Technical SEO is one of the areas of search engine optimization that a small business may not implement. This is partly because they may be creating their website themselves and only focus on the design and content. Technical optimization is complicated and can frustrate even the more experienced web developers. But without a focus on the technical aspects of SEO, all your on-page optimization efforts could be wasted.
What is technical SEO?
Technical SEO refers to the optimization of the technical elements of your website to improve its visibility and ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs). Technical SEO can seem overwhelming, especially for a small business with limited resources. However, implementing technical SEO best practices can improve your online presence and help you compete with larger competitors.
Why technical SEO matters for small businesses
Technical SEO is important for small businesses for several reasons:
- Improves search engine visibility. This makes it easier for potential customers to find you online.
- Enhances user experience. By optimizing website speed, mobile-friendliness, and site architecture, you improve your website user experience that keeps visitors on your website longer.
- Provides a competitive advantage. Having a powerful web presence with a well-performing website levels the playing field for small businesses. This enables you to compete with larger companies for higher rankings.
Technical SEO tips
Review your site architecture
Technical SEO involves organizing website content in a logical and structured manner to help search engines understand the hierarchy of the pages and content. Having a well-organized structure to your content also helps search engines better understand the relationships between pages. A well-designed website architecture makes it easier for search engines to crawl and index the website.
Adding an XML sitemap provides search engines with a roadmap of the pages and content. That can be easily accomplished by using a WordPress plugin that can create and update the XML sitemap when you add or update content.
Ensure your website supports mobile first
Google wants to provide a quality experience for users regardless of the device they are using. In fact, since most people are now searching using a mobile device, Google is taking steps to index content based on the mobile version of the website’s content. This is called mobile-first indexing. That’s why it is important that your site looks good and performs well on a mobile device.
Google recommends that you use a responsive design for your website because it serves the same URL for a piece of content to all users regardless of the device they are on. This saves resources for your website and for Google’s crawlers.
Most of the modern WordPress theme frameworks all support responsive design features. It is a matter of implementing them properly to garner the best results.
Ensure your website is secure
Google Chrome now classifies all websites without SSL encryption as unsafe and indicates as such with more visual cues. And although not a big ranking signal, having an SSL certificate does help with your website’s visibility.
There are benefits of installing an SSL certificate that go beyond search engine results:
- Increases your website’s security and protects sensitive data being entered through contact forms
- Builds trust between you and your visitors in general and especially if you have a membership or eCommerce website
- Makes your website and your business look more professional.
Having the padlock symbol in the browser sends a message that you are concerned about your visitor’s security.
Test for website speed
Page speed is critical to your digital marketing success. It impacts your:
- Rank in organic search
- User experience and how long visitors stay on your website
- Cost-per-click (CPC) if you are doing paid advertising
- Inbound marketing campaign performance
The reason page speed is crucial to your rank is that Google continuously aims to provide a good user experience. This includes the quality of the search results themselves and the quality of the resource that they provide in the search results.
A slow-loading website will hurt your visibility in the search engine results. The search engines want a quality experience for users and a slow website is not that.
Run speed tests using any of the page speed tools:
- Google Page Speed Insights – good for checking core web vitals for both mobile and desktop.
- Pingdom – provides load time, how you stack up against other sites and physical file size. Good to see where you need to focus.
- GTmetrix – similar to Pingdom, provides load time, page size and number of requests.
If you want more traffic, leads and ultimately, customers, pay attention to the technical aspects of website performance.
Avoid duplicate content
There are many ways duplicate content can be created, not all of them intentionally. Search engines are trying to serve original, authoritative content. Duplicate content refers to content that appears in more than one place on the internet, which can confuse search engines when trying to determine which version of the content to index and rank in search results.
- Unintentional duplicate content – WordPress allows you to create date, category, author or tag archives. The only archives that make sense are category and author. But leaving the category prefix in the URL makes it look like your posts are duplicate. For example, https://yourdomain.com/post-title and https://yourdomain.com/category/post-title could be construed as duplicate content.
- Intentional duplicate content – Sometimes SEO companies create hundreds of pages where the only difference is the URL, title and heading. They use them to try to get a business ranked in multiple towns or cities and found by those searching for a service in that city or town.
Duplicate content issues can negatively impact SEO. Small businesses can prevent duplicate content issues by setting up canonical tags to ensure that the search engine only indexes the preferred version of the content.
A canonical tag is an HTML tag that is used to indicate the preferred version of a web page or piece of content. The canonical tag tells search engines which version of the content should be considered the primary version, and any other versions of the content should be considered duplicates or secondary versions. By using a canonical tag, search engines can identify the preferred version of the content and avoid indexing duplicate content.
Implementing an SEO strategy without including the technical SEO aspects could jeopardize your online visibility. Optimize website speed, mobile-friendliness, site architecture, XML sitemap, canonicalization and ensuring your website is secure helps your small business to improve search engine visibility, user experience and competitive advantage. If you can’t implement these important components, this may be where hiring someone who can get this done will be best.