What is Technical SEO? Why Your Content Strategy Will Fail Without It

Google Search algorithm

Google’s ranking algorithm is what decides where you place in their search results and understanding how it works is key to setting up your website properly to rank as highly as possible with Google. 

The invisible bots at Google are constantly scouring the web and organizing data which is referred to as “crawling” and when they successfully add a page to Google’s search results it’s called “indexing”.

So what is technical SEO? 

Technical SEO is the optimization of a website for users and search engines.

Technical SEO covers the technical factors that affect Google’s ability to crawl and index your site, how well your content is rated, and impacts how you are ranked.

Things like:

  • Ineffective Website Architecture
  • Unoptimized URLs
  • Page Bloat
  • Missing or Lengthy Meta Titles/Descriptions
  • Missing Alt-Tags
  • Broken Links (404s)
  • Thin Content
  • Duplicate Content
  • Slow Website Speed

Impact of Technical SEO Errors

seo terms

Unresolved technical errors dramatically affect your website’s SEO.

Google’s ranking algorithm has certain things it scans websites for to help it decide where to place you. Technical errors like slow loading speeds and broken links will be flagged by Google and result in lower search rankings for your website.

These technical errors also influence the crawling and indexing of your website. This could make it harder for Google to find new pages on your site to include in their search results.

That’s why it’s important to technically optimize your site so it’s easy for Google to crawl and index your pages and put them in their searches.

Having the technical aspects of your site optimized and taken care of is extremely important to make sure your content can get seen by the right people. 

It’s one of the foundational elements of being able to rank on Google as technology and the algorithms evolve.

To take care of technical SEO is straightforward.

Identify any technical errors that are plaguing your website, and resolve them.

Let’s go through the most important aspects of technical SEO and identify what each one is and how to address it.

Ineffective Website Architecture

blog structure

The architecture of your website is optimized when it allows for well-organized content, a simple and easy user experience, builds trust and authority, and helps Google to crawl and index the site.

There are 5 main elements of an effective website architecture:

1. Core Content 

Make sure the core pages that are critical to the importance of your website are clearly present and visible on the main navigation menu. Often this means service pages, product pages, about page, contact page, blog pages, etc

core content

2. Nesting

Make sure the related core pages are nested under one another.

For example, say you have an about page and a team page. Your team page should be nested as a child page underneath your about page — which would represent the parent page.

blog architecture

The URL for the team page would look like this:

www.website.com/about-us/team

Be sure not to nest pages any more than three levels deep.

Meaning, you shouldn’t have any URLs that look like this:

www.website.com/level-one/level-two/level-three/level-four

3. Internal Links

It’s important as a basic element website architecture and SEO to include internal links in your content to other relevant pages on your site.

This improves authority flow, the movement of authority throughout your website.

A portion of authority is transferred between pages via internal links. If an authoritative page has an internal link connecting it to another page, that linked-page will absorb some of the authority. 

4. Keyword-Rich Anchor Text

Anchor text is the clickable text in a hyperlink and you should use keyword-rich internal links as much as possible. 

When you’re linking to a page on your own site, the anchor text should include the keyword or a variation of the keyword that specific page.

Just remember if you link to a page multiple times throughout a page, Google will only consider the anchor text of the first link. 

5. Blog-Centric Website Architecture 

The most effective website architecture is blog-centric. This means utilizing blog articles to attract backlinks, then transferring that authority to relevant pages on the website using internal links.

Here’s a visual representation

what is technical SEO

To do this effectively, each blog post published on the site should have an internal link to the home page of the website and any relevant product or service pages.

This lets product/service pages gain extra authority since some of the authority gets transferred from the blog post.

Unoptimized URLs

seo linking

URL optimization is about decluttering your URLs, making sure they’re short, simple, and succinct for both readers and Google to understand.

Best practice is to include only the keyword in the blog title.

You want to leave out all unnecessary characters that don’t have to do with the target keyword.

For example

website.com/blog/2019/09/22/sample-post

vs

website.com/blog/sample-post

To change your settings in WordPress, go to Settings, then go to Permalinks.

url optimization

You can check either PostName or custom settings and choose the appropriate tag to make sure you’re not automatically including unnecessary data.

