Beyond on-page and off-page SEO, there’s technical SEO.
At a time when content creation is commoditized thanks to AI, the weight on technical SEO is more than ever given it directly affects Page Experience and other critical parameters that help search engines assess a page’s usability.
So, if you’re looking to improve your site’s ranking on SERP and drive organic traffic, focus on technical SEO.
Follow this 13-step technical SEO checklist:
1. Create XML sitemaps
An XML sitemap is a file that lists all the URLs on your website, helping search engines discover and index your content.
Create an XML sitemap using online tools or plugins, keep it up to date, and submit it to search engines like Google and Bing through their respective webmaster tools.
2. Use schema markup (structured data)
Schema markup, or structured data, is a standardized code format that helps search engines better understand and display your content in search results.
Implement schema markup for elements like reviews, events, products, and articles using JSON-LD, Microdata, or RDFa.
Use Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool to validate your markup.
3. Implement hreflang tags for multilingual websites
Hreflang tags help search engines serve the correct language version of your website to users based on their location and language preferences.
Add hreflang tags in your website’s HTML or HTTP headers; ensure that each language version has a unique URL and correct language code.
4. Ensure mobile-friendliness
Responsive design, fast loading times, easy navigation, and readable text are essential for a good mobile experience.
Use Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to check your site’s mobile performance and address any issues.
5. Improve website speed and performance
Faster-loading websites provide a better user experience and rank higher in search results.
Analyze your site’s performance using tools like Google PageSpeed Insights or Lighthouse.
6. Implement SSL/HTTPS encryption
SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) encryption ensures secure data transmission between the user’s browser and your website, protecting sensitive information.
HTTPS is a ranking factor for search engines, and users trust secure websites more.
Obtain an SSL certificate from a trusted certificate authority (CA) and install it on your server.
7. Fix broken links and redirects
Broken links and improper redirects negatively impact user experience and can harm your search rankings.
Regularly check and fix broken links, use 301 redirects for permanently moved pages, and avoid redirect chains.
Tools like Screaming Frog SEO Spider and Google Search Console can help identify broken links.
8. Set up canonical tags
Canonical tags indicate the preferred version of a URL when multiple versions of the same content exist. This prevents duplicate content issues and consolidates ranking signals.
Implement canonical tags using the “rel=canonical” attribute in your page’s HTML head section or via HTTP headers.
9. Optimize robots.txt file
The robots.txt file tells search engines which pages and resources on your website they can or cannot crawl.
Optimize your robots.txt file by allowing access to important pages and resources, disallowing irrelevant or sensitive pages, and specifying the location of your XML sitemap.
10. Monitor and fix crawl errors and issues
Crawl errors occur when search engines encounter problems accessing and indexing your website’s content.
Regularly monitor and address crawl errors using Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools.
Fix issues like server errors, blocked resources, and faulty redirects to ensure search engines can properly index your website.
11. Perform regular website audits
Regular website audits help you identify and fix technical SEO issues that may be affecting your search rankings and user experience.
Use tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs to conduct comprehensive audits, focusing on aspects like broken links, duplicate content, missing or improper metadata, and page speed.
12. Improve Core Web Vitals
Core Web Vitals are Google’s metrics for measuring user experience on a website, including loading, interactivity, and visual stability. Focus on improving the following Core Web Vitals:
(i) Largest Contentful Paint (LCP): Measures loading performance, with a target of 2.5 seconds or less. To improve LCP:
- Optimize images: Compress, resize, and use modern formats (like WebP) to reduce load times.
- Use a Content Delivery Network (CDN): CDNs cache and distribute your content across multiple servers, reducing the load time for users.
(ii) First Input Delay (FID): Measures interactivity, with a target of less than 100 milliseconds. To improve FID:
- Use browser caching: Leverage caching to store static files locally on users’ devices, reducing the need for repeated downloads and improving load times.
(iii) Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS): Measures visual stability, aiming for a score of less than 0.1. To improve CLS:
- Set dimensions for images and ads: Specify the width and height attributes for images, videos, and ads to prevent layout shifts as they load.
- Avoid inserting content above existing content: Dynamically adding content above existing elements can cause unexpected layout shifts; instead, reserve space for dynamic elements or insert them below existing content.
- Preload fonts: Use the “preload” attribute for critical custom fonts to avoid layout shifts caused by font changes during page load.
13. Disavow harmful backlinks
Low-quality or spammy backlinks can negatively impact your website’s search rankings.
Regularly monitor your website’s backlink profile using tools like Google Search Console, and disavow any harmful backlinks by submitting a disavow file to Google Search Console.
This informs Google not to consider those links when assessing your site’s ranking.
Improve your site’s technical SEO
Follow the mentioned steps and improve your site’s technical SEO. Even a small uptick in these technical parameters can make the biggest difference in your organic result
Moreover, understand that technical SEO isn’t a one-time thing. You should ideally audit your website every quarter to identify and fix technical errors, as well as improve key metrics.
If you need help with technical SEO or organic growth in general, connect with an SEO company in Colorado Springs and leverage their expertise. An experienced SEO professional by your side can effectively optimize your website and improve its organic performance.