The digital marketing landscape has changed extremely over the last decade. 2020 is proved to be an unusual year for the business players due to the global economic downturn. Did you also witness the drop in your search rankings? If yes, you might have missed a few important things in the technical SEO (Search Engine Optimization) of your site. But it’s never too late!! Do you also want a strong SEO technical foundation for your website?? Here, we have got the complete technical SEO checklist covering the best practices and most essential technical SEO factors you need to implement a successful SEO strategy in 2021! This is a must-read post for you.
Before moving further, let us take a quick look at what actually tech SEO checklist is and why it is important?
What Is Technical SEO and How Is It Important?
To secure high ranking, content and keywords are important, but a strong technical SEO foundation is a must to unleash your online potential. It helps search engines to crawl and understand your site content and assists visitors in navigating your website.
Basically, technical SEO refers to the website and server optimizations to ensure search engines can crawl, index, and interpret your web pages effectively to improve your site rankings in relevant SERPs (search engine results pages).
It mainly focuses on improving the crawlability and indexability of your website. Overall, optimizing the key technical SEO elements allows search engines to determine the true value of your website. So, one must complete SEO website technical audit fundamentals by verifying the technical seo audit checklist.
Ultimate Technical SEO Checklist 2021
Technical SEO is the art of making your website as easy for users as possible to use. People use search engines to find information and if your website is difficult to use, people will click the back button and find a website that is easier to use. Technical SEO covers the following:
❖ Plan a logical URL and site structure.
The URL structure should be simple, short, and SEO-friendly. A clean URL structure makes it easier for search engines to crawl your web pages and then analyze and store your page content to display as a result of relevant search queries. It means the search engine bots completely index all the content on your site.
For example, a simple SEO-friendly URL will look like this:
Tip:- Make use of hyphens to separate words instead of the underscore.
Moreover, creating a logical site structure is crucial. A logical site structure allows search engines and visitors to navigate your website easily. A simple mind-map of your website will look somewhat similar to the image given below:
❖ Make sure to secure the site with HTTPS protocol.
HTTPS is also a Google ranking signal(announced in 2014). It is a secure HTTP version and a primary protocol for secure data transmission between a website and browser. It uses a Secure Sockets Layer – SSL to encrypt links. The URL of a website that uses SSL starts with: the ‘https://’ rather than ‘http://’and you can see a padlock. e.g.
Secure HTTPS websites are given preference over non-secure ones in search results. So, migrate your website to an HTTPS site today.
❖ Fix broken links.
Broken links can cause a poor user experience and hurt your website authority. Broken/dead links point to the web pages that have been deleted without 301 redirects. So, whenever one clicks click a broken link, it doesn’t direct them to the correct or working URL.
To avoid these, make sure to check a couple of factors listed below:
To find the list of broken internal and outbound links, check your Site Audit report, and fix identified issues either by removing the link or replacing the target URL with live links.
❖ Get rid of any duplicate versions of your site.
Duplicate content is a common SEO issue caused by different factors like page replication from faceted navigation, scraped content, and multiple versions of the site live. It is also important that you only allow Google to index one version of your site. For example,
These all are different versions of the same site but should point to the single one.
There are few practical solutions to avoid duplicate content:
❖ Crawl your site to Identify and Fix crawl errors.
Crawl errors are those errors that prevent search engine bots from reading/accessing data from your website. So, whenever a search engine tries to view your web page, it fails. Make sure that your site is free from any crawl errors. One can check the Coverage report to identify these errors, warnings, and excluded pages through Google Search Console. Many other tools are available to find crawl errors as well.
Try to find the details of the cause of excluded URLs. To fix the crawl errors:
❖ Update core metrics to improve the User Experience.
The key factors of Google’s Page experience update combine three core web vitals with the page experience signals like mobile-friendliness, page speed, safe browsing, etc.
To refresh, core web vitals are the user-centered metrics used by Google to quantify web usability. There are three Core Web vitals- LCP, FID, and CLS:
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP) tells about the loading performance of a page from the point when the user first clicks on a page link to when the content element loads on the screen. For a good user experience, it should be less than 2.5 seconds.
First Input Delay (FID) measures the first user interaction with the page. For a good user journey experience, it should be less than 100 ms.
Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) measures the visual stability of page elements. a CLS of less than .1 seconds is good for a website.
❖ Add structured data/schema markup.
Structured data, also known as schema markup, help search engines contextualize and understand your website content and rank it more accurately. It helps to display the information in the form of a rich snippet on the results page. Not only it improves the user experience but also the experience of the Search Bots to answer the user queries faster and efficiently. To create schema markup, one can use Google’s Structured Data Testing tool or any of the online schema markup generators. It is much easier than doing it manually.
❖ Check Temporary 302 Redirects.
302 is a simple temporary redirect that means a page is moved temporarily and directing to a new page for a short period. Whereas the 301 is a status code to tell that page is moved permanently. 302 redirect retains the original search engine ranking of a page and not impacting the SEO at all. In addition, it is easier to implement and improves the user experience as well. You can locate the 302 redirects through the Site Audit report.
Note: Never use a 302 redirect if a page is permanently moved instead; prefer using 301.
❖ Ensure to submit an optimized XML sitemap.
An XML sitemap is simply a website blueprint that helps search engines to decide which pages should be crawled and indexed. Search engines support many different formats of sitemap, but the most commonly used is XML. It is especially useful for faster indexation in case a website has thousands of pages, new pages are frequently added, frequent changes are made to the existing pages, and a website lacks internal and external linking. You can find a sitemap on https://www.domain.com/sitemap.xml. Some of the WordPress plugins generate a sitemap as its standard functionality. Once a sitemap has been generated, submit it to Google Search Console and Bing Webmaster Tools. Don’t forget to refer sitemap in the robots.txt file.
❖ Create an optimized robots.txt file.
The robot.txt file, also known as the robot exclusion protocol, tells web robots to crawl the website pages. Usually, it prevents a certain section of the website from being crawled. In other words, hide some site sections from search engines. Find your site robots.txt at https://www.domain.com/robots.txt. Several WordPress SEO plugins allow users to create and edit their robots.txt file, but if a different CMS is used, you need to manually create the file and upload it to the root of your domain.
There you go, an important 10-point technical SEO Checklist to regain the top position in search results and lost traffic. In this list, we discussed the vital technical ranking SEO factors to stay ahead of the competition. As mentioned above, you need to avoid common technical SEO issues like:
These things affect not only your web performance but also the overall user experience. To ensure your website is compliant with search engine guidelines, verify this technical SEO checklist, and don’t forget the technical SEO audit in 2021!!
Put your best technical SEO foot forward with our ultimate technical SEO checklist and rule the search engine rankings in 2021!