Since joining Bidmark, one of the most impressive things that have struck me is the agency-placed importance of getting the basics nailed for all clients – whether they be one of the local printers or one of the global B2B businesses that we work with. All clients are guided closely from the very beginning of their project to ensure that our on-page and technical SEO efforts are set to provide (and exceed!) the results that they desire, and ones we can be proud of.
The Technical SEO Basics
As a digital marketing agency, part of our offering is to ensure that our clients are getting the basics of the critical SEO areas optimised, ensuring a solid foundation for any following work. Here I take a look at the primary areas we deem critical when providing our recommendations.
Search engine crawlers need to be able to access all pages that drive organic search traffic. Whether it be on-page text, links coded with an anchor tag bound to anchor text or country/language preference handled optimally for SEO with unique URLs, crawlers need to be able to access all areas.
Anything that doesn’t need to be crawled, should be added to the robots.txt file and blocking crawlers to ensure they are only crawling and indexing what is necessary.
Search engines, especially Google, consider having a secure hosting package on your website as a ranking signal. Essentially this means that if your website doesn’t have HTTPS, search engines do not see your website as secure for users. You can see if a website is secure through the use of HTTPS in the address bar.
Once you have purchased an SSL Certificate, ensure a 301 redirect from the HTTP URLs to their HTTPS variations is put in place.
Page speed is a key factor in ensuring that users visit and stay on your website. A website that takes too long to load, is likely to have a high bounce rate. There are many things you can do (likely with the help of a developer) to ensure your pages are high performing:
- Use caching
- Ensure image and code compression is used
- Ensure Java & CSS is minified
- Use accelerated mobile pages
Google’s PageSpeed Insights will provide an overview of your score on both mobile and desktop, and offers tips on how your site could load more quickly, thus rank higher, convert higher and ultimately drive more revenue.
Every site would be responsive. By responsive, we mean that it should work on all screens – no matter what the size. If your website doesn’t, then you will need to make sure that the proper canonical and relative tags are in place, otherwise, you may find yourself having duplicate content penalties.
URLs should be short, in the lower case and contain the relevant keywords to that page. URLs should not contain special characters, and for foreign variants of your site, be translated into the local language of the site. It is also recommended that in place of a space between words you use a hyphen over other characters such as underscores.
Ensure that you use the correct tags for your on-page content. Ideally, there would only be one <H1> heading on your page with subsequent headings using H2 through to H6 (remembering 1 is the most important).
An internal server error is an error on the web server that you are trying to access. An error shows when the server is misconfigured and prevented from responding to what you’re asking it to do. There are a number of different server error codes, with the most common being:
- 400 – Bad Request
- 401 – Unauthorized
- 403 – Forbidden
- 404 – Not Found
- 500 – Internal Server Error
- 502 – Bad Gateway
- 503 – Service Unavailable
- 504 – Gateway Timeout
Here you can find the entire HTTP response status codes.
Where possible, the use of relevant, ideally unique, anchor text should be used on all links – rather than simply showing the URL.
The 2 types of links – internal and external both are key to SEO strategies but ultimately serve very different purposes.
In layman’s terms, an internal link is one that points to another page on the same website. They help search engine robots crawl your website more easily and efficiently. Internal links are useful for three reasons:
- Easy navigation of a website.
- An informational hierarchy is established
- Link equity is shared throughout the website
An external link is when another website puts a backlink pointing to your website. Securing these links are believed to help tremendously when looking to rank in SERPs as search engines use links as a signal of reliability. The more quality and relevant links you have the more Google, Bing etc accept you as a credible, authoritative source and something they should be displayed more prominently on their results pages.
Following the crawl by search engines, the next step is to index the website. A key part of this is the size of your website and how much search engines are going to have to add to their database. In order to review and reduce your indexation size, consider looking at:
- performing vs. nonperforming pages. Can you remove anything that’s not adding to your site?
- Can anything be optimised or compressed?
- Is your XML sitemap up to date and clear of content you do not want to have indexed?
Duplicate content is classed as content that appears on another website in more than one place. Duplicate content generally refers to sections of content within or across domains that either directly match.
In order to bypass duplicate content issues, there are a number of ways that Google recommend to ensure that search engines and users see the content you want them to see including:
- Use 301 redirects
- Use top-level domains
- Minizmize boilerplate/CTA copy
- Minimize similar content
Securing those top search engine rankings
There are, of course, many areas of SEO that need to be continuously tweaked to fall in line with Google’s latest algorithm, so ensuring that the technical basics are covered, will help your website perform in the all-important SERPs.
How can Bidmark help…
Our team of SEO optimization experts based in Leeds can help you understand how your website is currently performing and how you can further optimise your website to ensure optimum performance. Contact us to discuss how our technical onsite SEO services could help you conquer your targeted search results.