Search engine optimisation is a big, big buzzword in the digital marketing world at the moment, and for good reason! Climbing up that search engine ladder is great for business – getting yourself in front of the right people at the right time is essential to all businesses. But, SEO is not easy task. It takes time, time and more time and a lot of knowledge, patience, and persistence. SEO is most certainly an art not a science and trying to climb the ranks in Google can be a constant battle. However, it can be very rewarding and is definitely worth it! Another thing to note is that SEO is not just writing content with a focus on your keywords as often misunderstood but also involves a lot of technical elements.
Technical SEO can be overwhelming, especially for beginners. Lots of foreign words and unknown phrases are thrown around and it can feel like a completely alien concept to begin with. So, where do you start with technical SEO? What are the basics? This article outlines the first steps you need to understand to get to grips with technical SEO.
The first thing that needs to be done when improving your SEO is getting your SSL certificate to make sure that you URL is https and not http. Why? Well, Google wants to make sure that it only shows consumers websites that are trustworthy and having a secure website is one of the ways they can determine this. It isn’t necessarily a death wish not to have a https URL but it can be quite damaging to your ranking.
What is your SSL certificate? Well, SSL stands for Secure Sockets Layer and basically tells Google and your consumers that their data is protected and the connection is reliable. If you would like more details on this you can find out more here.
We would recommend doing this straight away. In order to get SSL, you need to purchase it from your website hosting platform. Where you get yours will depend on your hosting platform.
Something that is really important for SEO but is often forgotten about is your images. Image size can make a huge impact on your page speed (we’ll get to that in a minute) so it is important to compress all your images as much as possible (without ruining the quality, though as this will damage your content). This is a really important step and whilst it can take a while to go through and change all your images, it can help and is a relatively easy task.
Then, you need to make sure that all your images have alt image text and that this text matches the title of the image. Why? Well, Google can’t read images so the alt text tells Google what the image is about and helps with the relevancy of your page. For example, if your page is about gardens and the image is of garden flowers, then your alt text will tell Google this. The alt text should accurately explain the image and, if possible, it helps to get some of your keywords in there.
Optimising your website for multiple devices is absolutely essential, nowadays people use their phones and tablets all the time to access content so it is important that your site is optimised for this. Responsive design, as you will see it referred to, is taken very seriously by Google and any SEO tool you use will give you separate mobile and desktop scores and rankings.
Most CMS’ (WordPress, Squarespace, Wix, etc.) have tools to optimise your site for mobile. Make sure you use these tools and always preview your pages on both platforms before they go live. Think about your text size, image size, flow, and borders. A huge heading on desktop for example might look completely naff on your mobile site.
Site speed is essential. If your site takes ages to load, it will seriously affect your search engine ranking. One of the reasons for this is that a slow page will have a much higher bounce rate which suggests to Google that the page is not relevant and the content should not be shown.
Content and URLs
Yes, content, how is that related to technical SEO? Well, apart from checking your links, there are certain elements of your content that need to be optimised as part of your technical SEO. H tags are really important because they highlight the key elements of your content. This means that they help search engines determine how relevant your article might be to the individual search query. Our best piece of advice would be to always include your keyword in your h1 and never have more than one h1 on each page – this is very confusing for search engines!
Once you’ve written all your great content it is important to make sure your URL structure is solid. A solid URL structure will be clear and concise. They shouldn’t be really long but they should try and describe the page itself. If you think about it, the URL can describe the content of the page straight off, both for search engines and for users. If you want to find out more about good URL structure you can read this blog about URLs for SEO.
Once you’ve sorted out your URL structure, you will need to submit an XML sitemap. An XML sitemap is basically a map of your website to tell search engines about all the content that exists there. This makes it easier for search engines to find your important pages and understand your content. You can use various platforms to create your XML sitemap and you can use Google Search Console to submit this. For example, we use Yoast, for our XML sitemap. You can find out more from Yoast.