Technical SEO 2019: What you need to know

Written by Phil Birss: Group CEO.
· 4 minute read

Optimising a site for organic search presence isn’t a quick job, nor is it something you can simply ignore after spending a couple months working on it. If you want start ranking for multiple keywords relevant to your business, you need two things: Time and Perseverance.

Every site is different, and every search marketer will have a slightly different approach to reaching their end goal. However, every site shares 5 main principles that underpin every search strategy. These are the foundations of technical SEO, and consist of CRAWLABILITY; INDEXABILITY; ACCESSABILITY & RANKABILITY.

Although content marketing and on-site optimisation are important, if they aren’t underpinned by a solid technical foundation you will soon find you aren’t reaching your sites full potential. Understanding each aspect of your technical foundation will help to make technical SEO look a lot less intimidating without undermining it’s role in making your website reach it’s full potential.

Crawlability

The first step in understanding the foundations of technical SEO is to look at the crawability of your site. Crawlability concerns the ability of your websites pages to be able to be found by search engine bots/crawlers. You could find that certain pages on your site are accessible to users navigating through the site, appearing in your navigation and other site links, but aren’t appearing in your search results due to being invisible to bots.

Crawlability

Reasons a url might not be accessible.

  • It’s blocked in your robots.txt file
  • covered by a websites crawl budget (not very common)
  • It’s not being linked to anywhere on-site and isn’t in your sitemap.txt

Indexability

Once you are comfortable all of the pages on your site that you want to be found can be found, the next steps are to address Indexability. These pages are ready to be indexed as they aren’t blocked by your robots, and are available to be found on your site by both customers and search engines. This is also where you should be addressing any duplicate content issues you may come across. Although you may have chosen not to block your pages, Google may decide not to rank them due to finding a more authoritative page with the same content elsewhere.

  • Google can also choose not to index certain pages if they discover the following problems
  • Canonical declarations
  • Alternate versions such as printable/mobile pages (mobile pages are indexed first now after a recent push to a mobile first index)
  • Redirections

Accessibility (& website performance)

A website page that is both crawlable and indexable may still have issues ranking in the SERPS due to poor accessibility issues. There are a number of issues that could be causing your website to have poor ranking potential despite your website content and marketing strategy outweighing that of the competition. Just some of the reasons your  website may be penalised in the search results are:

  • Page loading times
  • Spam / DDOS attacks
  • HTTP/S status
  • Server performance
  • Orphan pages

It’s important to ensure your websites performance threshold at which SEO is negatively affected due to the above points is correctly maintained. I.e your website is performing as quickly and as efficiently as possible, using tools to measure downtime, pagespeed and other key performance metrics. Once we have addressed our accessibility metrics, we are then in a position whereby we can ensure our marketing and SEO does not suffer

Rankability

Once you are comfortable you have taken care of any issues which may have caused your web pages not to rank due to technical errors, we are now in a position we can start ranking for our desired keywords. There is a lot more to this section that doesn’t involve technical SEO, such as content and on-page optimization,  however it is best practice to first make sure your content has the best foundations possible by addressing your technical SEO.

Linking, whether internal or external not only help drive traffic to and from various pages of your site but also transfers page importance. A technical SEO strategy will therefor examine the current backlink profile of a given website to determine it’s current offsite relevance. It is also important to promote pages internally by using relevant linking structures to promote certain pages. These internal links can not only increase crawl rate, but can also increase conversion rate by helping to funnel users in certain directions (by pushing users towards high converting pages and/or goals on your site).

Internal linking then helps to create what’s known as ‘content silos’. These are created by internlinking semantically related content that helps groups of pages rank better together, than they would on their own. Here we can learn to create both depth and expertise whilst expanding our keyword reach with pages that focus on long-tail keywords and related ideas.