Checklist for technical SEO
In my many years of experience running small niche blogs I’ve got a lot of knowledge on the topic of technical SEO. In this article I will share what works and what not and what can be done today in order for your blog to rank higher in search engines with a technical SEO checklist.
A good SEO takes time and patience. I started back in 2007 with a small technical blog. I studied programming back then and wrote some posts here and there. At some point the blog was monetized and when money began to flow in I understood that there is actually a great potential. What if I could work on some SEO and greatly increase income? I’m still working on the blog, although it’s not just a blog anymore – it’s a company website with articles, blog posts and other stuff.
SEO techniques can vary from time to time due to information flow and search engine algorithm changes. Although one thing is and will be constant – good quality and optimized for search content will get track no matter what. People in the future will hold less and less of the information in their heads and more and more perform search for answers on the internet.
Number of indexed pages
Search engines crawl a lot of websites each second. Thus, they don’t have time to go through all your pages and give each website a “crawling budget”. We measure it as around 3-4 seconds per website. During that time you would want it to crawl all your new fresh content. You don’t want it find a lot of duplicate content as it slows down the crawling. Google can also simply penalize your site for large scale duplication.
Here is how we check if your site has a lot of duplication in the eyes of Google. Go to your Google Search Console -> Google Index -> Index Status.
Look for number Total Indexed. Now, we have two variations of our website on Google Search Console: HTTP and HTTPS version. We add the numbers up. Now we go to our website and check the number of all published posts and pages, categories and tags.
If you are using WordPress – you won’t see non-empty categories and tag only. Log into your database and run the following SQL:
SELECT count(*) FROM `wp_term_taxonomy` WHERE count > 0
Studiofreya indexed pages totally: 1097
Studiofreya pages and posts published, non-empty categories and tags: 1604
Ideally, these two numbers should be alike. Note, that total indexed URL in Google Search console includes only indexed pages, it doesn’t show how many pages were crawled or how many duplicates were found.
Our stats show that not all our pages were indexed. It means that we have an excessive amount of links that take our website’s crawl budget without giving any value.
If not all content of your website is being indexed, check your sitemap for more information.
Do you have a sitemap?
Go to Google Webmaster tools -> Crawl -> Sitemaps and check if your site has a sitemap. We hadn’t. Is it bad? Probably.
Not having a sitemap can result in your website being crawled incorrectly. Check out Internal Links. Internal links are pages that Google sees as important.
- Go to Webmaster tools -> Search Traffic -> Internal Links
- Do your Internal Links include tags and categories with page rank?
Generally, tags and categories are not unique content. They include posts and pages that were indexed before. Indexing and giving tags and categories a page rank creates duplicate content and takes from your crawl budget. Check out a guy who deindexed all taxonomies and increased his organic traffic by 30%.
- Pages with the highest rank are listed first. Do your most important pages have the highest Page Rank? No? Why?
Start fixing the issues by (among other things) submitting the right sitemap.
In Google Search Console check Search Appearance -> Structured Data. Any errors? Fix them. No errors and no items? Something is wrong – check your markup.
The correct and descriptive page title is one of the most important things in SEO. The title tells search engines what your page is about, thus making it rank for these keywords.
Check if you have your titles right by going to your website and checking the folder name:
Visit one of the pages and check that the folder title of that page is updated correctly. It is advised to override the title dynamically with a pattern
%page_title% | %blog_title%:
If something is not correct – implement it. For WordPress users – check your theme or install a SEO plugin.
It is important to validate your pages in W3 Validator to see if there are some serious HTML issues on your website. If you have HTML errors this can mean that search engines get the wrong impression about your content and thus rank your website poorly.
Look especially for the following errors:
– Tags which are not closed or opened. For example an open < li > tag without a closing one or a closing < /li > tag without an opening one.
– Document type does not allow element here – this type of error i s important as it can give a cascading damaging effect for your page.
Fix most important validation errors.
It is a well known fact that each extra second that goes while your website is downloading you loose around 2% of your conversions. Also bounce rate strongly correlates with page speed.
First, check your homepage speed and the speed of any few pages of your website with Google Page Speed Test.
You should fix most of the problems and make your website run faster. Check out smashingmagazine for example, it has a 99 of 100 speed points at Google and downloads in 2 seconds!