Page Bloat

page bloat

Page bloat is an error where you have a large number of pages indexed in Google that don’t add value. 

For example:

  • Category Pages 
  • Tag Pages
  • Author Archive Pages
  • Policy Pages (Privacy, Shipping, Legal disclaimer, etc)

This is not good for SEO. You want to exclude all low-value pages from being indexed so only your highest value pages are being scored by Google. 

You can type in site:https://yourwebsite.com into Google to list all the pages on a website that are indexed within Google. Then you can see for yourself if your site is suffering from page bloat and identify if you need to address it.

If you’re on WordPress you can use Yoast SEO. It’s an SEO plugin that makes it very easy to optimize your site for technical SEO.

Go to Yoast in your WordPress dashboard then go to ‘Search Appearance’.

Using Yoast to fix Page bloat

Then under Content Types scroll down to Posts and Pages and make sure the setting is on YES for “show in search results”

page bloat

Next, go to the Taxonomies tag and scroll down to the Categories and Tags section and select NO under “show in search results”.

Fixing page bloat

Lastly, go to the Archives tag and select NO under “show author archives in search results”.

Page bloat

Now you should be taken care of when it comes to indexing unnecessary pages and only sending Google your highest quality pages.

Missing or Lengthy Meta Titles/Descriptions

missing alt titles

Meta titles are the titles that appear on the search results for any pages you have indexed. 

Meta titles impact what users see when they come across search results 

You can use an SEO audit tool like Screaming Frog to check the status of your meta titles and make sure you fill in any pages with missing meta descriptions.

Meta titles should be clean, clear, unique, and under 155 characters.

If you have a blank or missing meta title go ahead, note the page, go to the back end of your website to resolve the issue.

On WordPress, you can use the Yoast plug-in, and when you scroll to the bottom of a particular page, you can scroll down to the Yoast section and click on the Snippet Preview.

fixing a missing meta title

There you can fill in a blank meta description or edit an existing one, then scroll back up and click update to fix the error.

Missing Alt-Tags

fixing missing alt tags

An alt-tag is the piece of HTML code that’s placed within an image that allows Google to read the image and identify what it is. It’s important to have a descriptive alt-tag for an image so it can rank that image within its image search results.

Not having all your images alt-tagged is detrimental to SEO and ranking well in Google search.

You can audit your alt-tags using Screaming Frog in the images section of the site overview and it’ll show you how many images you have missing alt-tags.

replace missing alt tag

Then you’ll simply go on the back-end of your site and change the alt-tags.

First, you’ll select the “inlinks” tag inside of Screaming Frog then copy the URL of the image and paste it in your browser.

After you see what it looks like you can copy the image title from the URL and paste it in the search bar of your media library. 

fixing missing alt tag

Verify it’s the same image and select the image and add the alt-tag for the image.

You should name the image for the keyword you’re targeting on the specific page it resides on.

 

Broken Links (404s)

fixing broken links

Broken links are links on your website which take you to a web page that doesn’t exist and having broken links on your site is bad for domain authority and SEO.

You can run a search for broken links on your site using Screaming Frog and scroll down to the section “Client error 4xx”

The easiest way to remove a 404 error from your website is to download a WordPress plug-in called Redirection. 

Go to the Tools section of your dashboard then select Redirection. 

fixing broken links

Now click “Add New” and under source URL, you’re going to input the URL for which there’s a 404 error, and under Target URL, you’re going to put the link you want them to be redirected to.

Thin Content

Thin Content

Thin content is content that lacks value and is low in word count.

Google does not like thin content at all. The content you create should add value to the reader or it shouldn’t be published in the first place.

The general rule of thumb is to avoid publishing content with less than 500-700 words when possible. 

You can scan for thin content using Screaming Frog and then you have two options.

1. You can either edit the thin content to make it longer and add value.

2. Or you can delete the page entirely and create a redirect from the URL of that page to a live page on your website so the deletion doesn’t cause a 404 error.

Go to HTML under the Internal section the SEO elements section in Screaming Frog after you run a scan and export the data to an excel file.

fixing thin content

Then you can filter the results by the word count column.

