Every serious search engine optimization of websites or online shops should of course start with technical optimization and analysis. Without technical SEO, conventional SEO measures make little sense.
It is useless if you carry out content marketing or similar SEO measures but the website contains high or even minor technical errors.
For this reason, we start an SEO optimization with an analysis of the technical data of the website. We carry out this analysis in a very detailed and conscientious manner. We use a wide variety of tools for this, such as “ScreamingFrog SEO Spider”. We also carry out a manual check of the code, such as the Robot.txt, duplicated content via HTTP and HTTPS, or the language tag (hreflang), to name just a few examples.
All these measures take a lot of time but are usually the most important thing to optimize your website. In this way, we create a stable foundation on which we can build further SEO measures. We have found that many websites were not created correctly (little experience, in a rush), or that they collect a lot of code fragments over time, which can lead to major technical problems.
What is Technical SEO?
Technical SEO is a subset of search engine optimization that ensures that search engines can easily access, crawl, and index a page. In addition, companies can use technical SEO to optimize the foundation of their website. This means that you use technical SEO to create the conditions for further SEO measures such as on-page optimization to take effect.
Site operators can primarily address these optimizations with Technical SEO:
Optimize URL structure
The URL gives users a first impression of what to expect behind it. Google also requires this. The search engine requires that a URL clearly communicates what is behind a link. It is particularly important for site operators to
- Keep the URL as short as possible and as long as necessary (no more than 10 words)
- Separate words with a hyphen
- To formulate a descriptive URL
- Use the focus keyword and
- Avoid keyword stuffing
You should also build the URLs hierarchically. This means that users should be able to understand why which URL and thus which content is on which level of a page.
Companies that use the CMS WordPress for their website automatically receive a suggestion for a new URL when they create it. In general, these suggestions are useful. Sometimes, however, you can formulate them even shorter and more concisely.
When choosing their URLs, companies should always put themselves in the user’s shoes. You should ask yourself whether users can see at first glance what is hidden behind a URL.
Here is an example of what an optimal URL should look like: https://yourdomain.com/toner-for-hp-printer
Users and Google know immediately what to expect from the post. The title of the article then reveals details about the added value of the article: “Toner for HP printers – How your products get a better ranking and higher visibility”. However, this information is too extensive for a URL – and would make it too long.
Check and optimize robots.txt
The robots.txt file is a text file that tells search engines which pages to crawl. As a rule, companies only have to adjust them slightly. However, you should check your site to see if the robots.txt file is preventing crawlers from including a page in their index. Because: This prevents a ranking in the SERPs.
Optimizing the robots.txt can also help to optimize the “crawl budget”. Here you can, for example, specify which pages should not be indexed, so as not to “bother” Google or other search engines with superfluous pages.
Check website structure
The structure of your website determines how well users find their way around – and thus how long they stay on the site. If users stay longer on a page, Google classifies this as a positive ranking signal. Because: It shows the algorithms that users have found what they are looking for.
Companies should therefore choose a page structure that enables users to navigate easily and comprehensibly. They should be able to move around a page intuitively – without having to make too many clicks to get to their landing page. It helps not to create too many subpages. Because: Google finds content that is too deep only irregularly and takes longer to record updates. At the same time, however, companies should not place all content on a single page. That harms the clarity.
Add breadcrumb menus
A breadcrumb menu describes links that companies place at the top or bottom of a page so users can quickly return to a previous page without clicking the “back button” on their browser. As a rule, companies should link to the overview page or the category page.
Breadcrumbs don’t just help users. It also tells Google, Bing, and Co. how a page is structured. This makes the menu an important element of Technical SEO.
Use structured data
Structured data is a standardized format that you can use to add information to your website. The result: A search engine can easily understand and classify the content of a page. Structured data is not a direct ranking factor. However, depending on the search query, Google generates rich snippets for its SERPs from the structured data. This means that companies appear with their page at the top of the SERPs with special elements such as rating stars, price information, or images. This increases the likelihood that users will click on the link.
