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It’s all in the detail – How technical SEO can make or break your rankings

5 min read

Back to Insight

5 min read

It’s all in the detail – How technical SEO can make or break your rankings

Author: Miko
Posted in Search Engine Optimisation on 31st May 2021 9:00 am

Before elaborating on how technical SEO can make or break your rankings, it is important to discuss first, what technical SEO is. The term technical SEO refers to a group of server and website optimisations which help search engine crawlers, crawl and index a site in a more effective manner. This process helps to organically improve your rankings.

This guide aims to highlight what steps to take to ensure that technical SEO does not harm your rankings. Let us begin.

Ensure your pages load quickly

One of the major reasons for large bounce rates is when webpages do not load fast enough for visitors. This is clearly evident as Google sees this as a ranking factor for both mobile and desktop websites. Unfortunately, it can be quite complicated to make your page speed quicker. There are quite a number of metrics and tools to help benchmark speeds, however, you can utilise Google’s Pagespeed Insights as it gives you a more accurate metric. It can also let you know which areas pertaining to page speed need to be worked on.

However, rather than simply concentrating on just individual areas, it is better to look at ways to improve overall speed.

You could use a quicker DNS provider

Install a caching plugin. When you use a cache plugin, you temporarily store files, so that they can be delivered to site visitors in a more efficient manner.

Minify CSS, JavaScript and HTML files. Minification helps to remove comments and whitespace from code which help lower file sizes.

Compress images. Images used on sites are typically the largest files. Compressing these files can help decrease their size, ensuring they load as quickly as possible.

Use hreflang for multilingual content

Hreflang is a term given to an HTML attribute which is used to identify the geographical and language targeting of a page. It is typically used on websites that have different language variations or varying geographic targeting.

The two major reasons as to why hreflang is pertinent is that:

  • It can help fight duplicate content. For instance, if there are two analogous webpages, without hreflang, Google would view these pages as duplicates, indexing just one of them.
  • Hreflang can also help with rankings. Pages contained in an hreflang cluster typically share ranking signals. This means that if a French page has numerous links, the English variant of that webpage will also have those ranking signals.

Eradicate duplicated content

While Google does not penalise websites that have duplicate content, duplicate content has the ability to cause other problems, such as:

  • Unfriendly or undesirable URLs in the search results
  • Wasted crawl budget
  • Backlink dilution
  • Syndicated or scraped content could outrank your site’s content

To see if you have any duplicated content problems on your site, simply check on your Google Search Console. Head over to Coverage report, select the options that lets you view excluded URLs to search for duplicate-related issues. It is important to note that the Search Console solely informs you about URLs that have been recognised by Google as duplicates. This means that there could be other duplicated content that has not been noticed by Google.

Make sure your high-quality content is indexable and crawl-able

Crawling is the way search engines locate new content. It is done by a web crawler also known as a search engine spider. It visits known webpages to download new data. For instance, if you add another page to your website and have it linked from the homepage. When Google or any other search engine crawls your homepage next, it is able to discover the new link. If the content on the link is deemed valuable to searchers, it becomes indexed.

Utilise HTTPS

HTTPS helps to encrypt data sent from a website to its visitor. It ensures that sensitive information such as credit card information is protected and kept from being compromised. There are quite a number of benefits associated with HTTPS, so much so that it is not a surprise that since 2014 it’s been a ranking factor. The most effective way to know if your site’s address utilises HTTPS is to search for a lock icon just before your URL in the loading bar.

Redirect HTTP to HTTPS

It does not matter if your website utilises HTTPS, it can still be accessed by visitors who use the HTTP variant. This is not ideal as it takes away the point of utilising HTTPS and the security advantages it provides, as visitors can simply visit the unsecured variant of your site. You can test if your website redirects you from your HTTP version to the HTTPS version. If it does this automatically, then there is no issue. However, if you are able to access the HTTP variant of your site, you will need to redirect it to HTTPS by doing adding some lines of code below to the .htaccess file:

  • RewriteEngine On
  • RewriteCond %{HTTPS} off
  • RewriteRule ^(.*)$ https://%{HTTP_HOST}%{REQUEST_URI} [L,R=301]

Create a sitemap

Sitemaps are essential as they help list all the pertinent content located on your site. They tend to come in different formats, however, the most popular formats are XML files. A lot of people today tend to question if sitemaps are important, given that most search engines are able to find the majority of your content without using one. Nevertheless, Google has confirmed that sitemaps are indeed important as they are an important source of URLs. One major explanation for this is that sitemaps tend to include orphan pages.
Orphan pages describe pages which search engines like Google are unable to locate via crawling as they do not have any internal links from crawl-able pages on a site.

Conclusion

Technical SEO is expansive and can seem quite complicated, however, the tips on this list are a few of the best practices to ensure that common technical mistakes are corrected. Doing this also ensures that your site performance goes up which can have a positive experience on your ranking.

If you need any assistance in optimising your website so that you can make your way to the top of the search engine pile, then get in touch with us today. We’re SEO and digital marketing experts and we’re always up for a chat about how we can help!

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