Chapter 2 – Technical SEO Fixes

It’s all about crawl-ability, indexing, and ranking correctly

Joe Kok - SEO Specialist

10 min read

Like everything, SEO has more going on under the surface than meets the eye.

Sure, you can put on-page SEO to work without getting into the technical details of how websites work behind the scenes. You can also build all the links in the world using Off-Page SEO tactics.

But if your website structure and function aren’t up to the mark, then all the content in the world won’t work to save yours…

Well, I guess you get the drift.

The truth of the matter is that without technically optimizing your website, you can’t really expect to have stellar SERP rankings.

That’s why today, I’m going to take you on a journey into the realm of technical SEO fixes.

Here we’re going to take a close look at how websites work, the way search engines actually see websites, and how user interaction influences search results.

And along the way, you’re going to be exposed to a few more pearls of wisdom.

So, if you’re serious about your SEO success, then you’re gonna want to stick around till the end.

Let’s log on then, shall we?

The Technicalities of Technical SEO

Learn all about Technical SEO

Think about it a while: SEO is, at its core, the process of making websites more visible in the search results.

This means in order to get better results, you need a better understanding of how websites function.

The Fundamentals of Website Operation

True, I don’t expect you to become a web developer expert just by reading this one post.

But you should have the basic knowledge that allows you to interact with your developer team and help them make the required technical changes for SEO.

To help you understand that, I’m first going to break down the three main components of a website.

These are:

  1. HTML – which forms the structure of the web pages
  2. CSS – which decides the look of the website pages
  3. Javascript – which decides the actions that a web page can take

Together, these three elements form the basics of a website.

But just understanding that won’t be enough, as you also need to have an understanding of how these elements get into your browser in the first place.

The Client-Server Model

This is the model that all websites on the internet follow.

In this model, basically, three steps are taking place.

First, the user requests an online resource (such as a web page) via the browser, which forwards the request to the server.

Now, it’s the server where the actual web pages reside in the process and respond.

Once the server identifies which pages the user has requested, it sends the HTML, CSS, and JavaScript code of that page to the browser.

Next, it’s the responsibility of the browser to recognize, arrange, and display all this information in the right way to the user.

After the browser has assembled all the three components of the web page to be displayed, the final web page appears in the browser.

Now, since this entire process takes place pretty fast (provided you have a stable internet connection), we seldom notice it.

But at times when the connectivity is patchy, we see only parts of the page loading.

Of the three components that every web page is composed of, it’s JavaScript that can have the most impact on SEO.

Since JavaScript is rendered client-side i.e. in the browser, Google’s crawlers can’t always understand JavaScript files fully.

Thankfully, using the Google Search Console, you can easily test how your web pages are being crawled and rendered.

Once you’ve understood how Google is viewing your web pages, you can then go on to make technical tweaks that help enhance your search performance.

Now, start utilizing these free Google tools to boost up your SEO effort.

The Way Search Engines Understand Websites

To make sure that the website crawlers can understand your webpage content, you need to optimize the schema markup of your website.

This is my go-to tool for schema markup generators. I try to avoid plugins and insert those markup manually to each web page where require.

This is simply a method to structure your website data so that it is better understandable by search engines.

The schema markup preferred by Google is JSON-LD, which is also supported by Bing.

The next thing that you need to take care of is canonicalization, which deals with duplicate content.

When you publish similar content on different pages, the crawlers don’t often know which pages should be indexed.

In this case, the rel=’canonical’ tag lets you tell the search engine which is the actual master content.

The crawlers can then focus on indexing these pages.

Through this process, you stand to ensure that every unique piece of content on your website is linked to individual URLs.

Since Google is notorious for favoring sites with original, unique content, this process helps your website stand out.

And climb up the SERP ladder in the process.

User Interaction Matters

If there’s one thing you need to understand about SEO it’s this: optimizing websites is as much about searchers as it is for search engines, perhaps more so.

This is logical since the endgame of every search engine is simply to provide a better search experience to all users.

Provide users the stellar search experiences that they deserved

This fact is best illustrated by Google’s incessant updates, which are all aimed at providing stellar user experiences.

At the same time, Google’s algorithm visibly favors websites that are more frequented by users, and even websites that have robust on-page and off-page profiles can falter when it comes to rankings.