How companies should use structured data depends on what industry they are in. For example, online shops can score particularly well with Google if they incorporate the structured data into all product pages according to the “Product” scheme. Local companies should integrate the data on their site according to the “local business” scheme.
Check Canonical URLs
A canonical URL tells Google which version of a page the search engine should consider when indexing. For clean technical search engine optimization, companies should ensure that every URL of their page has a canonical URL. You can simply add the canonical tag in the header of pages. Canonical tags make sense when business owners have pages with similar content and want to avoid duplicate content.
Optimize 404 pages
A 404 page is a page that no longer exists. Users see these if, for example, the original page has been deleted, the URL has changed, or they have entered the wrong URL in the browser. Technical SEO here requires companies to optimize the 404 page. For this, the URL
- Have the same structure and navigation menus as the website,
- Explain to users that the site is no longer available,
- Suggest related pages to users and
- Make it easy for users to return to the previous page or home page
Companies that use WordPress usually do not have to optimize the 404 pages. Because: Most themes for the CMS have optimized 404 pages. If this is not the case, site operators can adapt them with a plugin for search engine optimization.
Create XML sitemap
A professional, technical SEO requires companies to create an XML sitemap. An XML sitemap lists all the pages available on a web page. It lists both the publication date and the date of the last update of each individual page. Search engines read the file to be able to crawl a page better.
This means that companies should create an XML sitemap that shows Google where to find what is on their site.
Not sure if your website has a sitemap? Test your website real quick by putting in the browser your website address and the ending “sitemap.xml”: https://www.yourwebsite.com/sitemap.xml
The result: The search engine can recognize and process newly published subpages or updated content more quickly.
Another advantage: You can use the sitemap to define exactly which of your most important pages are and give them a crawl priority. This shows search engines that these pages should be scanned more often than other pages.
Add SSL Certificate
An SSL certificate technically ensures that all information transmitted between your website and your server is encrypted. This can be, for example, important data such as user names, passwords, and personal information. Companies should therefore always secure their site via SSL or TSL.
You can tell whether your site is secure by the prefix “https” in the URL. A website that is not secure only has the “http” prefix. Browsers like Chrome now alert users when a page is unsafe. In practice, this means: that SSL is not only important for search engine optimization but also creates trust among website visitors.
Improve page speed
Page speed is an important ranking criterion. Technical SEO should therefore also check the loading speed of a page. Basically, a website should load in less than 3 to 4 seconds. In the future, Google will only use mobile page speed as a ranking signal. When it comes to search engine optimization, site operators should therefore pay particular attention to how quickly their site loads on smartphones and tablets.
To speed up a page, you can work through this checklist, for example:
- Enable http/2
- choose a reliable hosting
- compress images
- Use lazy loading
- Reduce internal 301 redirects
- minimize the use of plugins
- Minify CSS and JS
- Use a content delivery network (CDN) (when working internationally) prioritize visible content
Website operators who only have little time to optimize their page speed and thus for technical SEO can concentrate on the time to first byte (TTFB). This has a particularly large impact on how Google and Bing rank a website in their SERPs. Above all, a missing cache and a wrong server location increase the loading time of a page. Companies should therefore start with these two points.
Pay attention to Mobile First
From March 2021, Google will only index and rank websites by mobile. That means: companies have to optimize their site in such a way that users on mobile devices have an error-free and pleasant surfing experience. To ensure this, the search engine recommends using a responsive design. And: Site operators should check which content is actually required for smartphones and tablets. They can deliver shortened texts and versions to users via responsive content – without reducing the information content of a contribution. This not only ensures optimization of the surfing experience but also sends positive SEO signals.
Use Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP).
In order to be able to offer mobile users an even faster website, Google recently introduced the so-called Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). To put it simply, companies use AMP to create a version of their website that is a stripped-down version of the normal HTML version. Google stores these and makes them available to users via a special cache. This is much faster than if companies only optimize their site for mobile. Google states that site operators with AMP do not gain any advantages for search engine optimization. However, the faster speed ensures that users do not jump off because a page is too slow. This in turn can increase the length of stay on a page – and thus indirectly have a positive effect on search engine optimization.
