Getting technical Google SEO right is the key to any well-ranking website on its continuously evolving search results.
Not only will technical SEO provide a solid website foundation for appearing highly on Google Search but it will also significantly boost positive user experience.
Things such as broken 404 links, internal linking and page loading speed are critical to how your website performs in Google’s search results.
In this post, we will cover seven important technical processes you can add to your Google SEO checklist in 2017. Tips will include both basic and advanced practices. This will provide an idea of how Google interacts with your website on a technical level.
1. Setup Google Search Console and submit a sitemap.xml
Starting off with the most basic yet also most required step. All websites in this day and age should have a Google Search Console setup for their site. What you’re doing is essentially registering your site to Google and letting them know you exist.
Using an online sitemap.xml generator, you’re able to quickly generate a sitemap.xml outlining the entire structure of your site and then have it submitted to Google through Search Console. By doing this you’re allowing Google to see all your website’s most important pages at a glance.
2. Check Page Indexation on Google
Now that you’ve submitted your site and sitemap in Search Console it’s time to confirm how many pages you have ranking on Google. Through a simple search command on Google, you can very easily see how many pages of your site is actually indexed.
On Google’s search bar, hit in ‘site:www.yoursite.com’. The search results will return with all the pages you currently have indexed on Google. Cross-reference this figure with the number of URLs you have submitted on Search Console. You will very quickly be able to find out how many pages you have missing and whether you have successfully indexed them all or not. If you’ve disallowed certain pages, make sure to include these when doing your calculations.
Alternatively, for a more in-depth approach, use Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider to crawl all your website and to gather your total amount of website pages. This will give you an accurate indication of how many pages you have on the site. The more content-rich pages you have, the more exposure you will have on major search engines such as Google.
The more content-rich pages you have, the more exposure you will have on major search engines such as Google. The number of site pages can also be used as a competitive metric to compare against major competitors. If your website has more content-rich pages than your competitors then Google may view your website as the leading authority. It only makes sense right?
3. Crawl Rate Optimisation
Having GoogleBot and other major search engines frequently crawl your web pages is crucial to your website’s SEO success.
Ideally, you’d want the search bots to crawl all your pages as frequent as possible. They’d be able to soak in all your fresh new content and rank each piece highly. However, search bots have crawl limits and crawling all your pages every few hours frankly isn’t possible – especially for small websites with no web authority.
To understand how many pages GoogleBot is crawling per visit, you can check this via Search Console under ‘crawl stats’.
Based on the average crawl figure, you can quite easily calculate how many web pages per month Google will crawl. Eg. 61 pages x 30 days = 1,830 pages per month.
To ensure that you maximise the number of pages crawled per month, there are a few things you will have to keep on top of.
The key factors to ensure you maximise crawl rate include:
- Keep an updated sitemap.xml. This point goes back to the first tip. An updated sitemap.xml will allow Google to understand what URLs you want crawled and ranked.
- Optimised website structure. Make sure all of your website’s main pages are linked in the main navigation or in the footer. Nothing is more frustrating to a user than not being able to find important pages. Search spiders feel this same pain too.
- Optimised internal linking. Internal links work as page connectors. Connect and link important pages together so that search spiders can easily recognise core pages and crawl them.
- Reduce broken 404 Not Found pages. No search spider likes to be directed to a broken page. Either 301 redirect the broken URL or make sure your 404 Not Found page is optimised with useful links to your core website pages.
- Deindex useless pages. If you think a page would serve no purpose in being ranked in the search results, then deindex them. That way, search engines can prioritise their crawl budget and spend time on pages you do want to be ranked.
- Reduce the amount of invaluable content. Search engines have grown significantly to understand the nature of your content and website. Avoid having excessive amounts of duplicate content your website. Text comparison software and content duplication detection tools are great ways to scan your content and identify for this. Ensure that each page’s content is well written and well-structured to ultimately improve user engagement.
4. Schema Structured Data Markup
Schema has exploded over the past few years, making it a crucial element to any website’s Google SEO.
Schema is a special web language that allows major search engines such as Google to understand more about the nature of a website. This is done through the use of structured data – Schema.
For example, as a local Australian business, it’s in your best interest to provide Google with as much information about your business as possible. This improves the chances of your customers finding your website and ultimately enquiring about your product or service.
Through the use of Schema structured data, you’re able to provide the name of your business, your opening hours, service rates, phone number, physical address and more.
A quick and easy tool for generating a markup snippet is Hall Analysis’ JSON Generator. Using the tool is fairly straightforward. Simply fill in the required fields and then generate the code snippet. Copy and paste the code into either the header or footer of your website.
You can then test whether the code is working by using Google’s Structured Data testing tool. This tool will show you how Google interprets the structured data code you’ve inserted.
5. Mobile Responsive & Mobile-friendly
The world is gone mobile-crazy. Without a mobile-friendly website, your website will be left in the dark in 2017.
To check whether your website is mobile-friendly, you can do so via Google’s free mobile testing tool.
Google’s new ThinkWithGoogle testing tool will test your website’s mobile compatibility and score you out of 100. It will also test the speed of both your desktop and mobile websites. Additionally, the tool provides a checklist of technical speed-related issues that are holding your website back.
Tip: A handy Chrome extension tool I frequently use for testing and optimisation is Mobile Responsive Web Design Tester. The tool allows for instant resizing of your website and displays it on your chosen mobile device.
6. Website Speed Testing
Website loading speed is the mother element that binds all your technical work together and presents it to the user in an efficient manner. A slow website will frustrate users and drive them away. GoogleBot will equally feel the same and be inclined to visit your website less frequently. After all, a slow loading website represents poor user experience.
Bigger websites usually load longer as they have more things to render on the page. Smaller websites, generally are less clogged and can be served fast.
Things such as live chat functionality, big background images and videos are common examples that would increase the load time. Image compression is a good way to go in compressing images and making them smaller.
Also, you can quite easily use website speed testing tools to benchmark the speed of your site. Anything under second seconds load time is a quite good. On the other hand, anything above three seconds is starting to push it.
7. HTTPS Secure Website
And finally, one of the most important technical factors on our list. HTTPS has grown to become a mandatory weapon all modern websites are encouraged to support. While it’s not absolutely critical that your website has this, many search engines have voiced their support for HTTPS and may very well be devaluing websites which lack the extra security measures.
Purchasing an SSL certificate can be easily achieved. Rapid SSL and GeoTrust are top choices for purchasing SSL certificates. You can also purchase an SSL certificate from your hosting provider as most hosting companies would sell this.
Once you’ve successfully purchased an SSL certificate, you’ll need to set it up. The SSL company will send you instructions on how to do this.
Next, you will need to ensure all your existing URLs redirect to their HTTPS counterparts. On larger websites, you will need to proceed cautiously as any technical faults may result in website errors. Always consult with a professional beforehand.
I hope these seven major technical factors will provide a huge boost to your SEO efforts. Always remember to keep testing and trialling new practices.
With over 200 rankings factors that Google uses to determine ranking positions, it’s crucial that you keep improving your SEO checklist.