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Technical SEO Checklist: A 10 Step Guide for Improved Rankings

Technical SEO Checklist: A 10 Step Guide for Improved Rankings

Search Engine Optimization is to a website what a pair of spectacles is to a person with unclear vision. 

When your website is search engine optimized, more people start seeing it in their search outcomes. As a result, the overall traffic takes a boost. 

With reference to the spectacles, SEO improves “visibility”. The motive of any SEO campaign is to enhance the quantity of traffic and, to an extent, the quality as well. 

A compelling SEO strategy isn’t just about running for volume-rich keywords. Neither is it all about backlinks.

There’s so much to SEO, starting from quality content, to establishing EAT for your domain, to running on-page optimizations, to executing off page campaigns; and so on.

In this entire pursuit, your website is at the center stage, and a strong technical SEO helps all other SEO components perform at their best.

Technical SEO, in simplified terms, is more about building a great browsing experience for the search users.

Let’s talk about some quick Technical SEO tips to help you rank better.

Technical SEO Checklist 2020 : 10 tips to getting started

1. Improve your Page Speed

You have all the right information and data required to make the search visitor applaud your work. 

But what if he/she opens your weblink, only to close it very soon? 

All your research and hard work that you put in will go in vain, and you don’t know whom to blame. 

The catchy heading of your article did make the visitor open your website. 

But what is it that didn’t work?? 

It’s the loading time of your website. It plays a critical role in not only beholding the visitors but also pleasing them at the same time.

As per Blue Corona, anything longer than 3 seconds lands you in the red zone because the visitors don’t like to wait more than that.

Page Speed vs. Page abandonment
Image Source: Blue Corona

Therefore, don’t compromise with the loading speeds of your webpages.

As a quick fact check, here’s what all you must do:-

  • Implement a CDN to ensure 
  • Leverage browser side caching to reduce server requests for returning visitors
  • Minify CSS & JS to cut the flab in your code (and making it load faster)
  • Review 3rd party plugins/JS and remove/replace the culprits
  • Resize the images as per your CSS
  • Lazy load your images and YouTube videos (save bandwidth)
  • Use an Asset CleanUp Plugin (for WordPress)
  • Audit your server for response time

Here’s our detailed step by step Page Speed Improvement Guide.


2. Be mobile ready

Increasing search traffic can involve several techniques, and making your website mobile-friendly tops the list of those techniques. 

Why? 

A whopping 70% of the total traffic today is mobile-driven, according to a research by CIOdive

Smartphones have provided the much-needed ease-of-access to the user, and with technology skyrocketing, mobile phones have become the “go-to” device for many. 

The bar graph below from TrueConversion demonstrates the acute importance of mobile-friendly pages.

Mobile friendly pages
Image Source: TrueConversion

Websites that are not mobile-friendly pay the price in terms of their SERP rankings. 

As per TrueConversion, more than 40% of the non-mobile friendly web pages saw a dip in their rankings over a period of time. On the other hand, 30% mobile-friendly web pages had a boost in their SERP rankings.

Google has made the task relatively convenient for developers and creators by introducing an easy-to-use Mobile Friendly Test

You need to paste your page URL here, and it will show you the website’s compatibility for mobile phones. 

To get further insights and better understand the deeper aspects of a mobile-friendly website, you can also refer to Hubspot’s Website Grader

With the recent changes in Google’s website ranking algorithm, websites that are optimized for mobiles, score better ranks.


3. Have an XML sitemap in place

An XML sitemap only takes a few minutes to submit and works wonders for the website. 

A sitemap is essentially a map of your website for a search engine crawler. Bots take sitemap as a starting reference and then crawl your website.

Not having a sitemap may not harm your website SEO since bots can still crawl your website, but its presence ensures you are saving crucial crawl time of the bot by directing it to your right URLs.

More than 87% of the total searches occur on Google as informed by Statista and therefore, keeping Google updated with your website’s XML sitemap becomes a virtual compulsion. 

Also, ensure that you have updated Google Search Console with your latest sitemap, as shown below:-

How to add XML Sitemap in GSC

On-page SEO tools like Yoast and RankMath provide the feature of auto-generating the XML sitemap.

Auto generate sitemap


4. Don’t neglect internal linking

Internal links are hyperlinks that point to a web page on your domain instead of a 3rd party website. This differentiates it from external links. 

Internal linking improves on-site time, which adds up to your website SEO. Apart from that, it also notifies the search crawlers about another page on your website, thus increasing its crawl ability,

Once you publish a blog post, take some time out to go back to your old posts and link them to the new blog piece.

That way, you have built backlinks for your newly published content, thus improving its presence for Google.

Internal linking structure


5. Mind the redirections

When there’s a 301 redirect, it implies that a web page has now found a new permanent location

And then, there’s a 302 redirect that implies that the web page is temporarily shifted to a new location. 

