Technical Considerations for Search-Engine Optimization

By Scott Anderson Miller

Part of Inbound Marketing For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Making your website visible is the most basic element of search-engine optimization (SEO). If the search engines can’t find your website pages, or if they can find them but they have broken links, misdirected pages, or duplicate content, you’ll be penalized in search-engine results rankings, or not even show up at all. Structure your website so that it’s search-engine friendly — that is, so that it can be easily crawled by search engines in a clear, structured hierarchy. You can then begin on-page content optimization efforts.

Here are the steps you should follow to improve your technical SEO:

  1. Do a site:search and ensure Google has indexed your website.

    First, make sure Google is indexing your site by performing a site:search. Simply type in site:YourWebDomainHere.com and press Enter.

  2. Check your page title URLs for correct structure.

  3. Check for duplicate content and fix issues with 302 redirects and canonical tags (see your webmaster).

    Set up your webmaster accounts for Google and Bing. If your website is new, submit a sitemap to Google to expedite the crawling process.

    If you don’t feel comfortable doing this, contact a webmaster for help. Also, have your webmaster make Robots.txt files to tell the search engine spiders what not to crawl. Make sure that you have text-based navigation, and not JavaScript- or Flash-based navigation — the spiders can’t crawl those.

  4. Always check your new content for plagiarism in a program like Copyscape, especially when that content is created by outside content partners.

  5. Test your site speed and make adjustments to decrease site load speed.

    Sites that download quickly reduce visitor bounce rate while positively influencing your search-engine ranking. Checking your speed is easy. Visit Google Developers PageSpeed Insights page, type your URL into the bar, and click Analyze. The resulting report displays your site speed score on a 100-point scale. Performing this quick test also displays the results of a User Experience test, also based on a 100-point scale.

    A 60 requires immediate action because you’re probably being penalized due to poor site performance.

  6. Examine your server response time in Google Webmaster Tools and make appropriate adjustments to any “404 Not Found” errors. Check for the Crawl Errors Report and eliminate any problems listed there.

    For other possible technical issues, log in to Google Webmaster Tools and check for any manual penalties that Google may have levied against your website. Lastly, while you’re logged in to that tool, navigate to Health and click Crawl Errors to see any server errors. Here you’ll find any of your pages that deny access and cause “404-Page Not Found” errors. Again, seek the help of a webmaster if this exceeds your technical capabilities.