Learn Technical SEO: The Ultimate Checklist for Small Businesses
When creating your search engine optimization (SEO) strategy, the first and crucial step is enhancing your technical SEO.
You need to ensure that your website is in its best form, which should help increase traffic and improve conversion rates. That means that getting the principles of technical SEO right is essential.
Recently, Google announced and launched a page-ranking factor that rates a visitor’s page experience on websites.
You need to learn technical SEO and utilize your SEO tool box to understand how to improve your website’s rankings on search engines.
Technical SEO Checklist for Small Businesses
This blog shares the ultimate technical SEO checklist you need to optimize your small business’ website:
Optimize Your Site’s robots.txt File
Robots.txt files are instructions to ‘web crawlers’ that define the part of the domain that can be crawled and which ones can’t.
These files are relevant to major search engines. However, your website typically has a limit to the number of pages that can be crawled, so you need to ensure that only your important pages can be crawled and indexed.
Fortunately, you can create your robots.txt file with robots.txt generators in simple and straightforward steps.
Also, ensure to include the location of your XML sitemap (more on this later) in the file and test to verify that it’s working accordingly. Google provides a robots.txt tester. Some of the URLs that you can block your robot.txt from accessing include admin pages, temporary files, check out and cart pages, URLs with parameters, and search-related pages.
Improve Your XML Sitemap
An XML sitemap is a file that helps search engines understand how your website is structured to allow for search engine result pages (SERPs) indexing. It also plays a part in ensuring that all your important pages are listed, making it easier for web crawlers to index them. An XML sitemap ensures that your page content is sped up. (1)
An XML sitemap is particularly crucial in these three scenarios:
- When your website lacks good internal links, a sitemap will give the information crawlers need about your web pages
- An XML sitemap allows search engines to discover updates or additional pages when you have a website with many pages
- When you have just built your website and you don’t have many links leading to your site, a sitemap helps your site be more discoverable
You can find out on the Google search console coverage report if there are any indexing errors in your sitemap.
Update Your Core Metrics
Google has introduced a new way of evaluating and ranking websites by checking the overall user experience. These metrics, known as Core Web Vitals, measure user experience per page to ensure that your website provides users with a premium experience. The three main components of the Core Web Vitals are as follows:
First input delay (FID)
It measures the interactivity of your page and particularly the first interaction experience of a user. This is how your page responds to commands such as clicks, taps, or presses. FID is all about first impressions, and the benchmark for a good FID metric is 100 milliseconds or below.
Cumulative layout shift (CLS)
It measures and ranks your page elements depending on how visually stable they are. You should strive to eliminate any unexpected page shifts on your pages by maintaining a CLS of 0.1 and under.
Largest Contentful Paint (LCP)
This metric is all about the loading performance of the largest content piece on a page. Your videos, rich images, or large text blocks should load within 2.5 seconds from when a user sends a URL request. (2)
Fix Broken Outbound and Internal Links
It creates a poor user experience for search engines and human users alike. It becomes frustrating when users click on links only to find that they’re not working or don’t lead users to the correct pages or sites. When you delete a page, ensure to redirect it to another working page.
If the link erroneously or accidentally broke, ensure to fix it as soon as you can. Fixing broken links includes updating the target URL or removing it altogether if it doesn’t lead anywhere. If you don’t rectify the issue, the search engines will continue indexing the pages, redirecting users nowhere. In turn, they create a poor user experience and increase bounce rates. (3)
It’s also good practice to keep a list of indexed pages on your site and use it to cross-reference with what is in the Google Search Console and search results. The best way to confirm if all your pages have been indexed or identify those that haven't is to use a tool like IndexCheckr.
Ensure Your Site Loads Fast
Besides the issue of loading performance in LCP metrics, your overall page loading speed is a significant factor in search engine rankings. This is primarily dictated by user behavior. Most people will click away if they think a page takes too long to load, which is mostly only a few seconds. Search engines don’t want to rank websites that users don’t find helpful.
Bounce rates from slow loading speeds send a message to search engines that your site isn’t offering any valuable content to users. Some of the issues that could be causing your pages to load slowly include the following:
- Too many redirects
- Poor website coding
- Media files that aren’t optimized
There are many tools you can use to measure the speed of your web pages. They’ll reveal some of the issues that may be slowing your website down. Find out what’s slowing your pages and causing users to bounce away and fix the issues to improve your SEO.
Ensure Website Security
Online security is a huge issue. Your users want to know they’re safe when interacting with your website. The rising number of website cyber threats and hacks is a cause for concern by many web users.
Ensuring your website follows the hypertext transfer protocol secure (HTTPS) instead of hypertext transfer protocol (HTTP) will see you ranking higher on search engines. You can call this a reward by search engines for ensuring the safety of your user’s information. (4)
Ensuring your website’s technical SEO is perfect boosts your web traffic because you’re providing a better user experience. In turn, this makes you benefit from higher rankings. The outcome is better leads and conversations, increasing your sales and revenue. Take your time to learn technical SEO and see how it’ll improve your website and business.
- “What Is an XML Sitemap and How Can You Use It for Your SEO?”
- “A Guide To Core Web Vitals: What Small Businesses Should Know For Improving SEO”
- “Does Fixing Old Broken Links Still Matter to SEO?”
- “How Website Security Impacts SEO”
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