Ever since mobile internet usage surpassed that of traditional desktop computers in 2016, it has become simply imperative that website owners have their sites optimised for mobile phone devices. Think about it; if you visit a site that is slow to load (or isn't even able to be displayed correctly on your device) how likely is it that you'll go ahead and interact with its elements?
Another reason why responsive web design is needed is that it is also a factor in the rankings of a website. So not only do website owners need to improve the structure of their sites, they will also need to fill it with well-optimised content that abides by the best practices set out by search engines. This is something that a technical SEO checklist can help with.
Google's Mobile-First Indexing – Making A Technical SEO Checklist Vital
The need to ensure that their websites are well optimised has been brought more into focus recently, following Google's rollout of mobile-first indexing to websites. To put it simply, Google are now starting to rank websites that are able to optimise themselves for mobile phones – providing users with the best possible browsing experience.
Meaning exactly what it sounds like, Mobile-first indexing sees the mobile version of a website become the starting point for what Google indexes and is the baseline for how they determine the ranking of the website. Without a mobile-friendly experience, a website's ranking is likely to be affected; with those sites that do provide a better browsing experience, likely to receive a rankings boost.
Whilst the rollout of the mobile-first indexing has so far been a gradual one, it makes absolute sense for online businesses to get their houses in order right now and not to risk the potential of their site being ranked down. Even if the website is already responsive on mobiles, achieving the highest rankings possible will still be a challenge – and this is where website-honing techniques such as technical SEO can help.
So, What Exactly Is Technical SEO? Why Is it Important?
Whilst on-page SEO focuses on creating and optimising written content and keywords on a web page in order to improve its rankings, and off-page SEO designed to gain links from external websites, improving the 'trust' of the website for search engines, technical SEO refers to optimisation work that is done aside from creating content. It can be said to be a 'foundation checklist' – ensuring that the content has a stable platform to hold itself up, attracting attention from search engines.
The different elements of a basic checklist includes:
- The loading speed is one of the vital components of a well-optimised website. Search engines want to link their users to quick-loading, informative content, and if it's unable to discover both of these factors, then it's unlikely that the website in question will have any sort of long-term presence high in a search. Also, a site that is slow to load is more likely to have a high bounce rate (a percentage of visitors who 'bounce' from a website after viewing only a single page), which further affects rankings. Would you persist with a website that is unresponsive most of the time? The loading speed can be affected by a number of factors; with images and other on-page dynamic elements being the tip of a particularly large technical SEO iceberg.
- The structure of the website itself needs to be made from the right materials, otherwise, it would simply collapse and be buried under the ground. One of the vital materials to use when considering the makeup of well-optimised webpages is HTTPS – the secure encryption protocol. Back in 2014, Google announced that HTTPS was on their ranking factors list; which makes total sense. A user must feel like their browsing experience is safe and secure, and as a result, those sites that offer encryption are likely to be rewarded by Google with high rankings. Furthermore, if the website in question has ambitions of dealing with online payments, then HTTPS is an absolute must.
Another important technical SEO ingredient to look at in our website structure is the URL's produced by the website. URL's are readable text that replaces IP's (the numbers computers use to identify a particular page) and can be optimised to aid the SEO campaign. A search engine will want to rank clear and consistent URL's that tell the user where they are located on the website, and what that content entails. Therefore, making the URL's as descriptive and brief as possible (along with the inclusion a targeted keyword) will be a big help in creating a strong URL structure across the website (which includes internal URL's too).
And Hansel said to Gretel: “Let us drop these breadcrumbs so that together we find our way home". Breadcrumbs aren't just utilised in fairytales; another important part of a website's structure, breadcrumbs is the name given to a type of navigation that tells the user of where they are on a website. They usually take the form of a piece of text at the top of a webpage that the user can click on, to return to a particular level. This type of navigation is commonplace in eCommerce websites due to the vast number of pages that a user has to click through to search for a product, to read information about them, to view them in more detail, to click to buy...there are so many pages to get lost in. An eCommerce website that is able to lay those breadcrumbs, helping the user to navigate, is more likely to be rewarded with high rankings. It's important to note that breadcrumbs are a secondary navigation tool and should be used as an extra addition to a website, rather than replacing the primary navigation process.
- Rich snippets are aptly-named components of any technical SEO They provide quick but rich, information to a user regarding their search query – for example, a search for 'cheesecake recipe' will bring up a number of snippets that display relevant information, along with an image, a brief description and even the calorie count. This provides the user with a better insight into the content of the website, before they click it. For the website's products/services, rich snippets often display star ratings/reviews and other relevant information that would offer the user a better insight. Rich snippets can be created within the HTML of a page and a well-managed structure can help to boost the rankings of the website.
- Duplicate content is a big 'no-no' across any aspect of SEO. To put it simply, search engines want the websites they rank to contain original, informative content that is able to give their users a great browsing experience. If the user doesn't find the information they need, it's possible that they may think poorly of the search engine (and its associated products). Therefore, it is in everyone's best interests for the website to be able to have great content that abides by the best on-page SEO practices – the website gets high rankings, more visitors and increased sales, the user finds what they need and the search engine gains yet another happy, dedicated user. Everyone's a winner.
The trouble is that great content is often copied – which is a factor that search engines look out for. It could be done by pure accident (copying your own content), or not (copying someone else's). Either way, a search engine will mark down the rankings of a website (effectively blacklisting it) from their search results, which will mean that it will get buried, unlikely to found by any sort of audience. It's only by undertaking a thorough technical SEO checklist, can a website owner ensure that their site doesn't contain any duplicate content. Once that structure is in place, they can then go about creating original on-page SEO; although it may take time, Rome wasn't built in a day. The result of a well-structured website is always likely to mean high rankings.
Promote – The SEO Experts
If you're looking to improve the structure of your website, then you've found the right place here at Promote Agency. Throughout the years, we have helped a multitude of online business operations to improve their online presence; whether that's through of the usage of Pay-Per-Click ads, Conversation Rate Optimisation or because of rigorous technical SEO – we have met each challenge with our innovative approach. As a result, we are able to create a digital marketing campaign that is bespoke for your business; regardless of the products/services you offer, your particular aims or even the locations or types of audience you're targeting.
If you would like to learn more about how we can help with creating a great SEO structure and vibrant, high-ranking content that will help to improve the position of your website in a Google search on all devices, then please do not hesitate to get in touch with our friendly team today. Give us a call on 0845 050 2500. Alternatively, send an e-mail to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.