Technical SEO covers the technical side of optimisation. Technical factors that affect site rank include mobile friendliness of the site, page load speed, international SEO, availability of sitemap etc.
Is your site mobile compatible? Does it render properly across all range of available devices and browsers? Search engine will only rank sites with better overall compatibility higher. Unresponsive design and an inability to load properly in certain browser will directly affect your traffic volume and search rank. Given that most of web navigation is now happening via mobile, the volume of traffic you will lose because of your site not being mobile friendly will be very significant.
If you are looking to make your site easier to index for search engines then use structured data. Markups like Schema- a common project of Google, Bing, Yahoo and Yandex – help in providing search engine friendly structure of data on your site with easily extract-able information that can be used to display snippets like your address, telephone number, publication date of the page etc. from your content in the SERP.
Another technical SEO factor that affect site rank is content duplication. While most issues with thin or duplicate content can be addressed via on page measures there are some that need technical considerations. International websites often come with various language versions of the pages. For contents using two versions of the English language, say English UK and English US, most of the contents will be matched. You must therefore use appropriate practices of international SEO like hreflang tags for international websites to avoid search engine penalties. Moreover, you can have different URLs for same page on the site. An URL that is generated from search engines or redirected from a different path to the current URL will mean different things to search engine in case each of these are indexed. This will cause content duplication. Use rel canonical tags to tell search engines that these are pathways to same location on the site.
One of the most important factor that determines your search rank is the page load speed of your site. An average user only waits a few seconds for a site to load. If the site does not load then the user will bounce back to a different site serving the same purpose. If this happens more frequently, you will lose search engine ranking. Page speed is an issue for even some of the popular websites. Things that mainly contribute to page load speed are non-optimized images, non caching of information, too many CSS requests etc. Other out of site factors that affect page load speed are the vicinity of the hosting server location to the user, use of Content Delivery Network (CDN) etc. It has been estimated that a one second delay in page load speed can cause conversion to drop by 7%.
For proper indexing with search engines, provide them an XML sitemap of your website. This will make it easier for the crawlers to navigate through your site and will ensure that none of the contents will be left out. Design a simple website architecture and categorise each pages and place all content under related categories so that no page is more than a few clicks away. Proper sitemaps will also help provide search engines an idea about the intent of the content in your site. Haphazard and non-categorised content placement will confuse the search engine about the purpose behind your contents and you will lose ranking credibility.
Another factor that is detrimental to your rank is broken links. This will cause discontinuity in crawling and negative user experience. Redirect not found pages to the nearest and most relevant source. This will help with a seamless user experience and also allow you to preserve link authority from your previous expired link.
Other technical SEO factors that affect your ranking include domain age, domain trust, site up-time etc.
This article forms a part of our series on the basics of SEO and best practices. For other articles in the series click on the links below:
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