This is the second part of our series on how to do search engine optimization (SEO). This time we will focus on the technical aspects of SEO.
You can also check out How to do SEO? Part 1: Content, where we talked about how to make content SEO-friendly.
The robots.txt file tells search engines which pages on a website should be crawled and which should be excluded. If the robots.txt file is blocking search engines from accessing specific pages, those pages will not be indexed and will not appear in search results.
Though the robots file is generally included on purpose to prevent access to certain pages, sometimes code errors may mistakenly indicate to crawlers that a page shouldn’t be crawled and indexed. You can check for potential robot.txt errors in Google Search Console.
Fast-loading websites tend to rank higher in search results. A fast page load also allows crawlers to go through the page quicker. Not to mention site speed is also a huge user experience factor and good rankings in Google also depend on user behaviour (we will discuss this side of SEO in part 3).
You can use Google PageSpeed Insights to check your website’s performance including its load speed.
Improving website speed can involve optimizing multimedia (reducing size, while maintaining quality) and code (clearing unsupported and voluminous scripts and plugins).
The quantity of users accessing the Internet on mobile devices has been growing steadily in the past several years. This makes it essential for a website to be mobile-friendly, or in other words responsive. Responsive web design means a web page can adapt to the different sizes of browsing devices, that is, its content can be viewed correctly regardless of the type of device it is accessed.
The great importance of responsive design for SEO comes from Google itself. The company has announced that responsive websites will be prioritized in search results.
Likewise, a responsive website is key for user experience and could be a factor in reducing bounce rates. Users would be less likely to leave a page if it displays correctly on their devices.
To check if your website is mobile-friendly, you can run it in Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test. The Mobile Simulator extension for Chrome is another useful tool that allows you to see how your website displays on multiple devices.
Site structure is the way you organize your website’s pages and posts. The structure of your website can have a big impact on its search engine rankings. This is because crawlers follow in when trying to understand your content so that search engines to index it. A clear and logical site structure is your best bet as it will make your content easier to analyze, index, and serve in relevant search queries.
Make sure you have good navigation and a proper page hierarchy with sections and subsections. You can compliment them by using taxonomies (such as categories or topics), as well as by linking pages internally and including breadcrumbs. All of this will make it easier for crawlers and users to understand and navigate your content, which ultimately improves SEO.
Internal linking refers to the practice of linking one page on your website to another page on your website. It’s another way of helping search engines understand the content of your website and make it more visible to users.
Internal links are the ones you have in your menu, but they can also be links within your content. For instance, a product page can include links to relevant blog posts. Or an article in your Blog section can include links to other related articles. This kind of internal linking is super useful for introducing your users to additional content and extending the time they spend browsing your website. This, in turn, reduces bounce rates, which also affects SEO and Google rankings.
In addition, internal linking helps search engines navigate through your content and find related pages and posts, as well as understand page authority.
Don’t go overboard with linking your pages though, as according to Google, quality should prevail over quantity. This means don’t link just for the sake of linking but rather think of it as supporting your website structure and hierarchy.
A sitemap is an XML file that lists all the pages (URLs) on your website and provides information (metadata) about each page to search engines. Though a sitemap isn’t a guarantee that included pages will be indexed, it does provide extra support to crawlers in finding and navigating your website’s content.
You can submit sitemaps in Google Search Console. Although once submitted, sitemaps should update automatically any time you change your content, we recommend you update them yourself periodically. You just need to copy the sitemap URL and paste it into the Sitemaps section of Search Console.
Schema markup is a standardized vocabulary of tags, which you can add to your website’s HTML code to help search engines understand the content more accurately.
It lets you annotate your pages with metadata about their content. This metadata can include the name of a product, the price, or other details, and is used by search engines to provide users with more information about your website. For example, if you have a recipe website, you can use schema markup to provide details about the ingredients, cooking time, and nutrition information for each recipe, which would be exceptionally useful for users.
The Schema markup is supported by all major search engines and you can find more information about it on schema.org.
If you use Yoast for your WordPress website, it will automatically describe your pages using schema.org. Otherwise, it needs to be added to the HTML code.