major component of user experience is how fast a website loads (also known as website speed or page speed). That means your website needs to load fast to rank well with Google.
Google has a tool called PageSpeed Insights that will help you gauge your website’s loading speed and will highlight issues that need to be addressed.
Here are some tips to increase page speed:
Use a content delivery network (CDN): Your hosting provider should also speed up your page load time by using a CDN. It’s a network of servers that allows your website files to be served from the closest available server, leading to faster page load times.
Use a caching tool: There are many caching tools available for websites that you can use to speed up your website’s page load time.
Use a fast-hosting provider: Web hosting providers have varying speeds of servers. Free web hosts may have very slow server speed, which can affect your page load time. Check with the web host if they have servers that speed up your website’s page load time.
Optimize your website files: HTML files larger than 200kb can take longer to load, so you should optimize your website’s HTML files.
Image compression: Large images can also take a long time to load. Use tools like TinyPNG and other image compression tools to compress your website’s images to reduce the overall size of your files.
Meta information is the underlying coding and SEO content that appears in Google’s search engine results pages (SERPs). It informs users of the content of a webpage and more importantly provides critical information to Google about your webpage.
Meta information is usually HTML code, so it does not appear in front of your web page and is not visible to the readers. However, these codes are readable by Google as they attempt to understand your page.
There are three types of essential meta information that includes title tags, description tags, and keywords tags.
The title tag says what the page is about in the search results – it shows up in bold in Google’s results pages. In HTML, they are used as <title>Your title here</title>. The title tags should be clear and concise, not more than 65 characters, and your targeted keywords should appear near the beginning of the title.
For example, if your targeted keyword is “buy protein shake,” your title tag should look like: <title>Buy Protein Shake online with XYZ Company Today</title>
The meta description is a short preview of the content on the page, and it should be no more than 160 characters in length. It’s important not to repeat your keywords too much when writing meta descriptions. This is usually known as “keyword stuffing,” which Google will not like.
Here’s a tip: Write your meta description as a call-to-action. A call-to-action description is words that encourage users to do something like clicking on your links.
For example, if your targeted keyword is “buy protein shake,” your meta description might look like “Offer: Buy protein shake and enjoy 20% discount on your first order. Visit our store now!”
Meta keywords are a specific type of meta tag. Search engines look at them to find out the topic of your page.
Many SEO experts believe that meta tags are not very important an essential ranking signal that will help rank your website. However, every optimisation you can do for your site is recommended. Meta keywords can also help communicate your core message and attracting searchers to your site.
For example, if you have done your keyword research and your top 5 keywords are “protein shake,” “buy protein shake,” “cheapest protein shake online,” “best protein supplement,” “best protein shake brand,” you will have these five keywords in your meta keywords.
Putting the Title Tag, Meta Description and Meta Keyword Together
Now that we understand meta title, meta description, and meta keyword, your meta information will look like the following in html code form:
<title>Buy Protein Shake online with XYZ Company Today</title>
<meta name=”description” content=”Offer: Buy protein shake and enjoy 20% discount on the first order, visit our store now!”>
<meta name=”keywords” content=”protein shake, buy protein shake, cheapest protein shake online, best protein supplement, best protein shake brand”>
Do not worry if you do not need to code. If you are using a content management system like WordPress, there are plugins which can help create the codes for you.
Having a secure website is very important for users to trust your site to spend time and interact with it. Be sure to install an SSL on your server that allows your site to be accessed using https and not http.
The “https” prefix before a URL indicates that any information transferred between your website and server (such as usernames, passwords, personal data, etc.) is encrypted.
To make it easier for search engines to index and assess the pages in your site, Robots.txt need to be optimised. Robot.txt is a text file in the root directory of your website that gives instructions to search engines as to which pages of your site they can crawl and add to their index.
Create & Submit the XML Sitemap
An XML Sitemap is an XML file that lists all pages/posts available on your website and is submitted to the search engine. Search engines use the XML sitemap as a guide when crawling a site.
There are various ways to create a sitemap but the easiest way to use a plugin or app to help create the XML file. For example, for WordPress sites, there are various plugins like Yoast that can automatically generate the site map. You can then manually submit this XML sitemap file to search engines. In Google, this can be done through the tool known as Google Search Console.
A best practice is to submit the new sitemap to search engines every time you update your website. Manually submitting your sitemap will inform the search engines of your site changes as soon as they are done. Otherwise, the search engines may take a few weeks to crawl through your site and index the updated pages.