A good SEO strategy should cover both on-page and technical SEO factors. Yet an SEMrush study found that a significant number of websites are still plagued with technical SEO issues.
It’s a best practice to regularly perform an in-depth technical SEO audit on your website to make sure that search engines are able to crawl and index your pages without a hitch.
Ruth Burr Reedy, director of strategy at UpBuild, emphasized the importance of investing in technical SEO now and for the long-term when she spoke recently at PeepCon 3.0 in Manila, Philippines.
According to Burr Reedy, here is why technical SEO matters, how to make sure your website’s technical SEO elements are on point, and what the future of technical SEO holds.
Why Focus on Technical SEO
“SEO is like accounting,” according to Burr Reedy. “For the complicated stuff, you should hire a professional.”
While search engines are getting better at crawling, indexing and understanding information, they are not perfect.
And if, for some reason, they have a hard time figuring out what your website is all about or if you have what searchers want, they’ll move on.
“Just create good content” doesn’t matter anymore if nobody can find or see it. Good website content should be complemented by a strong technical SEO foundation.
Getting SEO wrong can be bad for business so you have to make sure its technical aspects are spot on.
What Good Technical SEO Looks Like
These three elements of technical SEO should always be taken into consideration:
How fast should pages load?
“As fast as possible,” according to Burr Reedy.
Ideally, your pages should load under 2 seconds.
On top of that, you also want to check your website’s “waterfall” using webpagetest.org or GTmetrix. These tools show you how your site comes together as it loads.
There are also other page speed metrics worth tracking and optimizing for, such as:
- First Byte
- First Paint
- First Meaningful Paint
- First Interactive
- DOM Content Load
- Page Load
Many sites have unnecessary, long-forgotten code that continues to exist.
Consider Implementing AMP
Also, consider implementing AMP and responsive design on your websites.
Burr Reedy said the AMP project exists because Google couldn’t wait for us to get our act together. Users need sites to load fast now.
BUT, don’t rest on your laurels once you’ve implemented it. AMP might eventually go away in the future.
Implement Responsive Design
Responsive design, on the other hand, makes user experience (UX) better on all devices so doing it for your website makes so much sense in the mobile-first era.
Don’t forget to test and use your site on different devices so you can spot and fix issues that can negatively impact UX.
Crawlability & Indexation
Crawl budget is the amount of time, money, and resources that Google is willing to spend on your site.
Gary Illyes, in a Google Webmaster Central Blog post, says there are various factors that can negatively affect crawl budget but mainly they are caused by “having many low-value-add URLs.”
Some examples of these include:
- Facets, parameters, and session identifiers.
- On-site duplicate content.
- Infinite spaces (i.e., events calendars that go on 100 years into the future).
Regularly monitor the Index Coverage report and Crawl Stats in the new Google Search Console so you can easily spot and resolve indexing and crawling issues.
Ask your developers to give you server log files in order to analyze what Googlebot is doing on your site and what you need to improve on. Crawl tools such as Screaming Frog and DeepCrawl are useful in this area.
Also, try headless browsing if you want to know what the bots see when crawling your site.
The Future of Technical SEO
Now that Google is starting to rollout the mobile-first index and the modern web doesn’t always use a keyboard, a URL or even the Internet, the main idea we should remember is device-agnostic information.
There is a vast opportunity beyond the traditional concept of web search.
We need to be optimizing for device-agnostic information and ask ourselves: “How easy is it for my content to be extracted by search engines and displayed from device to device?”
Ranking for featured snippets is a good way to find out if your content passes the mark as they indicate that Google is successfully extracting data from your site.
Likewise, using semantic markup makes it easier for Google to interpret the content you’re publishing and figure out what they can do with it.
Making Technical SEO Work
To make technical SEO work, SEO professionals, developers, and designers must be on the same page.
- SEO pros should know how to speak developer, understand the inner workings of a site, and learn about codes.
- Developers should learn how to speak SEO and figure out how their code affects profitability.
- Designers should understand UX. A beautifully designed website is useless without it.
The main goal of SEO is to earn money – improving user experience will help us achieve that.
Technical SEO is not the be-all, end-all of SEO. You need more to succeed but an on-point technical SEO makes everything else easier.