…the effectiveness and impact of implementing a business SEO strategy

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Technical SEO

Technical SEO refers to the technical aspects of your web page and the improvements that can be made. Effectively a subcategory of on-page SEO, technical SEO relates to such ranking factors as page speed, website response codes, and the mobile-friendliness of your site pages.

Getting your technical SEO right is pivotal to the success of your webpage. For search engines to effectively crawl your website, your web pages need first to be working and technically up-to-date. You want to make it as easy as possible for Google and Bing to assess the relevancy of your site and you can do this by making the technical side of your site more comprehensive.

Unlike off-page SEO and other types of on-page SEO, technical SEO improves user experience for site visitors. First and foremost, getting your website to work well should be for the sake of your users. Fast load times and easy accessibility on mobile devices will encourage users to return to your site and increase your conversion rates.

If Google recognises the technical soundness of your web page, it will want to recommend it to web users – and it does this by ranking your page higher. Here are the main technical SEO ranking factors you need to consider:

Technical SEO | Sitemaps

Creating a sitemap for your website helps the search engine bots navigate around your site. Sitemaps come in the form of an Extensible Mark-up Language (XML) file and are essentially a long list of all the URLs on your website.

This map is generally categorised into subcategories such as pages, tags and posts. Valuable data such as ‘last edit date’ and image info can also be found in a sitemap.

A sitemap is an easy way for a webmaster to inform Google and Bing about the sections and layout of the site, and to ensure that nothing gets left out of the crawl. It is not an essential part of SEO, however; webmasters who are confident in the comprehensible layout of their website often forgo this stage. However, creating an accurate sitemap won’t do your site any harm.

Your sitemap should only feature web pages that you deem to be important. When creating a sitemap, you don’t have to include pages that you have added robots.txts to the URL. You also don’t have to include any pages you don’t think are useful to the crawl, even if you haven’t added a robots.txt to the URLs.

Technical SEO | Robots.txt

Including a robots.txt file on a webpage URL can help search engine bots when crawling your website. If there are pages of your website that you don’t want to rank, such as a policy page, then including robots.txt will inform the robots not to analyse the webpages in question.

There are many reasons why placing robots.txts wisely is useful for SEO, including that it forces crawlers to focus only on the webpages that matter.

As a robot crawls over your website, it only has a limited capacity for how much content it can analyse, or how much time it is willing to spend on your site. This ‘crawl budget’ is based on your site’s scale and reputation. By including robots.txts, you are managing your ‘crawl budget’ wisely and not wasting the robot’s energies.

It also means that you can stop crawlers from visiting pages that you have not yet fully optimised, or have SEO-related issues that may impact your site’s overall reputation. You could add a robots.txt file while you fix SEO problems on the page and then remove it once you’ve readied the content.

It is important to note that adding a robots.txt to the page URL does not stop it from being indexed. This means that the page in question could still appear in search results. However, the search engine won’t be able to display meta descriptions or any information about what’s on the page as it does not have access to the actual content.

Technical SEO | Redirects

Redirects can be useful in many instances, including:

  1. Whenever you find a broken URL
  2. When you move your page to a new location
  3. If you’re rebranding your URL
  4. When you otherwise need to delete a page (if, for example, you no longer sell the product that formally occupied the page, or you’ve changed the date in the URL)

When you’re deleting or removing the content found on a page, you need to provide a redirect in order to avoid creating multiple dead ends on your website.

The link to the page still exists and will remain indexed by Google. It may be included as a backlink on other websites or was posted on social media in the past. For this reason, web users may still land on the former page.

In order to keep your site optimised, you need to put in the redirect correctly. In most cases, you’ll need to use a 301 redirect. This code tells Google that the redirect link put in place is permanent, and, as the webmaster, you have no intention of reactivating the page or reversing the changes made.

When Google reads a 301 code, it will shift all the link power and SEO to the new page, meaning that the new page will take the ranking place of the former.

Technical SEO | Page Speed

Internet users don’t have the patience for websites that lag, and neither do search engines. Google knows that a web page that takes longer than three seconds to load has a significant impact on user experience.

Search engines are highly unlikely to rank a page that has a particularly slow running time. Both Google and Bing feature page speed time as a direct ranking factor. Besides being massively impactful on how well your site ranks, page speed is the factor that most impacts user experience. Slow load times lead to high bounce rates and lower dwell times.

Page speed load time can be impacted by several factors, including unoptimised code, caching issues, media file load times, bulky code, and script issues.

Given the increasing focus on page load times, Google has created this page speed analyser to help you gauge your page loading times to the millisecond. Specifically, it looks at such factors as Time to First Byte (TTFB) and First Input Delay (FID).