Technical SEO is a key element in ranking your site in Google SERPs, but it may be one of the most challenging aspects of SEO. To truly understand how SEO works and why it’s so important, you have to dig into the meat of it. We’re not talking about keywords and backlinks. We’re talking about technical SEO.
A technical SEO checklist is one of the best ways to improve your website's ranking in search engines, get more traffic, and, ultimately, more results from organic search.
As a digital marketer, it can be challenging to keep up with the latest best SEO practices. That's where a technical SEO checklist comes in handy.
An SEO technical checklist provides a list of items you need to examine to ensure your website is optimized for search engines and that you’re doing everything possible to improve your spot on Google’s search ranking.
What Is Technical SEO?
Technical SEO is all of the information behind your website. It’s your sitemaps, your alt text, and your data markups, to name a few. Technical SEO goes beyond your content and looks at the structure of your website to determine if it will readily convey the right information to search engine spiders.
Technical SEO translates elements of your website into a language search engines can understand. This makes it easier for spiders to index your site, scan for relevant keywords or structures, and place your URL at the top of SERPs.
But optimizing is difficult, so we’ve compiled all the necessary information to help you out. This technical SEO list includes some of the key aspects of technically optimizing your site so it speaks fluent search engine.
Technical SEO Checklist for Digital Marketers
A technical SEO checklist is a valuable tool for any digital marketer. It can help you identify potential areas for improvement.
Here are the most important technical SEO items that you should add to your checklist:
More and more users are accessing the internet on mobile devices. As a result, Google has moved toward a mobile-first indexing model. Make sure your website is mobile-friendly with a responsive design.
Importance of Optimizing Mobile Site Speed
Google has admitted to moving toward a mobile-first indexing model, which means the algorithms look primarily at mobile versions of a website before scanning the desktop version. This makes being mobile-friendly significantly more important when it comes to SEO ranking. So if you’re not already optimized for mobile, it’s time to hop on board.
You can do this one of two ways:
1. Design a responsive site that can easily transition from desktop to mobile.
You can set up your site for both mobile and desktop by creating a website with responsive design elements. This way, your website has one URL and HTML, and there are fewer risks of missed SEO opportunities. It’s also easier to manage because changes are reflected on both versions of the site automatically. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that this is what Google recommends.
2. Design your mobile site separately from your desktop site.
This approach allows you to optimize content specifically for mobile without having to change your desktop site. It can help you specifically target your mobile audience more effectively and optimize specifically for mobile specifications.
However, our team would recommend creating one responsive site that can transition between mobile and desktop so that you don't risk missing content one one version that may have been loaded on the other.
If you’re not sure how your website stacks up to this standard, check out Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test and see where your site falls.
Check if Your Website is Mobile Friendly
- My website is responsive.
- My mobile website functions flawlessly.
- My mobile website is easy to read and navigate.
Fast loading times are optimal for a better user experience and are an essential ranking factor for search engines. Use tools like Google PageSpeed Insights to test your website speed and make improvements.
Google monitors a website’s health through Core Web Vitals, which are metrics for seeing how well your site performs in terms of the user experience. These vitals are based on three main categories, one of which is content loading speed.
How Slow is Too Slow?
If your site takes longer than 3 seconds to load on a mobile device or longer than 2 seconds to load on a desktop, you risk losing visitors.
Users are more likely to stay on a site that loads quickly and are also more likely to return to a fast site. For this reason, fast sites also tend to convert better than slow sites.
To make this a little more real, let’s look at some statistics from SEMRush to show you just how much of an edge you can get with fast load times:
- A site that loads in 5 seconds is faster than 25% of the web.
- A site that loads in 2.9 seconds is faster than 50% of the web.
- A site that loads in 1.7 seconds is faster than 75% of the web.
- A site that loads in 0.8 seconds is faster than 94% of the web.
What to Check to Improve Site Speed
- My videos and images are compressed.
- My website uses a single stylesheet.
- My website has a fast and reliable host.
Search engines use a website's URL structure for crawling or indexing a site. They read a website's URL from left to right and interpret each part of the URL as a separate piece of information.
Organizing your content helps search engines index your pages and understand your site's hierarchy. Plus, it can create a more user-friendly experience for your visitors.
What Your URL Should Look Like
A well-structured URL is user-friendly, easy to read and understand, and is more likely to be clicked on in search results.
For example, https://www.knowmad.com/blog/how-to-rank-google-paa-box. Anyone or any crawler looking at this knows it’s going to our website, then to our blog, then to that specific article. This is a clean hierarchy.
That link is also an example of a shallow hierarchy, which is ideal for users. It only has three levels of organization, so users know they’ll find exactly what they’re looking for. (Google loves when people find what they’re looking for.)
The more backslashes and descriptive information that gets added into your URL, the more confusing it is for users to determine where they’re going and if it’s relevant to their search.
Check Your URL Structure
- My site has a clean and concise URL structure.
- My site has a shallow hierarchy.
- My site is organized, and the pages are easy to find.
Website security decreases your chances of getting hacked and is a top priority for search engines. Use HTTPS to encrypt your website data and prevent security threats.
How Security Helps SEO
Security and SEO may seem like two completely different topics, but they go hand-in-hand. A website with solid security makes it less likely to be hacked and more likely to be trusted by users and search engines. Plus, a secure website offers a better user experience with faster load times.
Check Your Website Security
- My site uses the HTTPS protocol with an SSL certificate.
- My website host is fast, safe, and reliable.
- My CMS software, themes, and plugins are updated.
- I update passwords and back up my website regularly.
- Download the Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing from HubSpot.
Website redirects are a common way for website owners to send visitors to different pages for various reasons. These redirects can affect page load times and, if done incorrectly, could negatively affect website traffic.
What are Redirects?
If you've ever clicked on a link to a website only to be redirected to a different page, you've experienced a website redirect. Redirects can be a helpful way to guide visitors to the right page. For example, a website might redirect mobile users to a mobile-friendly version of the site.
There are a few different types of redirects, but the most common is the 301 redirect when a website has been moved to a new location. A 302 redirect sends visitors to a different page when a website is temporarily unavailable.
Where Can I see Redirects on my site?
To view the website redirects on your website, open the website's code in a text editor and search for the "redirect" code. If you don't find any redirect code, your website doesn't have any redirects.
Check for Website Redirects
- I've identified and fixed any redirect chains.
- My site is using 301 and 302 redirects correctly.
Add Structured Data
Structured data, particularly schema markup, help search engines better understand what your site is about.
What Is Structured Data?
Structured data is code that you can add to your website to essentially give search engines a roadmap of your site. This can help them index your pages better, and it can also help your pages show up in rich results.
You can add Schema markup code to your site to encourage Google to display valuable information to users in the form of rich snippets. Examples of rich snippets include: star ratings, thumbnail images, product pricing, and more.
Furthermore, these SERP features encourage engagement with your link, which boosts your click through rates (CTR). One thing we know about SEO - websites with higher CTRs are prioritized in the SERPs.
Check Your Structured Data
- My site uses schema markup to encourage Google to display information in rich snippets in the SERPs.
Get SEO Help - Request a Proposal
Technical SEO might sound intimidating but hopefully this guide takes some of the mystery out of optimizing your website. If you’re interested in learning more, we’d love to help! Let's chat about your business and how we can help you build a more powerful online presence. Talk to a digital marketing expert to get started today!
As Head of SEO, Michelle builds powerful organic strategies to help our clients get more qualified leads, generate more revenue, and reach their specific business goals.