By now, you’ve heard of the term “SEO” or “search engine optimization.” Maybe you even know a thing or two about keyword implementation and fresh content production.
But where many sites fall short is actually beyond the content strategy — it’s technical SEO. This is (as you may have already guessed) more technical as opposed to creative or content-based. Google’s search algorithms are only getting smarter by the day and do factor in your site’s technical performance and level of crawling and indexing optimization to how you rank.
So what can you do about technical SEO? Our St. Louis digital marketing team will break it down.
First, we’ll back up a little. SEO is often categorized into three different areas:
On-page SEO refers to — wait for it — anything on the page. This is the user-facing content and should be evaluated based on how a reader would discover and make use of the information.
Off-page SEO looks at link profiles and your link-building strategy. Sites that have extensive direct traffic from other reputable sites benefit from what Google considers to be a third-party authority. This validates the content of your site by including links to it on high-authority external sites.
Technical SEO makes sure your site is built with a strong foundation so that search engines can easily crawl and index it. This data is what search engines see and how they make their initial impressions of your content.
As with all parts of SEO, technical improvements should not and cannot be a one-and-done tactic. Site crawls must happen regularly and maintenance must be done on an ongoing basis.
There are many components to technical SEO. Integrity’s digital marketing team uses the tool SEMrush to conduct site crawls and prioritize issues, as well as references Google tools like Search Console to see how pages are being indexed.
Here are a few of the most common technical SEO “best practice” areas that you should be paying attention to.
In this day and age, your site has to be secure. Both for the sake of your users and for search engines, too. In addition, if your pages have mixed content — i.e. an HTTPS page that includes HTTP links — Google doesn’t like that.
If you’ve followed Integrity for long enough, you’ve likely heard us say “user experience is the brand.” Search engines like Google have caught onto the importance of user experience as well, and they’re analyzing user behavior as a factor when ranking sites. If your site loads slowly, users are going to bounce.
A user’s behavior of bouncing signals to Google that your content is not serving their needs, regardless of any on-page or off-page optimization you may have done.
If you feel confident in the content you’re offering but you’re experiencing a high bounce rate or low conversion rate you can use Google’s free tool, PageSpeed Insights, to assess your current site speed.
Speaking of UX. Have you ever gone to a site, clicked on a link and — nothing? Or maybe a 404 error page? Whether it’s going to an internal or external site, broken links are not good. If you’re curious to know if broken links could be an issue on your site you can use Ahrefs' broken link checker to do a quick assessment.
In 2019, Google switched to mobile-first indexing. If your site hasn’t been optimized for mobile devices, you’re creating a negative experience for users (especially since more than 60.67% of web traffic happens on mobile devices).
Curious to see how mobile-friendly your site is? Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test tool allows you to enter your URL or your site code to assess its current mobile performance.
Google should only be indexing one version of your site. There’s a chance your site is listed in multiple ways, i.e.:
If you’re letting Google index all of these, they’ll likely ding you. All non-priority domains should point to the top priority domain with a 301 redirect.
How much thought have you given your URLs? Well, Google’s paying attention to them! On the checklist of what Google looks for in the ideal content piece, it will assess the URL first. For technical SEO, URLs should be:
The URL should include the keyword or keyword phrase the page content was built around, and it should come first in the order of URL slug.
Users come to your site trying to find information. User experience data suggests that when it takes them more than three clicks to get to where they need to go users are more likely to become frustrated and leave the site altogether in search of a more accessible resource. When possible, simplify your navigation and site structure.
While the list of technical SEO factors are even greater than those detailed above, you don’t have to be overwhelmed! Start by doing a little exploration of your site yourself by using the free tools mentioned above. Having a baseline understanding of where the issues lie will help you prioritize what technical SEO opportunities you want to tackle first.
Now, you may find yourself with a longer list than you or your internal team can reasonably accomplish. When websites are not maintained or refreshed on an annual basis, it’s easy to fall behind. Because search algorithm updates necessitate a continual emphasis on technical SEO, partnering with a digital marketing agency that maintains a current and working knowledge of best practices can ensure you won’t be behind the eight ball again.
By partnering with Integrity, you can rest assured that your site will be reviewed carefully and maintained regularly because our team is comprised of both digital marketers and web developers who specialize in technical SEO.
Our technical SEO team runs site crawl reports to find out what the status of your site is on a monthly basis. This breaks down into Errors, Warnings and Issues (in order of high-to-low priority). Our marketing team can then work with our web development team to prioritize and assign tasks to the correct subject matter experts.
Technical SEO doesn’t have to be complicated — but it should be addressed. We’ll help you.
Want a better-performing, optimized site? Our killer team of St Louis digital marketing experts can help create and maintain your site’s technical SEO performance. Contact Integrity today to begin.
ChatGPT today -- in the time of Google Search -- reminds me of years ago, during the advent of Internet Search itself. When search showed up, life changed dramatically.
Some may say SEO is dead with the rise of AI, but with its undeniable evolution, it's still alive, kicking, and as important as ever.