Image alt tags
In addition to text, images are the main component of content on the web. Google therefore also evaluates these from an SEO point of view. However, the search engine prefers words for the rating. Companies should therefore give image files meaningful titles and fill in the alt tag meaningfully.
In addition, you can have the so-called IPTC metadata of image files read by Google or CMS systems such as WordPress. IPTC metadata is the information that the camera stores while recording. This can be information about the location, subject, and date of recording, for example. Google itself states that this data is only a potential ranking factor. Nevertheless, it can’t hurt to include the data – and thus possibly gain minimal SEO advantage.
Optimize meta tags
A professional, technical search engine optimization should also include the optimization of the title tag and the meta description:
Title Tag: The title tag is the title of a website that appears in the name of the browser tab. Usually, it is also the headline of a URL in the SERPs. In the title tag, site operators should use the focus keyword at the beginning if possible. And: If possible, you should include keyword variations in the title tag. The ideal length of the tag is 50 to 60 characters.
Meta Description: The Meta Description contains the content summary of a page in 140 to 155 characters. It tells users what to expect behind a link. Site operators should formulate a meta description that
- The focus keyword leads,
- Makes users curious,
- Promises added value and
- Motivated to click
Together with the title tag, the meta description forms the snippet in the Google SERPs. The search engine states that this is not a direct ranking factor. However, the snippet decides how high the click-through rate is. This in turn shows Google how relevant a URL is for a user search query. In other words, the higher the click-through rate on a link, the more likely it is that Google will rank it higher. Indirectly, site operators can collect points for search engine optimization via the snippet.
Note text formatting
The structure and design of texts are both technically and editorially relevant for search engine optimization. Above all, subheadings are indispensable in order to score points in terms of SEO. These should be structured hierarchically. While H1 always marks the heading of a text, H2 to H6 describe subheadings in the text. This procedure not only structures the text in a meaningful way and makes it more legible for the user. It also sends important SEO signals to Google.
In addition, site operators can technically upgrade their text for Google by using bullet points and, if necessary, bold type.
Avoid duplicate content
Content that appears multiple times on different pages of your website is considered duplicate content. This confuses the crawlers from Google, Bing and Co. Because: They cannot classify it correctly. They don’t know which content to rate and rank and how. And: The internal link suffers from duplicate content.
With Technical SEO, site operators should therefore ensure that they only place each piece of content once on their site. If the same content is intended, you should mark the duplicates with a canonical tag. This tells Google’s algorithms which content is the original – and should therefore be indexed.
Use Google Search Console
In order to be able to tackle technical SEO professionally, site operators need various webmaster tools. Above all, the Google Search Console is indispensable for them. It offers all the important mechanisms for search engine optimization. With the Google Search Console, you can not only create a technically flawless SEO foundation but also plan numerous other SEO measures, such as on-page optimization.
Technical SEO checklist
Companies now know where to start to technically optimize their site for SEO. You can use our SEO checklist for a comprehensive SEO audit. With this, companies can check their website step by step – and thus uncover and repair crucial SEO weaknesses:
- Optimize URL structure
- Check robots.txt
- Check website structure
- Add breadcrumb menus
- Use structured data
- Check Canonical URLs
- Optimize 404 pages
- Create XML sitemap
- Add SSL Certificate
- improve page speed
- Pay attention to Mobile First
- Use Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP).
- Mark up images
- Optimize meta tags
- Note text formatting
- Avoid duplicate content
- Use Google Search Console
SEO is not a one-time thing. Technical SEO is just the beginning. You should do search engine optimization regularly, preferably every day! No one can take a website that has been optimized from you. And the more you invest (time or money) in proper marketing and search engine optimization, the more results you will see. The results can be, for example, more website visitors, potential new customers, or more lead generation.
Your competitors will probably also optimize their websites. So don’t wait long and invest in the right marketing and optimization of your website. Every day billions of dollars are spent on the internet, theoretically, all you have to do is draw attention and cast the line 😉
Not interested in all the work? You don’t have time or the skills to do this? Then take a look at our price list on the subject of SEO. There you will definitely find a real SEO package that will do justice to your budget.