A Technical SEO Breakdown for Business Owners


October 23, 2018 By

Cheryl Dykstra

There is a deeper, more technical side to search engine optimization (SEO) on your website that is just as crucial, if not more, than quality content and strong backlinks.

Even if you’re not the one implementing this technical SEO foundation, it’s still good to have some idea of what is going on in order to ensure you are getting quality work done on your website.

1. Robots.txt File

If you work with a developer, you may have heard this term before.

The robots.txt file provides a directive to search engines and every website needs one in the root directory (i.e., example.com/robots.txt). This file must be formatted correctly, meaning it only blocks files or directories you don’t want indexed and it should be included in your XML sitemap.

When redesigning your website, it’s common to have the dev site blocked in robots.txt using disallow:/.

One common mistake made by unqualified “professionals” is forgetting to remove this disallow before the redesigned site is launched – which makes your entire website unindexable by Google, meaning it won’t show up in search.

How to check:

  • Google Search Console > Crawl > robots.txt Tester

2. Canonical Linking

Sometimes your website has different page URLs that have similar or nearly identical content. Many websites use canonical link elements to ensure that the preferred version of the page is the one that shows in search.

There are some guidelines to follow with canonical link elements. They should reference a URL that does not redirect and is indexed and the URL needs to be the full path (i.e., http://www.example.com/).

As a business owner, you might not think about the different versions of pages on your website – especially when dealing with ecommerce. However, a savvy web developer should be looking out for these canonical errors and bringing it to your attention or fixing the problem.

How to check:

  • Screaming Frog report
     

3. Redirects

When you sell out of a product, or decide to remove a product or service, that page URL should be redirected rather than being left as a 404 error (missing page). Although there are different types of redirects, for SEO purposes, a 301 redirect is recommended, which tells the search engines that the page has permanently moved.

Nowadays, it’s important to have your redirect go straight to the final destination, instead of creating a redirect chain.

For example, if Page A redirects to Page B then redirects to Page C, there is a redirect chain.

Instead, Page A should redirect to Page C and Page B should also redirect to Page C.

How to check:

  • Screaming Frog report
  • Redirect-checker.org
     

4. Page Speed

Google cares about the speed of your website… almost as much as your visitors.

It’s been shown that if a page takes longer than 3 seconds to load, 40% of people will abandon the website. Even a 1 second delay can cause a 7% reduction in conversions.

Google is very similar with this. Large, slow-to-load pages run the risk of being crawled only partially or skipped completely. Google recommends above the fold content load no slower than one second and a general rule of thumb is to ensure the entire page load within four seconds.

There are many things that can be done to speed up slow loading pages, such as:

  • Compressing images
  • Leveraging browser caching
  • Minifying JavaScript and CSS

The majority of these items will require the help of a developer.

How to check:

  • Google PageSpeed Insights
     

5. Mobile-Friendliness

Especially with the introduction of Google’s mobile-first index, mobile-friendliness is something every website must strive for. It helps improve the searchability of your site and also is a huge benefit for user experience.

Responsive design allows for your website to look great on any device and makes it easier for visitors to engage and convert.

How to check:

  • Google Mobile-Friendly Tool
  • Google Search Console

Conclusion

Even if you’re not someone who deals with SEO, especially the technical side of SEO, understanding these basic concepts of it can help ensure your website and your business are running the best they can be. If you’re unsure whether these tasks are being done, simply run through this checklist with your developer or web team.

Just know that not all SEO companies have the expertise and knowledge to optimize your technical SEO. That’s why hiring an in-house team that consists of developers, designers and SEO professionals will give you the best results.

If you’re interested in learning more about the ways your website could be better optimized, call Sales & Marketing Technologies today at (407) 682-2222 for a free strategy session.

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