So, what are the factors that go behind ensuring a positive user experience?

Let’s take a look.

Mobile-Friendly Website Design

It’s no secret that today, more than half the total number of website visits come from mobile.

These 2 years’ data from one of our client’s websites can confirm the validity of the claim.

Head over to our SEO case studies for more real-world data and statistics.

Mobile vs Desktop percentage

No wonder then that Google has already rolled out updates that support and rank websites that are more mobile-friendly.

Even the upcoming Google Page Experience update that will be rolling out will be focusing on mobile-only.

Now, while there are many ways to configure a website to be mobile-friendly, responsive web design is the technique that’s recommended by Google.

Responsive websites utilize CSS to deliver web pages that can adjust according to the screen size of the device they are being viewed on.

This provides a much enhanced mobile experience as it doesn’t require users to zoom in or out in order to view content on mobile devices.

A quick aside: In case you’re not really sure how your web pages appear on mobile, take a quick mobile-friendly test by Google, just be sure.

And the best part? It’s completely free!

Faster Loading Web Pages

When it comes to web browsing, I prefer speed above all else, and I think that’s the dominant trait among most users.

After all, nobody wants to wait five minutes for a single page to fully load.

In fact, it’s estimated that unless a site loads under less than two seconds, users will switch to the next best option!

Here’s a statistic by Google on how page loading speed increases the bounce rate probability.

This simply indicates that if you want to attract and retain visitors, you need to amp up your page speeds.

Optimize for mobile and your desktop performance will follow for sure.

This can be done through several techniques, such as using Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), minimizing JavaScript code, and using optimized HTML content.

But then, there’s the question of the images!

Why Images Slow Down Websites and What You Can Do About It

If there’s one thing that has the most contribution towards slowing down a web page, then it’s large images.

While high-quality images are no doubt good to look at, at the same time it must be kept in mind that they can pull back a website from climbing up the SERPs.

Thankfully, there are quite a few techniques that can be used to optimize images.

Some of the common methods are mentioned below:

  • Appropriate image compression
  • Optimized alt text
  • Pick the correct image size and format
  • Using the SRCSET attribute of the IMG tag

Apart from the above techniques, another method that can be used for optimizing image load speeds is lazy loading.

This is a process in which while loading, a website will only display the required image when the user had scrolled or it’s in the viewport, or some called it on-demand loading.

This allows bandwidth saving if the visitor leaves the web page before they finished it as the images were never served if he or she did not interact.

lazy loading

This will also provide a better loading time as usually rich media such as images, videos, and gifs are the heaviest resources to load.

Once you’ve taken care of the images, then there are a few other things to take care of. These range from code minification to file bundling.

Those would be quite a load to take on.

Don’t forget that our objective is to get the foundation set right for beginners and we had covered a lot of ground for the first-timer.

Final Words

Technical SEO may seem like a lot to take in, especially if you come from a non-technical field.

However, once you get a hang of these things, it’s all actually pretty simple to implement.

All it needs is a bit of patience, perseverance, and the ability to connect SEO principles with web development technologies.

SEO is a never-ending learning course.

Still, if you think you can’t take care of all these things yourself, you can always hire an experienced SEO professional to get the job done.

That being said, I feel that once you go through the other chapters in this series (beginner’s guide to SEO), you’ll get a better idea about how to put these principles into practice.

So, keep an eye out for more from me.

Till then, keep applying the above and let me know about your SEO success.

Feel like you need a revision from Chapter 1 or you are ready to move forward to the next chapter? Below is the quick link to your need.

On-Page Optimization

A great website not only provides valuable and useful content to the searches as we’ve mentioned above.

But it should also encompass great flexibility and stellar user experience to the readers.

Visitors know how to navigate around your site with ease, pages load instantly and most importantly there are no security vulnerabilities within your website.

Things get a bit technical and complex from here. Buckle up.

3. Off-Page Optimization

In my opinion, this is the hardest part when it comes to search engine optimization.

It takes a lot of effort and time and yet sometimes the result isn’t what we are expecting can be quite frustrated.

Still, there will always be hope and tips from us here.

Find out how we share insights and make your link-building trip a little more pleasant and safe.

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