In many ways, the criteria for modern websites can be lumped together. Today, safety aspects, availability, performance, user- and mobile-friendliness are all basic requirements. The boundaries between these areas are starting to blur. You can hear UX and SEO in the same sentence more and more often.
Google wants to offer the best user experience for people who are browsing through the search results, so more technical requirements are added to the ranking factors each year. If we want to carry out marketing activities on our website, or just want people to find and explore it, we have to adhere to some universal rules.
Take a WordPress template or a new framework, for example—one of the top marketing messages will probably be that the product is SEO-friendly. And if everything is SEO-friendly, then nothing is.
Most of the time, the label SEO-friendly only means that you can create SEO-friendly websites with a given product. Modern search engines have greater requirements for webmasters than using templates, though. When working on a website, it is recommended to take established technical SEO requirements into account, so we can build healthy websites that are potentially viable for marketing purposes.
What is technical SEO?
Technical SEO is simply the “behind the scenes” elements of a website, which allows our site to get a ranking in search engines, and helps us direct organic traffic to it. Elements that are important for SEO are the structure of the website, the internal links, the redirects, the mobile-friendliness of the site, and the loading time—the list goes on and on.
Everything that makes it easier for search bots to map and index your site can be called technical SEO. To get good rankings, you’ll need the other two areas of search engine optimization as well, content SEO and off-page SEO, but the basis for both of these is technical SEO.
Why is technical SEO important?
A healthy website is a website that the users can use and search bots can access. The user-friendliness of a website, user experience and search engine optimization is getting more and more connected thanks to Google’s encouragement (or pressure).
Web Vitals is the search giant’s initiative, and it “provides unified guidance about quality signals that are essential for all sites to deliver a great user experience on the web.”
But why is technical SEO important? Without a strong technical base, your content, your websites won’t perform as well in search engines. Technical SEO is needed to make the most of your website.
Tips for a healthy website
There are hundreds of ranking factors, only a part of which are publicly known. But most of the known ranking factors are technical in nature. If you take these technical requirements into account when creating your website, you will be one step ahead of your competitors once the site goes live.
1. On-page elements
Page title, URL title, meta description
The page title, URL title, and meta description determine where your website will appear in search results. In addition to influencing clickthrough rates, content SEO elements also directly affect rankings.
It is recommended to give each of our pages a unique page title, a readable URL (we will come back to this later) and a meta description. From a technical point of view, it is important that these elements are placed in the <head> section of our page and that they can be customized.
In order to appear in the correct place, these elements need to be added by the person that uploads the content to the website. You should pay attention to the length of the elements as well. Only the first 60 or so characters of the page title appear in search results, and meta descriptions should be kept under 160 characters in length.
Headings and meta keywords
Headings (H1, H2, H3…) don’t just direct your attention, they also affect the accessibility of the site positively, not to mention their SEO effects. So when optimizing for search engines, you should create a clear heading hierarchy.
It is recommended to display the page title, the title of the article / name of the product as H1 headings, the paragraphs as H2 headings, and sub-paragraphs as even lower level (H3, H4…) headings.
Although Google frequently communicates that their algorithm can interpret the content of pages without headings, experience has shown that headings do, in fact, matter. And even if it’s true that Google pays no special attention to headings, other search engines, like Bing or Yandex, continue to care about them.
Many websites still have meta keywords, even though Google doesn’t take these into account since 2009. If meta keywords have no other function than to direct traffic somewhere, you shouldn’t bother with them.
2. SSL certificate
The SSL certificate creates a secure, encrypted channel between client and server, making the use of your website safe. When a user sends information to your website, like credit card data or contact details, it’s much less likely that the information will get into the wrong hands, since the SSL will protect you from it.
Search engines and browsers prefer safe websites. Most browsers even have a “not safe” warning before loading HTTP websites, and in 2014, Google officially announced that the use of SSL certificates is a ranking factor.
It is a common mistake when a website owner buys the SSL certificate but doesn’t set up the redirects on a domain level, so both the HTTP and HTTPS versions of the website become available. It is recommended to redirect all versions to a single domain prefix (https:// or https://www.) with a .htaccess file using 301 redirects.
3. The loading speed of the site
What do you think, how long is a visitor generally willing to wait for a website to load? 6 seconds. If your website doesn’t load in six seconds, you will almost immediately turn visitors away. According to Google, if a website loads in 3 seconds instead of 1, the bounce rate goes up by 32%. The loading speed of your site is not only important for user experience and conversion, but it is also a ranking factor.
So what can you do to increase the traffic of your site and provide a better user experience, while not wasting your visitors’ time?
- Use pictures in their proper size. Don’t upload an image with a 2000×3000 resolution if you want to use it as a 20×30 logo. Use responsive images.
- Install a cache plugin. Cache plugins save the static version of your website, so returning visitors can load the site significantly faster.
4. Mobile-friendly websites
The change in user needs and the ever-growing use of mobile phones demanded the development of mobile-friendly websites. If your website is not mobile-friendly in 2020, you’re starting with a significant disadvantage.
Would you like to test the mobile-friendliness of your website?
Use this Testing tool by Google!
5. URL structure
Be it online stores or content-driven magazine pages, if your URL has IDs and a bunch of special characters, it won’t appeal to visitors, nor search bots. If you adhere to a few useful rules when creating the URL structure, you can save yourself from a lot of 301 redirects, provide better user experience, and achieve better ranking.
Tips for creating the right URL structure:
- The URL address should contain the focus keyword of your website.
- Use lowercase characters.
- Use forward slashes (/) for separating URL elements. Do: bpdigital.hu/seo-course/on-page-seo Don’t: bpdigital.hu/seo-course#on-page-seo
- Use short, descriptive URL addresses.
- Avoid special characters (#, %, &) in your URL addresses.
A healthy website has many elements that we can’t touch on in a short article, but the tips above can be an excellent basis for building a user-friendly, findable, and fast website.
With the team of BP Digital SEO agency, they help medium-sized and large companies become findable in the online space. His specialty is technical SEO and content marketing.
If you need more tricks or advices, check out the following articles too – in these we are writing about our own experiences and ideas that might can help you to get really good chances at a job interview or earn some more additional skills to improve your programming knowledge!
- Interview tips that will give you confidence and help you land a dev job
- Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me When I Was Learning How to Code – And what I’ve learned from teaching others
- Basics of programming
- SEO Basics – The structure of a healthy website
- Is there a difference between programmer and developer?