You can pick whichever word count you’d like as a threshold and identify the pages under a certain number. 

Just remember that the word count will count all the words on the page including headers and links, not just the main body text. 

Duplicate Content

fixing duplicate content

Duplicate content is defined as content that exists more than once and can really hurt your Google rankings.

To avoid duplicate content you want to do 2 things.

1. Make sure each page you publish is unique and focuses on a particular topic that you haven’t previously covered on another page.

2. Avoid copying content from other websites – Do not copy other websites content word for word. 

The best way to find duplicate content is to use the tool Siteliner.

It scans pages of your website and displays a percentage of how much text is also present on other pages of your site.

The best way to use Siteliner is to look at overall pages and make sure any duplicate percentage matches of over 30% are investigated.

siteliner

After you’ve found any pages that are duplicates, you need to decide which page will be the master page.

The goal of the master page is to consolidate the information on all the duplicate pages and become your site’s primary resource for that topic.

After you’ve finished putting together the master page, delete all the related duplicate content pages and redirect their URL to the master page.

This kills two birds with one stone by removing instances of duplicate content and creating a higher quality page for your website.

The next time Google crawls your site, they’ll disregard the instances of duplicate content from their search results and only include your master page.

Slow Website Speed

slow website speed

Slow website speed will kill your Google rankings and they’ll kill the engagement you have with users on your site.

Bounce rate doubles if your website takes an extra 2 seconds to load.

The best way to test your website speed is by using the tool GTMetrix.

GTmetrix

GTMetrix will give your loading speed a score out of 100, as well as a list of the technical issues you need to fix if you’d like to improve that score.

However, trying to fix each and every technical error that GTMetrix recommends can end up being a tail-chase that leads to frustration and mediocre results.

Instead here’s a 5 step process you can follow to make sure your website speed is being optimized and make sure you increase your loading speed.

1. Proper Hosting

Hosting is the most important factor in your web speed. If you’re using a low-quality host, your website speed will be slow no matter how much effort you put into optimizing it.

Some recommended hosts include:

One host you should think twice about using is GoDaddy. GoDaddy offers shared hosting which means they place multiple websites on one of their servers. This can be detrimental to website speed. 

2. Content Delivery Network (CDN)

A content delivery network (CDN) is a system of distributed servers that deliver webpages and other Web content to a user based on the geographic locations of the user. 

A CDN allows for the quick transfer of assets needed for loading Internet content including HTML pages, javascript files, stylesheets, images, and videos. 

A recommended CDN for you to use is Cloudflare

3. W3 Cache

W3 Cache is a WordPress plugin that caches your pages — meaning that it saves copies of pages and delivers them to users so they don’t have to wait for pages to fully load.

This significantly decreases the amount of work your server needs to do when loading pages, and results in faster website speed.

W3 Cache offers you options to manage: Page Cache, Database Cache, Browser Cache, Object Cache and more.

4. reSmush.it

ReSmush.it is a WordPress plugin that reduces the file size of images on your website. 

Large images reduce the loading speed of your website.

When you reduce the file size of an image, loading the image becomes less taxing on your web server, which will improve your website speed.

5. Audit Your Plugins

Having a lot of plugins running can be taxing your website speed.

Identify any unnecessary plugins and remove them.

Conclusion

Google Content is king

SEO and organic traffic is a critical aspect of marketing and scalability so it’s important to address the fundamental aspects of it.

Technical SEO being in proper order is extremely important for your overall content strategy to succeed if you want to improve your search rankings.

If you plan to bring in organic traffic from Google, taking care of your technical SEO is a prerequisite.

The first step in improving your Google search rankings and beginning a content strategy is tackling technical SEO.

  • Ineffective Website Architecture
  • Unoptimized URLs
  • Page Bloat
  • Missing or Lengthy Meta Titles/Descriptions
  • Missing Alt-Tags
  • Broken Links (404s)
  • Thin Content
  • Duplicate Content
  • Slow Website Speed

After that, you can focus on creating quality content with strategic keyword targeting to increase your domain authority.