Search engine optimization or SEO as it’s more commonly known is a process in which websites, web content, and web applications can be optimized to ensure they are properly indexed and highly ranked by search engines. It is a multidimensional process that includes many elements, and not something to be taken lightly as it can seriously improve the search engine ranking position of web pages.
An increase in search engine ranking position can lead to more organic traffic being directed to the page for relevant keywords that consumers or potential customers are searching for. It’s one of the best ways to boost a company’s brand, generate leads, and even convert potential customers.
A comprehensive SEO strategy encompasses many different elements including backlinking campaigns, content marketing initiatives, PR, guest posting, technical SEO, performance optimization, and many others. Technical SEO refers to strategies that specifically relate to modifying the code and taking other technical actions on the web page or website that is being optimized.
Technical SEO is important because it is one of the preliminary steps that must be taken before other strategies commence. This is because technical SEO work will increase the effectiveness of other strategies such as content marketing and backlinking campaigns. Let’s review some of the most common mistakes companies make when it comes to technical SEO so that you can ensure your broader SEO strategy produces optimal results.
1. Not Registering the Site on Google Search Console
Registering a website with Google Search Console is a common first step in implementing a technical SEO strategy. Google Search Console is a dashboard created by Google that allows webmasters to track important metrics that relate to a website’s performance and behavior on search engines. As the popular business maxim goes, what gets measured gets managed, and ensuring you get an accurate read on relevant metrics is a key first step in being able to improve them.
Some website owners neglect to take this step, often due to negligence or ignorance. Some webmasters might simply not know the platform exists and begin to work on other SEO strategies before registering it on Google Search Console. This can be a costly mistake that can lead to a lot of wasted time and money.
Registering your website with Google Search Console will also allow you to track whether subsequent technical SEO strategies such as website sitemapping, crawling and other efforts are going to plan.
Keeping up-to-date with a good technology publication within your niched can also be a good first step to wrapping your head around which metrics to look at when beginning your technical SEO journey.
2.Not Securing a Website with an SSL Certificate
The security of a website is one of the criteria that Google’s algorithm analyzes to determine if a website is trustworthy and credible. Google does not want to endanger their users by sending them to websites that make them vulnerable to cyber attacks or hacks. An SSL certificate will ensure that your website is operating under the HTTPS protocol to make it less vulnerable to attacks.
Almost all domain registrars and hosting providers offer the chance to buy an SSL certificate through their portal. The cost of the certificate can vary depending on your registrar and domain provider of choice but standard pricing normally hovers around the $40 per year range. It’s a worthwhile investment that will protect your website from attacks, and improve its search results over time by indicating to Google that it is secure.
After buying your SSL certificate, most domain registrars will list directions on how to make sure it’s properly configured on your website. This is an easy but important step because many webmasters make the mistake of buying the certificate but not configuring it properly. Configuration will vary slightly depending on how your website is built and where you bought the SSL, but take the time to read the instructions provided by your registrar and make sure it’s up and running.
As this piece by the LA Times explores, even well-known sites are sometimes hacked and compromised. Registering an SSL is really the bare minimum you can do to secure a website.
3. Not Installing Relevant SEO Plugins and Dependencies
Some webmasters don’t realize the tools at their disposal to help enhance their technical SEO efforts. Most popular platforms that are used to build websites today offer integrated plugins or technologies that help with technical SEO. If your site is built on WordPress, there is a plethora of free plugins available to inform your technical SEO approach.
One popular SEO plugin that is popular for WordPress users is called Yoast, and it can be downloaded and installed on your WordPress website for free. A plugin like Yoast will conduct automatic SEO audits that will help to inform you of the best ways to improve the technical SEO of the website. If your site isn’t built on WordPress, explore any tools or plugins native to your web builder of choice.
Beyond merely acting as a diagnostic tool, plugins like Yoast will help inform your broader SEO strategy by offering specific content recommendations for your website’s blog. It can help guide webmasters from the process of technical SEO all the way through to content marketing and content optimization.
4. Neglecting Website Performance
The performance of your website is another thing Google’s algorithm analyses when determining if it is a quality and credible source of information. Google doesn’t want its users being directed to a web page that loads too slowly or is prone to technical glitches. It wants its users to have a smooth and seamless experience finding the results they need.
Optimizing your website’s performance and load times will help indicate to Google that it is an authoritative and trustworthy source of information. There are many factors that can cause a website to be slow or glitchy including large file sizes, browser compatibility issues, or outdated technological dependencies. Updating your software stack, compressing large files, and testing compatibility across browsers can all be effective strategies to improve the performance of your website.
As this piece by the Washington Post, performing a clean search of a webpage and then navigating it to analyze its performance can be one simple but useful tactic.
An effective SEO plugin or auditing tool like Yoast or others will often indicate performance issues you should work on. Google Search Console can also offer some helpful insights in this regard.
5. Neglecting Meta Tags
Another technical SEO mistake that many webmasters make is not integrating proper meta tags into their webpages. Meta tags are lines of code that appear on webpages that relay certain important information to Google and to social media platforms.
It can indicate to Google what kinds of keywords and search queries the webpage relates to. Google utilizes so-called crawler programs, which analyze web pages and the metadata encoded within them to determine what kind of search queries it might be relevant to.
Ensuring that each web page has appropriate meta titles, meta descriptions, and alt text will tell google the subject matter of the page and which users could find it helpful. It is a labor-intensive but important part of making sure your technical SEO strategy is in check.
As this piece by the New York Times explains, writing content and implementing meta tags that are in line with search trends and a broader SEO strategy is an important part of being a good web content writer.
Technical SEO is a multifaceted but extremely important part of optimizing a website for search engines. It is one that will enhance the effectiveness of other strategies and should therefore be taken very seriously. Avoid some of these rookie mistakes to make sure your SEO strategy is in check.
Marina Turea works as content manager at Digital Authority Partners