You are constantly creating valuable and information-packed content, following all the best practices of SEO, maybe even running outreach campaigns to build your inbound authority. And yet, your website is still not ranking.
If this sounds like you, chances are you have some technical issues that are preventing your website from being crawled, indexed, and ultimately, ranked. In this post, you will learn how fix the problem and get your website to rank with technical SEO.
What is technical SEO?
Technical SEO is a part of on-page SEO which focuses on optimis\zing the elements that are on your website to increase your ranking potential. Specifically, technical SEO refers to the technical aspects of a website that influence SERP rankings, such as your pages’ loading speed and your website’s architecture.
These elements might not be the sexiest, but they are crucial to securing high rankings in all search engines.
Tip 1: Optimize your page speed.
Nowadays, people expect web pages to load with close to lightning speed. According to the 2016 study conducted by Google, 53% of mobile website visitors will leave if the webpage isn’t rendered within 3 seconds. But it’s not just a ‘user experience thing’.
Your site speed can also affect your SERP rankings, and not for the better. The following tips can help you speed things up:
Compress all of your files.
Clean up your code.
Messy and poorly structured code is another factor that can significantly slow down your site’s load time. It’s like beating around a bush in your writing – expressing an idea in more words than needed, thereby increasing the time and effort required to process it.
Minifying your code will dramatically improve your site’s speed and accessibility, translating into higher rankings and better user experience.
Consider a content distribution network (CDN).
CDNs or content delivery networks are geographically distributed data centers that store copies of your website and deliver the copy that is closest to the requesting party’s location, thereby minimizing the physical distance the files have to travel.
Try not to go plugin happy.
Outdated plugins often have security vulnerabilities that make your website susceptible to malicious hackers who can harm your website’s rankings. Make sure you’re always using the latest versions of plugins and minimize your use to the most essential.
In the same vein, consider using custom-made theme as pre-made website themes tend to come with a lot of unnecessary code.
Take advantage of cache plugins.
A caching plugin generates static versions of your website and saves it on your server. Each time a user accesses your site, the caching plugin will give them the static version instead of rendering the whole page from scratch, which takes much longer. As a result, your website loads faster for the returning visitors.
Tip 2: Canonicalize your urls.
If you have duplicate content on several pages of your site – or even on other sites – you risk being ranked down by the search algorithms. This is because search engines don’t know which page is more important and should be ranked first.
Even if you haven’t intentionally published the same content on multiple pages of your website, you might still get ranked down because of duplicate content. How so? Because the same content can live on different URLs, which are generated automatically when you create a post or a page.
Luckily, there is a simple solution to fix this issue. You can let search engines know which page you want them to prioritize by setting a canonical element for that page.
Tip 3. Secure your website.
Did you know that Google now warns users when they are accessing an unsecured website? You may have stumbled upon this yourself when browsing the web.
Not what you’d like your visitors to see when they are accessing your site, huh?
Making your website secure is not just important from the legal and user experience standpoint. In 2014, Google made security a ranking signal too. Specifically, this refers to SSL encryption of your website.
SSL is basically a protocol for establishing an encrypted link between the web server (the software sending the online request) and the browser, making sure that no-one can intercept that data.
This is especially important for sites that have a member area where people have to log in to access gated content or functionality. When ranking websites, Google takes into account the SSL certificate, placing unsafe websites lower down the SERPs.
You can easily check if your site has the SSL certificate in any browser. If your site is SSL-secure, your URL will begin with https:// (as opposed to ‘http//’ – not secure). You will also see a green lock on the left hand side of the URL. If you see the words ‘not secure’, you or your IT technician has some work to do!
Tip 4. Make sure your website is crawlable.
Crawlability is the foundation of your technical SEO strategy. Search bots will crawl your pages to gather information about your site.
If something is blocking the search bots from crawling some parts of your website, they can’t index and rank those pages. To ensure that your website is crawlable, make sure to do the following:
Set a URL structure.
URL structure refers to how you structure your URLs, which could be determined by your site architecture. URLs can have subdirectories, like blog.echellon.com, and/or subfolders, like echellon.com/blog, that indicate where the URL leads.
Whether you use subdomains or subdirectories or “products” versus “store” in your URL is entirely up to you. The beauty of creating your own website is that you can create the rules. What’s important is that those rules follow a unified structure, meaning that you shouldn’t switch between blog.yourwebsite.com and yourwebsite.com/blogs on different pages. Create a roadmap, apply it to your URL naming structure, and stick to it.
Once you have your URL structure buttoned up, you’ll submit a list of URLs of your important pages to search engines in the form of an XML sitemap. Doing so gives search bots additional context about your site so they don’t have to figure it out as they crawl.
Create an XML map.
The XML map is a file where you provide information about the pages and files on your website, and the relationships between them. You can think of it as a map of your website. It helps search bots understand the structure of your website and crawl your web pages.
Tip 5: Use breadcrumbs menus.
Remember the old fable Hansel and Gretel where two children dropped breadcrumbs on the ground to find their way back home? Well, they were on to something.
Breadcrumbs are exactly what they sound like — a trail that guides users back to the start of their journey on your website. It’s a menu of pages that tells users how their current page relates to the rest of the site.
And they aren’t just for website visitors; search bots use them, too.
Breadcrumbs should be two things: 1) visible to users so they can easily navigate your web pages without using the Back button, and 2) have structured markup language to give accurate context to search bots that are crawling your site.