A search engine algorithm needs to know about the accurate status of any web page at any given instance. If you end up confusing the search engine, then be ready to see a massive dip in traffic and decreased page rankings.

3xx redirection
Image Source: SearchEngineJournal

301 redirection ensure passing of link juice; thus, it doesn’t impact your rankings much.

But a 302 redirect means a temporary redirect, i.e. SEO value is not passed to the other page.

Make sure you don’t goof up between the redirects.

If you are combining the content across multiple pages, or killing a page; ensure proper 301 redirection is in place.

But in cases where the movement of the page is temporary, you may reroute the traffic via a 302 redirect. This will ensure that traffic is channelized to a new page, but the SEO value is not.

Just FYI, post 2016, Google’s modified its page ranking algorithm and redirects are no longer a factor considered for page rankings. 

However, it’s always better to map the pages to their original individual source and remove the risks of decreased traffic and lower page-ranks.


6. Optimize your images alt text

Alt text (alternative descriptions) are phrases or keywords that best describe the image you have included in your content. To play safe, it’s always recommended to use compressed images.

Still, there are instances when an image fails to load, and a frightening cross sign stares at the reader. This breaks the link between your content and the reader, and as a result, you may lose a visitor. To take care of such scenarios, add alt text for all your images.

Placing alt text describes what the image wants to deliver, albeit, in a written format. Not all images can be substituted with text, but many can be. 

Alt text helps to achieve better rankings as it indicates Google about the precision and relevance of your content.

In WordPress, you can easily add an alt text as shown below:-

alt text in WordPress


7. Use canonicals

Most of the SEOs follow a keyword-centric approach.

Take the example of a blog that publishes content on televisions, LCDs, and LEDs. After a few laps of unique content, the blogs start becoming similar, and they even contain a swarm of overlapping keywords. 

To prioritize the URL which should receive the traffic, a technical SEO practitioner implements canonical URL. With the help of digital tools like YoastSEO, the execution part becomes practical and straightforward. 

How to add canonicals in Yoast

Duplication of content always confuses the search engine algorithms. Consequently, there are instances where a whole chunk of traffic is ignored because of content redundancy. 

Canonicals are often overlooked because we are too dependent on Google to take care of these fixes. However, using canonicals eases out the process of website ranking, and this works in favor of your web pages.


8. Fix broken links

Broken links are those which post a message of “Error 404 … Page not found” on a click. 

Just imagine the scenario where a reader saw the hyperlink and said to himself “This is the best content on the internet. I found exactly what I was searching for.” As soon as he opens the link, the 404 error is displayed. 

The reader’s reaction is self-explanatory, and the opinion he/she forms of your website isn’t too pleasant either. And same is the case of search engine bot.

Therefore, it becomes critical to fix these broken links.

Fix broken links
Image Source: SEO Pressor

The above statistics from a survey by SeoPressor explain that broken links are the most irritating aspect (75% upvotes) of web navigation. They often cause abrupt endings to reading sessions. 

Fixing the broken links is a manual task that you’ll need to take care of. 

Skim through all the links that you have included in your content and map them to a valid web page. 

Remove the ones that don’t lead anywhere and give a pleasant browsing experience to your visitors.


9. Use structured data

There’s no doubt that structured data improves readability and builds engagement with the visitor. 

These are important aspects, but how does structuring data relate to SEO? 

Crawlers search for specific data alignment and rank them accordingly. 

Structured data contributes to your SEO by producing rich search results and an always increasing page ranking. 

For example, here’s how the FAQ Schema appears on Google:-

Structured data example

Rich results are an outcome of informative snippets, accurate images, and precise statistics. Your page, therefore, gets the approval of the audience in the form of reviews, ranking-based ratings, and a lot more. 

This invariably assists the users in getting to a web page that has quality information. Moreover, the CTR (click-through-rate) for these pages is relatively high, simply because rich snippets capture more real estate within SERPs. 

It’s a feature showcase from the king Google itself, so a high CTR is not a surprising outcome. 

Metadata of all the individual pages facilitate Google to understand the information that your web page wants to convey.


10. Use Google Search Console for analysis

Toolkits offered by Google are by far the best a digital marketer can get. 

Google sets the question paper and alongside that provides you with numerous hints. Those who interpret and work rigorously on them reach the apex. 

In the case of website SEO analysis, Google doesn’t let you down. 

You can put Google’s Search Console to use to analyze what’s working and what needs a change.

Google Search Console Performance Metrics

From fixing broken links to updating the XML sitemap, you can do it all from the potent console. 

Troubleshoot, improve, monitor and deliver the best that your website has to offer through Google Search Console by making use of its various tools.


Final Words

According to HubSpot, 61% of marketers implement a full-fledged technical SEO strategy.

The technical SEO checklist should form the core of your search engine strategy.

All these SEO tips mentioned above have one thing in common – the feeling that something needs to change.

These changes are not visible to the eye, but they go a long way to improve your website SEO. 

Do try them out.

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